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Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics

GUEST,sorefingers 14 Jan 07 - 07:59 PM
Ron Davies 14 Jan 07 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,Scoville 14 Jan 07 - 08:15 PM
Alba 14 Jan 07 - 09:39 PM
mg 14 Jan 07 - 10:02 PM
Peace 14 Jan 07 - 10:12 PM
Peace 14 Jan 07 - 10:18 PM
Jim Dixon 14 Jan 07 - 10:33 PM
Bee 14 Jan 07 - 10:39 PM
Peace 14 Jan 07 - 10:43 PM
Richard Bridge 14 Jan 07 - 10:52 PM
iancarterb 14 Jan 07 - 11:03 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 14 Jan 07 - 11:36 PM
robinia 14 Jan 07 - 11:45 PM
Bert 15 Jan 07 - 12:12 AM
Cluin 15 Jan 07 - 01:53 AM
The Fooles Troupe 15 Jan 07 - 02:13 AM
Anne Lister 15 Jan 07 - 03:22 AM
Jim Lad 15 Jan 07 - 03:22 AM
fat B****rd 15 Jan 07 - 03:34 AM
Scrump 15 Jan 07 - 05:15 AM
Jim Lad 15 Jan 07 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Jan 07 - 05:49 AM
The Fooles Troupe 15 Jan 07 - 05:54 AM
Uncle_DaveO 15 Jan 07 - 10:39 AM
Scrump 15 Jan 07 - 11:04 AM
Jim Lad 15 Jan 07 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,meself 15 Jan 07 - 11:26 AM
Scrump 15 Jan 07 - 11:53 AM
Jim Lad 15 Jan 07 - 12:00 PM
Scrump 15 Jan 07 - 12:08 PM
Jim Lad 15 Jan 07 - 12:10 PM
JeremyC 15 Jan 07 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 15 Jan 07 - 01:44 PM
Bert 15 Jan 07 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,Jim 15 Jan 07 - 02:56 PM
Charley Noble 15 Jan 07 - 04:03 PM
JeremyC 15 Jan 07 - 04:14 PM
Nigel Parsons 15 Jan 07 - 04:25 PM
Liz the Squeak 15 Jan 07 - 04:36 PM
Amos 15 Jan 07 - 05:10 PM
Tootler 15 Jan 07 - 05:38 PM
melodeonboy 15 Jan 07 - 06:04 PM
BK Lick 15 Jan 07 - 06:40 PM
dick greenhaus 15 Jan 07 - 06:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 07 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,meself 15 Jan 07 - 07:28 PM
Jim Lad 15 Jan 07 - 07:35 PM
Peace 15 Jan 07 - 07:44 PM
GUEST,meself 15 Jan 07 - 07:48 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Jan 07 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,sorefingers 16 Jan 07 - 01:45 PM
GUEST 16 Jan 07 - 02:14 PM
Peace 16 Jan 07 - 02:19 PM
greg stephens 16 Jan 07 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,amazed observer 16 Jan 07 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Jim 16 Jan 07 - 04:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Jan 07 - 06:08 AM
Scrump 17 Jan 07 - 06:46 AM
Anne Lister 17 Jan 07 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 17 Jan 07 - 07:12 PM
fat B****rd 18 Jan 07 - 05:18 AM
Scrump 18 Jan 07 - 06:23 AM
GUEST 19 Jan 07 - 02:28 AM
Doug Chadwick 19 Jan 07 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,oz chick 19 Jan 07 - 04:38 AM
JeremyC 19 Jan 07 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,Jim 19 Jan 07 - 12:20 PM
Scrump 19 Jan 07 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Scoville on scanner computer 19 Jan 07 - 01:26 PM
JeremyC 19 Jan 07 - 01:59 PM
bubblyrat 19 Jan 07 - 02:52 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jan 07 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 19 Jan 07 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,ozchick 20 Jan 07 - 12:45 AM
melodeonboy 20 Jan 07 - 06:33 AM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Jan 07 - 07:31 AM
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Subject: BS: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 07:59 PM

In the ear of the Grammar-Nasties on Mudcat I was scared to bring this topic to the forum lest I be banned or assasinated by Terribus or some of his ilk, but nowadays I feel comfortable with a public airing of my phobia.

For example, how do you feel about uttering the words ' er and wen' while singing?

