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Worst Folk Song Ever?

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GUEST,Nick 03 Jun 07 - 07:32 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Jun 07 - 07:44 PM
Peace 03 Jun 07 - 08:15 PM
yrlancslad 03 Jun 07 - 08:31 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Jun 07 - 08:41 PM
Peace 03 Jun 07 - 08:55 PM
Tim theTwangler 03 Jun 07 - 10:07 PM
Taconicus 03 Jun 07 - 10:15 PM
Taconicus 03 Jun 07 - 10:22 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 03 Jun 07 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,Ron W 03 Jun 07 - 11:00 PM
Taconicus 03 Jun 07 - 11:07 PM
Bert 04 Jun 07 - 12:09 AM
Liz the Squeak 04 Jun 07 - 03:06 AM
Pilgrim 04 Jun 07 - 03:24 AM
guitar 04 Jun 07 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,Phil Williams 04 Jun 07 - 04:33 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Jun 07 - 04:48 AM
Grab 04 Jun 07 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,edthefolkie 04 Jun 07 - 07:01 AM
kendall 04 Jun 07 - 07:05 AM
Folk Form # 1 04 Jun 07 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 04 Jun 07 - 08:56 AM
guitar 04 Jun 07 - 09:08 AM
frogprince 04 Jun 07 - 09:11 AM
GUEST,woodsie 04 Jun 07 - 09:51 AM
Ythanside 04 Jun 07 - 10:11 AM
Bee 04 Jun 07 - 10:32 AM
Midchuck 04 Jun 07 - 10:44 AM
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McGrath of Harlow 04 Jun 07 - 11:05 AM
RTim 04 Jun 07 - 11:38 AM
Mr Fox 04 Jun 07 - 12:41 PM
Claymore 04 Jun 07 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 04 Jun 07 - 02:36 PM
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Liz the Squeak 04 Jun 07 - 05:32 PM
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GUEST,Gordon T 04 Jun 07 - 05:46 PM
Severn 04 Jun 07 - 06:15 PM
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Herga Kitty 04 Jun 07 - 06:59 PM
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Steve Shaw 04 Jun 07 - 07:08 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Jun 07 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,john f weldon 04 Jun 07 - 07:50 PM
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Subject: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Nick
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 07:32 PM

Now I did check to see if this thread had been covered before in this forum. Either I messed up, or this is the first. If I messed up Admin can kill this, with my apologies. But like John Belushi in Animal House, when he rips the guitar out of the hands of the folkie on the stairs an bashes it, perhaps there are oft played songs you care for very little....
discuss


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 07:44 PM

There is absolutely no way I can identify the singer or artist I have in mind, but let me put it this way. You had time for a crap, a pee and at least three visits to the bar before the he or she in question got to the last of his or her very many verses. I assure you that I'm not trying to go all generic about this. My coeur is cri-ing at the very recollection.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Peace
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 08:15 PM

OK. What do you mean by folk music?


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: yrlancslad
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 08:31 PM

By my definition of folk music none of them can be that bad since theyve stuck around for 100+ years "in the mouths of the people". HoweverI could fill a page with so-called folk music by singer/songwriters whining on about their problems to a tuneless guitar backing.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 08:41 PM

Here are a couple of names that slid into my mind.
Black is the color
Greensleeves

Maybe it is just that these need a rest. A long rest. Until after I'm gone.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Peace
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 08:55 PM

LOL


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 10:07 PM

Feilds of athenry is very popular around here
And usually is played after the proper set and all beer is gone!
There are a lot of others but it depends on how many times have heard them in last year as to whether think are bad or just over done.
many whingy songwhiner ones as the well ballanced and not at all biased person above has posted.
But also many shanties and overly sung trad stuff.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Taconicus
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 10:15 PM

Just off the top of my head, I vote for "On Top of Old Smokey."


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Taconicus
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 10:22 PM

On top of Old Smokey,
All covered with snow,
I lost my true lover,
For courting too slow.

For courting's a pleasure,
But parting is grief,
And a false-hearted lover,
Is worse than a thief.

A thief will just rob you,
And take what you have,
But a false-hearted lover,
Will lead you to your grave.

The grave will decay you,
And turn you to dust,
Not one boy in a hundred
A poor girl can trust.

They'll hug you and kiss you,
And tell you more lies,
Than the crossties on a railroad,
Or the stars in the sky.

So come ye young maidens,
And listen to me,
Never place your affection
In a green willow tree.

For the leaves they will wither,
The roots they will die,
And you'll be forsaken,
And never know why.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 10:42 PM

The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn. Jenny Jenkins.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Ron W
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 11:00 PM

Which brings to mind: The Blue Tail Fly.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Taconicus
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 11:07 PM

The Blue Tail Fly was at least a subversive resistance song with a (not too) hidden meaning.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bert
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 12:09 AM

Lamkin has got to be in there somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 03:06 AM

I must admit to cringing every time I hear 'Lowlands', but that could be because I've heard it done terribly on too many occasions. I'll still sing along though!

The best version I've heard in the last 5 years has to be Mortica's rendition of it, she sang it in a key hitherto unknown to herself, discovered a whole range she didn't realise she had and made it a singable song again.

Otherwise, if possible, it has me skipping to the bar.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Pilgrim
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 03:24 AM

The Seven Drunken Nights

Pilgrim


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: guitar
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 04:13 AM

back home in Derry


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Phil Williams
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 04:33 AM

Well, it may not be the worst ever, but theres one that strikes terror at its very mention .... The W.. The Wi... Wild Ro*** .... No sorry, can't bring myself to type it.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 04:48 AM

Ride On, as sung too slowly by anyone under 25 with two chords. What's with that horrible bit about claw and gut anyway?


