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Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.

The Shambles 22 Jan 99 - 02:39 PM
Bert 22 Jan 99 - 04:02 PM
The Shambles 22 Jan 99 - 06:15 PM
rick fielding 22 Jan 99 - 06:44 PM
RWilhelm 23 Jan 99 - 12:19 AM
Barry Finn 23 Jan 99 - 12:41 AM
Don Meixner 23 Jan 99 - 01:12 AM
The Shambles 23 Jan 99 - 08:25 AM
Allan S. 23 Jan 99 - 11:35 AM
The Shambles 24 Jan 99 - 03:33 AM
Earl 24 Jan 99 - 11:40 AM
AndyG 25 Jan 99 - 07:47 AM
The Shambles 27 Jan 99 - 05:34 AM
Steve Parkes 27 Jan 99 - 08:09 AM
Bert 27 Jan 99 - 02:21 PM
Bill D 27 Jan 99 - 05:31 PM
The Shambles 07 Jun 99 - 12:22 PM
Art Thieme 07 Jun 99 - 03:11 PM
Bert 07 Jun 99 - 03:37 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 07 Jun 99 - 04:25 PM
Bert 07 Jun 99 - 04:49 PM
Chet W. 07 Jun 99 - 06:50 PM
Art Thieme 07 Jun 99 - 08:01 PM
Chet W. 07 Jun 99 - 08:22 PM
SeanM 07 Jun 99 - 10:02 PM
campfire 07 Jun 99 - 10:54 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Jun 99 - 11:29 PM
BK 07 Jun 99 - 11:56 PM
Art Thieme 08 Jun 99 - 12:35 AM
The Shambles 08 Jun 99 - 02:30 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Jun 99 - 07:40 AM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 08 Jun 99 - 10:10 AM
Songbob 08 Jun 99 - 11:03 AM
Art Thieme 08 Jun 99 - 11:27 AM
Rick Fielding 08 Jun 99 - 11:54 AM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 08 Jun 99 - 01:19 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Jun 99 - 01:49 PM
Chet W. 08 Jun 99 - 06:25 PM
DonMeixner 08 Jun 99 - 10:45 PM
harpgirl 08 Jun 99 - 10:52 PM
BK 08 Jun 99 - 11:49 PM
KingBrill 09 Jun 99 - 05:11 AM
Bert 09 Jun 99 - 09:28 AM
Chet W. 09 Jun 99 - 07:48 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Jun 99 - 08:46 PM
Bert 10 Jun 99 - 09:29 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jun 99 - 10:04 AM
Art Thieme 10 Jun 99 - 10:10 AM
reggie miles 10 Jun 99 - 01:20 PM
The Shambles 10 Jun 99 - 02:18 PM
reggie miles 10 Jun 99 - 05:39 PM
Roger in Baltimore 10 Jun 99 - 06:03 PM
Bill D 10 Jun 99 - 09:28 PM
The Shambles 10 Jun 99 - 09:37 PM
Chet W. 10 Jun 99 - 09:59 PM
dick greenhaus 10 Jun 99 - 10:46 PM
Art Thieme 11 Jun 99 - 12:27 PM
Bill D 11 Jun 99 - 03:11 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 11 Jun 99 - 04:48 PM
Chet W. 11 Jun 99 - 07:09 PM
campfire 11 Jun 99 - 10:48 PM
The Shambles 12 Jun 99 - 03:41 AM
Bonedaddy 12 Jun 99 - 04:30 AM
campfire 12 Jun 99 - 01:59 PM
Chet W. 12 Jun 99 - 08:15 PM
campfire 12 Jun 99 - 08:34 PM
LEJ 12 Jun 99 - 08:35 PM
Chet W. 12 Jun 99 - 11:51 PM
The Shambles 13 Jun 99 - 03:52 AM
Susanne (skw) 13 Jun 99 - 07:17 PM
Rick Fielding 14 Jun 99 - 12:47 AM
Tigger the Tiger 19 Oct 11 - 06:07 AM
Johnny J 19 Oct 11 - 07:21 AM
theleveller 19 Oct 11 - 08:20 AM
Johnny J 19 Oct 11 - 09:00 AM
BobKnight 19 Oct 11 - 09:25 AM
Acorn4 19 Oct 11 - 11:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Oct 11 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,roderick warner 19 Oct 11 - 06:15 PM
Songwronger 19 Oct 11 - 11:54 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 20 Oct 11 - 06:32 AM
tonyteach1 20 Oct 11 - 07:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 20 Oct 11 - 08:15 AM
BobKnight 20 Oct 11 - 08:28 AM
tonyteach1 20 Oct 11 - 08:37 AM
Bert 20 Oct 11 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Oct 11 - 02:16 PM
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Subject: Singer-Songwriters: Good Or Bad?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 02:39 PM

I have seen here a number of negative comments concerning original songs and singer-songwriters. These range from "girls singing their diaries", that they sing introspective songs about the contents of their navels, that they are trying to save the world, they are songs that will not last and other less than complimentary things. These are mostly said humorously and as an aside to the main business of the thread. I thought it might be an idea to have a thread where these views/prejudices could be aired and debated.

I think it a little unfair to the many people who are currently writing and performing original material (not all of them exclusively), that they should be covered by these generalisations. Even the ones who may be performing introspective songs would not be performing an entire set of such songs and are we saying that all introspective songs are bad?

All song are written (and re-written) by someone, even if we do not know who they are. There are some gems contained in the collections but there as also a lot that do not shine so brightly. I would suggest that some critics are harder on the material produced now than they are of material in the archive and all I would ask for is a level playing field.

It is easier to sing a song that your audience may know, for even if they don't know it well, they do have a point of reference. With an original song it is harder as the audience have to work a little to appreciate it.

It is not difficult to write songs, it is difficult however to write good songs and I think that only time will provide the evidence of if it is a good song or not. The writers that we would all call good have not written many songs that would pass that test.

Can we not make it a little easier for those songs to come through by at least encouraging the writers rather than not listening to them because they have the (unfortunate) label of singer-songwriter? If they don't believe in their songs and sing them who else will and what gems might we miss?


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 04:02 PM

Hi Shambles,

I'm glad you started this one. You have probably been referring to some of my opinions.

I am a singer/songwriter and I belong to a very good club in our area, The Philadelphia Area Songwriters Alliance. I attend functions when I can and always listen carefully to my colleages and try to give positive feedback. I have noticed that there is ALWAYS something good about any song.

What I complain about is, that other club I belong to. Their name suggests that they are a Folksong club. So I go along to a concert expecting to hear FOLK music. Most of the singers they hire are singer/songwriters. Very few of them sing anything that is remotely like folk music. I really resent spending an evening listening to a singer churning out very forgettable songs that are not folk when I have come there for folk music.

I don't mind someone slipping in a song now and then, that they have written themselves, I do it myself, here. Barbara will confirm that I can be shameless about it at times. You guys are a very discerning crowd, having been weaned on songs that have stood the test of time. So, I keep very quiet about most of the junk that I have written, I don't want people listening to MY diary.
However, most of the stuff here is folk or blues with a little country thrown in, that's what we come here for. I am not sure that we want this to turn into a singer/songwriter site. I see Mudcat as a folk/blues site where an occasional home brewed song is welcome.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 06:15 PM

Bert

Thanks for expressing your views in more detail. I had noticed that you do slip the odd song in here and there, and very welcome they are. However I didn't want to turn this into one of those "what is Folk" threads so remember that you were the first one to use the 'F' word (*Smiles*).

If I understand correctly, what you say is that you do not like hearing original songs, sung by singer-songwriters, being called folk and you object to going to your folk song club and hearing forgettable songs that are not folk.

I would suggest if you went to the folk song club and took the same charitable approach that you take to the songwriters club, that you may find that not all of the songs being sung by the singer-songwriters at the folk song club were in fact so forgettable. They may not be what you would consider to be folk, but is what you label things really that much of a problem?

Is it OK then if you go along to your folk song club and hear forgettable folk songs? The problem with that of course is that once you know a folk song it is not really possible to forget it, though it might be performed there so badly that you may not recognise it. Would that be better?

Is there not a danger that we may be confusing what is forgettable with what is familiar and comfortable and is not true that you cannot forget what you have never remembered?

Which brings me back to the point I made earlier, that we just have to work a little harder when it comes to listening to original (or unfamiliar) material.

Of course I am not making a claim for this to become a singer-songwriter forum nor am I saying that it is any more worthy than any other of the music forms discussed here. Just asking that the honest toil and creativity of a lot of people not be so easily dismissed by generalisations and prejudice.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: rick fielding
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 06:44 PM

There are just SO MANY folks today expressing themselves through music, and naturally the level of quality just can't be maintained. Very similar to professional sports. The NBA in general played at a slightly higher level before my city was admitted!

