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Do male singers have all the best songs?

mauvepink 16 Jun 09 - 08:23 AM
Mr Happy 16 Jun 09 - 08:34 AM
mauvepink 16 Jun 09 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Jun 09 - 08:47 AM
TheSnail 16 Jun 09 - 08:58 AM
Dave Hanson 16 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM
mauvepink 16 Jun 09 - 09:16 AM
frogprince 16 Jun 09 - 10:08 AM
Maryrrf 16 Jun 09 - 10:10 AM
M.Ted 16 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM
mg 16 Jun 09 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,mauvepink 16 Jun 09 - 11:30 AM
kendall 16 Jun 09 - 11:56 AM
Bernard 16 Jun 09 - 12:17 PM
Spleen Cringe 16 Jun 09 - 12:22 PM
Marje 16 Jun 09 - 12:27 PM
Ebbie 16 Jun 09 - 12:29 PM
PoppaGator 16 Jun 09 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,mauvepink 16 Jun 09 - 12:46 PM
breezy 16 Jun 09 - 02:57 PM
Phil Edwards 16 Jun 09 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,mg 16 Jun 09 - 04:36 PM
Alan Day 16 Jun 09 - 05:34 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Jun 09 - 06:01 PM
michaelr 16 Jun 09 - 06:49 PM
frogprince 16 Jun 09 - 06:53 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 16 Jun 09 - 08:21 PM
Suegorgeous 16 Jun 09 - 08:36 PM
Michael Harrison 16 Jun 09 - 09:44 PM
Mysha 16 Jun 09 - 09:52 PM
Phil Cooper 16 Jun 09 - 10:15 PM
Will Fly 17 Jun 09 - 04:19 AM
Nigel Parsons 17 Jun 09 - 04:32 AM
kendall 17 Jun 09 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,mauvepink 17 Jun 09 - 07:18 AM
Smedley 17 Jun 09 - 07:30 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 17 Jun 09 - 07:42 AM
Marje 17 Jun 09 - 10:15 AM
frogprince 17 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM
George Papavgeris 17 Jun 09 - 10:49 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 17 Jun 09 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 17 Jun 09 - 11:50 AM
Smedley 17 Jun 09 - 12:09 PM
Marje 17 Jun 09 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,mauvepink 17 Jun 09 - 02:33 PM
paula t 17 Jun 09 - 03:24 PM
PoppaGator 17 Jun 09 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,wordy 17 Jun 09 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,mg 17 Jun 09 - 05:29 PM
Joybell 17 Jun 09 - 07:43 PM
frogprince 17 Jun 09 - 07:58 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 17 Jun 09 - 08:48 PM
Artful Codger 17 Jun 09 - 11:28 PM
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Subject: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: mauvepink
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:23 AM

Whilst I realise that the majority of songwriters generally are men historically I wonder if many women have have encountered what I am finding?

There are so many good songs out there... brilliant songs with great words and tunes, but songs that do not easily covert around to a female angle/perspective. To me is seems so few songs can actually be turned from being sung from a man to be being sung from a woman. While most women would still sing a 'male song' I do find it hard to convert many songs spoken from a man to being spoken by a woman. Very often the language/words spoke by a man/men is different when the gender is changed. I am not talking about the more obvious shanty type songs and swashbuckling ones, which maybe can only be sung by men realistically (Wild Rover, Black Velvet Band, Whiskey in the Jar, etc)

Have many of the female singers out there encountered this? Allow me to give some examples...

Ride on (Christy Moore): Strong emotive song but not easily converted over as coming from a woman. The Town I loved So Well (Phil Coulter): another heartrending song but difficult to be from a female perspecive.

Changing the his/he's and hims to the her/she's and hers often will mean changing lots more words to feminise a song in a way as if coming from a woman BUT so many songs cannot be done that way even then, as they lose meaning.

So: Do men have a monopoly on more songs in folk than the women do? Of course this is not the men's fault but I do wish I had more songs open to me as many of the 'men's songs' seem so wonderful. Are some of the folk domains always to stay in the male arena? I guess some will for sure... because they have to

Converse to this. Do men ever wish they could sing some of the female orientated songs out there?

There are lots of 'gender neutral songs' too and I do rend to like many of them.

Thanks for any opinions, ideas and comments

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:34 AM

How do you define 'best song'?


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: mauvepink
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:41 AM

Good question...

Somewhat tongue in cheek as 'best song' can only ever be subjective I suppose.

