Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Offensive lyrics- edit?

Related threads:
Lyr Add: Minstrel Coonjine Songs (5)
Steamboat coonjine songs (62)
What is the etymology of 'Pattyroller'? (39)
(origins) Origins: Free at Last/I Thank God I'm Free at Last (8)
Lyr Req: Give That Nigger Ham (Parker/Woolbright) (23)
Chord Req: Josh White - Run Mona Run (4)
Tune Req: Fiddle tune 'The Patter Roll' (6)
Lyr Req: Oh, Mona (24)
'Coon Songs' Revisited 2014 (8)
'Coon Songs' Your Thoughts About Them (145)
Lyr Req: Run, Nigger, Run (92)
Ethics for Performers (35)
Tune Req: I'd Rather be a Nigger than a Poor White (11)
Singing In Dialect (70)
Slavery-Era Song, 'Run, ======, Run' (74)
Racist songs .... arghhhh! (115)
Minstrel Shows, Part Two (78)
Minstrel Shows (117) (closed)
Advice Please? - use of offensive words in songs (113)
Trad lyrics that are not PC (17)
Are lyrics offensive (69)
Preserve Politically Incorrect Songs??? (73)
Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ? (94)
'Offensive' words in song lyrics (73)
darkeys - offensive term, or not? (49)
Lyr Add: Run, Jimmie, Run (4)


GUEST,Richie 02 Nov 02 - 08:58 PM
greg stephens 02 Nov 02 - 09:08 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 02 - 09:27 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 02 Nov 02 - 09:29 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 02 - 09:36 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Nov 02 - 10:23 PM
mg 02 Nov 02 - 10:27 PM
wysiwyg 03 Nov 02 - 12:41 AM
Bert 03 Nov 02 - 03:52 AM
nutty 03 Nov 02 - 05:06 AM
Marc 03 Nov 02 - 08:38 AM
dorareever 03 Nov 02 - 08:46 AM
Clinton Hammond 03 Nov 02 - 10:25 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Nov 02 - 12:44 PM
sharyn 03 Nov 02 - 01:15 PM
Bill D 03 Nov 02 - 01:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Nov 02 - 03:18 PM
greg stephens 03 Nov 02 - 03:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Nov 02 - 03:30 PM
sharyn 03 Nov 02 - 07:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Nov 02 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,Russ 03 Nov 02 - 10:34 PM
Stewie 03 Nov 02 - 10:42 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Nov 02 - 12:34 AM
weerover 04 Nov 02 - 01:35 AM
weerover 04 Nov 02 - 02:30 AM
reggie miles 04 Nov 02 - 11:01 AM
Amos 04 Nov 02 - 11:56 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Nov 02 - 01:27 PM
EBarnacle1 04 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM
Coyote Breath 04 Nov 02 - 04:03 PM
toadfrog 04 Nov 02 - 09:51 PM
Haruo 04 Nov 02 - 10:05 PM
Coyote Breath 05 Nov 02 - 01:17 PM
wysiwyg 05 Nov 02 - 01:31 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 05 Nov 02 - 02:32 PM
EBarnacle1 05 Nov 02 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 09 Dec 17 - 08:34 PM
GUEST,Observer 10 Dec 17 - 10:53 AM
Nigel Parsons 11 Dec 17 - 05:31 AM
Joe Offer 11 Dec 17 - 05:50 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 17 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,akenaton 11 Dec 17 - 07:28 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 17 - 07:43 AM
Lighter 11 Dec 17 - 08:21 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 17 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,akenaton 11 Dec 17 - 08:38 AM
Joe Offer 11 Dec 17 - 10:00 AM
Tootler 11 Dec 17 - 10:27 AM
Lighter 11 Dec 17 - 10:44 AM
leeneia 12 Dec 17 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,JTT 12 Dec 17 - 02:44 AM
Nigel Parsons 12 Dec 17 - 04:47 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 17 - 05:25 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 08:58 PM

When should we edit offensive racial lyrics?

Here's an example from a recent post I made: I'm posting Riley Puckett's version, "The Other Side of Jordan." I have edited out the offensive racial slurs to make this version practical to be sung. I was wondering if this was wrong, or what people thought about editing for racial content.