I've seen many irritating self-indulgent singer-songwriters over the last few years, but Oh lordy, I've also had to sit through some powerfully tedious traditional performers as well.

I've heard this one a few times: "Pete Seeger taught the world to sing....and we'll never forgive him"!


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: RWilhelm
Date: 23 Jan 99 - 12:19 AM

I recently saw this quote by singer-songwriter Lucy Laplansky:

What's called folk music today isn't really that different from what is out there in the mainstream. We're certainly not folk singers in the mold of Pete Seeger or Dave Van Ronk. Musically, what most singer-songwriters are doing now is right in line with what people in pop music turn out; we just don't sell a million records like pop artists do.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Barry Finn
Date: 23 Jan 99 - 12:41 AM

My 2 bits. I first agree with Bert about going to an act that's billed folk when it should've been advertised as acoustic. I aslo feel there's a power play here, money & recognition. Alot of songwriters out of survival need to be good at PR, the more they expose themselves the more they can sell themselves but they need to start somewhere as an unknown & usually will take way below what their worth (sometimes) displacing established traditional or folk artists at least some of the time. Passim's coffeehouse in Cambridge, Mass has been around now 40 years. I remember seeing acts there when it was the Club 47, it 's always had folk up until the past few years. It's hard to find a folk act there, it's pretty much singer/songwriters. Maybe that's because the past owner's ran it on love & never could make it pay & maybe the s/s pays the bills, I only know that it's a spot that I'm sad to say I don't hit anymore.

My take on songs that are forgetable is that I forget about them all together. If I hear a song that strikes me, weither it's by Annon, Trad or Kate Wolfe, & I like it, I'm gonna keep it, maybe try to take it & make it mine. I think there are many one hit wonders, less that can pen more than a good few & few that can hit it right often & maybe a couple that can hit an average of more good stuff than not. If that's true who tells the s/s to stop singing the garbage & stick to what's worth while (they might sing a few from another s/s that's good or throw in a nice folk song once & awhile). Can they control themselves when only a few clap out of embrassment for them or if the song just doesn't work can they give that one up.
I do dislike hearing someone sing their "diaries" & saving the world from wild dancing bears, as much as I dislike some kid just out of diapers in a uniform with a gun protecting me, please I don't want it, didn't ask for it & you should first get a life before instructing me about mine.
On my more agreeable side (I'm kidding, I don't even agree with myself sometimes), I'm all for pushing good talent to the max, there's so little cream it should always rise & alot of time the best in the bunch couldn't put their best foot forward when it comes to making a go of it. In my opinion more of your great folksong writers come out of a strong folk backround or else are good writers, writting about the backround they came from. There probably are a few that could write about anything no matter where or what they came up in (Laura Nyro comes to mind).
I'd say a fair percentage of what's aired, recorded & put out to a mass public is based on what brings in a bigger return & some of the cream gets pushed to the side in flavor of the current taste in bubble gum. I guess I wouldn't take it so hard if I could hear even a little (& I live within air range of a number of folk stations) of the likes of the Copper Family, Watersons, Kate Wolfe, Si Kann, Jim Payne, Tom Lewis, Cyril Tawney, etc, etc, etc.... instead of the constant dribble that's drowning the folkways (sorry Sandy, no pun intended, if anything you've done a great feat keeping the folkways free of clutter & smog).
Now while I still have my tounge in my cheek maybe I should write a song about this, I do write every now & again, how about how folkies can save the world from singer songwriters & still find it beautiful enough to sing a whalesong. Didn't I ramble, Barry, who's gonna puke the next time he picks up a pen.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Don Meixner
Date: 23 Jan 99 - 01:12 AM

I remember years back getting into this discussion with anyone, mainly performers, who would discuss it. The general agreement was they where entertainers who someone advertised as folksingers. I believe its more the style of performance rather than what is sung rhat determine who is a folk singer anymore. The distiction is too blurred otherwise to be easily defined. I would hardly call Leonard Cohen's music, (Which I like) folkmusic. I'd call it more "art music". Nor would I call Kate Wolf's music, some of which I like, some I really don't, folk music. I call it Cosmic Rocky Mountain Music. Much of what we call folkmusic was at one time the pop music of the day. Ballads we sing today that were sold on broadsides in 1800's were the same as buying a 45 rpm by the Beatles in the 1960's. Probably some day someone will sing "in My Life" at a Philly Folk Festival and a kid will be heard to say, "You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings." My thesis is that it is the performing style much more than the material being sung that determines whether or not someone is a folksinger.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jan 99 - 08:25 AM

Rick

With so many people expressing themselves through music the level of quality is now higher than it has ever been. It is for that reason that it so difficult for individuals to stand out. I would suggest that in the present climate even people like Woody would find it very hard to reach the top.

But that is not such a bad thing, the recent thread here about the mystique of Bob Dylan touched on that issue. The amount of praise that is heaped on the shoulders of certain individuals is out of all proportion to their talent, a fact that they themselves recognise and also seem to be a little embarrassed about.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Allan S.
Date: 23 Jan 99 - 11:35 AM

I hope I did't start something with my remark about saving the world, Tho I must admit that at I changed my mind about some newly written music Last nite at our song circle there were some beautifully newly written songs, and some oldies that were murdered. Being an old folkie perhaps I yearn for the old days [old age creaping up on me] Going back to the Hoot days we would sing one one song and go on to the next person. [Our group still does] But as people were being discovered, making records and money Singers started to sing "sets" of songs and looking at the audiance to see if there was an agent out there who would discover them. Are we singing for fun, or trying to make big bucks out of it [Will someone comment on this] As to the remark "You mean that Paul was in a band before Wings" I actually heard someone say that" Some how I do object someone out of diapers telling me how to think particulary if he has never held a job and daddy is paying his way through college. everything that the U.S. does is wrong and every revolutionary is their hero. It is almost as bad as a 80 yr. old member of the CP still waiting for the workers to rise up. I think if I hear an song along this line I will put my finger down my throat in the Middle of it. Oh well enough from an official member of the Piss and Moan and bitch about everything Club. Great thread tho good stuff comming out, keep it up.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Jan 99 - 03:33 AM

I think there is a national difference at work here. It would appear to me that there is less of a problem here in the UK than in the US, where there seems to be somewhat of a clearer line between what is considered singer-songwriter and what is folk. Is that true? How about the rest of the world?

Here it would seem that the distinctions are more blurred. It could be because not many performers from folk based music have gone on to be mega-famous and wealthy.

Here the concept of singer-songwriters performing to an audience made up of singer-songwriters has not (thankfully) caught on (yet). That I would suggest is the big danger. Which brings me back to the fact that we have to work a little harder to appreciate original material if we don't want to create these inward-looking'ghettos', where the only people prepared to make the small effort to listen to original material are those that produce it. themselves


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Earl
Date: 24 Jan 99 - 11:40 AM

I was recently at a folk festival that featured many young singer-songwriters. As with anything else, some were good, some were terrible, most were mediocre. What I found distressing was that when they played anything other than their own songs they played contemporary pop songs or swing tunes that showed off their guitar work. Nothing even remotly folk.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: AndyG
Date: 25 Jan 99 - 07:47 AM

These comments are from observation at club venues which are generally more intimate and informal than "concert" appearances, leading to different audience expectations.

There seem to me to be two basic types of s/s attitude, which I've experienced from both professional and floor singers.

A) "I've written these personally meaningful/socially important songs and now I'm going to sing them."
B) "I've written these personally meaningful/socially important songs and now I'm going to entertain you."

Type A are the ones I'm less than complimentary about. Type B are the ones I listen to. An intelligent set-list using, if necessary Trad. and/or other writers material to achieve changes of pace and mood, will keep my attention. If the artist disregards my desire to be entertained, I'll probably have "gone for another pint" before the end of the third song.

In the end it's not just the song itself that determines if I listen to it, (as opposed to sitting through it). It's the performance around it and the "courtesy" of the performer that determines how much effort I'll make to appreciate it.

Note: I've known professional singers of type A whose songs I really disliked until I heard them performed by a floor singer. I'd simply not listened when I'd seen them live.

AndyG


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Subject: Lyr Add: LISTEN TO ME (Roger Gall)
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Jan 99 - 05:34 AM

Good points all. I think I expected more sheer blind predudice but there is still time.

