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Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)

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Wolfgang 21 Jun 05 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,David Ingerson 21 Jun 05 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,David Ingerson 22 Jun 05 - 03:26 AM
Wilfried Schaum 22 Jun 05 - 04:01 AM
Wolfgang 22 Jun 05 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,The Boorder Cock. 22 Jun 05 - 06:43 PM
Le Scaramouche 22 Jun 05 - 06:50 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Jun 05 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,The Border Cock. 23 Jun 05 - 07:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Jun 05 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,David Ingerson 23 Jun 05 - 09:41 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 24 Jun 05 - 03:21 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Jun 05 - 04:17 AM
Wolfgang 24 Jun 05 - 04:19 AM
Wolfgang 24 Jun 05 - 04:28 AM
Wolfgang 24 Jun 05 - 05:42 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 24 Jun 05 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,Malcolm Douglas 24 Jun 05 - 02:27 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 24 Jun 05 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,The Border Cock. 24 Jun 05 - 07:27 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Jun 05 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,David Ingerson 24 Jun 05 - 08:47 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Jun 05 - 09:13 PM
GUEST,The Border Cock. 25 Jun 05 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,The Border Cock 25 Jun 05 - 07:02 PM
Liam's Brother 21 Aug 05 - 09:35 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Aug 05 - 11:56 PM
Liam's Brother 22 Aug 05 - 11:20 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 23 Aug 05 - 11:42 AM
Liam's Brother 23 Aug 05 - 06:45 PM
David Ingerson 24 Aug 05 - 07:31 PM
MartinRyan 01 Sep 05 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Lighter at work 01 Sep 05 - 10:25 AM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Sep 05 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Sep 05 - 08:48 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Sep 05 - 10:27 PM
Liam's Brother 01 Sep 05 - 10:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Sep 05 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh 02 Sep 05 - 06:26 AM
MartinRyan 02 Sep 05 - 01:54 PM
MartinRyan 02 Sep 05 - 02:02 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Sep 05 - 07:25 PM
Liam's Brother 02 Sep 05 - 09:45 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: NAPOLEON'S DEFEAT (from Frank Harte)
From: Wolfgang
Date: 21 Jun 05 - 08:01 AM

This is my transcription of what Frank Harte sings on the Dan Milner CD 'Irish songs from Old New England'. The song is obviously very much like Eighteenth day of June in the DT but has several more verses and has an Irish angle that the song in the DT doesn't have. I'm sure my transcription has still some mistakes but I am confident none of them is a major mistake. Parentheses indicate where I'm not sure.

Wolfgang


NAPOLEON'S DEFEAT

Our ancient songs and story were of greater men, they say,
But we in future glory may join as well as they.
Our noble fathers' valiant sons have conquered many's a foe.
(Will loud) and fame their names proclaim who fought at Waterloo.

It was on the eighteenth day of June, eighteen hundred and fifteen.
With horse and foot we did advance most glorious to be seen.
Both horse and foot we did advance and the bugles loud they blew.
We showed the French at Waterloo what Ireland's sons could do.

Our cavalry they did advance with bold and valiant hearts.
Our infantry and artillery did nobly play their parts.
The small arms they did rattle with our great guns to the fore,
All on the plains of Waterloo where the murdering cannons roar.

Here's to Sir William Posonby* I am sorry for to say.
In leading his Enniskillen dragoons he met his fate that day.
He fell at the head of his brigade, which grieves my heart full sore.
I saw him die as we passed by with many thousands more.

And Napoleon like a Bantam cock sat a-mounted on a bar.
He much did wish to represent great Mars the god of war.
On a high platform there he did stand; was loudly that he crew,
But he drooped his wings and turned his tail and fled from Waterloo.

When Napoleon found the battle lost, he cried, "I am undone".
He wrung his hands and tore his hair, saying, "Alas, my darling son,
('Tis straight) to Paris I will go and as king I will crown you
Before they hear of my defeat on the plains of Waterloo."

Now Boney has gone from the field of war where he will fight no more.
He will much lament his lonesome lot upon St. Helena's shore.
And when he thinks of those great men who wrought (brought?) his final doom,
He will think long on Ireland's sons, Enniskillen's brave dragoons.


