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Perpetuated Errors

Mr Happy 04 Apr 11 - 09:34 AM
JHW 04 Apr 11 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Eliza 04 Apr 11 - 10:07 AM
Mr Happy 04 Apr 11 - 10:38 AM
Silas 04 Apr 11 - 10:45 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Apr 11 - 10:52 AM
Silas 04 Apr 11 - 10:54 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Apr 11 - 10:54 AM
Mysha 04 Apr 11 - 10:55 AM
Tattie Bogle 04 Apr 11 - 11:06 AM
Mr Happy 04 Apr 11 - 11:13 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Apr 11 - 11:21 AM
Mr Happy 04 Apr 11 - 11:23 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Apr 11 - 11:31 AM
SINSULL 04 Apr 11 - 11:49 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Apr 11 - 11:51 AM
YorkshireYankee 04 Apr 11 - 11:51 AM
gnomad 04 Apr 11 - 12:20 PM
Bernard 04 Apr 11 - 12:41 PM
Mooh 04 Apr 11 - 01:06 PM
Stringsinger 04 Apr 11 - 01:09 PM
Mysha 04 Apr 11 - 01:24 PM
Howard Jones 04 Apr 11 - 03:14 PM
Don Firth 04 Apr 11 - 03:42 PM
RobbieWilson 04 Apr 11 - 03:58 PM
Crowhugger 04 Apr 11 - 04:48 PM
Artful Codger 04 Apr 11 - 05:23 PM
Little Robyn 04 Apr 11 - 05:32 PM
Leadfingers 04 Apr 11 - 06:20 PM
Tangledwood 04 Apr 11 - 06:26 PM
Doug Chadwick 04 Apr 11 - 06:33 PM
Leadfingers 04 Apr 11 - 07:00 PM
Bob Bolton 04 Apr 11 - 08:07 PM
Tattie Bogle 04 Apr 11 - 09:25 PM
Mr Happy 05 Apr 11 - 06:08 AM
greg stephens 05 Apr 11 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,SteveT 05 Apr 11 - 06:59 AM
Mr Happy 05 Apr 11 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,Eliza 05 Apr 11 - 07:14 AM
Mr Happy 05 Apr 11 - 07:17 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Apr 11 - 11:02 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Apr 11 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Bizibod 05 Apr 11 - 11:42 AM
Darowyn 05 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM
Dennis the Elder 05 Apr 11 - 03:46 PM
Genie 05 Apr 11 - 05:08 PM
Don Firth 05 Apr 11 - 08:49 PM
Joe Offer 05 Apr 11 - 11:09 PM
BrooklynJay 06 Apr 11 - 12:31 AM
Gurney 06 Apr 11 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,jeff 06 Apr 11 - 01:45 AM
Gurney 06 Apr 11 - 02:48 AM
Mr Red 06 Apr 11 - 05:48 AM
Tattie Bogle 06 Apr 11 - 12:18 PM
Genie 13 Apr 11 - 03:32 AM
Genie 13 Apr 11 - 03:38 AM
Darowyn 13 Apr 11 - 04:03 AM
Rob Naylor 13 Apr 11 - 08:32 AM
Rob Naylor 13 Apr 11 - 08:33 AM
Edthefolkie 13 Apr 11 - 09:22 AM
JHW 13 Apr 11 - 04:34 PM
Joe_F 13 Apr 11 - 08:41 PM
Mr Happy 14 Apr 11 - 09:21 AM
Don Firth 14 Apr 11 - 06:55 PM
Tootler 14 Apr 11 - 08:00 PM
Don Firth 14 Apr 11 - 11:42 PM
Musket 15 Apr 11 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,henryp 16 Apr 11 - 06:04 AM
Richard from Liverpool 16 Apr 11 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 16 Apr 11 - 07:30 AM
Steve Gardham 16 Apr 11 - 04:18 PM
Don Firth 16 Apr 11 - 06:15 PM
GUEST 17 Apr 11 - 03:09 PM
Joe Offer 28 Apr 11 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Apr 11 - 03:30 PM
Mr Happy 07 May 11 - 06:22 AM
Mr Happy 07 May 11 - 06:53 AM
Mr Happy 07 May 11 - 06:53 AM
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Subject: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 09:34 AM

Songbooks, recordings & other song resources often contain errors in the lyrics.

Also the 'folk process' of misheard, misremembered songs & tunes can contribute to these errors becoming perpetuated.

I hope I'll not be perceived as one of the 'folk police' but I do think it important that mistakes which can damage compositions either by making a nonsense of the song's story or the rhyming aspects.

An example which I frequently hear is in 'Sweet Nightingale' in which there's a couple of errors:

'They went arming along the road' rather than 'arm in arm'

&

''til they came to a stream,
And they both sat down together to hear the nightingale sing'


Should be 'came to a spring' to rhyme with 'sing'

*********

What think you?

Other examples?

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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: JHW
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 09:54 AM

There is a version of No Man's Land/Willie McBride steadily being propagated with a multitude of erroneous rewriting; nuances of melody ironed out along with watering down of text who's concept was presumably beyond the perpetrator.
e.g. 'countless white crosses in mute witness stand' has become 'countless white crosses stand mute in the sand'
'The trenches are vanished all under the plough' a literal picture but maybe a hint of Swords to Ploughshares becomes 'Look how the sun shines from under the clouds'
'Play the dead march' (from 'The Young Sailor Cut Down in His Prime') is spliced into the chorus.
Yes I've heard it so often I remember the blessed thing because it winds me up so. Surely it should be illegal to do this to a current songwriter!


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:07 AM

That dreadful car advert where some female sings "Twinkle twinkle little star, How I wonder WHERE you are." (Instead of WHAT you are. It's obvious WHERE it is, it's in the sky! Grrr!)


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:38 AM

JHW,

Thanks for info on 'Green fields of France' [is that title right?]

I wasn't aware of the errors you've pointed out


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Silas
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:45 AM

Would you believe I actually heard someone, just the other night, sing "And the Larks they sang melodious...at the dawning of the day" when everyone KNOWS the words are "And the sharks they played melodeons...at the bottom of the bay"

Folkies, I ask yer.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:52 AM

Oh, not again, Silas. Please give that boring old joke a rest. Please!!!!!!!!!

