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Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee

DigiTrad:
A MON LIKE THEE


Related thread:
Lyr Req: A Mon Like Thee - extra verses? (30)


Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 07:20 AM
Emma B 07 Aug 09 - 07:36 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Aug 09 - 07:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Aug 09 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,Russ 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 AM
John MacKenzie 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 AM
Simon G 07 Aug 09 - 07:53 AM
Will Fly 07 Aug 09 - 08:03 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 07 Aug 09 - 08:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 AM
Acorn4 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 AM
Will Fly 07 Aug 09 - 08:16 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 08:51 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 09:02 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 07 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM
Dave Hanson 07 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM
foggers 07 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM
Midchuck 07 Aug 09 - 09:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 07 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Russ 07 Aug 09 - 10:26 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Aug 09 - 02:47 PM
Barbara 07 Aug 09 - 04:15 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM
Barbara 07 Aug 09 - 04:35 PM
sid 07 Aug 09 - 04:55 PM
John P 07 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 09 - 06:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Aug 09 - 06:54 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 09 - 07:05 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 08:13 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 08:17 PM
Jeri 07 Aug 09 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,MtheGM 07 Aug 09 - 10:17 PM
GUEST,MtheGM 07 Aug 09 - 10:27 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 10:58 PM
GUEST,MtheGM 07 Aug 09 - 11:18 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 11:29 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 11:34 PM
Snuffy 08 Aug 09 - 04:39 PM
robomatic 08 Aug 09 - 04:51 PM
Joe Nicholson 08 Aug 09 - 06:38 PM
harpmolly 08 Aug 09 - 07:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM
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Subject: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:20 AM

Last night I split early from my local folk club in a state of dark depression after one of the singers sang A Mon Like Thee which contains the line For I'm not poor, but rich as ony Jew to which the response went up Oy Vey!. Oy vey indeed! I did not comment at the time, but bore it with quiet dignity as we slunk off to ADSA where we did our weeks shopping at 10.30pm by way of catharsis.

I hate the fecking song anyway; one of the draw-backs of living in Lancashire is having to wade the depths of mawkish tripe like this which is sung with great relish (however so innocent the racism) in folk clubs the county over. So - what does the panel think? Over reacting? Political Correctness Gone Mad? Or justified wariness at how insidious and nauseating this stuff can be whatever the intention?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Emma B
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:36 AM

I notice that in a previous thread about this song the line as sung on some recordings is 'as rich as honey dew' so obviously there was some recognition of negative stereotyping previously.

It's often difficult singing old songs written in a different time that clash with modern sentiments but, I've never heard the response you describe accompaning the singing of this song and I would find that equally depressing I think.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:41 AM

I guess its part of the casual racism that peppers popular songs of the 19 Century. No doubt some people will want to leave it as it is, some to change it and some not to sing it at all.

We used to sing it in the 60's and discussed it at a reunion. As it happens the singer didn't know that verse - or had forgotten it. I seem to remember The Oldham Tinkers, on Deep Lancashire, only had 2 versions - the others being collected later.

I hope we don't beat each other up over this but I feel it is inappropriate to sing "rich as ony Jew".

Cheers

L in C
PS Anybody using the phrase "Political Correctness Gone Mad" - a donation to a charity of your choice?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:42 AM

Sorry

I seem to remember The Oldham Tinkers, on Deep Lancashire, only had 2 versions - the others being collected later.

should read 2 verses


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 AM

If it is your "local folk club" why would you hesitate to give them some negative feedback? Aren't these people you know and who know you?

My friends in my club would be more suprised if I remained silent than if I spoke up.

A bunch of total strangers would be an entirely different situation.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 AM

Why sing the song then? Nobody's twisting your arm.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Simon G
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:53 AM

Just show how much notice I take of other people's singing. I've never even noticed the mention of a Jew before. Equally amazed at the Oy Vey.

There are certainly deep seams of racism and anti-semitism that continue to be mined in Lancashire as with probably many other places.

I find myself torn between grudging allowing the mining, or suppressing it. I think in the long term the feelings need to be expressed in the open before there can be any solution - a sort of truth and reconciliation process. The problem is the expression does harm, particularly for people who appear to be in the target group. Suppression limits the harm today, but does it ever lead to the hatred going away or does it simply reappear at a later date in some more vile form.

