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Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club

Durham Lad 06 Nov 13 - 02:39 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Nov 13 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,Nobody in Particular 05 Nov 13 - 06:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Nov 13 - 04:27 PM
Dave the Gnome 05 Nov 13 - 04:00 PM
GUEST 05 Nov 13 - 03:37 PM
GUEST 05 Nov 13 - 12:33 AM
Airymouse 04 Nov 13 - 09:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Nov 13 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Stan Kelly 04 Nov 13 - 04:20 PM
Joe Richman 28 May 11 - 07:39 PM
YorkshireYankee 28 May 11 - 04:21 PM
threelegsoman 28 May 11 - 07:24 AM
DrugCrazed 28 May 11 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,lively 28 May 11 - 01:52 AM
GUEST,lively 28 May 11 - 01:44 AM
Bert 28 May 11 - 01:30 AM
Richard from Liverpool 27 May 11 - 08:07 PM
DrugCrazed 27 May 11 - 07:36 PM
Jack Campin 27 May 11 - 07:32 PM
Doug Chadwick 27 May 11 - 07:25 PM
DrugCrazed 27 May 11 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Eliza 27 May 11 - 06:19 PM
Taconicus 27 May 11 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,Eliza 27 May 11 - 05:57 PM
Taconicus 27 May 11 - 05:18 PM
YorkshireYankee 27 May 11 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 27 May 11 - 08:59 AM
DrugCrazed 27 May 11 - 08:30 AM
YorkshireYankee 26 May 11 - 10:53 AM
Rob Naylor 25 May 11 - 04:26 AM
DrugCrazed 24 May 11 - 04:49 AM
Rob Naylor 24 May 11 - 04:44 AM
Musket 24 May 11 - 03:53 AM
ripov 23 May 11 - 06:56 PM
The Sandman 23 May 11 - 05:18 PM
DrugCrazed 23 May 11 - 05:13 PM
Don Firth 23 May 11 - 03:30 PM
Hesk 23 May 11 - 03:11 PM
DrugCrazed 23 May 11 - 01:27 PM
Hesk 23 May 11 - 12:24 PM
DrugCrazed 23 May 11 - 12:11 PM
DrugCrazed 23 May 11 - 12:09 PM
Big Mick 23 May 11 - 09:41 AM
ripov 23 May 11 - 08:02 AM
Musket 23 May 11 - 07:20 AM
MGM·Lion 23 May 11 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,lively 23 May 11 - 06:09 AM
Rob Naylor 23 May 11 - 05:55 AM
janemick 23 May 11 - 05:50 AM
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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Durham Lad
Date: 06 Nov 13 - 02:39 AM

There are quite a few songs, by famous, contemporary singer - songwriters, which I feel have been done to death. Out of respect for said stars I'd prefer not to name them.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 09:30 PM

No good words to that I've ever heard, Nobody. But the Ode to Joy from the Ninth is great for singing, and there's a range of other sets of words for it as well.   And I've seen a Morris side using the tune for dancing.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,Nobody in Particular
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 06:03 PM

Beethoven's 5th?


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 04:27 PM

I suspect they think people here would have the same kind of attitude that they are prone to have towards the States, fiercely defensive, and a bit touchy. It seems to go back a long way, probably at least as far as the break with England.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 04:00 PM

Is that THE Stan Kelly of Liverpool Lullaby fame?

Anyway - To all newcomers to this thread, welcome. Don't believe everything you hear about 'banned' songs in folk clubs or even on the good ol' beeb. There have been some on the latter but sometimes for the oddest reasons and as for the former - Anything goes usually even if a little groan escapes some peoples lips :-) In the US there seems to be the idea that us 'Brits' - and I am a typical British Russian/Polish/English/Welsh mongrel - somehow dislike anything said against the Empire. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 03:37 PM

>> Accents - you can get away with any except RP. Queen's English types should avoid folk singing and join the Swingles.