* Major- General Sir William Ponsonby (1772-1815) was killed at the battle of Waterloo whilst leading a brigade of heavy cavalry. Short online biography


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 21 Jun 05 - 05:12 PM

Danke, Wolfgang.

There are a lot of good songs on that CD and this was one I have on my (long) list to learn.

David


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 03:26 AM

Hey Wolfgang,

I hear the first verse a little differently than you. What do you think?

Our ancient sons in story were all great men they say;
But we in future glory may join as well as they.
For our noble fathers' valiant sons have conquered manys the foe.
We will loud in fame their names proclaim who fought at Waterloo.

And a couple other minor differences:

And Napoleon like a bantam cock sat mounted upon a bar
(although I don't understand what being "mounted upon a bar" means)

and

On a high platform there he did stand, 'twas loudly that he crew

and I think you have it correct with "'tis straight to Paris" and "wrought" (being the archaic past tense of work).

Thanks for all your transcribing work (and skill).

David


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 04:01 AM

Thanks, Wolfgang. I've added this song to MY SINGING CALENDAR

Sing and enjoy
Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Wolfgang
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 05:34 AM

David,

I'll listen again during the weekend, but your lyrics make a lot of sense. Thanks. (Perhaps I'll soon have a go at Barney McGee on that CD and you then can help there as well).

"mounted upon a bar": Well, together with the "high platform" I guess that either
Napoleon was sitting during the battle on a high platform (for better view) on a quickly made seat (a bar or plank) and screamed (crowed) his orders or
he was sitting high upon his headquarter chariot which was taken at Waterloo by the Prussians.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,The Boorder Cock.
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 06:43 PM

When a fighting cock is being prepared for a 'main' it is most important that his leg muscles be in perfect condition. Part of the training to achieve this is to fix a swing, not with a board to sit on, but an iron bar between the ropes. The fighting cock is then put mounted on the bar and his feet are tied to the bar. The swing is then pushed backward and forward and this movement makes the cock constantly adjust his positing to remain upright thereby strenghting his leg muscles until they are as tough as iron.

The line sung by Frank Harte 'Napoleon like a bantam cock sat mounted on a bar,' is a perfectly correct line. It also lets us know that the balladmaker was also an aficionado of the cock fighting or he would not have written a line like the one under discussion.

The practice of cock fighting, although declared illegal, is still carried on in semi-secret along the border counties where the battles are between the North and the South, with quite a substantial amount of money being wagered on the outcome of 'the main.'

There are are a number of ballads written Ireland and England about cock fighting.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 06:50 PM

As George MacDonald Fraser said, perhaps cockfighting is the only cultural link between Cumberland and Burmah.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 07:00 PM

"Bar" is a mistake for the "car" (that is, "chariot") of the original broadside song. "Boorder Cock's" rationalisation of the mis-hearing is ingenious, though. There are a number of copies at the Bodleian website, at least one of which also includes the first verse given here. See previous discussions (at present sadly mangled) for links.

Does Harte say where he got this?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,The Border Cock.
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 07:14 PM

Malcolm,

I would dispute your supposition that Harte's line 'Napoleon like a bantam cock sat mounted on a bar'is a mistake for 'car.' My remarks are not just a rationalisation of something mis-heard, but rather come from the knowledge of the practice of training the fighting cock by mounting him on a bar. Itis a recognised practice by cockers, it is an actual fact, not just a rationalisation. The practice is still in use today.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 08:50 PM

I don't doubt your knowledge of that "sport" for a moment, but the available evidence suggests that "bar" is a mistake for "car". That may well have resulted from cock-fighting terminology, but you'd need to point to an instance of "bar" preceding "car" (and explain away Napoleon's chariot, mentioned earlier, and the reference to Mars) before you convince me.

I'm not "supposing" here. Have a look at the contemporary and near-contemporary broadsides, as I suggested. You'll find a fair selection at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads.