The point made about actually listening as opposed to just sitting through it, was a good one and touched a nerve. I was going to write a reply but here are the words to a song that would probably say it better. Have you got one Bert?

It takes the form of a conversation/argument between an established couple, who both want to be listened to but it also about what appears to be becoming 'the lost art of listening'.



LISTEN TO ME

You listen to the wind
You listen to the sea
You even listen to, the rain on your window
Why won't you listen to me?

You listen to your radio
You listen to your TV
You even listen to the static
Why won't you listen to me?

It's not that what I've got to say is so profound
But if you don't listen to the sound
If you don't hear the show, you won't know, what you're missing
It's a waste of time, you'll find, when nobody listens

You listen to your Walkman
You listen to your CD
You even listen to the traffic
Why won't you listen to me?

You listen to your hair-drier
You listen to your washing machine
You even listen to the water in the attic
Why won't you listen to me?

If we get credit for what we have to say
I would like to suggest another way
You say, you have the way, you have the vision
No not you, I'll give it to, the few that will listen

You've got to listen to the small print
Just like you strain your eyes to see
To listen, with your glasses on
That's the way, I would like you to listen to me

And I'll try to listen to you
The way I would like you
To listen to me

Listen to me

Roger Gall 1997


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 27 Jan 99 - 08:09 AM

All the traditional songs were written by somebody once! They got to be traditional by being well-liked and performed by other singers. We used to distinguish between trad and contemporary songs in my youth (on the right-hand side of the Pond, that is); this basically meant everyone knew who'd written the contemporary songs. Without meaning to get into the "what is Folk" argument, we had a rough-and-ready guide: if it was as written by someone, it wasn't Folk unless it had been folk-processed; so We all live in a yellow submarine would never get to be a folksong, while We all live at the Hilary Street end (a soccer chant) was the genuine article.

Glad we've got that straightened out!

Personally, I think that performance is most important - a good singer can always make some improvement to poor material, but a poor singer can ruin anything.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 27 Jan 99 - 02:21 PM

Hi, It's Bert again, just had a few days in bed with Flu so don't come too close.

I think it's a little like paying for a trip to see the Giant Redwoods and finishing up at a Christmas Tree Farm.
I like all trees, but sometimes there is something special about the old ones.

Shambles, No I don't have a song about 'listening', I think I'm too self centred for that. I do have one about an argument between an established couple though... Don't make her choose A song for every occasion? Not really, It's just that I can't resist an opportunity to plug a song.

Also, I think there is a difference between listening to singer/songwriters doing their best, and paying to hear so-called professionals turn out a load of drivel.

For example, there is a fairly well known group (I won't say who or even how many in the group) in this area, Good musicians - good singers but after sitting through a whole concert I cannot recall even one song they sang.

Perhaps I'm too demanding but I like to leave a concert humming at least one tune.

As far as it being folk or not there are some songwriters who are turning out stuff which if it isn't folk it is very close to it. Listen to Allen Damron's 'Come to the Bower' and Cheryl Wheeler's 'Potato song'.

I guess we can't all be as good as that.

Bert, who's head is still a bit foggy.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Jan 99 - 05:31 PM

exactly, Bert...there ARE songwriters who are writing things that approach the spirit, attitude, and 'musicality', for want of a better word, of traditional folk...and , like traditional folk..some are good, some bad and some average.All I wish is that both writers and listeners be aware of and admit, the differences! All output from S-S 'X' need not be of one type, just as not everything a listener likes has to be of one type of music. (gee, it did my heart good to see Don M. say that Kate Wolf [and I also like a bit of her stuff] is NOT really folk!) I can listen to it, and appreciate it...but I do NOT want it in the DT database!


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 12:22 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 03:11 PM

A long while back Sandy was good enough to put out a couple of LPs of this old (older every day)folksinger. In my notes to the first one, __That's The Ticket__, I wrote the following:

My favorite songs have always been the story songs--the ballads. These grand poems with muscic added form word pictures -- full color images -- on the most sensitive of all emulsions--the human mind. Here are a few of those expressive story songs (where each verse furthers the action like a chapter in a novel). Some are old and traditional; a few were composed more recently. All seem to possess a certain quality, a form, a word style that gives them the same feel as the older traditional ballads. That's why I like them so much.

Yes, good people, this is a good thread alright. But it's just a polemic where we champion our own preferences (actually quite natural) in the face of changing times where our oxen are, musically, sometimes getting gored. And it's painful to watch our ox going through his moribund and impotent thrashing about---especially 'cause we feel he's probably the last of his kind. (The cows have been extinct for a while now.) I do know what I like. And it's sad to realize how much is tied into misinformation and miseducation by people who, simply, don't know what the hell they're talking about!

Yes, there are some good "new songs". But in this era of "everything is folk", where both Woody and Liberace are seen by the Folk Alliance as being folk music, and navel-gazing pop singers use said Alliance as a springboard to Nashville, I personally feel we owe it to ourselves and the oral tradition and all the great public domain songs to RESIST learning the tripe even if it's a decent "self help" tool and we're going through a major depression.

Being strong enough to let the crap go by the wayside because I made an educated, though picky to some, distinction, never fails to cheer me up. And I can still look myself in the mirror.

Art Thieme

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 03:37 PM

I think that one of the problems is that Shambles himself is a very good songwriter and he gets his his feathers ruffled when he hears someone putting down songwriters.

I can see his point, and having read some of his lyrics, I see that he has very high standards of professionalism.

It is my opinion, though, that the people turning out the crap are the ones that are degrading our art. I resent sitting down listening to rubbish when I've paid for something else.

It seems now that if you can play a few licks on the guitar and you have a 'sound' that is somewhat reminiscent of one of the greats then you are a folk singer.

Being one myself, I love singer/songwriters and am prepared to cut them quite a bit of slack. However, I am not very tolerant of paying for a performance where the so called singer either can't get the message across or never had a message in the first place.

So, you singer/songwriters out there (not Mudcateers of course) give us a break.
If you're booked as a folk singer, sing at least a couple of traditional songs.
Have at least one or two good or 'entertaining' ones of your own.
Forget your 'sound' we came to hear 'you' not some Dylan sound alike.
Leave us humming a tune when we leave.
And we'll fogive you anything else.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 04:25 PM

I have very little sympathy for this issue, so forgive me if I am a little blunt in my response to the complaints about Singer/Songwriters and the Folk/Not-folk distinction.

Some of the complaints I've heard are of the following type.

"Wbenever I go to the local self-proclaimed 'Folk Club' they have some kind of singer/songwriter who, while they may be good on their own merits, aren't folk music and not what I wanted/paid to see."

OK. So you go once and you come away disappointed. You go again, and get disappointed again. Figure it out already! Ask for a refund! Stop going! Sue them for false advertising (if you can get a lawyer to hear your complaint without giggling). Better yet, stop going and organize a group of people to put on the kind of stuff you want to see. (Insert patriotic theme music with high-minded speech on Freedom, free-enterprise, self-reliance and all that stuff here). Just please, please, PLEASE don't come looking for sympathy. First of all, in the grande scheme, and even in a petit scheme of things, the offense of being disappointed at a concert over an issue of semantics does not inspire much grief, nor should it. Second, even if you are absoultely correct that the use of the word 'folk' to describe singer/songwriters is based on incorrect past application to the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs et al., that application is now so widespread that, in spite of anyone's objection, it has to be considered part of the lexicon. Given that, if you're fooled more than once or twice into seeing a singer/songwriter because you saw the word folk on the label...I'm sorry, but the problem isn't with the sender of the message, its with the reciever's inability to learn.

The second complaint I hear most often is the purity and preservation complaint. It goes like this. "If we let singer/songwriters call themselves folk then the 'true' folk musical traditions will be lost or worse yet transformed into something unrecognizable'. Well I don't see it. First of all preservation comes in two complementary, coexisting forms. The first is what I call museum or archive preservation. It is where, to as great an extent as possible, the original forms are preserved as is, either through recordings, or by learning to play and perform the songs as they were. To hear some tell it, this type of preservation is somehow threatened. Yet I would argue that there is at least 10 times the amount of recorded 'original form' folk and traditional music available to the public than ever, from compilations of old 78 recordings spanning disparate sorces from Robert Johnson to the Carter Family to shape note choruses. Then there is the collection that spawned this forum. The Digital Tradition is right now preserving thousands of tradtional songs, cross referenced and easily accessible to anyone. The archival form of preservation is alive and well, and I very much doubt that it suffers in any way if Big Road Blues has to share space in the DT with Big Yellow Taxi.

