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happy? - April 26

Abby Sale 26 Apr 05 - 08:37 AM
GUEST 27 Apr 05 - 03:51 AM
Liz the Squeak 27 Apr 05 - 04:32 AM
Abby Sale 27 Apr 05 - 07:53 AM
Fiona 27 Apr 05 - 10:29 AM
Wolfgang 27 Apr 05 - 02:54 PM
Abby Sale 27 Apr 05 - 07:21 PM
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Subject: happy? - April 26
From: Abby Sale
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 08:37 AM

Mary Phagan was murdered in Atlanta on 4/26/1913. Leo Frank was lynched
for it by Atlanta anti-semites on d8/17/1915 (Actual murderer confessed
in 1982 & Frank was finally exonerated - but too late.)

         Leo Frank met her
        With a brutish heart and grin;
        He says to little Mary:
        "You'll never see home again."

"Mary Fagen," DigTrad filename[ MARYFAG

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Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved

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Subject: RE: happy? - April 26
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 03:51 AM

Abby, what is the right thing to do with folksongs if they are finally proven historically incorrect, a miscarriage of poetic justice? What if William Corder was proven innocent of Maria Marten's murder, or Sam Hall's confession found to be made under duress? Should we sing them as received, change the words, or add a disclaimer at the end?

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Subject: RE: happy? - April 26
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 04:32 AM

Why should we put a disclaimer on a song? History books have been printing falsehoods for centuries. Take the story of Richard III for one. A disclaimer proclaiming his innocence of the murder of the 'boys in the Tower' was published not long after Queen Elizabeth I died (the last Tudor monarch; her grandfather was Henry VII who beat Richard at Bosworth. Henry actually had means and motive to murder them; and reasons to make it look like Richard did it). You find a history book now and it will still say that Richard III was credited with the murder of Edward, Prince of Wales and Richard, Duke of York in the Tower of London, that Richard's army were traitors, that he tried to murder his wife, that he had his brothers killed and that he was a tyrannous despotic monarch.

You could write another song, or verse I suppose, stating the truth, but sometimes people would rather believe falsehoods or exaggerations than to have the truth. Never let truth get in the way of a good story!


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Subject: RE: happy? - April 26
From: Abby Sale
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 07:53 AM

LtS, I absolutely agree with all your statements but not necessarily your conclusion. Two separate issues:

Innocuous errors - Here I agree, it is not the folk singer's job to be a scholar, only to sing. Still, for us "interpreters of folk song" it wouldn't be untoward to disclaim before the song -. Maybe no more than, "Traditional songs told stories - truths, if you will, for the tellers - but you needn't take them as necessarily factual."

Slanders - I would ceryainly object to a presentation to any audience of, say, "Sir Hugh" without mentioning that the slander encouraged the death of hundreds of Jews then and millions later. This is a matter of self-censorship that's been covered at length in other threads.

Guest - Just your raising of the question leads me to think you will wind up with a good solution. Personally, I rarely change words for censorship purposes. Sometimes, I do when the story isn't affected. For April 15th, I sang:

"And monie braw thanks to the meikle foul deil,
That's danc'd awa wi' the Exciseman."

instead of 'meikle black deil.' I'm not comfortable equating Black and Evil.

A miniscule change but I felt better so that's Good. Some songs I just don't sing (Sir Hugh), others I explain beforehand that it's wrong, or a slander. Some I don't bother.

I like to disclaim "Queen Eleanor's Confession" as a slander, not because it really matters today, but because I so much liked the role Kathrerine Hepburn played in the movie.

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Subject: RE: happy? - April 26
From: Fiona
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 10:29 AM

Of course the 'truth' of anything can depend on your own point of view. I'd say Queen Elizabeth I of England was dead, but that Queen Elizabeth I of the United Kingdom was alive & well. I was really impressed Abby got this right in his introduction to these threads.

I'd agree with LTS otherwise, why let history get in the way of a good song?


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Subject: RE: happy? - April 26
From: Wolfgang
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 02:54 PM

It is a very interesting question whether a song has to be factually correct or not.

The longer after the event the less it matters:

"Such a sight, october night" is a beautiful picture even if historically the storm was not in that month (Three score and ten)

"Roddy McCorley" needs no change even if we now know that the execution date given in the song is incorrect.

On the other hand, the recent song Majella O'Hare got some comments here about the factual incorrectness in it. I must say I can understand the feelings leading to post a correction as long as people knowing the real story are still alive. But though factually incorrect it is still a moving and beautiful song.


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Subject: RE: happy? - April 26
From: Abby Sale
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 07:21 PM

Hi, Wolfgang.

I think, therefore, it depends on the singer's own feeling. "Three score and ten" is a rare exception in the Happy File. I use it on the actual date of the storm instead of in October. For reasons totally inconsequential to the point -- the song doesn't give a date in October so I couldn't use it at all. I agree that the song is "right" as it sits. Anyway, "February" wouldn't scan.

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