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Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...

Will Fly 24 Sep 13 - 04:59 AM
Brakn 24 Sep 13 - 06:06 AM
Leadfingers 24 Sep 13 - 07:15 AM
Dave the Gnome 24 Sep 13 - 07:41 AM
doc.tom 24 Sep 13 - 08:12 AM
Will Fly 24 Sep 13 - 10:44 AM
Bettynh 24 Sep 13 - 11:08 AM
Michael 24 Sep 13 - 11:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Sep 13 - 12:04 PM
Joe_F 24 Sep 13 - 03:45 PM
dick greenhaus 24 Sep 13 - 04:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Sep 13 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 24 Sep 13 - 08:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Sep 13 - 08:45 PM
Will Fly 25 Sep 13 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 25 Sep 13 - 04:30 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 25 Sep 13 - 05:18 AM
Will Fly 25 Sep 13 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 25 Sep 13 - 06:05 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Sep 13 - 06:53 AM
Will Fly 25 Sep 13 - 07:09 AM
cooperman 25 Sep 13 - 07:47 AM
Will Fly 25 Sep 13 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 25 Sep 13 - 08:38 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Sep 13 - 08:57 AM
G-Force 25 Sep 13 - 10:40 AM
Mr Happy 25 Sep 13 - 11:17 AM
selby 25 Sep 13 - 11:36 AM
Rob Naylor 25 Sep 13 - 12:07 PM
Rumncoke 26 Sep 13 - 08:04 AM
Lighter 26 Sep 13 - 10:31 AM
Rob Naylor 26 Sep 13 - 10:42 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 13 - 10:42 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 13 - 10:48 AM
Lighter 26 Sep 13 - 11:00 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 13 - 11:20 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 13 - 11:29 AM
melodeonboy 26 Sep 13 - 02:07 PM
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Subject: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 04:59 AM

At quite a few singarounds I've been to recently, there have been any number of songs about the passing of industry, the changing of the countryside, and other material with a quasi-nostalgic longing for times gone by. And I think to myself, "Oh - really?"

There are indeed many things to lament the passing of but, in doing so, we seem to forget the downsides to it all. For every bucolic/rustic song where the young loves sit down by a sweet bank of briar to hear the nightingale sing, there were untold miseries of agricultural labourers unable to find work because of new machinery in the fields, sent to the "union", separated by age and sex - or given a passage to the 'colonies' and told to hop it.

And the passing of some industries also led to the passing of child labour, wages that allowed workers to subsist while the mine and mill owners waxed rich. So what say ye to the "good old days"?

I can recall, even in my comparatively short span of years, the horror of a dentist with a treadle drill, the vile gloop that passed for medicine in the post-war years, the general greyness that abounded - soot and smoke from local mills - and a general air of "knowing one's place".

Good old days? Bah! Humbug! I've never looked back through the years and thought, "Oh I wish I were such-and-such again". I've always enjoyed being the age I am and living in the time I live in - there here and now.

Not perfect, I grant you - but then, nothing ever was...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Brakn
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 06:06 AM

"The good old days are good and gone now
That's why they're good
Because they're gone"

LW3


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 07:15 AM

THESE are the Good Old Days


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 07:41 AM

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be either...

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: doc.tom
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 08:12 AM

"But these were not the 'good old days' – because such days never existed – not until they were winnowed out from the whole crop of days. Under pressure, I remember too that hacked hands bled, that Grandmother was nearly killed by a cow, that hoeing nearly broke your back and that lifting swedes in a cold wet November was a kind of purgatory comparable only to service in the salt mines.

But when honeysuckle perfumed the evening air, when skylarks sang or plovers flew above the harrowed earth, we understood why there had to be such delights. Why some things were remembered and others forgot."

Paraphrased from Ian Niall's 'To Speed the Plough' and as used in 'This Farming Life.' Shame on you who want people to not remember the good bits! - it is all part of coping with the bad bits. (But I can't help agreed with any criticism of contemporary false sentiment).
TomB


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 10:44 AM

It's the contemporary false sentiment that grates - people singing with sincerely screwed up faces about the working class dignity of the mills - when they've never seen the inside of a mill in their life. My memory of factory life is of hard bloody graft for not much cash - and that was in the 1960s!

I've nothing against the dignity of labour, by the way - just sadness that most of the poor buggers didn't get a decent wage for what they did.