Am I being over sensitive? I usually get around this one by slurring my lyrics so it sounds as if I am saying ' lovin ' but in my mouth the word is still 'loving'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Ron Davies
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 08:08 PM

Hey, this is a great music topic--upstairs with it. And--there are very few assassinations upstairs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Scoville
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 08:15 PM

I suppose it depends on the song. Some old ones sound weird or the lyrics don't fit the tune if they're corrected, but if it fits and still makes sense, who cares?


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Subject: RE: BS: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Alba
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 09:39 PM

Sorefingers here's a wee story for you.

I went to a session a few Years back not long after arriving here in the States. First time at this particular Session and knew nobody. I was invited to join in and I did, just playing Guitar and Mandolin.
After a while someone asked if I sang and I said yes and I was then invited to sing. During the Song (which was a Traditional Scottish Song...I am Scottish by the way) a guy arrived with his Guitar case and sat down nodding hello's to the other Musicians.
When I finished Folks clapped ect and the "guy" got his Guitar out and I sensed that maybe he was the Leader of the pack so to speak. He got up and came straight over to me and said...
"That was really nice, I like that song very much but you might want to work on your Scottish pronunciation. I only notice because I have been to Scotland quite a lot so don't worry cause a lot of people will think you sound fine"

I thanked him in my very best Glasgow accent, packed up my Instruments and left...I have to say I LMAO when I got outside, I couldn't stay and didn't go back again.

Grammar Police...aye, some are about as useful as a chocolate Watch:)


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Subject: RE: BS: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: mg
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:02 PM

I would never correct the language on purpose in a song..I tend to leave them like I found them...but then I couldn't pull off a Scots accent either so probably somewhere inbetween. I think if one is assembling a song from scratch grammar is something that can give so other things can be accomodated, most truly the rhythm ofthe song. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Peace
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:12 PM

LF: Teribus is a fine person, IMO. Referring to him and associating his name with the term 'ilk' is not becoming, IMO, and I definitely disagree with you.

"It is not me, babe
No, no, no
It is not me babe
It is not me you're looking for."


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Peace
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:18 PM

I cannot get any satisfaction
I cannot get any satisfaction
Because I try and I try and I try and I try
I cannot get any, I cannot get any . . .


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:33 PM

No one should feel obliged to sing a song in a style they don't feel comfortable with.

If anything about a song makes you feel uncomfortable—whether it's too grammatical or too ungrammatical, too PC or too un-PC—you should feel free to change it into something you feel more comfortable with.

Alba: I loved your story, but I fear your decision to leave and not come back to that particular venue may have been premature. I'll bet there were other people present who would have loved to hear you put that guy in his place.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Bee
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:39 PM

I'm sure there were: leaders of packs often aren't, they just like act like knowitalls.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Peace
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:43 PM

Sorry. "LF: Teribus is a fine person, IMO." should have read "SF: Teribus is a fine person, IMO."


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 10:52 PM

I think I take the view that one should not airbrush history.

Nonetheless there are contemporary songs I would not be able to sing (even if I wanted to) because of linguistic solecisms. One springs immediately to mind, an otherwise attractive Ian Bruce song "Too far from she".

I am however firmly of the view that one should not put on mock accents (or sing phonetically in languages one does not speak). Guy Ritchie-ism (aka the "Mockney" accent) is somewhat risible, and perhpas somewhat worse as carrying seeds of unacceptable condescension.

A rather good true story is of a barrister who had formerly been a roman catholic priest, and whose latin tags were therefore pronounced as such priests pronounce latin, not as lawyers usually do. Let us call him Smith.

Judge (snootily): "Mr Smith, where DID you learn your latin?"

Barrister (deadpan): "In Rome, M'lud".


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: iancarterb
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 11:03 PM

I'm with Jim Dixon. Accents or dialect may be an affectation for a performer, or they may be perfectly comfortable with them. A folksinger is often singing a song the way he or she learned it, un- or pre- consciously, and the notion of 'performance' becomes peripheral to the communication. And anyone who ever heard Frank Warner sing understood that he WAS for the moment the person from whom he had learned the song, and that he was bringing whole the experience and history of that person. The nature of the dialect was simply not separable from the song. A singer-songwriter from the suburbs may find grammar an issue of sincerity of presentation. Not the same problem!


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 11:36 PM

I don't believe most people who habitually use correct grammar in daily speech are going to be inclined toward singing songs with incorrect grammar. Most of us choose songs with which we have connections, and if a song is written in a grammatical style that is foreign to our daily way of speaking, we're probably not going to choose to sing it.

But, in reality, most of us don't use correct grammar all the time. I try to use it in writing (unless I'm intentionally writing in a "vernacular"), but don't confuse how I write with how I talk. My "vernacular" writing is much closer to the way I usually speak than is the style in which this post is written.