~M~

pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Silas
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:54 AM

OK, perhaps it should be "And the farts they smelled malodorous..."


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:54 AM

P L E A S E


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mysha
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 10:55 AM

Hi,

For the folk process, it's important to keep those errors in. That might sound curious, but people are unlikely to tinker with an understandable text. It's only the inconsistencies in the song, of which yours are two of the more obvious, that will make people look for better words. Some may find more original ones, others may find better new ones. Eventually, the new ones may improve on the original. Thus the errors may eventually improve the song.

Bye,
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:06 AM

No, (Mr H) the correct title as written by Eric Bogle - the author no less, is "No Man's Land" . I get annoyed when I hear the word "down" being sung on a different note to that set by Eric: it creates a horrible clash if you have some folk singing the Fureys' version and some doing Eric's.
I would presume that "The Dead March" referred to is that from Handel's Saul, and definitely not the "Young Sailor" one - that is just ludicrous in the extreme!

And agreed with your words for "arm in arm" and "spring" .

Another non-rhyme (that has been discussed elsewhere here at length) occurs in the Wild Mountain Thyme; I learned the 4th line as "all the valleys is perfuming" which DOES rhyme with "blooming", but most people sing "grows around the blooming (or purple) heather".

I'd beter not say too much about "Caledonia" for fear of upsetting Joe, but it's "conscience" not "coat-tails".
http://www.dougiemaclean.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80&Itemid=85
As this is off Dougie's own website, i'd (respectfully, of course) suggest it is the definitive version.
    Oh, I'd agree, Tattie; and yes, "coat-tails" is a strange interpretation - but saying it fifteen times isn't going to get it changed before the next edition of the Digital Tradition comes out.... -Joe-


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:13 AM

Tattie Bogle et al,

Thanks, those're the sort of responses I was looking for, ones which inform.


Yes, I oft wondered about WMT - lots erroneous stuff there.

Lots obvious misrememberings in the Copper family's songs too


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:21 AM

Surely the concept of "definitive version" has no place on a folk music site, NOT EVEN in relation to contemporary creations:

and certainly not in re traditional things like To Hear The Nightingale Sing or Wild Mountain Thyme.

One may prefer one variant to another; one may think one of them makes more sense or rhymes better; one may collate to create one's own preferred version for performance; one may suspect 100,000 mondegreens ~~

~~ but surely one never claims a version of anything traditional as 'definitive'?!

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:23 AM

Another springing to mind is in 'Farewell to the Gold'

Paul Metsers originally wrote 'It's no good just sitting & Lady Luck blaming'

Often heard it sung 'It's no good complaining & Lady Luck blaming'

Maybe a rhyme? but alters the meaning slightly


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:31 AM

If you launch a song on to the folk scene, you are asking for its meaning to be "altered slightly"; esp if a rhyme you hadn't thought of makes it sound better. And then both versions co-exist; & some will prefer one and some the other. & that is what God would have intended had he existed and been a folkie.

You will gather, Mr Happy, that I consider the whole tenor and concept of this thread misconceived; but sincerely hope you will continue to be Mr Happy with it.

Traditional greetings

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: SINSULL
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:49 AM

Start a thread on Ring Around The rosies and see what comes in about plagues and the like. LOl


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:51 AM

Oh no, Sins ~~ not that! not again! aaaaaagggghhhh! atishoo!


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 11:51 AM

WRT John Tams' "Rolling Home" --
I have always wondered whether the line is:
"The gentry in their finery"
or
"The gentry in their fine array"

Hard to tell just from listening...


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: gnomad
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 12:20 PM

I take the point made by Mysha that unless variants are allowed to stand there cannot be the refining folk process which gives us some of our most iconic songs.

Unfortunately I cannot agree that "people are unlikely to tinker with an understandable text" - far from it. The examples given show how well-crafted meaningful words sometimes get mangled by the tin-eared into something less lovely, and frequently with a different (or no) meaning.

It is a problem which has no solution that I can see. We can but try to look at what appears to be the source, and to judge well whether a particular variation adds to the song, or detracts from it. The urge to alter should be balanced by the careful reading of the original to check that it is not our own comprehension that needs improvement.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 12:41 PM

Ummm... 'Wild Mountain Thyme' isn't trad - the original song ('Braes o'Balquidder', without a chorus) was written by Robert Tannahill, and the current tune and edited words (with chorus) came from Francis McPeake of the Belfast McPeake family...

Tannahill wrote the 'perfuming' bit, but McPeake edited it out for his version.

I haven't time to do it myself just now, but a quick thread search will find a few references...


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mooh
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 01:06 PM

The internet is rife with perpetuated errors, mostly folks copying and pasting from site to site. It's a particular problem with lyric and chord sites.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 01:09 PM

Sure, these typos can be corrected. The nature of folk music in its variation, though,
allows for these rhyming missteps. Unfortunately, not enough care is given to this
in current songwriting techniques. I think it's a kind of laziness with lyricists when
they don't take the time to find the rhyme. The lack of rhymes often interferes with
the attention to the lyric because of the mistakes.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mysha
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 01:24 PM

Hi Gnomad,

In that comment "to tinker" was meant to convey intentionally, though not necessarily expertly, changing the song. I agree that sometimes people will unintentionally change songs as well, but my point was that if you try to stamp out such mistakes, you keep the songs in a state of acceptability where people are unlikely to intentionally try to improve them, which they might do for a version that was in a less acceptable state.

In a way it's like a local high point, where those present are unlikely to descend to reach a nearby marginally higher top, but those below are likely to aim for the higher of the two.

I know, it doesn't really pertain to "Sweet Nightingale", which would require severe tinkering to reach such a high point, but that pertains to the original question as well. The version Mr. Happy corrects to has a left-over note, if sung to the tune I know; both ... together doesn't ring true either, and the whole chorus doesn't seem to span the song well enough to function as such. So let people make up their own versions if they will, and maybe one time after much stumbling and climbing the song will reach a different, higher top from the one it started from.