Not so long ago I was looking at the rate books for the Haigh area of Lancashire in the 1840s - courtesy of a local public record office - to see what rates and rents my g-g-g-grandfather William paid for his little cottage (William was a miner in the cannell coalfields). It was no surprise to see that he was frequently in arrears. What was most instructive was seeing page after page of listed properties - cottages, mills, farms, villages, etc. in the area all owned by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.

No surprises there - just some sobering thoughts. Perhaps there's a real song in there somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Bettynh
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 11:08 AM

John McCutcheon touched the subject with:

Ghost of the Good Old Days

Song credits:
words & music by John McCutcheon & Si Kahn

Back 'fore I's in long britches
And the train stopped every other day
The coke ovens belched that black smoke
And kids runnin' every which-a-way
My Mama and my Daddy said, "High times a-coming"
And the tipple kept a-spittin' that coal
The circuit ridin' preacher and the missionary teacher
Kept you cipherin' and singin' for your soul

Chorus

Oh, the rattle of the track ain't never comin' back
And the tipple is a-crumblin' in the wind
And this town is a-bleedin' out of every road a-leadin'
Up the river where you never even been
It's the lure of the young, it's the honey on the tongue
And you told 'em in a hundred different ways
But you watch 'em as they're fleein', when they look back all they're seein'
Are the ghosts of the good old days

Well, I got me a wife and I got me a job
And I got me a union card
And I hoed me a patch by the side of the river
So we were ready when the times got hard
We hung three pictures above the old sofa
It was Jesus, FDR, and John L
So we knew how to pray and we knew how to vote
And we knew how to really give 'em hell

Chorus

But the times rolled by and the kids rolled with 'em
And now the dust never settles on the road
And I lie awake at night thinkin' ain't it a sight
How history is a mighty heavy load'
It weren't' the scabs or the dozers or the wind in the winter
Drove young 'uns to the cities by the score
It was the road and the car and the can't stay where you are
And the thirst that makes you always look for more

©1995 John McCutcheon/Appalsongs (ASCAP) & Si Kahn/Joe Hill Music (ASCAP)
Charlottesville, VA February 1995

Album Reference:
The Greatest Story Never Told


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Michael
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 11:28 AM

I was a 'farm lad' in the late 50's and early 60's. My memories are of both the bucolic hay and corn harvesting and the bitter winter tasks, potato riddling, lifting and chopping turnips, when we didn't know whether or not we had fingers and feet.

Whist there were some particular tasks I would rather not have had to do,at that time I thought there was no better job in all the world.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 12:04 PM

The wretched things is that we always seem to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Obviously there were all kinds of aspects of the past which no one would wish to return to, and it's very easy to start listing them. And equally there were things which have gone which are rightly lamented.

The fallacy lies in assuming that the two are inescapably linked, because much of the time they aren't. The good changes didn't require the bad changes, and the bad changes shouldn't be glibly presented as being a necessary and justifiable price we have to pay.

There are cases where that is true, but far more where it isn't. The slogan about "being a friend to change" is one we should always qualify. Change has to demonstrate a convincing reason to believe that it is change for the better, or at very least, not change for the worse, if we are to welcome it as a friend.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 03:45 PM

People have, of course, written memoirs with the purpose & result of recording what life was like in some place or time, the bitter & the sweet. Examples that I have often returned to for a sense of proportion include "Baltimore in the [18] Eighties" by H. L. Mencken, and (obSongs) _Singing Family of the Cumberlands_ by Jean Ritchie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 04:29 PM

The music was better.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 07:24 PM

Or at least the good music (which we've still got) wasn't drowned out and marginalized by the crap music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 08:21 PM

Just some quick thoughts. If we could climb into a time machine and live the old ways now would we enjoy our lives to a greater extent than we do now. Well all I can say is the following, and it is in no way meant as a yardstick to measure any bodys life, I wouldn't dare.
For about 16 years I did sort of climb into a time machine, when my wife and I ended up travelling with various Gypsy Families. I was earning my living as a signwriter and painter and doing a few gigs. We did have a rented house where we could flee back to if things got too rough, but for the most part we were on the road.
The older Gypsies some of whom are friends to this day, had the old ways and the old values. I am no Gypsy although my wife is, but I found it reassuring and felt safe following the old values however temporary.
Of course in this day and age they are politically indefensable, but within the society you know your place, there is a pecking order, and there are definate do's and don'ts. There is a firm sexual morality and a culture of cleanliness and respect. There are courting rituals {not that I followed them when I met my wife} and also a strong tradition of Folk Art both musical and painted.
In fact much like the average village community in the 19th century.
However I have witnessed domestic violence,thieving,feuding,animal cruelty,prejudice {both to and from the Travellers} and sadly drug taking and selling. However were you to give me a choice I would climb into that time machine with my nearest and dearest and live in the old days tomorrow.{Does that make sense?} The two world wars shattered the old village heirachy, and damn good say many people and they are probably right. However at least you had the security of those old ways to keep you safe. The older I get the less I know about anything. Those old songs are my friends and my daughter accuses my of being born out of my time.
An old travelling man sat on the wheels of his wagon once said to me 'I want to live in a dream bruv It's better there! My best friend keeps his horses behind his static trailer, but often pulls his wagon out into the field and sleeps underneath the stars for a week or so. Lets keep writing our songs Will Fly, and never mind Bah Humbug! It helps me to make sense of a bonkers world. Here endeth the lesson.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Sep 13 - 08:45 PM

