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‘Cursed’ Songs

GUEST,MorrisBarnard 01 Jul 18 - 04:03 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jul 18 - 04:47 PM
BobL 02 Jul 18 - 02:45 AM
Murpholly 02 Jul 18 - 03:54 AM
The Sandman 02 Jul 18 - 04:23 AM
Keith A of Hertford 02 Jul 18 - 04:26 AM
GUEST,John Bowden (not a typo!) 02 Jul 18 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 02 Jul 18 - 05:44 AM
Jos 02 Jul 18 - 06:10 AM
Mr Red 03 Jul 18 - 02:47 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 03:20 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 03 Jul 18 - 07:33 AM
Rapparee 03 Jul 18 - 05:23 PM
michaelr 04 Jul 18 - 12:56 AM
Tattie Bogle 04 Jul 18 - 12:05 PM
GUEST 06 Jul 18 - 11:01 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 18 - 03:20 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jul 18 - 03:56 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 18 - 04:08 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 18 - 04:23 AM
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Subject: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: GUEST,MorrisBarnard
Date: 01 Jul 18 - 04:03 PM

Hello All

Just doing a bit of research and thought I’d ask you experts if you’d heard tell of any inauspicious songs on your travels. Both factual and anecdotal examples gratefully received; do any of you have an unlucky song?

With thanks

MB


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jul 18 - 04:47 PM

There is a superstition (which I suspect was made up rather recently) that you shouldn't play "The Flowers of the Forest" indoors, because of its association with funerals.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: BobL
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 02:45 AM

It could be extremely unlucky to sing certain songs from the Emerald Isle in the wrong company...


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Murpholly
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 03:54 AM

I was once told off by a cousin of the husband for singing Aghadoe (a song of the 98 rebellion) in a pub in Co. Cork because it might upset the English tourists. I was amazed and since then have made a point of singing the song if ever we go to a new venue in England. No-one has objected yet!


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 04:23 AM

Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: BobL - PM
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 02:45 AM

It could be extremely unlucky to sing certain songs from the Emerald Isle in the wrong company... the problem is religous bigots who lack a sense of humour


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 04:26 AM

It is uncomfortable to be an English tourist in Ireland when the venue gets animated singing anti-English songs. It is a different experience entirely when it happens at home.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: GUEST,John Bowden (not a typo!)
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 04:56 AM

"I dreamed I dwelled in marble halls", from the operetta "The Bohemian Girl" has long been considered unlucky, and is mentioned among other superstitions in this article: http://superstitionsonline.com/actors-general-luck-omens/


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 05:44 AM

There is a lot of bollocks in circulation about "Gloomy Sunday".


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Jos
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 06:10 AM

Those superstitions seem unnecessarily restricting. Are there no plays that involve someone whistling? And Macbeth does get put on in theatres. As for not having anything yellow, green or blue ...
And nobody seems to be put off humming or singing Three Blind Mice, but at least it means that "I dreamed I dwelled in marble halls" isn't done to death, so that I can still enjoy it on those rare occasions when I do get to hear it.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Mr Red
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 02:47 AM

Grey Funnel Line, on a dark cloudy day?


Don't mind the rain.........


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 03:20 AM

"No-one has objected yet!"
Absolutely - this needs shouting from the rooftops; it is totally untrue that Irish singers sing songs to upset or intimidate tourists
Irish singers sing some songs because it is a part of their history that they are proud of
If it upsets English tourists, perhaps it is because the events described make them ashamed - if that isn't the reason, maybe it should be.
It in no way effects the friendliness of the Irish people towards visitors from anywhere - that friendliness, 'caed mile failte' - (one hundred thousand welcomes) is built into the language.

