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Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)

DigiTrad:
A COWBOY'S HARD TIMES
A PLACE IN THE CHOIR
GOIN' BACK TO CAROLINA (Sweet Winds Blowing)
IN THE HEATHER
JUBILEE
MY SWEET WYOMING HOME
PLACE IN THE FIRE
RIVER
THE ROSEVILLE FAIR
THE YEARS THAT COME TO PASS
WHITE MOUNTAIN GOODBYE


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Joe Offer 29 Apr 15 - 02:54 AM
Jim Dixon 29 Apr 15 - 01:06 PM
Joe Offer 29 Apr 15 - 04:02 PM
ranger1 29 Apr 15 - 04:37 PM
Joe Offer 29 Apr 15 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,Offkey in Portland 08 Jun 16 - 07:32 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 16 - 09:23 PM
leeneia 09 Jun 16 - 07:09 PM
Jeri 09 Jun 16 - 08:30 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 16 - 01:22 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 16 - 03:21 AM
leeneia 10 Jun 16 - 03:05 PM
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Subject: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 02:54 AM

Another question on a song for the upcoming Rise Again Songbook. When I researched the song for the book I approved the lyrics we had for the first line of the first verse, "Not but love to keep" - that's what's in my "Music to Me" Bill Staines songbook, and it sure sounds like what Staines is singing.

But one of our proofreaders questioned that and said that Mudcat has "Naught but love to keep" - and it turns out that it's my post that has "naught." The ever-wise Eve Goldberg has "naught," and it's hard to tell whether Bryan Bowers is singing not or naught. Geoff Kaufman is definitely "not."


But to me, "not but love to keep" just doesn't make sense. Is it a legitimate expression?

And if the songwriter has "not" and his book has "not," am I right in correcting it to "naught"?

Do "not but love" and "naught but love" mean the same thing? Maybe "not but love" has become acceptable grammar, but it makes me cringe.

Another term I'm having trouble accepting is "alright." I have corrected it to "all right" in the songbook wherever I could - even when I knew the songwriter probably used "alright" (I didn't think I could get away with correcting grammar or spelling in song titles, though).

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 01:06 PM

Here's a trickier question: Is it 'naught' or 'nought'? But let's put that aside for now.

I definitely prefer 'naught' over 'not'. 'Naught' is a somewhat archaic noun meaning 'nothing.' 'Not' is an adverb. Adverbs have to modify something. I don't see anything 'not' could modify in that sentence. In other words, 'naught' makes sense; 'not' doesn't.

It's possible Bill Staines doesn't (or didn't) know the difference. Or it's possible his publisher didn't. That shouldn't stop you from making a correction.

I have seen many examples of what I took to be mistakes in published sheet music, in record labels, in liner notes, and in songbooks. I usually correct them. That is, I correct spelling (in lyrics, not in song titles), punctuation, capitalization, hyphenation (if there is any need to keep hyphenation), and the insertion of line breaks and stanza breaks to the best of my ability. I usually don't correct grammar or word choice (i.e. malapropisms).

The 'naught/not' confusion could be considered a malapropism, but in this case, the pronunciations are so similar, or the distinction is so subtle, that a person could easily mishear 'naught' as 'not.' In some dialects, the pronunciation might even be identical. Therefore I would consider it a spelling error, and correct it.

To look at it another way: Bill Staines' natural speech and singing voice are close enough to the American standard dialect (if I may call it that) that you can correct it to American standard without doing much violence to it. I wouldn't do that with, say, Lead Belly or Uncle Dave Macon.

Getting back to 'naught' vs. 'nought': As far as I can tell, they are alternate spellings of the same word, and may be used interchangeably. 'Nought' was once more common, but 'naught' has surpassed it, as the Google Books Ngram Viewer shows us. Take your pick. I slightly prefer 'naught'.

BTW, I prefer "all right" also, and Google backs us up.

What Google has to say about 'forever more' might surprise you.


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Subject: RE: question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 04:02 PM

Thanks for the insight, Jim. That Google Ngram Viewer is a fascinating tool.