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 03:14 PM

I had always assumed that "arming" was a colloquialism meaning "to walk arm-in-arm" - and it it isn't, it should be!


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 03:42 PM

One that really clanks when I hear it:

The first time I hear "The Unquiet Grave," the singer sang
Down in yonder grove, sweetheart,
Where we were wont to walk,
The fairest flower that ever I saw
Is witherèd to a stalk.
While browsing through my copy of Cecil J. Sharp's One Hundred English Folksongs, I noticed that in that verse, the word was "grave," not "grove."

I went WHAT? That's gotta be a typo!

Then I hear Joan Baez's recording of it. Beautifully sung, but she sings it "grave." And I'm thinking, "Take brain out of gear before singing." What did she think that line refers to? Did she think about it at all? (Sorry, Joanie, but—)

Now I can see two young lovers walking arm in arm through a grove of trees in a local wood or park, murmuring softly to each other, glowingly savoring the joy of each other's company. Happens all the time. It's a practice that's been going on since time immemorial.

But I have a kind of tough time visualizing and rationalizing two young lovers going to the local churchyard or cemetery, searching around to find an open grave, climbing down inside (traditionally, 6 feet), then trying to stroll arm in arm back and forth, murmuring softly to each other, glowingly savoring the joy of each other's company. Little cramped in there, ain't it? Not to mention a somewhat ghoulish touch?

I have also found a couple of recent song books where the line says the loving couple are walking ON the grave. Strange place for young lovers to hang out.

Nah. Sorry. Just doesn't wash!

The word "grave" is repeated in The Joan Baez Songbook, and I've heard people sing it that way. I continue to sing it "grove" as I first heard it sung, and as I have seen it in several collections of ballads (the version in Evelyn Kendrick Wells' The Ballad Tree has the couple walking in a meadow) and song books other than Sharp's and Baez's. But now and then I hear someone sing it "grave," and I figure that they got it from Joan's record or song book, or possibly from Sharp's song book.

My theory is that the switch from "grove" to "grave" happened with a typesetter's booboo when setting type for Sharp's book, which many people will slavishly accept as the final authority because it is Sharp, no matter how silly or outlandish a word or line happens to be.

I ask:   Don't people THINK about what they're singing, or do they simple sing by rote? I think the answer for a lot of people is painfully obvious.

Luke Kelly sings it "garden green." That conjures up an appropriate image, consistent with earlier versions.

Taking the course "The Popular Ballad" from Prof. David C. Fowler in the English Lit. department at the U. of Washington, and having a singing teacher who insisted that I know what the words I was singing meant, means I tend to pay attention a lot when I'm learning a song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 03:58 PM

I remember Eric Bogle at Bromyard FF introducing Willie MacBride and saying that as he got a regular and substantal royalties cheque for the Fureys version of the song that their title and words were all right by him.

He did procede to sing "his version", which for me is the only one which sounds right.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Crowhugger
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 04:48 PM

Interesting view of 'grove' vs 'grave' in The Unquiet Grave.

If I'd heard or seen it as 'grave' I'd have taken it as a poetic, rare or obsolete usage to convey 'cemetary,' as these were often used as public greenspace when parks were few or privately held.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Artful Codger
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 05:23 PM

I'm convinced that "The Furze Field" has gotten corrupted in deficient ways over the years. The original surely had better rhymes, better double entendres and less repetition (particularly where every verse now has "I will show you, love, how to proceed", which doesn't rhyme even once). I also find that the quatrain added by Colin Cater (and now universal due to the Mike Waterson and Martin Carthy) is a good idea for ending the song, but falls down in both sense and rhyme. So I've revised the song a fair bit and provided my own capping quatrain.

My favorite example of perpetuated errors is "The Flanders Shore". Even though the collector himself (H.E.D. Hammond) corrected what was an obvious error in the singer's lyrics, Nic Jones and everyone after continued to sing "Flandyke" instead of "Flanders" (though Nic later switched to "Flanders"). It's also apparent that the singer from whom the song was collected only remembered part of the song, including only half of one verse and one line from another, and she sang at least one verse out of order, in a totally nonsensical place. (In fairness, it's doubtful Nic learned of the broadside from which the song was derived until much later, so these other errors would not have been apparent at the time.) Even though I sing a more extended version, with some backstory based upon the broadside, and I've put the misplaced verse where it belongs, I retain most of the other alterations of the Notley version, because they better serve the story when it takes a more condensed form. I'm sure the condensation occurred before Mrs. Notley learned the song, and does improve it.

While it may not fall in the category of "perpetuated errors", we have lost a great deal through the sanitizing (for propriety and publication) of salty songs. I'm not a fan of gratuitous coarseness, but (for instance) how many cowboy songs have we lost through the oversensitivity of collectors or the public to the occasional indelicate phrase? Who can suppress an eye-roll when the dog merely sits on the tucker box?


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Little Robyn
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 05:32 PM

Bob Dylan once sang Paul's 'Farewell to the gold' and made a right pig's ear out of it.
I'm sure,if he were to promise never to sing one of Paul's songs again, that Paul would happily promise to never sing any of Dylan's songs!
I have a 1962 EFDS magazine, Folk No1, with the McPeakes photo on the front and their version of 'The wild mountain thyme' on the back.
From the horses mouth...
And the trees are sweetly blooming
......
Grows around the purple heather.
This was recorded by Peter Kennedy in July 1952.
In fact there aren't many rhymes in it...
Verse 2 has fountain and mountain, and in the chorus together and heather but that's it.
I've just noticed something.
In this (definitive) version, verse 3 has
If my true love she was gone
I would surely find no other....

We always sang 'she were gone, I would surely find another'

I dunno.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:20 PM

Crowhugger - It is STILL the case - Harvey Andrews' song 'Hans' was inspired by the idea of people using the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase as a Weekend Picnic area !

And Michael (MtheGM) - you advocate changing Traditional Lyrics , but totally decry any 'Humorous' variations , as in the Sharks in Pleasant and Delightful ! You want it BOTH ways do you ??


