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Debate: It's Just a Song

emily rain 07 May 04 - 09:21 PM
Bill D 07 May 04 - 11:20 PM
Amos 07 May 04 - 11:27 PM
Jim Dixon 07 May 04 - 11:46 PM
dianavan 08 May 04 - 01:57 AM
Emma B 08 May 04 - 05:12 AM
Strollin' Johnny 08 May 04 - 05:45 AM
alanabit 08 May 04 - 06:18 AM
akenaton 08 May 04 - 06:21 AM
Strollin' Johnny 08 May 04 - 07:34 AM
Cluin 08 May 04 - 08:27 AM
JennyO 08 May 04 - 09:31 AM
Strollin' Johnny 08 May 04 - 11:54 AM
JennyO 08 May 04 - 12:10 PM
dianavan 08 May 04 - 12:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 May 04 - 12:50 PM
akenaton 08 May 04 - 02:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 May 04 - 02:44 PM
akenaton 08 May 04 - 04:54 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 08 May 04 - 05:23 PM
Crazyhorse 09 May 04 - 01:24 PM
Strollin' Johnny 09 May 04 - 01:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 May 04 - 05:25 PM
Peace 09 May 04 - 06:02 PM
Wolfgang 10 May 04 - 07:03 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 10 May 04 - 09:56 AM
Wolfgang 10 May 04 - 10:09 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 10 May 04 - 10:11 AM
matai 10 May 04 - 10:29 AM
YorkshireYankee 10 May 04 - 09:43 PM
Strollin' Johnny 11 May 04 - 11:12 AM
Crazyhorse 11 May 04 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,MMario 11 May 04 - 11:26 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 11 May 04 - 11:27 AM
Strollin' Johnny 11 May 04 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 May 04 - 10:13 AM
GUEST 12 May 04 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 12 May 04 - 10:32 AM
McGrath of Harlow 12 May 04 - 10:41 AM
Strollin' Johnny 13 May 04 - 07:45 AM
Jim Dixon 11 Aug 14 - 05:09 PM
PHJim 11 Aug 14 - 06:38 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 11 Aug 14 - 09:25 PM
GUEST 11 Aug 14 - 10:48 PM
GUEST 11 Aug 14 - 11:39 PM
Andrez 12 Aug 14 - 12:19 AM
Lighter 12 Aug 14 - 08:16 AM
Phil Cooper 12 Aug 14 - 09:41 AM
Jack Campin 12 Aug 14 - 10:12 AM
The Sandman 12 Aug 14 - 11:04 AM
GUEST 12 Aug 14 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 12 Aug 14 - 12:06 PM
Jack Campin 12 Aug 14 - 12:13 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Aug 14 - 01:14 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 14 - 02:04 PM
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Subject: Debate: "It's Just a Song"
From: emily rain
Date: 07 May 04 - 09:21 PM

i think this topic deserves it's own thread. see "let's update sensitive new age guys" for some recent background.

i'm reminded of a concert i was at recently:
the performer sang a song with a side-story in it where, as a child, he accidentally drowns his dog by throwing him in the river (expecting him to swim back to shore), then abandons the body. this fellow is known for using a lot of autobiographical material, so all of us were sitting there slack jawed and wondering "did this really happen?!? god, has he gotten some good therapy since then?" luckily, he let us know afterwards that it wasn't a true story, but "just a metaphor". the way he said this was somewhat... er, exasperated? patronizing? dismissive? that's the way i heard it, anyway, and i wondered if he had any notion of how shocking that image had been for his unsuspecting audience members.

(apologies if you recognize this song and know who i'm talking about (especially if you are he!); i'm not intending to make him look bad, just continuing discussion)

what are some other examples of songs that some folks find truly offensive, and others find funny or at least acceptable? what songs have you defended by saying "for pete's sake, it's just a song"?

is "it's just a song/joke/metaphor/manner of speaking" an adequate defense?

have you offended people without meaning to with a song you wrote or sang? have you been offended by such a song? were there confrontations or discussions of it afterwards? did you generate more light than heat, or vice versa?

as musicians, do we have a responsibility to be gentle with our audience members? how far should that responsibility go?

as audience members, do we have a responsibility to listen with an open heart? how far should that responsibility go?