Most begin "The ancient sons of glory", but there are others that don't. Of those containing the "cock" verse, I think that one only has "bar" rather than "car"; and that a relatively late example. Do look into it. If I turn out to be wrong, we'll all have learned something useful. If, on the other hand, it turns out to be you who was "supposing", we will at least have eliminated a red herring.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 09:41 PM

Thanks, Border and Malcolm, for responding. You've both given interesting information. Knowing how slippery the words of traditional songs can be, I'm not surprised that "car" could have been changed to "bar", especially if the singer were familiar with cock-fighting. The original might well have been "car" (I tried at least 6 ways but couldn't get the Bodleian search engine to cough up the sheets), but we need to remember that, IN THIS CASE, Frank Harte is a guest singer (if I understand the situation correctly) on Dan Milner's CD, "Irish Songs in Old New England". The words that Frank used would have come from the collection of New England songs (I can't recall the name of the collector) from which Dan selected the songs for the CD. If that assumption is correct, then the song is not originally Frank's but rather from a book in a New England library. (And I would be glad to be corrected by Dan, or anyone else, if this is not correct.)

David


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 03:21 AM

Here's one at the Bodleian with car: Plains of Waterloo

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:17 AM

"Sam Henry's Songs of the People" has two versions of "Plains of Waterloo," neither with the 'car' verse, and more about losing a 'sweetheart' or 'darling boy" than about Boney.

Bodleian Ballads, "Battle of Waterloo," Johnson fol. 112, ca. 1815, is illustrated with a fanciful cut of the battle. One version there has 'car.'


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:19 AM

The note to this song on the Irish songs from old New England CD (written by Dan Milner)):

(Laws J4) In this classic example of a folk adaptation Northeast lumbermen puposefully whittled down a jingoistic 18-verse piece British military piece, transforming it into an Irish-American ballad. None of the basic facts are lost but gone are references to a host of Eurpoean nobles including the Prince of Brunswick, the Duke of Wellington and the Marquis of Angelsey. Sir William Ponceby (sic) reamins only because he led the famed Enniskillen Dragoons at the battle of Waterloo. Likewise missing is a reference to 'French dogs' found in the original broadside. French-Canadian loggers were plentiful in New England's forests and denigrating words were neither sociable nor prudent. An architect by profession and the deanof Dublin singers, the great Frank Harte made a few alterations himself when he recorded this ballad originally sung by Hanford Hayes of Stacyville, Maine. Mr. Hayes was a woodsman, a foreman of the logdrive on the East branch of the Penobscot River in Maine. At the time Mrs. Flanders met him, he was elderly but still a great ballad singer. He lived alone, made axe handles and trapped bears for bounty. (End of note)

The 'car' makes a lot of sense to me. In all the accounts I have found of the battle the chariot was mentioned (you can find a picture of it when following my link above and clicking on the respective link on that site) that Napoleon left in haste (on horseback) when the battle was obviously lost.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 04:28 AM

BTW, David, I agree with all of your improvements (I'm listening again right now).

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 05:42 AM

All songs on that CD are from the Flanders Ballad Collection.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 06:44 AM

Here's the index entry from the Flanders' Collection: Napoleon's Defeat - Flanders Collection Index Entry

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 02:27 PM

That was a temporary page. Offhand I don't see a way to make a permanent link to search results there, so instead a link to the collection home page:

http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/lis/lib/guides_and_tutorials/guides_to_collections/collection_guide-flanders/

Hanford Hayes had a large repertoire, ranging from classic ballads to things like The Rose of Tralee. Many of his songs appear in collections published by Flanders, but not this particular one. It would be interesting to know exactly what alterations Frank Harte made to the text.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 03:37 PM

Sorry about that. I did think it might be a temporary link and tried it from another browser session with no problem, but it was presumably tied to my ip address. It's a pity the texts aren't online there, only the index.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,The Border Cock.
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 07:27 PM

Malcolm,

Yet another point to ponder. I have come across another version of the song, which has it as: 'Napoleon like some banty cock sat mounted on his spurs,' Now you could say that
Napoleon sat mounted on his horse with his spurs on, … but … when the fighting cock is prepared for battle he also has long needle sharp spurs fitted over his own natural spurs. I would say again that this yet another image comparing Napoleon to the fighting cock. 'Mounted on a bar' and 'spurred' ready for the fight.   (Bar rhymes very well with war also.)

Napoleon like some banty Cock sat mounted in his spurs,
And high he tried to represent grim as the God of War,
On his high platform where he did stand and there so loud he crew,
But he drooped his wings and turned his head and fled from Waterloo.

