Mudcat Café message #2545309 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116964   Message #2545309
Posted By: Jim Carroll
21-Jan-09 - 02:24 PM
Thread Name: Why folk clubs are dying
Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
Sorry, don't know my way around the internet well enough to give you a clip. Perhaps somebody else can help - would suggest anything by Walter Pardon, MacColl (singing a traditional song), Sheila Stewart (try Tiftie's Annie), Texas Gladden, Bert Lloyd...... hundreds of names spring to mind. You want to hear Lucy Wan in all it's viciousness, dig out Terry Yarnell's version.
Please do not confuse taste with definition - what people like or dislike (me included) is entirely their own business. None of those clips of emasculated folk songs appeal to me in any way, but that is a matter of my personal taste, not an argument against anybody else enjoying them. Personally, I love 'cowshit music' (Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, Delius.... et al - all of whom used folk songs and tunes, but I would argue that, played they way they are, they are no longer folk. Would Beethoven, Mozart or Handel still be classical played on tenor sax or uillian pipes or synthesizer, or does 'classical' suggest a style of playing as well as a collection on notes?
English language folk songs (on this side of the pond anyway) are, by their very function, narrative. The singers tended to pitch their songs around their speaking range and make sense of the narrative by not breaking words up, taking a short breath with the commas and a longer one with the full stops. They did not interrupt the narrative flow with instrumental breaks, their main purpose being to pass on a story, or at least, a body of information. Every traditional singer we interviewed said (in one way or another) that they considered themselves storytellers whose stories came with tunes. Most of them totally identified with the songs; they could provide descriptions of the characters and of the locations where the action took place. Singers like Walter Pardon envisaged some of them taking place in his own locality.
Alan Lomax and his Cantometric team back in the 70s descibed English language songs as "wordy" ie, having a lot of words. In all the clips provided I would be hard-pressed to be able to make out the words of any of the songs, let alone follow them. I could find no interpretation in any of them - even though I knew them all. Perhaps I am missing something and somebody would supply with one? To me, they are all indifferently performed pop songs, to which my first reaction was 'thank god the government is considering a noise-limitation bill'.
Thank you for oversimplifying both my and Al's attitude to music. I am not, as Banjiman suggested an 'ultra-traddie', I love traditional music, but I also see no sense in just singing the 'old' songs. I adimired MacColl's singing - for many an arch-traddie for whom the term finger-in-ear was invented. MacColl wrote more songs than any other singer in the folk scene - all of them relevant to the time in which they were made. Compared to his songs, I find the output and performance of today's singer-songwriters 'public masturbation'. They concern nobody but the singer/writer.
Jim Carroll