If songs exist for anything is is to allow us to explore feelings, some of which we may share ourselves and others may be completely outside our experience or indeed opposite of our own. I do hope we don't become politically correct and cease singing songs that express other points of view. The audience clearly explored their anti-semitism however latent and hopefully some find a better way.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:03 AM

There's always (seems to me) a residual problem in singing some period songs where the sentiments of the time were less socially sensitive than today. I sing Gus Elen's "A Nice Quiet Day - The Postman's Holiday" which has as the first line Now I works just like a n*gg*r and I isn't very strong. It's just possible, I suppose, to present the song honestly, in the acceptance that what you're singing is historically and socially correct in the full knowledge that "we all know it's wrong". Perhaps... I always sing Now I works just like a navvy and always have done, even in sensitive and understanding song circles. Apart from that first line, it's a great and very funny song - and worth singing.

If you look at the performance and written sheet music history of popular songs from the 1900s onwards, you'll generally see that they've been changed to match the sensitivities of the time. A line in the song Moonlight Bay has changed in both written and performed versions from You could hear the darkies calling to You could hear the people calling. And rightly so, in my view - it would be crass to sing the original version, for any audience. So why do people do it? Just unthinking? Stupid?

Mind you, I once started to sing Oh Mr. Wu was a laundry man... without realising there were half a dozen Chinese people in the front row of the audience. The band cracked up - and they never let me forget it.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:05 AM

Being a good deal younger than the average folk club goer, and as yet, still a relative newcomer to folk song, I've hovered without any certain feeling on the singing of such songs.

I wouldn't sing them myself, and (I suspect) neither would most members around my generation and younger, but I tend to accept the context in which such songs are sung as being fairly unique and isolated from 'the world at large'.

I don't know if this makes it any more acceptable or not, but I seem to have cordoned off my more personal and err modern sensibilities regarding the singing of such songs, because I see the folk world as existing in a kind of anachronistic time bubble, rather akin to 'the land that time forgot'.

Where the folk world 'meets' the real world, that bubble is burst, and as such I think has a responsibility to shake itself out of that time warp. Otherwise, I do not see it as 'my place' to pass judgement. Bit of a cop-out perhaps.

I would however be disturbed by hearing non-PC songs in a folk context, where members included the new breed of Nationalist and overtly racist style 'folk lovers'... Which raises a whole other issue. And indeed one which might ultimately necessitate that that anachronistic time bubble, is indeed fully burst once and for all.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 AM

In the ADD: A Mon Like Thee - extra verses?
thread you get both any Jew and the absurd Honeydew. You also get Mike Harding's additional verse which takes Lancastrian Mawkishness to another level, especially in the context of such nauseating anti-Semitic sentiment.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 AM

Sensible post, Crow sister -

Are we to ban all songs written during the Napoleonic Wars for their anti-French sentiment?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:16 AM

Talking of racism and similar matters in performance venues, I'll just add that - in my experience of playing in working men's clubs, social clubs, trades & labour clubs, private clubs, British Legions for over 13 years from the early '80s onwards - it was only a matter of time before the 3rd-rate comedian on the bill started on the racist, sexist and blue jokes. It was rife. Sometimes the audience would scream with laughter - sometimes they would not. Our response as a band either waiting to play or having played, would be to get out to a dressing-room as fast as we could.

I do remember one night, at a club in Brighton where there were friends' elderly parents and family in the club, that we lost our tempers and heckled the comedian so viciously that he dropped part of his act and left early. The club owner wasn't pleased, so we told him to fuck off and left as well. Not a career move, but we felt OK about it...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:51 AM

the folk world as existing in a kind of anachronistic time bubble, rather akin to 'the land that time forgot'.

How old is something before it becomes an anachronism? And what part does that anachronism play in a folk-song from the 1960's that perpetuates the same old Anti-Semitic crap that inspired many a pogrom throughout history? Besides which - I don't leave my humanity (much less my ethnicity) at the door when I go into a Folk Club; on the contrary, the songs I sing (all of them traditional with but few exceptions) are affirmations of that humanity which is very much still relevant in the real world, which is precisely the reason why I sing them.

Are we to ban all songs written during the Napoleonic Wars for their anti-French sentiment?