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Grab
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 06:48 AM

"Come out you Black and Tans" - a nasty little piece of work promoting prejudice.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,edthefolkie
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:01 AM

Guest, Streets of London the worst folk song ever?

You gotta be kidding. Look out boy, Ralph's a big lad!


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: kendall
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:05 AM

I agree, 7 nights drunk is so boring!

Pete Seeger doesn't like Greensleevs either.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 08:36 AM

How can anyone not like Greensleves? It's right up there with Streets of London.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 08:56 AM

Whip Jamboree. It has a real physical effect on me, like a cross between recoiling from a poisonous snake and brain-numbing boooooorrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeddddddddooooooooooooommmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: guitar
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 09:08 AM

my other worst song is any song from the film Grease, I know it isn't folk songs but I just the ongs/fim/cd/dvd/ or any other thing about it.

If I had my way I would ban it forever and those that sing any songs from it in to Jail.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: frogprince
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 09:11 AM

If you ever dare to actually think about the implications of "Scarlet Ribbons", it's kinda like those religious spams that promise, "if you
pass this on to 76 friends within 15 minutes, something miraculous will happen to you within 24 hours".


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,woodsie
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 09:51 AM

"Ride On" - what a pile of shite, meaningless lyric to the chords of "All Along The Watchtower"


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Ythanside
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:11 AM

ANYTHING you've heard sung by others more than fifty times in the previous year(if you're still singing it yourself then it's among the best ever written, of course). Don't blame the song, though, when you've reached your own saturation point, as it surely has some quality that makes it so popular. A few of these surface again years or decades later and sound just fine to a whole new generation. The now much-despised and decried 'Wild Rover', a favourite of my own grandfather in his youth, brought thousands of converts into the fold in the 1960s. But that's folk music. Thankfully.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bee
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:32 AM

The Unicorn song - if it is a folk song. The religious implications are horrible, the story is distressing in the extreme, and rather a lot of musicians/singers think it's a good song to sing to kids. The Unicorns drown, people, because they were playing and having fun!


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Midchuck
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:44 AM

The Unicorn song - if it is a folk song.

It isn't. A standard of the "Irish" repertoire - written by an American Jew.

Link - "The Bloody Unicorn".

Peter


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bee
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:55 AM

Thanks, Peter, that was amusing.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 11:05 AM

Mostly good songs so far.

The trouble with songs we've heard too often is we get to think we know them inside out. But the great thing with folk music is that any good song can always surprise you. You suddenly hear someone sing it in a way that shows you something in it that you never heard before, and it's like hearing it for the first time.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: RTim
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 11:38 AM

Many many years ago at a Friday "Murder Songs Theme" evening at The Focsle in Southampton I sang a version of murder ballad - Cup of Poison - I called it Jealousy, and it was collected from George Blake of St. Denys . Now half way through the song (that I had learnt for the occasion) I forgot the actual words, but remembered the story - so I sort of made it up as went along.
John Paddy Brown (compere of evening) said afterwords - "That was probably the WORST song I have ever heard song in this club!" - Of course he was right and it took me well over 30 years to sing the song again!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Mr Fox
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 12:41 PM

ANYTHING by Scafell Pike or Elencampane. There are other dire folk-rock bands but they have to be the worst.

Scafell's album 'The Month of Maying' with it's camper-than-a-pink-volkswagen title track, parlour ballad for the deaf arrangement of 'David of the White Rock' (with commendable restraint the Welsh refrained from declaring war) and, worst of all, their sub-Steeleye Span version of 'James James Morrison Morrison' (Yes, the A A Milne nursery rhyme) complete with OTT electric guitar solo has got to be the worst, but Elencampe's 'When God's on the Water' ("A musical interpretation of a river's journey to the sea" it says here) deserves dishonourable mention if only for the heavy metal arrangement of 'Marrowbones'.

Mind you, Corkscrew were nearly as bad and as for Frogmorton........


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Claymore
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 01:18 PM

"Kum-by-ya" has to be the worst. It has all the prerequisites for a bad folk song.

Pretention,
religion,
unction,
and three chords...


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 02:36 PM

Streets of London the worst folk song ever written? I wish I had written it. £££££


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 03:23 PM

I don't know why but anything I have heard by Dougie McClean??sp.?? makes my hair stand on end. I thought it was just his voice but something even when others sing his stuff...built in whine or something. Caledonia...mg


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,DocJ
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 05:12 PM

Worst because it's hackneyed must be that one about the female highway robber or John Barleycorn.
Greensleeves! syrupy tune and nauseating words. Not a folk song, couldn't be.
But the most irritating must be "The Day We Went To Blackpool" (or is is Brighton) Once you've heard that tune you can't clear it. It's put me off cider for life.
DocJ


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 05:32 PM

It's 'Day trip to Bangor' you're thinking of.