Maybe 'best' is not a good way of putting it...

Hmmmm

What I mean is do men have some great songs that are not easily or cannot be sung/written from a female perspective. Songs a woman wished she could sing without having to change the song too much?

Sorry to be ambiguous. I know exactly what I mean... I am just having trouble putting it into words (male or female!)

Best = a great angle not easily transfeered into a female angle. Thus, what makes it a great song is that is is coming from a male emotional perspective that cannot be simply turned around into the opposite gender just by words.

Confused? Maybe I should sack the thread before it goes further? Sorry to be unclear...

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:47 AM

The pop scene is male dominated. (I hear about nine male vocalists for one female on the radio, for example.) The folk scene tends to imitate the pop scene - it's only natural.

If you want women's songs, don't go to a folk concert by a bunch of men. Go the library, buy recordings by females, use out-of-the-way sources wherever you may find them.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:58 AM

The folk scene tends to imitate the pop scene

?!?! ?


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM

Ride On is a Jimmy McCarthy song, it's non gender specific anyway, in traditional song the convention has always been not to change the gender, ie. men sing female type songs and vice versa, it's a pop music thing like Eric Burdon changing the gender on The Animals version of ' House of the Rising Sun ' thereby making himself a male prostitute.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: mauvepink
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 09:16 AM

Thanks for that Dave H. How strange people's perceptions can be. I saw Ride On as a male song (though I have heard it sung by females unchanged) simply because of the word "gut". Run your claw along my tummy does not really fit well and my perception would be using "gut" as it being a male word more than female.

Be that as it may it is one purely of perception and choice I suppose. I am glad you answered my prime question though. So little conversion goes on in folk songs then? Maybe it's just me being relatively new to the folk scene and not being so used to women singing men's songs and vice versa without changing gender cues.

Thank you

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: frogprince
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:08 AM

Never thought of Eric Burdon putting himself in the place of a male prostitute; it always just sounded natural enough to me to hear him as lamenting having squandered his money, and perhaps his health, hanging out at the HOTRS way too much; perhaps blaming those awful women for tempting him beyond what he could withstand.

Interesting "delimna" Ms. Mauve; in some instances could it be as simple as saying "Now I'm going to slip into a male persona for this one"? Lots of folks just do so automatically without feeling the need to say anything about it. Would that little disclaimer help keep you comfortable?


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:10 AM

Where folk music is concerned, I think most singers don't let the fact that a song is 'gender specific' bother them. Women sing songs from the male point of view, and vice versa. Seems to work!


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM

If you decide that you can't sing a song because you think one word is more likely to be used by a man than a woman then you are right, the problem is with your perception and not with the body of music available.

Even given that, though, if you focus on traditional music, there are lots of women's songs out there--


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: mg
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:58 AM

My heartiest wish is that you not try to alter the song, just sing it as it is from whoever's perspective. It is not you, it is the person in the song singing their story. When songs are switched from male to female and back again, so much gets lost, and it really really irks many people, myself included, who have heard the original version. Just sing what you like. mg


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 11:30 AM

Thanks for all your comments so far. It's nice to have other opinions and sometimes learn something about myself into the bargain :-)

I can see why it would irk some - not least maybe the person who made the song - as much as sometimes it has irked me feeling I could not sing a song because I could not 'convert it'. It's nice to know that most folks are happy for a song to be sung as it is and by whom without reference. That bit has concerned me a while.

I'm out this evening but will catch up tomorrow. Hope you all have a good remainder to the day

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: kendall
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 11:56 AM

I've always sung songs that come from the female perspective. It also bugs me when someone changes the gender to suit themselves. The song is the song, it is not me.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Bernard
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:17 PM

What about Leon Rosselson's 'Don't Get Married, Girls!'? Written by a man from the woman's perspective... very funny, and very clever!


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:22 PM

There are loads of traditional songs from the female perspective including many of the best ones (okay... my favourite ones). As traditional songs tend, on the whole not to be confessional, the singer takes the role of narrator/storyteller. In that case, it matters little what the gender of the singer is.

Tommorrow, at the Beech in Chorlton (8pm on the nose, popchums!), we will no doubt see some fine examples of folktastic gender bending. In the recent past this has included Pip Radish singing "the Bonnie Boy" which he does remarkably well for a man not prone to slipping into a frock...


