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Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?

Tony Burns 07 Aug 01 - 09:26 PM
khandu 07 Aug 01 - 09:42 PM
khandu 07 Aug 01 - 09:44 PM
Barry Finn 07 Aug 01 - 09:58 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Aug 01 - 09:59 PM
Nancy King 07 Aug 01 - 10:23 PM
Bert 07 Aug 01 - 11:08 PM
ddw 07 Aug 01 - 11:27 PM
mg 07 Aug 01 - 11:44 PM
GUEST,Denise:^) 08 Aug 01 - 12:09 AM
katlaughing 08 Aug 01 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,Denise:^) 08 Aug 01 - 12:54 AM
SeanM 08 Aug 01 - 01:58 AM
sledge 08 Aug 01 - 02:44 AM
Liz the Squeak 08 Aug 01 - 02:45 AM
GUEST,Mike (Mainbrace) 08 Aug 01 - 04:22 AM
nutty 08 Aug 01 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,MC Fat 08 Aug 01 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,KingBrilliant 08 Aug 01 - 04:59 AM
KitKat 08 Aug 01 - 06:09 AM
Tony Burns 08 Aug 01 - 06:49 AM
Midchuck 08 Aug 01 - 07:06 AM
Noreen 08 Aug 01 - 07:28 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Aug 01 - 08:06 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Aug 01 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 08 Aug 01 - 08:46 AM
Mrrzy 08 Aug 01 - 09:47 AM
MMario 08 Aug 01 - 10:20 AM
Grab 08 Aug 01 - 10:27 AM
LR Mole 08 Aug 01 - 10:45 AM
GUEST 08 Aug 01 - 11:00 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Aug 01 - 11:01 AM
Ebbie 08 Aug 01 - 11:06 AM
Bert 08 Aug 01 - 11:22 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Aug 01 - 11:29 AM
RWilhelm 08 Aug 01 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,petr 08 Aug 01 - 12:21 PM
sophocleese 08 Aug 01 - 12:27 PM
Rick Fielding 08 Aug 01 - 12:41 PM
nutty 08 Aug 01 - 01:15 PM
katlaughing 08 Aug 01 - 01:15 PM
John MacKenzie 08 Aug 01 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Denise:^) 08 Aug 01 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Willa 08 Aug 01 - 04:10 PM
katlaughing 08 Aug 01 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Denise:^) 08 Aug 01 - 04:18 PM
katlaughing 08 Aug 01 - 05:56 PM
Liz the Squeak 08 Aug 01 - 07:02 PM
Noreen 08 Aug 01 - 07:44 PM
Gloredhel 08 Aug 01 - 08:14 PM
Noreen 08 Aug 01 - 09:07 PM
sophocleese 08 Aug 01 - 11:12 PM
nutty 09 Aug 01 - 03:25 AM
Noreen 09 Aug 01 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,The Admiral 09 Aug 01 - 09:19 AM
Hawker 09 Aug 01 - 02:18 PM
katlaughing 09 Aug 01 - 03:23 PM
nutty 09 Aug 01 - 03:36 PM
Maryrrf 09 Aug 01 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,Harvey andrews 09 Aug 01 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,Willa 09 Aug 01 - 05:21 PM
katlaughing 09 Aug 01 - 05:34 PM
nutty 09 Aug 01 - 06:39 PM
Hawker 09 Aug 01 - 06:51 PM
sophocleese 09 Aug 01 - 10:43 PM
katlaughing 10 Aug 01 - 12:27 AM
nutty 10 Aug 01 - 03:57 AM
GUEST 10 Aug 01 - 10:57 AM
sophocleese 10 Aug 01 - 12:18 PM
nutty 10 Aug 01 - 12:58 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 01 - 01:55 PM
PHJim 30 Sep 13 - 08:56 PM
GUEST 01 Oct 13 - 12:31 AM
GUEST 01 Oct 13 - 03:22 AM
Nigel Parsons 01 Oct 13 - 07:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Oct 13 - 08:19 AM
Lighter 01 Oct 13 - 08:48 AM
Noreen 01 Oct 13 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 01 Oct 13 - 09:36 AM
Lighter 01 Oct 13 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 01 Oct 13 - 10:39 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Oct 13 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 02 Oct 13 - 08:00 AM
Lighter 02 Oct 13 - 08:21 AM
Leadfingers 02 Oct 13 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,spleen cringe 02 Oct 13 - 11:29 AM
Ged Fox 02 Oct 13 - 01:12 PM
Lighter 02 Oct 13 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Tootler who cba to reset his cookie 28 Aug 15 - 06:39 PM
PHJim 29 Aug 15 - 12:18 AM
Backwoodsman 29 Aug 15 - 04:40 AM
PHJim 29 Aug 15 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,mauvepink 29 Aug 15 - 12:05 PM
Backwoodsman 29 Aug 15 - 12:35 PM
PHJim 30 Aug 15 - 01:04 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 30 Aug 15 - 01:49 AM
Backwoodsman 30 Aug 15 - 02:14 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Aug 15 - 11:23 AM
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Subject: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Tony Burns
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:26 PM

I'm sure this has been discussed before but I couldn't find it.

I'd like to learn and lead the song When All Men Sing. (Couldn't find it in DT.)

The lyrics do provide for discussion as they reflect the attitude of a different age. While one could argue that "all men" could mean "all mankind" it could also be seen as a little lame and the verse that says "man and boy" could add weight to an argument that says the song is sexist. So, what do folks do? Sing it as is? Rewrite it to be more politically correct? "When we all sing" seems to fit pretty well and other changes could be made.

There are two parts to this discussion. 1) The particular song and 2) what to do in general.

I know of one person who modified a song to remove the 'god words'. To make it more secular I presume.