But there is also preservation that occurs by incorporating old forms into new ones. This kind of preservation is less concerned with purity than with taking something of the essence of an old form and evolving it into something new, like Bluegrass for example. When they created bluegrass, Bill Monroe and his contemporaries didn't destroy the blues or mountain traditions, they advanced them.

The last argument I have heard, and which really frost's me the most, is the 'I'm entitled to complain, having been forced to suffer through so much bad music'. I'll forgoe all but this cursory nod to the 'one mans trash is another mans treasure' point, and go directly to the nub of the matter. The quantity of good and even great music is in direct proportion to the number of people playing music altogether. The greater the number of people that create and play music, the greater the amount of great music that gets created, and the greater the amoung of bad music. Its the same as what you see in sports. A country that produces great baseball players does so because of the large number in that country that play the game, no matter how good or how bad they are. Increase the participation an you increase the number and quality of those that become great. Reduce the participation and you reduce the level of greatness. Its a direct cause and effect relationship. So it is with music. The more you get participating, at any level, the more you foster the kind of music you want to hear. That means that complaints about the 'amount of bad music' are analagous to the old 'Litte Red Hen' fable. Nobody wants any part of the boring, unpleasant side of creating a loaf of bread, they just want to be called to get their slice when its hot out of the oven.

And one last thing. Don't waste my time with any arguements about 'I paid money, I have a right to complain'. First you have that right whether you pay or not. Second its not a right, its just something nobody can prevent you from doing. Third, I'm familiar with the kind of places that these 'low talent' songwriters and performers play at, and I know that aside from the money spent on beer, they don't cost that much.

Yea its a diatribe I know but its the way I feel.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 04:49 PM

Jack,
The place I'm talking about is the leading folk club in the area. The concerts are only one part of their program. They do a lot of other good stuff including having made a grant to DT. So, not paying is not the issue, consider it a freebie that comes along with the other good stuff. It does not make any difference to the quality of the performance whether I have paid for it or not. I have complained to 'the management' and they didn't have the courtesy to reply. So I complain here, 'cos I can.
I still see it as an issue for all of us if poor quality perfomances are accepted as the norm then things will only get worse. Also it degrades the good artists to be lumped in with the crap. It isn't good for them to say I performed for 'The folk club' if 'The folk club' get the reputation for supporting mediocre performances.

You say... Its a direct cause and effect relationship.... It sure is. Accept crap and they'll shovel it out to you as fast as they can.

Don't forget this is not some low talent place I'm talking about. These guys are supposed to be the best.

They have Peggy Seeger booked for next season and I'll take a bet that she meets every one of my 'not so stringent' requirements above.
She'll sing at least a couple of traditional songs.
She'll sing more than one or two good or 'entertaining' ones of her own.
She won't sound like anyone else.
And she'll leave us humming a tune.

I just hate to have the likes of her, booked in the same series as some of the mediocre acts they've had in the past.

I know places to go to hear 'low talent' songwriters, there's plenty of them around and I do support them now and then. But when a series of concerts is touted as 'good' I don't see anything wrong in expecting them to be at least 'reasonable'.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 06:50 PM

To me this is a bizarre argument. The gist of it seems to be that we are just disagreeing about labels again. If there is really only one type of music that you're willing to be entertained, comforted, or otherwise done well by then I guess you have to be very careful what you pay or don't pay to hear. Go with an open mind. Usually there will be something good, and if not, then maybe it's just a night out with friends, forget the music. I'm sure I'm not the only one here who loves the Cranberries and Ray Charles as much as I do AP Carter and Charlie Patton and all the unknown North Georgia fiddlers. If I am then I was wrong about that. As far as the songwriting itself is concerned, sure we all get tired of what I call "teenage love problems" and the contents of diaries, unless, of course, somebody finds an interesting way to write about them. What really irritates is somebody that tries to copy someone else as closely as possible. But we all go through these periods in order to develop our craft. I was playing for a wedding reception recently and a 12-year old wanted to play something on his guitar, so I let him, and it turned out to be "Stairway to Heaven". I was proud of the little guy for putting the effort in to learn something. And years from now he'll probably be playing something else entirely, but he's Playing! So lighten up.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 08:01 PM

Bert said: "Accept crap and they'll shovel it out to ya as fast as they can."

Extend that good observation logically and you will find that the next generation, who has no other reference points to steer by but the shit they've been told are really diamonds, will create pretty ugly (and smelly) jewelry.

Art


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 08:22 PM

I give up. What did I miss?

Chet


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: SeanM
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 10:02 PM

I think one of the elements that this thread originally addressed was beyond the 'folk' vs. 'non-folk' ideas.

I live out in Southern California. Pretty much the closest to a 'folk scene' where I live is the coffee shop circuit. At one point, there were several good acts who nicely balanced both traditional and new material. Unfortunately, a spate of people claiming to be singer/songwriters came in, ready to play for free, and the entire scene collapsed within 6 months, with all the former venues now being played at by identical s/s, all of them singing interminable songs about their navels and why they were depressed about them, playing seemingly random chords behind it all.

The point to this is, it can kill a scene. I don't entirely discount this switch in entertainment having a hand in all but a few of these venues either closing or being replaced by Starbucks. What I wish could happen would be for the navel contemplators to have their little circuit, and for the better acts to be able to showcase their talents in a better circuit, without having to deal with the scourge of the coffeehouse s/s.

*Sigh*... In a perfect world, of course.

M


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: campfire
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 10:54 PM

Way to go, Jack (who is called Jack). Amen.

My own two cents - This may be a minor point, but of all the singer/songwriters I know, NONE of them bill themselves as "Folk Singers". Several of them CRINGE when they hear themselves called that. They KNOW they aren't folk singers. Here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA, the paper only started having an "acoustic" category in the music calendar within the last few years. Before that, any music that wasn't rock, country, or jazz was "folk".

Just a few weeks ago, I was trying to get a s/s friend of mine, who will be passing thru this way, a gig or two to fill out his tour. I talked to one coffee-shop person, who is supposedly "in-the-know" about music, and she asked me "What do you mean, a singer/songwriter? Like, what does he play?"

For most of the general public (we don't seem to be that, here) a person on stage by themselves with a guitar is a "folk singer - Like Bob Dylan or John Denver". My mother would probably say I play "folk music". My father would vehemently deny that, with the exception of a few tunes I do. I've been in the middle of that argument for 40 years. It doesn't - and won't end. Here either, I guess.

campfire


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 11:29 PM

A couple of grumpy thoughts: Folk is a word that no longer has any meaning. I suspect that one result of this is that people who liked what they thought of as folk are staying away from concerts and festivals in droves.

Good songs need no defence. Bad ones are indefencible.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: BK
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 11:56 PM

There will probably always be debates centered around these concepts, no matter what words we use to describe them, but Sean points out a very practical problem abt the ENTERTAINERS being displaced by the mediocre-but-free S/S types singing abt their navals, their great & sophisticated observations & conclusions abt injustice, their brilliant social wisdom & insight, or just their sex life or lack thereof. Probably in many of these venues, the owner/proprietors looked at any live musician as a variety of muzak. It is also possible that most of the clientele are oblivious (or nearly so) to the difference. Don't get me wrong, in spite of the many S/S who've enriched my life beyond measurement w/their music, I'm w/ Sean, and w/those who want to be ENTERTAINED. Just not at all sure how it can be realistically sought.

Is it possible to educate the mannagement, (and the public) & pay the good entertainers any-way?

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 12:35 AM

Alas, Dick, you're totally correct... Sometimes I wear my preferences on my sleeve too much. (The arguments here bring out the beast in me and, like Leo Durocher, I tend to shoot from the lip. It's less trouble to keep our pearls & wisdom to ourselves. But, as the Weavers song said, "Wasn't That A Time"?

Art


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 02:30 AM

Dick said

"Good songs need no defence. Bad ones are indefencible."

Can't argue with that but, you have to be prepared to go and listen to the song to know if it is good or not and for that it needs a platform.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 07:40 AM

It seems a bit unfair to lump all s/s into one stodgy mess of navel-singing - and very discouraging to s/s in general. Just as there are some interminably boring s/s performances, there are also plenty of folkies who can render a wonderful old trad song completely dead. Some of the lovely old ballads can be mangled into navel-style very easily if you're not careful. So, perhaps some of these much-despised s/s are actually grubs about to turn into brilliant performing butterflys (you know what I was trying to say....). Also - surely songwriters are entitled to sing their own songs - presumably most of the songs we know and love were at some time sung by their writer. Not all mediocrity is found among the s/s, and not all s/s are mediocre. Generalisation leads to prejudice.