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Tangledwood
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:26 PM

Frequently if I search online for lyrics I find them on sites where the person transcribing obviously doesn't have English as their first language. Understandably they grab a word familiar to them whereas someone more fluent in English recognises the correct, but more obscure, word. These errors then get copied and posted all over the place. I imagine it happens just as much in English where the original song contained local colloquialsims.

A minor one that I've seen in many places is in James Keelaghan's "Cold Missouri Waters". The correct line (from the CD notes) is "Pick the drop zone C47 comes in low". The erroneous one is "T47 comes in low". There's no such aircraft as far as I know but the ubiquitous C47, also known as DC3 and Dakota, would certainly be the aircraft for the job.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:33 PM

Oh, not again, Silas. Please give that boring old joke a rest. Please!!!!!!!!!

It may be old but it was the first time that I heard it.


DC


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 07:00 PM

A LONG time ago we had a Mini Festival run by Uxbridge Folk Club at The Tithe Barn in Ruislip and during the Saturday afternoon four of us sang Pleasant and Delightful , led by the late Johnny Collins , with a 'Wrong' last line for all four verses , starting with The Sharks in verse one .

I , For one , will never take ANY Music as a Semi Religious experience
but will continue to treat it as Entertainment !!


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 08:07 PM

G'day Robbie Wilson,

"I remember Eric Bogle at Bromyard FF introducing Willie MacBride and saying that as he got a regular and substantal royalties cheque for the Fureys version of the song that their title and words were all right by him."

I seem to remember ... some years back in the Mudcat ... a claim made that the Fureys reckoned that they had agreed with Eric Bogle that (~) " ... the song now belonged to them ... and was now The Green Fields of France.

I suggested that, if they thought a canny Scots accountant would agree to that ... they should take more water with it!

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 09:25 PM

To MtheGM, I'd say yes, folk process happens but isn't it only fair to try to get the lyrics of a living artist correct, and be faithful to what was written? (Unless you are deliberately writing a parody)

My reference to "definitive version" was meaning what goes in the DT as the agreed correct version.

So before we get too heavy about it, just for a laugh here's the "coat-tails flying in the wind" - well almost!
http://www.abcgallery.com/R/raeburn/raeburn8.html


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 06:08 AM

My reference to "definitive version" was meaning what goes in the DT as the agreed correct version.

Eh?


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 06:36 AM

Couldn't disagree more with Mr Happy. "Errors" "definitive versions"....what tosh. I recorded Aubrey Cantwell back in the 60's in the Bell Standlake, Oxfordshire singing the "Nightingales Sing". It was the Cantwell family version that became such an anthem of the folk clubs at that time. And Aubrey quite clearly sang "they went arming along the road". So who is Mr Happy to tell Aubrey Cantwell he was singing it wrong? Grrrrrrr!


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 06:59 AM

Songs have a life of their own.   I don't see how they can, or should, be tied down to one version even if they are recent. I'd say the greatest respect that you can show a song is to produce the best version you can, even if this means varying the version you first "captured".   The song is more important than the singer or even the composer – if they're good they'll last a lot longer!

I've tried making up some songs myself but I'll sing them different ways depending on where I am and how I feel at the time. If you're going to mean it when you sing a song surely you can't be rigid every time? [If anyone out there is ever foolish enough to sing one of my songs; do it your own way, I'll just be glad someone's singing.]

As for "traditional" songs; if they have come down through oral transmission I think you are doing them a disservice by trying to fix them totally at the moment they were first collected. I'd rather look at a living flower than a pressed specimen any day.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 07:03 AM

Greg,

My quote above is Tattie Bogle's.



I've never said anything about "definitive versions"

My point of the thread is about what some others above [see Don Firth's comment] have also said, that typos or clumsy transcriptions in song books & other media can be copied on & on with mistakes in them, sometimes leading to gibberish


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 07:14 AM

In Edinburgh, we sang 'arming along the road..." in the sixties.
Oral tradition and subtle changes which occur over the years is one thing, but with the Internet, changes are whizzed about far more quickly and can (like Chinese whispers) cause lyrics to mutate horribly fast. Also, young singers may not (like us older folk) have heard their grand- and great-grandparents singing the same traditional songs, so they take at face value the lyrics they find on the Internet.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 07:17 AM

Michelle ma belle
Sunday monkey don't sing piano song
Sing piano song




Poetry!

Not


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 11:02 AM

"And Michael (MtheGM) - you advocate changing Traditional Lyrics , but totally decry any 'Humorous' variations , as in the Sharks in Pleasant and Delightful ! You want it BOTH ways do you ?? "---

A somewhat simplified view of my attitude, LF. The "Sharks they play meolodeons" joke was probably quite an amusing variant once upon a time ~~ say the first googol times I heard it. But now that it is, even if only hyberbolically or tongue-in-cheek, claimed as the only CORRECT, DEFINITIVE, TRUE version, as in whoever it was's post [can't even be arsed to look back & see who the booby was] above, I can't help feeling that a particularly beautiful song has been lost for ever, which is a pity; and we are saddled with a permanent "ho-ho-ho, aren't I a witty card" procession of ballsaching bores repeating a joke that was never even all-that-bloody-funny in the first place ad infinitum till we could all scream ——

Is that really what you think of as "humorous", Leadfingers? If so, then forgive me if I suggest it may be more than your digits that are maybe just an itsy-bitsy teensy-weesy bit leaden.

Best regards

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 11:09 AM

BTW, FYI, checking Chambers Dictionary {imo much the best one}, I find as a definition under "arm", 'verb transitive, to conduct arm-in-arm'.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,Bizibod
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 11:42 AM

Sound,Sound Your Instruments of Joy ! Watersons

The times I've heard it sung, " And try and shake each string ", when it has surely got to be " And Triumph shake each string" . Got to be.
Well, that's what I'm going to sing !


