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Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?

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GUEST,Pseudonymous 01 Aug 20 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 01 Aug 20 - 09:55 AM
GUEST 01 Aug 20 - 07:59 AM
The Sandman 01 Aug 20 - 07:53 AM
Severn 30 Jul 20 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Gerry 30 Jul 20 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,anon 30 Jul 20 - 01:50 AM
GUEST,Gerry 29 Jul 20 - 07:51 PM
Severn 29 Jul 20 - 07:40 PM
Rex 29 Jul 20 - 02:50 PM
Acorn4 29 Jul 20 - 10:09 AM
Joe Offer 29 Jul 20 - 09:58 AM
Mrrzy 29 Jul 20 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Gerry 29 Jul 20 - 06:01 AM
Waddon Pete 29 Jul 20 - 03:10 AM
hsempl 29 Jul 20 - 03:06 AM
Joe Offer 29 Jul 20 - 02:43 AM
hsempl 29 Jul 20 - 01:03 AM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 20 - 11:59 PM
hsempl 28 Jul 20 - 09:33 PM
hsempl 28 Jul 20 - 09:32 PM
The Sandman 28 Jul 20 - 06:04 PM
Mrrzy 28 Jul 20 - 03:24 PM
David Carter (UK) 28 Jul 20 - 03:02 PM
Stilly River Sage 28 Jul 20 - 09:48 AM
David Carter (UK) 28 Jul 20 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 28 Jul 20 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 28 Jul 20 - 09:11 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Jul 20 - 09:10 AM
David Carter (UK) 28 Jul 20 - 06:14 AM
Doug Chadwick 27 Jul 20 - 06:16 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jul 20 - 02:21 PM
Doug Chadwick 27 Jul 20 - 01:34 PM
GUEST 27 Jul 20 - 06:51 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 Jul 20 - 05:42 AM
GUEST 26 Jul 20 - 02:54 PM
The Sandman 26 Jul 20 - 02:50 PM
Mrrzy 26 Jul 20 - 02:03 PM
The Sandman 26 Jul 20 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 26 Jul 20 - 11:43 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Jul 20 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Observer 26 Jul 20 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,Gerry 26 Jul 20 - 09:14 AM
Mrrzy 26 Jul 20 - 08:11 AM
Mrrzy 26 Jul 20 - 08:02 AM
The Sandman 26 Jul 20 - 08:00 AM
Howard Jones 26 Jul 20 - 07:17 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Jul 20 - 06:29 AM
The Sandman 26 Jul 20 - 01:23 AM
Joe Offer 25 Jul 20 - 09:25 PM
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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 09:59 AM

I haven't studied the discussion leading up to the focus on people being offended/upset in detail, but it seems to me possible to trivialise the important issues by framing them in terms of people's subjective sensitivities/being 'upset'. Not saying anybody did this or tried to do it. But it can happen I think. It then leads on to the 'snowflake' insult line of attack. Just a thought, not trying to argue that people's feelings aren't important.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 09:55 AM

You cannot call Shakespeare an establishment lackey or allude to the extent to which he was influenced by his paymasters (eg the King) in my experience without Jim Carroll coming along flashing his I'm working class but I can appreciate Shakespeare. He told me I hadn't being paying attention to the plays when I said something similar!


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 07:59 AM

i just make sure the play Shylock is not in my house

A spin off from the The Merchant of Venice, I presume. Must be a recent disccovery.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 07:53 AM

a song i would not sing is Hugh of Lincoln, it is anti semitic
as is that play Shylock, written by the establishment lackey Shakespeare,
however that is easy for me i just make sure the play Shylock is not in my house, IT MUGHT BE WELL WRITTEN BUT ITIS ANTI SEMITIC


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Severn
Date: 30 Jul 20 - 10:05 AM

I have yet to hear anything that I might think of as offensive in an antisemitic way sung at the Mudcat sing and we have a good number of Jewish singers present who I am sure would let us know if such a song slipped in without a short bit of reference as to why the singer is including it and it's context, as there is a bit of the historian in most of us. Take Gerry's suggestion and join us
and be enlightened and entertained.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 30 Jul 20 - 06:12 AM

Instead of making hypotheticals, anon, why not come along to see for yourself what kinds of people are attracted?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,anon
Date: 30 Jul 20 - 01:50 AM

i dont want to start anything, only to say as someone from the jewish faith it would make me supremely uncomfortable to have people uncritically singing antisemetic songs. If that's the kind of space you wish to cultivate, and those the kinds of people you wish to attract, fine, but don't blame those of us who are the subject of some of the more frankly offensive songs for staying away from those who wish to sing them uncritically


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 07:51 PM

"I'm not inclined to apologize for anything I do in good faith.... Maybe I have a wrong understanding of apologizing when somebody is offended, but I see no need for apology when I had no intention to offend or when I don't think my action was offensive."

