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Which songs are really sung?

GUEST,Grishka 31 Aug 14 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Ed 31 Aug 14 - 11:21 AM
Musket 31 Aug 14 - 11:52 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Aug 14 - 02:31 PM
Bill D 31 Aug 14 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,john routledge 31 Aug 14 - 04:52 PM
GUEST 31 Aug 14 - 05:04 PM
Bill D 31 Aug 14 - 05:37 PM
Joe Offer 31 Aug 14 - 07:31 PM
GUEST 31 Aug 14 - 09:43 PM
Joe Offer 31 Aug 14 - 11:54 PM
Don Firth 01 Sep 14 - 12:17 AM
Bert 01 Sep 14 - 12:49 AM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 14 - 01:09 AM
Don Firth 01 Sep 14 - 02:36 AM
Bert 01 Sep 14 - 03:37 AM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 14 - 04:05 AM
Haruo 01 Sep 14 - 04:25 AM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 14 - 04:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Sep 14 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Sep 14 - 02:24 PM
Brian Peters 01 Sep 14 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 01 Sep 14 - 05:27 PM
Bert 01 Sep 14 - 06:38 PM
Joe Offer 02 Sep 14 - 01:15 AM
DMcG 02 Sep 14 - 03:20 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Sep 14 - 03:21 AM
Marje 02 Sep 14 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Sep 14 - 05:59 AM
GUEST 02 Sep 14 - 06:17 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Sep 14 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Sep 14 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 02 Sep 14 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Sep 14 - 03:33 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 14 - 04:33 PM
Rob Naylor 02 Sep 14 - 06:23 PM
Herga Kitty 03 Sep 14 - 04:06 AM
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Subject: Which songs are sung by many?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 10:39 AM

The recent thread titled "What makes a new song a folk song?" has generated the usual categorizing once again. The label "folk song" suffices to put us on that well-trodden track.

What I find more interesting is the question "Which songs are sung by many people without musical training, and why?" Conditions:
  • Singing must include lyrics, at least of one full verse,
  • singing must not rely on electronic or professional accompaniment,
  • it must be done purely for pleasure, which excludes hymns, carols, and anthems of all kinds;
  • by "many" I mean many more than the number of "RUS" copies, not just old people or people with a special background such as scouting.
A list of English songs would include a few Beatles songs, notably "Yesterday" and "Yellow Submarine" ...

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 11:21 AM

Given that 'Rise Up Singing' is estimated to have sold over a million copies, I doubt there are many at all here in the UK that meet your criteria.

I'm not sure why you exclude carols. I'm an atheist, but I like singing them. Why doesn't that count?

The Beatles yes, but I'm pretty sure Yesterday isn't sung here by millions...

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Musket
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 11:52 AM

You aren't supposed to enjoy them, that's why! They are group penance...

Sorry, I'd promised myself I wouldn't join in on this thread.

Did you know? Most successful artistes haven't had musical training, which widens your search somewhat. See Michael's Youtube offerings for details.

Is he biting yet?

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 02:31 PM

"Yesterday isn't sung here by millions.."
Might have been yesterday - or the day before maybe?
Jim Carroll

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 03:10 PM

When I first moved to Wash. D.C. in 1977 and began attending music gatherings (mostly with people in the Folklore Society), the one song that almost everyone knew and would join in on was Utah Phillips' "The Goodnight-Loving Trail". It is still almost universally known in this arena.

I seldom go where people are singing most pop songs, so I can't comment on what the average 'person on the street' might sing.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,john routledge
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 04:52 PM

I am reminded of Julie Walters' lovely line "There must be a better song" towards the end of Educating Rita.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 05:04 PM

Other than carols and singing along with the radio, the only song I can think of that a lot of non-musicians in the US ever sing is "Happy birthday to you."

That's a sad thought. I've been to other places where there were dozens of songs that seemingly every person over the age of 10 could sing well, and would sing on the slightest encouragement.

What does "RUS" mean?

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 05:37 PM

RUS = Rise Up Singing,,, a book of lyrics used almost as a hymn book by some and reviled as inaccurate and silly by many. It 'appears' at sings and it often held in front of the face as a crutch. One of the most hotly debated items in 'folk' circles. I have a copy and haven't opened it for several years after finding really odd versions of songs and bad lyrics.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 07:31 PM

I lead a caroling group that hits 10 nursing homes every Fourth of July and Christmas. I suppose many or most won't get past Grishka's restrictions, but most of the songs we sing have the universality he's seeking. Some that will qualify even with Grishka are "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "You Are My Sunshine," and "Jingle Bells." Would "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" pass your muster, Grishka? What about "Yankee Doodle"? "Daisy, Daisy"? "Don't Fence Me In"? "Red River Valley"?