This may be a no-win situation. If the words aren't modified you offend a specific camp and if you do modify you offend the purist.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: khandu
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:42 PM

Screw PC!

khandu


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: khandu
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:44 PM

Let the offended be offended! khandu


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:58 PM

I'd go along with slight changes, an example. In Lizzy Linsy I've left out the first name of "Ronald" MacDonald because I have sometimes lost myself in laughter along with others. In the shanty "Johnny Come Down To Hilo" I changed the phrase "a big buck nigger" to "a big buck sailor". The spirit of the song is still there with out any lost to the song . As to major changes, you could walk into a hornet's nest, not an easy call (how's that for skirting the topic, sorry). If you are concerned with PC to start with, you'll probably make a god choice anyway. Barry


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:59 PM

These songs were made when the world was a different place, and people's ideas about it, and about their place in it, was very different from the way many of us see things now.  If you feel the need to change this frankly inoffensive song to suit your own, or your audience's, preconceptions about the way the world is, or should be, then that is your right.  What is not your right, of course, is to do that without saying that you have done so, saying why, and specifying the changes you have made.  I'm sure that you understand that.  A century and more ago, the notorious Dr. Bowdler re-wrote Shakespeare to make his naughty plays conform to a then-current model of correctness; Shakespeare's works survive, while Dr. Bowdler is remembered only as a vague synonym for ignorant, presumptuous censorship.  Food for thought, I guess.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Nancy King
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 10:23 PM

I think this kind of question needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

There are the songs about love relationships, in which it sounds a bit strange for a female singer to profess love for "her" (or a male singer for "him") and in which a pronoun or two can be discreetly changed and it sounds fine. I've done that in several cases. Some other songs don't lend themselves so easily to this kind of sex-change operation, and end up sounding awkward or just wrong. Those I just reluctantly shelve, or in some cases, sing them as is.

In this particular case, I'd sing the words as they are. This song is not about men-and-women, it is about people. Specifically, about people singing together. I don't believe it was intended to exclude anyone. The words are really quite powerful, and changing it to "when we all sing," or something like that, I really think waters it down too much. Perhaps a few words of introduction can make it clear to the audience that it is intended to be inclusive.

I have heard this sung in large groups, and it's really great. Has it been recorded?

Cheers, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Bert
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 11:08 PM

I would sing it exactly as it is. In the English language the noun men is inclusive of women, whereas women have their word to themselves.

If any person complains, then they are obviously not conversant with our language. So have some fun with them and demand that they also change words like menstruation.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: ddw
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 11:27 PM

I'm with Khandu on this one — there are few things I find more offensive than the PC morons who haven't figured out that words are not their enemies. If you're that squeamish about reality (past or present), then maybe folk music and blues are not what you really want to sing, since they deal with a lot of the nitty-gritty of life.

That said, of course, you're free to do anything you want — even if it makes you a jerk.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: mg
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 11:44 PM

Sing as is. Change words like "n" but leave things as they are as much as possible. My personal preference is to never ever make a sex change. It drives me crazy when that is done...how do you know what the more or less standard version is? mg


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Denise:^)
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:09 AM

I've found that changing words to their 'PC counterparts' often weakens a song. (Example: Rise Up Singing's wimpy "Just My Hands," to replace the powerful "One Man's Hands--" and, for the record, I use RUS quite a bit, and think it's a great resource. They just flubbed on this one.)

I have asked my 5- & 6-year-old students about the meanings of songs that use the word 'man' or 'men,' in the "whole human race" sense, just to get their perspective. In 15 years of teaching, I've never--NOT ONCE--had a student think that it meant only men and not women.

I'd agree that there's no need to sing racially offensive words, when any other descriptive term would do (I like that 'sailor' mentioned above!), but as for the man/woman thing, forget it. To neuter a song is to parody it, or to turn it into a shallow copy of it's former self. It generally just sounds silly.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:23 AM

I prefer to hear "humankind" or something like that, when it fits, but I would want to know about the older lyrics and respect their historical significance. I am more particular about racist terms, though, than gender.

The idea of the whole thing was that women never were included or mentioned and we wanted to raise our daughters to feel of more value than women had been in society up to the sexual revolution. So, as a mother of two women, I appreciate it when someone is at least sensitive about this.

I used to be a lot more rabid. **BG** BUT, back in '99, we had a terrific discussion about PC and came to the conclusion that it has been usurped by extremists and that some of us prefer "ethically conscious" instead.

Another good discussion was on racist songs.

I also agree with Barry.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Denise:^)
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:54 AM

I still maintain--politely and respectfully, of course-- that replacing 'man' with 'human' or 'person' nearly always weakens a song, or, worse, makes it a parody of itself.

I think, if something is *that* offensive to you, it's time to pick a new song to sing...

Unless, of course, your goal *is* to be amusing!

Denise:^)


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: SeanM
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 01:58 AM

Heck, just do what you would be comfortable singing, or what your audience will be comfortable with (if you are performing for a paying crowd that you expect to treat that way).

If you change it, you may get heat for messing with lyrics as they were written. If you leave it the way it is, you may get heat for offending sensibilities.

Whatever happens, it's gotta be you that has to live with the results. If the lyrics bother you, by all means change 'em to something that doesn't (with proper explanations) or just sing something else entirely. We don't have to look your face in the mirror when you justify your decision to yourself after the performance.

Just my opinion.

M


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: sledge
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 02:44 AM

If some folks are so offended by such minor things as the use of "man" in an old song rather than a more all encompassing phrase, maybe they should be wrapped in cotten wool and kept somewhere nice and warm in Fluffyland where nothing bad ever happens.

Sledge


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 02:45 AM

Nancy - it has been recorded by Derek Gifford on his 'Wine Women and Song' cassette or else it's the other one I have and can't remember the name of it.

