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Origins: Fakenham Fair

DigiTrad:
AROUND ME BRAVE BOYS
BRISK YOUNG WIDOW
NOSTRADAMUS
OAK, ASH, AND THORN
On Board a 98
THE BARLEY AND THE RYE
THE GOOD LUCK SHIP
THE OLD SONGS
WE HAVE FED OUR SEA FOR A THOUSAND YEARS


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GUEST,Jon Boden 26 Apr 06 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Jon Boden 28 Apr 06 - 02:39 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Apr 06 - 09:25 PM
r.padgett 29 Apr 06 - 06:06 PM
Jon Boden 02 May 06 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,padgett 03 May 06 - 03:47 AM
r.padgett 07 May 06 - 03:39 PM
Jon Boden 16 May 06 - 09:17 AM
Malcolm Douglas 16 May 06 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Lighter 16 May 06 - 10:07 PM
Jon Boden 17 May 06 - 08:57 PM
GeoffLawes 18 May 06 - 04:06 PM
GeoffLawes 18 May 06 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,John Messenger 17 Oct 06 - 06:52 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Jun 11 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,baz parkes 22 Jun 11 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jun 11 - 08:42 AM
The Sandman 22 Jun 11 - 10:34 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Jun 11 - 12:59 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Jun 11 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Apr 12 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Apr 12 - 06:58 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Apr 12 - 11:27 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 06 Apr 12 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Apr 12 - 02:06 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Apr 12 - 06:02 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Apr 12 - 06:03 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Apr 12 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Lighter 06 Apr 12 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 06 Apr 12 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Apr 12 - 04:52 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 07 Apr 12 - 11:14 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Apr 12 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Lighter 07 Apr 12 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Apr 12 - 02:21 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Apr 12 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Apr 12 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Lighter 07 Apr 12 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 08 Apr 12 - 04:38 AM
Steve Gardham 08 Apr 12 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Apr 12 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 08 Apr 12 - 10:02 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Feb 13 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 01 Feb 13 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Eliza 01 Feb 13 - 05:34 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Feb 13 - 05:38 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Feb 13 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 01 Feb 13 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Feb 13 - 08:11 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Feb 13 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 01 Feb 13 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Feb 13 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,Eliza 01 Feb 13 - 12:59 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Feb 13 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 04 Aug 13 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Merv' Abel (Cromer Smugglers) 10 Oct 16 - 08:50 AM
The Sandman 11 Oct 16 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,padgett 11 Oct 16 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,fifty shades of folk 16 Nov 17 - 11:04 AM
GUEST 12 Jan 18 - 12:59 PM
Speedwell 15 Jan 18 - 11:00 AM
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Subject: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Jon Boden
Date: 26 Apr 06 - 11:04 AM

Just learnt Bellamy's version of Fakenham Fair. Anyone know where he got it from / other versions? Jon


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Jon Boden
Date: 28 Apr 06 - 02:39 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Apr 06 - 09:25 PM

Not at the moment; but if you post some of the text that might help. Of course, it might be a "one-off" like Yarmouth Town (which Peter's (named) source may well have made up himself, though obviously it was closely based on a well-known story), in which case we may be stuck. I take it you don't have the original recording? Peter may have indicated a source there, perhaps.

What was the tune? I find one abc called 'Fakenham Fair' via John Chambers' site. It derives from somebody's "celtic" website, and seems to be a form of Rosin the Beau, though sadly no source is credited.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: r.padgett
Date: 29 Apr 06 - 06:06 PM

I have an old cassette 'Fair Englands Shore@ of Peter's (mainly Norfolk)

If its still playable with this on

Maybe its on the Bellamy CDs too ( I suspect) ill try and have a listen any notes on your source Jon?

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Jon Boden
Date: 02 May 06 - 06:16 PM

I never really fell in love til I went up to Fakenham fair
And chanced for to meet with a carnival girl a selling the fortunes there
Try for a lamp or a spanish shawl or a golden fillagree
But all the time her eyes were saying 'come take a chance on me'

CH.
So swing around the merry-go-round
Give the wheel of fortune a whirl
The finest prize at Fakenham fair
Is the pretty carnival girl

etc.

Got it off a bootleg of Mainly Norfolk. Don't know if it says owt on the sleeve notes. Really want it to be trad but omens not good! j


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 03 May 06 - 03:47 AM

The Mainly Norfolk copy I have says nowt and its probably not a bootleg!