People also seem to respond to "America the Beautiful," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (and parodies), "Silent Night," "O Come All Ye Faithful" (and many know the Latin). On July 4, they respond to "God Bless America," "You're a Grand Old Flag," "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy," and "This Land Is Your Land."

I don't know how it is in other countries, but older people in the U.S. know and sing patriotic and religious songs for pleasure. They often know the songs well, and can have a really good time singing them. I tried popular songs of the 30s and 40s, and the people didn't respond as well as I hoped they would.


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 09:43 PM

If this is RUS: Rise Up Singing - Table of Contents, that's a lot of songs for one book. There are over 1,300 titles in that list. I counted 1,316, but some were duplicate titles. And there were many instances of two titles on one line; I may not have found all of those.

I've collected and sung at least that many songs over the past 50 years, and my collection is a similar mix of traditional songs, new and old pop songs, and hymns. But only 91 of the 1,300 Rise Up Singing titles have ever been in my notebooks, and only 27 of them are in the notebooks that I use currently. How uncool does that make me?

I studied the list because I thought it might give me some ideas for new songs to add to my notebooks. But I only found 9 that I would consider singing, and so many of the others were such horrible songs that I'm not sure it would be worth doing research on the several hundred that I've never heard of.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Aug 14 - 11:54 PM

I'm doing proofreading and licensing contacts for Rise Again, the sequel to the Rise Up Singing songbook. I'm sure many of you will hate the second songbook almost as much as the first, but there really are some pretty good songs in each of them.

And there are some songs in each that I don't like at all. Such is life.


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 12:17 AM

Barbara and I used to go to Seattle Song Circle every Sunday evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then gradually, after it met for some years, some members, mostly newcomers, started bringing song sheets and song books and singing from the sheet or book songs they apparently couldn't be bothered to learn. Jacque Brel was really big with a couple of people one year.

Then copies of "Rise Up Singing" began appearing, and it was not long before it was "We will now sing hymn number 136…." And instead of going around in a circle (so everyone could get a chance) and singing individually, sometimes with the group joining in on choruses, everybody sang together with their noses in the book!

I have a copy of "RUS," but I don't use it much as a song source. The editors or compilers have gone through the book and bowdlerized the words, editing them. From the usual versions that you might find in the Lomax collections or Sandburg's "Songbag," they are all so "politically correct" that it makes one want to gag!!

Barbara and I haven't gone to Song Circle for several years. Boooooring!!

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Bert
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 12:49 AM

Here are some of the songs that I sing. I certainly can't perform all of them, but I sing them for personal pleasure from time to time.

A - You're Adorable
A Father's song        (A Monkey fart should smell like a banana)        
A New Jerusalem                
A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square        
A Roving        
According to the Act        
Ace In The Hole
Acres of Clams
Adam in the Garden        
Adeste Fidelis        
Aiken Drum                
Ain' No Mo' Cane on de Brazos                
Ain't Gonna Grieve My Lord No More
Ain't it Grand to be Bloomin Well Dead         
Alabama Bound
Alice Blue Gown                
All for me Grog                
All I Have To Do Is Dream                
All through the night                
Amazing Grace
Among my Souvenirs                
Ancient and Old Irish Condom D        
Annie Laurie
Another Broken Heart                
Any Old wind that blows                
Are You Lonesome Tonight                
Around the World                
As I go Rambling 'Round                
Ash Grove - The
As Time Goes By                
Auld Lang Syne                
Aunt Rhody                
Away in a Manger        
Away Out on the Mountain
Back Home Again        
Ballad of Bethnal Green        
Banana Boat Song
Band Played Waltzing Matilda - The
Banks of Newfoundland        
Banks of the Ohio                
Barbara Allen                
Barky's Farm             A                
Bathing Angel             A                
Battle of New Orleans
Bear Went Over the Mountain                
Beer Glorious Beer                
Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms        
Bestest Friend            A                
Bheir Me O                
Big Iron                
Big River        
Billy Boy        
Bless 'em All                
Blow the Candle Out                
Blow the Man Down                
Blow Ye Winds in the Morning        
Blowing in the wind        
Blue Christmas                
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain A                
Blueberry Hill
Bonnie Lass of Fyvie                
Botany Bay                A                      
Both Sides Now                
Bring a Little Water Sylvie                
British Workman's Grave   A
Brown Eyes why are you Blue        
Buffalo Girls        
Bye Bye Love