Slightly late to this particular party, but one of my all-time favourite performances was the 79 year old wife of one of our oldest and grandest peers of the realm - someone a short sharp massacre from the throne - who belted out a cut-glass version of Haul Away, Joe. I never did quite work out where she'd learnt it, though.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 12:33 AM

Have not heard Lord of the dance in nearly fifteen years or more!
Streets of London is so dreadfully overdone. Fields of France is agony through every verse to its foregone conclusion. But then spinners songs used to ave the same effect on me.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Airymouse
Date: 04 Nov 13 - 09:01 PM

I think we in the U.S. are pretty safe. Most of your banned songs I have never heard of, let alone heard. One of my favorite quotes about old-time music comes from a preface by Mike Seeger to a book of old songs. Mike quoted Almeda Riddle's grandmother as saying that she loved to listen to the Carter family on the radio, but she couldn't stand what they did to the old songs. I certainly wouldn't want to ban the Carter family versions, but I wouldn't mind a rule that required anyone singing one of them to sing one other non-Carter-family version. For example, there must be 500 versions of John Hardy, but I can nearly guarantee you that even in West Virginia, where Hardy was hanged,wherever you go you will hear note for note about a desperate little man who carried two guns every day. No gambling takes place of course, because on the radio you could sing about murder and mayhem, but not gambling.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Nov 13 - 05:30 PM

I've sometimes thought The Sash to the tune of Kevin Barry with Kevin Barry to the tune of The Sash would be an interesting medley. Never dared to try it though.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,Stan Kelly
Date: 04 Nov 13 - 04:20 PM

Joe: Dominic's Patriot Game is really "anti" the trad Irish Rebel Song! He was certainly heavily criticized by many IRA hard-liners including brother Brenden. Listen again to the song's conclusion! BTW, Dominic & I once risked violent intervention singing The Sash Me Father Wore at London-Irish folkclub.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Joe Richman
Date: 28 May 11 - 07:39 PM

The only song on the list of overdone songs(or songs that may have been overdone at one time or another) in this entire thread that I've performed at a folk music gathering in the last couple of years is "John Henry". As no one had done it there in years, it went over very well. Of course I'm in California, not England, so it's pretty rare that I do anything that isn't American. I tend to do songs that you can find in Tony Russell's discography of old Country music records.

In general, the songs I do that don't go over well are ones I haven't worked on enough so that I have my own smooth version down pat. That is especially true of novelty songs.

Joe


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 28 May 11 - 04:21 PM

Lively: "I suppose it's a case of understanding the group and being aware of what others might find either entertaining or offensive."

Precisely.

That's really what it all boils down to, and what I believe the OP was trying to get a handle on when he started this thread, which is to his credit, IMHO.

When I attend a sing for the first time, I try to get a sense of the group and what they will/won't enjoy before jumping in with a song. I find each group is different and has its own (usually unwritten) rules/guidelines. You CAN "break" these "rules" -- no question about it. But, just as with most things (art, sports, cooking, etc) I find it's best (i.e the results tend to be better) if you understand the rules -- and understand them well -- before you break them. Also, break them carefully. Generally, if you are going to "break" a "rule", it's a good idea to:
1) KNOW you are doing so
2) Do so sensitively (for example: set it in context and /or explain why you have decided to do something which may upset/offend/bore/annoy others)
3) Know what the consequences may be (a moment's embarrassment, complaints, humiliation, ostracism, etc.)
4) Be sanguine about/prepared to accept the consequences

If you have unintentionally done something folks don't like, I think generosity and understanding are called for -- especially if you are a newbie. We all make mistakes and/or misjudge things from time to time. However, if you do so repeatedly, or do it just for the hell of it (or for the fun of winding people up) and don't care what others think, then don't be surprised or unhappy if/when you get negative consequences of one kind or another.

Richard from Liverpool:
Hog-Eye Man and Good Ship Venus are full of pretty crude language (including the "n-word" in Hog-Eye Man, which is fraught in & of itself). The Old Man From Over The Sea is racy, but not quite as crude as the others. You might say that TOMfOtS has many double-entendres and one single-entendre (the word "screw", which is a fairly "mild" one, as things go), while H-EM and GSV are full of single-entendres -- and not such "mild" ones as "screw".