'Wake The Vaulted' ~ dunt appear to have it either so this (mudcat) is probably best place to trace anything further!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: r.padgett
Date: 07 May 06 - 03:39 PM

Steve Gardham says he has something on this when I spoke to him re The Yorkshire Garland at Holmfirth Fest of Folk (where we were recording)

If he remembers to post!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Jon Boden
Date: 16 May 06 - 09:17 AM

Just had a look at the vinyl sleevenotes. Apparently PB learnt it from Peter Bullen of Norwich who learnt it from his Grandfather. He also credits Yarmouth Town to him. Anybody know more about him? jb


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 May 06 - 09:54 AM

Both songs seem to be unique to the Bullen family, and likely enough originated with them. There were suggestions made in a discussion a while back on the Ballad-L list (I had forgotten that Fakenham Fair had been mentioned as well) that there might have been a hoax involved somewhere along the line, but probably we will never know.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 16 May 06 - 10:07 PM

My audacious suggestion to the Ballad-L list that the song was composed during the 1960s "revival" was made on the basis of circumstantial inferences only. Now that I read stanza 1 and the chorus, posted by Jon Boden, I'm even more persuaded that somebody was, er, fakin' em.

That density of specific detail isn't a feature of older ballads. The phrase "I never *really* fell in love" expresses a kind of inward analysis of one's own deeper emotions that became commonplace in song only after the dawn of the pop psychology era in the late 1920s. That and "Her eyes were saying, 'Come and take a chance on me,'" (with its coy echo of the 1943 Benny Goodman smash, "Taking a Chance on Love") seem like very modern expressions to me.

Also, I don't believe that eyes generally "say" anything in traditional or broadside songs. They may shine (like diamonds), but they don't speak.

So I'm *really* skeptical.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Jon Boden
Date: 17 May 06 - 08:57 PM

Certainly it must be a 'composed' song from the C20th. No reason why Bullen's grandfather shouldn't be the composer though. Bellamy was generally very open about tampering with stuff as I understand it, and not shy about presenting his own compositions as just that. Maybe we should get Dan Brown to look into it though...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:06 PM

Jim Eldon has the song in his repertoire and I remember him singing it back in the mid seventies though I haven't heard him do it for a long time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:01 PM

I just rang Jim who says he got the song from Peter Bellamy but that there was a floor singer at Goole Folk club who used to sing a varient of the song with a differentlocation for the fair, possibly Gainsborough or somewhere round that way, which had more or less the same tune with a minor differences to the words.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,John Messenger
Date: 17 Oct 06 - 06:52 PM

The VWML has it listed under "Miscellaneous songs", perhaps suggesting they believe it to be recent in origin.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 11:33 PM

Just come across this 5-yr-old thread. I think it worth refreshing because ~

~ while interesting on modernity of words and whole 'feel' of the song {Lighter's comments on why he is so sceptical 5 posts back partic cogent IMO}, & how it is surely a 'composed song of fairly recent origin - but of course fits well into the concept of "Mainly Norfolk", the title of Pete's first solo vinyl album while still with YT, where it first appeared as sung by PB ~

~ nothing was said above about the TUNE, which strikes me as original — or anyhow I can't think of another song to this precise air. Am I right about that, or is it a known and identifiable piece of music? If not, then surely a very convincing and appropriate pastiche of the kind of merry waltz to fit the up·&·down of the merry-go-rounds of the sort ref'd in the song which you would have found at that time at the likes of Fakenham Fair, excellently establishing the atmosphere of the narrative.

Any comments on the tune, or any such aspects of the matter?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 07:28 AM

Like mgm I've just stumbled on this old thread. Should Mr Boden still be interested in "other versions" I learned it from the first (and probably only...) Folk Review record in 1974ish...where it was recorded by Tim Laycock iirc
Baz


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 08:42 AM

The elaborate refrain too has a *very* modern ring, with its imperative (to no obvious person) to "swing around the merry-go-round." That combines with the "wheel of fortune" in a subtle suggestion of the runarounds and ups and downs of life and love - an allusive symbolic approach pretty typical of the singer-songwriters of the 1960s, and popularized by Bob Dylan.

MtheGM, I can't place the tune, which also sounds "recent" to me, but I'm not an expert.

Note: "recent" to the likes of us means "only forty to fifty years old." To a great many people, in other words, the song is "pretty damned old."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 10:34 AM

did Tim Laycock write it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 12:59 PM

Dick: No: Pete recorded it 1968, before Tim was even on the scene.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 02:57 PM

Lighter ~~ Don't agree about 'recent' sound of the tune. It is surely one of those pompety-pom old fashioned waltzes typical of a merry-go-round steam organ which could be heard on a fairground any time from about mid C19. It is, if it is a pastiche, such a good one of this genre that I can't help wondering if it is based on an actual one that one of the supposed creators of this song named early on in this thread (the Bullens?) might actually have heard. (Compare it, genre-wise, to the "La Ronde" song so popular in the early 1950s when Ophuls made his famous film based on Schnitzler's German Expressionist 1890s play Reigen.)