I have occasionally changed gender in song, along with first person participle (I said to my young love instead of my young love said to me) and no one has really noticed, but it makes more sense to me.... Then I went and wrote a song with me as first person and male!! It doesn't matter a pair of fetid dingoes kidneys what gender you are or sing about, but you need to guauge your audience as to who is likely to object your form of 'Bowdlerising'. It might be OK in your ordinary singaround, but a festival singaround might be a bit different.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Mike (Mainbrace)
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:22 AM

I would agree with Barry.A change when a word or phrase is would be considered OFFENSIVE , because there is a reason to do so.But if you give way to the extreme view.....How many great songs would have to remain " unsung".In the case of " When all men sing" I have to confess to having a personal Bias.The man who wrote it( SCOWIE) is a Very Close freind. But in it's wider sense the expresions "man..mankind..brother ..brotherhood " have no Gender. You also have to accept that some songs will be written about specifically the role of men OR women in life or history( in Working roles for examample.).You would have to be very carefull not to destroy a song in the process of changing it. To avoid Gender as the issue......I am opposed to Fox-Hunting....Whaling, for example but PLEASE don't let these songs Die!I have this theory that songs have a life of their own , we merely carry them down the years.They survive all kinds of abuse including the words being changed and people who use them for effect( folk? rock etc)But they survive and actively look for people to sing them.( How many have found "A Song"repeatedly "getting" your attention via arecording ; a book; a singing session ?)SONGS ARE A GREAT GIFT Lets be very carefull before we start "changing them" a good test is ..WILL IT BENEFIT THE SONG?????The Folk process has in many cases been at work for decades and the song then settles down in a form that survives maybe for generations.We the suddenly know whats best for the song?????Time I got off my soap box...Mike


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:40 AM

Well said Mike.
It's a shame Scowie does not have a computer --- he'd love to get his teeth into some of these discussions


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:42 AM

I once was asked to a benefit gig for some ultra leftie group my harmonica player was involved in. We played 'the blues' hardly the most PC of songs but it was an opportunity for a performance and I thought that made it worthwhile. On checking the venue the organiser said just as we were leaving 'Hey guys remember no sexist songs'. I went ballistic 1. How do you de-sex the blues changing the lyrics to 'He's a trucking little babe don't you know' doesn't work 2. No-body, but no-body tells me what or what not I perform. I refused to do the gig. As Malcolm says these are from another era and you can't re-write the history books overnight. Leave them as they are.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:59 AM

I'm in favour of making changes for a variety of reasons. I'd change something that could be offensive, not because I mind offending, but because something that rings out as offensive in the current context can skew the balance of the song.
I'll change the sex of the parties in the song if it makes sense to do so - and sometimes it can add a new twist to a song. I heard Courting is a Pleasure sung as a man - but it has a different flavour sung as a woman. I prefer to sing the latter. However, Flora (a similar-ish song about betrayal) I wouldn't feel happy to change, and it doesn't bother me at all to sing it - I think it is quite obvious to the audience when a female is singing 1st person as male & hence singing about still loving 'her' is not incongruous.
Another song I've adapted is Banks of the Ohio - in which a vengeful woman kills her lover 'I'll let no man take liberties, if he will not then marry me'. I don't think a variant hurts the original at all.
I'll also change lyrics if they don't scan with the way I sing the tune.
I'll also make up some words if I don't know a whole song, or add/chop verses if the song seems too short/long.
For me it is more important to sing than to exactly reproduce a song.
For the particular song under discussion I personally would sing it as it is - but if you are happier singing a changed version then go for it. There is nothing worse than trying to sing something that bothers you in some way - it restricts the flow.
In general I'm heavily in favour of changing things for whatever reason applies. I like to hear variant tunes and lyrics - its part of what makes a performer/performance individual.
I dare say there are bad variants, but then there are bad 'reproductions' as well.

kris


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: KitKat
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 06:09 AM

Dear Tony

I've nver heard of this song, but the words are so lovely I'd really like to hear it. Where can I hear the tune or a recording of it?

Pat


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Tony Burns
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 06:49 AM

Great input folks! Keep it up.

For those that asked about where to hear it. I got it from Johnny Collins "Pedlar of Songs" CD. If you go to his discography page you can hear the first verse but you miss the power of the chorus.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Midchuck
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 07:06 AM

....Rise Again, That her name not be lost to the knowledge of people...

F*** THAT S***!

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Noreen
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 07:28 AM

I'm with Bert (and Midchuck!). This is NOT a sexist lyric, and When we all sing doesn't have the power of When all men sing.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 08:06 AM

Having gone back & actually read the full lyrics (OK - I should have done that to start with) - this song seems like its about times when a group of men (male voices) are singing together at work and relaxing throughout the rural. I can't see any reason why this should be considered sexist. The meaning of the song would change substantially if you uni-sex-ise it. I don't think the changed version would be as strong and evocative - but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be allowed to sing it that way....don't think there would be much point though. The sex of the observer is not specified - so its not as if there's that reason to change it in order for a woman to sing it.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 08:07 AM

sorry - missing word - throughout the rural year.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 08:46 AM

Allow me to put in a word for Bowdlerization. Without the good Doctor and his followers, it could never have been said of Desdemona that she ".. played the trumpet in bed.."

Seriously, though, there is a huge difference between avoiding singing "all de darkies am a weepin'" and objecting to "To the begging I will go" because it suggests that beggars are on the scrounge. And as for "all persons", what about the perdaughters?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 09:47 AM

"In the English language the noun men is inclusive of women" - not any more in usage, and rightly so. But that doesn't mean that you can't explain that it used to and then sing the song anyway. MY kids wonder where the women are in songs about "men" - and rightly so. Same as songs that use the word Gay to mean Happy, when children nowadays think you mean Gay, the way the word is used (usage defining meaning, to me, rather than some dusty old grammar primer that would define it as all-inclusive) today, which means homosexual; I just explain that it used to mean happy and keep going. Why not include the history?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: MMario
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 10:20 AM

The rule as taught in English - and I just checked with three practicing English teachers --is that the feminine is exclusive of the male gender - but the masculine is always inclusive of the femaleunless defined to show exclusivity or modiefied to show exclusivity. "Men of England" = inclusive "Male inhabitants of England" = exclusive.