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Marje
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:27 PM

In traditional song, there's often a switch of perspective as the narrative progesses - it may start out, say, with some passer-by observing a conversation, and then the rest of the song will be shared between a couple having some sort of dialogue, so the singer has to represent all three points of view. No one expects him/her to start singing falsetto or putting on a false beard to demonstrate who is singing. So if you're fond of a song, I don't see why you shouldn't sing it, even if it's all written from the male point of view. I recently heard a lovely version of "Spanish Lady" sung by a woman, with total conviction, and it never occurred to me that it was inappropriate.

As someone says above, if you want more specifically female songs, dig out some recordings of woman singers and you'll find some great material. I find the main problem is that there's a preponderance of sad songs about girls being pregnant/abandoned/ otherwise let down by men, and although some of these are cracking songs, there are times when you want to lighten up a bit, and most of the jovial songs seem to be men's ones (about drinking, womanising, hunting, poaching, general carousing, etc). Some of these you may find quite singable, while others may make you uneasy - just stick with what you find comfortable, and your listeners will be happy for you to share the song with them.

For what it's worth, I first heard "Ride On" sung by a woman singer at a folk club, and have never thought of it as a man's song. "The Town I Loved" is a bit different as it has very specific details that might jar a bit - I don't really like tweaking songs, but in this case I have, in the past, substituted, "and become a wife" for "and I'd found a wife" - the rest of it I left as it was.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:29 PM

I agree- there is no reason why either sex can't sing any song, but it can lead to some strange and irksome misperceptions.

I remember a recording that a Mudcatter did in which she sang a song she had written from the perspective of a friend of hers, a friend who was marvelling at how beautifully his almost-grown daughter had turned out even though he had missed many of her growing up years. It was very clearly written from a "daddy's" viewpoint.

After hearing the tape, an acquaintance of the Mudcatter said to her, "I didn't know you have a daughter." He was serious.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:33 PM

"The folk scene tends to imitate the pop scene - it's only natural."

Well, which "folk scene"?

I suppose this comment makes it quite cleaar that there's more than one definition of "folk." Real traditional music predates contemporary pop, obviously, and its closest adherents would he aghast the the merest suggestion that they "imitate the pop scene."

But then, on the other hand, there's some sort of contemporary folk music, too. As a singer, I suppose you have to figure out which camp you belong to.

As several folks have noted above, it is acceptable and common in most "real" folk-music circles for performers of either gender to sing songs using their established lyrics, regardless of whether the "narrator" is male or female. So, it's OK for you to do so, too.

On the other hand, if it makes you uncomfortable to follow this custom, you can either select your material accordingly, or alter certain lyrics to suit your delivery. Some would frown upon the latter alternative, so don't be surprised at a negative reaction. Best to minimize "personalization" of well-known traditional lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 12:46 PM

Had another quick look before I set out...

Marje: great idea for "Town I loved So Well" and one that I will adopt with your permission. It's a little 'tweak' like that which I refer to... not a massive rearrangement, but a subtle change that (for me) makes it feel easier to sing.

All this said I am taking a great deal of note on the general concensus about 'sing it as it is' being fine in most cases.

Bye for now...

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: breezy
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 02:57 PM

So how come June Tabor on Anthology sings some
the best songs written , possibly ever?


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 03:17 PM

In the recent past this has included Pip Radish singing "the Bonnie Boy" which he does remarkably well for a man not prone to slipping into a frock...

Cheers! The strange thing is I'd completely forgotten singing that song - I was thinking of that evening the other day & could vividly remember singing something (and where I was sitting, etc) but not what the song was. I must start writing this stuff down again.

Anyway, my experience with trad songs has been the exact opposite of the OP. I've heard (& in some cases tried to sing) lots of songs written from the perspective of the girl who's been seduced/knocked up/abandoned/widowed/all of the above (not necessarily in that order), and very few from the man's perspective - and very few indeed from the perspective of a 48-year-old bloke with a desk job. ("I ne'er would have sat those accountancy exams if I hadn't been ruled by you...") Just sing the songs, I say.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 04:36 PM

It does seem there is a sparcity of female songwriters..but here are some to check out and I am sure others have knowledge of many more... Linda Allen, Judy Small, Betsy Wellings, Lady Cornelia Oliphant, Mary Chapin Carpenter...who else? .