On their first recording of "Dixie Darlin'," the Carter Family sing "across the Mason-Dixie Line." I left that uncorrected.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: ranger1
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 04:37 PM

You could always contact Bill Staines and ask him. Contact info here.


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 05:40 PM

Yeah, Tami, but if I ask him and don't like his response, I'm obligated to do it his way. Songwriters often don't have the best spelling and grammar, and sometimes their lyrics mistakes are downright wrong.

It's clear to me on both the recording and his songbook, that his word is "not." And "not" doesn't make sense to me.

So, my question is whether there is ever a case where "not but love" would be correct?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: GUEST,Offkey in Portland
Date: 08 Jun 16 - 07:32 PM

Yes. An elliptical phrase "not [anything] but love." Just being legalistic.


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 16 - 09:23 PM

I forgot to look and see how Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, editors of the Rise Again Songbook. I suggested "naught but love"....and they accepted it!

NOW I should contact Bill Staines and ask him what word he intended to put there. My mother the English teacher passed away ten years ago, but I'm sure she would agree that the rules of usage demand "naught" in this situation. I believe that Mom's grammatical infallibility passed on to me when she died....

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: leeneia
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 07:09 PM

Inherited grammatical infallibility? How nice for you, Joe.

I agree with you, that it should be 'naught but love.'


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Jeri
Date: 09 Jun 16 - 08:30 PM

Bill Staines is not stupid. I'm sure it's "naught".

Joe, do you know how frightening it is that you have the responsibility for lyrics in that book and you think it's acceptable to change words just because you like them better?


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 16 - 01:22 AM

Aw, Jeri, I DO know how frightening that is, and that's why I volunteered to edit the lyrics in the Rise Again songbook - because I wanted them to be accurate. Before I started work, they had whatever lyrics their "bot" harvested from the Internet. I really did try to respect songwriters most of the time. My Bill Staines Songbook said "not," but I just couldn't bring myself to use that - and, like you, I suspect he used "naught" in the original, despite what's in the songbook that bears his name. I have found that songwriter songbooks do not always respect the songwriter's intentions, so I did make some value judgments on the quality of printed sources. The Staines songbook* was sloppy in many circumstances, so I did not trust it as much as I did some others. And in other situations, the songwriters are not completely literate and need a little help - such was the case with a Tom Petty song, and with some stuff from Arlo Guthrie. In most cases, it was a matter of homonyms - the sound of the song is the same either way, but I chose the word that made more sense grammatically.

And yes, when there were three choices, all authentic, I did tend to choose the one I liked better - but I did my best to ensure that all the lyrics we included were authentic. Sometimes I was overruled by the editor, Peter Blood. And sometimes, he was right.

For the most part, I really didn't choose "what I liked." I chose "What Didn't Sound Stupid" - as long as it was reasonably authentic. But yes, I was Associate Editor, and I did use "editorial license" at times - mostly to avoid making the book look stupid. Wasn't much I could do with those Neil Diamond songs, though....

-Joe-

*The 1980 Staines songbook from Folk-Legacy is excellent, and I'd trust it completely. "Crossing the Water" is in the Bill Staines songbook produced in 1994 by Hal Leonard, and that book is not as accurate. Did I mention that Hal Leonard is also the publisher of our Rise Again Songbook? I sometimes disagreed with them on Rise Again, also - but usually they won. Sometimes, they conceded that I was right.


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 16 - 03:21 AM

But yes, the possibility of making mistakes was frightening indeed. I think that we did an excellent job overall, but I find mistakes all through the song book - and some of them were mine.


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Subject: RE: Question re: Crossing the Water (Bill Staines)
From: leeneia
Date: 10 Jun 16 - 03:05 PM

No, it's not frightening that Joe is editing lyrics.

I just read an article in the Kansas City Star about babies being killed because they are in bed with their parents. (They either suffocate in the bedding or are rolled over on.) In 2014, for example, Missouri's SIDS Resource Center said that from 2004 to 2014, there were 100 deaths related to this IN JACKSON COUNTY, MO ALONE. Jackson County is Kansas City, more or less.

In Wichita, 7 babies have died in this manner so far this year.

Now that's frightening.


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