That's the way the language functions. So unless and until that basic function of the language is changed...like it or lump it "men" refers equally to women - but "women" excludes all men.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Grab
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 10:27 AM

If anyone can be offended by that, then they're NOT offended by that in particular, they're just looking for an excuse to get shirty and your song happens to be such an excuse. Sod'em.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: LR Mole
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 10:45 AM

Fetid dingo's kidney?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:00 AM

There is a disconnect in the English Language. It is imprecise about the meaning of "men". This can lead to personal interpretations wildly out of synch with other interpretations. The attempt to make people aware of this particular ambiguity is intelligent and rational and works towards greater precision and understanding in the English language. Saying that "when all men sing" is more powerful than "when we all sing" is simply a personal idiosyncracy and needs a lot more explanation behind it. Is it more powerful because when you sing "when all men sing" you visualize a group of men working together, whereas when you sing "when we all sing" you visualize men and women singing together? Why is the one image more 'powerful' than the other, because it is more focussed and less diverse? There is a lot of power in a single focus, witness the extremes of fanaticism on either side of a political fence or religious issue. However just because something is powerful doesn't mean that it is the best thing that can be said or sung at any moment.

This is not an old, old song where you can excuse the language on the basis of popular usage at the time of writing. It was written when the issue of exclusive and inclusive language was around and being discussed.

For all those people who have freely expressed their opinions that those who can be offended at the imprecise and changable use of the word men to mean either men and women or only men are idiots, lacking in intelligence, wit or humour. You're all a load of fucking language dinosaurs lacking in a flexibility of imagination and the humour or wisdom to create a real change in society no matter how many Woody Guthrie, protest songs you may wish to sing.

Hope you don't mind, nothing personal you understand, just needed to get it off my chest.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:01 AM

No thanks Mole - just had one.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Ebbie
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:06 AM

Just to keep stirring: I agree that 'men' and 'mankind' includes women too, but I suspect that it was the males of the species that made the rule.

And if it is so all-inclusive, why don't we say 'boy' when we are speaking of children?

I have said many times that I think that we should teach ourselves to say 'woman' when we want to include every one- after all, 'man' is in woman (pun accepted!).

Frankly, I think the male of the species is more fragile than the female- and perhaps a contributing factor is their knowledge of past sins? LOL

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Bert
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:22 AM

Mrrzy, men includes everyone, even nowadays.
Gay does mean happy, well almost, for one can be happy but not necessarily gay.

And gross still means big, and momentarily does not mean soon, despite the fact that other people use the words differently. Of course, eventually ignorance will win out and these words will change, but that will only happen when a couple of generations have died out and the original meanings have been forgotten.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:29 AM

Part of the reason why 'when all men sing' works better for me than 'when we all sing' is the flow of the sounds in the words. I find the former a more pleasing sequence of sounds to form physically.
The actual meaning is not the whole picture - I believe that the sequence of sounds & how they flow from one to the next can make a huge difference to a song. I'd find it harder to make the second option sound right.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: RWilhelm
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:54 AM

I think most people understand that old songs have to be taken in the context their place and time of origin. Singing an old song as written is an act of preservation not an endorsement of old values.

On the other hand, a bad line can ruin a song for a modern audience. I do a song recorded in the 1920's called "Tear it Down." As recorded it includes the line "Every time I hit her she hollers 'police'". It's an otherwise upbeat song and rather than put an ugly image in people minds I change it to "Every time I see her she hollers 'police'". Since the joke is meant to be on the singer version 2 works better in the 21st Century. Not PC, just common sense.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:21 PM

I recently sang Dick Darby at a participant night at fiddletunes and I didnt give it much thought until I was in the middle of the tune and wondered how people will react to some of the lyrics.

ie. .. my wife she is humpy, she bumpy my wife is the devil, shes black, and no matter what I may do with her her tongue it goes clickety clack

... or I dipped her 3 times in the river and carelessly bade her good day.

now the audience was appreciative and I got a good round of applause but I couldnt help but wonder if the song may have been a little UnPC for them. Now I just like the song and I like Tommy Makems rendition of it, it just wouldnt do to change it and it would be a loss not to perform it and it certainly in no way implies that the performer espouses spousal abuse. Just because you sing it doesnt mean you feel that way. (I suppose I should have made an introductory comment before singing the tune = but I dont even think thats necessary.)

I realize the origins of the political correctnes thing and I certainly agree that its not fair that Mr. does not indicate marital status whereas Mrs. Miss does so Im certainly in favour of Ms. and similar words that are exclusive of women and that ought to change. On the other hand it can go to some stupid extremes. ie. the person that edited some text (that said the Russian writer Pushkin had black ancestors) changed black to African American!

it happened to me personally, I few years ago I entered a particular sculpture in an art exhibit and since we were requested to do a little writeup. now my piece was cast iron (about 15inches): a bone (femur) at one end and highly polished wrench on the other end. The theme I am interested in is "Man and Nature" the organizer of the show called me up and she managed to convince me to edit my statement and I went along with it. But in the end Man and Nature was changed to Humanity and Nature (which to me even though its PC has a different meaning) and other elements were changed too such as Western Civilization was changed to Civilization. Now all these changes were made rather hurriedly over the phone at work but after the catalogue was printed and the show was over and successful for me (my piece went on to the provincial show and received an honourable mention) I felt that my statement was completely altered because some idiot felt it wasnt pc. .. oh yeah, and unidentified guest go fuck yourself.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: sophocleese
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:27 PM

Oh dear, I've just given the Mudcat another try and I come across this thread. A lot of very strange conflicting points here.