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Bill D
Date: 07 May 04 - 11:20 PM

some songs are trite, some are shallow, some are trivial, some are naval-gazing banality....but these are not actually 'offensive', except to intelligent, sensitive, arbitors of good taste like me. ;>)

Songs such as you describe are not usually performed in the circle where I hang out, so I am having trouble thinking of any specific ones. (I have heard rock & roll and rap stuff that I considered beyond tasteless and into offensive crap, but I blocked out most memories of the details....and I barely consider that genré relevant to the question.)

No..."it's just a song" is NOT a defense against subject matter designed to shock and cause distress without a good reason. One example which is shocking and distressful, but which makes a point which absolves it is "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda"....horrible imagery, but moving and important.

I think a lot of the difference today is that so many songs written these days are 'told' in the 1st person, whether true or not, and tend to be just "wearing the heart on the sleeve" personal visions, instead of the more universal viewpoint that traditional 'folk' songs used to portray.....so it is harder to identify with them. (The soldier in Bogle's "......Waltzing Matilda" represented ALL men sent off to kill and die.)

It is not required that a songwriter 'go easy' on the audience, but if they want ME to pay attention, they need to have a song that is 'crafted' to say something, not just strung out and draped over the audience like some grade B movie that relies on car chases, naked girls and body count to make an impression.

I suppose I could refine all these thoughts and write a few more paragraphs, but maybe this will give others some ideas to bounce off of.
I hope I got somewhere near the question.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Amos
Date: 07 May 04 - 11:27 PM

Ya know, emily, you raise the most interesting questions. People often think of folk-singers as those capable of facing nothing more drastic than a hot cup of cappuccino in a bistro. But the fact is that a lot of social mechanisms are brought in to being just to make it easy to avoid facing the unpleasant aspects of life such as getting so het up in jealous fires that you commit a scandalous murder, or a treachery of some sort, or feeling obligated to expose the raw stuff of the human soul in ordinary experience such as love... anyway, this is the critical issue: is there a place where human experience exceeds human-ness, and therefore should not be talked about? If Tom Dooley can sing about murdering Laura Foster, what sort of human passions should be shunned and never discussed? And, for God's sake, why???????

I do not believe there are easy answers to any of these questions.

But thanks, at the very least, for holding out for the right questions!!


A


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 07 May 04 - 11:46 PM

As Miss Manners once said, it's not nice to fool people.

Even fiction has its rules. First, fiction should be identified as fiction; it shouldn't be passed off as truth. Secondly, fiction should have a moral sense. If a person tells a fictional story in which bad things happen, he should let you know somehow that he, the artist, knows that the bad things are bad. He shouldn't leave you with the impression that he's some kind of monster that lacks normal feelings of empathy, or a sense of justice.

See the film "Man on the Moon" in which Jim Carrey portrays Andy Kaufman. Andy was a talented comedian, but he sometimes got so carried away with bringing his characters to life—especially one obnoxious character that he called Tony Clifton—that he failed to let the audience in on the joke, and people were offended.

On the other hand, the mental confusion that you feel when you aren't quite sure whether someone is kidding—is often a "teachable moment" in which you ask yourself some profound questions like, "What is comedy, anyway? What is art?" Maybe Kaufman and the performer you saw, Emily, were trying to create moments like this—but I doubt it.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: dianavan
Date: 08 May 04 - 01:57 AM

I just returned from the neighborhood coffee house where several young folk singers had their turn at the mike. Since the owners are Georgians (Russians) the ladies from their church were clustered around the far table. I was sitting with the singers when the owner clued them into who the audience was. They adjusted accordingly. The first set was lots of fun, complete with some Russian folk tunes. It wasn't until the ladies went home, that the real, hard-hitting lyrics began.