If I sang H-EM or GSV at any of the various sing-arounds/folk clubs I usually attend, I think there would be nervous laughter and that folks would be a bit shocked (tho they prolly wouldn't say so). They might still clap afterwards, and prolly no-one would say anything nasty to me/in front of me (except perhaps as a "joke"), but I'm sure it would be a hot topic of conversation afterwards! ;-)

I might just get away with TOMfOtS -- if I followed my no. 2 tip above -- but if I just launched into any of those songs, I think most (probably all) of the other folks there would feel pretty uneasy. Note: this is as opposed to a racy/"naughty"-but-not-too-explicit song which (in my experience) seems to go down well almost everywhere.

In the end, it all comes down to what Lively said about understanding your group. Since I want to sing songs that others will enjoy, I'm not generally tempted to sing stuff that's going to ruffle feathers. Perhaps that's a failing, but I'm happy with that approach.

Whew! I think that's the longest post I've ever made on Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: threelegsoman
Date: 28 May 11 - 07:24 AM

Timing is everything. These songs which you say get the audience groaning are usually ones they know well and early in a performance they want to listen rather than join in. However, later in the performance, especially if it is in a pub, having loosened up they will join in with gusto and enthusiasm the self same songs.

Read your audience. Judge their disposition and choose your songs accordingly. Rather than performing a set programme, ask for requests and if one such song is requested and gets the 'groan' from the rest of the audience, decline to sing it, but if there seems to be a call for it, sing it and encourage the audience to join in with you.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 28 May 11 - 06:57 AM

Yay, my rum addled self made sense!

And I still agree with him. Yay!


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 28 May 11 - 01:52 AM

"Don't say something like "Well that isn't sung often","

DrugCrazed, that's a good point. And I think as others may have already said, many of the so-called 'oversung' songs, you actually never hear sung at all.

Now if you've been going to clubs for sixty years you may have heard them a lot, but if you've only been going since such 'oversung' favourites have long since fallen out of favour, the likelihood is that you'll only ever get to hear parodies of those songs 'oversung' today.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 28 May 11 - 01:44 AM

"I listened to the songs at the links you provided (Hog-Eye Man, The Old Man From Over The Sea, and Good Ship Venus), and I could possibly see someone getting away with singing the second one at our singaround, but not the other two."

Hi Yorkshire Yankee, that intriguing as I've heard all the above ribald offerings sung at open pub sessions (never been to a Rugby club), where the participants will happily join in with the bawdy lyrics with gusto. I suppose it's a case of understanding the group and being aware of what others might find either entertaining or offensive.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Bert
Date: 28 May 11 - 01:30 AM

Re: Battle of New Orleans.

When singing this in England one could always preface it with the facts.

Of all the soldiers in the British attack most were killed or wounded. There were only 22 soldiers left who 'Ran away'.

Although it was an overwhelming victory, it certainly wasn't the rout suggested in the song.

Good song though, who cares about the facts.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 27 May 11 - 08:07 PM

Dear YorkshireYankee: "I could possibly see someone getting away with singing the second one at our singaround, but not the other two."

Could you perhaps explain why? (Rest assured I'm not asking with the intention of getting into an argument, I'm genuinely curious.)


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 27 May 11 - 07:36 PM

Since the rum means I can write this and not worry about the response:

If you boo/tut/complain when a newbie sings a song that's over sung then you've yourself to blame when said newbie never returns. One of the things I've noticed most about the sessions I've been in is how forgiving everyone has been - I know ~5 songs and they're quite well known (If you care: Hanging Johnny, General Taylor, Bright Morning Star, Donkey Riding, Two Sisters are ones I feel confident singing at a session) - but even when I sang them all at a session which Ms YorkshireYankee attended, even when I'd sung Hanging Johnny the week before at the other club she frequents there was no tut (as well as others who may be aware of my limited range of songs).

Even forgetting the words and saying "Sorry, words are gone. I'll get my revenge later" mid-song was forgiven.