It's why William Morris's "News from Nowhere" is such an appealing vision of how things could be - it holds on to the good things of the past, while getting rid of the things that ruined life for so many. It's been called the only fictional utopia you can imagine wanting to live in.   

Of course there are a lot of people who wouldn't like it, and who even get angry at the very notion, as an affront to their notion of "progress".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 03:55 AM

Well Nick - here's the rub: If you were to come to a local singaround and sing of your life with the travellers, you would have nothing but my respect - whatever picture you painted - because you've lived the life of which you sing.

What gets my goat are the dewey-eyed reflections about mill and factory life, as sung by schoolteachers, accountants and computer programmers (etc.). They see a faux romanticism in the songs - and you can tell that they've never experienced the realities of factory life in a mill town.

I worked on a farm as a kid, and in a factory in later life - and worked on motorway road construction as a student. It was interesting, to be sure, but there was a huge amount of drudgery and back-breaking work - with overtime necessary to earn some decent money. I wouldn't go back to that for a million years - nor to the system where a farm labourer who lost his job also lost his tied cottage. This happened to an earlier ancestor of mine.

It's not so much the times I'm knocking as the earnestness of those who sing about it with no idea of what it was really all about, and therefore invest it with a kind of unworthy nostalgia. Just call me a mouldy fig!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 04:30 AM

Yes I can see that. I that case I'm a mouldier old fig than you! Here's something a bit more positive. I did a TV show with Ch4 that started off about me but quite correctly switched to a young Romany Lass who had graduated as a supply teacher. Once a year I get involved with a diversity day with traveller education. I am in one room painting and singing, Kishy Price is in the next room, teaching young girls how to cook using an old style chitty pan {over gas-but a bit of imagination puts it over an open fire} and her Cousin is outside teaching the lads how to tack up a cob for the road. The regular teachers love it and so do the kids. It's all on youtube, just stick my name in.
All the kids are amazed when I start talking about the celebs, I have worked for and I have seen some real talent for painting with some of the children.
It would do the dewey eyed accountants a bit of good to try something like that, it would give them a bit of experience and first hand research. so I'm with you on that one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 05:18 AM

Having gone through forty years of raising a family by doing every kind of drudgery job that you could imagine, I can relate to what you are saying about nostalgia Will.

But are you sure that those teachers etc who sing about life in the past are indulging in the false, rose tinted specs nostalgia that you see in their performances?

I sing songs that come from a past in which I may not have been directly involved, but I sing them because they are bloody good songs and not for any other reason, and I put considerable effort into singing them as well as my meagre talents allow.

I didn't fight in WW1 (23 to 27 years before I was born), but I still enjoy singing "Tommy's Lot".

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 05:35 AM

I understand exactly, Don - I think you'd have to be at these singarounds in person to see what I mean. :-)

I'm not knocking the singing of traditional songs by any means - this is, after all a forum with a positive attitude to traditional music! There's just a certain earnestness on the part of some of the singers which I find to be an affectation...

I suppose it's why I don't sing many songs like that - I just warble tosh from the 1920s and 1930s! All very silly. The only song with a "message" of some sort that I indulge myself in is "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" - written in the 1930s. As a young boy in post-war Glasgow, I recall seeing ex-servicemen with no legs, sat on blankets, begging on street corners - and that song has a resonance for me for that reason.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 06:05 AM

Folk is a thing of the past - I sing old Traditional songs to commune with a pastoral idyll, real or imagined. But even as a kid I remember a plethora of wildlife, bees & insects in the fields; happy harvests and tattie picking. And even as recently as 20 years ago I used to sit with my 12-year-old daughter watching RED squirrels in the woods of Durham. All long gone now.   