I believe that all of these are definite references to Napoleon as the image of 'the 'fighting cock' … 'sat mounted on a bar' … 'sat mounted in his spurs' … 'so loud he crew,' (surely Mars the god of war would not crow like a cock) … neither would I think that Mars would droop his wings as he fled from Waterloo.

What do you think Malcolm. ???


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 07:58 PM

The image seems to be mixed, but there's no doubt so far that the examples we know of containing "bar" are significantly later than some of those containing "car". My guess would be that "bar" arose through an extension of the cock-fighting metaphor, and that your "spurs" came about similarly (many people won't even have known what a "car" was, but may well have been followers of cock-fights) but we can rarely be certain about such things.

Before we can consider this "version" you mention as potential evidence of anything, you'll need to say where you got it, from whom, and when; and, ideally, everything else you know about it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 08:47 PM

I don't see a conflict here. Aren't both Border Cock and Malcolm correct? The song obviously has many versions, some with car and some with bar. The both make sense, now that we know what each alludes to.

If Malcolm is correct about the earlier versions showing car, then it seems probable to me that car was most likely the original word but that someone either misheard it or, better yet, saw an opportunity to extend and enrich the bantam cock metaphor and simply changed it to bar. Such is the nature of traditional song.

If this IS what happened, we can say the car version is more historically accurate, both in reference to ballad sheets and to Napoleon's conveyance, but also that the bar version is poetically stronger with the extention of the metaphor. After all, if a bantam cock is an apt image for Napoleon, then a fighting bantam cock is even more apt--a richer image.

Personally, I like the word bar better, now that I know what it refers to. And Malcolm, it does seem to me that Border Cock makes a passable case that somewhere along the way in the transmission of this song, cock fighting people got ahold of it and simply changed it.

At the end of the day, we each will pick the version that appeals to us more. At least now we know a whole lot more about it than anyone in our audiences will probably ever want to hear!

Thanks, everybody, for all the info.

David


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 09:13 PM

No conflict so far as I'm concerned; except in establishing which form is the earlier. All traditional forms of a song are valid, but they do need to be put into their proper contexts so that we can understand how they have developed. I'm not a fan of blood-sports, and wasn't aware of the term "bar" in that context, or I probably wouldn't have used the word "mistake"; it may very well have been a deliberate alteration. Not the original word, though, from the evidence we have.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,The Border Cock.
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 06:59 PM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's defeat
From: GUEST,The Border Cock
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 07:02 PM

Malcolm, David et al,

Perhaps just another chance in the process of the oral transmission of our beautiful tradition of song.

Please excuse my posting of blanks, I am not used to this e-mail.


Slán to all.


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Subject: Lyr Add: NAPOLEON'S RETREAT (from Hanford Hayes)
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 21 Aug 05 - 09:35 PM

I note that Frank Harte died on June 27th, 2005, just a few days after this thread was started.

When the idea behind "Irish Songs from Old New England" migrated to having thirteen guest singers, I sent Frank two songs with the idea that he would choose between them. I was pretty sure which one he would want to record. The other was a fine, humorous vaudeville song. Having already made a double album of Buonaparte ballads, Frank, of course, went for "Napoleon's Retreat."

He was a singer who personalized many of his songs in the sense that he wanted a good, coherent text that he was comfortable with and he didn't mind collating versions or altering words and lines. This is Hanford Hayes' text, the one Frank worked from.   

You ancient sons of glory are all great men, they say,
Whilst we in future story may join as well as they.
Our noble fathers' ancient sons have conquered many's the foe.
As long as fame their names proclaim who fought on Waterloo.

It was on June the eighteenth day, eighteen hundred and fifteen.
With horse and foot we did advance most glorious to be seen.
With horse and foot we did advance while the bugles loud they blew.
We showed the French at Waterloo what Britain's sons could do.

Our cavalry advancing with a bold and a galliant heart,
Our infantry, artillery so nobly played their part,
Our small guns they did rattle, our great guns they did roar,
All on the plains of Waterloo where the murdering cannons roar.

Here is to Sir William Ponceby I am sorry for to say.
In leading his Enniskillen dragoons he met his fate that day.
At the head of his brigade I saw him fall, that grieved my heart full sore.
I saw him lie as we passed by with many thousands more.