Cailin mo rùin-sa
Car Behind - The                        
Careless Love        
Carlton Weaver        
Carolina In My Mind
Carolina Moon                
Catch A Falling Star                
Chandler's Wife - The                
Changing Partners                
Chivalrous Shark        
Cigareets and Whiskey
City of New Orleans        
Cleaning Windows        
Click Go The Shears       A                
Cold Cold Heart                
Colorado Girl             A                
Columbus Landed Here      D                
Columbus Stockade                        
Come Inside                
Coming 'Round the Mountain                
Congo River                
Copper Kettle
Cornish Nightingale - The                
Could I Have This Dance                
Country Vicar                
Crazy Arms
Cripple Creek                
Cuckoo's Nest             A
Daddy And Home                
Dahn the Plug'Ole                
Danny Boy                
Dark As the Dungeon                
Dashing Away With the Smoothing Iron                
Davy Crockett -- B. Hayes                
Daydream Believer
D-Day Dodgers
Dead or Alive                
Dear Ol' Dutch                
Dear Old Shannon Shore                
Derby Ram                
Did She Mention My Name        
Ding Dang Dong go the Wedding Bells        
Dirty Old Town                
Do Ye Ken John Peel?
Donkey Riding                
Don't Dilly Dally                
Don't Fence Me In                
Don't Forbid Me                 
Don't Laugh at Me 'cos I'm a Fool                
Don't Make Her Choose   
Don't Make me Love You                
Don't Put Your Finger Up Your Nose                
Don't You Hate it When... A                
Doodle Let Me Go                
Down by the Riverside                
Down in the Valley                
Dream Lover
Dressed in the Sixties                
Drunken Sailor
Early One Morning                
Earth Angel -- Penguins
Eat Worms        
Ebeneezer - The
Edmund Fitzgerald - The        
El Paso                 
Espresso Machine                 
Every Day                
Exponential Blarney        
Far Away Places        
Fearsome Phallic finial
Fields of Athenry - The
Fireship - The
First Time - The
Flag with a thousand stars. - The        
Foggy Dew                
Foggy Mountain Top                
Follow Me                
Follow the Band                
Folsom Prison                
Four Old Whores        
Fox - The        
Frankie and Johnny                
Free From the Chaingang Now A                
Freight Train
Frere Jaques                
Froggy Went A Courting    D                
Frozen Logger                
Galloping Major
Gentle On My Mind        
Gentleman Soldier                        
Give My Love To Rose
Gnat - The
Gold Rush is Over - The
Golden Vanity
Go to Sea Once More
Good King Wenceslas                
Good Luck to the Barley Mow                
Goodbye Old Ship of Mine        
Goodnight Irene
Goodnight Ladies
Goodnight-Loving Trail
Grace Darling
Grand Coulee Dam        
Grandfather's Clock        
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer                
Grandma's Feather Bed                
Great Pretender                
Green Door                
Green Green Grass Of Home        
Green Grow the Rushes Oh        
Greenland Fisheries                
Gypsy Rover        
Half as Much                
Hallelujah I'm a Bum                
Halls Of Montezuma                
Happy Wanderer                 
Harbour Le Cou            A
Harry Pollitt                
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?                
Have You Ever been Lonely                
Headed For Nashville      A
Heart of the Appaloosa                
Heartaches By The Number
Help Me Make It Thru the Night        
Henry the Eighth        
Her Hair Hung Down in Ringlets D                
He's Got The Whole World In His Hands        
He's in the JailHouse Now        
Hey hey Good Lookin
Highway 202
Hippopotamus Song                
Hit the Road Jack
Hobo Bill                
Home On The Range                
Honey Comb                 
Horrible Song             D
Horsey Horsey                
Hot Buttered Rum                
Hound Dog                
House of the Rising Sun
How I wish
Hullabaloo belay                
Hush L'il Baby
I Believe        
I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound        
I can't help falling in love with you                
I can't help it if I'm still in love with you                
I don't want to join the Army                
I fall to pieces                
I Got Stripes                
I know where I'm going
I Like to get my Loving                
I love you because                
I Ride an Old Paint                
I Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Claus                
I Still Miss Someone                
I walk the line
I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago        
I was born under a wandering star                
I Wish I Was Single Again                
I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now                
If I was the marrying kind
Ilkley Moor Baht 'At                
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive                
I'll Take the Legs                
I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
I'm a Bold Policeman
I'm a Little Teapot        
I'm not Saying that I Love You        
I'm so lonesome I could cry                
I'm walking behind you                 
I'm Your Flag             A
In Eleven More Months and Ten More Days        
In Me Liverpool Home      A
In Mobile         
In the Middle of the House        
In the Old Bazaar in Kabul
Incy Mincy Spider        
Island Woman        
It Doesn't Matter Anymore
It's a Long way to Tipparary                
It's Almost Tomorrow                 
I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts                
I've Got Sixpence        
Jamaica Farewell                
Jambalaya                A        
Jellied Eels        
John B                
John Hardy                
John Henry                
Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye                
Johnny Todd                
Jug of Punch                
Just a Texas Cowhand
Kawliga                   Am
Keeper - The                
Kentucky Moon
Kilgarry Mountain                
Kiss for the Road         A                 
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine        
Knees up Mother Brown

