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Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?

George Papavgeris 15 Jan 03 - 01:37 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 15 Jan 03 - 01:42 PM
*daylia* 15 Jan 03 - 01:51 PM
MMario 15 Jan 03 - 01:53 PM
mg 15 Jan 03 - 02:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 03 - 02:11 PM
George Papavgeris 15 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM
gnomad 15 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM
Genie 15 Jan 03 - 02:30 PM
alanabit 15 Jan 03 - 02:36 PM
Amos 15 Jan 03 - 03:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 03 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,jaze 15 Jan 03 - 03:30 PM
harvey andrews 15 Jan 03 - 04:13 PM
Bert 15 Jan 03 - 06:06 PM
Liz the Squeak 15 Jan 03 - 06:33 PM
harvey andrews 15 Jan 03 - 06:36 PM
michaelr 15 Jan 03 - 07:05 PM
mg 15 Jan 03 - 08:01 PM
mg 15 Jan 03 - 08:07 PM
dick greenhaus 15 Jan 03 - 09:09 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 Jan 03 - 12:12 AM
GUEST 16 Jan 03 - 07:56 AM
Rapparee 16 Jan 03 - 07:58 AM
michaelr 18 Jan 03 - 12:41 AM
katlaughing 18 Jan 03 - 01:33 AM
Liz the Squeak 18 Jan 03 - 05:55 AM
michaelr 19 Jan 03 - 01:47 AM
George Papavgeris 19 Jan 03 - 06:09 AM
Wolfgang 21 Jan 03 - 07:39 AM
Mugwump 21 Jan 03 - 08:46 AM
breezy 21 Jan 03 - 12:51 PM
paulo 21 Jan 03 - 01:23 PM
Cluin 21 Jan 03 - 02:25 PM
Amos 21 Jan 03 - 06:09 PM
Ebbie 21 Jan 03 - 08:48 PM
maire-aine 21 Jan 03 - 11:59 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 22 Jan 03 - 12:11 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Jan 03 - 06:41 AM
Bert 22 Jan 03 - 09:34 PM
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Subject: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 01:37 PM

Harvey made the above assertion in another thread, and not wanting to "spoil" that thread's flow, I thought I'd start a new one.

I have a quite different view in fact:
a) "Every song, once written, is immortal" (from "Valentine"). If it is sung once, it has already left a trace; perhaps a feeling in a listener, perhaps only in the performer. But it exists, even if never sung again.

b) Furthermore, all yet unwritten songs also exist, in potential so to speak. It's as if the notes they might consist of are waiting to be joined up by someone. That's why in some ways I think of the creative process of songwriting as one of discovery. More than once it has happened to me that a tune I have just completed "feels old", as if it existed and I only "found" it (I am not referring here to plagiarising music, of course). Which is why

Were I to leave now,
There's nothing more I would regret:
Not hearing those songs
That nobody has written yet.
The notes that haven't been collected into tunes,
Still waiting out there, like the sand among the dunes.
Were I to leave now,
Music I'd like to take with me. ("Were I to leave now", Papa-G)

What do you think? Is a song (or a book, or a play) dependent on commercial success (or public acclaim) for its EXISTENCE?


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 01:42 PM

"Downstairs, no one is waking
though the clock on the wall says a quarter to eight
And the banjo and fiddle still lean by the wall
With tunes of their own that just wait to be played
And it's almost like being back home"

A verse written the morning after a recording session at Sandy and Caroline Paton's. Sometimes it does seem like there are sons waiting to be played or sung that have not yet been released. Sometimes it feels like we're trying to remembe a song as we write it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: *daylia*
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 01:51 PM

"Don't die with your music still in you."
               - Dr. Wayne Dyer -


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: MMario
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 01:53 PM

in theory I agree with El Greko - in terms of practice and reality with Harvey.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: mg
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:05 PM

I am not sure of the answer. Not dead. Just sleeping.