King Brilliant suggests that as she reads the song she thinks it refers to rural men, not women, therefore its okay to keep the original wording just as you would in a song about women spinning wool. In this discussion about the same song others say that you should keep the wording as written because 'man' in this context means both men and women and that is regular usage. So has everybody who has written to this thread read the lyrics to the song or are they spouting out without knowing what they talk of? What would happen if we had a discussion about what this particular song means and the use of the word 'men' in this particular song.

It has been suggested that keeping the present wording preserves an old song. But actually I haven't yet been able to find a date of when the song was written. It is not a very old song, possibly no older than I am and I haven't hit 40 yet.

If we all agree that it is a song about men, not women, (do you see how clumsy this particular quirk of the English is? ) then we can agree with King Brilliant's thinking. If we cannot agree that it is a song about men and only men then we can give suggestions to Tony about how he should proceed with the song.

The use of the word 'man' to mean both men and women is fading as a new generation grows up with the argument about what it means continuing around them. Personally I prefer to search for other ways to talk of the entire race of humans rather than a use a word which can mean one thing one time and another at a different time. As an experiment I asked my husband what he saw in his mind when I gave him the phrase "when we all sing" and what he saw when I gave him the phrase " when all men sing". For the first phrase he saw a bunch of folkies, men and women, singing together. For the second phrase he saw The Men of the Deep. Clearly I took the phrase out of context but I do think it is telling that the two phrases which should be synonymous do not spawn the same image.

I heard Johhny Collins sing it last Friday. He prefaced his performance of it with any apology to all who might be offended in the audience by the words. This seems a sensible way to do it: acknowldege the ambiguity and the confusion but keep the sound that seems to work. Have fun singing it.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:41 PM

Laughin' My head off Barry! That happened to me during Leezie Lindsay as well. Two seconds after "Ronald MacDonald" I burst out laughing and screwed up the whole song! Talk about the power of advertising! Well I caved in to the Big Mac and "Ronald" has become "Donald" forevermore.

One problem for those who DO mix "Commie/Pinko" songs with traditional ones (as I do) is that often there are people in the audience who are just waiting to jump on a word or phrase, and loudly let you know about it. Unless you can match their agressiveness REALLY quickly, the performance can go down hill rapidly. I've found that singers "from across the pond" can deal with it much better than American or Canadian ones can. We simply don't have words equivalent to "Bollocks, Shite", or my favourite, "Oi! Shut yer Gob!"

Rick


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 01:15 PM

I think there are two different issues here.....

Traditional songs ( unless you are a purist) are fair game and have probably been changed many times already.
Modern songs(like "When all men sing") have been written by someone who is still alive and who should be consulted ( as a matter of courtesy ) before any changes are made.

As a woman I have no problems with the words of when all men sing - I do not believe it excludes women rather it encompasses them as part of " mankind ".But I would have problems if someone changed the words of my songs simply because THEY believed they were not politically correct. My reaction would be that if they don't like the song they don't have to sing it. Similarly, those who are offended by such lyrics don't have to listen.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 01:15 PM

Good points, sophocleese.

Having just read the words, in full, I wouldn't change any of the words. I would take it as a song about men and their work and them singing about. If you wanted to balance it, you might add another song, from the women's perspective about their work, such as the Weaver's Reverie bu Bob Coltman. It's on Folk Legacy's Golden Ring Reunion CD. Here's a bit that Sandy Paton posted about it:

The song is based on a letter written by one Harriet Farley, a mill girl, that was printed in The Lowell Offering, an in-house factory publication - 1840 or so.

kat


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 03:29 PM

I don't like war and whaling, and I don't understand fox hunting, but I still sing and enjoy a lot of the songs associated with these activities. They are "of their time" and should be treated as such, in the same way as we excuse children on the grounds of innocence, or for those who are believers in the Bible, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do",. Too much PC is a dangerous thing; please remember that a closed mouth gathers no feet.

Jock


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Denise:^)
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 03:35 PM

Note that I'm still smiling, but...

You can't convince me that it's better to water down a song by saying "person" than it is to broaden your horizons a bit and think that "man" might just include you, as well. (I'll bet, as a kid, you needed a 'personal invitation' to join the class in every activity, too: "Students, get out your science books. Mary, get out your science book--didn't you hear me?)

And, I'm sorry, but,
"Rise again, rise like a steeple,
That her name not be lost to the knowledge of people"
is so absolutely ridiculous that I can't believe anyone even proposed it!! (It scans crummy, too.) Our group has done 'Mary Ellen Carter' HUNDREDS of times--and NEVER has any one--man, woman, child--EVER objected to, or even mentioned, the line in question.

(Okay, one guy did come up and ask us if they ever *did* get the ship up, but other than that...)

There are lots of songs out there, folks! If one doesn't suit you, pick another that will!

But, really--steeple, people? Come on!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Willa
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:10 PM

Mike(Mainbrace) I don't know whether you've heard Harvey Andrews' song 'Anon', but it expresses more or less your sentiments.
'I had something to say about life in my day, so I wrote a song, and somewhere the sound of it goes round and round to be lost and then found'
It's on the CD 'The Gift'; great stuff.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:11 PM

(I'll bet, as a kid, you needed a 'personal invitation' to join the class in every activity, too: "Students, get out your science books. Mary, get out your science book--didn't you hear me?)

Don't know who you were directing that at, but it is pretty rude in the middle of a decent, non-personal discussion.

kat


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Denise:^)
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:18 PM

Directing it at anyone who cannot tell that they are part of mankind.

There gets to be a point where standing up for one's rights--the rights of one's race, one's sex, one's self--has been accomplished, and to push it further is mere silliness.