The fact is, I wouldn't be going to sessions if I didn't feel comfortable there. Yes, we all make the joke about me being allowed there because I'm the baby, but the fact is that I feel happy singing the songs I'm not leading because I'm not berated for singing it wrong.

I've come from a classical(ish) background, where following the music was paramount and making it up isn't allowed. Harmonising at a session is the freedom that I've needed for a long time, especially because I'm learning new songs and realising that I can do other stuff with composition. Classical music makes life quite simple, whereas I feel the freedom in a session to sing whatever the hell I like. I'm learning Broomfield Hill at the moment, and I wouldn't have dreamed of playing what I'm playing before the folk stuff because "It wouldn't have been the proper chords".

The long and short of this is that if someone is coming to your session, be it a singaround or a free for all, you need to let them sing. If they sing something like Wild Rover, you should be putting on a brave face and singing along. Don't say something like "Well that isn't sung often", because you'll scare off the new blood, and I worry about what will happen to the sessions in the next 10 years if new blood isn't added in - and I'm only 19.

Just a few rum addled thoughts.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 11 - 07:32 PM

The tune for Battle of New Orleans is often played in bluegrass sessions in the UK. I've heard the song a few times.

I can't imagine patriotism ever having the sort of chilling effect Taconicus imagines. And why would attitudes to "The Battle of New Orleans" be any different in Scotland from those in England? - America was just as much Scotland's enemy as it was England's, and Scottish regiments fought there (in fact they may have been the majority of the troops on the British side).


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 27 May 11 - 07:25 PM

....... they'd have to be quite old to remember 'skiffle' and Lonnie Donegan .......

I remember 'skiffle' and Lonnie Donegan and from what I've seen and heard of UK folk music, I am very much of average age.

For my own part, not only do I not want to hear the Fields of Athenry but I am also getting rather tired of the parody in which the singer claims to be fed up hearing it.

Also, I wouldn't be upset if I never heard "Ride On" again.



DC


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 27 May 11 - 07:11 PM

So, DC... you'd be happier if I thought you a clueless idiot? ;-)

Hey, everyone else does ;-)

So, we've come to the conclusion there are no unsingable songs? And those who say there is such a thing in all situations are wrong? Glad to hear it.

Back to the rum I go.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 May 11 - 06:19 PM

Maybe, Taconicus, but they'd have to be quite old to remember 'skiffle' and Lonnie Donegan! And everything has to be 'Politically Correct' now, I can well see why this thread was opened, you daren't say boo nowadays in case you offend somebody. Are we all really so over-sensitive? If so, it's very sad!


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Taconicus
Date: 27 May 11 - 06:14 PM

Hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they'd still love it.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 May 11 - 05:57 PM

Lonnie Donegan sang this in UK in, I think, the 1950's and it was VERY popular. We all sang it a lot, and nobody thought anything about it being 'anti-British'. People are getting more touchy and paranoid by the year!


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Taconicus
Date: 27 May 11 - 05:18 PM

Depends on what part of UK you're in. I'm guessing you shouldn't sing Battle of New Orleans by Jimmy Driftwood (James C. Morris) in an English folk club, but it would probably be well received in Scotland.
In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 27 May 11 - 03:57 PM

So, DC... you'd be happier if I thought you a clueless idiot? ;-)

Lively, even as I was typing the above, I thought, "Somebody is gonna pick me up on this..."

I listened to the songs at the links you provided (Hog-Eye Man, The Old Man From Over The Sea, and Good Ship Venus), and I could possibly see someone getting away with singing the second one at our singaround, but not the other two.

That being said, there may well be other singarounds (e.g. at a Rugby Club ;-) ) and other situations where they would not only be appropriate, but would go down a storm. I remember a late-night session at the very last National Folk Festival: many of the performers had been serenading the bar staff (in hopes of getting them to provide more booze even though it was long after closing time). They did not succeed, but eventually the staff felt they ought to return the favour, and sang a "filthy" song about Yogi Bear and his... friends. They prefaced it with an apology that it wasn't "folk music", but it was the only song they all knew.

