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Changing lyrics to the 3rd person

GUEST,Andiliqueur 07 Aug 14 - 04:12 AM
JHW 07 Aug 14 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Andiliqueur 07 Aug 14 - 05:48 AM
MGM·Lion 07 Aug 14 - 07:45 AM
mayomick 07 Aug 14 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Crispy Smith-Walker 07 Aug 14 - 09:00 AM
PHJim 07 Aug 14 - 10:50 AM
Bill D 07 Aug 14 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,John Foxen 07 Aug 14 - 12:07 PM
mg 07 Aug 14 - 12:19 PM
Don Firth 07 Aug 14 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Andiliqueur 07 Aug 14 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Aug 14 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Andiliqueur 07 Aug 14 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,John Foxen 07 Aug 14 - 03:30 PM
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Subject: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 04:12 AM

Does anyone have any views on changing the words of a song (traditional or contemporary) to the third person so that I can sing a song with total conviction. I always find it strange to hear a woman or man sing a song for the opposite sex in the first person. I only mean small alterations not butchering a whole song.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: JHW
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 04:43 AM

I changed only one word in 'Sandwood Down to Kyle' to put the narrator (me the singer) and the person met in opposite places in the story. This allows the 'person met' to eulogise parts of the West of Scotland which I felt unqualified to do as me.
But you can sing as an actor. If you hear Alan Prior sing 'The Star of the Bar' you'll believe He was the actual man in the story but that's his skill as a singer.
You couldn't cross dress that song. But many you could with the care I think you intend. Been done before.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 05:48 AM

Thanks for that JHW. It is because I try to 'act' the song and sing with feeling that I wish to do this but I am sometimes nervous of disapproval from those who are listening.You give me more confidence.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 07:45 AM

"I am an unfortunate lady, my sorrows they are great
My tongue is scarcely able my misfortunes to relate"

can be changed to

"It is of an unfortunate lady, her sorrows they are great
She says "My tongue is scarcely able...."

and continue from there; so that the male singer becomes the narrator of what the lady says.

I have never seen, or met, any objection to such a procedure. Seems simple common-sense to me.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: mayomick
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 08:54 AM

Maybe sing in a deeper voice while drinking out of a dirty glass -and try not to yodel


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,Crispy Smith-Walker
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 09:00 AM

The potato - it can be mashed, roasted, chips, crisps; whatever you fancy.
Do whatever you like with it as long as it's still remains edible and enjoyable.
Even mush it up with marmite.
Most folks with consevative tastes might want to spit new recipes out after only one taste,
but a small minority of more adventurous gourmets will always find something positively delicious
in even the most extreme experimental potato based concoctions.
An extremely versatile delightful essential foodstuff is the good old traditional spud..

Ditto 'the folk song'.

...yeah, go ahead, change as many words as you like.
You might even end up drastically improving on a stodgy stale old favourite.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: PHJim
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 10:50 AM

Although I don't mind singing from a woman's point of view (or a villain's point of view or a murderer's point of view), I also see nothing wrong with changing the song as you suggested, provided the story doesn't suffer.
Sometimes the song suffers with a gender change as in The House Of The Rising Sun. It seems much more tragic for a woman to be forced into a life of prostitution than for a man to be forced into a life of paying for sex. I was disappointed in The Animals' version of Rising Sun for this reason.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 11:24 AM

Hmmm... I have sung this one several times in public without changing anything,

Three Lovely Lassies In Bannion

It always gets a .... reaction.

I actually got it from a Burl Ives recording.

There are some songs that really ought to be changed to reflect the singer's identity, and some where it is just a good song that needs singing and is hard to alter.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 12:07 PM

Going in the opposite direction, we tweaked "The Shearing's Not For You" into the first person so that it could be sung totally from the woman's viewpoint by my musical partner Margaret.
My view - which others may dispute - is that songs can be tweaked as long as you always own up to what you have done and point the way back to the version that you tweaked.
The other device favoured by ballad writers/compilers/tweakers is the preliminary "As I walked out... I overheard" verse which then allows you to tell the story from any viewpoint.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: mg
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 12:19 PM

My preference is to never change a song for gender reasons. It is very annoying to people who know the original. I say leave a song as you found it unless words are racist or the rhyme or rhythm are awful and do as john foxen suggested and inform people of changes..there is a reason a song has endured for hundreds of years and i csn not think of an instance where someone has improved on them..mlst changes are cringeable.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 12:25 PM

Hmm....

Sometimes a change of gender or an attempt to do a first person song in third person can clank pretty badly. Take, for example, "He Came from His Palace Grand." Just doesn't work! Best to just sing it straight, from the young woman's viewpoint and let the listener make the necessary mental shift.

Or "Come All You Fair and Tender Maidens." Same thing.

Sung with sensitivity, a good male singer can bring it off.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 01:23 PM

As usual I find you can't please all the people all the time but thankyou everyone for taking the time to reply. What I really need is a thick skin (potato?)and I'm sorry PHJim that you've had to suffer for 50 years! I will never change the sentiment or meaning of a song so I'll just have to stand by my decisions.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 02:28 PM

Oh no. It has happened. The song running through my head today was Anachie Gordon and I thought would it not be horrible if someone has undone that one..and sure enough..the first hit on google someone had. I can guarantee I will not be listening to it.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 03:07 PM

Fortunately I don't have to mess with Annachie Gordon and I do sing it as it is! However I do know a very fine gentleman singer who often performs a 'Blacksmith Courted Me' and I do find it strange. I suppose singers of either sex can't resist singing a good song.


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Subject: RE: Changing lyrics to the 3rd person
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 07 Aug 14 - 03:30 PM

Andiliqueuur, you will never please all the people all of the time -- especially in folk music circles.
Like you I can think of a certain man singing A Blacksmith Courted Me and he really sets my teeth on edge. But other people think his version is terrific so it may well be that my taste is totally wrong in this case.
That doesn't matter. what does matter is that songs are sung. The worst thing that can happen to them is that they fall into neglect.
The important thing is to point the way back to your source so that even if people violently disapprove of the way you do they may find a version they love and will help to keep it alive.
For example unlike PHJim I love the Animals' version of House Of The Rising Sun because it was the first version I heard and it blew me away. I agree with PHJim that it is more tragic if a woman sings it but I also love Leadbelly's version which sounds as though he thoroughly enjoyed his life of sin and misery and is going back to New Orleans to do it all over again -- rather like Howling Wolf's Going Down Slow, which sounds not so much like a lament but a dying gambler saying: "Well it's a lousy end but hell I really enjoyed it."


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