Kris PS. Sometimes it takes a shovel-load of crap to give people the impetus and courage to have a go for themselves ("even I could do better than that....."). One man's shit is another man's fertiliser...


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:10 AM

Bert

You hate to see Peggy Seeger booked in the same series in which 'lesser acts' are also listed????

I'm sorry, that isn't principle, its conceit and pretentiousness. Peggy Seeger is just a musician, neither royalty or a holy messenger . I might love her stuff, but lets not get her a white donkey and start lining her way with palm leafs just yet.

That said, lets get down to specifics. Precisely what 'lesser acts' have soiled her majesty's honor by their presence in the same concert series, and why isn't 'just not going to see them' sufficient to prevent these acts from appearing in the future?

And finally, there is a fundamental thesis that the genius of a free society lies in the fact that it affords the opportunity for an individual acting alone or with a group of like minded individuals to create for themselves that which they believe represents the highest good.

But, what I am hearing sounds more like frustration over the fact that others aren't creating that higher good, and a desire to prevent them from creating their own version of what they think is right.

Again I cite the fable of the little Red Hen. The hen says, "who will help me grow the wheat, grind the flour, knead the dough, or bake the loaf. Not I says everyone. But when she asks who'll help her eat the bread they all line up at the door saying I will. In the story she tells them all to take a hike. But I'd wager that had she let them all have a slice, a lot of them wouldn't have said thank you. Instead they'd have complained that the bread was too dry, or had too much salt, or not enough yeast, or that their slice didn't have enough butter. They'd have commented that 'had they done the job it would have turned out better', and I'm sure all of them would have had some lame arguement about just being concerned about preserving the high standards of breadmaking.

And this time the moral would be, to quote you Bert: People complain just because they can.

Bah!


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Subject: Lyr Add: CONTRASTS (Bob Clayton)
From: Songbob
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 11:03 AM

My thoughts are expressed in the following:

CONTRASTS

Sing of hard times, sing of wars,
Of drink and work and bars and whores;
Sing your heart out in God's name,
Or relate the account of an outlaw's fame.
Raise your voice in praise of ale,
Tell again an ancient tale.
Many and varied are the things
Of which the good folksinger sings.

Chorus:

But I wanta boogie, I wanta score,
I wanta feel your love and then feel it some more!
I wanta feel good, I wanta feel fine.
Today's songs are wanting most all the time.


Songs all used to tell it straight,
Of hungry kids and empty plates,
Of tricksters caught and races run,
Of maids deceived or battles won.
Common were the tales they told:
The joys of youth, cares of the old.
A universal look at this old world,
With no one's inner views unfurled.

Chorus:


The old songs seldom strayed too far
From where the singers thought they were,
And even tales of foreign lands
Had lessons all could understand.
Songs of selfish, lone intent
Were seldom sung, or came and went,
While songs that struck a chord in all
Were sung in cot and castle hall.

Chorus:


Copyright 1992, Bob Clayton

Now, having said that, I have to point out that I wrote it, and that I habitually write songs, as something less than a passion but more than a passtime; that I am in fact a singer and songwriter. But I am not a "singer-songwriter," as the usual meaning is ascribed, since I also sing other folks' songs, and seek only -- well, mainly -- to entertain and enlighten the audience, should I have one. I sometimes use the phrase "songer-singwriter," in derogatory fashion, to designate the "I Feel, I Feel" writers whose entire output is only their thoughts about the somewhat circumscribed world of their own existence. In fact, I got together with Joan Sprung and Pete Kraemer to write another ditty, called "I Feel, I Feel," which is a mockery of those kinds of singers. Bill D and Ferrara have heard it, I think. Sort of a special-situation song.

So my feeling about singer-songwriters is, as someone else said, that much if not most of what gets performed by such folks is junk, maybe even trash, and is forgettable. Problem is, we have to be part of the problem of "winnowing out" that lets the cream rise to the top. It's annoying, agonizing, and disturbing. And it's disruptive to the economics of a music that co-exists with similar but differing music (e.g., folk and "acoustic"), an economic disruption that harms the music we prefer. So, as the cream rises, those of us in the whey get pushed about and our lives changed. But the real substance of our musical lives doesn't change, we hope. I don't know. Do I look sort of clotted to you? Hmmm... maybe I need a change of diet.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 11:27 AM

This thread will settle nothing, but it sure feels satisfying to have the priviledge of telling the emperor he's naked. If 10,000,000... people do a wrongheaded thing and one person doesen't do it, it's still wrong-headed. I realize that isn't very democratic, but it is accurate. Hitler needed to be confronted! It did, finally, get the mule's attention.

S/S do write some fine things. That said, it only muddies the already murky waters to add everything to the term folk. It removes the luster from a real and honestly academic discipline. It waters down something I've cared mightily for for a long time---it allows treasure hunters to use the springboard into our small pond so they can get "big" and then deny they were ever folksingers and, in so doing, turn some pretty clear waters to sludge so that some very nice people are still very nice, but totally miseducated. And that IS quite sad.

I mean no offense--it's just the way it looks from here.

Art


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 11:54 AM

Thank you Jeezus! (or the Deity of your choice) So far not one person has quoted Bill Broonzy's "horse" homily!
Sham, after having a half a year to think it over - I'm still right - and you're still wrong! Quality HAS gone down. (please don't make me say "smile, grin, grin, NFOI")
Dick, after having one day to think it over, the term "folk" hasn't meant anything since I picked up a banjo in 1960. (I didn't personally destroy the term, I meant that's when I first noticed the proliferation of writers who had been influenced by traditional music rather than pop.)


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 01:19 PM

Above the following was writtien

ENTERTAINERS being displaced by the mediocre-but-free S/S types singing abt their navals, their great & sophisticated observations & conclusions abt injustice, their brilliant social wisdom & insight, or just their sex life or lack thereof.

Now the front end of this website pays tribute to a number of the great old blues legends, who wrote most of their songs about

...how miserable they were.

...how unjust the world is.

and especially, and in excruciating detail about

...their sex life and/or lack thereof.

Ah, but they were FOLK so I guess its different.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 01:49 PM

Just one thing to keep the pedants happy.

Folksingers are dead. All that is left are folksong singers. And not many of them. The rest perform contemporary acoustic music. Those who write and perform all (or almost all) their own stuff are the singer songwriters.

For a nice evening you need a mix - much as it grieves me to admit the contemporary stuff has virtue. But there is no such thing as a forgettable folk song. If a folk song was forgettable, it got forgotten. Until some of the contemporary ones have got forgotten, we'll have to put up with them to hear the ones which won't get forgotten. I wish someone else could forget them for me.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 06:25 PM

For what it's worth, I sing a lot of my own songs. Better yet, most of the songs I've ever written will never be heard by anybody, because by my standards they were not good enough. (My navel period, I guess.) But I personally have never felt the need to limit myself with regard to what kind of songs I do, what they're about, or how much I deviate from orthodoxy. In fact one of my favorite things to do musically is to take a traditional song and change it; new music, new words, new rythm; and I do this with great reverence for the original. If somebody doesn't want to listen to me because of this, there's lots of other places to go. But it's a shame to miss out on the great richness of the variety of music in the world, now more available than ever before, because of some dearly held preferences made into laws. If I listen to more kinds of music than the next guy, I have no doubt that I am richer than him because of it.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: DonMeixner
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:45 PM

Some twenty+ years ago I was the unofficial introducer of singists at Auburn Community College Folk Festivals.

I intoduced Papa John Kolstadt as an exceptionl Blues Singer. He said To me and the crowd, "Actually , I'm an entertainer, its the blues that is exceptional." Then he launched into his openning tune.

I have this argument with a folklorist for the state of New York regularily. He claims I don't sing enough traditional songs. I maintain that the song isn't the tradition, its the singing.

Oh Well.

Don


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: harpgirl
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:52 PM

well I like Dolly Parton consistently, and Tom T Hall even though he is sometimes corny but most of it is boring. I love pierce pettis' voice ( he used to do my sound at radcliffe's) but his songs are boring! sorry pierce, noi...but deliever to me a good blues singer/songwriter from a mississippi juke and I will reconvert!harpgirl and do I love ruth brown, alberta king, and bonnie r!!!


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: BK
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 11:49 PM

Apparently sometimes (not always!) the Bluesmen (& women) did it better, much, much better. I've never thought of them as "folk," even if I could define it. They were often older, 'n could sing that stuff more from experience. Always, for me, they beat listening to some white city boy who never got his hands dirty singin' abt pickin' cotton. It's still often fun to listen to some of those Bluesmen, & often not fun to listen to the S/S of ill repute.