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 05 Apr 12 - 06:44 AM

Singing this to myself whilst toddling around Fakenham in the blazingly precocious summer sunshine last week, pondering its provenance, ante-Bellamy, which brings me to this thread.

Picking up the fiddle I find the tune is a breeze that scans out the words to rare perfection. Here we have Trad Idiomatic intention & awareness with none of the self-consciousness folksiness of the revival. To me it reads like the efforts of a Broadside Hack, but sings like something far purer somehow, which of course a lot of Broadsides do (Out With My Gun etc.). I can well imagine an old fellow versed in the popular idioms of the early 20th century (music hall, Trad Songs, Broadsides & all) freestyling his verses to commemorate just such an encounter howe'er so casual in the raggle-taggle* mingling of the carnival.

One thing though - I'd love to hear Jim Eldon singing this; can anyone help??

* Forgive me; I'm currently immersed in Starkie's vagbondian trilogy so such things are on my mind just now, hence my interest in the song & the perceived exoticism from which it derives.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 06:58 AM

And chanced for to meet with a carnival girl a selling the fortunes there

Bellamy sings selling the chances, which makes more sense than selling fortunes. One can just see this shapely young beauty happily ripping off her punters in fine old carnival style with the promise of crappy prises whilst coaxing them with the glad eye. Question is, did he really cop off with her? I doubt it; far more likely I reckon the final verse is just so much idle boasting to compensate for the loss of his hard earned readies, as oppose to his professed innocence, unless ofr course, he paid her for that as well.

Again, too much Starkie I'm afraid!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 11:27 AM

Likewise, I've just stumbled across this thread, and have to agree with Jonathan et al. Can anyone post the use of the word 'carnival' in any British TRADITIONAL song? I certainly can't think of any.

If anyone has the full text they could perhaps post it and then we can waste a few hours pulling the whole thing to pieces.

Only 6 years late, Ray.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 01:53 PM

The word carnival doesn't appear in any of the sheet titles, ballad titles, first lines or tunes in the Bodleian broadsides. (carnation-carol, the list goes). Nor in the UCSB broadside index.

There are 4 entries in the Roud index, three in the music source: Carnival of Venice and Carnival of Naples; the 4th is Queenie The Carnival Queen a 1934 song sung by Nellie Wallace.

So not in any title.

The word Fakenham also doesn't show in any index, except for two copies at the Bodleian of The Fakenham Ghost (one date 1805, one 1774-1825).


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 02:06 PM

Fakenham Fair (Bellamy version from Mainly Norfolk, 1968)

I never rarely fell in love 'til I went up to Fakenham fair,
And I chance for to meet with a carnival girl a selling the chances there.
I tried for a lamp or a Spanish shawl or a golden filigree -
but all the while her eyes were saying, oh come take a chance on me.

So swing around, the merry-go-round
give the wheel of fortune a whirl,
For the finest prize at Fakenham fair
is the pretty carnival girl.

Her eyes were blue, her hair it was brown and her lips they were soft and red;
and a shape like hers I had never seen and my eyes well they popped from my head.
But I was young and innocent but still even I could see,
That the way that she laughed and she winked my way it said, come take a chance on me.

So swing around, that old merry-go-round,
Give the wheel of fortune a whirl,
The finest prize at Fakenham fair
Is the pretty carnival girl.

The old folks said she en't for you, boy, oh what will the old people think;
but I took my chance and I won that girl just as quick as an eye could wink.
And the very best day in all my life, whatever come to pass,
Was the day that I went up to Fakenham fair and won me a carnival lass.

So swing around, that old merry-go-round,
Give the wheel of fortune a whirl,
The finest prize at Fakenham fair
Is the pretty carnival girl.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 06:02 PM

Hmmm! The singing Postman comes to mind 'Have yer got a loit, boy?'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 06:03 PM

Dear old Malcolm suggested the tune was v close to 'Rosin the Beau' and I have to agree.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 07:01 PM

Can anyone post the use of the word 'carnival' in any British TRADITIONAL song?

Curiouser and curiouser. According to the OED, the word 'carnival' in non-religious uses only dates from the twentieth century. For instance, there's a citation from 1950:

We now use the word 'carnival' in a general sense to describe a particular kind of public celebration or entertainment which includes a fancy dress procession through the streets.