I was raised in the SE Northumbrian Coalfield and caught it pretty much in its death-throes, but even so it was real enough in terms of local history & folklore; my grandfather was invalided out of the pits aged 12, so something like 'The Colliers Rant' (which was old even when Bell published in in 1812) becomes a means to a far darker seance with the vanished cultural landscapes of my childhood.

Folk is born from a yearning for England's Pastoral Dreaming which is writ large enough in the old songs. It's always existed in reaction to the modern and found its place in the hearts of middle-class baby-boomers for whom the modern was anathema. Its key imagery was bucolic - from Liege & Lief to The Battle of the Field and all points between & beyond - until it became ashamed of its own image at some point in the 80s & cut its hair.

If I want modern, I'll listen to something else, but Folk to me is a comforting twilight realm of hoary lore fast vanishing in the sunset. Indeed, I would be very alarmed if I went to a singaround and DIDN'T hear some university lecturer singing an impassioned Painful Plough...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 06:53 AM

Folk is born from a yearning for England's Pastoral Dreaming

Hey! Now don't start all that arguing about what Folk is again Blandiver :-)

Seriously though, I don't think that is right is it? Surely, folk, of whatever definition, is born from a need to tell a story in song. Whether that story is of seamen bold or lost loves does not really matter apart from a story is always best told by those who have experienced it. To that end I have to agree with Will that some of the singers would do better to try and relate to their own experience but, on the other hand, some who do not have that experience at all still sing a bloody good tale :-)

I did a bit in the building trade myself as well as being a waiter in a pub and pulling trolleys laden with shirts around a warehouse (don't ask!) but my work life has, luckily, been a pretty cushy number. I sing Shanties, Hunting songs and tales of other things because I don't have the nowse or inclination to write songs of bold UNIX administrators! Still, I do introduce the song starting "Behold in me a Jolly Farmer" with a certain amount of self deprecation:-) After all, how many farmers are there in Salford?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 07:09 AM

songs of bold UNIX administrators

Now you're talking!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: cooperman
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 07:47 AM

I've written songs about coal mining, the steel and fishing industries, all of which I have had some connection with. When singing I try to be sincere and the songs describe the bad as well as the good (and mostly it was bad). There is nostalgia for sure but I don't suggest we go back to those times. No, they were not the good old days. The thing I try to convey is the honour and dignity of the people who worked so hard, honest toil, as opposed to those who sat back and watched the money roll in. Some things don't change though, the majority of the wealth in this country is still owned and controlled by a very small minority.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 08:07 AM

I think you've expressed my thoughts very well.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 08:38 AM

Stories, eh? I must admit, I'm more of an image man myself. To me the stories in Traditional Songs & Ballads are incidental to the imagery & the melody, which carry the reek & stench of the thing. Like The Collier's Rant - it's not much of a story (if any) but - My God - the imagery! In this house, Folk is all about the image.

I'm not interested at all in newly written songs; I don't like messages or metaphors or agendas, political or otherwise, though I allow for some oldly written songs, like McGinty's Meal an' Ale which is nigh on impenetrable as a narrative, but the reek of the thing is braw.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 08:57 AM

Yes, I think you are quite right, Blandiver. The term 'story' was perhaps a poor choice and I like your idea of imagery better. It still follows that the medium of music is used to portray another concept. Of course the same can be said of all music but, as suggested in my earlier post, we need to avoid the 'what is folk' discussion! :-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: G-Force
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 10:40 AM

Surely folk songs have always been partly about escapism. For example, the Copper Family come from fairly common, land-working stock, but their songs for the most part don't deal with death and disease, strikes and poverty. More mornings in May and true love. Just a thought, while not disputing much of what has been said above.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 11:17 AM

Earlyonemaymorningland!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: selby
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 11:36 AM

I believe one of the problems is that a lot of us lived the life being sung about or it was very real to our larger families. At a recent festival a young person was introducing a mining song some of the intro was truly cringe worthy, with things like, apparently in the old days they went down a lift to the coal face. I think it is just us becoming Grumpy old people some of the young ones are picking up the songs with no understanding/research of how it was, but they are keeping them going.
I was relating to some young people about my experiences and telling them of people that I worked with had been in WW2 still wore their regiment badges on their belts or berets that they wore at work still very proud that they had been at various places in the world. I do not believe that I am a bad narrator but it was 70 years ago and of no interest to them as the world has moved on so fast they only related to computer games. They understood that conflict was still happening but to them it just moved on to the next news report and had no impact on their lives.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 25 Sep 13 - 12:07 PM

I mostly agree with your sentiments, Will. I don't like the romanticising of what were generally dirty, hard jobs, but the odd song about "rural pastimes" I can cope with....as a young friend who I took to a singaround said "They're *all* just about sex, aren't they?".