After hearing it (and joining in on the chorus, as did we all) Jon Boden assured them that it absolutely was a folk song, no question about it -- as much or maybe even more than the songs he performs -- and entirely appropriate (somewhat to their surprise). Well said, that man!

There is a time and place for almost anything/everything -- especially if singing is involved!


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 11 - 08:59 AM

Well if crude metal / rock songs aren't allowed in folk clubs, what about crudity in traditional folk songs? Are they allowed ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnuLmsFezVo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or_YfXW1MCQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLotX3HE-4c&feature=channel_video_title

Lively


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 27 May 11 - 08:30 AM

Wait, I have a good head on my shoulders? You've known me now for 4 months and you think that?

Man, I've been doing it wrong...


I admit that I don't particularly enjoy the cruder metal either - as amusing as Korplikaani's Vodka is, it wouldn't really work at a session. Other stuff, like Alestorm's Nancy The Tavern Wench (which is less crude than Barnacle Bill The Sailor, but that isn't difficult...), Nightwish's The Islander, and other ones which I can probably pull from a hat if I wish would work.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 26 May 11 - 10:53 AM

Drug Crazed, I don't see any problems with you doing an a capella version of a heavy metal song at a singaround.

I admit it would bother me if the lyrics were extremely crude, but I think you have a pretty good head on your shoulders
and can judge what is/isn't appropriate.

A good song is a good song, no matter where it comes from.

I also don't have a problem with not telling people where the song is from before you sing it. If it allows folks to listen
with an open mind instead of pre-judging a song before they've even heard it, that's great.

This discussion brings to mind a conversation I once had with a fellow who was Jewish, but whose surname sounded Italian.
He made a point of telling everyone he met, "Hi, my name is XYZ. I'm Jewish."

I also am (nominally) Jewish but have a name that doesn't "sound Jewish". I don't hide my "Jewishness", but I don't make a point of it either.
(People are often surprised, "Gosh, you don't look Jewish.") My feeling is that I want people to know me as a person first, "category" second
(lots of people make assumptions about Jewish people, which may or may not be true). I want folks to think of me as "My friend Vikki,
who happens to be Jewish" -- as opposed to "My Jewish friend Vikki".

This fellow felt that not announcing his Jewishness immediately would be a type of deception, since people could not necessarily tell from his name.
He also felt that I must be -- on some level -- ashamed of being Jewish. I disagreed (and still do). In the end, neither of us convinced the other.

Sorry if this is thread drift, but I think it's fine not to label something straight away -- especially if that may lead to one (or more) person(s) enjoying/appreciating something they would otherwise ignore/disparage.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 25 May 11 - 04:26 AM

Going back to the point about "overdone" songs:

I've been going to singarounds/ sessions/ folk clubs for about a year and a half now. In that time I'd never heard anyone do:

- Streets Of London
- Catch The Wind
- Western Wind
- John Barleycorn

Until I did them (having noted that although described as "over-used" I'd never heard them at any of the sessions I attend). Since I did them, I've heard them done by others several times at the same singarounds/ sessions, so maybe I contributed unintentionally to a "revival" :-)

I'd never heard "Wild Rover" done until a couple of months ago, either, though I *have* heard "Fields of Athenry" done several times. Maybe 4-5 times in 18 months of visiting 5-6 different venues.

What I *have* heard done a lot are:

- Copperhead Road
- Rosebud in June
- The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
- Golden Vanity (loads of versions!)
- Dirty Old Town
- Manchester Rambler
- Fiddler's Green
- Carrickfergus

But to be honest (and maybe it'd be different if I'd been hearing them at events for 40 years) hearing, say, Fiddler's Green or Manchester Rambler 12 times in 18 months doesn't make me "fed up" with them at all.

However, I do have a great selection of venues to go to around here, and I can understand it if someone only attends one particular event regularly and the same person performs the same song every week or fortnight. I try to keep a list of what I've done at which venues and try not to repeat them too often, though naturally I tend to want to do in public those songs that I know I can perform best.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 24 May 11 - 04:49 AM

It was a bit more than that. Typically along the lines of: Listener: "That was lovely, where's it from?"
Me: "It's by Pink Floyd, off their 'Ummagumma' album". Listener: "oh" (in a somewhat deprecating tone. End of conversation).


