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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Ian Hendrie Canals Songs Authentic? (21) RE: Canals Songs Authentic? 04 May 11


I think it safe to say that if there were any song creators amongst the working boat community that their efforts were never sung widely nor recorded in any way. Having read it 'somewhere' I tend to concur with the notion that when boaters gathered in canalside pubs they would sing the popular music hall hits of the day, e.g. 'Keep Yer Ands Off, She's Mine'.

Imagine long-distance lorry drivers (a modern day equivalent in some respects - travelling long distances alone, living in vehicle) gathering in a pub today, or perhaps a few years ago when Sky TV was not there to be worshipped. I can't think that, if a sing-song arose (perhaps that would have needed a power strike to kill off alternative forms of entertainment first) they would be singing songs about truck-driving!

Many songs sung in folk clubs are contemporary. I can't see anything wrong in singing contemporary songs about canals. There is no need to claim that any of them (apart from a very few written by canal proprietors, etc.) are 'authentic' in the sense that they come from the working boating community. Perhaps some of the early recordings of canal songs (60s/70s) were not as 'honest' as they might have been about the source of their songs.

Chris' original contribution was very helpful in providing a first hand picture of boaters' lives. Thanks.


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