Mudcat Café message #4034007 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #4034007
Posted By: Brian Peters
13-Feb-20 - 10:01 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
17 years ago, Mark Wilson, a highly-respected North American field collector and anthologist, who recorded legendary musicians like J. P. Fraley, Buddy Thomas, Asa Martin and Buddy McMaster, supervised Rounder Records' 'North American Traditions' series, a somehow found the time to be a professor of Philosophy at Pittsburgh, had this to say about Dave Harker and his ilk:.

"No doubt all of these authors trust that they are striking some significant blow against societal oppression by diagnosing the upper-class foibles of folks like Sharp. I believe the hard facts are quite otherwise. As Mike [Yates] notes, 'Sharp was lax in asking singers where they learnt their songs.' This was generally true of the collectors of that era, for reasons that are perfectly understandable in the context of the time, but wants remedy insofar as it is still possible (this is particularly true of the instrumental music in which I largely deal). But, insofar as I can see, direct folk music scholarship of the sort required has fallen to negligible levels here, at the same time as the literature of righteous critique has abundantly flourished. Plainly, the latter exerts a profoundly chilling effect upon the former. In future years, when interested parties look back on our era, they will no doubt ask, "How is it, at a time when important tradition bearers were still active, that academic folklorists wasted their time in such relatively insignificant veins of criticism?"

Harker and crew plainly intend to complain of this class-based detachment, but their own efforts, it seems to me, have unwittingly contributed to an oppressive present day climate likewise disgraced by non-engagement with the very people to whom we should be paying the most attention... The lack of basic human sympathy and understanding is quite palpable throughout this moralizing literature."

Still apposite, perhaps? Wilson's letter appeared in correspondence on the Musical Traditions site, in response to Mike Yates' reappraisal of 'Fakesong' in the light of Bearman's research. Worh a look if you aren't familiar with it already.