But phrases like "the pretty carnival girl" seem to derive from a more specific usage of "carnival" to mean "funfair" or "circus" - and that sense is not only modern but American - exclusively so, according to the OED.

I have found out that Carnival Girl is the title of a silent film made in 1926, starring Marion Mack (who later played the love interest in the Buster Keaton film the General); perhaps that's where the author of this song heard the phrase.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 08:07 PM

"I tried for a lamp or a Spanish shawl or a golden filigree...."

Much more creatively specific than what I'd expect from any 19th century broadside. And I know what "filigree" is, but what's "a" filigree if not something self-consciously poetic? And all three items seem (to me)rather lavish for a 19th century funfair, even if made impossible to win.

"I took my chance and I won that girl." The light-hearted puns on "taking a chance" and "winning" the girl seem most appropriate to a modern music-hall or even a Broadway song.

Certainly one could give a wheel a "whirl" since the 16th century, but the implied pun on "give it a whirl," i.e., "give it a try," is something else that sounds very modern. The OED's first example is from 1884, but the sources are all American (except for one from P. G. Wodehouse, who loved to use Americanisms) until the 1960s.

Trad lips can be "red," but I'm not sure that they're ever "soft."

What are the odds that any genuinely old song would bring together *all* of these unlikely or seemingly anachronistic features in three stanzas and a refrain?

My opinion: about zero.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 06 Apr 12 - 08:20 PM

Hmmmmmm.

For reasons touched upon above the song rings true on various levels - as a piece of vernacular song-craft informed by various levels of early 20th century popular song & culture. Forgive me if I part company from Separatist Traddies who think their precious songs exist in a vacuum, but the botton line here must be - if it was good enough for the likes of Peter Bellamy, Jim Eldon and latterly Jon Boden, then it's good enough for the likes of me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 04:52 AM

The melody of Fakenham Fair is like enough to Rosin the Beau to prompt my missus to ask if it was the same tune to (Johnny Handle's??) (Let's Drink to) The Graveyard Shift (Me Lads) (a staple of North East singarounds), which uses it. Bellamite on YouTube has made a fetching little waltz out of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acFpgilynJ8

To quote the late, great, Roger Nicholson from the sleevenote of his 1976 Leader album Times and Traditions for Dulcimer, "The folk process continues..."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 11:14 AM

SA

You were the one pondering its provenance, ante-Bellamy in your post above (05 Apr 12 - 06:44 AM). Why do you need to describe those who try to help you out with that as Separatist Traddies (06 Apr 12 - 08:20 PM), which I presume from context is meant as a pejorative.

Apart from saying that the evidence suggests the song is not particularly old, noone has said that makes it any less of a good song (or any more of one for that matter). If you think that any of the posters who responded think that their precious songs exist in a vacuum then you're living in a world as divorced from reality as you think other people are.

I try never to get drawn by attempts to dismiss the opinions of others as some kind of ignorant folk-policing (life's too short to waste time arguing with such close-mindedness) but it seems to me that you're one of the most frequent of those attempting to deride anything you don't agree with. Next time you ask for an opinion make sure you're willing to hear the answer or if you know what you want to hear just don't bother asking.

(And just as a measure of how saddened I am by your post here, I think this is only the 2nd time in 12 years or so that I've been moved to make a personal remark about someone; I try to stick to factual posts. Maybe in real life you're a great guy, but here you come across as a self-centred arse-hole who has no room for anyone who's ideas you perceive as different from your own).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 12:39 PM

'Separatist traddies'? LOL!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 12:54 PM

> with none of the self-conscious folksiness of the revival.

Of course it's still only an impression, but mine is quite the opposite. I think the song is exceedingly self-conscious.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 02:21 PM

Why do you need to describe those who try to help you out with that as Separatist Traddies (06 Apr 12 - 08:20 PM), which I presume from context is meant as a pejorative.

Let me explain. Whilst a lover of the general idiom of English Traditional Song in the classic sense, I'm not at all convinced of many of the working theories / assumptions surrounding it. In the current instance, I'm broadly agreeing with pretty much everything that's been said, whilst suggesting that the song is rooted in the cultural context of its time, i.e. the creation of someone familiar with the various idioms of early 20th century popular song be it Music Hall, Broadside survivals or you're actual 100% bona-fide Traditional Song, which, as I say, does not, and never has, exist in a vacuum.