Lambeth Walk
Lambton Worm - The
Last Farewell - The        
Last Thing on My Mind                
Leave Her Johnny                
Leaving of Liverpool                 
Let it be Me                
Let Me Go Lover
Let's all sing Like the Birdies Sing
Lilt of a Grandmother's Song - The                
Little Boxes        
Little Sally Racket
Liverpool Judies      D                
Liverpool Lullaby                
Living Doll        
London Derriere        
Lonely Woman          A                
Long Black Veil                
Love Is A Many Splendored Thing                
Love is a Teasing    A                
Love is Strange                
Love Letters In The Sand                
Maggie May            D                
Mairzy Doats                
Mama Don't 'Low
Man in Black - The                
Manchester Rambler                
Manura Manyah         A
Marrow Bones
Mary Ellen Carter - The                
Master McGrath       A                
Maybe it's Because I'm a Londoner                 
Mayor of Bayswater's Daughter                
McDonald's Deformed Farm   D           
McDonald's Kitchen
Me And Bobby McGee                 
Mercedes Benz
Mermaid -The - Shel Silverstein
Mermaid -The - Traditional
Michael Finnegan
Michael Row The Boat Ashore
Mid-Life Crisis                        
Midnight Special
Minstrel Boy - The                
Miss the Mississippi and You        
Molly Malone        
Momma Spit            A                
Morning Has Broken                
Mother the Queen of my Heart        
Mountain Dew                
Mr Bojangles                
Mr. Tambourine Man        
Muddy River Catfish
Mush Mush        
Music! Music! Music!                
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean                
My Gal's a Corker                
My God How the Money Rolls In D
My Old Man's a Dustman                
My Rough and Rowdy Ways                
My Sweetheart's The Mule in the Mines   D        
My Truly Truly Fair
New York Girls        
Nice Quiet Day        
Night Visiting Song   D                
No More Booze                
No Particular Place To Go                
Nobby Hall                
Nobody Loves Like an Irishman D                
Noreen Bawn                
Nutting Girl        
O the Shearing's Not for You                        
Oh Boy                
Oh how he lied
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
Oh Lonesome Me
Oh Sir Jasper                
Old 97                A                 
Old Chizzum (Chisholm) Trail                        
Old Dan Tucker                
Old Dun Cow                
Old Joe Clark
Old Kent Road                
Old King Cole                
Old Orange Flute
Old Pals                
Old She-Crab
Old Sow Song                
On a Monday Morning Oh                        
On Top of Old Smoky                
On Top of Spaghetti        
Once in Royal David's City
One Man Went to Mow
One More River        
One Piece at a Time                
Only You -- The Platters
On Wings of Song        
Oohjah Tree
Oon Pah Pah        
Orange and the Green        
Orange Blossom Special                
Oranges and Lemons                
O'Reilly's Daughter                
Out of Town

Paddy Lay Back                
Paddy McGinty's Goat                
Paddy Works on the Railway                 
Paper of Pins
Parting Glass                
Patriot Game                
Peach Pickin Time in Georgia        
Philadelphia Lawyer        
Pick a Bale of Cotton
Picking in the Wind                 
Pig and the Inebriate                
Plastic Flower Seeds E                
Precious Lord                
Pub with no Beer                
Puff the Magic Dragon        
Putting on the Style A         
Que Sera                
Queen of the Chesapeke Bay

