The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34695   Message #471398
27-May-01 - 03:35 PM
Thread Name: Are folk lyrics ever 'wrong?'
Subject: RE: Are folk lyrics ever 'wrong?'
Folk song purists are always telling me I'm doing something wrong. For instance, On my CD "Spanning the Decades) There are several tracks where I play all the instruments and do all the singing. The first is "Farewell to Tarwaithe" I used a guitar, steel guitar, 5string banjo and Bass. OH, WHAST A HULLABULOO I got for that one. "It's a Scottish Folk Song, and Scots did not have those instruments when the song was first written


Furthermore, it is now also an American Folk song. I'm singing the thing, and I'm American. Also, I got something I hadn't planned on. The finished version of this recording has a feeling of a ship sailing over normal ocean swells. This was unexpected. But, that being what it is, this effect was caused by the banjo (with "d-Tuning" pegs") and steel guitar.


The Wagoner's Lad and the Housewife's Lament also use this melody. Does this show disrespect for the original composer? They are, all 3, excellent and very expressive songs.

Now then, Here's a bit of departure fom my cntention that more recent versions are usually better. I learned "The Long Black Veil" when I was just a kid and this was before there WAS a Joan Baez or a Johnny Cash. I think that the melody on the chorus of this song,as sung by Joan Baez , and later, Johnny Cash, is rather dreary and un interesting. Everyone seems to sing it this way, but, the older melody (on the chorus) is a lot more interesting and fits the mood of the lyrics far better. Let's see if I can give you an Idea of how it goes. In the key of "G" I'll put the note in parentheses) following each word, and the chord changes following that , like this <>, OK? I hope you can make some sense out of it. and, as I've been saying all along, make up your own mind./

<>She(b) <>walks(A) These (A) Hills (A)In (d) a (D)<>Long (e) black(G)<>Veil(B) vis-(A)its(A)my (B) Grave(A) when(d) the (d) <>Night(E) wind (G) <?>Wails (B)

The rest of the melody is the same as yo9u know it. I hope you can make heads or tails out of this

What I'm trying to say (and very badly at that) is that there are no set rules to this thing. A folk singer should sing whatever he or she likes even if it means making up new lyrics (or tunes) That is within the bounds of accurate terminology.

But, Hey, you might not see it that way. OK. that's fine with me. This is just my point of view I sing them as I like them. So Far, my audiences like the way I do them. (I guess)