The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #145654 Message #4181384
Posted By: GUEST,BlackAcornUK
12-Sep-23 - 04:25 AM
Thread Name: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
A really interesting thread, with amazing detail in that last post, Gibb.
FWIW, personally, I hugely appreciate Lloyd as a galvanising/creative figure within the revival; he brought countless amazing songs to attention (albeit with not-infrequent embroidery & alteration), and platformed/mentored some of the finest singers of the era.
However, his scholarship is plainly lax, and far beyond shanties his habit of taking liberties with songs to create particular atmospheres or aesthetics is well known... There's a great US Library of Congress blog that looks at the addition of the Shakespearean 'Take no scorn to wear the horn' verse to Hal an Tow... To my mind, it seems likely that Lloyd also encouraged Mike Waterson to add the 'Since man was first created' opening verse. They also clipped the verses and tweaked the chorus from the Helston source material.
With a forensic eye over his work, some of his writings would even seem to see him stray into the terrain of the bulls***er or fantasist.
To re-emphasise - folk is a living medium, and it's normal to make small, and sometimes large adjustments - Nic Jones did this all the time (look at Annan Water) but crucially was open about it.
However, Lloyd making brazen false claims about provenance etc simply isn't on; and, where this faulty scholarship proliferates incorrect assumptions into wider historical (mis)understanding (as highlighted above) this is plainly something that needs to be identified, articulated and shared in order to strengthen/repair the foundations of future scholarship.
The comparisons with Peter Kennedy are interesting; I also see Lloyd as a much more benevolent figure - and someone who, as noted above, sought to lift up others, rather than to do them over.
Perhaps his over-reaching comes from a somewhat complacent/self-satisfied sense of his 'unique affinity' for, and insights into, the form... A more extreme example of that in a different field could be those like Gerald Gardiner and Dion Fortune, who I don't doubt believed that they'd unlocked secret wisdom, but really were just making stuff up much of the time.
When pondering Lloyd's motivations/mindset, I also think back to the quotes attributed to Robert Graves as he received criticism for the highly questionable historical detail of The White Goddess - he tetchily emphasised his 'poetic' interpretation of myth and ritual, beyond 'mere scholars'…