But I think that some people actively try to kill songs. Read what they have to say in current threads about Danny Boy, a song that means so much to so many people, enough to cause a huge stink in the Catholic church because an old man wanted it sung at his funeral. I say don't try to kill a song unless it is actually harmful and is sung with that intent.

mg


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:11 PM

Singing can wake the dead.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM

We all know there are fads in music (folk music too). There are those who would be happy not hear the "Wild Rover" again, for example, considering it too "worn", "tired", etc. But even if we never hear it again, it hasn't died. So, I'll accept "sleeping", Mary


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: gnomad
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM

Not dead, but moribund. It can only die when no trace remains, written, recorded, in a memory, or perhaps incorporated into another song.

Have to agree about not killing them though, you never know what they may become, who they might please od help further down the line.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Genie
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:30 PM

Well, if a song unsung is a dead song, the US Supreme Court just put another nail in the coffins of many songs by upholding the ridiculously long and retroactive copyright protection extension passed by the US Congress on behalf of Mickey Mouse.

I don't want to sidetrack this thread into a discussion of copyright issues. (There are other threads on the topic.) But consider the recent Mudcat CDs, for example. The choice of which songs to include was definitely influenced by consideration of whether we would have to pay royalties.

Copyright protection of your songs while you're alive means your labor is compensated. Such copyright protection for 90 years after you're dead (i.e., after your grandchildren are also most likely dead) is more likely to mean a lot fewer people will hear your songs.

Is a song "dead" if unsung? Dunno. Maybe even in its unfinished form inside the composer's head/heart it started a ripple that will spread to who knows where. The same might be said for Gray's "flower" that's born "to waste its sweetness on the desert air."

I do think, though, that songs that are sung and heard by many have more vitality, other things being equal, than very obscure songs.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: alanabit
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:36 PM

We could be talking about two things here. One is songs which have been written and are no longer sung. I think that is what Harvey referred to.
However, I quite like what Jerry was talking about - those songs which you seem to half hear and patiently try to bring to life. It is as if the song is already there, and you are trying to pick it up without damaging it.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 03:19 PM

Alan,

I like your perspective!

Songs fall away from the collective mind-set of the culture through disuse, of course. I think what Harvey was speaking to is the joy of having a song used and circulated, once written -- after all they were created to communicate. A message never sent is, indeed, a dying message, which fades from memory over time, no matter how lovely it once was. Few people know all the words to "After the Ball is Over", even though it was once a smash hit, or "Don't Hit Your Mother, Boys, Just 'Cuz She's Old", or "Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now". These were all fairly well known songs between, say, 1890 and 1920. Major cultural shifts meant they got displaced by other styles and other memes.

In fifty years, or less, I expect no-one will remember the words to "You Butterfly", "Lollipop, Lollipop", "THis Old House", "Boom! Whatcha Do to Me!", "Honeycomb" or "Green Door", which captured the sentiments of the post-war (WW2) American youth. UNLESS, for some strange reason, a small handful of proponents start singing them widely!

A


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 03:27 PM

I think the first lot of songs Amos mentions have a lot more chance of making it through into future generations. (There are of course some more recent songs that have every prospect of staying alive and kicking.)

Copyright doesn't actually impact on people singing songs in informal settings, and that's where songs really need to be sung to stay alive in the long run.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 03:30 PM

I think it was Emmylou who said that songs need new voices to sing them in new and different places to keep them alive. Makes sense. When you hear a song you haven't heard before or an old one re-done in a new voice it's likes it's brand new again. That's what makes music a treasure. IMHO


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 04:13 PM

What do you think? Is a song (or a book, or a play) dependent on commercial success (or public acclaim) for its EXISTENCE

My phrase doesn't refer to any of the above. I think the word "sleeping" is apt. A song unsung is waiting for the miracle of life. It can always be re-born as long as it's in print, or on record. As long as it can be rediscovered. After all isn't this what the folk scene has done for so many songs long buried?
As to those songs Amos so perceptively says captured the spirit of post war American youth, I'm sure they will be sung in times to come. Maybe in the 6th folk revival!


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Bert
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 06:06 PM

Yes it's DEAD. The only life it has is when it is sung, and it's up to us to see that as many songs as possible are kept alive.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 06:33 PM

The Wild Rover may be passe and boring now... but there are still people in the world who've never heard it sung... Bratling for one. She'll hopefully learn it from me (as soon as I can be sure she won't repeat the rude verses in the playground) so it for one, won't die.