I think the song is exceedingly self-conscious

In one way it certainly is, but not with respect of general folksiness, which is one of the reasons it appeals as a piece of honest-to-goodness vernacular writing, rather than a 'fakesong' per se. If I found it in a Broadside I wouldn't be surprised; it has that sort of hackneyed feel about it. As I say, it reads like that, but it sings as something quite natural, probably because it was written to the tune. I'm not suggesting the song is old as such, but the mind of the song seems to know what it's doing - it's concise, simple, to the point, and as such it's first-person narrative seems very real somehow.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 05:21 PM

I don't think anyone is suggesting it's a 'fakesong'. It just has no evidence of existence in oral tradition prior to revival existence, which to most of us would not qualify it as a traditional folksong. That's not necessarily a qualititive description.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 06:19 PM

I don't think anyone is suggesting it's a 'fakesong'.

Well, Lighter came pretty close in his post of 16 May 2006 - 10:07 PM and there's been a few qualitative judgements on it, not least by comparing it to something it en't, rather appreciating it for what it is (and your own Have yer got a loit, boy? isn't exactly helpful). Even in the curmudgeonly world of Mudcat, one doesn't expect to be called an arse-hole just for seeking an appreciation and a more credible provenance for a what is, in any case, a very fine song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 07:13 PM

Good song or bad, love it or hate it, it sounds like a fakesong: in plain words, a song written in imitation of traditional songs and (this is crucial) palmed off on the innocent as the real thing.

Six years after the question was raised, nobody has produced the slightest bit of persuasive evidence that "Fakenham Fair" is

1. older than the 1960s.

2. has ever circulated in a form very different from the established text and tune

3. was even moderately well known in the rural or urban working-class community that it's supposed to represent.

4. embodies the attitudes and ambiance of that community, or any community other than that of sophisticated singer-songwriters

4. was ever known to anybody other than folk revivalists, revival aficionados, and (presumably) their non-revivalist source

If, on the basis of the evidence so far, "Fakenham Fair" is a "folksong" in any meaningful sense of that term, then so are "Oklahoma!" and "The Fool on the Hill." The only difference is that we're sure who composed those songs.

Of course, if consistency and reason don't matter, one may define "folksong" however one pleases. As has been done on Mudcat innumerable times because many 'Catters want the songs they like to be called "folksongs."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 04:38 AM

1. older than the 1960s.

Along with Yarmouth Town the song is credited to Peter Bullen's grandfather. Both were sufficiently convincing to no lesser a personage than Peter Bellamy to include on his Mainly Norfolk album of 1968. Would he have done this is if they weren't 'genuine'? As had already been suggested, if they weren't then Bellamy would have been the first to have admitted to it.

2. has ever circulated in a form very different from the established text and tune

This could write off many Broadside and other ballads. I've already mentioned (and linked to) the equally hackneyed Broadside of Out With my Gun in the Morning which we find unchanged in the singing of Jimmy Knights (VOTP 18) who said elsewhere he got it from a written source. Would we find such lines as back again in the sunset's glow in a Traditional Song? Of course not, but this doesn't devalue its essense - on the contrary, like the language of Fakenham Fair it serves to make it still more genuine as a piece of vernacular songwriting, someone over reaching themselves in terms of image, but such ambition can only ever be a good thing. As I keep saying, whatever the shortcomings of the poetry, it sings like a dream.   

3. was even moderately well known in the rural or urban working-class community that it's supposed to represent.

We might bring innumerable other songs that weren't in the least bit well known or of interest to working class communities - the North-East in particular is celebrated for this sort of thing. I wouldn't say the songs of Tommy Armstrong, for example, are especially well known, however as a Balladeer well versed with the idiom of Traditional Song and Music I have no hesitation in thinking of his songs as being Folk Songs. More obvious Fakesongs (The Blackleg Miner) I have less sympathy for, though the various reconstructions of Captain Bover confirm a notion that such art is not entirely lost to us.

4. embodies the attitudes and ambiance of that community, or any community other than that of sophisticated singer-songwriters

Like the writing of innumerable Broadside hacks, in no way shape or form can we think of Fakenham Fair as the product of a sophisticated songwriter. It is Folk Art, pure and simple - composed naively in an idiom which is as much the traditional cause of the song as the experiences the maker of the song wishes to share with us. That said, there's no reason makers of Folk Songs can't be considered sophisticated songwriters - Tommy Armstrong was one such, George Bruce Thompson was another and reading through my Faber Book of Popular Verse the evidence is right there for countless others. In terms of sophistication and self-consciousness one has Fakenham Fair on the one hand, and The Hiring Fair on the other. Contrast and compare!

