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How do we know certain songs?

GUEST,Tunesmith 08 Jan 22 - 02:46 PM
GUEST,Spleencringe 08 Jan 22 - 03:07 PM
fat B****rd 08 Jan 22 - 03:21 PM
gillymor 08 Jan 22 - 03:24 PM
Nigel Parsons 08 Jan 22 - 03:38 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Jan 22 - 03:43 PM
Long Firm Freddie 08 Jan 22 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 08 Jan 22 - 04:09 PM
Joe_F 08 Jan 22 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 08 Jan 22 - 08:20 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Jan 22 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,mayomick 09 Jan 22 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Don Meixner 09 Jan 22 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Don Meixner 09 Jan 22 - 11:56 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Jan 22 - 03:57 PM
Long Firm Freddie 09 Jan 22 - 06:56 PM
Howard Jones 10 Jan 22 - 06:51 AM
gillymor 10 Jan 22 - 07:06 AM
Steve Gardham 10 Jan 22 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Peter Cripps 11 Jan 22 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,John Moulden 11 Jan 22 - 05:36 AM
fat B****rd 11 Jan 22 - 02:46 PM
Georgiansilver 11 Jan 22 - 02:54 PM
Tattie Bogle 11 Jan 22 - 05:45 PM
Rumncoke 12 Jan 22 - 06:34 PM
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Subject: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 02:46 PM

I'm from the UK, and I asked my wife if she knew the song "Shenandoah" and she said she did. But how? She's never been to a folk music club or folk event. The song has never been a chart hit! School? I wouldn't think so? It has been featured quite a lot in movies over the years but I don't she would know it from there.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,Spleencringe
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 03:07 PM

Is she a Jimmy Stewart fan?

Or a Bruce Springsteen fan?


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 03:21 PM

I don't know if it's relevant or not, but, at 74, I know snatches and more of many "standards" and all sorts of very old songs. Maybe because, for instance, the Light Programme was nearly always on in our pre-telly house. Now I think about it the radio was always on post-telly n'all.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: gillymor
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 03:24 PM

It's in the repertoires of a lot of choirs.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 03:38 PM

Depending on how old she is, it was used in the BBC schools programmes "Singing Together" in 1956 & 1965.
It was also the theme for a 1965 film (of the same title) starring James Stewart.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 03:43 PM

Before I became involved in the folk scene (c1965) as such I used to obsessively listen to a wide range of radio programmes from all round the world and it's surprising how much folk music was casually being aired in the 50s and 60s, mostly by the likes of Joan Baez, Kingston Trio, Burl Ives etc, and also quite a few British people with posh voices singing folksongs such chanties. Added to this we heard in school many folksongs on programmes like Singing Together. Familiarity with a wide range of this sort of material was inevitable.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 03:44 PM

It's in the Daily Express Community Song Book (Published 1927) so it's been a standard in the UK for a long time!

Of maybe 200 songs in the book, about 14 are sea shanties. It's filled with all the usual suspects that we of a certain age in the UK would know from school.

LFF


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 04:09 PM

Nigel(Parsons) was "I Know Where I'm Going" also on the BBC song list for schools because that's another song that everyone of a certain age knows.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 05:44 PM

My father and (especially) my mother used to sing a lot. My high school had a strong folk-singing (as well as classical) tradition.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 08 Jan 22 - 08:20 PM

STEVE G

How, in 1965, were you able to listen to a "wide range of radio programmes from all round the world"?