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Darowyn
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM

I was looking for the full lyrics to the classic "Stormy Weather" last week. (We are playing a gig in the summer festival, so we are doing that and "Summertime" so we have every option covered)
The second verse starts:-
"Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere"
The lyrics site had:-
"Life is bad, gloom and misery everywhere"
Now that is just wrong, it's weak, and ruins the internal rhyme, and there is a definitive original version.
No excuses!
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 03:46 PM

Going back to "No Mans Land" by Eric Bogle, here are the words as actually written. It is amazing how many changes there are. The main one to me is in the way the chorus is sung, apart from obvious word changes the line, "Did the pipes play the FLOWERS of the forest" , flowers is pronounced "floures" and this word is drawn out when sung by Eric himself

Heres Erics original (which is by far my favourite).
"No Man's Land" as included in The "Eric Bogle Chord Songbook" (a book well worth purchasing, see website)
                  
Well how do you do; Private Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
and rest for a while neath the warm summer sun
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone you were only 19,
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean,
Or Willie McBride; was it slow and obscene?

Chorus
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly,
Did the rifles fire o'er you, as they lowered you down,
Did the bugles sing the last post in chorus,
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined,
although you died back in nineteen sixteen
In that loyal heart are you forever nineteen
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass frame,
In an old photograph all torn and tattered, and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame

Chorus

The sun shining down on the green fields of France,
There's a warm wind blows gently; and the red poppies dance,
The trenchess have vanished; long under the plough,
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it's still "No Man's Land",
the countless white crosses in mute witness stand,
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
And a whole generation that were butchered and damned.

Chorus

And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died,
And did they really believe when they told you the cause,
Did you really believe that this war would end wars.
Well, the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying; it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Chorus


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Genie
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 05:08 PM

I agree with Tattie that " yes, folk process happens but isn't it only fair to try to get the lyrics of a living artist correct, and be faithful to what was written? (Unless you are deliberately writing a parody)."
I think this is especially the case with superb lyricists who carefully craft each word & phrase, so that mistakes, mondegreens, or even deliberate rewrites seldom improve on the original. (OK, sometimes you alter a song for a particular occasion, etc., but that doesn't mean the song should henceforth be sung that way.)

A couple of examples come to mind. OK, this one's not truly "folk," but it's sort of become part of our folk scene: "Summertime," from Porgy & Bess.   The original lyric is:
"One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing,
You'll spread your wings and take the sky."

Most people now sing it "... take TO the sky."   Perhaps it's a subtle distinction, but I think the original lyric is more powerful and conveys a slightly different message.   I guess I don't mind which way people sing it, but I wish more people realized that "take to the sky" is a modification of the original lyric.

Another is Steve Goodman's song "City Of New Orleans." Many times people change the line "passing trains that have no name" to "passing towns that have no name."   I don't think there are any towns with no name (OK, many towns are 'nameless' to passers-by, just as many people are). There are "towns" (with a post office) with virtually no residents, but not really nameless towns (that The City Of New Orleans would have passed through).   It probably really doesn't matter, but I prefer Goodman's original choice of words.


A better example, I think is Alistair McGillivray's "Song For The Mira." Somewhere in the "folk process," the line
"Can you imagine a piece of the universe more fit for princes and kings?"
morphed into
"... more fit for prophets and kings."

To me, "prophets" doesn't make a lot of sense as a substitute for "princes" in that line.

I guess what really matters is whether McGillivray cares or not.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 08:49 PM

The Bonny Ship the Diamond

This is the way I learned it and have always heard it sung (first verse):
The Diamond is a ship, my lads, for the Davis Strait she's bound,
And the quay it is all garnishèd with bonny lasses 'round;
Captain Thompson gives the order to sail the ocean wide,
Where the sun it never sets, my lads, no darkness dims the sky,

CHO: So it's cheer up my lads, let your hearts never fail,
             While the bonny ship, the Diamond, goes a-fishing for the whale.
Okey dokey. The ship is all fitted out and is about to head out on a whaling expedition. As the crew is boarding, their wives and girl friends are all gathered on the quay to see them off. Clear enough, okay?

The second verse goes:
Along the quay at Peterhead, the lasses stand around,
Wi' their shawls all pulled around them and the salt tears runnin' down;
Don't you weep, my bonny lass, though you be left behind,
For the rose will grow on Greenland's ice before we change our mind.
Some time ago I acquired a copy of The Coffee House Songbook. This is an assemblage of some 164 songs collected from singers in miscellaneous coffeehouses around the country. I'm not sure if the singers wrote down the words for the collectors or if the collectors wrote down the words while listening to the singers. Well, anyway. . . .

This is how "The Coffee House Songbook" has the first verse of that song:
The Diamond is a ship, my lads, for the Davis Strait she's bound,
And the quay it is all garnishèd with forty lashes 'round;
Captain Thompson gives the order to sail the ocean wide,
Where the sun it never sets, my lads, no darkness dims the sky,

CHO: So it's cheer up my lads, let your hearts never fail,
             While the bonny ship, the Diamond, goes a-fishing for the whale.
"Forty lashes?"

Can somebody explain what was going on in somebody's mind that "bonny lasses" transmogrified into "forty lashes?" And what they thought that meant!??

(Even Lady Mondegreen is shaking her head in wonderment.)

But there it is, in a song book that a number of people I know have and use. What's a person supposed to think if they're not familiar with the song and run into that set of words? Made me really suspicious of some of the other songs in the book.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 11:09 PM

I dunno, Genie-

Even Steve Goodman sings "passing towns that have no names"....I checked both studio and live recordings, and it's clear he sings "towns."

As for "Summertime," I question you there also. I checked "Summertime" in a book called Reading Lyrics, by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball. This book, which is usually a very reliable source, has "spread your wings and take to the sky." I checked an Ella Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong recording. Louis sings "take to the sky." Sinatra sings "take to the sky," too. It's not quite clear what Billie Holiday sings on that line (and it's possible she sings it your way), but it's clear that Nina Simone sings "take to the sky."

I listened to about eight recordings of "Song for the Mira," and all say "princes and kings." I'd agree with you that "princes and kings" is correct.

I think you should re-check your sources on the other two songs, Genie.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 12:31 AM

Continuing with what Joe started:

I've noticed that the songwriters themselves can be among the worst when it comes to changing their own lyrics when the mood suits them.

When trying to put together the "corrrect" lyrics for a few Woody Guthrie songs I found that there were many variations in what he sang or wrote down. Anyone who has researched "Tom Joad" knows what I mean.