Railroad Bill                
Raining In My Heart                
Rambles of Spring                        
Ramblin Boy
Ramblin Rover
Ranzo Ranzo
Rattling Bog                
Real Old Mountain Dew
Red Red Redneck                
Red River Valley                
Red Sails in the Sunset
Reuben James                
Ribbon of Darkness                 
Riders in the Sky        
Riding on a Camel        
Right Said Fred                
Ring of Fire                
Road to Nowhere                
Robert Emmett         D                
Rock Around The Clock -- Bill Haley                
Rock Island Line                
Roddy McCorley       D                
Roll Alabama Roll                
Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms                
Roll Your Leg Over
Rose - The        
Rose of Tralee - The
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer        
Running Bear
Running 'round the Fountains        
Sail Away Ladies
Save the Last Dance for Me        
Scarborough Fair                
Scarlet Ribbons                
Seven Dear Old Ladies A
Seven Lonely Days
Sexual Desires of a Camel                
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon                
Shine Eye Girl                
Shoals of Herring                
Shopping Cart                
Silicone Cindy       D                
Simple Gifts        
Sing it pretty sue        
Sing Me That Song        
Sing Something Irish to Me                
Singing The Blues                 
Sixteen Tons                
Size Doesn't Matter   A                
Skip to My Lou                
Skye Boat Song
Slow Boat to China                
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes                
Soldier Soldier Won't You Marry Me        
Some Days Are Diamonds
Song for a Winter's Night                
Song of the Thrush                
Sourwood Mountain                
South Australia       A                
Spanish Ladies       D                
Spare Time            A                
Springtime in Alaska        
Star Spangled Banner        
Stars & Snowflakes    A                
Starving to Death on My Government Claim
Still I Love Him      A                
Streets of Laredo                
Streets of London                
Summer Wages
Swansea Town Once More                
Sweet Betsy From Pike                
Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Take a Whiff on Me                
Take these chains from my heart                
Take This Hammer                
Tanqueray Martinis                
Tara's Harp                
Teddy Bears Picnic        
Ten Green Bottles        
That's Not My Colorado                
That's What You Get for Loving Me                
There is a Tavern in the Town        
There was a Little Sparrow        
There's a Hole in my Bucket                
There's never a Good time for Leaving                
Theresa's Back in Town D
Thing - The                
This Land is Your Land                
This Old Man                
This Ole House -- Rosemary Clooney                
Thrashing Machine       A
Three Lovely Lasses from Banion        
Three Minute Man        
Three Score and Ten                
Tie Me Kangaroo Down
Till we Meet Again                
Times Are Getting Hard                
Times They Are a Changing                
Tom Dooley                
Tom Pierce             D                
Too Young
Turkey in the Straw                
Tweedle Dee -- Georgia Gibbs or LaVerne Baker        
Twelve Days of Christmas
Twinkle, twinkle, little star                

Ukulele                D                
Unchained Melody                

Vase - The
Vicar of Bray -The
Wabash Cannonball
Waiting for a Train                
Walking In The Rain                
Waltzing Matilda       A                
Waltzing With Bears                
Waters of Tyne          A
Wayward Wind - The
Wee Kirkcudbright Centipede - The
Well - The        
Welly Boot Song - The
West Virginia Snow        
What a Mouth
When Irish Eyes are Smiling                
When they sound the Last All Clear                
When your Pickle Glows at night A                
Where Have All the Flowers Gone                
Whiffenpoof Song
While London Sleeps                
Whip Jamboree                
Whiskey Johnny       D                 
Who's Sorry Now
Why Don't Women Like Me                
Why Oh Why                
Wild Mountain Thyme   A                
Wonderful Crocodile                
Worried Man
Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies - The                
Wreck of Old 97        
Ye Canna Shove yer Granny off a Bus D                
Yellow on the Broom                
Yellow Rose Of Texas -- Mitch Miller                
You Are My Sunshine
You Belong to Me                
You can take a silver dollar                
Your Cheatin' Heart

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 01:09 AM

Hi, Don -

To their credit, Rise Up Singing editors Peter Blood and Annie Patterson recognized the Error of their Ways and corrected most of those bowdlerized lyrics. Recent editions of the book have better versions of the lyrics. But I gotta admit that the songs in Bert's list are generally more singable than what's to be found in Rise Up Singing.

There are many variables that make a singaround sink or swim - use of a book or lyrics sheet can bring a session down, but not necessarily. I suppose the biggest factor is the singing ability and experience of the singers. A singaround group can accommodate a few non-singers and can help them to grow. But if the majority of people in a group are nonsingers, it's going to be hard to have a good time making music.

When I'm singing with a bunch of nonsingers, I prefer to be in charge, like when I'm leading songs at a campfire. I can get people to sing almost every song, but in a way that can be alive and fun.

Our nursing home caroling sessions are like that. In the best venues, everybody sings, and everybody has a good time. When a nursing home has us sing during a meal or strolling through hallways, it's a lot harder.


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 02:36 AM

That's good to hear, Joe. I picked up a copy in a local bookstore, read the title list, and bought it. I was when I got it home that I discovered how much of the material in the book had been rendered "politically correct." Including the illustrations. Everybody has dark skin. But not too dark.
And their features were sort of indefinite. Racially not quite this, not quite that. And miscellaneous other things.