I'm perfectly comfortable singing songs in whatever grammatical style their authors chose to cast them, and I can't think of any reason why I would want to "clean up" the grammar in a song.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: robinia
Date: 14 Jan 07 - 11:45 PM

I once heard someone sing "Mole in the Ground" with a grammatically corrected third line: "If I were a mole in the ground (instead of "if I's a mole in the ground") I'd root that mountain down . . ."   Talk about affectation!


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Bert
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 12:12 AM

Makes me wonder just how old (or young) is Sorefingers.

When I was younger I used to be horrified by the lyric "Sing it Pretty Sue" when of course it should be "prettily".

Now that I'm older, I love the song and sing it often.

Colloquialisms are part of life, get used to it, you can't say 'Granmaw' in proper English but that doesn't mean that you can't sing it.

Sheesh! (Gawd, there's another one - and another) I've even got songs of my own that I sing with an affected accent.

You just need to learn to speak 'people' rather than English.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Cluin
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 01:53 AM

Sing the song the way YOU want to sing it, if you want to sing it at all. It doesn't matter who did it before or how they did it.

Anything else is bullshit.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 02:13 AM

Stan Freburg did a wonderful take on this for 'ol man Ribber..

called 'Elderly Man River'... :-)


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Anne Lister
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 03:22 AM

I think some people tend to unconsciously correct for their own style as they go, and remember the songs the way they feel comfortable singing them, so it's not always an affectation when the words seem different. It can jar, though, if you have always sung it in its "incorrect" grammar.
But yes, written grammar and spoken grammar are often different beasts. OTOH "isn't" is perfectly correct written or spoken, so wouldn't need to become "is not", and "can't" similarly wouldn't need to be "cannot".
The real difficulties for me come with songs intended for another accent (Scottish, any of the American accents, Geordie etc) and I never manage to cope with "ain't" as it's not a word I usually use.
What I really, really hate is when a (non-trad) songwriter forces grammar into a non-conversational OR written form to make a rhyme. No examples spring instantly to mind, but there have been a few!

Anne


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 03:22 AM

"I Belong To Glasgow" works for me and I belong to Glasgow. (or at least, very close to it)
You is what you is sorefingers.
On a similar note. There are two days in the year when I will not listen to the radio; St. Patrick's day & Robert Burns day. Thirty million Canadians may think their fake accents are the funny but the immigrant Scots & Irish, for the most part, find it insulting.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: fat B****rd
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 03:34 AM

My somewhat limited repertoire consists of mainly blues songs which obviously originate with black singers. Does the team think that it's unethical to sing in an approximation of a black singers voice and/or to "tidy up" the lyrics.
Maybe I should just get on with it. A guitarist friend of mine who worked in a bank and played in a local folk group berated me for "trying to sing like a negro" I in turn berated him for "trying to sing like a farmhand/sailor etcetc".


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 05:15 AM

The idea of deliberately 'correcting' the grammar of folk songs is anathema to me. That's exactly the sort of thing a Victorian song collector would have done. I believe the song should be sung as intended by the writer, however ignorant of correct grammar they may have been.

This might mean the singer has to use dialect words or expressions. There have been discussions on other threads about the appropriateness of singing songs in a different dialect from the singer's own. My view (shared by many) is that it's OK, provided the singer takes the trouble to learn the accent properly. Others take the view that you should only sing songs from where you were born or raised, which seems to me an unnecessary restriction.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 05:39 AM

Sorry Scrump: but no matter how well intentioned, you cannot learn my accent and your, all-be-it well meaning, efforts will only serve to offend those whom you mimic. It's not always the best form of flattery.
I spend my whole life, trying to soften my accent and speak more slowly in an effort to be understood. If the author had a huge carbuncle on his forehead and sang through his nose, would you do it too?
Trust me. Ask your real friends. Every cripple has his own particular way of walking. I've got mine, you get your own.
No offense meant. Quite the reverse actually.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 05:49 AM

'Correct' grammar is actually 'standardised' grammar. At one time a country like Britain had dozens (possibly hundreds?) of different dialects. These dialects were variants of English, each with its own vocabulary and grammar. My maternal grandparents were born in East Anglia but, soon after they were married, moved 50 miles further west to an East Midlands city in which my mother was born. My mother had great difficulty understanding her own grandfather because he still spoke his local dialect.