I was familiar with radio atmospheric "skips" and shortwave at that time but not consistent programs ... even at 50,000 watts.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

JUST CURIOSITY


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jan 22 - 09:33 AM

I'm no techy, never was. I just spent hours twiddling the knob. Most of it I never knew where it was coming from, just that the spoken bits weren't in English. Obviously they were music programmes and there was some quite weird stuff out there, but a lot of it was vaguely folky and a lot of it was easily recognised as coming out of the States. Sad B-----d like I am I used to make lists of all the songs I heard. Wish I still had those lists.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 09 Jan 22 - 11:26 AM

It was the theme song played at the opening of 1965—66 US TV series "A Man Called Shenandoah" , which appeared on British TV in the sixties :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FboB8nLHFVE


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 09 Jan 22 - 11:53 AM

Just looking into the oral tradition among families will give some answers. MY father was a first generation American of Austrian immigrants. He was orphaned at age six and grew up on a farm in Central New York State before and during the depression. The songs he knew from the farm hands and the travelling harvest companies were the bulk of what he knew outside the popular songs o the radio.

I knew songs from movies like The Bold Fenian Men from Rio Grande. And Shenandoah from a TV series called The Long Gray Line. And I would sing them or at least the melodies long before I was aware of them as songs from any tradition.

I think there are songs that we just absorb out of thin air because we heard snatches of them in the back ground as we lived. And we assembled them into complete songs over the course of time.

Don


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 09 Jan 22 - 11:56 AM

Gargoyle asks

..How, in 1965, were you able to listen to a "wide range of radio programmes from all round the world"?

I was familiar with radio atmospheric "skips" and shortwave at that time but not consistent programs ... even at 50,000 watts...

We had a short wave radio that would receive radio from Canada, Great Britain, most of Europe, much of the world.

Don


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jan 22 - 03:57 PM

The thing about these foreign stations was, they weren't just playing all of the latest pop songs, like the mainline British stations. Also Light Programme had a decent mixture of all sorts of material.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 09 Jan 22 - 06:56 PM

Pretty sure I heard "I know where I'm going" sung on TV a number of times by The Springfields, enough to make it an earworm. They don't seem to have recorded it, though.

LFF


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Jan 22 - 06:51 AM

I'm in the UK and I've known "Shenandoah" for ever. It was on one of the records for a toy gramophone I had as a child, but I seem to recall it was fairly widely played at the time. It may have been one of the songs we sang in school music lessons. Radio request programmes at the time played actual requests and were much more varied than programmes now, which run from a fixed playlist. I think it was probably one of those tunes which was in the general consciousness, and not limited to those with a specific interest in folk song.

I don't recall hearing it in folk clubs very often, if at all.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: gillymor
Date: 10 Jan 22 - 07:06 AM

by Trampled by Turtles


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jan 22 - 07:46 AM

Owen Brannigan? Paul Robeson? I could be mistaken. It was a long time ago. John Goss 78?


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,Peter Cripps
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 05:20 AM

Our Care Home audiences (UK) always seem to know, and enthusiastically join in with, Bobby Shafto, Quebec (Donkey Riding), Mhairi's Wedding, Skye Boat Song, John Peel, British Grenadiers, Barbara Allen, Cherry Ripe. (All rarely heard at Folk Clubs these days!) They learned these songs and tunes at school in the late 40s, early 50s, when folk singing, and country dancing were a big feature of Primary Sch0ol life.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 05:36 AM

An article that I wrote called "What did we sing before there were folk songs?" is on the web at https://johnmouldenonirishsongs.wordpress.com/childhood/. I've pasted the most relevant portion below, a description of the songs I learned at home - later sections outline songs heard in the street, at schools and in cubs, scouts and hostels:

Home and Family (1941-63)