Fairly tedious.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 05:39 PM

It's a personal choice, but for me it's any olde English ballad with 300 verses about a dead Margaret.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Gordon T
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 05:46 PM

Great to see some sacred cows getting slaughtered here - tho I disagree about Streets Of London - its well-written all round as far as I can see.Sometimes its the fact that you hear so many awful inept renditions.
I do think Ride On deserves a good kicking as well as all these phoney bloody First World War epics,like Willie Mac Bride (someone did a brilliant parody of that one).
Greensleeves is obviously an "art" song that moved into the tradition,but there are some very nice folk versions,including instrumental dance variations.
John Barleycorn is a classic.Anyone who thinks this is the worst folk song ever is beyond help.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Severn
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 06:15 PM

Of all the "Idiot Bastard Son Kills His Girlfriend" ballads "Banks Of The Ohio" is probably the most nauseous. "Streets Of London" and Wild Rover" get a little old after repeated hearings, but I disliked this one the FIRST time I heard it (which should be the criteria here), but somehow as many people seem to know it and sing it as the other two.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Severn
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 06:24 PM

Eor a pub sing, the one about "Charlie Mopps, The Man Who Invented Beer" is about as stupid a drinking song as was ever written. Again, one I disliked from the very first, with the very last, unfortunately, not in sight.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 06:59 PM

I wish Roy Bailey hadn't popularised the song about witches. Am I alone in cringing when I hear "Isis, Astarte, Hecame, Demeter, Kali"?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:04 PM

I cringe when it's Hecate too....


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:08 PM

Hmm, Herga, 'twas Christy Moore that did that one in for me. Come to think of it he was the guilty party apropos of Ride On too. Well Below The Valley also has me giving up the will to live. But I do love the man. Especially when he does Home By Bearna. :-)


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:15 PM

I'm with you there, Kitty. I rather thought I was the only one.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,john f weldon
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:50 PM

-Home on the Range
-This Land is your Land
-Waltzing with Bears


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Captain Colin.
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 07:55 PM

I nominate The Zombie Jamboree.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Greycap
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 08:18 PM

It's a difficult choice, but my personal two ng that gives me the dry heaves,'cos I've no liking for them, and they are invariably sung very badly by neophytes with a guitar needing serious tuning, are:
(1) Donna, Donna, bloody Donna.... boredom, always sung by young ladies with nylon-strung guitars, which they tune after being asked to do their floor spot.
(2) The Crow on The Cradle - equal boredom - used by every 'committed' singer giving us the benefit of his 20 years of misery...right?
My humble opinion, after 43 years experience of singing, playing and making some of my living in folk clubs.
I take rejection and criticism lightly,


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 08:40 PM

"I disliked this one the FIRST time I heard it (which should be the criteria here)"

Basically I think that the idea behind that is right - with the qualification that sometimes a song that you don't like the first time you hear it will turn out to be pretty good when you have listened to it a bit. And it can sometimes happen the other way round

But the idea that a song that was at one time a good song can become rubbish just because you have sung or heard it sung too often is a bit of a nonsense. For example, most of the songs mentioned in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 09:03 PM

"I nominate The Zombie Jamboree" -

I'll wager you've never heard it done by Lord Jellicoe and his Calypso Monarchs, then.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Captain Colin.
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 09:21 PM

You're right meself- good I presume- I'll look out for it- and if I change my mind I'll substitute My Old Man's A Dustman- and yes, that really is a folk song, albeit adapted.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 09:40 PM

Among traditional songs I know and know of, I can't really put any into a "worst folk song" category. There are songs that I think I've heard enough lately, thank you.

But even then, a lot depends on the individual performance.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Scoville
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:08 PM

"Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream", if that counts. Childish, simplistic, uninteresting, waste of time.

And if I ever hear "the Sick Note" again, I'll have to strangle the singer. Give it up, already.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: kendall
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:15 PM

Willy McBride is a damn good song, and The band played waltzing Matilda is even better.

What was that one about the Lion sleeps tonight? In the jungle..the Lion sleeps tonight etc. The thing is, Lions don't sleep in the jungle at all. In fact, that don't do anything in the jungle.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:35 PM

I'm undoubtedly going to offend someone with the following, but I think it should be said:

It depends on the audience. In my repertoire, I have some "old standards" like—yes—Greensleeves (three carefully selected verses thereof), and what might be called the "standard" versions of Barbara Allen, Lord Randal, and a bunch of others. These are some of the first songs I learned starting in 1951, and that was well before there were all that many people involved with folk music—and before they all got so bloody damned sophisticated.

There are a lot of darn good songs out there that nobody sings anymore. Why? Because when someone started to sing one of them, there would be a klatch of jaded, world-weary folkies out there in the audience who would loudly sigh, roll their eyes, and sometimes sneer and snicker through the whole song. Lots of people were intimidated into not singing these songs, and many of them I haven't heard anyone sing—for decades. The super-sophisticated, ultra-cool folkies killed them.

They're good songs.

I don't do them for audiences composed primarily of folkies. I save these songs for general non-folkie audiences. They like them!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 10:41 PM

Well, case in point:   it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I first heard Fields of Athenry. "Hey, good song!" I said to myself, and hauled off and learned it.

Then I find out here on Mudcat that it's been sung a lot, and large numbers of folkies just don't want to hear it anymore.

So I save it for other audiences. It goes over well. Lots of people like it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 11:03 PM

Most of the ones mentioned here aren't bad songs, just over-bloody-done, particularly by poor singers, so shouldn't be called "the worst." I don't know the category, but "worst" isn't in it.

That aside, I have heard dreadful songs, usually some kind of broadsheet that only exists because it was so dreadful that no one bought it from the street vendor selling the broadsheet, and the unsold copies were set aside to sell as toilet paper but were so bad they didn't even sell for that, and ended up in some upper-crust would-be collector's attic, where they were rediscovered and published by one of these twits whose taste is only in his mouth, but who needed one more old broadsheet song to add to his book. Add to it that the broadsheet says, "to a new and delightful tune" but the scan fits no known tune other than "To Anacreon in Heaven," and you have a candidate for the worst-ever folksong.