Standardised grammar is an invention of human beings designed to improve communication between them (or to assert the dominance of particular social groups - depending on your point of view!). Deliberately subverting the rules of standardised grammar for artistic purposes is not 'wrong' because those rules are arbitrary anyway. I suppose the key question is does the subversion lead to an improved artistic experience for the audience?
As for singing in a dialect different from your own, well, it all depends whether or not you can do it convincingly ...


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 05:54 AM

What Shimrod says goes double for 'English spelling' ...


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 10:39 AM

I think it was Peace who said:

LF (SF): Teribus is a fine person, IMO. Referring to him and associating his name with the term 'ilk' is not becoming, IMO

What's your problem with "ilk"? It merely means "the same type" or "the same name", as someone could (but in today's world probably won't) say, "Dave Oesterreich, of that ilk." That would imply that the Oesterreiches were well known, and that I was one of that family that everyone knew about.

Now you might object to saying he's one of "the grammar nasties" (what is often even more pejoratively referred to as "grammar Nazis"), but that's a different part of your criticism.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 11:04 AM

Jim Lad - your argument is flawed. For all you know, I could be from the same town as you and have the same accent :-)


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 11:23 AM

Well: I'm from Airdrie and the accent changes from one side of the town to the other. That's off topic though. The advice is aimed at those who have an entirely different accent.
If my argument was all that was flawed, I'd be a happy man.
Mind you... "American Pie" doesn't work in broad Scots.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 11:26 AM

Jim Lad - You're insulted by Canadians doing fake accents; I'm insulted by the suggestion that 30 million Canadians approve of fake accents. I don't, and don't sing in fake accents. Stompin' Tom doesn't. The late Stan Rogers didn't, but then he can no longer be included in the numbers ... So, please, make that 30 million minus two! (You do the math ... ).


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 11:53 AM

Well: I'm from Airdrie and the accent changes from one side of the town to the other

I don't think it is off topic, because to those who say "you shouldn't sing songs unless you were born or raised in a particular area", I would ask: where do you draw the line? Should a person from Liverpool not be able to sing a Manchester song, or vice versa? The two accents are markedly different and can be distinguised even by a person who doesn't come from either city.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 12:00 PM

I've had an epiphany!
It's OK, provided the singer takes the trouble to learn the accent properly.
It should be subtle though.
Meself: I'll help you with your math if you'll help me with my carbuncle.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 12:08 PM

It's OK, provided the singer takes the trouble to learn the accent properly

Thank you, Jim Lad. That's my view exactly.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 12:10 PM

Well, thanks to cut & paste, it was your words exactly.
I'll never be wrong again, Scrump.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: JeremyC
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 12:45 PM

I'll sing a song as close to the way its written as my sensibilities allow. I really hate "put-on" archaic pronunciations (see: "The Elfin Knight," as sung by Ewan MacColl) or out-of-place colloquialisms (see: "East Virginia" as sung by Joan Baez), so I do my best to avoid them in my own singing, although I will for some reason develop a twang against my best intentions while I'm singing some Woody Guthrie songs. Hopefully I'll outgrow that. In general, I think a folk singer should sing as close to the way he/she talks as possible, while making allowances for the act of singing and the credibility of the song ("And it's a HARRRD RAAAAAIN that's going to fall").


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 01:44 PM

Thank you all for informative and helpful suggestions. But I cannot change my bad, or good, habits of a lifetime of compromisin' singing.

For me the Blues expression which sounds like 'lard lard lard...' is still 'Lord Lord Lord', and it can sound like 'Lawd Lawd Lawd' to the rest of humanity, but to me it has to be meaningful. Or singing the first lines 'Kilgarry Mountain' ( when I have the wind for it ) has to be adjusted from 'a-goin' to 'go-ing over'

As to fake accents, yeah me too. I don't know why but I squirm as a person tries to sing 'yon' or 'ken' in a broad NY drawl ( as in Who the H is Ken??? ), it just does not sound .... well... right to me.

This topic is badly titled since there is also much here about people who don't speak as they write, or the other way around. I know I certainly DO NOT try to write differently to how I speak and that does often seem ungrammatical. However I notice that the more I write and try to improve, the better I speak and think in the language I happen to be using at that time.. or something to that effect.

Posts that made me nearly choke with laughter because the author either did not realize how funny his story was or did realize and posted it anyway, Alba .... I had to stand up and walk about the room to relieve the pain of laughing so much. Richard's tale is mighty fun and he might want to send some more.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Bert
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 02:40 PM

So we're not allowed to sing "Ilkey Moor Bah't 'at" any more?