I especially enjoyed myself because there was a young woman singing that I hadn't seen in ten years. She was a single mom back then and in need of lots of emotional support when she learned she would be raising the child on her own. She sang her heart out and I almost cried when she sang, You Gotta Dance when the Spirit Says So. I see how far she's come and I know singing about her joy and her pain has helped her grow. I am so proud of her.

I think folk singers should sing when the spirit says so. If you're always worried about the reaction of the audience, maybe you need to find a new venue. That said, if forewarned, there's always room for a little respect if the situation calls for it.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Emma B
Date: 08 May 04 - 05:12 AM

I recently took a muscian friend to a session where he heard The Band played Waltzing Mathilda for the first time and was moved to tears.
Keith Marsden used to write a lot of songs from his own experience or stories other people told him. One of the ones I find particularly poignant is "St Aubin sur Mer" a description he was given of the D Day landings from a bloke he was talking to in a pub. A song of bitter grief but a story that should be told I feel.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 08 May 04 - 05:45 AM

Isn't it a performer's duty and right to elicit an emotional reaction from his/her listeners, and isn't that what the applause is for? If you don't touch the audience's emotions, what point is there in performing a song?

An illustration - Allan Taylor's song (now almost an anthem) 'Roll On The Day', which deals with the death from pneumoconiosis of a retired Yorkshire miner, and is eloquently explicit in its description of the subject's wish for death to relieve him of the misery and suffering of his disease. It's a subject which is very frightening and close to the hearts of mining communities, yet Allan tells how the most stirring singing of the chorus comes from the people in the clubs in coal-mining areas.

The songs I relate to, and which I personally have 'borrowed' and commit 'songicide' on regularly (LOL), are those which have touched an emotion - sorrow, joy, wistfulness for the past, whatever. And the ones that grabbed me hardest are the ones that made me uncomfortable.

Anyone else feel the same?

Johnny:0)

Johnny :0)

A good song's still a good song, and its message, no matter how difficult, can be accepted by an audience.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: alanabit
Date: 08 May 04 - 06:18 AM

Couldn't agree more Johnny. We do need care and sensitivity in the way we choose or write our material though, which I guess is what Bill and Dinavan are talking about. We will always take risks when we perform though. If we are going to say anything with our songs, there will always be a risk of upsetting someone. I do not see much virtue in being oblique or less articulate just to play safe. That will neither help to preserve the best of the old or to help along good new material.
The riskiest songs I do are probably the character sketches. Not all the characters are sympathetic to me, but I try to let them tell their stories in their own words. I think that's what a lot of folk songs do. They let the characters tell the stories and the audience has to decide for itself what it thinks about them.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: akenaton
Date: 08 May 04 - 06:21 AM

Yeah Johnny..Couldnt agree more
Folk music should be all about emotion ,I started a thread some time ago Emotion Junkies....Got a load of great replies...Some for ,some against.
I feel the new breed of "Folk Stars" have fucked up the music.
It should be all about inclusion of the audiance,touching them emotionally,rather than the current fashion for self promotion.
This signals the end for the folk music our age group loves,regardless of what some people say about bringing in new faces.
After a bad start you and I seem to be agreeing about a few things.
    Ake


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 08 May 04 - 07:34 AM

Ye Gods Ake! One of us must be going soft! Glad we agree, and BTW nothing personal intended when I disagree - Mrs. Johnny informs me that I'm 'a contentious bugger' and 'a wind-up merchant', and who am I to disagree with SheWhoIsAllKnowingAndMustBeObeyed!?
All the best,
Johnny :0) :0)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Cluin
Date: 08 May 04 - 08:27 AM

Hard to believe but, I've met a couple of people who got bent out of shape by "Put Another Log on the Fire". They stopped listening halfway through and didn't catch the punch line at the end.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: JennyO
Date: 08 May 04 - 09:31 AM

Usually when I sing "Me 'usband's got no courage in 'im" at a session, everyone sings along and has a great time, but on one occasion I got a rather cold reaction from a couple of men. One of them actually commented that some men might be offended by it. These weren't even men with whom I had any personal dealings, so they could not have thought I was having a go at them.