OTOH, I guess Stan Rogers, Eric Bogle, Tom Paxton, & who knows how many other wonderful entertainers, (& maybe me, 'n a lot of us here) were naval-centric at one time? (still are, ya say?)

I'll admit it: ya hardly have any choice but to listen to some of these folks, & thereby sometimes discover a jewel. But I'll probably still grumble abt it. While we're grumblin', how abt the super-ultra-neato-tricky finger picker whose output does little to enhance the ballad he's trying to overshadow instead of accompany? Lets gripe abt him too. (It's mostly fellas.)

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: KingBrill
Date: 09 Jun 99 - 05:11 AM

Richard, genuine question & not being funny etc, but what is the difference (comparative definitions) of the folksingers (dead) & folksong singers (endangered)???

Kris


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 09 Jun 99 - 09:28 AM

Jack,

I wasn't really putting Peggy Seeger on a pedestal, it just happens that she will be performing next season. She is pretty good, but then again she ought to be. This place is THE place in this area.

I am not going to mention the acts that I think were poor. I don't think it's fair to put down individual acts, and I've forgotten most of them anyway.

I do think that we should be critical of the music that we hear, and it's ok to say that 'I liked this' and 'I didn't like that'.
There is (and probably always has been) a lot of crap turned out by songwriters, I know 'cos I write songs. But there are clubs and coffee houses and bars that cater for us lesser folks.

So I think the point is that when I go to a 'Concert' I expect to hear better stuff than I would hear at a singer/songwriters club.
As KingBrilliant says "even I could do better than that.....". That's exactly what I mean, "I", with my limited ability, should not come away from a concert thinking that. I will not accept mediocre performances when there's 'Songbobs' and others out there who....
Sing of hard times, sing of wars,
Of drink and work and bars and whores;

The good stuff is out there and I want to hear it. That's why I'm helping Max make OUR OWN CDs available.
So all you Mudcateers who've got CDs email me at albert.hansell@bentley.com.

I promise "I" won't be the one reviewing your work. I'm just helping Max gather the data. Anyway, if you're Mudcateers you MUST be good.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 09 Jun 99 - 07:48 PM

Don's remark that it's not the song that's the tradition, it's the singing - I like that a lot. It sums up this ongoing argument with accessories better than I expected anybody could.

Seriously impressed by eloquence, Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jun 99 - 08:46 PM

A folksinger is a person to whom a song was transmitted via the oral tradition and who sings it as such. He may also archive them. An example would be the late Stan Hugill, last of the shantymen. Another might have been Bert Lloyd. I suppose a case could be made that the Bob Copper is a surviving folksinger and that I exaggerated.

A folksong singer is someone who has learned folksongs via research, and now sings them. An example is Martin Carthy (MBE for services to folk music!)


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 09:29 AM

So if I learned some songs from my Dad who learned them from his Grandma, Does that make me a folksinger?

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 10:04 AM

Should do Bert, according to that definition. So : in folk clubs, singarounds, festivals etc where people are singing and where people tend to pick up songs by hearing them (& perhaps asking for the words etc) the folksinging thing must be still ongoing - with all the adaptations, variations, inspirations and lucky accidents that involves. Sounds healthy enough to me.

Or do we have to have some notion of being purely oral tradition in order to qualify as folksingers? Is there a folk holy grail?

Kris


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 10:10 AM

There's a folk holy grail only if ya think there is.

Art


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: reggie miles
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 01:20 PM

I've written some songs which I perform and I enjoy playing songs written by a good friend/mentor so I guess that would put me in a couple of different catagories to start. Then if you add the fact that I also play blues interpretations and love to do old novelty/hokum tunes, I think that puts me into another couple of slots still. Add to all that the somewhat unorthodox instrumentation I employ (washboard/sound effects gizmo, musical saw, homemade rezophonic guitar) and it's no wonder I find it so difficult to put a name or catagory to what I do. Is it folk/blues or am I a singer of folk and blues songs? Am I a singer/song writer or a singer of singer/song writer songs? I'm confused about all this labeling and when I try to explain what I do to the occasional inquiry I find it challenging to come up with a category that fits. I play acoustic guitars but I have pickups on them and play them through an amp as this gives me better definition at most shows I do, so I'm not entirely acoustic. Does that then make me acoustic/electric? I don't believe there is a category that fits everyone and perhaps we shouldn't even try to label everything. This though is a method that most radio stations use to determine if a given artist's music will be played at their station and more than once I've been turned away from a club/bar/lounge/restaurant because I didn't play the style of music which they or their customers wanted to support. It seems by their standards that I didn't play enough blues, singer/song writer, rhythm 'n blues, rock, country, irish or whatever to be considered entertaining for their tastes. There is a new catagory I've heard of recently that seems to include much of what has been previously unlabelable. According to KHUM out of Arcata CA this new label is called Americana and they say with it even a guy like me can now has a catagory to fit in. I don't know how I feel about that, I rather liked being undefinable. Hey but if it gets me a little more air play alright call me what you will.

Reggie


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 02:18 PM

Where is Bill D when you need him?

Mention of Bob Copper: Has anyone heard him sing the blues?

There is a recorded version of him 'doing' a version of 'Going Down To Brownsville'!!!

Brownsville ia small village in Sussex, I am given to believe?


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: reggie miles
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 05:39 PM

In response to the comment about singer/song writers taking over venues in California, there are similiar occurances here in Washington state. It could be due to the threats of legal action by ASCAP and BMI which were instrumental (bad choice of words) in causing several venues in this area to go with only canned music or with musicians that only played original stuff. A sad state of affairs indeed but small places that want to accomodate acoustic acts have no recourse but to pay large sums to these organizations or operate without supporting live music. Bugetary cocerns often lead them to the later of those two choices.

A sad and woeful story, Reggie


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 06:03 PM

Attribued to Michael Cooney: "If it takes more than two trips from the car, it ain't folk."

Big RiB


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 09:28 PM

shambles...Bill D has been reading this thread...wondering how to catch up and clear the air..*grin*...methinks 'tis not possible.

(At our festival last weekend, I had a crafts table...and the stage that faced me featured Singer/songwriters much of the 2 days...arrrgghhh!! Some was 'ok', but some was just 'cookie cutter' thumping and chanting.*sigh*)....

One more time...SOMEONE has to write songs, or there wont be any....some songs are good, some are not...but it is a matter of taste which. I truly like some recently written songs...but they are NOT folk/trad. If I am at home, playing music (live OR on the machine) I do not differentiate. If I go out to buy, or pay to hear, music, I DO differentiate, because certain kinds of music ****TEND**** to be more to my taste, and I want some sort of filter out there where I am severely outnumbered!


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 09:37 PM

I can now sleep easy.

Goodnight. John-Boy..


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 09:59 PM

Does anybody seriously think that Robert Johnson or Leadbelly or Gid Tanner or anybody before we became archivists in the sixties ever gave a thought to whether they were tradtional or not, or whether they should be? It's absurd. People like Gid Tanner and especially Charlie Poole especially were influenced by whatever they heard that they liked enough to incorporate into their own music. There's as much swing and blues in some of those old records as there is Scotch/Irish tradition. I seriously doubt that any of this purist frenzy (although I know there were archivists, as in Child ballads and on and on) even existed before the last few decades. And it's not just the music either. I have mused many times while playing for dances what a puritanical ethic has taken over. When Tommy Jarrell and his contemporaries were playing for dances in their younger years it was a party! People who wanted to have drinks had them (probably often to excess)! Now at the dances around here and even at some of the big gatherings if you want to have a beer you have to go hide somewhere. A cigarette? Even if you hide and have one people will smell it and many will not talk to you because of your obvious character flaw. I'm not defending drunkenness or smoking but I find that so many people at these events these days are so uptight I don't enjoy them anymore. And they seem to think they are getting back to some kind of roots? It's such a sanitized middle-class version of our roots that it gets ridiculous, which is exactly what I think people are doing if they are so into "traditional", which obviously doesn't mean anything anymore, that they are missing out on much of life, avoiding the acquaintance of some very interesting people and they are not preserving anything. Try having fun, for God's sake. It won't kill you and a perfect contra dance won't make you holy.

Mouthing off, Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 10 Jun 99 - 10:46 PM

Chet W. A lot of 1930's country/folk singers were VERY conscious of what they were doing and what was--and wasn't--traditional. Buell Kazee used different vocal techniques depending on what he waws singing, as did Vernon Dalhart. Clayton McMichum played cointry fiddle very differently than he played Dixie jazz. And this capability of distinction is still very much with usL John Jackson knows damn well what he's doing, and will do it differently depending upon what he's playing--as will Doc Watson.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 12:27 PM

As Lenny Bruce once said, "A knowledge of venerial disease is not a prescription to go out and get it." (He was saying that a knowledge of human sexuality was a good thing to teach in schools.)