Songs can't really die as long as someone sings them or they exist in a format ready to sing. The saddest sight is all those instruments in glass cases, never to be played again.. they have truly 'died'.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 06:36 PM

Liz, there could be a song there. I'll put it at the back of my mind and let it marinate.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: michaelr
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 07:05 PM

This is a Dead song:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.


"Ripple" (Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: mg
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 08:01 PM

I think the song has been written..The Harp that once through Tara's Halls..now stands as mute on Tara's Walls.as when the heart indignant breaks to prove that still she lives.

And if that isn't a dead song...I hate to say...I doubt I have ever in my life heard anyone sing it although it was always in our textbooks for some reason. It is a beautiful song. Can someone please sing it? OK..I will try and resurrect it at Rainycamp.mg


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HARP THAT ONCE THROUGH TARA'S HALLS
From: mg
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 08:07 PM

just to see if we can resurrect this old song

THE HARP THAT ONCE THROUGH TARA'S HALLS

The harp that once through Tara's halls
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls
As if that soul were fled.
So sleeps the pride of former days,
So glory's thrill is o'er,
And hearts that once beat high for praise,
Now feel that pulse no more!

No more to chiefs and ladies bright
The harp of Tara swells;
The chord alone that breaks at night,
Its tale of ruin tells.
Thus Freedom now so seldom wakes,
The only throb she gives
Is when some heart indignant breaks,
To show that still she lives.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 09:09 PM

Maybe so, maybe not. A song that's both unsung and has no record made of it --written or audio--is sure as hell dead. I understand that's part of the thinking behind DigiTrad.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 12:12 AM

and another Dead song

In the attics of my life, full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know, and lights no eye can see
When there was no ear to hear, you sang to me
I Have spent my life seeking all that's still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune, and closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to me
In the book of love's own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where the pages are my days, and all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to fly
You flew to me
In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets all are told, and the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 07:56 AM

I don't think that any song (or book, or picture, or anything) is "dead" until every trace has been wiped away, even from the collective memory of the human race. The paintings at Lascaux, for instance, were locked underground for centuries, but as long as they might be rediscovered they weren't dead. A book in a library, put on the wrong place on the shelf, might not be read for ages, but it isn't dead -- as witness Da Vinci's notebooks being rediscovered back in the '60s. The music might not exist, but the words and meter for a song are still there and might someday be reset to new music and then speak to a whole new generation.

The song, or poem, or novel, or picture that is half-heard or half-seen in the mind is a child struggling to be born. As with any child, it's best in the long run if some die a-borning. But those which are healthy and vigorous...the tragedy comes when the parent is too busy or too something to give birth.

If a song is unsung, is the head that didn't sing it a Dead Head?


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Rapparee
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 07:58 AM

Sorry -- I wrote the last.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 12:41 AM

I'm no expert, but the idea of a "collective Subconscious" (as proposed by Jung) appeals to me. This genetic memory "stream" would carry traits, memories and dreams we all share. And sometimes, when we close our eyes and listen, the music we hear may be the rushing of that stream.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 01:33 AM

Beautiful, Michael.

I don't think any music, once given voice, even if only once, is ever "dead." In my heart, I believe it goes into the aethers, and, theorectically, can go on forever just as radio waves do, whether we are aware of it or not.

Who knows what stirs in the heart of a soul
And goes on to last forever
A tune, a word, of vibratory rate
Fine-tuned, in sync, at One...


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 05:55 AM

If a tree falls in a forest where there's no-one around to hear it, does it still have a song written about it?

Those cave paintings were painted. They were a tangible record, a 'picture memory' if you like. They were set down specifically for someone else to look at and remember or interpret.

Sounds are different. Yes, they may well be creeping out into the vast reaches of space, some little ET type alien is probably wetting itself right now over one of the versions of 'The Wild Rover', but here, they are transient, fleeting things that unless captured and recorded by any means (including human ear and memory), they are truly gone. When I die, all the sounds in my head will go with me, so there won't be anyone else who will remember the song I wrote but could never sing, Bratlings' first laugh or my fathers' last words to me. If a song is not recorded anywhere, then when the last person who remembers it dies without teaching it to anyone else, then it is truly dead.