Joe, I think all of us – you, me, Mrrzy, Heather – have the same goal: continuing the singaround without it being interrupted by a discussion that should take place elsewhere.

If there are two ways to achieve that goal, and one of them leaves one or more people upset, and the other way doesn't, then I think the way that doesn't upset anyone is the optimal choice.

Acknowledging that someone has been offended, expressing regret that someone has been offended, seems to me to be the way to achieve the goal without leaving anyone upset. Acknowledging that someone has been offended in no way accepts blame for causing offense, and doesn't even agree that an offensive act occurred; it just lets the other person know that you understand how they feel. People need that.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Severn
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 07:40 PM

One thing I found that I had to learn in a relationship/marriage situation was that even if you were right in the argument or dispute, if another party was hurt by the nature of what was said, be it tone of the manner you express yourself in trying to make your points, at some point, the right of wrong of things can become secondary to the fact that someone on one of even both sides of the dispute are hurt or offended, the were indeed hurt, and hurt IS hurt whether you feel you were right or proved your point. If one walks away knowing one was right in the argument leaving the other party hurting from something other the settlement (if you even reached one), you have to understand the hurt and you don't have to concede the original point to know that something beyond all that happened, some offense real or imagined has occurred, and if you ever want to be able to solve possibly more important problems, these sensitive points have to be identified to be used as tools (and hopefully not weapons) in the future. You have to be able to apologize for these offenses no matter who won the original point, as it is in the end, a completely different apology. Then you can move on and build on things in an open manner without dropping into set patterns each time something does go wrong or is disputed as a matter of habit. When communication goes, each party can hurt the other in ways they will no longer realize.

You were a bit rough on Heather, considering some of the other posts that get harsh, shrill of mean that will come up in threads like this one. I greatly appreciate and respect your skills as a moderator and count you as good friend, but I am surprised that these posts rather than some others could set things boiling over the top.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Rex
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 02:50 PM

I was presenting some nineteenth century songs at a symposium. The audience was almost exclusively historians. I presented The Yellow Rose of Texas, gave some of the background, pointed out offensive words, particularly "darkie" and then performed the song. The words are from a hand written paper in the archives of the University of Texas at Austin which I pointed out. Contrary to popular belief it's origins are not about cowboys. I was later confronted by some who were offended by the song leaving me to wonder what is the purpose of a symposium?
   Point two, I was asked to give a presentation for a class of graduate students at the University of Denver. The subject was songs that were popular during the beginnings of settlements in the Colorado Territory. A sub heading was the popularity of minstrel songs, America's first pop music and its rough edges. I pointed out a good example, The Year of Jubilo or Kingdom Coming. It was written by an abolitionist and is pointing out the rise of the former slave and the fleeing of his captors. But that word, "darkie" runs all through the song. I had to make sure that all cell phones were down and the students would simply see the song as it is warts and all. The professor was sympathetic and felt it was right to include the song as an example of what seems to be good intentions for the time by its writer. Not all the students agreed. In this place of learning some could not get past that word. Even if this is a good example of again, good intentions, I do not believe I will ever sing it again in any situation.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Acorn4
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 10:09 AM

It's a very thorny problem and can extend to areas like songs about whaling and hunting.

Can you disapprove of both and still sing the songs, as a lot of them are cracking songs.

In essence when you sing a folk song you are, in a sense, acting. In a play you could be acting the part of a Shakespearian villain, which bears no relation to your own beliefs or behaviour.

If you are an atheist you might be offended by religious references. We have a person who attends our local sessions who tuts at the end of a song with any religious connotations.

I've tried telling him "you don't have to be a psychopath to sing a murder ballad" to no avail.

We'd need to ban the whole of Kipling if you read the use of the "n" word in the "Just So" stories.

