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Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)

Related threads:
Lyr Req: The White Hare (Watersons) (22)
Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden (13)


GUEST,redmax 01 Nov 07 - 10:25 AM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 10:29 AM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Nov 07 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,redmax 01 Nov 07 - 04:25 PM
Gorgeous Gary 01 Nov 07 - 09:14 PM
theleveller 02 Nov 07 - 04:48 AM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Nov 07 - 05:38 AM
theleveller 02 Nov 07 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,redmax 02 Nov 07 - 11:41 AM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Nov 07 - 11:16 PM
theleveller 03 Nov 07 - 08:07 AM
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Subject: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 10:25 AM

...or (of Oldham)

I know there's a version by Andy Irvine, but I'm interested to know about two distinctive versions of this song collected in England:

1. The Joseph Taylor / Martin Carthy version
2. The Traditional Tunes / Watersons version

I think the differences were mainly in the tune rather than the text, although I know the Watersons added their own chorus.

My question is, have more subsequent versions followed on from the Taylor version than the Trad Tunes one?

I can think of a few off the top of my head: Shirley Collins on No Roses, a Danish folk rock band called Fungus, and a UK ensemble called Vulcan's Hammer. All three followed the Joseph Taylor tune.

Can anyone remember the Trad Tunes version being sung by anyone except the Watersons?

Also, I gather Gary Aspey made up an alternative concluding verse in which the hare escapes. Was this recorded? Does anyone else sing it his way?

Any info appreciated, thanks


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 10:29 AM

http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/joseph.taylor/songs/thewhitehare.html


It mentions many of what you mention. Only had time for a quick look. Hope it helps.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 03:08 PM

See thread The White Hare (Watersons) for more information, including the modern 'happy ending' and links to broadside editions.

This is number 1110 in the Roud Folk Song Index, where you will find that there are three examples known from tradition: the two mentioned and another, recorded by Peter Kennedy from a Mrs Cooke of Cardington, Shropshire, in 1952. This last is unpublished so far as I know.

'The Creggan White Hare' (Roud 9633) is a completely unrelated song, not a 'version' of this one; though it is also about hunting a white hare.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 04:25 PM

Interesting stuff, thanks. I'm still keen to know if the Kidson/Watersons version was taken up by any other singers subsequently. Also, if anyone took a fancy to the Aspey version. I'm just startting a dissertation on the 'folk process' and was thinking of using this song as an example. If there's an example of the Watersons' version being adopted by anyone else I could really do with knowing.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: Gorgeous Gary
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 09:14 PM

I recently sang the Watersons' version at an FSGW Open Sing. I nicked it off Beth Patterson (of Poor Clares and Kalafka fame).

-- Gary


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: theleveller
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 04:48 AM

There is a version which sets the action on Howden Hill rather than Howden town. Howden Hill is in North Yorkshire and nowhere near Howden town, which is in East Yorkshire (there are no hills whatsoever around Howden town - believe me, I live there). Howden Hill (or the Sugar Loaf, as it is known)would be a much more appropriate setting as white hares are frequently seen there; the white hare being, or so I'm told, an upland phenomenon. I've never seen a white hare near Howden nor have any of the beaglers I've talked to (still, I suppose if it was a rare sight, that's why there's a song about it). Great song, though, and one I've been meaning to sing for a while.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 05:38 AM

What 'version' would that be? Not one from tradition, I suspect.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: theleveller
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 05:45 AM

Couldn't say; I came across it on www.folkmap.co.uk.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 11:41 AM

Malcolm, it was some time ago, but on the other thread you commented: "It's a pity, in some ways, that people feel the need to bowdlerise old songs, which should be considered in context and not as if they had been written this week. If they don't like what a song says, perhaps they just shouldn't sing it"

Do you still feel the same way about this? I suppose there's a fine line between sanitising a song and tweaking it a little. Isn't the latter what the folk process is all about? There are traditional hunt songs in which the fox gets away. I'm not criticising your opinion, I think it's valid. Of course it'd be ridiculous if people starting changing songs so that Admiral Benbow lives happily ever after!

Actually, I think I've just hit upon an idea. A bowdlerised folk album! Happy endings all round. The judged looked over his left shoulder and said "you're just in the nick of time, your Geordie's just been reprieved".

This time next year I'll be a millionaire


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 11:16 PM

The Howden Hill 'version' turns out just to be the Watersons re-write, uncredited. As mentioned in the earlier discussion, they recorded an arrangement of the set from Kidson's Traditional Tunes, shortened and altered in places, with a chorus of their own invention substituted for the original refrain. In fact, the location remains Howden itself, Howden Hill being mentioned only in the final verse as altered by the Watersons. The Lolley/Kidson text is:

The horsemen and the footmen they all drew nigh,
Thinking that the white hare was going for to die;
She slipt out of the bush and thought to run away,
But cruel were the beagles that caused her to stay

The text of the Watersons arrangement, as transcribed from a recording, is given (see earlier links) as follows; though I suspect that it isn't entirely accurate:

Oh both horse and foot they did them unto the place draw nigh
Thinking that the white hare was going for to die
But she slipped out of the bush boys over Howden Hill
And the beagles and the greyhounds they was one short in the kill

There is already some bowdlerisation, though it is at least just a modification of a 'real' verse. The Aspey bowdlerisation is more blatant: a new verse made from scratch and in a different style.

Yes, I still believe that you either sing a song honestly or you leave it alone altogether. No quarrel with people bulking out a fragmentary version with material from other (traditional) examples or from broadsides; but deliberately changing the meaning of a song in order to make singer and/or audience feel comfy and cosy about what might otherwise be a challenging issue is both dishonest and misleading, however well meant.

That isn't what I understand by the much-misused term 'folk process'; this is self-conscious editorial intervention of the kind that early 20th century collectors and publishers are always being criticized for. The 'political correctness' of the Edwardian era was not very different from that in vogue today, though then the problem was sex and nowadays it is other things. They at least had the real excuse that, without their alterations, it would have been impossible to publish material that had even the ghost of a sexual reference. Today, we have fewer such constraints. That doesn't stop people who think they know better from misrepresenting the past by re-writing it, but personally I prefer the truth, even when some of it is disagreeable to modern sensibilities.


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Subject: RE: Versions of The White Hare (of Howden)
From: theleveller
Date: 03 Nov 07 - 08:07 AM

There you go, then. I'll keep my eye open for a white hare when I'm out poach... errr...having a nice night-time stroll with my lurcher. Wonder if they taste different to the brown ones.


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