4. was ever known to anybody other than folk revivalists, revival aficionados, and (presumably) their non-revivalist source

Again, I think we must trust Bellamy on this one, and the fact that both Yarmouth Town and Fakenham Fair are namechecked in Dick Bagnall-Oakley's celebrated introduction on Bellamy's Won't You Go My Way, recorded live with Louis Killen in 1971. You may download the intro & first track gratis from HERE for the next few days. I've collected tunes, songs & stories from non-revivalist sources which I've every reason to believe were the work of the singer I got them from - in my experience such people are very modest, they make thiese things as they make bread or cultivate their allotments, by way of a more innocent mediumistic creation.

Of course, if consistency and reason don't matter, one may define "folksong" however one pleases.

There are many 'folk songs' which are the work of known individuals - check out M'Gintie's Meal and Ale, written by George Bruce Thompson and immediately included in the Grieg and Duncan collection, and the works of Tommy Armstrong. These songs are made in the Idiom of Folk and Traditional song by individuals familiar enough to work with it as a creative medium. One could say the same of Broadside hacks & Gallows balladeers, however so artless their efforts, they still ring true enough as a trawl through the Axon Ballad archive will reveal. Do we dismiss such classics of Folk Song Idiom as The Kielder Hunt and Til the Kye Comes Hame because we know who wrote them? I think not. Our understanding of the idiom of folk song must never be tied to romantic clauses (however so attractive they might be) that preclude such obvious exceptions. Folk Songs are formed by the Traditional Idiom, but whether or not they then enter that tradition and become traditional themselves is pretty much by the by really. I can think of many that didn't in collections as diverse as The Child Ballads and the Copper Family Songbook, but that doesn't disqualify them as being Folk Song, anymore we may disqualify Fakenham Fair.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 08:32 AM

Jonathan,
'(this is crucial) palmed off on the innocent as the real thing'.

Have you evidence that this is the case?

In my 40 odd years as a collector in the field I have come across many source singers who write their own material in all sorts of styles. Very little of this gets enough exposure to join the oral tradition, but I wouldn't care to make any qualititive judgments on any of this. Clearly given the right circumstances some of it would sit happily amongst any collection of traditional songs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 08:59 AM

The point I was making was about the general nature of "fakesong," not this song in particular.

As I understand it from the discussion, "Fakenham Fair" has been presented as a truly traditional song, yet there is no evidence that it ever was in "tradition," if tradition means many singers making many changes and adjustments. The text we have appears to be the sole text, and a very modern one too.

What makes one kind of "fakesong" a fake (like Dorson's term "fakelore") isn't the song itself but the false claim, made for a popular audience, that the song is sung traditionally or that it authentically represents the attitudes of a particular folk group. For example, if Rodgers & Hammerstein had told the public that "Oklahoma!" was a genuine song of Western settlers, it would have been a fakesong. Of course, it would still have been the same song for people to sing and enjoy, but the false claim would have invested it with an historical "authenticity" that it simply doesn't have.

This seems to be the case with "Fakenham Fair," at least from the evidence so far presented.

If an amateur songwriter made it to express himself and a collector picked it up and recorded it, fine. But that doesn't make it "traditional" except by special pleading. And its style, I believe, is far from "folk."

People who enjoy singing or listening to "Fakenham Fair" should keep right on. If they want to believe that it's an ancient artifact, however, straight from the days of Thomas Hardy (or even Shakespeare) the evidence suggests they're mistaken.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 10:02 AM

As I understand it from the discussion, "Fakenham Fair" has been presented as a truly traditional song, yet there is no evidence that it ever was in "tradition," if tradition means many singers making many changes and adjustments. The text we have appears to be the sole text, and a very modern one too.

Right from Jon Boden's OPs there has been doubt expressed as whether Fakenham Fair is truly a traditional song. No one here, least of all myself, has suggested that it is. As for being modern, it feels uninformed by later revival ideas of the mid-50s onwards; I reckon post-war, late 1940s, written by a knowing hand versed in various idioms of old popular song both English and American. In America, this wouldn't be an issue of course - or would it? Raking through the Harry Smith collection one is dealing with more idiomatic musical creativity by way of a musical tradition than with hoary artefacts of traditions per se. So Folk by art & context, which is what we have here, and very much ante-revival.

To quote Lighter from his post of 22nd June last year "recent" to the likes of us means "only forty to fifty years old." To a great many people, in other words, the song is "pretty damned old."