You want to hear songs deliberately created with the intention of intimidating and insulting, you'll hear them in spades in a couple of weeks time in that little piece of Ireland that still calls itself England
There you'll still hear songs like 'Ee aye, Paddy is a Bastard' or "A rope, a rope to hang the Pope' or 'Croppies Lie Down' - all good clean fun!
An archivist friend of mine went buying up albums of new songs for his archive made during the Troubles and was pretty horrified at what he found, with gems such as 'The Pope's a Darkie'

Shortly after the 'Bloody Sunday' massacre, a well known group of British 'tourists, 'the Paras', were noted for singing (to the tune, Knick knack Paddy Whack':

We've got one, we've got two,
We've got thirteen more than you'

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 07:33 AM

The original request was for unluckiness rather than political unacceptability, but while we're on the latter, this documentary is terrific:

http://www.adelamedia.net/movies/whose-is-this-song.php

The whole thing is on YouTube.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Rapparee
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 05:23 PM

It appears that if I sing "Isn't It Grand, Boys" someone dies. Not from my singing, I hasten to add.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: michaelr
Date: 04 Jul 18 - 12:56 AM

"Cursed" - that's superstition. I'm not superstitious, it's bad luck.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Jul 18 - 12:05 PM

A bit like Rap's example:
"For we may or might never all meet here again" - the "might never" is too often true!


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 18 - 11:01 AM

I believed The Maid and the Palmer was avoided by some traditional singers but that might be because of its themes of incest and infanticide rather than good or bad luck.


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 18 - 03:20 AM

I heard that too Guest but as the only performer of the song from the tradition (apart from a couple of Travellers who appear to have picked bits of it up from Christie Moore) there was only ever one traditional vesion of it - even Child didn't manage more than one full version and a fragment - both from print
This was possibly because of the taboo nature of its content
Bronson never got a single tune, but when he found out about John Reilly's version, he wrote to the collector Tom Munnelly and told him it was such an important song that he considered republishing volume one to include it in his collection - he died before he got around to it.

When we were working with Irish Travellers in London we kept getting a bit of the same song from different singers, who would all stop after a couple of verses and tell us they couldn't remember any more
Eventually we got a full version of it from Mary Delaney, a Traveller we were particularly friendly with: she told us to be careful who we played it to.

It was a Traveller made song about a 'made match' - a marriage made through a 'matchmaker' - quite common in Ireland up to the first half of the twentieth century and still occasionally taking place among Travellers when we were working with them
They weren't enforced marriages as such, but ones formally arranged for various reasons
This song told of a couple who arranged their marriage because the woman was particularly skillful at preparing second-hand feather mattresses for resale - a popular trade among Travellers once

The song described the progress of the marriage:

Oh the first year we were wed it was lovely
And the second we couldn't agree
And the third, then she put on the trousers
And then came the boss over me

The reason the singers wouldn't give us all the song was the couple in the song were still very much alive and on the road, so they didn't want to give offence to them
Mary, the singer who gave us all of it said, laughing, "don't ever tell them I gave you the song otherwise they'll kill me - he's my first cousin"

We found out later from another Traveller friend that the song had been made by a group of young Travellers sitting on a grassy bank outside the church while the wedding was taking place - it was a jokey prediction into the future.
All concerned are now long dead, the couple and the singers so, with the permission of the family, we are now free to use the song - so far as an example of Traveller song-making

Coincidentally, Tom Munnelly included the song on his album of John Reilly songs - John had carefully changed the name of the protagonists, presumably so as not to give offence
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jul 18 - 03:56 AM

the only performer of the song from the tradition

Jim, in the Mudcat thread 'The Well Below the Valley': Discuss' (which I'm not able to link with a clickie for some reason), I argued that Thomas Moran's song credited as 'The Cruel Mother' was actually a version of 'The Maid and the Palmer'.

It was good enough to convince Richie Matteson!


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 18 - 04:08 AM

Child puts them next to each other in his canon, but he treats them as separate songs
John Reilly referred to the religious aspect of 'The Maid and the Palmer' - apart from the 'curse' bit at the end, that doesn't appear in 'The Cruel Mother'
I see the similarities - never really been convinced they are the same song
Bronon was convinced it was unique - he told Tom Munnelly that he had "carved his name in ballad history" for discovering a version
Jim


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Subject: RE: ‘Cursed’ Songs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 18 - 04:23 AM

Brian
Re Cruel Mother/Maid and the Palmer
It's a little like the 'Clerk's Twa Sons of Owsenford' and 'Wife of Usher's Well' enigma
Are they two separate songs or one broken into two halves?
Discuss!

Perhaps this is more suitable for the 'talking about folk music' thread - certainly worth talking about
Jim


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