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GUEST,Songster Bob traditional singers: beards, & guinness? (81* d) RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness? 28 Aug 06


Actually, most traditional singers are clean-shaven (even the men), don't close their eyes, and have good haircuts. But then, the ones I describe have been dead for 20-30 years. The current crop of singers are from a later generation than the source singers, and many of these latter-day singers would never refer to themselves as 'traditional' singers. 'Singers of traditional songs,' yes, but not 'traditional' themselves.

The eyes-closed thing is, as people say, to avoid distraction (and, for some, to 'read' the lyric -- proof that the printed word has overtaken aural tradition is that we have to 'imagine' the lyric sheet in front of us. For some, of course, the missing words are written on the ceiling of the venue, you know.

And speaking the last line is most common (in America, anyway) among rural singers from the North Woods -- lumberjacks from Maine and Canada -- and the Maritimes. It's much less common to hear a southern ballad singer do it. In fact, I don't know of any of them who regularly do so. If it's common now in Britain, it's probably a 'take-back' of the tradition found in the northern US & Canada.

So that's the real story behind the stereotypes in the question that launched this thread.

Bob Clayton

PS -- I don't drink Guinness, nor any kind of beer or ale. Just a matter of taste, you know. My tipples are hard cider, rum, and single-malts of the mellower sort. Ask Bill D about my taste in malts; he knows my likes better than do I.


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