Happily I might disassociate from the 'likes of you' in as much as I am of the mind that 40-50 years in pretty damned old in terms of living folklore - be it song, tune, custom, or story. Things endure, in many cases entirely 'innocent' of the revival, much less their status as 'folklore', which is the key here given the nature of the piece. That said, I'd like to push that envelope here to 65 years, which ties in with Bullen's grandfather (no one says when he wrote it, Yarmouth Town likewise) and the nature of the text as discussed by Pip et al. And I still say Bellamy's adoption of the song (and his later use of it in his parody of a James Brown big up as Mr Fakenham Fair as well as Mr Yarmouth Town) is pretty crucial in our understanding, appreciation & enjoyment of the sort of thing we're dealing with here, and why I have no problem whatsoever in calling it a Folk Song according to any definition of the term you might like to come up with.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 04:40 AM

Just nobody call it Folkenham Fair...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 05:20 AM

Just gave it a crank on the fiddle - a little rusty in places, but I was amazed it was there at all after the sort of winter I've had. That said, I found myself free-styling several lines by way of on-the-hoof-restoration (AKA The Folk Process): ..and such a nice pair o' nellies*, well I'd never seen, boys / She laughed as one popped out her dress. If I'm well enough to sing it at The Moorbrook tonight, it'll be in there, fearless of feminist recrimination.

Earlier on in this thread I suggested a contrast 'n' compare between the two folk fairs Fakenham and The Hiring. One obvious point of similarity is the implicit / explicit adolescent breast-obsession. I know breast-obsession isn't restricted to adolescents, but I'd argue that its very nature is adolescent. I've never heard the original version of The Hiring Fair (and have no wish to) but whenever I've heard it sung in folk clubs, it is always with that hushed sort of heart-stopping reverential earnestness only breast-starved adolescent males** are capable of.

* Nellies is an H E Bates word, so fits in there quite snugly I reckon. Fnaar, fnaar...

** I once heard it sung by a woman, who crossed the gender of the song and rendered it thus: When all was safely gathered in, and we sat down to rest / my trembling fingers touched his arm and - well you can guess the rest.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 05:34 AM

I live five minutes from Fakenham and go there often. The Charter for a Market was granted in the thirteenth century, and one still takes place every Thursday, but I can find no reference to a 'Carnival' except in quite recent times. The Carnival which incorporates a procession and a funfair was regenerated after a period of twenty years or so, but I can't find out when 'carnivals' originally started in Fakenham. The girl in this song was obviously part of a funfair run by travellers. It might help to date the song if one could discover at what period the 'carnivals' or 'fairs' took place. A market is an entirely different thing and involves selling from stalls. Fakenham is a bit of a conundrum as it was recently voted 'the most boring place in England', and subsequently 'one of the six most desirable places in England to live'! I have to say that 'carnivals' in Norfolk are not an ancient institution and probably go no further back than the twentieth century. For what my opinion is worth, I feel this song is 'modern' too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 05:38 AM

AS I said up-thread, the use of 'carnival' to mean 'funfair' is not only 20th-century but also American. A silent film called 'Carnival Girl' was released in 1926; maybe it was a hit over here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 05:53 AM

"I'd never seen a shape like hers" - what was she, hexagonal?

Can't off-hand think of a Real Old True 1954 Proper Good Honest Kids These Days Call That Folk? Get Off My Land Real Old Genuine Traditional song which talks about a woman's 'shape' in that nudge-nudge way - usually when they want to say 'breasts' they say 'breasts'. That Ralph McTell song (of which until today I was happily unaware) is even worse - she's got 'curves', knoworramean. Curves beneath her dress, even. It's positively Daily Mail -

She was busting out all over, boys,
You could see she was all grown up
Her dress left little to the imagination
As she flaunted her womanly curves...


Excuse me while I wash my mouth out.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 07:57 AM

For what my opinion is worth, I feel this song is 'modern' too.

I reckon it's early 20th century - maybe it chimes in with film Phil mentions? If so I think 1926 sounds about right somehow. Was it written in all innocence of the Folksong Revival? Maybe so, but I don't think it was written in all innocence of the Folksong Tradition - which is something very different. So 'modern', for sure, but it's no less 'real' because of that. Like I say, if it's good enough for Peter Bellamy, Jim Eldon & Jon Boden then it's good enough for me.