And Eric Bogle comes to mind, as well. All the versions I heard years ago of "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" vary greatly with the lyrics posted on his website. Bogle freely admits to revising the lyrics to many of his songs.

Makes it really hard to know what the "authentic" version of a song is, in some cases.

Jay


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Gurney
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 01:03 AM

When I was in my formative years as a folk-singer (Ha) our local Library had a set of LPs entitled, I think, 'Folk Song in Britain.'
These were recordings taken 'in the field' and most of the singers sounded like oldsters, in some cases 'with drink taken' as they say in Ireland. I think.
It changed my mind about trying to sing the 'definitive' versions. None of the singers sounded trained, all had regional accents and dialects. Anyone who has 'folk-police' instincts should try to hear them.

I just try to sing something that makes sense, nowadays, but I avoid some great songs that have appalling grammar.
If I sing at all.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,jeff
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 01:45 AM

Sometimes the whole 'lyric police' thing can be a little ridiculous. When playing in a Celtic band a few years ago we did a song called 'Donald, Where's Your Trousers?' Always a great crowd pleaser. Then one night we had a woman come up and tell the singer that the 'proper' Scottish pronunciation was Tr-r-roosers and not 'Trowzers'...the American version. So, in deference to the woman we began to sing it 'proper'. It fell flat everytime we played it for a while. Finally, I suggested we go back to our original 'improper' pronunciation and the song became a showstopper again for us.

Nobody in Pittsburgh understood what 'Tr-r-oosers' are apparently.

But, that doesn't mean Dick Gaughan and Andy M. Stewart aren't 2 of my favorite singers, though understanding them at times is a bit of a challenge...


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Gurney
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 02:48 AM

AS BrooklynJay wrote above, not all composers maintain their original words. Tawney 'polished' his songs to the extent that he himself lost complete verses, and it is difficult to find one of his more popular songs with a superfluous word. He said that he was surprised when he first heard 'Chicken on a Raft' with the held note in the chorus ('a-a-a-aft') but he liked it.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Red
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 05:48 AM

Soodlums publish many songs "Popular in Ireland" and as a result nearly everyone assumes they must be Irish Folk Songs.

viz Wild Rover first documented from Harry Cox of Norfolk (or was it Sam Larner?) - there you go we don't stand a chance.

I do remember at a Folk Society in Toronto a singer had a swatch of typed lyrics and not one had an author. Lightfoot, McTell, Hardin, even Stan Rogers for heavans sake - were all represented in the pile! And I found this anonimity pretty prevalent in the city's folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 12:18 PM

Sorry if what I said about "definitive versions" confused Mr Happy, and he then got slapped down for repeating what I'd said, and wrongly attributed with having made the comment in the first place! Seems like a classic example of the folk process to me!
I was referring to discussion on the corrections thread about what goes into the DT: once something's in there it seems to get taken as "the definitive version" and may become hard to get changed.

I don't have too much problem with folk changing things (accidentally (or even on purpose) if they don't make a radical difference to the meaning of the song: the interchanging of say "and" and "but" or inclusion/exclusion of a word like "sometimes" makes little impact, but if it is a complete nonsense, then yes. I will protest.
But having said that, in "Flower of Scotland" a lot of people sing "be A nation again", when in fact what Roy Williamson wrote was "be THE nation again". A very minor difference in terminology but quite a big difference in meaning!

And re Eric Bogle's "floures" or "floowrs", that's his Scots pronunciation: if you can't do it, Flowers is fine!

Yes, and I agree with Mr Red about correctly crediting authors: it' s usually simple to do your homework these days thanks to the internet and find out who wrote something or where it came from. (if you get conflicting answers take the majority or most credible view!)

Two recent bands at our local folk club have been guilty of howlers of incorrect attribution of origin of songs, despite distinct geographical references in both songs. A little Googling (or geographical knowledge) would have easily got them the right answers.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Genie
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 03:32 AM

Joe,
I'm not basing my take on "Summertime" on pop or jazz recordings. I believe the line was originally sung in the opera "Porgy and Bess" as "take the sky."   (I could be wrong, though. I was once before. ; ) )

As for City Of New Orleans, it wouldn't surprise me if Goodman himself didn't always sing the lyrics the same way. That's the case with many other songwriters (most notably Woody Guthrie, whose songs often had many lyric incarnations).   

You do raise an interesting issue though. It is often very difficult to trace "the original" version of a song, as even published songbooks and sheet music, liner notes, etc., have been known to be taken from various recordings or contain other errors.   

When possible, I try to find the songwriter's own original recording or the recording of the first artist to record the song.
In the case of "Summertime," that would be the opera itself, not subsequent pop, jazz, folk, blues, etc. recordings.
Here is
"Summertime" from the opera "Porgy & Bess"

The soprano clearly sings "... take the sky ...", not "take to the sky ....".


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Genie
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 03:38 AM

I'd like to underscore my earlier contention that, while many lyric variations are insignificant or may even improve on earlier versions of a song (especially a "trad" song), if a lyricist is particularly skillful and deliberate in choice of words, either for meaning or for musicality or both, I hate to see the lyrics become less artistic or less powerful in their significance because someone substituted less stellar lyrics in a performance and others copied that.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Darowyn
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 04:03 AM

'Someone substituted less stellar lyrics in a performance and others copied that. "
A good example is the way in which the lady referred to in "Try a Little Tenderness" is frequently seen wearing a "shaggy" dress, thanks to 'The Committments' version. The original word is, of course, "shabby"
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 08:32 AM

I know lyrics are changed and become almost impossible to "correct" (ref: "by the gasworks wall" instead of "by the gasworks croft" in "Dirty Old Towm") but some are just plain wrong and *should* be corrected.

The number of corrections to lyrics of Ewan MacColl' "Joy of Living" that I've submitted to lyrics/ tabs sites over the last couple of years is quite large.

Usually it's the names of the mountains that are wrong..."Glyder Fach" and "Suilven" are often changed to phrases/ names with no connection to mountains and which are pure goblledegook within the song, while "Cul Beag, Scafell" if often rendered as "cold big Scafell". And I've seen "Eagerly savour each new day and the taste of its mouth" given as all sorts of completely nonsensical phrases.