At the time I felt like saying "Lighten up ferchrissake, it's just a song!" but I didn't.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 08 May 04 - 11:54 AM

Sounds like it was their problem JennyO, not yours! It's a great song - they should get a life!
Johnny :0)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: JennyO
Date: 08 May 04 - 12:10 PM

I totally agree Johnny ;-)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: dianavan
Date: 08 May 04 - 12:47 PM

Akenaton - "...current fashion for self promotion" Can you please explain what you mean by this?

If a songwriter chooses to express a personal situation in song, it is usually an experience that others can relate to. If it doesn't 'ring a bell' for most folks, its hardly worth singing.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 04 - 12:50 PM

Never "it's just a song" - but quite often "it is a song".

What I mean is, "it's just a song" seems to imply that songs can't be important ways of saying things, and that it's all about entertainment anyway. But different ways of communication have to be understood in different ways, and a song is a different way of communicating from a flat-out statement of facts.

It's rather the way, when we use a metaphor or a fiugure of speech we aren't meaning it literally, but that doesn't mean what we say isn't true. "I'm going to kill that man when I see him" can be a quite truthful way of explaining how you are feeling, even when the person saying it has no intention whatsoever of literally doing that.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: akenaton
Date: 08 May 04 - 02:04 PM

Dianavan...You ask me to explain my comment about "self promotion".
Well its really self explanitory.    Most of the current crop of "folksingers" seem to be more concerned with furthering their careers,making money,and being famous, than any real love for the music,which is used often as a vehicle to promote the singer not the song.
Iv known and talked to most of the older UK singers and one or two of the US ones.   the thing that impressed me most was the fact that they were totally obsessed by the music, hardly ever talking of their future or personal gain, but they wanted to talk about the effect the music had on their audiance,that thrill when the voices join the singer ,and the song takes on a life of its own. It dosn't always happen, but when it does,its the nearest thing to sex I can think of.
Thats what folk music should be all about. That emotional thrill is a magical experience, and always an inclusive experience.
Theres a thread running just now about Alex Campbell, Alex was one of the best examples of what I mean,they say Alex could "work an audiance", but there was much more to him than that. He loved his music more than life itself, and that sincerity was transmitted to all who heard him perform. Alex actually instilled that love of the music into the listeners....Iv often seen it happen.
Todays bunch coudnt stir the sugar in the bottom of their
teacups.....


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 04 - 02:44 PM

"Today's bunch" simpifies it too much. There've always been both sorts. I don't know any evidence that the balance betweem the two is any worse today than it was in the last couple of generations.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: akenaton
Date: 08 May 04 - 04:54 PM

McGrath ...I probably have "over-simplified", but surely you have noticed the emphasis on "marketing" in folk music.
Maybe it was the times we lived in,Idealism was not yet a "dirty word",and I felt the music was assisting the changes that were going on in society.   Sure there were a lot of great performers ,but even to them, it was always "the music first"....Ake


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 08 May 04 - 05:23 PM

"Most of the current crop of "folksingers" seem to be more concerned with furthering their careers,making money,and being famous, than any real love for the music,which is used often as a vehicle to promote the singer not the song."

I disagree completely. You said you only spoke to 2 artists from the U.S., so that is hardly enough to make a statement. I think most artists in the U.S. realize that "folk" music is NOT the way to fame and fortune and they care little about that end of the market.

There is a case to made that the current crop of singer-songerwriters tend to write to many personal songs, which leads to the awkward moments that Emily described in her first post. Amos mentioned Tom Dooley. You can go through the Child Ballads and find all kinds of songs about murder, rape, incest, infanticide and other events that would make Steven King cringe.    When an artist sings a song like that, it is generally recongized that the singer is not talking about themselves. A singer-songwriter who is known for writing autobiographical songs runs a risk when they sing about such subjects. I know one artist who wrote a song that touches on a abortion she had when she was young. It is an incredibly moving song, but she has lost fans who feel strongly against her actions.   I'm not saying that she shouldn't write songs like that, just the opposite. I only caution that an artist can turn off an audience from listening and they should understand the risks when they write.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Crazyhorse
Date: 09 May 04 - 01:24 PM

If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much room.