Napoleon like a Bantam cock sat a-mounted on his spurs.
And hard he tried to represent grim as the god of war.
On his high platform where he did stand and there so loud he crew,
He drooped his wings and turned his head and fled from Waterloo.

When Napoleon found the battle lost, he cries, "I am undone".
He wrung his hands and tore his hair, crying, "Oh, my darling son,
Straightway to Paris I will go and king I will crown you
Before they hear of my defeat on the plains of Waterloo."

There will be a tribute concert to Frank in NYC on October 29th. Mick Moloney and Susan McKeown will be taking part too. I plan on singing "Napoleon's Retreat."

If this raises anyone's curiosity, you can learn a bit more about the recording and hear a few song samples at the Irish Songs from Old New England page of the Folk-Legacy website.   

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Aug 05 - 11:56 PM

Thank you for that, Dan. I had suspected that Frank had altered the song to make it seem more Irish than it really was, but I didn't want to say so without knowing what his source had sung (and now we have a provenanced example with "spurs" rather than "car" or "bar", as well: even better).

Frank Harte was a great singer, but I remain uncomfortable with the slant he sometimes imposed on his material that seems to have reflected what he thought ought to have been said, rather than what actually was; mind you, I never met him. That's my loss.

People do tend to assume that what comes from a performer of stature has authority of itself, and, while that may reflect very well the way in which tradition operates, it may at the same time badly mis-represent the stuff of which it is made. I suppose it depends on which "truth" one is looking for; the objective record or the subjective interpretation.

Of course, they both have their value; but problems can arise when the two become confused and a modern artistic interpretation is mistaken for an accurate image of what was; or a raw broadside song, unsmoothed by transmission, is criticised for its lack of artistry.

That's drifting off topic, I guess; and I should know better. I hope that the tribute concert goes well (not much doubt on that score, really).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 22 Aug 05 - 11:20 PM

Ireland has long been a country more diverse than most of us realize. For example, at various times as much as 25% of its population has been something other than Roman Catholic. I have heard it said often that support for an independent Irish nation was very uneven at the time of the 1916 Rebellion. I only write this because, historically, the attitudes of Irish people towards Britain varied greatly from time to time and from person to person.

It is clear from reading Mr. Hayes' text that "Napoleon's Defeat" had changed dramatically from the long, old broadsides printed in England. Whether its unbroken line of diffusion passed through Ireland, I don't know. However, it is possible that it did. At certain times, many Irish would not have been too bothered about singing "Britain's sons." Conversely, in the northern woods singers from here, there and everywhere brought and took away songs from here, there and everywhere else. Maybe it arrived in North America directly from Britain.      

As I wrote above, Frank was not slow to pick up the pen but he was also an inclusionary guy. I think he changed "Britain's sons" to "Ireland's sons" because he felt the former would have turned off too many Irish people today. Frank was very interested in spreading folk songs. Singing a text unpalatable to many would have doomed the ballad from the beginning. Ireland's song tradition being a living one, Frank had the right to make the changes he did and, once again, the ballad had been altered greatly before the "Dean of Dublin Singers" ever started working on it.

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 23 Aug 05 - 11:42 AM

Dan

I'm not sure that "inclusionary" is quite the mot juste here! Frank was a staunch Irish Republican and, naturally, this was often reflected in the way he interpreted songs. One of my favourite memories of him is how, when he reached the line ".. and England, Ireland, Scotland - their unity will ne'er be broke" in another great Napoleonic ballad, he would raise his eyes to heaven and spread his hands in a despairing gesture as though to say "Don't blame me - I didn't write the song!".

For Frank, of course, a myth was as good as a smile, anyday!

Putting it another way; Frank sang songs to keep them alive, not to preserve them. He succeeded admirably.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 23 Aug 05 - 06:45 PM

I would not argue with you Martin because, as we both well know, Frank was a real character who would espouse three views on any issue: the high, the low and the "this will really get them cranked up" views. All people who have sung "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" at an Irish session know they are in for a slagging when they get to the line you mention above. Frank loved the song and knew what was going to happen when he sang it. If it was not truly intrinsic to the song, he would have changed the line without a doubt.