To suggest that these mistakes shouldn't be corected as it's "part of the folk process" is a little odd to me.

At the same time, I know that the version of "Banks of the Sweet Primroses" that I sing has slightly different words to other versions that I've heard ( I sing "three long steps" but have heard "three short steps" several times, and I sing "She said stand off..." while others sing "stand off, stand off...", etc) but this I regard as normal and acceptable "morphing" in that it doesn't change the sense of the song.

OTOH, when I first learned Bob Kenward's "Man of Kent" I used the Stuart Pendrill version, where Bob's "sea cliffs of Dover" are replaced with "white cliffs of Dover" and "willow and weather" is eplaced by "willow on leather". Once Bob explained to me that he'd *deliberately* not used those phrases as he'd thought they were too cliched I changed my version immediately.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 08:33 AM

Gobbledegook, I meant...it looks like pure goblledegook the way I wrote it :-)


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Edthefolkie
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 09:22 AM

Somebody once managed to cock up "The Old Changing Way" by Richard Thompson (I can't recall if it was on a record or on the wireless). Richard wrote:

We never agreed to divide our tin
And when you're out of love with your brother your hard times begin
For the spikes and the brothels, they are shameful to see
But don't you travel alone, boys, this warning you take from me

In this version spikes and brothels became strifes and quarrels!

Mind you Richard's voice is so far down the mix on "Henry The Human Fly", I can't say I'm surprised. Took me years to decipher "Wheely Down". This was of course years before the Worldly Wildly Web.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: JHW
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 04:34 PM

One night in the Black Lion, Richmond, Yorks, Mick Sheehan was singing 'The Rybuck Shearer'. At each chorus I was baffled by 'and I'll never ???sore??? to take another blow' so murmured a sound something like I was hearing. Whispering to my neighbour "never what?" he nor the next knew either and half the company were making guessing noises.
Without knowing, one would never work out 'I'll never open Sorbies'
(A brand of sheep shears)


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 08:41 PM

A curious example of a song *all* of whose known versions appear to be corrupt is "Wildwood Flower". It has been extensively discussed in this company.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 09:21 AM

Rob Naylor,

'To suggest that these mistakes shouldn't be corected as it's "part of the folk process" is a little odd to me.'


Well said, Rob, that's the essence of why I began this discussion


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 06:55 PM

The "folk process" can greatly improve a song. Sometimes. But it can also render a really marvelous song into a piece of tripe.

A good example is Child #26. The Three Ravens. A classic ballad with a strong coloration of the kind of medieval poetry from which it sprang, here sung to lute accompaniment (I think), by countertenor Andreas Scholl. CLICKY #1. The performance is not to everyone's taste, I'm sure, but it illustrates the "medieval minstrel ballad" nature of the song as it was often sung way back.

I've run across two "folk processed" American versions. Here's one, CLICKY #2. Suitably singable for a bunch of Boy Scouts all singing around a campfire, but it hardly gives a clue as to the quality of poetry from which it initially sprang centuries ago. Yes, it, too, is considered as a version of Child #26. A "degenerated" version.

And another version, which I ran across in Richard Chase's American Folk Tales and Songs:
The Two Ravens
(traditional, The Three Ravens, Child #26)
pentatonic – melody, "Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon."

There were two ravens who sat on a tree,
And they were black as they could be;
And one of them, I heard him say,
"Oh, where shall we go to dine today?
Shall we go down to the salt, salt sea,
Or shall we go dine by the greenwood tree?
Shall we go down to the salt, salt sea,
Or shall we go dine by the greenwood tree?"

"As I walked down on the white sea sand,
I saw a fair ship sailing near at hand.
I waved my wings, I bent my beak;
That ship she sank, I heard a shriek.
Oh, there lie sailors, one, two, and three;
Oh, shall we go dine by the wild salt sea?"
    (repeat last two lines, as in verse 1)

"Come, I shall show you a far better sight;
A lonesome glen, and a new-slain knight;
His blood yet on the grass is hot,
His sword half-drawn, his shafts unshot.
And no one knows that he lies there
But his hound and his hawk and his lady fair.
    (repeat)

"His hound is to the hunting gone,
His hawk to fetch the wild fowl home,
His lady's away to another mate.
Oh, we shall make our feasting sweet!
Our dinner is sure, our feasting is free,
Oh, come and we'll dine by the greenwood tree!
   (repeat)

"Oh, you shall tear at his naked white thighs,
And I'll peck out his fair blue eyes.
You pull a lock of his fine yellow hair
To thicken your nest where it grows bare.
The golden down on his young chin
Will do to rest my young ones in."
   (repeat)

Oh, cold and bare his bed will be
When white winter storms sing in the tree.
His head's on turf, at his feet a stone.
He'll sleep nor hear young maidens mourne.
O'er his white bones the birds will fly,
The wild deer run, the foxes cry.
   (repeat)

"This extraordinarily good text came to me through Mrs. Willard Brooks, now of Washington, D. C.. She could not remember where she learned it. Artus Moser collected it on Gashes Creek, Hickory Nut Gap, near Asheville, North Carolina, and Annabel Morris Buchanan has found it in Virginia." From American Folk Tales and Songs, compiled by Richard Chase (Signet Key Book, The New American Library, 1956).
This version tells a somewhat bleaker story than the better known and much earlier Thomas Ravenscroft one that Andreas Scholl sings. But although time and geography have changed it considerably¸ the "folk processed" text is certainly of a quality right up there with the earlier Ravenscroft version.

But the other one, "Billie Magee Magaw," the folk process has managed to lose the human elements and convert the song into a piece of doggerel about two crows and a dead horse.

No, the folk process does NOT always improve a song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Tootler
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 08:00 PM

Don,

The song you quoted above looks very much like an American version of the Scots Ballad "The Twa Corbies". I first came across it in a little book by Norman Buchan called "101 Scottish Songs".

The Twa Corbies

As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t'ither did say,
'Whaur sall we gang and dine the day?'

'It's in ahint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.

'His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady's ta'en anither mate,
So we may mak our dinner swate.

'Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;
Wi ae lock o' his gouden hair
We'll theek oor nest when it grows bare.