Don't be so bloody silly! Just sing the songs the best you can, and get on with it.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 02:56 PM

There are certain songs that no one would correct. As mentioned above:It Ain't Me Babe and Satisfaction and I've never heard,"You aren't anything but a hound" ("hound dog" being redundant), but I have heard,"Hundreds of people didn't have any place to go" in Backwater Blues.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 04:03 PM

This is really a tough challenge for those of us who have no accent. LOL

I grew up in Maine but my folks were from New York City. My mother now sounds like a Mainer to me but Lord knows what I sound like. Well, maybe I have a little acccent when I say "idear" or "arear." Then there are all them words that I drop "r's" on... But people generally can understand me, unlike when Barry Finn talks!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: JeremyC
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 04:14 PM

You are nothing more than a hound dog,
For you cry all the time.
You are nothing more than a hound dog,
For you cry all the time.
Metaphorically speaking, you have never captured a rabbit,
And in addition, I do not consider you a friend.

When they referred to you as "high-classed,"
They clearly spoke either in jest or in an attempt at deliberate falsehood.
When they referred to you as "high-classed,"
They clearly spoke either in jest or in an attempt at deliberate falsehood.
As I have said before, you have never captured a (metaphorical) rabbit,
And in addition, I do not consider you a friend.


Yeah, it doesn't have the same ring to it.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 04:25 PM

Guest,Jim:
"Hound dog" is not redundant. Anyone interested in dogs (for breeding, showing etc.) will know that the Kennel Club lists 6 'Groups' of dog breeds:
Utility, Working, Toy, Terrier, Gundog & Hound

So "Hound dog" is just a little more specific than just "dog", however, the wording may be mis-understood. If you read the Wiki description of a hound you may consider the song trying to tell us:
"Dog, you are nothing but a hound"
Other definitions make it clear that 'Hounds' as a group will hunt game, but act only as hunters (or 'pointers') Making a lot of noise (baying) but NOT acting as retrievers.
This would also make sense of the the lines "Crying all the time" & "you ain't never caught a rabbit"


CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 04:36 PM

Visions of Peter Sellers dressed as Laurence Olivier/Richard III doing 'A hard days' night' are rampaging across my brain now....


LTS


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 05:10 PM

I've mentioned before the tale of the prim music teacher whose class of small children had been taught to play the violin and were included in a community show. She proudly announced that the children would now perform a 'traditional American tune called "Boil Those Cabbages Down"'. I nearly had to leave the auditorium.

A


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Tootler
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 05:38 PM

First day of a new school year. Teacher is taking the names of the new pupils.

First boy walks up to teacher's desk.
Teacher: What's your name boy?
1st Boy: Jules, Miss.
Teacher: Don't be silly. You can't use nicknames on the register. Your name is Julius.
1st Boy, walking off looking chastened: Yes, Miss.

Second boy approaches teacher's desk.
Teacher: What's your name?
2nd Boy, brightly: Billius, Miss!
...


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: melodeonboy
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 06:04 PM

"Is you is or is you ain't my baby?" could become "Are you my girlfriend or not?".

Which would you prefer?


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: BK Lick
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 06:40 PM

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus our Savior did come for to die
For poor ornry people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

Yep, "me" jes don't work there (unless you're Scots).
—BK


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 06:46 PM

Whatever works. It don't make me no never-mind.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 06:51 PM

What Bert said "Just sing the songs the best you can, and get on with it."

You pay some respect to the language used, if it's not quite your language, but you basically sing in the way that seems natural to you.

And formal grammar doesn't come into it, any more than it does in conversation.

As for "ain't", that been good English since the 18th century, posh people's English just as much as common folk's.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 07:28 PM

"Meself: I'll help you with your math if you'll help me with my carbuncle."

Wait a minute, what's this? A calculator! I think maybe I can handle that math problem myself ...


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 07:35 PM

You're a better man than me.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Peace
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 07:44 PM

The CEO hosted a soiree at the county incarceration facility
The house band was present and they played with gusto . . .