"The Other Side of Jordan/Jordan is a Hard Road To Travel" from Riley Puckett (Transcription Stewie- edited):

If I was the president of the United States
Well I'd make my laws recorded
The *sinners I'd sell, let the British all go
I'd put 'em on the other side of Jordan

Chorus: Haul off your overcoat, roll up your sleeve
Jordan am a hard road to travel I believe
Haul off your overcoat, roll up your sleeve
Jordan am a hard road to travel
[Whistles melody above guitar]

If you want to do well go down to the hotel
Get your washing and your board on the credit
If they ask you when you'll pay just tell 'em right away
They may get (it) on the other side of Jordan

Chorus and whistling

Two little *boys went out to play
All the people thought they's a-fightin'
When they hollered to the big *one get out of the way
'Cos little Boys going to **the other side of Jordan.

Chorus and whistling

Daddy caught a turkey in the woods the other day
Well he put him in the oven for to cook him
He jerked back his head and he knocked off the lid
Well he gobbled on the other side of Jordan

Chorus and whistling

David and Goliath had a fight the other day
Found one thing certain
He hit Goliath on the head with a bar of soft soap
And it sounded on the other side of Jordan

Chorus and whistling

*offensive racial lyrics
**lyrics unclear


Original post: THE OTHER SIDE OF JORDAN

If I was the president of the United States
Well I'd make my laws recorded
The niggers I'd sell, let the British all go
I'd put 'em on the other side of Jordan

Chorus: Haul off your overcoat, roll up your sleeve
Jordan am a hard road to travel I believe
Haul off your overcoat, roll up your sleeve
Jordan am a hard road to travel
[Whistles melody above guitar]

If you want to do well go down to the hotel
Get your washing and your board on the credit
If they ask you when you'll pay just tell 'em right away
They may get (it) on the other side of Jordan

Chorus and whistling

Two little niggers went out to play
All the people thought they's a-fightin'
When they hollered to the big nigger get out of the way
'Cos little niggers going to (?)

Chorus and whistling

Daddy caught a turkey in the woods the other day
Well he put him in the oven for to cook him
He jerked back his head and he knocked off the lid
Well he gobbled on the other side of Jordan

Chorus and whistling

David and Goliath had a fight the other day
Found one thing certain
He hit Goliath on the head with a bar of soft soap
And it sounded on the other side of Jordan

Chorus and whistling


Several commented that the lyrics should not be edited. I'm not as concerned about posting them on Mudcat as I would be in a songbook or other public offering. What do you think and why?

-Thanks, Richie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 09:08 PM

I am 100% sure you should post the original lyrics. Then your suggested singable modification as well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 09:27 PM

Perhaps we're talking about what is offensive to us? If you were black (don't know that there are any black Mudcatters,) perhaps you'd feel differently. I think that most of us can figure out what the offensive words are... How about posting lyrics to songs with other racial and ethnic slurs?

I'm with you, Ritchie..

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 09:29 PM

I agree with Greg. We don't have to sing songs with offensive lyrics in their original form, but if the MC is to have any credibility as a repository for folk music scholarship, the lyrics must be posted in their original form. Posting alternate lyrics is fine as long as it is made plain that they are just that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 09:36 PM

Racially offensive terms were discussed pretty thoroughly in the threads Run, Nigger, Run and Run, ------ Run, 29237 and 39303.
Run, one and Run, two

Mudcat consensus, which I support, is to present full data on songs, and as a result including the racially and sexually offensive material. The user may make his own changes if he uses the material.

But if you are concerned about your own audience (website and/or punlications), and what you wish to present, as well as what your audience will accept, you must decide. The decision ultimately must be based on your own beliefs if you are to live with it.
Maybe this is an individual decision that only you can make.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 10:23 PM

Quite so. We must try to tell the truth about the past, and the traditions that belonged to it; there is no virtue in disguising the fact that it was often unpleasant. There is also no harm in making it clear, when posting texts that are nowadays liable to offend, that these are historical documents, things of their time, and presented as such. It would be wrong (and very stupid) to censor traditional or historical material to conform to modern taste or political correctness, because that would be to tell lies about the past. We need to know how things were so that we can make informed judgements about how things are; and about how things ought to be.

Having said all that, we should perhaps avoid posting material which is potentially racially or culturally offensive unless there is a good reason for so doing; and when we do, we should make it clear that that was then, and this is now; and that the two are not the same.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: mg
Date: 02 Nov 02 - 10:27 PM

I think they should be edited...not to be sure not to offend those who can be offended by almost anything, but to not include that which is almost universally understood to be offensive and upon which polite society is built. So there are several words that I think should be left out, or put in footnotes for the historians or whatever so the original is known.

mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 12:41 AM

Post them as they are, but be thoughful in titling threads containing them-- not PC, but thought-full. In your post, before the song itself, you can say what you need to say about its lyrics. Post your edited version too in a separate post, but don't revise history.