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Alan Day
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 05:34 PM

As for songs how about the fantastic "Female Drummer"
There are a number sung by The Threlful Sisters that I enjoy also.
There are some wonderful old Music Hall songs sung by women.
I think it is an equal mix MP but nice try.
Al


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 06:01 PM

Peggy Seeger's songs (both those she writes and the others she also sings) seem to me heavily weighted with female-perspective lyrics. Certainly not exclusively, of course, but she tends to be a social-consciousness singer, with a women's liberation loading.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: michaelr
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 06:49 PM

First version of "Ride On" I heard was the recording by Mary Coughlan. I remember finding the "claw along my gut" line quite striking and powerful and thinking "there's a gutsy woman".

In general, mauvepink, I've long felt that it's easier for my female vocalist to sing, say, "The Star of the County Down" without engendering confusion than it would be for me to sing a love song about a male (...but maybe that's just me) and that therefore women singers actually have a vaster choice of repertoire.

My $0.02.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: frogprince
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 06:53 PM

Uh-huh; it would be pretty hard for a male to sing some of Peggy's material comfortably or plausibly. We got to hear her live last year. She's a pure delight; absolutely an outspoken feminist, but without a trace of meanness toward anyone of any gender.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:21 PM

Rita MacNeil not only sang, but wrote "Working Man". Like Peggy, Rita is an outspoken feminist, but without a trace of meanness toward anyone of any gender as well.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 08:36 PM

I think I'd rather have a gut than a tummy....... :)


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 09:44 PM

Mauvepink - and everyone else, too - great ideas and perspectives running through this thread, so here's my two cents and hope it holds up.

I, for one, have long preferred the female voice to the male - hands down; and, as a result, I probably listen to more female singers and songwriters than, well, surely anybody I know. While I don't think of them as being, "heros," I have the highest respect and admiration for womenfolk such as Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Kim Richey (who has got to be the most unappreciated female songwriter on the planet), Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea; ah, where do I stop - on the Celtic side, take any of the female singers in Solas, the fine fiddler and singer from Altan, the enchanting Loreena McKinnett, the absolutely wonderful voices of the Rankin women, Mary Black - and all of that is without mentioning any of the fine regional singers from Texas and Louisiana and such. My God, the list is endless. There are tons of women out there singing "male" and "female" songs while writing great songs of their own.

One of the things I learned from Emmylou is that you can sing any damned song you want to - one way or the other. One of the first "folk" songs I ever learned was, "Someday Soon," and some of the guys said, "That's a girl song." No it's not: There's a young man that I know, his age is twenty-one, comes from down in southern Colorado, just out of the service and he's lookin for his fun, some day soon, she'll go with him some day soon -- all done in 3rd person
and it works very well.

Oops, time is running short and I've gotta run, but hey, if you like the song and you cannot/will not adjust perspective then inform your audience of that, then - sing your ass off. Cheers,..........mwh


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Mysha
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 09:52 PM

(Oh, this answer is sure to confuse someone)

I feel songs should be sung asif you mean them. Sure, you can "we two, me and you" all you like, but if you're actually singing about something, it should fit you. And for some of us that'll mean they won't sing labour songs, for others that they don't sing anti-war songs (for me pro-war songs, I guess), and for some it means that the gender should match.

There's more to it than that: I don't mind as much to sing Scarborough fair, though for the second half I'm singing the wrong gender. (I guess it should be a two-gender duet). But I don't like to sing Where Do You Go To My Lovely anymore, because the person speaking is younger than me now. And there are plenty of songs I'd rather not sing because they are too feminine.

But to me the answer to the quesion is: No! I often hear good songs that I simply won't sing because they are so obviously from a female perspective. Male singers definitely do not have all the best songs.
(I did post a female version of Whisky in the Jar, once, so if you must ...)

                                                                                                                                    Mysha


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:15 PM

As a male, I've sometimes done a shortish set of songs from a woman's perspective. Rosemary's Sister or He Fades Away, as examples (they were both written by men, I should note). I think it's harder for me to put those across (for example, I did not introduce He Fades Away properly in one setting and got a lot of women laughing in all the wrong places). But also check out good songs written by woman writers like the above mentioned Judy Small (Mothers, Daughters, Wives and many others) could be sung by anyone.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 04:19 AM

Here's a wonderful song, sung by a woman. I love it to death but couldn't imagine myself or any other bloke doing it in a million years: Marie Kendall


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 04:32 AM

Do male singers have all the best songs?
No! Neither does The Devil have all the best tunes.

But, as has been stated above, many songs have been heard so often sung by men that the assumption is that they're 'mens songs'. An interesting point in case is "Danny Boy" which was written to be sung by a woman (the author even provides different words for when it's sung by a man Eily dear). The fact so many men sung it brought up the suggestions that it was being sung by a chieftain to his son, rather than just by a woman to her lover.