Hence why I haven't taken Last Night Of the Kings to the session. Of course, it also helps that the key they wrote it in is a bugger of a key, and I haven't done many sessions.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 24 May 11 - 04:44 AM

Michael: I see what you mean, Rob; and appreciate you were repeating the words, & experiences, of a former poster. But I can't help still feeling nevertheless that, as a folk club is, by definition, a place where people go to hear a certain kind of music, and if they wanted to hear another kind of music then they would have gone elsewhere to a club where that was to be expected, then there was a certain ~ what is the word I want, now? ~ 'wilful', perhaps. or 'perverse'? ~ element in confounding their expectations as what you admit was a sort of experiment. The same considerations do not perhaps apply to a mixed singaround, which you now say this is what this was; but in that case why not come clean at the start as to what you were doing, rather than singing from cold, with, it appears, some suspicion or foreknowledge of what the reaction was likely to be when you eventually did come clean in retro?

I guess curiosity would sum it up. The songs I sang are actually quite "folky" in style (Grantchester Meadows, eg, actually *is* a "certain kind of music"...very "folky" in style and content and it would be unlikely that anyone not in the know would identify it as a Pink Floyd song. In fact I sang it once at Tonbridge Folk Club (which is a *proper* folk club) and it went down very well there, with some very positive comments.

Lively: That's not to say that the people in question were not being hypocritical as you suggest, but it is *possible* that they were just clapping because clapping is what you are supposed to do.

It was a bit more than that. Typically along the lines of: Listener: "That was lovely, where's it from?"
Me: "It's by Pink Floyd, off their 'Ummagumma' album". Listener: "oh" (in a somewhat deprecating tone. End of conversation).


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Musket
Date: 24 May 11 - 03:53 AM

Big Mick mentions the dilemma of getting a point across whilst not being preachy. Difficult I know, and I do accept that by broad definition, folk music is relating events and feelings, which is not easy to do without declaring a view. (See tabloids for details.)

I was on strike in '84 and did a huge number of fund raising concerts, including sharing a stage with politicians such as Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner. Yes, I performed songs of oppression and political views, but even then, I sang songs I have never sung at folk clubs before or since. Horses for courses really.

I note Don Firth's comment about giving an introduction to a song as opposed to just singing it. I try to do this with many songs, research them etc and give a narrative about the song. By doing that, it is easy to include many of the songs on the hit lists above. I started doing it after attending a conference where the conductor Benjamin Zander (Boston Philharmonic) gave a speech, which, being him, included a piano and giving us insight into a Chopin prelude and how it tells a tale. I was mesmerised and since then always try to put a bit of flesh on the bones of a song.

My experience is that the hit list of no songs can decrease rapidly that way. For me, a great night is hearing somebody sing and learning something about a song which I never knew before. A brilliant example would be Vin Garbutt introducing "Believe me if all those endearing young charms." His irreverent humour helps mind....


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: ripov
Date: 23 May 11 - 06:56 PM

In all seriousness, in sessions, as opposed to clubs, the way we deal with requests for "deprecated" songs is to say that we will play them after 11 o'clock, or whenever last orders is. That way it pleases everyone. The "audience" - who of course are all potential "performers" (which after all is what FOLK music is about) - get a chance to join in singing songs that they know, and nobody is bored, because the beer has done its job. Perhaps folk clubs could adopt something similar.

But, as others have said, there always has to be room for a novice singing or playing something they are comfortable with, regardless of whether it is hackneyed or not. They may well go home and think "I wish I'd done something different", and learn something new.

Incidentally, for me the most requested song/tune (over the last 50 years) has been "Danny boy" aka "the Derry Air".(Although recently it has been replaced by "Fields of Athenry" or occasionally "Stairway to Heaven" or "Devil went down to Georgia"). How come no-one has mentioned it? Is it still acceptable? Or does no-one ever sing it in a folk-club these days?