Folk music (whatever that is) has surely always been "edgy" or pure emotion. Many fine love songs, presumably of personal experience or else used as a way of saying something in a story that could not be said openly, ie with either sexual or political content.

Although I hate RAP music it probably has more in common with traditional folk music that most folks here would like to acknowledge.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 09 May 04 - 01:34 PM

I'm with you on that Crazyhorse, except that, at 57, I'm a huge fan of the superb Marshall Mathers who, I believe, writes some of the most valid and relevant lyrics around.
Johnny :0)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 May 04 - 05:25 PM

Anyone who assumes that a first person narrative is necessarily autobiograhical must have a very limited experience of any kind of writing. It's a bit like hating an actor in a soap or a film because the character they play is a nasty piece of work.

Of course there are people like that. A bit frightening, when you think about it.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Peace
Date: 09 May 04 - 06:02 PM

Songs are written to tell stories, evoke emotions, express feelings, and for lots of other reasons as well. If we reach the point where we say, "It's just a song", then why is the song worth singing in the first place?

It has the ring of "It's just an expression", as though an offensive expression can be excused by that. No!

Words carry meanings both denotative and connotative. Songwriters worth their salt are aware of that, as they should be. If it's 'just a song', then is the baby who got killed in war 'just a casualty'?

IMHO, of course.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Wolfgang
Date: 10 May 04 - 07:03 AM

Several years ago there was a song No. 1 in the German charts, Jeanny by Falco, that (at the very least) could be read as describing a rape and murder from the point of view of the murderer.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 10 May 04 - 09:56 AM

Has anyone heard from Falco recently?


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Wolfgang
Date: 10 May 04 - 10:09 AM

He has been killed in a car accident some years ago.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 10 May 04 - 10:11 AM

That wasn't my point Wolfgang. I meant that the song that you described did not help his career.

All I'm saying is that an artist should not be surprised at audience reaction. You can't fight human nature.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: matai
Date: 10 May 04 - 10:29 AM

'I have to say I love you in a song' who was that now? But that theme has been re-iterated over and over and people still don't seem to get sick of it.
Recently, I wrote a song (from the woman's point of view) about falling in love with the best friend's daughter. It is a good song, even if I say so myself but the idea is hard to take for most people. So does one drop it or record it? This is often the dilemna?
And one can throw it away by saying it is just a song. But it is also a very real experience for some and probably better than all those folk songs about rape and pillage.
But of course it will only work if I am totally convinced and focused when I sing it.

Matai


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 10 May 04 - 09:43 PM

While this is certainly a valid subject for debate, I'm thinking of the "just a song" that led to this thread (see Let's update 'Sensitive New Age Guys' if you're curious), and I think it makes sense to distinguish between a song with a serious/semi-serious intent and a light-hearted confection of a song whose main (sole, even?) purpose is to make people laugh -- in which case I think saying "it's just a song" is fair enough -- although perhaps it would be more appropriate to say "it's just a funny song".

Although if you don't think the song is actually funny, and/or you consider it to be unkind/small-minded/insensitive/politically incorrect/unfair to some people, then I guess we're back to square one...

Cheers,

YY


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:12 AM

I'm really disappointed, no-one asked me who Marshall Mathers is. I'm off back to me cave for a sulk now.............
Johnny :0)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Crazyhorse
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:20 AM

If you are a big fan then what was the duet he did with reg dwight , it was very good.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:26 AM

while it's true that "it's just a song" - sometimes it is VERY hard to seperate the song from the subject...and while the song may just be a funny little toss-off the SUBJECT of the song can raise issues, tempers, etc.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:27 AM

Sorry Johnny, I would guess that most people have heard of Marshall Mathers. It isn't exactly a well kept secret.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 11 May 04 - 11:30 AM

Crazyhorse, you got me you bastard! (LOL). I recollect the fans' shock-horror that he was consorting with Elt, because of his earlier anti-gay lyrics. I'll ask my son (who's the one who persuaded me to actually LISTEN to what Slim has to say instead of moaning about morons who can't sing!).
Cheers,
Johnny :0) :0)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:13 AM

We need to consider the big picture here.