Preferring traditional folk to pop folk does not exclude me from appreciating Bird and Dizzy (and listening to them and so many more)every chance I get.Some of my best friends are S/Ss. Doc Watson played rock and Western Swing every weekend for years before Clarence Ashley got him to play the older traditional things (also in his background)so they could work the new college and festival folk circuit of the 60s. They chose not to tell the folkies about their background in other musics. All I'm saying is that I prefer coffee straight to the watered down kind. I can see through the watered down stuff.

There are very real and very valid reasons for us to draw easily seen lines around aspects of life. If only to preserve privacy rights, we have doors on the rooms of a house. And as Lenny also said, "We have separate bathrooms and bedrooms so nobody will come along and toss crap on us while we're sleeping." I don't think it helps us to build homes without walls.

In the Black Hills-1874, Custer, in collusian with the railroad who wanted to build through the Sioux lands, said he'd found gold. All that was necessary to assure a white stampede westward was to find a bit of the yellow stuff there--and in California. By broadening the definitions, and erasing the lines, many good singers have seen it as being in their economic interest to adopt folk as a means to an end--success. It's just sad for me to watch the glitz and other stuff come pouring through the bedroom unopposed while I'm asleep.

This is just my way of keeping one eye open while I get the needed rest.

Art


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 03:11 PM

...amen, Art...that sure pinpoints a couple of the issues..


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 04:48 PM

There was a 'folk scare' back in the 60's, associated with a little stampede of its own. I wonder what IT trampled?


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 07:09 PM

Yes of course, and sometimes I try to make a song sound as authentic as possible if that seems right to me. But I suspect, and I may be wrong, that when the Skillet Lickers conciously played a tune that way it was mostly because they learned it that way and they liked it that way, and in the 30's there was a market for genuine hillbilly music (which later came to mean something else). Both John Jackson and myself can tell the difference between traditional and non, but we're not married to it, or at least he didn't seem to be the times I've seen him play. And I think that Doc Watson, possibly my greatest musical hero, embodies what I'm saying; He'll sing an unaccompanied ballad older than any recording and you can almost hear it echoing off the sides of mountains, and the next number might be a blues from Mississippi John Hurt and the one after that might be a Sam Cooke song. And when Merle was still here the next song might be from the Allman Brothers. He does not automatically put himself in any box. If somebody else wants to, it doesn't bother me, but I think it takes some of the soul out of music. I have arranged Carter Family songs with Beach Boys harmonies. I wear Birkenstocks every day. The old-time music crowd that educated and nurtured me in the sixties and seventies has made a generational shift that does bother me, because I think intolerant puritanism is always bad. I just wish the open-mindedness that attracted me in the first place was not so hard to find these days.

Concerned, Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: campfire
Date: 11 Jun 99 - 10:48 PM

I'm not sure if I should post on this thread or on the "broken heart" thread - but I went to see a local singer/songwriter tonight. He made me laugh, he made me cry (not difficult tonight, admittedly), and yes, he sang a song that inspired me to go get another cup of coffee. I came home with two of his CDs and a MUCH better mood than I left the house in.

campfire


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 03:41 AM

Campfire.

I hope you don't feel like crying too much today.

I suppose that is all I am trying to say hear, if you lump everyone together in a category, there is always the chance that you will miss something special.

Sometimes what you think you want is not always what you need.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bonedaddy
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 04:30 AM

How long after I die will my songs become certified as folk, blues, jazz, or simply "contemporary easy listening"? I've written a lot of songs about a lot of things (my navel not being one of them) over the past few decades, and still like to think of myself as just a musician. I guess if I write a song about running over my dog, it's country, but if I sing a song Pete Seeger wrote about runng over his dog, it's folk. Dog's just as dead. Saw this T-shirt the other day..."What if the Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about"...Bonedaddy


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: campfire
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 01:59 PM

Hey, Bonedaddy - I just posted that on the "Hokey Pokey" thread!

And Shambles, I'm an admitted singer/songwriter fan from way back. Unfortunately, I tend to fall in love with them, and THAT has proven my demise. From now on, I just listen....thanks for the concern.

campfire


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 08:15 PM

Okay thanks to all of you I feel a compulsion to write about my navel. I think I'll do a song-cycle, titled "The Umbilical Chord".

Chet


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: campfire
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 08:34 PM

Maybe followed by "Belly Button Blues"?


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: LEJ
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 08:35 PM

Chet w... I'm not too sure that "the open-mindedness" of the old days of folk ever existed. Bob Dylan was certainly not welcomed with open arms when he amped-up at Newport in 65. And although many viewed his change from more traditional forms to the hated guise of a rock-edged "singer-songwriter" as a betrayal, I think it opened up the door to his true greatness, and benefitted both folk and rock in the years that followed.

LEJ


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Chet W.
Date: 12 Jun 99 - 11:51 PM

Yes of course, and rarely has a fine artist made such an ass of himself as when Pete Seeger (allegedly) tried to literally axe the power supply to stop Bob's heresy. But I was not referring so much to well-known musicians and their fans as to the people I used to meet and remeet at festivals and local friends that got together to play and occasionally do a "coffee house" thing somewhere, or put on a dance or God knows what. Some of them are still around me, but most went on to something else. My lament is that the current old-time or traditional or "rural-acoustic" crowd gets so unnecessarily uptight about things that are meaningless to me. I guess maybe these are just uptight times. I got memories.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Jun 99 - 03:52 AM

Campfire.

As to you weakness. Stevie Nicks (who I don't really think of as generally a great song-writer) has a line in a Fleetwood Mac song, about. "Players only love when they're playing", which I think has a lot of truth behind it. She should know, I suppose?


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 13 Jun 99 - 07:17 PM

Defence of Pete Seeger: He tells his biographer he did not threaten to cut the power supply because he didn't like what Dylan was doing but because the PA system was too loud and wrecking Dylan's song. (Not trying to start an argument, just to give info...) - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Jun 99 - 12:47 AM

Poor ol' Pete. He's been re-telling that story for twenty years now and no-one (wants) to believe him. It's like the "Babe" calling his shot.
Funny thing about Dylan's "betrayal". A great deal of that was instigated by Irwin Silber in "Sing Out". I think most of the folk fans could have cared less.
One of my students asked me two weeks ago if I could recommend 5 albums that I thought were really important to help her "get into this folky thing". I suggested "Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall", "Horton Barker"(recorded by our own Sandy),"Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, (Blues Before Sunrise"), Ewan MacColl (Jacobite Songs), and God help me, with so many other wonderful albums to choose from.."Bob Dylan"(the first one). I listen to it every so often and for sheer unvarnished talent and excitement, it's still a milestone. The guitar playing (which plummetted after this one) is superb!
Five albums of course aren't enough. Twenty, would be more representative.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 06:07 AM

Quite an interesting,broad-minded post. I found most songwriters from the 1960's defended their positions quite adequately. Best highly individual writer I ever met was a fellow named Tom Cooke,who lived in Illinois,Missouri,CA,and North Carolina. This fellow wrote well-crafted songs that were pretty personal but beautiful. I never kept in touch but have recently found that people who he considered friends have no interest in his music now. Very sad to lose trace of such talent.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Johnny J
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 07:21 AM

I've joined this thread late but my own view is that there is nothing wrong with people writing original songs and they don't necessarily have to be in traditional style as such.

However, before even contemplating embarking on regular song writing activites, the musician or singer should firstly have a good grounding in their own preferred area of music as opposed to those(many) who choose to purchase a guitar, ukele, or whatever and start plinking and wailing away.... the "should have stayed in the bedroom" types.

So, it ought to be a gradual process for a trad, folk, blues, jazz, even rock singer to progress into composing original as and when they are ready and the inspiration takes them. They should not think of "singer/song writing" as a genre in itself and just decide to write songs for the sake of it.

With a very few exceptions, all the respected songwriters have allowed themselves to have good musical grounding and gathered experience first..
eg Bob Dylan studied Woody Guthrie in particular, Ralph McTell... blues and old rag time, Dick Gaughan....traditional music etc, even The Beatles played rock and roll and other music for several years before they became prolific song writers. Their earlier albums included many covers.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: theleveller
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 08:20 AM

I really can't see why singer/songwriters need defending - or to be defensive. Without them there'd be damn all for anyone to sing. Let's face it, songs do not suddenly descend to earth, given to mankind by the Great God Trad.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Johnny J
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 09:00 AM

The great majority of songs were never composed or written by persons whom we would generally describe as "singer/songwriters" but I know what you mean.