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 May 11 - 05:18 PM

No,
But most folk club performers ,learn to adapt their repertoire for different kind of folk club audiences, i have no problem singing leaving of liverpool, but i do have a problem with fields of athenry[as i have explained why] and the wild rover for totally different reasons.
however, I have sung the wild rover, reluctantly I might say, in pub situations[to non folk afficianados], because it was requested, and it clearly gave somebody pleasure., that is part of being professional
   but its horses for courses,why should I sing it in a folk club, when it is considered hackneyed[ especially when audiences mess up the chorus with up your kilt rubbish] , and when i have an opportunity to sing[imo] better [and more from my point of view] satisfying songs.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 23 May 11 - 05:13 PM

Don, that's the issue I have with the whole "no metal/rock/pop" rule. If you didn't know that something like Slania's Song was written recently by Eluveitie, and you sang it - creating a tune for the bridge - and like it then, then why should people put it down once they know it's a metal song?


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 May 11 - 03:30 PM

Just a question:

If I sing "So We'll Go No More a-Roving," a poem by Lord Byron that has been set to music for a whole variety of audiences and they all like it very much, then I sing it in a folk club, prefacing it with comments about what it is and where it came from, is it, then, suddenly a "piece of shit?"

And if so, why?

Just curious.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Hesk
Date: 23 May 11 - 03:11 PM

DrugCrazed:-

You can be a regular for one or two years, or, as in my case, "a long time regular" of over 40 years! But sorry for the confusion, anyway.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 23 May 11 - 01:27 PM

It seems to be an oxymoron to say you've been a regular for a long time - to become a regular, you'll have had to be coming to the session for a long time.

Also, I'm 19 and I love the clubs as well :)


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Hesk
Date: 23 May 11 - 12:24 PM

Hi DrugCrazed,

The fact that you have only done three sessions rather proves my point. My argument is if you are a regular, you have, most likely, been a regular for a long time, rather than a recent convert.
If you are to believe some of the posts on Mudcat, Folk Clubs are dead in the water. It was to this that I was referring. Personally I really enjoy going to Folk Clubs, but I am over 60!


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 23 May 11 - 12:11 PM

Oh, and you can have a world of fun by singing a song that everyone knows to a different tune, or with a different ending. I smile inwardly when I sing Hangin' Johnny and tell myself I'm a terrible person for enjoying the confusion.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 23 May 11 - 12:09 PM

I started reading through and gave up, though I agree with the sentiments about the song being one you do for fun, and sod the rest of the club if they want to tut.

I try to avoid singing songs that are vaguely mainstream, because they're a bit too tired for me. Rugby Supporters + Fields of Athenry/Swing Low = fun, but out of that.

"If you are still going to a UK folk club, despite all the signs to the contrary, the chances are that you have been going for a fair old time."

Hey, I've only done 3 sessions at a folk club!

RE: Pop/Rock/Metal stuff, there's a world of folk metal out there which I'm itching to take to a session - van Canto's Last Night Of The Kings would be brilliant fun in my eyes - but I'm terrified of saying "This is a metal song" and then seeing everyone switch off. But then again, I've got Ten Finger Johnny up my sleeve for the comedy lot.

However, it's fun to try and bring something people don't know (for me at least). I see it as a challenge - in the 4 months of folk singing I've done, can I find one that nobody else knows?


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 May 11 - 09:41 AM

Ian, your observations are interesting to me as I often do songs that express a point of view on various issues. Yet I found your post compelling and pondered your points. You see, I believe ONE of the historical tasks of singers is to be an observer/commentator on the times and issues or conditions that folks face. I often mix current songs with "trad" songs to demonstrate that times and technology change, the motivating factors and the effects on average folks are timeless. It seems to me that the very legitimate point you make is that it is rarely appropriate to be preachy. In fact I have found it to be counter-productive. And a very important skill in delivering this type of message, if you will, is to mix it with humour, as Utah Phillips taught me.

Thank you for a thought provoking post, Ian.