I'd say that anyone declaring themselves to be beyond the boundaries of mankind is kinda silly.

It was not a personal 'you.' It was a general 'you.'


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 05:56 PM

Thanks for the clarification.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 07:02 PM

Mole - fetid dingo's kidneys... a phrase borrowed from the great Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy... absolutely pointless and meaning nothing, bit like the whelk's chance in a supernova....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Noreen
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 07:44 PM

An earlier thread, containing the harvested lyrics and discussion can be found by clicking on Lyr Add: When All Men Sing


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Gloredhel
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 08:14 PM

If anyone wants the point of view of one of today's "kids" (late teens, actually), changing "man" or "mankind" or anything like that is not worth screwing up the poetry of lyric. I've known ever since I could read that "men" in some contexts could mean me too. Don't change it. The poetry, the sentiment, and the flow of the words are so much more important than the actual words. And the usage of "men" to mean both men and women is not antiquated. The youth of today, of which I am one, still know that it has more than one defenition, although, I admit, I'm not exactly your average teenager, or I wouldn't be in this conversation.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Noreen
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 09:07 PM

Thank you, Gloredhel, well put.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: sophocleese
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 11:12 PM

But Gloredhel and Noreen did you read the words to the song or not?

I know several teenagers who would not use the word man to describe both men and women and, cruel as this may sound at the moment, I know several female teenagers who would, until they are older and then they would begin to question the wisdom of agreeing with everything stated by the attractive but purblind male population in the hopes of getting their attention, and I admit that I have made this mistake myself.

Personally whether you say you are ethically conscious or politically conscious I don't care as long as you are conscious. An awful lot of what is now hysterically considered 'PC' is actually an attempt to be courteous to an enlarged group of persons with whom being courteous is considered desirable. At their roots courtesy and civility are to do with trying to make people comfortable with each other. They are not attempts to introduce rigid rules of what is and what is not allowed to be said or done in the same way that red means stop and green means go in the language of traffic signals.

Altering the words or not is not as important as singing the song as well as you can while acknowledging the differing interpretations that the words will have for various listeners, and the interpretations will differ depending on your audience. A performer has to decide for him or herself the boundaries of his or her own interpretation of any song and the distance he or she is willing to go beyond or around those boundaries. For some this will mean singing some songs in the face of open disapproval and for others it will mean altering words or set lists at the hint of possible disapprobation. Whatever makes you feel happiest and perform your best. In your face performers might like to try accomodating other's tastes while nervous perfomers might attempt standing firm on their interpretations. Either way can be a stretch and will ultimately make them better.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 03:25 AM

Having read everything so far, I still find it disturbing that basic "courtesy and civility" is not being afforded to the creators of the song ...... In this case KEITH SCOWCROFT - who wrote the poem and DEREK GIFFORD - who shaped the words into a wonderful song and wrote a super tune.

Nor is there any understanding of the song's portrayal of a time in rural England when these activities took place.

The song has nothing to do with sexism but portrays (as all Scowie's poems do)an insight into a time gone by which those over 50 may have caught a glimpse of, but which is lost to anyone under that age. Celebrate the song and sing it with pride.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Noreen
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 09:10 AM

Sophocleese, I have indeed read the words to the song; it is a song I know well and I also know the author.

The difference of opinion seems to centre on what 'men' is perceived as meaning to an individual, which is at least in part culturally determined, depending on how you have heard the word used.

I am happy for the word 'men' to be used to represent mankind, the way that I imagine Scowie intended it, but I can also appreciate that it could sound wrong to others with a different background. It would appear from the posts here that this usage is less acceptable in North America.

I apologise if I appeared to be discounting the opinions of others; my earlier statement was of course based on how these words sound to me: that is, beautiful, poetic, and not to be changed.

Johnny Collins is obviously aware of this difference in perception across the Atlantic; I can't somehow imagine him prefacing the song with an apology in this country.
I wonder if he does?

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,The Admiral
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 09:19 AM

I would like to add my agreement with 'Nutty' and add the information that the poem was originally written to celebrate a weekend of unaccompanied singing in a barn on a farm in Northamptonshire at the end of October every year more commonly known as Whittlebury - hence the line 'shaking plaster from the walls' line(sic). The weekend is attended by both Women and Men and all tasks (from cooking to cleaning the loos) are shared out in a very PC fashion.

And as for Scowey (Keith Scowcroft in full) not being PC, well that may be so (after all, he is from Lancashire and they do tend be unreconstructed up that way) but a kinder, friendlier, gentle, man who'd give you his last chip you couldn't hope to meet.

The poem was written only a few years ago and accepted immediately by those for whom it penned without any qualms or hesitations. So sing the song for goodness sake and enjoy it and don't try to change it (especially not in the UK or you'll get laughed out of the room) the word are special to a lot of people.

Keep Singing; TON


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Hawker
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 02:18 PM

As a woman, let me say that I am not offended by such a lyric, nor would I expect a man to feel insulted or left out if I played 'The Irish Washerwoman'!
I'm with the attitude to hell with PC - It's how it was written! interpret it, or let others interpret it as they will
There are too many sensitive souls in this world to worry about upsetting anyone, can't please all the people all the time - so please yourself!
Lucy


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 03:23 PM

nutty and TON/Admiral, please read my posting of 08-Aug-01 - 01:15 PM. I thought I had been pretty courteous and civil throughout? I certainly understood the context of the song.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 03:36 PM

Katlaughing ... My comments have been aimed at the questions asked by Tony Burns who originated this thread, not at anything you may have posted and I fail to see where I might have given that impression


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 04:31 PM

I confess to changing "Ronald McDonald" in Leezie Linday as well. I just felt too silly singing it.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Harvey andrews
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 05:03 PM

twenty years ago I wrote this as a chorus;

Old Mother Earth She spins in space And carries the race Of man

Is this double sexism?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Willa
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 05:21 PM

I hoped you might join in on this, Harvey. Just want to thank you for the pleasure your songs give me.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 05:34 PM

Sorry, nutty, I read "Having read everything so far, I still find it disturbing that basic "courtesy and civility" is not being afforded to the creators of the song ...... " (my emphasis) and took to to mean all postings. I am sorry for the misunderstanding if that is not what you meant.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 06:39 PM

You do have a point Kat, I probably did not make myself clear

What I was concerned about was that there seemed to be a tacit agreement that changing lyrics (for PC reasons) was acceptable. Whereas I feel that in circumstances like this, where a song is modern and the composer is alive and able to be contacted, no changes should be made without their knowledge and/or agreement.

