Hey - good thread. Shame I joined so late. Oh well...
Anywho. Lyrics are never wrong. Just different. Just because someone looks different to me or dresses different to me does not make them wrong does it? Is it not the same with lyrics? I agree about the respecting the author bit but we are getting a lot of ifs here. IF the author is still alive, IF they hear your words, IF they are bothered, IF the audience is bothered. Too many variables for me I'm afraid.
As to keeping the tradition going. Well, tell that to Sharp, Child and the other Victorian collectors who sanitised their collections to make the suitable for the laies delicate sensibilities!
Doesn't matter at all. As long as the tune is good and the words tell a story, sing what you know.
The 'Keeper' BTW was not one of the sanitised bawdy songs but a thinly veiled telling of what happened to the wives of Henry the eigth. Or so I'm led to belive.