Not coming to any conclusions here but just a few thoughts and just saying that the implications are far reaching.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 09:58 AM

There's no doubt that offensive lyrics are a valid issue for discussion. It's a very hot topic in our San Francisco Folk Music Club. Last I heard, "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is now considered offensive.

Here in California, everybody is offended by everything, so I'm not inclined to apologize for anything I do in good faith. My temptation is to say, "Go piss up a rope" - but that, too, interrupts the flow of a singaround. Maybe I have a wrong understanding of apologizing when somebody is offended, but I see no need for apology when I had no intention to offend or when I don't think my action was offensive.

I think that after a person sings, it's appropriate to either make a positive comment, or to say nothing. It might be appropriate to speak briefly about the background of the song, and I admit to sometimes being too wordy in my attempt to discuss a song. On Zoom sessions, it might be appropriate to say something after the song if the singer's sound needs adjustment - but I think that only the host should interrupt in the middle of a song, and only when something can be done quickly to remedy the problem.

But if there's negative stuff, I think it generally should be discussed privately, as in the private chat. If further discussion is necessary, it can be done afterwards.

And yes, Gerry, Heather's first post was reasonable. Then she became insulting.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 08:02 AM

I put something in the chat about kanaka rather than talking about it on the zoom.

I think Joe does a bang-up job running said zoom. Joe, you do great work on all of our behalves. Please don't stop.

Everybody else, please don't make him *want* to stop.

I was glad someone besides me brought up kanaka.

I was glad Joe redirected the singaround away from the about-to-erupt argument. He's right, not that people should sing unchallenged, but that *raising* the challenge was enough *for that medium* at that time.

My feelings. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 06:01 AM

Boy, that blew up in a hurry!

Joe, I think if you go back to Heather's first post, to the end of it, you'll find it makes good sense. If someone says she has been offended, apologize for whatever caused the offense, and move on. An apology is not an admission of guilt; it is not an agreement that what was done was in any objective sense offensive; it's just an acknowledgement that when someone says she was offended, she was, in fact, offended. Whatever past history you may have with the person, right now the person is offended; acknowledge that, and move on. If the person wants to continue the complaint after an apology, then it's perfectly justifiable to insist that the place for that is at Mudcat and not during the singaround.

It seems to me that, purely as a practical matter, this is the way to continue the singaround while ruffling the fewest feathers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 03:10 AM

Well said Joe!

You run the singaround well and make a hard job look easy.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 03:06 AM

Joe,
What line did I cross?

As someone who has struggled with pitch, I am very aware that it takes guts to sing when less sure of oneself; it also takes guts to speak up about racist or misogynistic lyrics - doing so helps make singing spaces welcoming to all singers. I thought the person who did so was gentle and direct - complimenting the song and the singing, saying it's a fun song to sing and they'd enjoyed it, then mentioning the problematic lyric. It's a good model. I was glad they spoke up because I had been feeling uncomfortable but hesitated to speak because I was new to the sing and worried about hurting the singers' feelings.

As for the rest of your message above, there are several unrelated incidents being conflated, and I am disturbed by the violent imagery, which makes me think it would not be safe to be in a physical space that you were in. It also makes me not think it's productive to continue this conversation, at least on my part.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 02:43 AM

OK, Heather, I'm going to be brutally honest, because you've crossed the line. Most people are a little bit afraid and very much self-conscious about singing solo. It takes a lot of courage for them to sing a song. And there are other "my shit don't stink" singers who nonetheless pass judgment on them, thereby attacking what little self-confidence these "lesser" singers have been able to muster. These stinkless singers often seem compelled to attack or at least scold their inferiors. I suppose it's motivated by their own low self-esteem - but it stinks, nonetleless.

The woman who complained, humiliated me publicly a few years ago after I sang when she thought it was inappropriate for me to sing. There's another stinklessly self-involved Mudcat woman who sang over me while I was singing because she did not think I was singing the correct melody - and a second time, she talked over me and kept talking louder and I was singing louder. So, that's three times right off that I have been humiliated and suppressed by these two "shit don't stink" women who somehow think they have the right to control the singing of others. Oh, I can think of a third one, the wife of our old choir director - she jumped all over me because I did not adequately thank her husband on one occasion, and she kept up a pattern of putting people down for years.