If the book has been "de-bowdlerized," I might see if I can find a copy of the new edition. Because it would have been a good source if you could trust the lyrics.

Seattle Song Circle flushed a lot of good people out on Sunday evenings. Merritt Herring was up from California and living on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, Sally and John Ashford, Mary Wilson, Mary Garvey, John Dwyer—all kinds of good people. We swiped learned songs from each other, and Sally listened to a bunch of tapes we made (we all carried little battery operated cassette recorders) and put out a mimeographed book of songs that people in the group sang and made it available of a nominal fee (this was shortly before computers and printers). Great stuff! But this was for learning, not for singing from, hymnal style.

About the only group songs we did were sea chanteys, and the bunch got so good at those that we were invited to sing at the Moss Bay Sail and Chantey festival—on the deck of the Wawona, a schooner that used to sail various kinds of cargo up and down the West Coast. I got a chance to sing a bunch of fo'c'sle chanties in a genuine fo'c'sle. And on one of the nights of the festival, we did a concert in a theater in Kirkland, Wash., across Lake Washington from Seattle, on Moss Bay. A whole bunch of Canadians came down from Vancouver, B.C., Paddy Hernon, Paddy Graber, and a bunch of others, adding their prodigious talents to the event.

And then we started getting a bunch of newcomers, which would have been a good thing, were it not that instead of wanting to learn the songs as we did, they insisted on using song sheets and coming with an armload of books they sang from.

Looking back on it, we could have been hard-nosed about drawing some guidelines for the group, but . . . didn't happen, and things pretty much went to pot. The "old timers" like Merritt, John and Sally, John Dwyer, et al got pretty fed up and dropped out. Last I heard, the Seattle Song Circle is still sitting around singing together out of "Rise Up Sinking."

But I'll see if I can rustle up a new copy and give it a look.

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Bert
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 03:37 AM

Yes Joe, you can certainly get people to sing. I remember you around the campfire, standing on one leg, with a flower pot hat on your head, leading us all in a song. One of my treasured memories.

If anyone needs a copy of my songbook, send me a PM.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 04:05 AM

Hmmm.... I don't remember the flower pot, but I have been known to sport unusual headgear....

The biggest thrill I've ever had singing, is singing for people with dementia and having them sing along - knowing the words from memory.


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Haruo
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 04:25 AM

Don exaggerates by hearsay the failings of the Seattle Song Circle. Some do use RUS there, but some don't. Some sing things they really know, others don't. And they're pretty good about going around the circle. It's a mixed bag.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 04:52 AM

I suspected that, Haruo. If you believe that people should sing, you also have to accept the fact that they may not sing perfectly when they're just beginning. Accomplished singers might find themselves more interested, if they'd put positive effort into improving the quality of singarounds instead of complaining about the beginners.
If a singaround is dead, sing something that gives it life.


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 02:19 PM

You will find some of the songs we sing


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 02:24 PM

I do not object against using RUS and other songbooks (- note that I am not talking about ritualized singarounds like the one Joe wrote about where RUS was banned explicitly -), but there are some songs in them that I suspect are only sung by the owners. This indicates to me that they are not popular in the sense of quasi folk songs. Other songs have grown wings so that their (copyrighted) songbook origin is not even known to most singers; that is real folklore.

"Happy Birthday" and many similar songs, notably children's songs, are folk songs by all standards, even if formally copyrighted. What I find most interesting, in the light of that other thread "... new song ...", is pop songs that made it into de-facto folklore. "You Are My Sunshine" is a good example. Musical folklore is still alive beyond the "Folk" genre and scene, but not as alive as it could be. "They don't write them like that any more ..."

As for hymns and anthems, they inevitably have an un-folkish component, particularly when sung at rituals. This is true even if the singers may not wish to profess their faith in the lyrics taken literally. In a recent thread about football, national anthems of questionable lyrics were discussed, notably the Marseillaise. Like the "Battle Hymn", they are often sung by drunkards in pubs with great laughter - still, they don't have that real folk song character in my ears.

Any more pop songs that are sung in your pubs by young people? From Bert's long list, I do not see many that I remember ever to have heard in such a context. "Blowing in the Wind," OK, but that usually counts as "Folk".

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 02:49 PM

It's a good question but, if 'You Are My Sunshine' is the kind of thing you're looking for, I'd love to know whether there's a difference in how well-known it is between 'ordinary people' in (a) the 60+ age-group, (b) the 40-60s, and (c) the 20-40s.

