The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #4033202
Posted By: Brian Peters
09-Feb-20 - 11:57 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
[Harker v Sharp & Marson continued]

To deal quickly with the other cited examples of editorial tampering:

Fakesong “the direct confrontation in As I walked through the Meadows is taken back into a passively-recorded verbal exchange, defusing the live conflict.”
What actually happened: In verse 1, “I says” is changed to “I said”, and “said she” to “she answered.” Hardly altering the sense of the exchange!

Fakesong “In The Trees they do grow high, the girl is deprived of her active part in putting an end to the boy's growing.”
What actually happened: The line “she put an end to his growing” is altered to “she saw an end to his growing.” It’s true this does alter the sense, but Sharp and Marson were no doubt aware from other versions of the song that any idea of the young male protagonist having been killed by his wife ran contrary to the standard plot (“cruel death put an end...” is the broadside text). Similarly, where Harry Richards sang “his grief was growing grief” (sic), Marson changed it to the more conventional “his grave was growing green”. Again Marson’s intervention is mentioned in the song notes.

Fakesong “the fulfilled relationship in the original text of Foggy Dew is scrupulously removed into a dream-world of adolescent wish fulfilment; and mawkish sentimentality replaces active physical love wherever necessary.
What actually happened:The claim is correct. But could anyone seriously imagine lines like “come into my bed, my fair pretty maid”, or “there they laid all that long night” getting past the publishers? It’s true that Marson’s rewrite is pretty awful – but again it is explicitly acknowledged in the notes.

Fakesong: Marson's penchant for fairy-stories erupts gratuitously into The Bank of Green Willow - 'For the ship was pixy-held...'
What actually happened: The song notes explain that, as collected in England, variants of this song have a hole in the narrative where an explanation of the ship’s becalming ought to be. It is explained clearly that Marson (while leaving the collected verses intact) has written an additional verse inspired by Kinloch’s text, which mentions an intervention by ‘fey folk’. Nothing to do with fairy stories.

It would be tempting to ask, “Is that the best you can do?” Out of 27 songs, Fakesong is able to identify just seven examples to justify the claim of a widespread ‘doctoring’ of texts: three instances of bowdlerization (two directly acknowledged by he authors), one filled plot hole, one correction to a more standard narrative, one collation incorrectly claimed as Marson’s composition, one trivial amendment, and two apparently fabricated examples. It is also clearly untrue to claim that Marson “only occasionally acknowledged what he was actually doing” and that it was his practice to “extract [...] parts of the texts [from] the song-culture.” Most of the texts were preserved in a form very close to the original.

Well, that occupied a wet and windy afternoon!