It is all I can do to stop myself from jumping up and choking these women when I see them. And I'm certainly not the only person these women have humiliated. These women live to put other people down. So, yeah, the woman who complained is a woman who always complains and always suppresses. She is a squelch.

I can think of men who are squelches, too. They like to control threads at Mudcat and put other people down. These are people who like to be the insiders so they can push other people out.

Another example: I'm in a book club that was discussing a book about Chinese railroad workers in California. We were talking about prejudice against Chinese, and I pulled out a book and read three verses from "John Chinaman" songs to illustrate that racism and to explain that it still exists in people who come to Mudcat to say how "cute" they think the songs are. One of the participants was offended at my reading those verses, and he made sure I knew what a horrible person I was for offending him.

Well, you know, I read those verses for an honest and constructive purpose, and I really don't give a rat's ass that he was offended. And I don't see any righteousness in "shit don't stink" singers who are offended by the singing of others. So, yeah, when people attempt to pass judgment and suppress what others say or sing, it stinks.

And if they attempt to do that sort of shit in a song circle I'm controlling, I'm going to do my best to stop them.

So, yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 01:03 AM

Joe,
The issue isn't whether or not the word is objectively offensive - I don't know, and opinions vary I'm sure among Hawai'ians and other Islanders as well. It's that if someone says something is offensive, then it is offending them. It sounds like you are saying you don't care about that. You say you expect people to be smart enough to realize you aren't meaning offense when you sing a historical song. But without context, in a jovial sing-around rather than a more formal venue, not everyone is going to be familiar with every song and know its history. You refer to giving context as an "apology." It's not an apology to give a heads up when a song is known to be possibly offensive. And when (as in the case at Monday's sing) it was clear the singers had not been aware of that fact, there's no need for anything other then, at that point, a quick acknowledgment and apology for offending - same as you would if you'd accidentally stepped on someone's foot - and then moving on. But it sounds like unless you personally believe something is offensive you don't believe it should offend anyone else.
Also, I understand "the deal" with traditional music. For the past four years I've been one of the hosts of a weekly community radio show that focuses on ballads and other traditional music. I think it can be assumed that everyone on Mudcat is aware that the songs our great-grandparents sang were more racist than the songs of today. That felt a little patronizing.
Heather


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 11:59 PM

Well, Heather, it's a difficult question, and not something that can or should be settled in a singaround. Each singer will make his or her own choices for personal reasons, and there will be a wide variety of choices. I don't think I "discounted" the objections to the song - I just said it was something that couldn't be settled at the time of the singaround and should be discussed at Mudcat.

That's the deal with traditional music. Our great-grandparents lived in times where racist ideas and language were common. Those songs were their reality, and they probably sang them without any particular hatred or any idea of offending anyone. And in general, when I sing an historic song, I sing it without apology and expect listeners to be smart enough to discern that these are the ideas of the time the song came from, and are not my own. I don't sing contemporary songs that have any hint of racism, but I give a little tolerance to historic songs rather than belaboring the point.

Last week was the first time in my life that I ever heard that the word "Kanaka" might be offensive. It's going to take me a while to believe that. I will respect all sorts of opinions, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to espouse them myself.

I don't particularly like "Going Down to Old Maui" and don't sing it myself because I am uncomfortable with the attitudes it expresses that are demeaning to women (although I will sing it without comment if people ask me to). But on the other hand, I'm not offended if somebody else sings it - that's their choice. On the other hand, I really enjoy singing "John Kanaka," and had no idea in the world until last week that anybody might find it offensive. And until I hear it from a Hawaiian that it's offensive, I won't put much stock in the assertion it shouldn't be sung.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:33 PM

Whoa, I mistyped above - what i meant to type, instead of "but because I felt like the mention of offensive lyrics was offensive" was "but because I felt like the mention of offensive lyrics was discounted."


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:32 PM

From Joe, above: "Somebody yesterday wanted to discuss whether it was appropriate for another singer to use the word "Kanaka" in a song, and I nipped that discussion in the bud and said that we have to let people make their own choices about what they sing, and discuss that stuff in Mudcat threads."