That's why this place is so wonderful. Not only does it store so many old songs, but there are facilities for storing new ones, for keeping them and sharing them across the world. I wonder if that's what Max meant to happen.....?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: michaelr
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 01:47 AM

Yes, that's it -- Max of the Master Plan! ;-)

I also like the idea (again, with no hint of scientific proof) that there's a finite, fixed amount of energy in our universe, and that this energy cannot be created or undone, but only converted from one form to another. This could mean that no song ever sung, no sound ever made, and no word ever said, would really be "lost" -- they would be permutations in the endless dance of energy.

Just ask Joseph Campbell...

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 06:09 AM

Michael,

I'm right there with you, both on the "collective subconscious" and the "finite energy". You put my thoughts much better than I could have hoped to.

And I ought to apologise to Harvey, because I purposely gave his words an extreme interpretation, to create a platform for my initial argument. Unfair of me. It goes without saying that the man who wrote the "Centurian" has by definition a deep belief in the value of continuity. Sorry, Harvey! I'll buy you one when you're next at the St Albans club.

But I am very gratified to see the responses. Jerry, Alan, Mary and Michael touched me particularly.

May no song ever die; and may more sleeping ones awaken.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 07:39 AM

I actually have a recording of 'The harp that once...'. It is on a Soodlum's sampler MC titled something like 'The best loved/known Irish songs.'

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Mugwump
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 08:46 AM

Sugar Magnolia is a Dead song! So is Casey Jones.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: breezy
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 12:51 PM

And singers who dont get out to be seen and heard, are they non-operative?
Why so?
Do they price themselves beyond the reach of possible audiences?
Is Live music of our genre slipping into oblivion.
Anyone who has any pulling power should put into the arena as well as take.
There are plenty of clubs that dont book because they have too little in the way of funds.How can you help as a performer?
Tis more blessed to give than to receive.
Dicuss


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: paulo
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 01:23 PM

A crap song is a crap song. And deserves to die.   I've written some of these.

Thats not to say they're dead.   If they were printed somewhere, or recorded, there is evidence of them.   

If they're crap, once the composer dies, and no one else will sing them, once the memory of them are gone, they are dead.

Once forgotten.   Gone forever.

Paulo


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Cluin
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 02:25 PM

No song is ever dead. However it is possible to kill one.

Tom Jones, Lawrence Welk, Rod Stewart, Leonard Nimoy...


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 06:09 PM

When I was Jung, I used to wait,
For songs to which I could relate,
Three billion songs lie in my head,
And all but twenty-three are dead!

...



Well, it's shaggy doggerel, but what the hell.

A


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 08:48 PM

I've written my share to date -undoubtedly there are more coming!- of crap songs, some of which will never be sung by anyone else. BUT they are written on themes and events that most humans experience so the songs will never actually die. They may however be rewritten, knowingly or not, and end up as better songs.

I think all songs build on ones written/composed before.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: maire-aine
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 11:59 PM

Oh! I get it, finally. Sugar Magnolia--Dead. Grateful Dead. Duh. Sometimes I'm so slow. When I first saw it, I was going to fuss, because Sugar Magnolia is one of my favorites.

But as far as songs being "dead", I don't really think so. I think they're just waiting to be heard by a new audience. Not everybody will like the same thing, obviously. We may despise a song, and someone else will think it's wonderful. Take Sonny's Dream, for example. I hate it. Other folks love it. Maybe we're both right.

But the other night, I sang an old music hall song from around the turn of the century, that I'd found on an old album. Nobody had heard it before, and they were beside themselves laughing.


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 12:11 AM

Interesting ... how Eastern Theology can seep its way into modern Western "folk." (Did it begin with the Beatles?)

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 06:41 AM

Well, I've got my excuse - it's my Eastern background. The rest must be drawing on flower-power-period learnings...
Or perhaps the ideas were always there...(?) Aristoteles thought so.
May the twelve gods of Olympus be with you all!


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Subject: RE: Is a Song unsung a Dead Song?
From: Bert
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 09:34 PM

OK. Marie-aine, You've got us all agog now. Just what old music hall song was it?


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