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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Vic Smith Are racist, but traditional, songs OK? (404* d) RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK? 30 May 20

I'm a big fan of Alasdair Roberts and remember being startled when I heard the recorded version of Little Sir Hugh.
I remember a long conversation with Alistair over breakfast in a hotel in Brussels in 2009. We were both involved in an 'Alan Lomax' weekend festival. He was asking me my opinion on whether he should record Little Sir Hugh as he knew it would be controversial though he really liked the song. From what I remember, I said that in some versions, there is no mention of a "Jew's Garden" and said that a lot would depend on the way that it was interpreted. That led to a mention of the 2004 film of The Merchant of Venice in which Al Pacino gives a sympathetic portrayal of Shylock. I can't see an objection to 'an apologetic introduction' even if it says that anti-semitism as and has been a problem in Europe over centuries and this song reflects that.

I was put in a difficult position after someone approached me at the end of an evening at our club to complain that one of our floor singers had sung that song. I had to answer that I did not know or censor in advance which songs were going to be sung and that if he wanted to take it up with the singer, I would introduce them and then hang around to make sure that the conversation was polite.

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