Mudcat Café message #4017622 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166876   Message #4017622
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
06-Nov-19 - 08:42 PM
Thread Name: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
Howard, I hear and respect your comments. I am grateful for them as the are interesting and reasonably phrased.

I fully admit to being less than one hundred percent a fan of the work of Walter Pardon. I think that it's sort of all right. Nothing much to write home about whichever way you look at it. This does not equate to having an intention to mount a veiled attack on him. I don't intend to 'veil' anything, and hope I have been quite clear, in, for example, responding to your questions as fully as I can.

So here are some tentative thoughts in response again to what you have put.

I have said that he was 'lionised'. I believe that this is the case, and coming across him late in life, it is very striking. By 'lionised', I mean something like treated out or made into a celebrity. Glorified, honoured, acclaimed.

The very language in which he is spoken of demonstrates this. Meaning no disrespect to those who use it and who are quoted below:

'I have plenty to learn from him'
'determined to keep the songs alive'
'his pacing is a lesson in restraint'
'still regarded as an important figure in British folk song and that will continue to be the case while the subject is remembered.'
'important source singer'
'one of the few outstanding folksingers left in England today'
'traditional singer'
'one of the important traditional singers whom Norfolk produced during the 20th century.'

and more overtly political (though much of the language and thinking of the post-war folk boom was implicitly political):

'confirmation of the fact that the world-view of 19th century rural agricultural workers was enlarged directly as a result of the dialectical effects brought about by the processes of capitalism.'

These are value statements with which I don't necessarily agree, but what strikes me more than anything is that they seem to be imbued with a particular set of assumptions, beliefs, values, an ideology in other words, as in .

Well that isn't true because there is more than one set here of values here: some are overtly Marxist, as for example Mike Yates, who in one article on Pardon goes on to suggest that Sharp's view of 'folk' won't do and a new one is needed (maybe he has been reading the end of Lloyd's book or influenced by the work and political programme of MacColl). I refer to Yates in the OP.

Regarding other comments that have been made. I had not until just now read anybody suggesting that Pardon actually learned songs from a recording, and had not made that precise suggestion myself (though I can't see why people should be so alarmed at the idea), but I have just found precisely such a suggestion in yet another Mustrad article, this time by Mike Yates (2003)

Sorry, cutting off short. You chose the word 'debunk' and I think felt that I wanted to dismantle Pardon's reputation as a great traditional singer and so on. Debunk isn't a word I would choose. What interests me is getting a handle on how it came about that so many people are convinced that things that seem to me to have been sort of thought up mid to late 20th century are historical facts.

For example, take the phrase 'traditional singer'. As far as I am aware, nobody knows much about what traditional singing might have sounded like. There are discussions about this on Mustrad too. There are no recordings of it, obviously.

I think on one level, changing tack for a moment, 'reading' a performance of a song is like 'reading' a poem: it isn't a matter of getting the information from the poem, it is always a matter of interpreting what is there. So I am sure that people like Nick will take inspiration from Pardon's style; what I am less sure of is that in so doing they are in any particularly meaningful sense tapping into any great stylistic tradition. Indeed, I have seen it argued that the relatively unadorned style popular with many male 'revival' singers came into fashion post WW II.

This may strike you as heresy, and the emotional response of some people is strikingly clear, but they are reasonable views to take.

I really don't feel that there is anything 'veiled' here: I had hoped that the OP made the sort of approach clear!

Thank you for reading if you did.