When can we revise history? When we are big enough "folk stars" to have recorded our own version, and are posting THAT body of work-- a new piece of history, actually, rather than a revision. But even then you would do well to post the original your work was based upon, as well, with your reasons for changing the lyric in your own performance.

Nothing you do about this is going to be the right answer, BTW, because this is an area in which humankind is still burdened by a host of confusions. It's confusing because it's confusing-- it will not make sense no matter how much you tug at it, because at its base is hurt and wrongness from all sides, and these just don't make snse because they don't make sense.

Just be as smart as you can be on any given day, and move on from one day to the next expecting that of yourself. We've met in other threads, and I respect you for what I have seen of you here and at your own site-- I think you can be trusted to make good decisions.

~Susan

PS I AM still working on that damn Charlie Poole project! Why'd he have to do so MANY songs anyhow????


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Bert
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 03:52 AM

You don't HAVE to post a song if you don't want to. I have a whole collection of songs (The Exit Visa Tape) which I don't sing because they are offensive to Arabs. I won't post them either, because I don't want to.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: nutty
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 05:06 AM

I've just tested the Lester Levy site with aselection of keywords and discovered a hoard of sheet music with lyrics that would today be considered offensive.
If you are wanting to be historically correct you can't change the past.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Marc
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 08:38 AM

Public oppinion changes and swings on this subject all the time. When Stan Hugill published his Shanties of the Seven Seas, in 1961 the publisher insisted that he do a considerable amount of camouflage. However if you look at these lyrics, the erotic material that has been changed appears to be no more offensive than what one would see and hear on a prime time sit-com today. But the book is loaded with some really tough racial slurs.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: dorareever
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 08:46 AM

Never.A song is a song,if the emotions expressed deal with racism,or any other bad thing,sing it as it is.So,no editing at all.Sing it like it is or don't sing at all if you find it disturbing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 10:25 AM

Nearly everything anywhere even remotely interesting is going to be offensive to someone or other...

Do what you will, and let the chips fall where they may


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 12:44 PM

Songs change, like everything else.

A museum of clothes contains authentic garments from a hundred years ago, and it'd be quite wrong to change the buttons to zips and so forth. But when it comes to the clothes we actually wear, we feel free to adjust things to suit us - unless maybe we're involved in some kind of historical re-enactment.

The same principle applies with song, it seems to me. There might be times when we have good reason to sing the historical words, and hostorical records should never be tampered with. But singing a song in a normal setting where it is just a song is different, and I think in those settings we should be free to sing versions that fit the way we are, and that use the language we use.

The DT isn't primarily a museum, it's a song collection for singing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: sharyn
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 01:15 PM

If you are going to post a modification of a song, take responsibility for claiming the modification and let people know where to find the original. This is true of traditional and copyrighted material -- I hate it when someone hears something I have written in someone's modification and has the temerity to say that it is better than the original without ever hearing the original song sung.

There are wonderful songs out there that we cannot sing now because they offend people. Stephen Foster's "Uncle Ned" has one of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard. I learned it in childhood before political correctness hit the fan but I bet few people hear it now. I'm not saying it is a lyrical masterpiece, but, oh, the tune.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 01:58 PM

It is usually obvious when someone is using a racial slur to BE insulting or singing a song to ridicule a race or ethnic group. Simple disclaimers should suffice if you are NOT.

Unfortunately, there are folks whose major hobby seems to be being offended, and there is little you can do for them. Preserving a record of what WAS offensive is the only way to really provide perspective for future generations.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 03:18 PM

Songs die if they aren't sung; so just change the song, if that's what's needed to allow you to feel you can sing it. And if you don't feel it needs changing, you don't need to. Simple as that.