I hate the really upbeat "bouncy" way some people do "Poverty Knock" for instance....they make it sound like mill work was really jolly and good fun, whereas if you listen to the words, a totally different image comes across. My mother *was* that "poor woman" the shuttle gives a clout to....she had a broken badly set finger, a deep scar on her forehead and a groove in one forearm, all courtesy of loom shuttles.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Rumncoke
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 08:04 AM

If you ever hear an old loom going you'll recognise the rhythm of the song - it is the sound of the shuttle box being struck on one side of the loom and hitting the stop on the other, interspersed with the shed being changed.

The slow pace at which some sing 'Poverty knock' just emphasizes the discontinuity between the Hell-hole of the factory and the singer.

Pushing the machines and their minders to the limits of their ability to work is what it was all about.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 10:31 AM

But when *were* the "good old days"?

From "The Historical Register," No. 43, "For the Year 1726":

"And this Doughty Piece is most humbly dedicated to all Lovers of their Religion, and of their Country; of Truth, Learning, and Moderation; and to all honest Admirers of the _Good Old Days_."

So things were pretty lousy by 1726.

Oh, wait. John Evelyn in "Sylva" (1670) mentions "the good old dayes of more simplicity, yet of better and truer Hospitality."

So things were pretty lousy by 1670.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 10:42 AM

I've heard the old looms goingmany a time. My mum was a mill girl from the age of 14. All my aunts worked in the local mill. One of their cousins married the mill owner and as a child I often went into the mill (until it closed). As a "pop" delivery "wagon lad" in my teens I used to deliver "pop" to most of the local mills that were still going.

It's not the *speed* of the song I was objecting to, but the "bouncy, jolly" way some people (eg Chumbawamba) perform it that give the impression it was all great fun and "weren't we all having a good time?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 10:42 AM

It's the pastoral tradition, going back to Theocritus & Virgil & probably beyond, in which the Golden Age of Arcadian simplicity was always lamentingly contrasted with the modern times of corrupt sophistication.

'"O tempora o mores" is a sentence by Cicero in the fourth book of his second oration against Verres (chapter 25) and First Oration against Catiline. It translates as Oh the times! Oh the customs! (Oh what times! Oh what customs!) ...
In his opening speech against Catiline, Cicero deplores the viciousness and corruption of his age.' Wikipdedia


~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 10:48 AM

A good, somewhat ironic, folksong example is "When this old hat was new", with it's chorus of "It was not so when Bess did reign, And this old hat was new" -- everyone knows that life under the reign of Bess [Elizabeth I] was not a universal bed of roses.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 11:00 AM

Hesiod (ca. 700 BC) stood at the dawn of European literature. He introduced the idea of an "Age of Gold," when life had been fabulous.

By 700 BC, however, we were squarely in the "Age of Iron," which, as everyone knows, is marked by crime, treachery, shamelessness, illness, and grief, as well as the gods' slow abandonment of the human race in disgust with its nature.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 11:20 AM

There's a kind of nostalgia that is about remembering the good things that have gone, and the kind that pretends there weren't bad things. All too often people mistake the first for the second, reading the fact that a song doesn't go on about the bad stuff as meaning that it denies they existed.

The thing is, a song about the old days and the old ways isn't a balance sheet, setting down the good and the bad and comparing them with how things are today. You sing about the good old days, and about the bad days, maybe, but not in the same songs, generally. And in both cases, they are the same old days.

That applies whether its a matter of going down the mines, being an agricultural labourer, plantation life, or surviving the war.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 11:29 AM

Some songs, remember, are records of the bad times; others are attempts to alleviate those times by singing of better, or of more cheerful topics. The two strands are not at odds, but necessarily co-exist.

To quote yet again Bert Lloyd's indispensable aperçu: "People have always sung best when they had least to sing about."

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The 'Good Old Days' - hmm...
From: melodeonboy
Date: 26 Sep 13 - 02:07 PM

Yes, my experience has been that there are people singing both positive and negative songs about the past, and, indeed, about the present. I don't find it so heavily skewed towards those with rose-tinted spectacles.

At Norwich Folk Festival, many years ago, I recall hearing Vin Garbutt singing "If I Had a Son" (anti-mining), and within an hour, The Oyster Band (as they were called then) performing "Coal not Dole" (pro-mining). It impressed me at the time that the folk world could encompass such different ways of looking at events without antagonism.


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