As TON said, this song is very special to a lot of people.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Hawker
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 06:51 PM

Good point there Nutty!
Lucy


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: sophocleese
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 10:43 PM

While agreeing with the basic premise of what you say nutty, it makes my weird mind start wondering at what point altering lyrics becomes acceptable?

I spent a little time today trying to find the history of the word man. I found this little bit from the American Heritage Dictionary:

"USAGE NOTE: Traditionally, many writers have used man and words derived from it to designate any or all of the human race regardless of sex. In fact, this is the oldest use of the word. In Old English the principal sense of man was "a human," and the words wer and wyf were used to refer to "a male human" and "a female human" respectively. But in Middle English man displaced wer as the term for "a male human," while wyfman (which evolved into present-day woman) was retained for "a female human." Despite this change, man continued to carry its original sense of "a human" as well, resulting in an asymmetrical arrangement that many criticize as sexist."

So in light of this information and bert's suggestion that change forward indicates ignorance and therefore change backwards must show erudition, I propose that on the threshold of this new millenium we go back 800 odd years and call men with ovaries wyfmen and those without werman.

What I want to know is the pronunciation of "wer", it comes from old German and may therefore have the germanic 'v' sound instead of a 'w'. This would nicely bring it in line with the latin "vir" which means 'man with balls' and is the basis for the words virile, virility and viagra. Therefore I propose that we amend the chorus of this song to now sing "When vermen sing". I look forward to altering many songs now to read verman instead of man when what is clearly indicated is a male man, going postal or not.

Cheers.

Sophocleese


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 12:27 AM

LMAO, Soph!!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 03:57 AM

Sophocleese ... With a Germanic 'v' sound would the word would be pronounced 'vermin' - now that could have interesting connotations. :¬)


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 10:57 AM

I find the song overly wrought, pedantic, and crude. Leaning twoards neanderthal folk, which a lot of Britfolk seem to love. Oh you can't scare them, they're stickin' to the empire, till the day they die..." (with a nod and a wink to Dave Lippman).

To find out that it *isn't* traditional is the most disturbing part of it to me.

Anyone have the lyrics to the parody "When Some Men Sing" referred to in the other thread? It would be nice to have a comic anecdote to such drivel.

IMHO, of course.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: sophocleese
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 12:18 PM

Ah but nutty we could use the latin form and spell it 'virmen' which should reduce the confusion....


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: nutty
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 12:58 PM

Everyone is entitled to their opinion "GUEST".

I, for my part , have said all I intend to say on the matter


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 01:55 PM

Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions, and not much else.

IMO, its an assinine song. It is sexist in that cozy, comfortable "Old World Traditional" sort of way.

Sung as is, whether in Britain or the US, it would undoubtedly offend certain audiences, whose sensibilities extend beyond nostalgia for a lost authoritarian past. Which is why certain "purists" love to keep singing it. It isn't traditional, but they like to pretend it represents a "traditional" world view.

Well, it certainly doesn't reflect the world view of say, a group of singing fish wives--a pretty feminist group of gals in their own way. They'd be much more likely to sing the parody version, IMO.

So keep on singin' with yer fingers in yer ears thar mateys!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: PHJim
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 08:56 PM

When Ed McCurdy played at Cobourg, Ontario's Waterfront Festival, he handed out lyrics to Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream and pointed out that he had changed the line "And the room was filled with men" to "Filled with women and men".

When The Animals recorded House Of The Rising Sun, they changed the point of view from a woman trapped in a life of prostitution to a man trapped in a life of paying for sex. Not nearly as effective to my way of thinking. Many other male singers like Josh White, Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Al Cromwell sang the song from the woman's point of view.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 12:31 AM

To my mind, the dumbest re-shuffling of words to suit political correctneess occurred when the line "Love between all of my brothers" in "If I had a hammer" became "love between my brothers and my sisters"--an explicit promotion of incest. Language, really does have meaning. (should have been "Love among all of my brothers" in the first place."


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 03:22 AM

You might refer to the thread on sea shanties where sailors had a bawdy non pc version and a cleaned up version when in port or in earshot of the general public.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 07:08 AM

Surely changing "When all men sing" to "When we all sing" as has been suggested several times moves the emphasis to a different word, completely changing the feel!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 08:19 AM

For years I heard, and sang, the song as "When Old Men sing" - and actually I prefer that, it seems to carry an image of sitting in the pub defying time. Rather like "Sultans of Swing" in its way.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 08:48 AM

Despite having known many, many, many of them, I still find it hard to believe that people's thinking can be so atrophied that they can't tell when "man" and "he" have a masculine reference and when they have a general human reference.

Up until about 1970 nobody thought much about it, including nobodies like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and George Eliot.

One of the first things you learn in a class in linguistics is that words have no built-in, essential, exclusive meaning. Their meaning comes as much from context as from anything memorized.

If people with no sense of English style want to insist that using a word like "mankind" (instead of, say, "humankind") is sexist and disgusting (because others are presumably too stupid to know what's meant), nobody can stop them. Or that the concise monosyllable "he" must always be expanded to the clumsy and very often redundant "he or she." Or, for that matter, that the equally concise "they" can never be used as a singular.