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: kendall
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 06:52 AM

I wonder why so many of us have trouble separating ourselves from the song? If I like a song, I will sing it no matter whose prospective it comes from. I'm simply the conductor, not the whole bloody train!


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 07:18 AM

Some great additions to the thread since I last checked.

Thank you all for the comments and opinions. It is great to get so many differing, and similar, points of view on this and it has taught me a great deal in subtle ways.

Please do not stress the thread title too much though. I know there are great female songwriters and singers out there. I was not thinking of it from men having to change female songs around but just women adapting 'male songs'. I now have had my eyes opened more!

I am grateful for all your contributions to this :-)

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Smedley
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 07:30 AM

One of the things I like most about folk/roots/traditional/whatever songs is the very fact that the performer's gender does not prevent them singing songs in which they temporarily adopt a different 'gender persona', or even re-frame the song so that you can interpret it, if you wish, from a non-heterosexual standpoint. Jim Moray singing 'Gilderoy' is a personal favourite in that vein.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 07:42 AM

Sometimes you just have to sing a song despite being the "wrong" gender.

I sing "Penny Evans" because it is just too powerful and compelling a song not to , and it is written by Steve Goodman.

On the other hand I cannot bring myself to sing "Alice White" written by Alan Bell (but my wife does), or "She moves among men" written by Bill Caddick.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Marje
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 10:15 AM

Mauvepink, of course I don't mind if you use my "tweaked" version of The Town I Loved So Well. If I wanted to keep it as my own special secret, I wouldn't have posted it here, and anyway it's years since I've sung it.

Reading through this thread reminds me: a female friend and I used to sing a "girly" version of Keith Marsden's "Old Peculier". It had lines like "For PMT some girls take rum....." and "some keep the Baileys handy". I'll spare you any more details, because I don't want to undermine such a well respected song, except to say that the bits about womanising sound much naughtier if you sing them as a woman about men ("Forget the men who said they might, and think on those who did, girl!")

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: frogprince
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM

Black belt, I cannot hear "Penny Evans" without tears. It's a wonderful, and "terrible", work of art.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 10:49 AM

I still prefer June Tabor's singing of "And the Band played Waltzing Matilda" to Eric Bogle's despite the fact that it is written from a male POV. A great performer will empathise with the subject and transcend any issues of gender or race in its delivery.

OK, most of us do not belong to that category. I have myself written a couple of songs from a female POV, which I don't sing because I don't think I can do them justice myself (Tina Taylor sings one, and I love accompanying her, but I can't even harmonise with her on it).

Sometimes a song gets its POV from the listener - I wish I had a pound for every time someone told me that "Johnny don't go walking with the fishes" is clearly written from a mother's or girlfriend's perspective (it wasn't, but I don't mind).


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 10:50 AM

"Roisin Dubh", though clearly the words are those of a man addressed to a woman, I've only ever heard sung by women except one recording by Frank Patterson; Burns's "Banks of Doon", though it gains some additional significance/ambiguity when it's recognised that it's made from a woman's perspective, is regularly given by male singers; more generally, I've often heard female Irish traditional singers perform songs which, logically, are in the voice of a man, and - not quite so frequently - male Irish trad singers perform "female" material. Do what seems right; and some comic songs allow plenty of opportunity to vary your voice (whatever "purists" might say), such as "Mrs McGrath" and "Phil the Fluter". I've always liked "Biddy Mulligan"; but would only sing it as a joke, and, yes, in Falsetto.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 11:50 AM

George, for a second I thought you had written "Tina Turner sings one" ... I experienced one of those moments where I had entered a parallel universe, one where my local Adsa stocks copies of Tina Turner sings the George Papavgeris Songbook (Volumes 1 - 3)...

Ok, it's been a long day.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Smedley
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 12:09 PM

To see what can be achieved by 'gender switching', listen to the album 'Sorry I Made You Cry' by The Czars. Their male (and gay, if that matters) singer covers songs first written by/for and performed by female singers. They're pop & rock songs, so might not interest the pure of heart who contribute here, but the results are amazing.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Marje
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 01:08 PM

You are not alone, Spleen, I also had a surreal moment of imagining Tina Turner at some folk gig with George trying to add a harmony.