A folk concert is a form of paid (usually)entertainment. The world of entertainment has many divisions, and we want to know what we're getting before we put our money down.

Let me make an analogy. If I go to place called "Mom's Cafe - Home Cooking," then I don't expect to see an employee taking her underpants off on the counter. There are places where that happens, and they rightly bill themselves as strip joints, so we know what to expect.

Back to the folk concert. By singing a song about drowning his dog, the guy was taking the underpants off his psyche. Folk concerts are not the usual milieu for psychic nudity. If I want psychic nudity, I will watch daytime TV talk shows, or I will go to a production which is labelled a "seering, gripping drama."

Certainly we expect a certain amount of emotion in folk music, but when it gets to the point that we find ourselves more concerned with the performer's emotions and life story than with the music, then the performer has overstepped the bounds. If he does it too much, he will lose his audience.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:15 AM

Grow up.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:32 AM

Reminds me of Randy Newman's song "Short People". When he put that out, I thought it was pretty obvious that he was lampooning racism and sexism, focusing on a different class of people to illustrate how absurd that kind of bias is. But there were people who actually took it seriously, and got terribly offended that he was insulting short people. He took a fair amount of heat for it, which was bizarre.

I guess it comes down to knowing your audience. Randy Newman's usual audience was hip to his sense of humor (which is why none of them thought he was really advocating nuclear war when he wrote and sang "Political Science"). When "Short People" made it big, he was suddenly being heard by people who weren't part of his usual audience, and wouldn't recognize intelligent satire if it hit them in the face.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:41 AM

Maybe organisers need to a big notice on the stage saying: "All songs in the first person should be understood as being fictitious, unless the singer actually tells you they are autobigraphical". (In the USA anyway.)

Has anyone got into this kind of hot water singing Pretty Polly or the Banks of the Ohio?


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 13 May 04 - 07:45 AM

Maybe in the States Ron, but not necessarily over here. He's big with some of the kids, but by no means all, and hardly at all with us silver-surfer-types. If it wasn't for my son being an afficionado I'd have only ever known him as Eminem, and I'd never have listened to him. :0) :0)


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 05:09 PM

Hi, folks. I ran across this thread when I was searching with Google for something completely different. But it's an important topic that needs to be revisited once in a while. I suppose some people will be seeing it for the same time. I hope it makes you think.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: PHJim
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 06:38 PM

About a decade ago, I was criticized for performing a murder ballad, Little Sadie or Banks Of The Ohio or something like that. I was told that the song seemed to promote, or at least accept spousal abuse. Even though I love those old murder ballads, I stopped singing them for a while in order not to offend anyone. I really missed them and have put them back into my repertoire. Even though many of these songs are first person and don't give much of an excuse for the murders, most end with the narrator either rotting in jail or hanging from a white oak tree. I have noticed that most of the ballads where the woman murders the man like Miss Otis Regrets or Frankie & Albert or Monongahela Sal are sung in the third person AND the women have a much better excuse for committing their crime (better, but not adequate). Also, the men are not very likable characters.
In other murder ballads, not involving failed romance, the killer is sympathetic and the victim unlikeable: "We left his damned old bones to bleach on the range of the buffalo."   
Quite often the singer speaks in a voice of a character who is not sympathetic: "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."


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Subject: LYRIC ADD: Why D'Ya Do it?
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 09:25 PM

isI was stunned by the hypersensitivity of the opening post when I first read it; even more so by Bill D's citing "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" in the context of what the OP termed "truly offensive" songs or, in his own words, as an example of a song in need of some "absolving".

All these years later I notice that the Heathcote Williams poem Why D'Ya Do it, which became a memorable song on the Marianne Faithfull album Broken English, has not yet made it to the Digitrad. So now that we're comfortably into the 21st century, and maybe to give Bill D a more debate-worthy example for another time, here it is. Anyone offended?