Yeah, it ain't the same.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 15 Jan 07 - 07:48 PM

How about:

   She loves you, yes, yes, yes;
   She loves you, yes, yes, yes;
   She loves you, yes, yes, yes, yes.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 04:08 AM

You really need to listen to the original (most of the laughs are in the timing and vocal intonations), but for those of you who haven't yet, here is a reasonably good feel for the material
~~~~~~~~
Transcript from http://home1.gte.net/longrj2/fluff/elderlymanriver.html

I hope to have a transcript of the entire recording not long from now. (Need to find which cassette tape it's on.) For now, here is most of it:

The setting is as follows: A musical radio program is going on and Stan is the host. Just before he introduces the next song, a man walks up and announces himself.

Man: My name is Tweedly. [he places emphasis on, and draws out, "Tweedly".]
Stan: Well, we all have our problems.

Tweedly states that he is there to ensure that Stan does not play anything that he finds offensive. Tweedly will activate his horn every time Stan does something offensive. Stan is hesitant, but decides to go on and starts his introduction.

Bzzzzzt! Stan forgot to be polite and thank Mr. Tweedly.
Stan: Why, that's a darling little horn you have there, Mr. Tweedly.

Stan introduces the next song, "Old Man River", and begins to sing.
"Old man river, that old man..." Bzzzzzt!
Stan: Okay Tweedly, politeness I dig, but what is wrong with "old man river"?
Tweedly: The word "old" has a connotation that some of the more elderly people find offensive. I suggest you make the substitution.
Stan: I suppose you insist.
Tweedly: Naturally.

Stan begins again.
"Elderly man river, that elderly man river. He must know somethin', but he don't say nothin'." Bzzzzzt!
Tweedly chides Stan for improper grammar.
Stan: "Somethin'," "somethin'," it's authentic.
Tweedly says that proper grammar should be used at all times, since "we must be a good influence on... children." [There's a pause and then 'children' is drawn out.]

By now, Stan is starting to get the hang of this, and begins again.
"Elderly man river, that elderly man river. He must know something, but he doesn't say anything. He just keeps rollin' [catches himself] rolling, he just keeps rolling along."
"He don't [Bzzt] doesn't plant taters [catches himself] potatoes,
he doesn't plant cotton [catches himself] cotting, because these/them/those that plants them are soon forgotting.
Elderly man river, he just keeps rolling along."

The song continues...
"...Body's all aching and wracked with pain." Well, we got by with that one.
"Tote that barge, lift that bail. You get a little..." [Stan slows down and stops here, since the rest of it is "drunk and land in jail".]
Stan: Okay, Tweedly, you can take your finger off the buzzer.

Stan gives up at this point, and wraps up the show.
Bzzzt
Stan: Oh, yes, and thank you, Mr. Tweedly.
Tweedly: You're quite welcome, I'm sure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

See also Wiki Ol'_Man_River

A parody version was performed on CBS Radio by Stan Freberg and Daws Butler circa 1960, entitled "Elderly Man River." The parody lampooned what would today be termed "political correctness" by featuring a prudish censor from the "Citizen's Radio Board" who repeatedly interrupts Freberg's performance of the song to criticize (and insist on changes on) the grammar and appropriateness of the song's lyrics.

~~~~~

The track is still available today on CD, one of the True Comic Classics.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 01:45 PM

Now, Bert, you very well know I do not mean colloquial lyrics and their peculiar enunciations. I am trying to imagine what kind of person WOULD have difficulty with that kind of thing.

But Foolstroupe's scenario above provides, to those who can appreciate it, yet another comedy of the grammatically gifted trying to accommodate common folk song lyrics.

The more I think about that side of the phenomenon the more I luagh!


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 02:14 PM

I've got no problem with dialect, local words, etc, they're nothing to do with grammar. Hiwever, when the words actually express the opposite of what they mean to say..well!
"I can't get no satisfaction" means he gets nothing BUT satisfaction. That's just lazy uneducated writing and where I draw the line.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 02:19 PM

You can't get no satisfaction either!


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 03:12 PM

Most people here have been quoting song lyrics which are over-colloquial by educated usage standards. I should like to quote a line from a slightly archaic version of Blow Away the Morning Dew that is so magnificently grammatically correct that you have to laugh in admiration:

There is a flower in yonder field
That's called the marigold
And if you will not when you may
You shall not when you would

You'd have a job instilling such nice use of English verbs to kids on a modern GCSE course!


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,amazed observer
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 03:24 PM

How on earth can you decide to only sing songs in yout native dialect? There are a hell of a lot of amazing songs out there that you've just decided never to sing. I've a fairly BBC accent and I'll sing Irish songs, scottish songs, English, cornish, welsh, french, italian, breton... If I had to stick to my dialect I doubt I'd find a single folksong I could sing.

At the end of the day, if you can make a decent performance of it, who cares what your accent sounds like? If the audience understand and you can put a bit of emotion into it, who is honestly going to object?