Here's "Old Uncle Joe"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: greg stephens
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 03:25 PM

So, why have you changed "Ned" to "joe"? Is "Ned" offensive in some way?
   (Apologies for that, but you criticised my typing once.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 03:30 PM

You're right there. Maybe it's a Stalinist imp that infiltrated my subconscious.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: sharyn
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 07:43 PM

Turns out Foster's original lyrics are worse than the ones I learned -- I wouldn't sing them. I wonder how difficult it is (legally) to put a tune by a dead composer to another use. Any copyright experts here?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 08:30 PM

"Worse"? Well, the good thing about Foster's song is that it treats Ned with proper respect and affection, and there's no attempt at poking fun at him. The last verse implies a benevolent side to slavery, a distortion, but you could read it as a suggestion that slaveowners should recognise slaves as fellow humans to be mourned. And writing in 1848, that's maybe not such a bad thing to be saying.

The spelling convention of the time perhaps gets the way. As with other songs by Foster - or for that matter Kipling or even William Barnes, they are much better with the spelling adjusted. In context, say in a programme looking at the various ways songs of the time dealt with these matters, there'd be no case for making any other changes. But in a different type of setting, where its being sung just as a song about an old man, rather than primarily about slkavery, replacing "darkey" by "man" and (maybe) "wool" by "hair", would make it perfectly singable.

There was an old man, they called him Uncle Ned,
He's dead long ago, long ago!
He had no hair on the top of his head,
The place where the hair ought to grow.
Then lay down the shovel and the hoe
Hang up the fiddle and the bow:
No more hard work for poor old Ned
He's gone where the good men go.

His fingers were long, like the cane in the brake,
He had no eyes for to see;
He had no teeth for to eat the corncake
So he had to let the corncake be.
Then lay down the shovel and the hoe
Hang up the fiddle and the bow:
No more hard work for poor old Ned
He's gone where the good men go.

When Old Ned died Master take it mighty bad,
The tears run down like the rain;
Old Missus turn pale and she gets very sad,
Cause she never see Old Ned again.
Then lay down the shovel and the hoe
Hang up the fiddle and the bow:
No more hard work for poor old Ned
He's gone where the good men go.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 10:34 PM

Editing songs with "offensive" lyrics has always seemed more trouble than it was worth to me. There are so many great songs that don't need such "help."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Stewie
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 10:42 PM

This topic was fairly exhaustively debated in the thread linked below. Personally, I think such editing is bowdlerism and there should be no place for it.

'Coon Songs'

--Stewie.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 12:34 AM

Sing what you want, but please don't post "PCd" lyrics here. One problem is that what's politically correct changes with the times. When I was a bit younger, you couldn't sing anything by Stephen Foster or Rudyard Kipling; anything sexual was a no-no and things like Wee Cooper o' Fife were jes' fine. Today, you can screw your wife in a song as long as you don't beat her.
    God only knows what will be politically offensine a decade from now. If we edit songs to fit each changing breeze, there won't be anything left.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: weerover
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 01:35 AM

Most of the songs that got me interested in singing could be offensive to someone. I remember Jim MacLean in the introduction to his collection (of Scottish republican / CND etc.) songs quoting someone to the effect that if his work offended no one he was wasting his time. How about Patrick Sky, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger...offend people by all means, preferably the people who need offending.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: weerover
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 02:30 AM

In the context of the thread as a whole, hope no one believes I was condoning racism. I think that some of the best anti-racist (etc.) songs I have heard use words that in another setting would be extremely offensive, but then again maybe they are offensive to some.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: reggie miles
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 11:01 AM

I love to sing songs that are on the edge. I find it difficult, at times, to find an audience for such. Some of the very songs that I find humor in offend others who are listening to me perform them on stage. I've been asked to step down from more than one stage and refused return invitations to festivals for singing certain songs. I suppose it was due to the complaints of some who did not see the same humor or maybe it was the way I played them. Who's nose?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Amos
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 11:56 AM

Harken to the wisdom of El Greenhaus. It's the right answer.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 01:27 PM

NB, that version of Old Uncle Ned wasn't posted as a lyric (hence no heading "Lyrics Add"), but as an illustration of how minimal changes can make a significant difference to the singability of a song.

Mind I think that getting rid of the quaint spelling conventions makes a lot of sense in this kind of context. At Whitby this year Tim Laycock was saying in respect of the songs and poems of William Barnes, which were written in an attempt to put Dorset speech into writing, that he had found that, when they were put into standard spelling, Dorset speakers found it much easier to read them in a natural voice -which came out as Dorset speech.