And, of course, you KNOW the kind of singer who would fasten on such a turgid piece of crap to learn and perform it!

THAT would be the world's worst folksong.

Unless it would be that some poor-singing, attention-getting schmuck decides to write his own turgid, repetitive, polemic song -- about something truly "controversial," like South Africa, years after apartheid has ended -- and insist on singing it at song-circles. With a vocal range of 20 notes (per octave).

THAT would be the world's worst folksong. Or two.

Needless to say, I have heard both of these, in my life. And the singers in question are NOT the same person, making it that much more excruciating.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: PeadarOfPortsmouth
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 11:33 PM

I think there's some confusion in this thread between songs that are intrinsicly bad and songs we're just tired of. For example:

I love The Streets of London...and it's safe to say I haven't heard anyone play it in a session for two years.

Also, I just rolled out the Fields of Athenry at a small informal session last weekend. There were a few musicians who have been going to sessions here for a looooong time...and they had never heard it before. I just assumed that if they've been playing Irish music they would have been familiar with it...who knew.

Neither song is poorly constructed or has bad lyrics...but they ABSOLUTELY could get lame from being over-played.

At the risk of being shouted down by people whose opinions I value, I'd like to echo Don's point: I still think The Wild Rover has a place in the set list. We are talking (broadly) about folk music, and the folks in the pub always join in when it's played. The only people who don't like it seem to be folk musicians...which smacks a bit of snobbery, IMO.

...but for some reason, no one ever requests Kum-by-ya


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: johnross
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 11:49 PM

It might be fun to write -- and not sing except in jest -- a "worst folk song." Seems to me it could have all the faults described in "And I'd Like You Join in the Chorus" or the things that the "Ramblin' Syd Rumpo" character on "Round the Horne" used to do (now heard each Wednesday on BBC Radio 7).

For example:

A spoken introduction that takes longer than it takes to sing the damn song, and that spoils the surprise ending

A long repetitive ballad with a plot that makes absolutely no sense

A gibberish chorus

A crucial character introduced in Verse 2 and then never mentioned until Verse 19

Any song that shifts between two or more languages without warning (such as English and either Gaelic, Welsh, or Coast Salish dialect)

A meter and/or instrumental break that sounds like a dance written by a composer with one leg shorter than the other (apologies to PDQ Bach)

Multiple strained rhymes (like "...her men are all like Abelard, her women like Heloise/All honest virtuous people, for they live in Illinois)

==
Any other suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 05:51 AM

Hello,

Worst folk song ever...that's a tough one. I agree with Don Firth's point...different songs fair differently in different situations.

Every song is sung by a singer for a reason...none of us sing songs that don't resonate for us in some way or other. The same is true of the writers of songs...sometimes it is only the writer who can put it over well...sometimes their songs only come to life when someone else sings them.

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 06:31 AM

We'll have to be careful or we'll find we've nominated every song in the folk genre and discovered that,actually,we hate folk music when it comes down to it ;-)
I perform some of the songs noted here,including a "300 verse ballad about Margaret" altho its Maggie Boyle who sings it,I accompany on guitar - but Maggie could sing the phone book and it would still be sublime.
There's no excuse for singing a tedious song - and Well Below The Valley is awful,lets face it,and was lauded for ages because it was a rare discovery.I also dont like The Bitter Withy and The Cruel Mother both of which are noble songs in a way,but which preach vindictiveness,and try to give it a religious justification.The cruel mother burns in hell,but if a british naval vessel drowns a shipload of turks, they just get an extra barrel of grog.Dont want to be pc here but I wonder if it was a man or a woman wrote The Cruel Mother(I dont really)?
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 07:02 AM

What's that one about Monday morning, by Cyril Tawney I think? Grim, depressing and unsingable just about.   Nowt to redeem it.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 07:10 AM

Point taken about them being well dodgy on some levels, but I love 'Well Below the Valley' and 'The Cruel Mother' - if only for their weird, creepy otherworldliness. What I can't stand is the jolly, jaunty stuff like the aforementioned 'Day Trip to Bangor' ... and does anyone remember Maddy Prior's truly cringe-making 'Wake Up England'? Much as I now love a lot of what Ms Prior has been involved in, when this came out it nearly put me off folk music for life... 'If you're a truly blue Tory or a liberal in the middle of the road, or a little to the left of Chairman Mao we're all in England here and now... So wake up England!' I've not heard it in years and still those lyrics and that ever-so-chirpy tune is lodged like a bloody limpet in my poor old brain.

Nigel
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the "from" box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: kendall
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 07:22 AM

Songs that go on forever, such as ...what will you give to your brother John...your uncle Pete...your third cousin's left handed barber, his mother in laws ex wife..etc. BORING, and so tedious.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Irish
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 11:49 AM

Worst song ever has got to be Nobodies Child especially sung by out of tune Jocks


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bee
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 01:49 PM

I've a friend who likes having me sing 'Nobody's Child' with him, and it's all I can do not to have fits of giggles halfway through. I refuse to learn to play it myself.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 02:16 PM

Exactly so, Kendall. This is why, when I learn a song like Greensleeves or Lord Randal or Barbara Allen or Edward, I do some judicious editing. All of these songs can run on for what seems like hours, repeating the same verse format with only minor variations ("mother . . . father . . . sister . . . brother . . . Uncle Fred . . . the dog . . . .").