When I said he was inclusionary I meant that he was fond of saying and writing things such as that songs of the Orange are as Irish as the songs of the Catholic. Frank did not spend a lot of time learning and singing Orange songs. He also felt Irish-Australian, Irish-American, etc. songs were Irish too.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: David Ingerson
Date: 24 Aug 05 - 07:31 PM

Martin, that is a great line about singing "to keep songs alive, not to preserve them." If you don't mind, I'll be using that line when the local sean nós police confront me for being too loose with the definition.

And thanks, Dan, for sharing the original words.

Wish I could be at the concert.

David


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 10:07 AM

Dan
True enough! Sorry not to have met up with you this year.

David
You're welcome! Tell the Sean Nós Police (.. aka the SNP?)I was asking for them - I know them well!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 10:25 AM

Non-Irish singers, at least, can take comfort in the fact that "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" is as probably as much an English and Scottish song as it is an Irish one, regardless of the nationality of the utterly unknown author.

Ulster Unionists don't have to worry about it at all.

This is probably no news to people like Malcolm and MartinRyan, but the Protestant-Catholic divide in Ulster seems to be reflected in musical preferences too. I had a student from Belfast a few years back (not at all a "militant," BTW) who told me it was only Catholics who were fans of traditional music. Protestants, like him, went for rock and C&W.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 08:19 PM

One "G[eorge] Brown" is credited on at least one broadside as author of Young Napoleon, or The bunch of roses; also, indeed, as author of Flora, the lily of the west and The merchant's daughter and constant farmer's son (and a few others of less obvious interest). I have no idea if those ascriptions are accurate, but somebody wrote them, after all. Why not George, whoever he was? Of course, The Bunch of Roses was based on the metre, and tune, of the (presumably) Irish Bunch of Rushes; but that was already well known outside Ireland.

A lot of anachronistic assumptions tend to be tossed around whenever "Napoleon" songs are mentioned, and Frank Harte seems to have belonged to the "if it mentions Bonaparte it must be Irish" school. There's no reason why an Irish writer of commercial songs (if that is what George, or whoever was the real author, was; he could just as easily have been a Cockney hack from Seven Dials) should necessarily have been a Republican.

There's no inherent inconsistency in that "unity" thing, nor any contextual reason to imagine an ironic intent; that is a modern assumption. Re-inventing the past to conform to the pre-conceptions or prejudices of the present may please or reassure modern audiences, but it tends to create a wall of mythology that impairs our understanding of what was, as opposed to how we would like it to have been.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 08:48 PM

Too right, Malcolm. BTW, MacColl has a fine version in _The Singing Island_ which, I think, he says he learned from his mother, at least partially.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 10:27 PM

Oddly, he calls her "Betsy Henry of Auchterarder" in Singing Island. In his autobiography she is "Betsy Miller, née Hendry", and it's clear that Auchterarder was where she was from, not where she lived; the earlier description is a bit misleading.

Mind you, such inconsistencies aren't so very rare. My Grandmother only found out late in life that her middle name was not, as she'd always thought, "Helen"; but "Ellen"; and I'd always assumed that my Grandfather (on the other side) was born in Fife because his birth certificate described his father as "of Fife"; turns out that's just Scottish legal usage; it was where he was from, not where he was living. Granddad was actually born in Kirkcudbright. Although MacColl certainly laid vaguely false trails from time to time, some of it will have been innocent misunderstanding of things he was told when young; including the spelling of his mother's maiden name.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 10:29 PM

When I was a boy of 16, I sailed on a big steamer from Southampton to New York in a 4-berth cabin with just one other person, a Dutch horticulturalist. One day, he brought an apple back from lunch and he offered me some later in the day. We had no knife. Shortly, he said, "I have the answer" and he literally broke the apple in two by grabbing it in his hands and pulling it apart from the top, near the stem. The break was so sharp that it looked exactly as though the apple had been sliced with a knife. Point: there is often more than one way of disecting something.

There are two issues being discussed here.