I think you've missed the point there rather, Acorn4. This is not a song from history, rather one which perpetuates an age-old racism which has resulted in the deaths of millions. We're not talking about war here, rather rabid persecution, pogrom and holocaust.

Otherwise, see above.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:02 AM

a folk-song from the 1960's

I'm assuming A Mon Like Thee is modern; from what Les says it's 19th Century. This doesn't change how I feel about it any more than I would someone quoting the pre 1860 Age of Consent as a justification for paedophilia.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM

"Besides which - I don't leave my humanity (much less my ethnicity) at the door when I go into a Folk Club;"

Sorry, I wasn't clear in my meaning. I'm not suggesting such songs are immune from criticism due to their ancient historical origins, but that folk clubs and in particular their *membership* exist in a *1960's* anachronistic bubble.

In the same way that I wouldn't bother telling my Grandfather off for using the term N*gger Brown, I see the folk club context as something almost 'alien' belonging to a generation who are fading out, and thus taking those kinds of songs (which will not be remembered apart from as examples of almost kitch or quaint forms of ignorance) with them.

You say you don't leave your humanity at the door. Well neither do I, I see these people in terms of a context. Not intrinsically racist, but examples of their time. One that is now, an anachronism. It's not for me to take it upon myself to wade in and 'enlighten'. Thus as you said yourself, you tolerated it. Which is in effect what I'm saying too, though with some qualifications as to *why* I might do so.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM

I know people who sing it here in Yorkshire but for the life in I don't know why, it's contrived sentimental shite at it's worst.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: foggers
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM

Singing a folk song that conflicts with modern sensibilities in the context of accepting it was a norm at some time in the past is okay when we are talking about topics such as hunting where society may still be divided on the topic. Many people today are anti-hunting and I have heard the Young Coppers refer to being heckled for still singing hunting songs, but they are quite clear that these songs are part of the tradition they have inherited, though they acknowledge when introducing such songs that attitudes have moved on.

But racism in all its forms is a different matter as the stereotyping and dehumanising of certain ethnic groups has been propagated (historically and now in certain parts of the globe) in order to justify slavery, colonisation and genocide. Anything that puts forward these stereotypes in song, literature, or any other manifestation needs to be discussed and challenged as the stakes are so much higher.

We can't just sit in our little anachronistic bubble when it comes to racism, for all the reasons explored on other threads and leading to the fomration of Folk Against Fascism.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Midchuck
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:58 AM

Ching-chong Chinaman, he's got a curlicue,
And he'll get my job some day,
'Cause he works like the devil owned his soul
And settles for half the pay.


Utah Phillips. I don't think many people would accuse Utah of having been racist. On the other hand, his character, the 1860s Irish immigrant railroad worker who's singing the song, certainly was - like many groups who are victims of discrimination, seeking someone else to discriminate against in his turn.

So how do you make that point without using what appears to be racist language?

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM

but that folk clubs and in particular their *membership* exist in a *1960's* anachronistic bubble.

This is interesting in the light of the Folk Against Fascism and Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion threads in which it becomes clear what the political aspirations and allegiances of the Folk Scene have been since its inception by The Baby Boomer Generation.

I am very much wary (and weary) of political opinion; this is very much a personal thing, as my interests lie with inter-personal humanism and a timely re-emergence of the anarchist humanist idealism of my youth which might allow a reason for innocent racism, but never an excuse for it, feeling as I do that these things must be understood for what they are, in terms of intent.

How far I'm prepared to go in applying that to a Folk Scene founded on radical and militant political thinking hangs in the balance. Maybe this is why I slunk off rather than confronting it, depressed and demoralised that such an inhumane sentiment had been reinforced in a context which would otherwise pride itself on its political humanity.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM

Sure, I think that there are an active percentage of more politically vocal (indeed highly so) individuals in the folkies I've met (and indeed are vocal on threads such as FaF - these are indeed the same people that I personally tend to resonate with), but IMO they are nonetheless, still only a percentage. I don't think, at least from my own exposure, that the greater proportion, are that interested in political idealism. For myself, I straddle two points of view: one is my personal opinion which is very much in accord with aims and objectives of groups such as FaF, the other is more one of an outsider who observes and prefers not to judge the sometimes outdated assumptions of older generations. I'm in no way suggesting that others aught to feel the same. It's simply a perspective born of recognising a generational, and cultural dischord between myself, and other more long-standing members of the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:26 AM

Suibhne,

Why are you telling us?