In days gone by, songs like this were regarded as an evening's entertainment, but modern audiences find this sort of repetition tedious or worse. So I take a verse or two of this sort of thing to get the gist of it and just drop the rest. Now, some tight-lipped folklorist may take issue with this sort of editing, but I fall back on a couple of words spoken to my by Prof. David C. Fowler (A Literary History of the Popular Ballad, Duke University Press 1968), from whom I took an excellent class on "The Popular Ballad" when I was at the University of Washington. There were several singers in this class and sometimes the class wound up being a song-fest. When I did a somewhat truncated version of a ballad, Dr. Fowler asked me where I had learned that version. I confessed that I had edited a version I had learned from John and Sylvia Kolbs, A Treasury of Folk Songs (Bantam Books, 1948), and threw myself on his mercy. He assured me that there was nothing wrong with editing a song they way I had done. "The academician, the folk song collector," he said, "is obligated to write down all that he hears. But the singer, such as yourself, is primarily an entertainer. You need to be judicious in what you feel will be entertaining and not bore your audience. If you can do that and still be true to the spirit of the song, I would say you have succeeded. I would call this "a minstrel's prerogative."

A minstrel's prerogative. I like that!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Captain Colin
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 02:16 PM

Well, it ought to be a clear winner- but I don't think it's folk song- surely it's a post-war Country song, written by Cy Coben?


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Captain Colin
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 02:22 PM

.."Nobody's Child", that is.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Gulliver
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 03:40 PM

I agree with Don above. Most of the songs mentioned here are good songs--they've stood the test of time--and many are requested at sessions and parties where we are paid to play, so it's good to know them. It's just a matter of personal preference.

We don't know what the worst folk songs were, because they were quickly forgotten and consigned to the dustbin of history.

So I tried to think of some song I don't like--the Grey Funnel Line comes to mind.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Woods
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 09:07 PM

Of course this is all very subjective, and there probably is a difference between over-used songs (that probably got that way because they are good) and those that you wonder how they ever made it out their first door, but somehow survived (and shouldn't?).

My personal peeve is Bile Dem Cabbage Down (or one of many other varieties of spellings). Don't know why this one ever existed, let alone why it still does.
Woods


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 05 Jun 07 - 09:42 PM

Nobody's Child ... yeah ... except that any time I hear it, I find myself singing along with gusto. (That's my friend - Gusto. He's Italian. Maybe he's the same guy Bee sings along with.)


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 02:56 AM

Nobody's Child is a folk song? In that case, I don't like folk music.


My own nomination - Auld Lang Syne.


DC


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 04:19 AM

Back in touch with my cousin after a 40-year gap, I eagerly asked him what he remembered about growing up in a well-known Suffolk singing pub in the 1950's and 1960's. His one abiding memory was at chucking-out time, when the old boys reeled down the road singing the first line of 'Distant Drums', then repeating it over and over again as they couldn't remember any more. The context surely makes it an honorary folk song, and therefore it must be a contender in this forum.......


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Mark H.
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 04:28 AM

John Barleycorn is tedious, so rather than complain I re-wrote it, leaving out the metaphors:
"They planted some barley, and when it grew
It was harvested, malted and brewed."
That saves a lot of time, so some wet blanket can sing Coal 'ole Cavalry or Fields of Athenry while you go to the bar.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 05:24 AM

That's two anti John Barleycorn posts in this thread now. You only have to listen to the magnificent version opening Tim Van Eyken's last album to hear there's still plenty of life in the song yet...

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Ythanside
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 08:23 AM

Irish,   '...especially sung by out of tune Jocks.'??????

Come outside an' say that, Paddy!

LOL


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 08:49 AM

Anything like "The grey funnel Line" with a chorusy tag on the end of each verse that gets slower, and longer and more drawn out everytime it comes along and the room joins in with corny harmony notes held endlessly.
Wrist slittingly awful.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Young Buchan
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 10:00 AM

A confession.
There is a 19th century broadside ballad called Fanny Adams. Sample verse:
When the neighbours came home without my Fanny
The neighbours searched the country all aroud
They found the head with both the eyes out
And the left arm cut off upon the ground.
In my callow youth I once sang this, hammed it up for all it wa worth and got a barrel of laughs for it. Shortly afterwards I went back and listened to the recording of the old gypsy singer Vashti Vincent singing it - and singing it without a trace of parody or detachment, but a total commitment to a song about a paedophilic murder which clearly deeply affected her. I have often since sung songs which are parodies of other songs, but I have never again parioded a song by taking the piss out of the original, however bad. The old singers thought they were worth passing on to us. If we don't like them we should leave them alone, not make fun of them.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: dholland
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 12:08 AM

It had something to do with a dead skunk in the middle of the road....song stunk!


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: dholland
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 12:09 AM

Hey Nick! Interesting thread.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 03:54 AM

All the really shite songs are contemporary songs, not trad ones.

Stan Rogers should be dug up and feckin shot for inflicting us with ' The Lockeeper ' what a pretentious load of crap, the last time I was at Whitby Folk Week I must have heard it twenty times every day, in fact just thinking about it I've lost the will to live.

But the dreariest song of all is ' Killkelly Ireland ' we could use this song instead of our nuclear deterrent.

eric


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Young Hunting
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 04:06 AM

The songs that annoy me most are those that have really forced lines/rhymes in, and those do indeed tend to be contemporary because the folk process generally digests and evacuates the bad bits.