As for the town itself, it's a merry 232 country miles from Fleetwood to Fakenham - we touch up it briefly each spring on our annual Norfolk jaunt, which usually has us fetching up somewhere in the outback near Tatterford. By briefly I mean the supermarkets - I don't think I've ever ventured into the town itself despite a tasty looking church. It remains a place of dreams...

of which until today I was happily unaware

Lucky you!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 08:11 AM

Just as a point of interest: the most important American "carnival," in the traditional sense, was undoubtedly the New Orleans Mardi Gras. By the mid-1890s "traveling carnival companies" began to appear. These were itinerant outfits equipped with acrobats, clowns, jugglers, a few animals, and so forth that would essentially put on a "carnival" (a completely secular outdoor entertainment) in rural areas. They were essentially small traveling circuses.

It didn't take long for "carnival" to expand its meaning to include a "carnival company" itself ("ran away to join a carnival"), not just the old idea of a religious and later secular street celebration.

How long it took the new usage to reach the British Isles, I can't say.


IMO.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 09:01 AM

I don't think it's taken root even now, really. If you asked people to explain what the USAn slang term "carny" means, I think far more people (who knew the term) would say "it means a funfair" than "it's short for carnival" - a carnival in BritEng is still mostly an event.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 09:13 AM

On a point of minor pedantry a 'Carny' is more likely to be a travelling carnival worker than the carnival itself. If people know the term over here these days, it's via Homer Simpson idealised them as noble heroes governed by the law of The Carny Code.

http://www.tv.com/shows/the-simpsons/bart-carny-1475/


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 09:22 AM

Definitely. A "carnie" can be either the carnival or the employee, but usually it's the employee.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 12:59 PM

Well, I remember as a small child standing by the side of the road waitng for the annual 'Carnival' to arrive in Middlesex. I was so excited my mother had to stop me running into the road. The first signs 'it' was coming was the muffled thump of the drums of the leading band. The carnival was in fact a procession, comprising brass bands, sometimes a piper, and low-load lorries with people dressed in costume on board. There was also a Carnival Queen, usually in a royal robe and seated in a carriage pulled by two horses. Brownies, Guides, the Boys' Brigade all marched along. Once it had reached the centre of our small town, that was the end of the Carnival. The lorries etc were all emptied and people drifted home. I suppose the adults went off to the pub afterwards. But there wasn't a funfair or travellers etc. Here in Norfolk there are many Carnivals, eg Cromer and Sheringham each have one. It's a procession, and a series of days with special events.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 02:16 PM

Peter Bellamy.....Peter Bullen......Peter Buchan.....!!! Anybody spotted a theme? Mr Bellamy had a wicked sense of humour and was quite competitive and very clever. Could he have been imitating ole Bert?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 04 Aug 13 - 04:14 AM

The thoughts that Fakenham Fair and Yarmouth Town are both Bellamy originals is a thrilling one. We know he was especially skilled at composing words & music in the Traditional Idiom (I've always said the best of his Kipling settings are when he wrote the tune himself) which confirms something about the nature of craft of idiomatic Folk Song.

Thing is though, if they were Bellamy originals, I'm sure they would have been better songs!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,Merv' Abel (Cromer Smugglers)
Date: 10 Oct 16 - 08:50 AM

On advice from another "Gud Ol' locle Buoy" I'm told that he, (Pete Bellamy)Rut it!!!
Now I've heard it, I shall have to "Larn it"
Regards from Merv'in Cromer in "gud ol' Norfuk"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Oct 16 - 06:57 AM

Iam under the impression it was written by P Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 11 Oct 16 - 01:21 PM

That's it then good song sing it!!

Thanks Peter Bellamy

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST,fifty shades of folk
Date: 16 Nov 17 - 11:04 AM

Interesting thread, except let's not lose sight of the fact that it's a damn fine song IMO, and worth singing. Ain't nothing wrong with a happy singalong song with a sweet ending. Or is that sacrilege...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jan 18 - 12:59 PM

Failsworth Lancashire had a 'carnival' on August 23rd 1924. It seems to have been a parade as described by "Guest, Eliza", rather than a funfair.
http://www.pixnet.co.uk/Oldham-hrg/miscellany/1924-failsworth-pole/1924-failsworth-pole-crowd2.html

I remember Oldham carnival as a parade in the 1960's.

So a usage of the world more like the European religious processions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Fakenham Fair
From: Speedwell
Date: 15 Jan 18 - 11:00 AM

My gut feeling is that Peter Bellamy wrote Fakenham Fair. I have nothing credible to base that on however. Reference has been made to his "wicked sense of humour",though, and as someone already pointed out Fakenham and faking 'em (fair and square) could be an indicator of what he (possibly) did here - almost as if "owning up to it" in the title for all to see.I have the greatest respect for PB as a folksinger and writer (Transports tomorrow). Whatever the truth may be it's a fine song and IMHO better to have it than not. Thanks Pete.


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