My family was musical but did not sing much informally – I remember no more than (perhaps I was only told) my grandmother, my ‘nanny’, singing me the black-face minstrel hit, ‘Oh Ma Babby, Ma Curly Headed Babby’(5) and the standard English nursery rhymes like ‘Ring-A-Roses’, ‘Three Blind Mice’ (later to be sung as a round in school and Scouts), the seemingly personal, ‘Diddle, Diddle Dumpling, My Son John’, ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, ‘The Frog and the Mouse’ (‘Heigh Ho Says Rowley’)(6) and others. I remember distinctly looking at an illustration of ‘Mary, Mary Quite Contrary’ (‘How does your garden grow?/With silver bells and cockle shells/ And pretty maids all in a row’.) that showed flowers with female faces, so it may have been a pretty bookish tradition. Otherwise my earliest memory of being struck by a song was when my sister, six years older than I (she was about 14 so I would have been 8), brought home songs from school where she was learning them: ‘Old King Cole’ and ‘John Cook’s Grey Mare’ – I still have the book with her name on it and can still remember parts of the descant for ‘Old King Cole’.(7) She also introduced me to other songs, standard school music songs, such as ‘Cherry Ripe’ and ‘Bobby Shafto’ or ‘Dashing Away with a Smoothing Iron’ (so easy to remember with its verses identified by the days of the week and its progression through the tasks of washing, rinsing, wringing, hanging out, ironing, starching and wearing her clothes) and many others. As well, there were unofficial songs such as ‘John Brown’s baby had a cold upon its chest, so we rubbed it with camphorated oil’. It used the obvious tune and omitted words on successive singings so that the entertainment afforded by something very simple could be stretched for as long as needed. And there was also the risqué, ‘Threshing Machine’, the works of which a young farmer showed to Mary. I doubt that this piece was taught to 14-year-olds in sober East Belfast in 1949 – my sister also had her singing communities and they weren’t all at school.

We used a couple of local rhymes – they weren’t songs but they were Irish:

Where do you come from?
Cushendall.
How are the praties?
Very small.
How do you eat them?
Skin and all.
Is that not bad for you?
Not at all!
The nearest my early childhood came to the common culture of East Belfast was provided by the very respectable lady, Mrs Harris, I never knew her first name, who came in once a week to help my mother with cleaning. Picking up on my name, she used to chant, “John, John the grey goose has gone[…]” but I remember no more; she may not have known more but the line is from a version, probably Burl Ives’ version, of ‘The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night’.

During the 1939-1945 war travel between Northern Ireland and England was dangerous and only permitted if absolutely necessary. Hence it was not until 1945 or ‘46 that I was able to go to London to see my English grandfather, his sisters and my auntie Phyllis. My grandfather’s house had a radiogram and two boxes of records (78s), mainly classical. However, my aunt’s taste was less refined than her father’s or her brother’s (my father) so there were highlights from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas – we saw The Mikado and TheYeomen of the Guard by the D’Oyly Carte Company at the Hippodrome, Golder’s Green – the tunes are with me yet. There was a record of Master Ernest Lough (pronounced ‘Luff’) singing the Schubert songs, ‘Hark, Hark the Lark’ and ‘Who is Sylvia?’, and, fascinating to a 7-year-old who had no idea what had happened to the nanny who had vanished and was later said to have died, ‘Ain’t It Grand to be Blooming Well Dead?’ – later to be heard from the Clancy Brothers. And there was Gracie Fields, ‘The Lassie from Lancashire’, singing for children. There was then an expectation that children would sing. Once, after being too painfully shy to sing, I begged to be allowed to stay up for a further five minutes to be told that it would be granted but only if I consented to sing the current hit, ‘Only Five Minutes More’.

The media – that is the ‘wireless’ – provided most of my home musical experiences. I heard programmes like Country Magazine and As I Roved Out in the early fifties – I’m hard set to remember but I know that the former started with a setting of ‘The Painful Plough’ and the second with Sarah Makem’s ‘As I Roved Out’. I know now that she was from Keady in Co. Armagh and that both programmes contained some performances by traditional singers. After 1946 and the inception of the BBC Third Programme, my father listened more and more to it but the BBC had light music programmes and several that were designedly for children: Children’s Hour and, at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning, Children’s Favourites, a request programme. The fare varied from Vernon Dalhart’s ‘Runaway Train’, a hearty baritone singing Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, to the wholesome family fare of the ‘hit parade’ before there really was one: ‘The Deadwood Stage’ from the film Calamity Jane and Alma Coogan’s ‘Where Will the Dimple Be?’:

On the baby's knuckle or the baby's knee,
Where will the baby's dimple be?
Baby's cheek or baby's chin?
Seems to me it'll be a sin
If it's always covered by the safety pin!
Where will the dimple be?
In the middle fifties were songs from shows and standards, like ‘Ol’ Man River’, or ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Davy Crockett’, which we parodied in the street:

Born on a table-top in Joe's café
Dirtiest joint in the USA
Fell in love with Doris Day
Tried to sing like Johnny Ray
Davy, Davy Crewcut
King of the Teddy boys.
From 1953 the hit parade became the top twenty and Radio Luxemburg opened. It depended mostly on playing the hits but for a quarter of an hour each week there was If You’re Irish, This is the Programme. I hated its false jollity but was fascinated.

I remember bits of dozens of songs from the period around 1954. ‘The Happy Wanderer’ was later pressed into service with Scouts – nursery rhymes were sung to its tune – but the most significant were those of the skiffle craze, ‘The Rock Island Line’, ‘Worried Man Blues’ and ‘Frankie and Johnnie’. My sister’s boyfriend played banjo with a local amateur jazz band, there were several of them in and around Belfast, so I heard his records of Ottilie Patterson from Newtownards who sang blues and sounded like the great Bessie Smith. There were also Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet and others; great blues based music.

The titles that are in the appendix under ‘popular music’ give some idea of the sheer variety of music that was available at the time – it was possible to like the hits and other music too. I heard the light operatic, Mario Lanza,singing ‘Drink, Drink, Drink’ from the musical play, ‘The Student Prince’, Burl Ives singing ‘Lolly Trudum’, Paul Robeson’s incomparable bass voice and the wonderful contralto of Kathleen Ferrier with ‘Blow the Wind Southerly’, intermingled with the latest, in the same request show.

This was typified in Friday night is Music Night, a light music radio show that featured choirs and solo singers. The mix included songs by Stephen Foster and Henry Clay Work, by Thomas Moore, songs of the music hall and ‘folk songs’, sanitized shanties and ‘songs of the nations’. I listened avidly because I recognized many of the tunes and, not, at that stage, being able to read music, was able to associate them with the words I had in my songbooks – I was able to sing them.

Last in this section, my sister again, in her early twenties, took up amateur drama. The group put on J.B. Keane’s Sive. For weeks I heard snatches of ‘Many Young Men of Twenty’.

This seems incredible now – the sheer volume and variety of song that entered one middle-class Protestant, household in suburban Belfast – but that is only one of my communities.


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 02:46 PM

That's exactly what I meant, John :-)
fB


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 02:54 PM

The film 'Shenandoah was released in the UK and the song was sung in schools for a few years after. The song was also used as title track for a series on TV


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Jan 22 - 05:45 PM

Used to sing Shenandoah in primary school in the late 50s/early 60s in Suffolk. Not aware of any film or TV production: probably just in the song book we used at the time.
Also many other English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh and American songs. No real mystery about it!


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Subject: RE: How do we know certain songs?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 12 Jan 22 - 06:34 PM

I remember my mother used to go around the house singing or reciting. Her mother seemed to do the same when we were visiting - music hall mostly, and her sisters also sang quite a lot. There were lots of books with songs, carols and other music in the house - they had a piano.
When my mother was a girl the house had gas light only on the ground floor and once a week a box of candles was bought and given out, one each and then the children would compete at setting poems to tunes and singing them - the best ones got one of the left over candles.
They used to go to a local church and sing as the guests arrived for weddings - they had small wicker baskets lined with white satin and decorated with ribbons to collect contributions as the guests arrived.
One auntie went on singing at all my cousins weddings, much to their embarrassment.
The odd ones out were the ones who didn't sing.


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