I genuinely believe that the worst line of the lot is 'Judge's fine and private daughter' in Palaces of Gold. Noone would ever use that as a phrase. There again I've never heard anyone describe Mr Logie Baird's invention as a Telly V - but it didn't stop Ron Angel using it in his song about the decline of Christmas.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 06:50 AM

Quite right, no-one would ever use that phrase in real life but Leon Rosselson used it in his song as an expression of contempt.

eric


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 01:04 PM

I can think of a lot of songs that might fit. But, in reality, it has a lot more to do with repetition and quality of performance than any other factor. "Kumbaya" gets nominated a lot simply because it's been done to death, and by some horrifically bad performers. The same can be said for some other pretty good, and historically interesting and significant material. It's the "dead horse" syndrome. Also, most performers are likely to be a lot more critical than ordinary audiences when it comes to overused songs. I don't know how it is elsewherein the world, but it was once said, possibly by H.L. Mencken, that "no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 03:16 PM

What rotten taste I must have. I think I have enjoyed most of the songs mentioned here at some time or other.

I hate it when someone tries to do something they should have stayed home and practised. Things with tricky rhythms like Martin Carthy uses so well. Things where guitarists play all the chords instead of a passing note, like the C Em Am rundown, and you get this horrible jumpy effect. Another pet hate is when the PA man goes out for a wee or a drink, and leaves the guitar, or the voice at the wrong volume.

part of the joy of folk clubs is seeing new singers start to put together their technique, and drink deep from what to us old hands are the empties and dregs of the repertoire.

Also sometimes a singer can do a song that you think you don't like and completely re-invent it. John Kelly did just that for me a couple of weeks ago at Mansfield Folk Club. What a wonderful singer!


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 09:12 AM

I would have to say that my get up and go cue comes with the first notes of "Marie's Wedding". Same for "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream" and "The Wild Rover". But one of my worst nightmares is to be trapped in Pub with someone who knows ALL the words to "Mary Hamilton".


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: goatfell
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 10:07 AM

back home in Derry


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 11:37 AM

I once found myself falling quite madly for a winsome young lady who DID know all the words to "Mary Hamilton" and who performed the song beautifully. However, that WAS 45 years ago. I don't have any idea whether she still sings it.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 04:45 AM

The worst song ever is undoubtedly 'Brennan On The Moor' which I had the misfortune to hear many years ago performed by a guy in the stereotypical garb of Arran sweater, pint pot in hand (actually one of the very few people I've seen so attired), with much enthusiasm and little talent. This geezer was so delighted with his own performance that he repeated the damn song.
It seemed like poetic justice when, many years later, Father Ted kicked Bishop Brennan up the arse.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Eleanor Roosevelt's Knickers
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 08:08 AM

1 The Wild Rover.

2 That song by Steve Knightley. Roots? I'm sick of it.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: john f weldon
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 09:08 AM

Hey dholland...
The Dead Skunk Song was a Huge pop hit around 1970-ish, and was written by Louden Wainwright, a truly minimalist songwriter. (father to Rufus & Martha among other things).

You can make big bucks writing songs like Dead Skunk. There may be a lesson here for all of us.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: DADGBE
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 01:22 PM

Let's see now, it was Pete Seeger who said something to the effect of - We don't need so many new songs, just the courage to sing the old ones again.

To be truely awful, a song must have a useless tune and stupid words. How about:

I've been to the desert on a horse with no name,
In the desert you can remember your name,
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain...

Yech!


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: john f weldon
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 02:17 PM

DADGBE...
wasn't that Neil Young? Blasphemy!
(tho I agree it sucks...)

Once a few yrs ago, there was a poll conducted in the US & Britain to pick worst song of all time & both came up with the same song, MacArthur Park. Not a Folk song, tho.

The trouble with folk songs; often the worse they are, the better they are, or at least they're kinda fun; like S-A-V-E-D, or (from Hi-Tone Gal):

Adam & Eve were down in the garden, hoein' a field of tomaters...
Eve run around a mulberry bush and hit him in the eye with a tater...

...a kind of Zen perfection to that...


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: HouseCat
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 02:27 PM

Dead Skunk is the official anthem of my church (folk) choir, sung with much enthusiasm at every party, bus trip, etc. We are a fun bunch, lemme tell ya. We just have very questionable tastes.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Old Grizzly
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 03:16 PM

Absolutely any blues song performed by anyone OTHER than a half cut, 40 stone, 3 bellied blind, one legged, three fingered African American Nonogenarian, sitting in a rocker on a rotting verandah somewhere in the deep south.

So shoot me!!

D


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: EuGene
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 04:38 PM

". . . when a hearse goes by,
'cause you may be the next to die." (don't know the song name)

"On Top of Old Smokey"

"Quick, Quack, Quantie, Ahntie,
Montie, Montie, Doshnik" (tune ok, but stupid nonsense words - don't even know how they are spelled as I have never seen them written. The words were probably lifted from a background sign in a "Smokey Stover" comic strip)

Any song seems to glorify dangerous criminals who didn't die soon enough, like "Mack, The Knife", "Bonnie and Clyde", "The Ballad of Billy the Kid", etc.

"She'll Be Commin' 'Round the Mountain"

"99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall"

"Goober Peas"

"The Mitch Mitchell rewrite of "The Yellow Rose of Texas"

Eu


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 05:24 PM

I'd give it to Goober Peas. End of discussion


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Peace
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 05:26 PM

"Convoy" from the C and W persuasion.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Peace
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 05:37 PM

Here's the proof.