'There's mony a ane for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken whaur he is gane;
O'er his white banes, when they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair.

Some say this ballad is older than the Three Ravens and other argue that it is derived from the Three Ravens and is of relatively recent origin.

Whichever is the case both are fine ballads each taking a different slant on the opening scene.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 11:42 PM

It is indeed. Listed in the Francis James Child catalog, (Child #26) as The Three Ravens or The Twa Corbies. The two, and all the others under that number, pretty obviously have a common ancestor back in the mists of antiquity.

Some Scottish immigrant(s) undoubtedly brought it to Virginia or North Carolina and it wandered from there.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Musket
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 11:10 AM

One old music hall song that you hear in many folk clubs is Pomona. All about The Pomona Palace in Salford, near Pomona Docks, at Albert Square. (Not around any more.)

Usually sung as Lamona..........


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 06:04 AM

Singers, writers and publishers have long been changing place names to local ones. Frank Hennessy's Old Carmarthen Oak (in Wales)has been relocated to Dungannon and Dungarvan (in Ireland).


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 06:24 AM

Broadside printers were very good at the changing place names thing. There's a 19th century broadside ballad I know as "Liverpool's an altered town"; but change a few words here and there and you've got "Manchester's an altered town" and "Preston's an altered town" - all by the same printer (Harkness of Preston). Clearly in this case they weren't 'errors', just adaptations. But this was a 'new ballad' being printed. I guess the question here would be; is changing the scene of a song with a long history an "error" or an "adaptation"?

Thinking back to songs I know and the place-change adaptations they may contain, most people who I've heard singing "Black is the colour" sing it with the words "I go to the Clyde and I mourn and weep", following Hamish Imlach's rendition of the song. Is this a perpetuated error, or part of the folk process? I'm inclined towards the latter, especially seeing as I heard and learned this from pub singing long before I heard the Imlach recording (so I didn't really know of the source of the "Clyde" reference for a long time; it was just part of the oral transmission). But I'm inconsistent, because there are other changes that frustrate me, because they lose sight of the history or place that gave the song life.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 07:30 AM

Perpetuating errors, Mr. Mather! Pomona Gardens, later the location of the Manchester Ship Canal's docks 1-4, were in Stretford, on the other side of the Irwell from Salford. As for roving all night, well Albert Square to Pomona Gardens is less than two miles! And Albert Square has never been a round!


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 04:18 PM

As Richard quite rightly states the OP is referring to errors rather than adaptations, the one accidental or even careless and the other deliberate.

However this is also the essence of the oral tradition and most of those who love songs that have been shaped by oral tradition feel that the overall effect is largely one of improvement.

Even taking Don's example. He abhors the much corrupted Billy McGee McGaw descendants of The Three Ravens. I prefer to think of these as separate songs with different purposes. Thay have become comic songs and much of their comedy lies in the method of performance. I am in the advantageous position of being able to appreciate both songs and indeed others on the same evolutionary path.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 06:15 PM

I don't "abhor" the song, Steve. And you're right, it's actually morphed into a different song. I just picked that one because it's a fairly blantant illustration of how the folk process doesn't always improve a song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Apr 11 - 03:09 PM

"I remember Eric Bogle at Bromyard FF introducing Willie MacBride"

I saw Bogle in Kelso and someone asked him if he minded "all these Irish singers getting the words and even the title wrong of No Man's Land". He said "as long as I got paid my royalties I don't care" :-)


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 02:58 PM

Some of the comments in this thread, are too good to get lost in a thread of unrelated songs. I've moved the "Three Score and Ten" messages over to this thread, and I'll eventually move the corbies/ravens messages. Hope y'all don't mind.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 03:30 PM

That Corbies Text is very similar to one I use which came (sans melody) from an old book called The Legendary Ballads of England & Scotland.

O there were twa corbies sat on a tree; large & black as black might be;
an' the ane unto the ither gan say: aye, where shall we gan & dine today?
Shall we dine by the wild salt sea? Or shall we dine 'neath the greenwood tree?

As I sat by the deep sea strand, I saw a fair ship nigh at land;
I waved my wings I beat my beak, that ship it sunk & I heard the shriek.
Aye, the drowned ones lie, one, two & tree; I shall dine by the wild salt sea.

Come and I'll show ye a sweeter sight, there's a lonesome glen & a new slain knight;
an' his blood yet on the grass is hot; his sword half drawn, his shafts unshot.
And no one knows that he lies there, but his hawk, & his hound, & his lady fair.

His hound is to the hunting gone; his hawk tae fetch the wild fowl hame;
and his lady's awa' with another man, so we maun make our dinner long:
our dinner's sure, our feasting free, come & dine 'neath the greenwood tree.

Ye shall sit out on his white hause-bane, while I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;
An' ye'll take a tree of his yellow hair to theek wa nest when it grows bare:
the gowlden down on his young chin will do tae row my young ones in.

Aye cold and bare his bed will be when winter storms sing in the tree;
At his head a turf, at his feet a stone; he'll sleep nor hear the maiden's moan
Ower his white bones the birds shall fly, the wild dear bound & foxes cry.


The tune I sing it to is my own.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 May 11 - 06:22 AM

A further example came to light last night when my SO showed me a piece of music downloaded from the net entitled 'Davy Nick Nack'.

Obviously the same tune as 'Davy, Davy Knick Knack' but wrong spelling of the title


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 May 11 - 06:53 AM

Further to Gregs Stephens' post above re the Cantwell family's rendition of 'Nightingale' in which he cahastised me.

How can anyone know that their 'traditional' way of singing it may've contained perpetuated flaws?

After all someone in their family would've heard [or misheard] it sung by another either singing the 'definitive' version or even a flawed one continuing to be perpetuated with errors


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 May 11 - 06:53 AM

Further to Greg Stephens' post above re the Cantwell family's rendition of 'Nightingale' in which he cahastised me.

How can anyone know that their 'traditional' way of singing it may've contained perpetuated flaws?

After all someone in their family would've heard [or misheard] it sung by another either singing the 'definitive' version or even a flawed one continuing to be perpetuated with errors


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