Plenty of pop festival goers can sing along with every song in the repertoires of the bands onstage, but what's more interesting is how many songs survive through succeeding generations without the continuing stimulus of the artist or band being around to perform them, or TV ads usage, etc.

And lots of people know the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine', but how many could sing a whole verse without a crib sheet?

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 05:27 PM

As a Scot, I'd have to go with Auld Lang Syne (even if the singers muddle some of the verses!) and the Metrical Psalms version of Psalm 23 -- The Lord's My Shepherd.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Bert
Date: 01 Sep 14 - 06:38 PM

Les in Chorlton - it is scary just how many of those songs that I don't know.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 01:15 AM

I found it interesting to see how many songs on the list from Les in Chorlton, are sung regularly in the folk music clubs of San Francisco and Washington, DC.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: DMcG
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:20 AM

And lots of people know the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine', but how many could sing a whole verse without a crib sheet?

I am reminded of an Alex Glasgow song "Geordie the Professional":

He sings "The Blaydon Races", (which he needed to rehearse)
But cannot quite remember if there is a second verse.

And that does seem to be the fate of many composed songs that become highly popular. The chorus may well be near universal (in some sizeable area), the verses all disappear. I bet you could read many of the verses as poetry without them being recognised. "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" verses, for example. A very few verses have greater recognitions for some reason, and I think "It's a long road the Tipperary" is in that category.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:21 AM

Intrestin Bert - We put them together because we think they are amongst the most often sung songs in UK folk clubs, singarounds and folk festivals where people sing mostly but not exclusively traditional songs. Clearly I have drifted quite away from the OP.

Well Joe - what did you find?

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Marje
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:54 AM

I know dozens and dozens of folk(ish) songs, including most of those listed by Les, and can sing them by heart, but if asked to lead a group of non-folkies in song -this is in England - I'd be scraping around to find many that they knew more than a few lines of. Apart from hymns, carols, God Save the Queen, and Happy Birthday, there's not much of a central core. I supppose there are:
Ilkeley Moor
Molly Malone
You are my Sunshine
Auld Lang Syne (but only one verse)
You'll Never Walk Alone (and this only because of its use in football)
When the Saints (ditto)
Drunken Sailor
Pack up Your Troubles
Daisy Daisy
... but I'm not sure whether young people would all know even those now. And it's sad to note how few of the above are even English or traditional, let alone both. Nor do I think (to answer Grishka's question above) that young people sing pop songs - or indeed anything else except perhaps a football anthem - in pubs, at least not in my hearing.

There are a lot more songs that other people will recognise and even request, and they may join in with choruses and refrain lines, but in most cases they won't be able to sing more than about half a verse, and would need a competent person (teacher, scout leader,folkie) to lead them.


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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 05:59 AM

Good point, Brian (01 Sep 14 - 02:49 PM). If a song that once was in vogue is sung later only by the same generation, it may count as nostalgia rather than true popularity.

I remember "You Are My Sunshine", first published in 1939, sung in 2005 by middle-aged pub singers in England. Of course, I do not know whether this is statistically representative, hence my question in this thread. As for "Yesterday" (1965), it is today sung by teenagers, e.g. in Germany, where I currently live. Typical question: "Grishka, what is the second chord of Yesterday in D major?"

Crib sheets are not necessarily an indicator of lack of popularity. I think they always accompanied folk singing, since the advent of literacy. Often we read that a folk song cannot be reconstructed in its original state because it had never be written down - chances are that many crib sheets existed, but none survived. Singing for pleasure need not be atoned for by avoidable exercises of memory.

The same applies to song books, as I wrote, unless they are treated as hymnals of the Folk Faith. (The relation between faith or patriotism and pleasure is a complex one, often sharply differing with culture and tradition.)