Also, I find that my accent does change very slightly anyway. I suppose if you learn your songs from a person or recording, you'll tend to imitate them a bit subconsciously. This doesn't mean I try to put on a broad scots accent to sing a song by burns. That'd just sound crap. At the same time, I'm not going to deform the work of a great poet just because I think 'gang' or 'lassies' aren't correct. (Actually, thinking about it, my version of green grow the rushes came from an irish singer and probably doesn't sound remotely scottish.)

Anyway that's my contribution. Sorry for barging in- I couldn't resist.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 16 Jan 07 - 04:37 PM

Jeremy C.   - Great Version of Hound Dog. I'm sure if Elvis (or Big Boy Cruddup) were alive he'd re-do it.
Thanks for the dog info Nigel.
Amos - I play with a banjo player at a pioneer village in the summer months. Once I introduced an old fiddle tune called "Boil Them Cabbage Down" and an elderly lady who was watching gave me shit and said,"That's BILE Them Cabbage Down! If you're going to do it, do it right."


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 06:08 AM

"an elderly lady" - do I detect some Tweedly influence there?


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 06:46 AM

GUEST,amazed observer - I agree with what you say (no need to apologise for barging in, why shouldn't you if you want to!)

I also find I almost unconsciously pick up local accents when visiting an area, even for a short time. Especially so, if I have family connections there, or have visited the area often before, and am already familiar with the accent, even if it's not my own 'natural' one.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Anne Lister
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 05:49 PM

It comes down to "do what you feel comfortable with", doesn't it? I can't happily sing "ain't" but that doesn't mean I don't think others should, nor that I'm making any judgement on their choices. And I have no gripe at all at whether something rhymes properly or pronunciation. But I, personally, will not attempt a song in a broad accent or dialect which isn't close to my own. Everyone is free to do exactly as they choose, and I choose to make a trad song my own by singing it in a way that feels comfortable for me.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 07:12 PM

I'll throw in my two cents. If it sounds like an affectation, it probably is. But we can sing in an idiom without having grown up in it. How convincing it is depends on who, how and in what context the song is being presented. I wouldn't try to sing a Scottish song with all of the pronunciations entailed but if I were singing Loch Lomond, what's wrong with "bonnie braes"? Grammar is for the printed page IMHO. However, there are songs that misuse words. "Waltzing Mathilda" comes to mind. (It's not in three-quarter time.) I think you can get away with almost anything if you really know what you're singing about. I think you make a horrific mistake trying to come across as something you are not, however. You don't have to wear overhauls to sing a farmer's song.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: fat B****rd
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 05:18 AM

Fascinating stuff. But if I want to do a song by Charlie Patton or Leadbelly do I have to be what is now called Politically/Musically Correct and sing it in a non "black" voice ?.
I am first and foremost a vocalist and prefer to give a song some guts rather than worry about correctness.
In my previous post my guitarist friend really meant that it was unethical to sing in a pseudo black voice (Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker) but okay to cover any white artists.
My wording here may be lacking but this , as far as I'm concerned, is part and parcel of the original thread.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 06:23 AM

I think some songs would sound incorrect if you didn't try to at least give an impression of the accent. For example, trying to sing a Scottish traditional song or American blues song in "Received Pronunciation" might appease the PC brigade, but it would just sound stupid. If a comic effect is what you're after, then fine, but if you're trying to give a good performance and do the song justice, I think you have to try to sing it in the 'proper' accent.

I think it comes down to taking the trouble to learn the accent properly - if you do this, you won't go wrong. If you don't do your homework first, you risk annoying people who do know the accent properly (or at least, getting laughs you don't want).


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 02:28 AM

.....sing in a pseudo black voice (Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker).....


Well, you learn something every day!

DC


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 03:02 AM

I forgot that I was on a different computer. That was me above.

DC


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,oz chick
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 04:38 AM

well this is all very interesting - I'm forever being told off for singing in my normal oz accent...I just tell everyone, it's how i speak so why shouldn't i sing like it too? Aussies aren't very comfortable with our own accent, it seems....


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: JeremyC
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 11:21 AM

But if I want to do a song by Charlie Patton or Leadbelly do I have to be what is now called Politically/Musically Correct and sing it in a non "black" voice?