Convoy

By Bill Fries & Chip Davis

Uh, Breaker One-Nine, this here's the Rubber Duck
You got a copy on me Pig-Pen? C'mon

Uh, yeah 10-4 Pig Pen, fer sure, fer sure
By golly it's clean clear to Flag-Town, C'mon

Uh, yeah, that's a big 10-4 Pig-Pen,
Yeah, we definitely got us the front door good buddy,
Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy

Was the dark of the moon, on the sixth of June
In a Kenworth, pullin' logs
Cabover Pete with a reefer on
And a Jimmy haulin' hogs
We 'as headin' fer bear on I-One-Oh
'Bout a mile outta Shaky-Town
I sez Pig-Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck
An' I'm about to put the hammer on down

Cause we gotta little ol' convoy, rockin' through the night
Yeah we gotta little ol' convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?
Come on an' join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna git in our way
We're gonna roll this truckin' convoy, cross the USA
Convoy... Convoy...

Uh, breaker Pig-Pen, this here's The Duck
Uh, you wanna back off them hogs
10-4, 'bout five mile or so, 10-roger
Them hogs is gittin' in-tense up here

By the time we got into Tulsa-Town
We had eighty-five trucks in all
But they's a road block up on the clover leaf
An' them bears 'as wall to wall
Yeah them smokies 'as thick as bugs on a bumper
They even had a bear-in-the-air
I sez callin' all trucks, this here's The Duck
We about to go a huntin' bear

Cause we gotta great big convoy, rockin' through the night
Yeah we gotta great big convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?
Come on an' join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna git in our way
We're gonna roll this truckin' convoy, cross the USA
Convoy... Convoy...

Uh, you wanna give me a 10-9 on that Pig-Pen?
Uh, negatory Pig-Pen, yer still too close
Yeah, them hogs is startin' close up my sinuses
Mercy sakes, you better back off another ten

Well we rolled up interstate fourty-four
Like a rocket sled on rails
We tore up all a our swindle sheets
An' left 'em settin' on the scales
By the time we hit that Chi-Town
Them bears was a gittin' smart
They'd brought up some reinforcements
From the Illinois National Guard
There 'as armored cars, and tanks, and Jeeps
An' rigs of every size
Yeah them chicken coops 'as full a bears
An' choppers filled the skies
Well we shot the line, an' we went for broke
With a thousand screamin' trucks
And eleven long-haired friends of Jesus
In a chartreusse microbus

Hey Sod Buster, listen
You wanna put that microbus in behind the suicide jockey?
Yeah, he's haulin dynamite
He needs all the help he can git

Well we laid a strip fer the Jersey Shore
An' prepared to cross the line
I could see the bridge 'as lined with bears
But I didn't have a doggone dime
I sez Pig-Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck
We just ain't a gonna pay no toll
So we crashed the gate doin' ninety-eight
I sez, let them truckers roll, 10-4

Cause we gotta mighty convoy, rockin' through the night
Yeah we gotta mighty convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?
Come on an' join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna git in our way
We're gonna roll this truckin' convoy, cross the USA
Convoy... Convoy...

Uh, 10-4 Pig-Pen, what's yer 20?
Omaha?!
Well they oughta know what to do with them hogs out there fer sure
Well mercy sakes alive good buddy
We gonna back on outta here
So keep the bugs off yer glass
An' the bears off yer... tail
We gonna catch ya on the flip-flop
This here's the Rubber Duck on the side
We gone
Bye, Bye...


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 05:56 PM

sloop john b,benjamin bowmaneer,lord randall,cadgewith/cadgeforth] anthem.,polly wolly doodle.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Downgirl
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 08:38 PM

Anything by Jim Moray!

Re Fields of Athenry. A good song and I loved it when I first heard it in the late '80s. Unfortunately now hijacked by Glasgow Celtic Football Club so unsingable in Scotland or N. Ireland now because of sectarian overtones.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Wayne
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 06:22 AM

Coming Round the Mountain? Surely not. It's fantastic, and seems to get filthier every time Roger does it down the Abbey (fnar, fnar).

I'd second the Jim Moray coment though. Good songs, shite performance.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Gulliver
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 01:42 PM

Re Fields of Athenry. A good song and I loved it when I first heard it in the late '80s. Unfortunately now hijacked by Glasgow Celtic Football Club so unsingable in Scotland or N. Ireland now because of sectarian overtones.

Still, I've heard this being sung in the North and also by Ulster Rugby supporters in Dublin. I've gotten a bit tired of it, but it is wildly popular at singing sessions, singarounds, etc. (along Raglan Road, Black is the Colour, Peggy Gordon, etc.) here in the South so it's good to have it in the repertoire.

Don


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bert
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 02:15 PM

Bile Dem Cabbage Down exists because it's a hoedown tune. It's great for beginner callers because the unobtrusive melody doesn't distract the caller.

One song that I really don't like is "Turn, turn, turn" by Pete Seeger. That's just personal preference though (is there a word that means the opposite of preference?).


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: weerover
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 02:19 PM

opposite of preference = aversion?

wr.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bert
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 03:26 PM

Thanks, my brain is asleep at the moment.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Peace
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 03:55 PM

Opposite of asleep = awake?


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 04:58 PM

I thought nobody else would know this one, but I seem to be wrong.

When she was about 9 years old, my little sister learned an interminable song with a dreary, dreary tune. It started, "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza." About 18 verses later it clunked to a halt because the repair for the hole required a bucket of something, and of course, there was a hole in the bucket.

I just Googled "There's a hole in the bucket, dear..." and got 796 hits. Obviously some misguided souls are keeping that darn song alive.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: EuGene
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 09:36 PM

Ohmygawd! Leeneia, that "Hole in the bucket" song sounds like it is from the same genre as "Hole in the bottom of the sea" which finally gets down to:

There's a hole in the wing on the fly on the wart on the leg on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

As school kids we would sometimes sing that one to see just how fast we could sing it . . . like a musical tongue twister.