George Orwell argues for the same practice in respect of Kipling's verse, for a different reason:

"The private soldier...is always made to speak in a sort of stylized cockney, not very broad, but with all the aitches and final 'g's carefully omitted...One can often improve Kipling's poems, make them less facetious and less blatant, by simply going through them and transplanting them from cockney into standard speech...In the ancient ballads the lord and the peasant speak the same language."

In the same way I feel writing "ob" for "of" and "de" for "the" gets in the way in Stephen Foster's songs. Generally song-collectors from the oral tradition have in fact avoided falling into this kind of trap, and it seems to me that if it makes sense to be able to treat the orally transmitted songs in this way, it makes good sense to feel able to treat the songs that were written down in the same way.

(And George Orwell, in that article, I cited goes on to say of Kipling "He is more often quoted aloud than read on the printed page, and most people instinctively make the necessary alterations when they quote him.")


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM

When Mark Lovewell and I were working on Songs of South Street--Street of Ships, we ran into trouble with "Blow, Boys, Blow." Specifically, the couplet: "And who do you think was the captain of her, Why Holy Joe, the Nigger lover" was troublesome. We called Pete Seeger for advice. His response was that if the word was essential to the meaning of the song, we should include it. If not, we should find a way around it.

Uncle Ned, as mentioned above, changes when the objectionable words are changed. By that criterion, they should be left in when the song is sung.

Recently, the song "All Mixed Up" was deleted from the curriculum at my son's school. The line, "How many Romans had dark curly hair Before they brought slaves from Africa," was considered objectionable by one black parent, who sold the objection to the music teacher. [He's a nice guy but not willing to stand up for the facts.] When I mentioned this to Pete, he was irritated that anyone would object to historical fact. This does raise the question, though, of whether or not the bowdlerizers should be allowed to censor the truth out of our material.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 04:03 PM

Unless one is an ethno-musicologist (is that a word?) presenting original material, here-to-fore unperformed, I feel one should opt for easing the racism, don't you? Get serious here, probably NONE of us are preserving anything by playing what we KNOW to be offensive.

I solved the Pateroller song dilemma by just playing the tune. I doubt anything was diminished by my doing so. I am sure that were I to play and SING the song, diminishment would be the least of effects.

I sometimes sing songs with racist lyrics (Suananoa Tunnel, Prohibition is a Failure, Mourning Blues, Good Old Mule, to name a few) but only with friends, in private, and only to make a point. I would never sing such in public


CB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: toadfrog
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 09:51 PM

I love offensive songs! Phooey on whatever is PC!

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee!
We don't take our trips on LSD!
We don't burn our draught cards down on Main Street!
We like livin'right and bein' free!
We don't make a party out of lovin'!
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo!
We don't let our hair get long and shaggy,
Like hippies out in San Francisco do!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Haruo
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 10:05 PM

In US ethnomusicology circles, ethnomusicologist is a word but ethno-musicologist is an unnecessary hyphenation. In British circles in the same field, for all I know, the hyphen may be de rigueur. After all, not too long ago them blokes wrote "to-day" and "to-night" and such.

Haruo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 01:17 PM

OK! Haruo, Ya know, my spell checker insists that all the words I hyphenate should be unhyphenated. I actually wrote that hyphenation unhyphenated and then changed my mind. Back in the dim recesses of my mind I think I recall Miss Ooley (my high school English teacher) explaining when we hyphenate and when we don't. The information didn't "take".

Any way, I think editing is appropriate unless you enjoy getting in someone's face. I guess doing so is considered "cool" by some performers, it certainly seems there are many who enjoy offending. I always believed that one's audience was there for some better purpose than insult and hurt. It isn't a case of being boldly non PC when what you do, say, or sing hurts someone.

Of course I come from an era where being kinder and gentler was considered appropriate at all times. There is a benefit from this to the performer as well. Not only will your audience like hearing you, when it is NECESSARY to make a strong point, which might prove offensive but truly needs to be made, the contrast will be greater and there will be a greater impact as a result.

I recall that the first time I performed Ralph Chapin's poem "The Red Feast", which I set to music, the sentiment expressed in his graphic language hit home strongly and I actually got cheered!

If you don't know this poem, seek The Little Red Songbook.

CB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 01:31 PM

Seems clear there are two discussions within all this-- what to post and what to sing. What to post is either "what my research has found" (unedited) or "what I sing" (possibly edited).