I actually left the sing, not because of the discussion, but because I felt like the mention of offensive lyrics was offensive. I completely understand needing to move the sing along and not prolong verbal discussion during a sing, but I think Joe you said something like "we sing lots of different lyrics" and I was going to message you privately to confirm I had heard you correctly but from the above ("We have to let people make their own choices about what they sing"), I can see that I did understand you correctly. Of course, it is up to the host to decide how to run their sing, but if when someone points out something is offensive that is not taken seriously, then it's not a sing I feel comfortable taking part in. Discussions about lyrics and songs appropriateness (and that some songs might be appropriate in an environment where there is room to give them context but not in another environment) can be done off-sing, but if someone says something is offensive, IMO the only thing to do in real time is apologize and move on.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 06:04 PM

I also speak english as my first language , i am not sure i am fluent, although i do notice a lot of verbally fluent effluent   particularly below the line,
however the abilty to understand the words does not stop me appreciating gealic irish singing.
i appreciate all kinds of tradtional music including bulgarian and mongolian. i occasionally appreciate italian opera.
I would happily describe mudcat in many ways but parochial would not be one of them , a friend of mine today called it Mudlark, that forum mudlark is very useful for getting songs, i rather liked that ..mudlark, what mudlarks Pip old chap, with apologies to Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 03:24 PM

I know songs in lots of languages I don't speak. Comes from growing up with the likes of Bikel!


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 03:02 PM

Yes, I also only speak English fluently. Which doesn't mean that I can't appreciate traditional music when I can't follow the words (or maybe follow a written translation), or even when there aren't any words (as is true of a fair part of the traditional music of Southern Europe).


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:48 AM

It has been one of my complaints about this forum that it is very parochial in what it covers. Almost all discussion concerns material from North America or the British Isles.

Parochial, that is debatable. Go look through old threads and you'll find quite a range the content covers. Mudcat covers the English-speaking world, without a doubt. The lion's share of us speak only English fluently.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:43 AM

Ah, right, yes I had assumed that Lomax made the recordings, but thanks for correcting me.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:20 AM

I suppose that David Carter could be referring to volume 5 of the Columbia World Library of Folk & Primitive Music - Australia & New Guinea. But, if so, these recordings were made by a Dr A.P.Elkin and by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I would think that Lomax would have had the recordings sent to him in America, where he edited them for the album.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:11 AM

I am not aware that Alan Lomax ever visited Australia. Can anybody confirm this, please?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:10 AM

David
Perhaps our parochialism stems from the fact that the music we love is such a minority interest, and is swamped by more commercial music. Most of those who do get involved, because of such small numbers, find themselves so immersed in the music with so much to do that there simply is not time to go dashing off into other cultures and genres. For Lomax it was his living and his life's work, but I'll bet family side of things often played second fiddle because of his obsession. I know even at my level of obsession that can create problems.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 06:14 AM

Well sort of Steve, but in other ways it isn't a big parish, because the music discussed from four of those countries is the music of recent immigrants from the other two. Lomax did collect traditional music in Australia, some while ago someone posted a link to those recordings, which I have now lost.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 06:16 PM

OK, forget what I said Mrrzy. I have just seen what the smoking comment referred to.

DC


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 02:21 PM

David
Mudcat covers whatever the people who contribute want it to cover. The current contributors have no control over who or what. There is no discrimination. Some of us are specialists in our particular field, and want to give out info and answer queries on what we know.
Those in the know rarely have time to spread into other fields. There is no deliberate exclusion. We do have plenty of experts in specific areas of world music but in the main they have solitary knowledge that no one else here has. Jack, Vic, Phil to name just a few. Their contributions are certainly valued but it doesn't always relate to what the rest of us are interested in.

UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Oz, NZ; that's one helluva big parish!


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 01:34 PM

And disliking smoking is not racist: Content of character, not skin color.

???

Mrrzy, I don't understand this comment.

DC


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 06:51 AM

Sandman Mrrzy was referring to James Cook the British explorer.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 05:42 AM

It has been one of my complaints about this forum that it is very parochial in what it covers. Almost all discussion concerns material from North America or the British Isles. Alan Lomax collected material from many parts of the world. Occasionally Kerboxeru will tell us about things from elsewhere, but its very little really.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 02:54 PM

Do I detect a touch of the "white saviour" in some of the posts in this thread?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 02:50 PM

MRRZY,ok true.
Cook do you mean thomas cook travel agent?
The United States has invaded about 200 nations and territories. Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Venezuela. Invasions fit in with regime change. Other invasions from the past such as in 1898 in Puerto Rico have continued to this very day.quote Wiki
Dubbing random places and overthrowing Allende who was democratically elected,
Still i am sure you would agree with that, because you are American, it doesnt follow that you support american imperialism any more than i support british imperialism


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 02:03 PM

Cook also has a lot to answer for, sailing around and dubbing random places!