Eu


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bill S from Adelaide
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 04:50 AM

Back in the 70's the Morris Side had a booking at the Mechelen Folklore Festival. We were billeted with a family, the son of which was the lead singer of a folk-rock band specialising in electric versins of long ballads in Flemish. His stage name, and the name of the band, was, and I kid you not, Joe Prik (I still have his card if you want a scan, apprently Prik was a brand of lemonade that he drank).
The band started up the backing and he arrived on a pushbike smoking a fag in a long holder. He launched into this interminable ballad with a pretentius air to an audience devoid of Flemish speakers in a manner which inspired much grumbling in the audience. The stage manageer said something presumably in Flemish and the two actually started fighting, with JP pushing the manager around as the PA was turned off and JP was dragged off. I was sitting next to his sister who asked "apart from that, what did you think of them?". I still haven't thought of an answer (Apart from that, Mrs Kennedy, how did you enjoy Dallas?)

Another nomination would be someone at a Manchester Club who advised that "on the way here, it started raining so I waited in a doorway, so while I was there I wrote this song". You know the ilk.

A lot of nominations are victims of their own success, good songs being sung to death. Here in Perth I can sing Farmer's Boy to a folk club full of people who don't know it.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 03:54 PM

Songs like the "hole in the bucket" and "in the bottom of the sea" are a sort of format. "The House that Jack Built." Each new verse builds on the previous verse. A well-known example is "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

The first time around, they can be pretty funny, but they can get awfully tedious awfully quickly.

There is a group of guys who get together once a year to sing at a local Christmas pageant, and the highlight of their program is "The Twelve Days of Christmas," which they rewrite every year, changing "lords a-leaping" and "swans a-swimming" to topical stuff. New every year. And always hilarious!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 08:52 PM

What about when they're not even funny - or interesting - the first time? Like The Rattling Bog (which I don't think actually has a verb in it, which sort of sums up the situation): The leaf on the branch and the branch on the tree and the tree in the... oh, you get the idea...

Re Fields of Athenry as a club anthem, whatever about the sectarian overtones, it's the out-of-tune, turgid, multi-voiced roaring that has finally done me in (lowwwwwwwwwww LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE...) It's actually a fine song, but it has suffered the fate of other fine songs, i.e. that people like them so they become popular and end up getting sung to dismal death. And THEN comes the inevitable parody, which is OK - once or twice - if it's clever, but they're so often second rate.

Kilkelly Ireland has decent words but it's too long and suffers from a horribly repetitive melody with about a four-note range. Boring even when performed by a talented singer.

On the non-folk front, I totally agree with the person above who nominated MacArthur Park (way too long, tedious, silly & meaningless) and also Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, which seems to consist of two whole notes. HOW did either of those ever get beyond the demo stage??


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: EuGene
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 10:32 PM

Then along comes Van Morrison (who seems to have done ok on his previous recordings) singing "Moon Dance" . . . don't know whether or not that is supposed to be a folk song, but he "sings" it with the most god awful bunch of caterwauling I have ever heard. Ya gotta give him credit for a big set of gonads, as he dared to release it to the unsuspecting public with HIS NAME ON IT!! That's BOLD!! Eu


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 10:37 PM

I've hesitated to post anything to this thread, because the song that immediately comes to mind is one that I know a lot of people love very much. But I've now seen enough songs _I_ love get denigrated that I feel it's okay, and all a matter of taste.

The song I can't stand is "Country Life"

I like to rise when the sun she rises,
early in the morning
And I like to hear them small birds singing,
Merrily upon their layland
And hurrah for the life of a country boy,
And to ramble in the new mowed hay.

Now part of it may be that I really don't like to rise when the sun she rises. I like to rise several hours after that. But that isn't it, really, because there are lots of other morning songs I like just fine. Part of it may be the tune, which is VERY repetitive melodically and even more so rhythmically.

But mostly it's the words. Surely there's a better way to express love for the singing of small birds then to say "I like to hear them small birds singing!" As my sixth grade teacher used to say, "Show, don't tell!" I love the Watersons, and have been singing English folksongs all my life - but this one just makes me want to run screaming every time I hear it. It amazes me that it survived the oral tradition - usually the folk process improves upon imagery like this.

But other people, including many I respect deeply, love it - so who can judge?

Dan Schatz


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: EuGene
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 11:00 PM

But, Dan, if folks had any sense of good taste, we would have no pop or folk culture at all! Then we would have no entertainment left except to play Chinese Checkers with "Fur Elise" (on an endless loop tape) as background music, interrupted every few minutes by a computer voice saying "We value your call - please stay on the line and wait for the next available representative". Hell, come on back, Van! Eu


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Eleanor Roosevelt's Knickers
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 07:22 AM

Dan, that's the Steve Knightley song I was trying to think of. MInd you, I don't like 'Roots' either. I know they're saying something important but I'm sick of them being rammed down my throat.


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Windmills of your mind
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:47 AM

Based soley on last night's experience, I'd like to nominate "The Concertina Man".


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Subject: RE: Worst Folk Song Ever?
From: GUEST,Brain Peters
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 10:33 AM

"sloop john b,benjamin bowmaneer,lord randall,cadgewith/cadgeforth] anthem.,polly wolly doodle."

Dammit, Captain, I love all those - with the possible exception of the last one.

I once heard a floor singer do a number about the hallucinogenic effects of certain fungi, which boasted the chorus: "Walking in the rain, mushrooms in my brain". The 'tune' seemed to have been composed while under the influence of said substances, as well.


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