Of course, people have always composed new songs and there is a need for this to continue. However, as I said, the problem is that it's now becoming the norm to write songs for the sake of things and it's regarded as a genre in itself. So new writers will gain all or most of their inspiration from other song writers as opposed to the "tradition" or other genres of music in general.

Many start off churning out loads of songs when they can barely strum three chords which I feel is ridiculous.

Also, the trend, especially in pop, rock etc circles is for all would be performers to aim for a repertoire of entirely original material.... this might be a good move as far as royalties are concerned but if the quality is poor, what's the point?

However, if it goes on like this, the only people who will end up performing the songs will be the writers themselves and the songs will die with them.

So, I'd rather if people composed original material a little more sparingly and also *respected* that which is already there, i.e. whether it be traditional or good recent work from other composers.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: BobKnight
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 09:25 AM

I never write songs about ME!! However, what you have experienced in life does trickle through into your songs, but they're still not about ME. Although I have more than enough of my own material to cover the usual 2x45 minute folk club spots, I am now inclined to add a few traditional songs to the set list as well. You can hear a few of my original songs here...

www.youtube.com/bobknightfolk


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Acorn4
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 11:39 AM

I agree with Bob. These are things I try to avoid:-

Songs about a "failed relationship".


Those involving "my cesspit of despair" or "floating on my psychedelic cloud"

Trying to sound like an American when I'm not an American -"Heading darn the Harway with ma geetar in ma hyand."

Trying to avoid sounding like an American by sounding like Chas n' Dave.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 01:08 PM

You'll all be sorry, when my songs DO eventually save the world - provide a bulwark behind which our fragile civilisation can shelter and take strength.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: GUEST,roderick warner
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 06:15 PM

Never understood the abuse offered in 'folkie' (dreadful word) circles - wasn't the redoubtable Ewan McColl a singer and songwriter?


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Songwronger
Date: 19 Oct 11 - 11:54 PM

Miles Davis said there's room enough for all of it. (All types of music).


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 06:32 AM

Ah yes, I remember them well.... people mumbling often extremely cringeworthy lyrics into the soundholes of their guitars. In most cases only the front row, and possibly the second, were able to 'share and enjoy' what was being offered. With hindsight, and as a songwriter as well, I feel the problem is) that these people haven't realised that, no matter what music you're playing, you have to establish a link with the audience. Presenting your song(s) as if you're praying for the ground to open and swallow you up is generally an audience turn-off. As the jazz song puts it,"It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it." I've written songs which, for me, have a personal background, but I try to 'package' the story in such a way that the audience reaction is not, "Oh God, that's all so embarrassing!", but rather,"Been there, done that, didn't like the T-shirt either, but hey, that's an interesting slant on the 'failed relationship'(or whatever) theme", and, for the songwriters present,"Why didn't I think of that way of dealing with the topic!?" Or to put it another way, it makes a difference if the audience feels you're standing up for your song(s) or not. Whether or not you're a good singer, instrumentalist and/or talented wordsmith is often a secondary consideration, the main thing is to stand up for what you've composed.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: tonyteach1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 07:26 AM

I am a singing and guitar teacher and have worked with a number of songwriters and singer guitarists My perspective is both as a teacher and member of the audience

1 The minute you step on stage you are a PERFORMER This means establishing and keeping a rapport with the audience who may have paid to see you

2 Soundhole sniffers are a no no to me You must be able to face your audience and communicate clearly the lyrics and melody of the song to me Otherwise I am heading for the bar or the loo

3 You must communicate between songs ie speak to the audience clearly keep their attention Lengthy tunings are a turnoff unless you can do it while talking Martin Carthy is brilliant at this

4 Check out your set - ie too many songs in the same rhythm - chord sequence - same place on the guitar - same mood and the audience will turn off Monitor which songs which work and in which environment. In London there are several circuits, Blues - acoustic - folk country and pubs where live music is played. You need material for each venue

5 Most male performers are guitarist singers. To be effective learn to control your guitar skill and concentrate on the whole performance ie brilliant or difficult guitar breaks with bad singing can have a negative effect . Guitarists might admire it - the rest of the audience may not Bad singing is not just about vocal quality its lack of communication with the audience


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 08:15 AM

I would like to affirm the god given right of all guitarists to sniff their own hole, and other peoples holes occasionally.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: BobKnight
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 08:28 AM

As a singer-songwriter who describes his guitar style as "barely adequate" it's all about the SONG and the voice for me. Save us from the vituoso guitarist who plays a long brilliant intro, mumbles a line of vocals, then play another long guitar bit before singing the next line, by which time you've forgotten what the first line was, if indeed you ever knew.

There are some who can manage both brilliantly, and those I can only watch and listen to in admiration, but they are few and far between.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: tonyteach1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 08:37 AM

FAO Big Al Now that would be an act - doing it to members of the audience I should want extra for that as you don't know where they've been !


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Bert
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 01:07 PM

Well said BobKnight. I hate people who put down other peoples performances and/or abilities. You NEVER hear a GOOD musician put down the efforts of those less talented.

If you get up on stage to sing then the audience should be able to understand and enjoy the words. Three chords is all you need to accompany most songs.

And as for writing songs about ME, I will often write songs in the first person as it stops the audience from thinking that I have written the song about THEM. Songs like "Size Doesn't Matter" or "Three Minute Man" would be quite offensive to some members of the audience if they weren't written in the first person.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 02:16 PM

Ain't never heard a Singer Songwriter saying that all Folk Singers are shite, incompetant prats who couldn't entertain an audience in a month of Saturday evenings..

But then, that's Singer Songwriters for you...

They know that they're The Tradition through and through, being that the very peasant wot ever hummed a few notes, then put words to it, was the very first singer songwriter.....

Of course, Poor Peasant would have a fit if he thought his song woz being sung in hallowed halls for hallowed ears....and besides, were he zoomed back into the days of today, he'd be out there in the pubs listening to the singer songwriters and having a whale of a time!

T'aint Singer Songwriters who are up their own holes, for sure...........

;0)


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 02:19 PM

the very *first* peasant... Oops..


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 06:49 PM

I miss a good story song as exemplified by Woody Guthrie, Jean Ritchie, Tom Paxton, Steve Goodman, Kate Wolf, Utah Phillips and others, with lots of fresh images and word pictures.

I like a good song with a chorus people can sing.

A folk song variant is invariably re-written by someone. It can be mis-remembered
or actually messed with.

Woody and Dylan always used serviceable folk tunes for their lyrics.
That's part of the folk process.

Actually, the great songwriters of the past have written memorable lyrics to show songs
which would be worthy of study.

Sometimes a song can take a year or more to become a good one. People are too eager
to put everything down without editing. You have to put it in a drawer and take it out later to see if it really holds up.

A good song doesn't need a defense. It has legs.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Oct 11 - 07:32 PM

I confess to having written songs. I rarely sing them. Who am I to put my offerings alongside our history and the greats. Conceited I may be, but not that conceited. I write only if I feel I have to, if there is something I have to say. I play my own songs in only if I have to or if people (expressly or by implication) ask for it. I might do a new one out once or twice to see if it resonates with others. I am amazed at the chutzpah of those who recycle barely distinguishable melodies and mundane words in the unshared belief of their own genius.

There are exceptions. El Greko for example often brings the sharpness of perspective on people or society that only a person with an outside observation point (with or without an inside one too) can bring. The Barden of England has a voice to die for and could sing the 'phone book and thereby engender enjoyment in the audience. This is not limitative but illustrative. Fiddlers' Green is a great song. Tolpuddle Man is a great song. There are others.

Unless you are that good your conceit is unfounded. Hide it.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: GUEST,999
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 12:54 AM

"RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence."

Their B Defence ain't bad, either.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: theleveller
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 03:49 AM

Oh dear, we have the same old chestnuts: if it's old it must be good, if it's new it must be bad. It's rather like saying that if you can't play guitar as well as Martin Simpson or Bert Jansch, don't even come out of the bedroom, let alone put videos of yourself all over YouTube.

As usuual, those who can, do - those who can't bitch about those who can on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Singer-Songwriters: A Defence.
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 21 Oct 11 - 05:11 AM

One important aspect of the songwriter's gift in the 1960's was to write songs about current issues. These songs actually gave color to various movements and protests. Where are the songs for what was done to us in 2008?We probably need more than songs to explain that,but basics would help.


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Mudcat time: 21 February 12:44 AM EST

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