All the best,

Micl


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: ripov
Date: 23 May 11 - 08:02 AM

Eliza has hit the nail on the head. The songs to avoid in folk clubs are the ones that "ordinary" people like to sing. Songs being sung by ordinary people at work and play for decades or centuries is totally alien to the folk process.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Musket
Date: 23 May 11 - 07:20 AM

Just had a read through this thread, (or at least the shorter contributions..)

I have sympathy with people who are fed up of hearing the same songs thrashed out week after week by the same people, but only where that is laziness, as opposed to somebody wanting to do a song but doesn't consider themselves performers so have a very limited number of songs they have learned. Me? I encourage them instead.

No, I suppose these days my gripe would be an assumption that everybody in the room has the same political views as the singer, so an evening of abstract musical entertainment becomes a soap box for those whose social conscience was refined in the '60s and angry that society has not pandered to their views    yet. Not everybody in a folk club is a misguided Trot you know. Visitors from the real world have been known to drift in.... So overtly political songs can be either historical (and therefore folk music in any interpretation I can think of) or proxy for getting something off your chest, and therefore an excuse to drain my glass and wander to the bar till they shut up and sit down again. Ah well, at least they have a conservativeish government again to get excited about. I'll stick to Norfolk reed cutting songs if it's alright with you though.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 May 11 - 06:23 AM

I see what you mean, Rob; and appreciate you were repeating the words, & experiences, of a former poster. But I can't help still feeling nevertheless that, as a folk club is, by definition, a place where people go to hear a certain kind of music, and if they wanted to hear another kind of music then they would have gone elsewhere to a club where that was to be expected, then there was a certain ~ what is the word I want, now? ~ 'wilful', perhaps. or 'perverse'? ~ element in confounding their expectations as what you admit was a sort of experiment. The same considerations do not perhaps apply to a mixed singaround, which you now say this is what this was; but in that case why not come clean at the start as to what you were doing, rather than singing from cold, with, it appears, some suspicion or foreknowledge of what the reaction was likely to be when you eventually did come clean in retro? I don't want to make too much of this: and perhaps 'wilful' & 'perverse', even, are a bit strong. But I think you will see what I mean.

Best

~M~


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 23 May 11 - 06:09 AM

Re: "getting away with it"

It may be worth noting that folkies of all persuasions are usually very polite and generous natured and as such will heartily applaud and congratulate anything at all, irrespective of how awful they might privately think it is.

You can indeed get away with anything at a singaround, which is possibly why attending them can sometimes feel like undergoing a tooth extraction! Not that I object to Pink Floyd myself mind you.

That's not to say that the people in question were not being hypocritical as you suggest, but it is *possible* that they were just clapping because clapping is what you are supposed to do.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 23 May 11 - 05:55 AM

Michael:

I wasn't "deceiving or defrauding"....I just didn't preface the songs with any provenance, which isn't unusual. At the particular events described, some people introduce their songs some of the time, some all of the time and some never, so I wasn't doing anything unusual. The singarounds concerned are fairly mixed anyway, so by no means all the songs performed are "from the tradition".

Most people are willing to listen to whatever comes up at these events. It was just surprising that what I'd describe as "the more traddie end of the spectrum of attendees" seemed quite willing to *like* the songs as long as they thought they were "folkie" in origin but as soon as the provenence was explained, they suddenly became "shit".

In hindsight, using the expression "got away with" in my post was probably unwise...I was reflecting the phrasing of the back-quote from higher up the thread. I just went along to play/sing songs that I liked, didn't announce them beforehand and was amused by the reactions of *some* people when they later found out what they'd been applauding.

I have to say that this reaction has been confined to just a couple of places. Most of the places I've done these or similar songs they've been accepted at face value straight away.


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Subject: RE: Songs you shouldn't sing in UK folk club
From: janemick
Date: 23 May 11 - 05:50 AM

We have discovered that songs like 'Leaving of Liverpool' and 'Pleasant and Delightful' are welcomed here in France; 'liverpool' is well known and often requested, and it is such a great song to sing! I would hesitate to sing either in the UK, so its nice to get the chance again.


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