Some of those songs, I just wouldn't sing. We have a session here in a bar primarily frequented by black people, and one of the (white) guys who plays started up a spirited rendition of "Cotton Fields Back Home," which really doesn't sound good coming from a white guy. Likewise, I wouldn't sing "Black Girl." But of the songs I'd choose to learn, I'd make them my own, just like Lead Belly and Charlie Patton did. It's interesting to learn what they did and how they did it, but I'd never go so far as to sing their songs in a 'black' voice, because I'm not black, and it's too easy to be unintentionally insulting when doing that. Ramblin' Jack can get away with it because he sounds exactly like Lead Belly when he wants to, but I wouldn't risk it, myself.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 12:20 PM

Scrump,
I've heard choirs do versions of folk songs that just don't sond right because of the correct pronouciation. Even "dem ol' cotton fields back home" sounds too correct. I agree with JeremyC; that's a song I just wouldn't sing.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Scrump
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 12:31 PM

Having discussed this aspect and thought about it a little (but not enough, yet), I think there are probably some songs where it's acceptable or even desirable to do some kind of imitation of the accent, or they just wouldn't sound right.

There are probably others that it's better not to do this, and just sing in your own natural voice.

But I haven't been able to come up with any general rules about this.

As for Cotton Fields, I wouldn't attempt to sing it in an imitation 'black' voice, not just for PC reasons, but because I don't feel I could imitate that type of accent very well.

But for this particular song, I don't see why you can't sing it in your normal voice (assuming you are 'white') - it's a good singalong song, whatever its origins were. I think this is OK even if you sing "them old cottonfields" instead of "those old cottonfields", which would sound plain daft, IMO. Pity there aren't more verses to it though.

There are some songs I wouldn't attempt - either because I don't think I could do them justice, or because the subject matter doesn't suit my style, mainly.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,Scoville on scanner computer
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 01:26 PM

I don't put on an accent. If it's something that is clearly from the British, Irish, Scottish, African-American, whatever tradition, I at least try to control the twang and my lisp, but I'm lousy at accents and wouldn't insult my audience by trying. I'll tell them that the song is Irish (Scottish, etc.) but don't try to sound like I am.

Conversely, I don't play up the twang for my regular "hillbilly" repertoire and it irritates the heck out of me when people do because it almost invariably sounds fake and patronizing. The Carters didn't like being played up as yokels and Leadbelly preferred to perform in a suit rather than prison stripes. Folk music doesn't have to be undignified. It would be one thing if I really were a coal miner's daughter, but I'm not, and I feel like it would be exploitative of me to "pretend".

I don't make changes unless something can be altered from less to more correct easily and without disrupting the flow of the song. A word or two here and there, but not major restructuring.


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: JeremyC
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 01:59 PM

If I'm singing something American, I tend to take a more conversational tone, and if it's from overseas, I sing it "straighter," although I wouldn't use a bel canto tone for either, since that never sounds right. In general, if I don't sound like "me" singing whatever it is, I don't want to sing it publicly until I do, because it will feel fake. Also, the perception if you change your accent for the song seems to be that you don't have your own voice, although certain people can get away with it for some reason (Ramblin' Jack can get away with a Scots accent in "I Belong to Glasgow," and I have no idea how he makes it work, but it does. Besides that, he gets away with a country accent every day, although it could be argued that he's been doing it long enough that it's become his natural accent).


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: bubblyrat
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 02:52 PM

Has Uncle Dave heard of The Moose Of That Elk ---??


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 03:44 PM

No, we can't sing "Ilkey Moor Bah't 'at" - it has been determined in this thread that "ilk" is a naughty word.
I think that the fun of "Ilkey Moor Bah't 'at" is our futile efforts to copy the accent. Of course we can't do it - but it's sure fun trying.

I have to confess that when I transcribe lyrics here, I often type "singing" when the book I'm copying from says "singin' " I think it's natural to drop the "g" when talkin' or singin' - but I think it's contrived to type it that way.

Reminds me of the Kingston Trio knockoff group in A Mighty Wind, with their albums Rompin', Singin', Ramblin', Stompin', and other titles of that ilk.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 06:42 PM

Spose ....( chuckle ) ifn you haint sayin like yar sangin....

yar a fake !


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: GUEST,ozchick
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 12:45 AM

I've been thinking about this whole accent thing. If I were to sing Waltzing Matilda in my normal aussie accent (which i do) it would sound right, being an aussie song and all. If an american singer were to sing it in an american accent, it would sound a bit strange - but right, too. But if an american singer were to try to put on an aussie accent it would be all wrong.
Sing whatever song you want. But make it your own. that's what traditional music is all about anyway isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: melodeonboy
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 06:33 AM

Quite right, ozchick, I couldn't agree more.

You should hear my version of "Click go the shears" (with Kent accent, of course!).


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Subject: RE: Grammatically Correct Folk Song Lyrics
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 07:31 AM

Click Go the shears mate!
Click, click, click! Och eye!


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