I think it is clear that documenting what we find and how we modify it is important. When we sing something for people, we are entering our version and style into the folk process. It seems, to me, that it's only right to give appropriate credit and information regarding our sources. I can't decide that for anyone else-- what I CAN do is be clear in my OWN work, posted or performed, about what I am doing and why. It's a decision we all have to deal with, both as purveyors of songs in posts or in performance, and as listeners and learners. I think that past that, whatever I post is up to users and DT harvestors to evaluate.

What I think is really EXCELLENT about the attempt to define what's right is that it is a sign people are still THINKING. We don't have to be right, right now-- we can be somewhere along a path of increasing understanding. As long as we keep THINKING, I think we are fulfilling the most important responsiblity inherent in difficult decisions.

~Susan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 02:32 PM

Authenticity is a must. Tradition is history, and must be maintained in a consistant and original basis. Period.

As the singer/songwriter 'movement' grows, we are deluged with "holier than thou" in a one up-manship scenario... the result is a temporal hierarchy of political correctness, which carried to it's ultimate extreme, exists in the 'exhalted state' of modern advertising. Riding trends to win the moment... and 'feelgood' is necessary for the top dog... (as well as behind the scenes back stabbing and sabetauge...).

My point is that our love of historical points of veiw are important to the folk/trad tradition, but are at odds with our contemporary views of 'entertanment'... at least for many people in the US...

As for performance, I try to appeal to my audience. It is important to me to be liked. Who here wants to 'BE' Phil Ochs... We love his songs, but his life was terribly hard... I chose my songs subconsciously, and I've been developing a "situation override" that censors song choice, and I will often omit whole parts of songs I like in order to stay in good graces with the 'touchy folk'... Besides, leaving out a lyric can say a lot to the initiated...

Paul Revere had good timing... ttr


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 04:27 PM

While some sense of what your audience will accept is important, it is also important to consider that a big part of art is challenging their assumptions. If they had not wanted to hear what you had to say, they would not have bought tickets. If we go out and candy coat everything, we are doing a disservice to the message. On the other hand, if we challenge the audience at every turn, they will stay away in droves.

What to do? It is a puzzlement.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 09 Dec 17 - 08:34 PM

15 year bump. The Baptist Sunday School thread drift was getting out of control.

"...although I admire how clever and how interesting calypsonians can be in the songs they write and sing, I also find that most of those lyrics are not in the best interests of black people, because their songs are always filled with the need to make Europeans laugh at us. They glorify and dig deep into promiscuity, they go into genitalia.... I'd rather sing to the honor and glory of the region, and the beauty and dignity of our women....

...calypsonians here and there disparaged me. But already, my versions, popular as they were, were wending their way back into the Caribbean culture. Eventually, all those very same calypsonians would be singing their songs my way! And the different version they'd sung before would be forgotten.
"

Belafonte, My Song: A Memoir (New York: Knopf, 2011, p.164-5)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 10 Dec 17 - 10:53 AM

Thanks for the 15 year bump.

No thread drift in the thread you mentioned the song originally referred to is still being discussed as are others but I am really pleased that you resurrected this thread. Reading down through it I find that I am in full accord with many of the views expressed 15 years ago from:

1 - Bee-dubya-ell Date: 02 Nov 02 - 09:29 PM
2 - Malcolm Douglas Date: 02 Nov 02 - 10:23 PM
3 - Marc Date: 03 Nov 02 - 08:38 AM
4 - dorareever Date: 03 Nov 02 - 08:46 AM
5 - Bill D Date: 03 Nov 02 - 01:58 PM
6 - Stewie Date: 03 Nov 02 - 10:42 PM
7 - dick greenhaus Date: 04 Nov 02 - 12:34 AM
8 - weerover Date: 04 Nov 02 - 01:35 AM
9 - EBarnacle1 Date: 04 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM
10 - Thomas the Rhymer Date: 05 Nov 02 - 02:32 PM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 05:31 AM

Interesting refresh. I missed this one first time around.
The original poster seems to think it's ok to replace 'niggers' with 'sinners'.
It may retain the scansion, but it completely changes the meaning, unless he thinks the two terms are interchangeable.
I think the revision may be more non-PC than the original for that reason.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 05:50 AM

Hi, Nigel -
I think that's the point - to alter the meaning and change it from being a racist song to something more inclusive. Using the term "niggers" just doesn't fly these days, and "darkies" is barely more acceptable; so we have to do something to salvage songs that are otherwise worthwhile. I think it's better to change the song and remove racism completely, rather than to simply substitute a euphemism for a racist term.
-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 07:21 AM