Why are you not saying these things to your "local folk club"?

Why are you suffering in silence at your "local folk club"?

Russ (Permanent and Persistent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM

Why are you telling us?

Because this the Mudcat Cafe - a Folk Music Discussion Forum, thus do I raise as a subject of Folk Music Discussion; we come here only to discuss things.

Why are you not saying these things to your "local folk club"?

Because my local folk club is not a discussion forum; we go there to sing folk songs and have a good time.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 02:47 PM

Must say it ain't my cuppa tea either - Too many bad experiences with th'aughton weavers (Sorry lads - I still enjoy the pantos:-) ) A friend has a good substitute though - 'As rich as any o' you...'


DeG


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:15 PM

Or maybe, "...richer than ony o' you"

Myself, I choose by each song.
I've been reading this thread and thinking about a song we sang last week at my mother's memorial celebration. We chose a number of songs she'd sung with us kids and shared them with those who came -- passed out words, and I played the pump organ while everyone sang.
One of those songs was a Stephen Foster song called "Old Black Joe" and I changed one word in it -- instead of singing "I hear their darkie voices calling," we sang " I hear their gentle voices calling..."
It's Stephen Foster, so it speaks in the voice of a slave who is being called home by his friends after a life of hard labor, and it was written by a white southerner.
I wouldn't sing it at a folk club, but it is a part of my family history, and I liked singing it with my family and Mom's friends. Still when someone asked me after why I'd picked that racist chestnut, it made me wonder if it is a mistake to ever sing songs that have any racist connotations.
The words:
    Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay
    Gone are my friends, from the cotton fields away,
    Gone from this earth, to a better land, I know
    I hear their gentle voices calling, Old Black Joe
    I'm coming, I'm coming, for my head is bending low
    I hear their gentle voices calling, Old Black Joe.

What do you think?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM

Hi, Barbara -
I think "Old Black Joe" has always had "I hear their gentle voices calling..."

Here's the 1860 sheet music.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:35 PM

Interesting, Joe. I'm pretty sure we had a songbook, or maybe a wordbook that we used when I was growing up that said "Darkie" not "gentle". But it's good to know that the original didn't have that word in it.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: sid
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:55 PM

Oh Dear! In all my years (which are considerable) of listening to and performing Lancashire songs, I have NEVER come across the audience reaction you highlight to "that" line. NEVER! Yes, I am familiar with the song, and no, it does not form part of my normal repertoire, but that's because I rarely sing well known chorus songs.

I have, however, frequently come across the "one of the drawbacks of living in Lancashire/ Lancashire mawkishness" attitude that prevails to our songs and have spent considerable time in trying to change people's perception of our County's spoken heritage with, I should say, some success.

I don't recognise your name and we may know each other, but, either way, please try to get to one of my talks on the history of Lancashire in songs, stories and poems. There's something you need to know. See my website calendar(sidcalderbank.co.uk) or PM me for a free ticket! - SID


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: John P
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM

We used to do a French song that can only be described as sexist and ageist. We would introduce it by saying something like "the sentiments expressed in some of our songs don't reflect the opinions of the band" and make a joke of it.

I take songs on a case by case basis. I don't clean them up at all. If I decide to do a non-PC song, I just say I'm going to do a non-PC song, it's from the 18th or 19th century, this is how people felt back then, and isn't it nice that we've moved on? That said, I'm not drawn to songs that have overtly racist lyrics. If I really like the melody, I can always find a different set of lyrics to go with it.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:34 PM

We established in the other thread that "A Mon Like Thee" was written by Edmund Hill, whose "Down in the Engine Room" was published in a book called "Poems," in 1913. That gives at least somewhat of an idea of the age of this song. "As rich as any Jew" was certainly a common phrase at that time.

This Is Cheshire has an interesting little piece on Edmund Hill:

    An unknown songsmith

    From the Guardian Series, first published Thursday 24th Jun 2004.

