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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Jon Dudley Is it Ok to sing from a song book? (539* d) RE: Is it Ok to sing from a song book? 05 Feb 10


Ok chaps I wasn't going to get involved with this, but...

Thanks Jim for being so lenient with us! Thanks Mike for making a telling observation...and thanks Valmai for being the latest possible observer. The facts are these:

I was once quoted (accurately I'm afraid) as saying that being a member of The Copper Family was a bit like being a member of the royal family. Of course I didn't mean that literally, but what I did mean was that it does involve being the inheritor (although not strictly so in my own case) of a remarkable singing tradition. That doesn't necessarily imbue you with an innate sense of performance, although some family members have inherited that as well. It is an intensely precious gift from previous generations however, for which everyone feels a deep gratitude and need to keep the whole thing going. So although we are all 'blessed' with voices which remain roughly in tune we are not in any sense 'performers'...torch bearers might be a better description.

Bear with me I'm laboriously getting to my point...

The act of performance for non-performers varies, but can be absolutely terrifying at times. We are essentially non-performers. People ask us to sing and we do so willingly, sometimes in an almost evangelical way. We get a tremendous amount of fun and sense of family in doing it. The generations are stripped away and we are back with Bob, Ron, Jim, John, Brasser, 'Honest John' and the rest of the crew. The truth is that 'performance' doesn't come easily. We are not professionals, nor do we profess to be, but I hope that the sincerity of what we do is evident.

Now, at last to the point...

The book(s) serve very much as a sort of totem, a touchstone if you like...we have Brasser and Jim's original songbooks which they never used - "watcha want ter roit it down fer? every bugger knows th' words" as Brasser said. And in the midst of 'performance' when some of us is 'poopin' ourselves, the books are a steadying influence. Truth is, with enough Harveys bitter we do get unbelievably emotional about all this stuff and totally forget where we are in a song...the books come in again, although most of us will have difficulty focussing at this point. It's amazing how easily we go wrong even with the books - no ones looking at 'em.

As the Irishman, Brian George at the BBC said to Bob in the early '50s when he'd heard Bob was practising guitar..."I hope you're not going to tart those songs up, there's a million people out there who can do that but there's no other buggers on earth make the same racket as you lot".

We inherit a proud tradition. Let's hope we are living up to it...don't answer that!


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