Oh and yes, ABCD above, I agree that using an artificial voice (such as falsetto)is perfectly OK in a humorous song - but I wouldn't recommend it for a serious ballad.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 02:33 PM

Marje... I hear you ;-) lol

George... I have been trying to sing that song all the way through this afternoon without crying. "The Town I loved" had the same effect when I was learning that, and although I have not heard June Tabor sing "Waltzing Matilda" I can well imagine what a job she does of it.

Some songs just have to be sung as they stand and, as a friend of mine pointed out just yesterday, as long as you can put the emotion across then the listeners will go with it.

Still loving the thread. Out I trot again but will look for more tomorrow

Have a great evening everyone :-)

mp


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: paula t
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 03:24 PM

Richard Shindell has written some lovely songs from the female point of view. One of my favourites, which I have just started to sing, is "Reunion Hill". I have only recently managed to sing one of the lines near the end without breaking down in floods of tears.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 03:36 PM

I feel compelled to add a name to the lists of female songwriters submitted by mg and Michael (above) ~ Lucinda Williams.

Yeah, yeah, I know ~ she's Not-Folk (although her background and early musical education definitely took place within the folk-revival context).

But then again, neither are all the women whose names were cited above, a couple of whom have been pretty closely associated with Lucinda. Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded "Passionate Kisses," which won Lu a songwriting Grammy, and Emmylou was a next-door neighbor for a while and I'm pretty sure the two of 'em collaborated on a few projects.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 05:00 PM

Excluding traditional songs I think one of the major problems is that most female songwriters write about "feelings", and love and its many problems. Male writers tend more to write about "life" and its many problems.
Male writers are more likely to write in the abstract, creating a character or telling a story. Women writers tend to write more from the personal I/me point of view.
Yes there are exceptions others will now pile in to quote, but I'm making a generalisation based on listening over many years.
By the way, I have many cds by female writers as well as male and enjoy them equally.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 05:29 PM

Some of the most bestest songs are occupational, such as mining, fishing etc. Women were of course underrepresented shall we say, or lucky perhaps, or whatever. Of course, wonderful weaving songs come to mind...lullabies, mg


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 07:43 PM

mp -- I've been a singer for about 62 years. Started when I began to talk. I know what you mean. I noticed this when I was about five. AND boys could grow up to be explorers, spacemen, cowboys.
This is not to say that I'm unhappy -- and I wasn't then. Just to say I understand.
I've always sung some songs that don't gender-switch well -- but I'm very aware that it can be distracting. When I sing "Long Black Veil", for example, I get to "...been in the arms of my best friend's wife" and the image complicates things. Matters not that another soprano, and a famous one, sang it. For me, and for so many of us, songs have a life apart from the singer-of-the-moment.
Cheers Joy -- happily singing "I am a Young Man and I come from Kiandra" to myself.


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: frogprince
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 07:58 PM

"I am woman, hear me roar..."

naaah


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 08:48 PM

One of the earlier posts reminded me of this simple, comedic, solo (or group) gender bender, done with a paper napkin folded and pinched in the form of a bow:


Bow held as moustache, deep voice:

   You must pay the rent, you must pay the rent, you must pay the rent today!

Bow held to side of head, falsetto:

   I can't pay the rent, I can't pay the rent, I can't pay the rent today!

Bow held as moustache, deep voice, more threatening:

   You must pay the rent, you must pay the rent, you must pay the rent today!

Bow held to side of head, falsetto, more tremulous, on the edge of tears:

   I can't pay the rent, I can't pay the rent, I can't pay the rent today!

Bow held as moustache, deep voice, ferociously trimphuant:

   You must pay the rent, you must pay the rent, you must pay the rent today!

Bow held at throat, as bow tie, heroic tenor:

   I'll pay the rent!

Bow held to side of head, falsetto, squealing in love and gratitude:

   My hero!

Bow held as moustache, in angry aside:

   Curses! Foiled again!


Charles


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Subject: RE: Do male singers have all the best songs?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 11:28 PM

I can usually establish the gender of the song "narrator" fairly easily by adjusting singing style and quality of voice--gender is cued by more than lyrics. This avoids gender "surprises" later on.

In this feminized age there is more public acceptance of women singing men's songs than of men singing women's songs (not that it stops me), so the original complaint is not only unfounded but a little spoiled.

If a song's lyrics make you uncomfortable from a gender perspective, consider writing a "reply to" or "companion" song modeled on the original. Changing the gender in a song is seldom justified unless the song is practically gender-neutral to start with.


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