    HIS folk-song classic, A Mon Like Thee, has survived for the best part of a century. Yet little seems to be known of Lanky twang songsmith Edmund Hill, except that he was a Kentish miner who came to live in St Helens and apparently fell in love with the heavy northern dialect then prevailing in these parts.
    His name is thrust into the spotlight by Chris Coffey of the Sutton Historic Society who is keen to learn more about the old-timer whose keynote song keeps alive the spirit of owd Lancashire.
    Chris's curiosity was roused after an enjoyable visit to the St Helens Theatre Royal to see two of his favourite acts, The Oldham Tinkers and Bernard ('The Bolton Bullfrog') Wrigley, part of a tiny minority still promoting old Lancashire songs and tales.
    He later tuned in to the Andy Kershaw radio show, part of which was recorded in a pub where the session began with their traditional opener, A Mon Like Thee, describing the natural friendliness of Lancashire people towards strangers.
    Chris promptly dug out a CD, bought on his Theatre Royal visit, and examined the sleeve notes. Hill's gradely masterpiece, it confirmed, was a popular song in the First World War trenches 90 years ago. Since then, it's continued to this day as a popular taproom number in the more traditional parts of Lancashire.
    Chris signs off by confessing that he hadn't recalled ever seeing previous mention of Edmund Hill, and any local knowledge that customers of this page could supply would be most welcome.

    Archive Home

    From the Guardian Series
    http://www.thisischeshire.co.uk
    © Newsquest Media Group 2004

I think I prefer Dave's 'As rich as any o' you...' or MMario's "but as rich a mun (mon?) as you" from the other thread. "Honeydew" makes me think of a melon or a husband's "to do" list. I suppose "honeydew" once had other connotations, but no longer. Now it sounds silly.

I have mixed feelings about altering songs - but in this case, the "rich as any Jew" reference is not essential to the song and can easily be changed. To retain it would distract the audience, calling their attention to the single word instead of to the meaning of the song.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:54 PM

What in the world is racist about the song "Old Black Joe"?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:05 PM

I sing "Old Black Joe," and I think it's a beautiful song. John Roberts, whom I greatly respect, chewed me out for singing it; but we're still friends, and I still sing the song. Some people think the song expresses nostalgia for the days of slavery, and they get nervous about the word "black." Paul Robeson recorded it as "Old Man Joe," which I didn't like. I see it as a song of nostalgia for the days of youth, which is when I learned the song.

-Joe-


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD BLACK JOE (Stephen Foster)
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM

Old Black Joe
Stephen Foster, 1860 (1826-1864)

Gone are the days
When my heart was young and gay.
Gone are my friends
From the cotton fields away.
Gone from this place,
To a better land I know.
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe

Chorus:
I'm coming, I'm coming
For my head is bending low
I hear their gentle voices calling
Old Black Joe.
Why do I weep
When my heart should feel no pain
Why do I sigh
That my friends come not again
Grieving for forms
Now departed long ago
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe.
Chorus:

Where are the hearts
Once so happy and so free
The children so dear
That I held upon my knee
Gone to the shore
Where my soul has longed to go
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe.
Chorus:


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 PM

19th Century songs, particularly from the North of England, quite often contained references such as these; the Turks crop up regularly.

"Fourpence a day me lads, and verra hard to work,
Wi' never a kindly word from a gruffy lookin' Turk"

I have always been pleasantly surprised that there aren't more derogatory references to other races, considering the age of the songs.
I used to think it was because collectors censored them out, but I found that on a number of occasions the singers themselves did so.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 PM

I think you should bring the subject up with your club, but not at a regular event, or song circle etc. Maybe go out for coffee after with interested members and ask them how they feel etc. And tell them how you feel. mg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 PM

OLd Black Joe- thread 2543: Old Black Joe and also DT.
The posting here is unnecessary.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:13 PM

In your opinion, no doubt. But I did it because people might like to have the lyrics in FRONT OF THEM? Go admonish someone else.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 PM

Thyey can look it up. A couple of clicks away.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:17 PM

Well, it's posted. Live with it.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:19 PM

Could you kids find something less stupid to fight over, and then go somewhere else to do it? Is there an alien brain-wave thing pointed at Earth or something? Yeesh!