And disliking smoking is not racist: Content of character, not skin color.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 01:54 PM

Howard, do you remember the guy who sang nicotine girl at blackmore singers club, and jim garrett who had a rocket shaped guitar.
i suppose people will son be stopped from singing nicotine girl , because it does not discourage smoking.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 11:43 AM

This is what I meant earlier by "dancing on the head of a pin".


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 10:10 AM

We're getting into really barking mad territory here. What shall we henceforth call North America? And if the original inhabitants didn't have a collective name for it should we just not give it a name at all?

I think M and all those who want to go in that direction should be given the impossible job of naming every name on the planet according to the preferences of the original inhabitants. Now then, what did the cave men call it?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 09:21 AM

What was it called by it's original inhabitants Mrrzy? Where was it recorded?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 09:14 AM

Mrrzy, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who gave the island the name "van Diemen's Land", did not invade it, nor did he establish a penal colony, nor any other kind of colony. Moreover, as I wrote earlier, it's not even clear to me that he met any of its inhabitants, or even knew there were any.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 08:11 AM

I meant to say, when saying Well that's what it was called, it should be made clear that it's *not* what it was called by its actual inhabitants, but by its white invaders, whether you want to quibble about whether establishing a penal *colony* counts as colonizing or not.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 08:02 AM

My point was that much of the problem is folks, especially white folks, not *noticing* racism.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 08:00 AM

I feel there is a danger here that we risk dancing on the head of a pin trying to find every possible taint of racism, rather than focus on dealing with real issues that actually affect people's lives.
very good... for example institutionalised racism in the police force
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000kgtl


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 07:17 AM

"Van Dieman's land being the name given to what is now called Tasmania by white colonials who considered it uninhabited? Really? Nothing racist?"

That's a dangerous argument coming from someone who lives in a country also named by white colonialists. However there can be very few countries which are still known by the names their original settlers gave them - most have been occupied and re-occupied many times over. It's stretching the idea of racism to apply it to using the generally accepted name for a place. Then there's the added complication that places have different names in different languages. Is it racist to refer to "Egypt" instead of "Misr"? Is it racist to write that in the Latin alphabet rather than in Arabic script? Where does it stop?

It also seems to me to be excessively zealous to start excluding tunes simply because they were once performed by minstrels. Where they have racist titles then those should be changed, but many do not, and are not associated in modern minds with minstrelsy.

I cannot accept the modern idea that the slightest possibility of giving offence must be avoided, no matter how remote or irrational. Someone can be found to take offence at almost anything. If it is necessary to research the history of a tune in order to decide whether to be offended by it, if someone goes out of their way to find offence, then that should be acknowledged but not necessarily acted on.

I feel there is a danger here that we risk dancing on the head of a pin trying to find every possible taint of racism, rather than focus on dealing with real issues that actually affect people's lives.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 06:29 AM

Joe, your adversary is effectively trying to 'whitewash' history if you cannot have the discussion in public. You were clearly using the songs as examples of racism. I cannot see a problem with that.

Also if you can't even mention what a place was named at some point in history then you are whitewashing history, regardless of who gave it that name.

The authorities have it right in my opinion. Don't destroy the statues, put them in a museum and explain why this happened. Not rocket science.

Likewise the use of the N word. To ban it completely is ridiculous. If it is used in the way Leadbetter sang it then it is completely acceptable. The usage is completely clear in the song and needs no explanation.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 01:23 AM

yes , joe, that is exactly the point i am trying to make.
An intersting song in the context of this discussion is Bourgpise Blues, written by a Black man Leadbelly.
Lyrics
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around
Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around
Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say "I don't want no niggers up there"
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around
Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around
I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
'Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around
This is a song specifically about racism, and uses the word NIGGER, TO MAKE A POINT AGAINST RACISM


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Jul 20 - 09:25 PM

Mrrzy's point, Sandman, is about the name Van Diemen's Land, not about the entire 10-verse song. Can't say I agree with Mrrzy's point of view. The song is set at a particular time, and the place was called "Van Diemen's Land" at the time. That's reality, not racism.

-Joe-


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