The first is the origin of any number of broadside songs, most but certainly not all of which were actually written to be sold on broadsheets. This is great research area and a very interesting topic for enthusiasts to read about. I find it fascinating. As Malcolm points out, somebody wrote the songs. Because people passed freely between Britain and Ireland, even the presumed geographic origin (e.g. oldest printed source) of a song does not necessarily identify the origin of the author. I agree with what Malcolm has written above.               

The second issue is what becomes of the song once it is written. It is rather like a balloon that gets loose. The song goes on a trip and the person who wrote the song is no longer connected to it in any way other than historically. We know that songs of Irish manufacture have been sung in Britain and vice versa. Workers migrated between countries, and men from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all served in the British Army, Navy and merchant marine, and exchanged songs while in the service. The song, even if it was written in another country, once it becomes accepted, becomes part of the cultural identity of a people. Depending on the song we are talking about, Frank Harte had a reason for either changing or not changing the text. They were Frank's decisions and, as someone working WITHIN the Irish song tradition, he had the right to make them. He was part of the living tradition.

All the best,      
Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:52 PM

Of course he had the right to make changes. He also had the concomitant responsibility -not least because he was admired, and considered an authority- to say what changes he had made; and why. He was an architect by trade, and will have been familiar with normal standards of accuracy and probity. To represent material altered by himself (for whatever reason) as authentically traditional would have been quite wrong, however artistically or politically satisfying or successful it may have appeared at the time.

Whether or not Frank belonged to a continuing tradition is beside the point. He also belonged to the professional, monied middle class; as do many revivalists. I don't understand why telling the truth would be a problem for someone who genuinely cared about the music; unless, perhaps, they cared more about themselves and their personal prejudices than they did about the tradition they claimed to represent.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: GUEST,eoin o'buadhaigh
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 06:26 AM

Reading above that Frank didn't have much time for orange songs (or did I pick that up the wrong way) I know is incorrect! A few years ago Frank phoned me and sang a song down the phone (as I'm sure he did with many folk) it was a song composed on 'Michael Stone'
He told me he contacted Michael Stone to inform him of the song and who he was etc etc. and received a reply from Michael Stone with another song that was of himself composed within the Maze Prison.
I asked Frank 'WHY?' what reason would you want to collect that type of song (not putting the song down) He replied that it may not be typical of a traditional ballad but in years to come it may well become so (as it no doubt will go through the metamorphic changes that all songs go through)I gave Frank a few orange songs that I have in my own collection and Frank sang a few back to me. He always said that no matter what side the song came from - it was Irish and told part of our history, and should not be discarded.
So that is why I don't agree to the above . . .sorry!
cheers eoin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 01:54 PM

Malcolm

It's a pity you never met Frank. The image that the singer architect/revivalist (how he'd howl with laughter at the "monied niddle classes" reference!)tag conjures up is a long way from the reality! Frank was a man steeped in the (still living) tradition of Irish singing. It would never have crossed his mind to "claim to represent" the tradition, in any sense. He was simply a part of that tradition - conscious of its richness and diversity and doing all he could to help that tradition survive and thrive.

If we're not careful, we'll drift off into the annual "what is meant by 'traditional'?" wild goose chase!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 02:02 PM

.. and even "middle"...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 07:25 PM

Well, that's fair enough. As you say, it's a pity I never met him. It's so easy to get the wrong idea about people with only second-hand impressions to go on, and I've been feeling rather guilty about getting a bit carried away in my last comments, which were probably very unfair; and likely inappropriate as well.

From my point of view, Frank Harte occupied a kind of middle ground between tradition and revival, a little as Ewan MacColl did; belonging in a sense to both. That makes his repertoire, and the way he used it, very difficult to assess for an outsider, which is what I am in this context. I shall have to make a point of finding out more about him so that I understand better.

"Monied" is relative, of course, and the wrong term to have used. I've never met an architect who didn't have lots more than I do, though!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 09:45 PM

Eoin, we both know Frank was interested in all Irish songs (and many songs from places beyond Ireland). My comment was Frank "did not spend a lot of time learning and singing Orange songs." That is not the same thing as Frank "had no interest in," or "never sang" Orange songs. It is a distinction of degree. He was more keenly interested in non-sectarian and Green songs.

Thread closed temporarily because it's been a target for a heavy barrage of Spam. If you have something to add to the discussion, contact me and I'll reopen it. -Joe Offer-


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