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 06:17 AM

What you haven't mentioned in Rise Up Singing is the publishers, Quaker Song of Amherst MA. It's taken the US in the same direction the UK went in the 1920s, with the National Songbook, where a group of well-meaning but fundamentally ignorant middle-class Captain Mainwarings decided that folksong belonged to everyone, regardless of background, and so we had a generation of Gypsy Rovers. Fair enough, it gave something for the Revival to work off, but it's also put us 20 years back in the UK as we had to eliminate both that and the Garfunkels, with all respect to our American colleagues. It's the persistence of that second dynamic which gave rise to the "What is" thread, as it opened the door which had hitherto been firmly closed to original composition, and the Trad/Prog question, which thankfully isn't as virulent as it was in Jazz.
What is interesting is the crossover of showtunes into the populist repertoire. This is not new, of course, one of the earliest useful collections is the corpus of The Beggars Opera.
One interesting aspect of why people don't sing is because commercial pop is not singable. I've just trawled through the UK airwaves at the moment to listen to what is actually being played, and it has the following features: strong percussion, piano, nasal. Nothing is singable by the population. People don't go to church, so in most of the UK women don't sing, and so don't teach their children to.
All is not lost, however: I sing with London's Southbank VoiceLab and was roped in by Radio 3 earlier this year at the end of their Southbank Residency to lead half the bar in a rendition of Pharrell Williams' Happy - it's ballad-form, no instrumentals, and a relatively simple structure, and although the thing was impromptu (what happens when a choir over-hypes itself), virtually nobody copped out and some people really surprised themselves. Another event this last weekend made it possible for couples to get married almost en mass, saving the cost of huge receptions - VoiceLab was all over the shop, getting them involved. People want to sing, but have nothing to sing with. Perhaps it's time to get out of the back room of the pub and into the street.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 08:27 AM

We were on a Ramblers Holiday in Italy. One night we sang Happy Birthday to our friend. A collection of 20 or so local Italian people sang an Italian 'Happy Birhtday' type song back.

So we sang The Manchester Rambler and they sang what sounded like a 'community singsong' song. And so it went on for about an hour us singing mostly English Folk Songs and the Italians sing what I can only describe as 'community singsong' songs. Not Italian pop songs that I have ever heard.

Then someone suggested a Beatles song - and off we went - they knew them as well as we did - for about half an a hour which included a international duet on Eleanor Rigby - tears all round.

Our average age was probably 60+ and theirs 50+

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 12:58 PM

Last year I was at a tableful of American Scout leaders, people mostly in their 40's, I think. I was asked to play dulcimer a bit. When I said I would play "My Grandfather's Clock," they looked worried.

But when we got to the chorus:

"But it stopped...short... never to go again,
Till the old man died,"

they brightened up, straightened up, and sang with a will.

(That's odd. Windows doesn't think 'tableful' is a word. It is now.)

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 01:53 PM

Leeneia, I have often taught a parody of 'Grandfather's Clock' orally to primary school pupils aged 8/9 -- and within three repetitions of the first verse of 'My Grandfather's Socks' (written by James Curran, an immigrant from Ireland to Glasgow in the 1870s, and the man who was also responsible for 'Fitba Crazy'), they have pinned both tune and text fairly securely!

Just confirms for me that people like to sing a real tune with words that are pleasing to them -- because of the story, the emotion or even the joke!

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:33 PM

Guest 02 Sep 14 - 06:17 AM is of course right that most pop songs are not singable without percussion etc. After all, they are meant to be bought, and the singers are sold as stars with supernatural power. If pop songs became folklore nevertheless, they had to be seized by the folks, which was successful only in rare cases. Barriers of different kinds, but equally high, are around classical music and many other genres. Funny parodies can make their way under those barriers, as described by Anne.

I hope we will get more songs like the best ones mentioned above, that are singable without conforming to a "folk" cliché. All Mudcatters value tradition, but whenever a tradition is consciously upheld, it means that it is crumbling. The imperative "Rise Up!" suggests a heroic effort (Arabic: jihad), not pleasure and confidence.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:33 PM

Marje: but I'm not sure whether young people would all know even those now.

I know all of those, some with all verses, some not quite so complete, but I'm probably of the last generation that *would* (I'm 59). My own children would know very few of those songs, and even for me, Tipperary, Pack up Your Troubles and Daisy Daisy are "songs of my grandparents' generation" so I'm not surprised that they're disappearing from the "collective memory". Not sure why it's a bad thing.....these type of songs would naturally have a mainstream lifetime of only 2-3 generations, IMO, except for the odd one that has stuck around much longer.

In fact I'm surprised they've gone on as long as they have....they're still sung to an extent by the people who visit care homes and do Sunday afternoon recitals to the old folks....but the "old folks" currently in such places are (except for the most senior) much more likely to think of those songs as being from their parents' generation, with songs by Elvis Presley and contemporaries being much stronger in current care home denizens' collective memory than these songs.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 06:23 PM

"Guest" above was me with a dead cookie.

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Subject: RE: Which songs are really sung?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:06 AM

Les's story reminds me of one of our trips to the Flanders battlefields (with various folkies from the Maidenhead, Herga and other folk clubs), when we stayed in Talbot House in Poperinge (Tubby Clayton's original Everyman's club for R&R during WW1). On Saturday evening we had a concert party / singaround, with Belgian guests from Poperinge and Ypres. We sang "Little Cottage in a Wood" (with actions) and our Belgian friends then sang it in Flemish (with actions)!


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