Their claims, however, are based on ignorance - and, in some cases, self-promotion. Unfortunately they've found plenty of followers -including influential editors who should know better. Maybe the die is cast. It wouldn't be the first time that language has changed in an irrational way with little cost to civilization.

But I can't think of any woman whose salary has been raised or whose abusive partner has desisted because of the introduction of new stylistic "rules." Sexism is real, but English usage is not the enemy.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Noreen
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 08:54 AM

Well spoken, Lighter!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 09:36 AM

So I guess it wouldn't matter if I chose to say 'she' instead of 'he' or 'he and she', then, Lighter? Times change, language use changes. English isn't static, as a quck dip in the Canterbury Tales will undoubtedly remind you...


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 10:35 AM

Go right ahead, Spleen.

In five hundred years you may be considered a visionary.

Today, however, your listeners' reaction may be quite different.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 10:39 AM

Can I hear the sound of the stable door being closed after the horse has bolted? Or is it the sound of folkies singing about the good old days when we had the old lightbulb?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 01:42 PM

An interesting handle chosen by Spleen Cringe for herself or himself.

But I can't think of any woman whose salary has been raised or whose abusive partner has desisted because of the introduction of new stylistic "rules." Sexism is real, but English usage is not the enemy.

Precisely so, Lighter. In fact a lot of the time this kind of things actually serves to reinforce sexism. And sometimes that is probably actually intentional.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 08:00 AM

"An interesting handle chosen by Spleen Cringe for herself or himself."

In fact it's just an anagram of my name. I suppose the point I was trying to make above was that language is not and never has been preserved in aspic. Trying to argue that a living, changing thing should remain a certain way is a pointless attempt to acheive the impossible. And I have no idea why anyone thinks language that isn't gender specific reinforces sexism. Are the users of such language 'asking for it' or something?

To respond to the original question in the thread, why not change the words in whatever way you see fit and for whatever reason you want if so moved? These songs are not carved in stone and unless historical re-enactment is your bag there's no reason not to. Same with the tunes.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 08:21 AM

> Trying to argue that a living, changing thing should remain a certain way is a pointless attempt to acheive the impossible.

Correct (except for the spelling). But that's not to say that every change, particularly when imposed by academic or editorial fiat rather than by natural usage, is for the better or worth adopting.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 11:12 AM

NO way am I going to play a Persondolin just to please some idiot who wants to stir up trouble !!!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,spleen cringe
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 11:29 AM

Correct (except for the spelling).

Mia kulper...


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Ged Fox
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 01:12 PM

Persondolin - accent on the second syllable - lovely word - is it a place in Middle Earth or a rare gem?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 01:30 PM

"Persondolin" is merely a sexist way to avoid saying "womandolin." Fairness requires that one half the number of such instruments be declared male and the other half female. Or, to be completely fair, vice versa.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Tootler who cba to reset his cookie
Date: 28 Aug 15 - 06:39 PM

When all hupersonkind sing?


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: PHJim
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 12:18 AM

When Ed McCurdy played I Cobourg, Ontario a couple of decades ago, he distributed the words to "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream" and told the audience to note that he had changed, "And the room was filled with men," to, "Filled with women and men.

The person who wrote the words for Neil Armstrong to speak when he stepped onto the moon was pissed off at the fact that Neil left out a word which changed the meaning entirely - "One small step for (a) man; one giant step for mankind."

And regarding changing the sex of the character in the song to match the sex of the singer, many male sigers like Josh White, Woody Guthrie, Jack Elliott, Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan didnèt mean to mind singing the woman's part in "It's been the ruin of many poor girl, and me Oh God, I'm one," while Eric Burdon didn't feel comfortable singing the part of a woman trapped in a life of prostitution, so sang the part of a man trapped in a life of paying for sex (or perhaps a boy trapped in a life of prostitution). He sang, "It's been the ruin of many poor girl, and me Oh God, I'm one."


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 04:40 AM

"while Eric Burdon didn't feel comfortable singing the part of a woman trapped in a life of prostitution, so sang the part of a man trapped in a life of paying for sex (or perhaps a boy trapped in a life of prostitution). He sang, "It's been the ruin of many poor girl, and me Oh God, I'm one."

I think you'll find he sang, "It's been the ruin of many a poor boy". At least, he did in the recorded version which topped the UK charts in the '60s...

Recording with Lyrics


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: PHJim
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 11:30 AM

You're right Backwoodsman. My mistake and my post makes no sense with that mistake in it. Eric changed the sex of the protagonist and the meaning of the song.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,mauvepink
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 12:05 PM

When all men Sing

I have listened to this and do wonder what all the fuss is about. I can neither see where any sensible woman would take offence nor do I read anywhere in the thread where one has done so.

I cannot imagine Dereke Gifford being involved in anything meant to upset anyone. He is one of the most open minded, accepting people I have known involved in folk music.

The song is above for your own interpretations.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Aug 15 - 12:35 PM

Thanks, Jim - much appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: PHJim
Date: 30 Aug 15 - 01:04 AM

I just realised that I posted to this thread about two years ago and said almost the exact same thing. My apologies for repeating myself.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 30 Aug 15 - 01:49 AM

Seemingly the Animals changed the song's (ie House) lyrics because they knew that at that time they wouldn't get a song which was obviously about a prostitute played on the BBC.


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 30 Aug 15 - 02:14 AM

Not surprising, that, Allan.
How times change!


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Subject: RE: Sexist lyric? Change it or ....?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Aug 15 - 11:23 AM

Well it was still a song about a brothel, so I can't see any significant difference.

Mind There a nice little pub round my way that I used to play in called "The Rising Sun", so it could be a song about a pub I suppose...


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