Why D'Ya Do it
Words: Heathcote Williams
Music: Barry Reynolds, Joe Mavety, Marianne Faithfull, Stephen David York, Terence Philip Stannard


When I stole a twig from our little nest
And gave it to a bird with nothing in her beak,
I had my balls and my brains put into a vice
And twisted around for a whole fucking week.

Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you let that trash
Get a hold of your cock, get stoned on my hash ?
Why'd ya do it she said, why'd you let her suck your cock ?
Oh, do me a favour, don't put me in the dock.

Why'd ya do it, she said, they're mine all your tools,
You just tied me to the mast of the ship of fools.
Why'd ya do it, she said, when you know it makes me sore,
'Cause she had cobwebs up her fanny and I believe in giving to the
poor.

Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you spit on my snatch ?
Are we out of love now, is this just a bad patch ?
Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you do what you did ?
You drove my ego to a really bad skid.

Why'd you do it, she said, ain't nothing to laugh,
You just tore all our kisses right in half!
Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd ya do what you did,
Betray my little oyster for such a low bid.

Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you do what you did ?
You drove my ego to a really bad skid.
Why'd ya do it, she screamed, after all we've said
Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed.
The whole room was swirling,
Her lips were still curling.

Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you do what you did
Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you do what you did
Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd ya do it, she said,
Why'd you do what you did ?

Oh, big grey mother, I love you forever
With your barbed wire pussy and your good and bad weather.
Why'd ya do it, she said, why'd you do what you did ...
Ah, I feel better now.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 10:48 PM

Ovely song. I must sing it down our local club right away, to the tune of Elsie Marley.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 14 - 11:39 PM

What are   Tony's issues about the new breed of young "folk stars?


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Andrez
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 12:19 AM

Offended? Not really, its just a crap piece of writing and eminently forgettable!

Cheers,

Andrez


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 08:16 AM

Nobody ever explains just how or why listening to a murder ballad will turn an ordinary sane person into a killer.

They seem to believe people are so impressionable a single song will send them over the edge. Or maybe five songs.

Of course, there may be people in the audience who are genuinely upset by such material. Perhaps you could just warn that a scary song is coming up and give them a chance to use the rest room.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 09:41 AM

I think sometimes how a song is set up in the intro makes the difference in how if goes over. I can see the original poster's point. I've never shied away from performing some of the violent ballads and do know some friends that would take the opportunity to visit the bathroom, or get a drink while it's being sung. But I set the song up in a way that makes it clear why I'm singing the song.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 10:12 AM

Offended? Not really, its just a crap piece of writing and eminently forgettable!

Listen to Faithfull singing it and see if you still feel that way.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 11:04 AM

jack, do you reckon marianne is a better singr now than 30 years ago/


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 11:40 AM

Some folks have got nothing better to do than actively seek out even the most trivial things to take offence at...

Surely folks with the most extreme cases of oversensitive 'offendeditis'
must be exhibiting symptoms of some kind of diagnosable mental health condition ?


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 12:06 PM

If metaphor, allegory, simile or just making things up were not allowed because some twat might be offended then we would have no art at all...I assume OP is American.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 12:13 PM

There is a great bit in Russell Hoban's "Riddley Walker" where the hero is trying to reinvent theatre after a nuclear apocalypse by doing Punch and Judy shows. He gets beaten up by the audience.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 01:14 PM

Lighter wrote:
Nobody ever explains just how or why listening to a murder ballad will turn an ordinary sane person into a killer.
To be upset by a murder ballad, you don't necessarily have to believe that listening to one will turn someone into a killer.

You might be upset because the song doesn't show enough sympathy for the victim or for the survivors, for example.

Frankly, I'm surprised I have to explain this.


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Subject: RE: Debate: It's Just a Song
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 02:04 PM

"You might be upset because the song doesn't show enough sympathy for the victim or for the survivors"

So there are objective measures quantifying the correct amount of sympathy then...

great.. is there an 'app' for it ?

Somebody should have told the original 17th or 18th century song writers
they weren't being sympathetic enough for the sensitivities of future generation self rightious pillocks !!!


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