When I was young in Scotland, "Darkie" was used universally to describe someone dark skinned. It was deemed offensive to call people "Black", as black contained a negative meaning.....only racists used "black" and always as a pejorative.
That more or less sums up the argument about censorship of traditional music, the songs should stand as they were written and used, it is up to the performers whether they sing them or not.
As I said on another thread, the censorship of art and culture leads to book burning and the death of freedom of expression.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 07:28 AM

Sorry forgot handle, force of habit!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 07:43 AM

In Dominic Behan's song McAlpines Fusileers, he writes of stripping to the skin with old "Darkie Finn".....I always presumed Finn to be a n Irishman stained with coal or stone dust.....would that line need to be censored? How would we determine Finn's racial identity?

I would also add that I personally have spent time on the "shuttering jams in the hydro dams" in Sheara and Cruachan......and nobody gave a flying fuck what colour you were.....we were too busy keeping ourselves alive.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 08:21 AM

> the censorship of art and culture leads to book burning and the death of freedom of expression.

Censorship is something a government does. It can force people to comply.

That is entirely unlike exercising tact and judgment at the individual level, which is all we're talking about here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 08:35 AM

Well in this particular case lighter it's about removing the word "Darkie" and exploring the contradictions that this throws up?
Censorship is not employed only by "governments" unless you mean "people with power"?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 08:38 AM

The last two guest posts were from me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 10:00 AM

I think it's a matter of developing a sensitivity toward what an audience can or cannot appreciate. Is it appropriate to sing " Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" at a Christmas performance in a nursing home? I think it is, and I have sung of a verse or two of the song at nursing home performances on occasion. However, some of my fellow performers were not happy with me for singing it.
In singing to an audience of Folk Music enthusiasts, I do not think I need to be overly careful about singing songs that come from history that have elements that might not be understood by a general audience. I do not think that the rules are the same for every audience. It is a matter of adjusting to the sensitivities of particular audiences. I think that as a performer, my primary obligation is to my audience.
Joe


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 10:27 AM

It's also about knowing your audience and what they will consider acceptable


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Dec 17 - 10:44 AM

"Censorship" in any case involves compulsion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 12:21 AM

The way I see it, I am a citizen of the free world, and if I don't like lyrics, I can change them. It's my time and my breath, and if a song spreads attitudes I disapprove of, I don't intend to help it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 02:44 AM

There's a good version of Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel on Bluegrass at Newport by Tex Logan, Eric Weissberg & The New Lost City Ramblers. It doesn't have any racist language. (Though a couple of lines of the verse starting "Ham and cheese are getting pretty scarce, down where I've been boarding" or words to that effect are completely blurry.)

It's a hard one, this. Do you sing songs that are designed to sneer at subjugated people, even if they have a nice tune? For instance, would you sing Croppies Lie Down happily? This is a song mocking the 'croppies' (damn leftist liberals who were murdered en masse after the 1798 Rising in Ireland)? The playing of this song caused a massacre at least once.

Oh, Croppies ye'd better be quiet and still
Ye shan't have your liberty, do what ye will
As long as salt water is formed in the deep
A foot on the necks of the Croppy we'll keep.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 04:47 AM

Interesting quote there from 'Jordan am a hard road':

Oh, Croppies ye'd better be quiet and still
Ye shan't have your liberty, do what ye will
As long as salt water is formed in the deep
A foot on the necks of the Croppy we'll keep.


Is the line about salt water part of an old expression for a very long time / eternity?
It's just that it echoes the sentiment in 'Bugeilio's gwenyth gwyn'
Tra bo dwr y mor yn hallt (while sea-water remains salty)

Cheers
Nigel


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Offensive lyrics- edit?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 05:25 AM

Is the line about salt water part of an old expression for a very long time / eternity? I don't know about 'old'. I understood it that way on first reading just now.

I think what is appropriate/acceptable depends on the context of the performance. If the intention is to entertain the audience then the verse would only entertain someone who shared the prejudices of the character. If it's to give people an insight on the times then putting offensive words in the mouths of the bad guys is a standard dramatic technique.

Minstrel songs come up here regularly, both directly and through analogy as a warning against prejudice. If they don't go into the written record then the warnings might be forgotten. Written song collections have some characterstics of a museum whether that is the intention or not, and good museums do not hide the horrors of the past.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 24 June 4:47 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.