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:17 PM

It is always a matter of nice judgment how far one respects historical context and how far taste or changed circumstances demand emendation. A character in Northanger Abbey uses the phrase "rich as a Jew", but he is explicitly an unpleasant fool so it appears that Jane Austen disliked the phrase; but surely nobody would take it on themselves to alter the title of Joseph Conrad's novel about the seaman who served on the 'Narcissus'? On a related point: when I reviewed folk records and books for The Guardian, The Times, Folk Review &c, I remember denouncing a new disc by Frank Harte the fine Irish singer for including a song which gloated about 'all the dead khaki soldiers in Erin-go-Bragh', which seemed to me unacceptable at the height of the Troubles in the mid-80s; but now we have a thread on this very site trying to identify the best Irish rebel song...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:27 PM

... and I forgot to mention the much-canvassed question of the use of the N-word in one of the greatest of American novels, Huckleberry Finn. It's just what Huck and Tom Sawyer and the escaped slave Jim would all have said, both in the 1830s when the book is set and the 1880s when it was written, and it would be a-historic and unreasonable to try and edit such references out.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:58 PM

Michael, that's true. However, it's still a painful term to Black people.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:18 PM

Peace - I fear I am a taxonomic pedant and one who, like Clennam in Little Dorrit, 'likes to know you know'; so cannot resist asking how you extrapolated my name & {presumably} identity from my pseudonymous nickname + info given? Do we know one another? Or what?   Michael


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:29 PM

I shall answer you by e-mail.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:34 PM

Done.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Snuffy
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:39 PM

In England I've always (since the 1950s) known the song as "Poor Old Joe" rather than "Old Black Joe"


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Subject: Lyr Add: LITTLE RIVER (Moore/Bok)
From: robomatic
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:51 PM

I appreciate the sentiments that created this thread. I'm trying to imagine how I'd react if I happened by the performance and just ran into it unprepared. I expect I'd feel blindsided and unhappy. I think I'd get over it because England has a lot of historic anti-semitism in the language and a lot of attitudes, among many many such things across a range of ethnicities. I'd get over it. The knowledge I now have that the very folks singing it have mixed feelings only broadens my appreciations of the depth and complexity of the island dwellers.

After all, there are some anti-semitic references in Shakespeare, not to mention an entire play, and I accept that. If I were directing or acting in 'em, I would not change 'em.

I have a set of lyrics I'd like to fix. One of my old favorites was a poem set to music and sung on a Gordon Bok album:

Little River
Words by Ruth Moore
Tune by Gordon Bok

Little River, lighted whistle, cry no more
Sleepy sound from the breakers calling me back to shore

Whistle it soft to the silver river
Whistle loud to the drumming sea
Whistle it low to the moon and the morning
Not to me, never to me

For I'm swinging high in another country, swinging low
Playing it easy, the dolphins follow me where I go

Whistle it loud to the flood tide making
Whistle it soft to the wheeling sun
Whistle it wild to my girl's heart breaking
She'll remember, she was the one
Spring comes warm to Little River, storm comes black
I was headed home when the Indian Giver took me back

Whistle it high to the grey-beard breakers
Where the secret over the great shoals ran
Whistle the world that was in my pocket
When I had pockets, when I was a man

I'd love to have a substitute that scanned for "Indian Giver" and conveyed the same meaning but I haven't found it yet.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 06:38 PM

Is it a coincidence that most somgs about tailers put them down as thieves, scalywags or fools and that tailering was principaly a jewish trade in the nieteenth and early twentieth century


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: harpmolly
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:07 PM

Here's a bit of a poser, which may have been discussed before:

One of my favorite songs is Bill Watkins'/Andy M. Stewart's "The Errant Apprentice". It has the whole bit about the Turk, which some MIGHT interpret as racist (though hilariously written..."Sure bravery's no virtue when some heathen's trying to hurt you/And all noble thoughts desert you when you see his curly knife...").

My personal interpretation is that the Turk is not actually being portrayed unsympathetically; he's basically an innocent bystander who gets his head bashed by the protagonist, who is quite possibly the best example of an "unreliable narrator" I've ever seen. Throughout the song, the narrator is shown to be, well, a complete idiot. ;) So we're seeing the Turk through his eyes, and like blind lovers everywhere, he is blaming the Turk for his supposed true-love's infidelity. (Typical).

Anyway, I'm disposed to interpret the song in that light, and don't find it offensive at all. But I'm afraid to perform it these days, as you can't always expect audiences to see through that many layers of subtlety.

Sigh.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM

Well, you could cut Indian Giver in half and call it a Dutch Treat.

"In these days" Yes, throw out Rudyard Kipling as well.

Oh, wring dem hands.


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