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Folk Songs to Ditch

Peter Timmerman 23 May 97 - 10:28 AM
Peter Timmerman 23 May 97 - 10:49 AM
23 May 97 - 10:52 AM
Bert Hansell 23 May 97 - 10:53 AM
LaMarca 23 May 97 - 10:53 AM
Peter Timmerman 23 May 97 - 11:20 AM
LaMarca 23 May 97 - 11:43 AM
Jack 23 May 97 - 11:49 AM
Martin Ryan 23 May 97 - 11:53 AM
TFT 23 May 97 - 12:06 PM
Dale Rose 23 May 97 - 12:19 PM
Peter Timmerman 23 May 97 - 01:17 PM
Cap 23 May 97 - 04:33 PM
Bert Hansell 23 May 97 - 04:48 PM
Susan of Calif 23 May 97 - 05:46 PM
Barry Finn 23 May 97 - 06:15 PM
23 May 97 - 08:13 PM
Alan of Australia 23 May 97 - 09:31 PM
dick greenhaus 23 May 97 - 09:48 PM
Alison 23 May 97 - 11:42 PM
cleod 24 May 97 - 09:26 AM
LaMarca 24 May 97 - 09:51 AM
TFT 24 May 97 - 01:39 PM
SSWINNEY@worldnet.att.net 24 May 97 - 06:17 PM
Benjamin Hollister (hollister@tanstaafl.net.au) 24 May 97 - 09:25 PM
Bill D 24 May 97 - 10:31 PM
Peter Timmerman - ptimmerman@ifias.ca 25 May 97 - 04:43 PM
H. Burhans - burhans@frognet.net 25 May 97 - 05:40 PM
H. Burhans - burhans@frognet.net 25 May 97 - 05:40 PM
Andres R. 26 May 97 - 09:51 AM
Les Blank 26 May 97 - 10:09 AM
Peter Timmerman 26 May 97 - 11:27 AM
Will 26 May 97 - 09:21 PM
Joe Offer 27 May 97 - 03:08 AM
AndyG 27 May 97 - 07:42 AM
Peter Timmerman 27 May 97 - 09:23 AM
Susan of California 27 May 97 - 11:27 AM
Martin Ryan 27 May 97 - 12:09 PM
Martin Ryan 27 May 97 - 12:21 PM
hartley 27 May 97 - 06:17 PM
hartley 27 May 97 - 06:20 PM
hartley 27 May 97 - 06:22 PM
Cathy Brady 27 May 97 - 06:42 PM
Tim Rossiter 28 May 97 - 09:46 AM
LaMarca 28 May 97 - 03:11 PM
Peter Timmerman 28 May 97 - 05:26 PM
Sheye 29 May 97 - 10:40 AM
joebass@inforamp.net 29 May 97 - 11:59 AM
Bert Hansell 29 May 97 - 01:11 PM
Canadian, eh? 29 May 97 - 04:28 PM
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Subject: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 23 May 97 - 10:28 AM

Having by chance a dinner party last night which included one or two folkies, a one time fiddler, and various citizens, I was unable to resist the temptation to raise the question: “Which Folk Songs would you ditch?” as brought up obliquely in the “Thrediquette” thread. This resulted in one of the great, if increasingly rowdy, evenings. Add in a couple of telephone calls and one e-mail, and I post the results of my 9 person survey. The rules evolved during the evening.

There are three rules and two categories. The two rules are:

(1) You can be as politically incorrect as you like;

(2) “Kumbaya” is out of the competition (This became known as the Kumbaya Rule).

(3) In folk music there is a fine line between the rustic and the crummy. (This is a quote from Tom Lehrer, and means that people should err on the side of generosity, also known as the Lehrer Rule).

The two categories are:

(1) individual Folk Songs that you wish had never been born, and that if you hear again you will run screaming into the street, the pines, or the misty shieling.

(2) categories of Folk Songs that need pruning or else editing in an ideal world.

Naturally enough, the first category caused the most intense hilarity, obscentiy, hand wringing, etc. Because of the Lehrer Rule, songs that aroused hatred but which were grudgingly conceded to be worth preserving, survived. These included (I have a longer list) Puff the Magic Dragon, Guantanamera, and the House of the Rising Sun. The top three, with the worst first, were (trumpets):

(1) “On Ilkley Moor Baht’at”.

Everyone hated this song. They hated the attempts at bad North Country dialect, all the “worms shall eat thee oop” stuff (see the worm thread for another take on this). The repetitions only made it worse.

(2) “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”.

People actually ran from the room howling during the discussion of this song. People said terrible things about what they would like to do to the Georgia Islands (which I am told is where the song came from), and hoped that Michael would row the boat away or drown.

(3) “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.

This was a dark horse entry that eventually compelled our attention. While everyone admitted that the tune was great, it was felt that the character in the song (whether it was the author himself was left mostly untouched) was a moral creep. Not only was he leaving without even having the grace to say goodbye (fare thee well indeed), leaving her hanging on, but he actually blamed her for wasting his time!

The results of Part 2 in a moment.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 23 May 97 - 10:49 AM

Note on last message: three rules, not two.

Anyway, the second category received its share of controversy. The top 5 categories for editing or pruning were:

(1) Sea Shanties.

There were just too many of them, and there was only so much you could do pulling on a rope or rowing.

(2) Early blues from the mississippi delta.

I am posting this under protest (especially knowing the name of the site). This proposal for editing aroused protest from, well, from me, but to no avail. Did we need all those recordings of the fifth version of whatever out of the back of John Lomax's car. Pure ignorance in action. I go on.

(3) Sequel songs.

Somebody mentioned a sequel to Marty Robbin's "Ballad of El Paso" ("Wicked Felina?), which was used against this genre.

(4) Feminist rewritings of famous folk songs with new words.

This started out as a complaint against "If I Were a Carpenter" as a sexist song, and degenerated after that.

(5) IRA Ballads.

These were not objected to for political reasons, just bulk.

Phew. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From:
Date: 23 May 97 - 10:52 AM

Peter

How about an entirely separate category for us Canadians.

Folk songs that you REALLY like but want to see deleted forever from the Archives of the CBC.

I don't know if those south of our mutual border realize that 2 songs by Wade Hemsworth, namely "The Log Drivers Waltz" and "The Blackfly Song" were made into animated TV shorts. These were then played whenever commercial sales couldn't fill the allotted time over a period of what seemed like a year. This mercifully has ended but what were 2 of my favorite songs have been put on my "Don't play for a long time" list.

I think there was at one time an attempt to save Ilkley Moor with a bi-lingual version "On Ilkley Moor sans ch(a)peau" but can't remember all the words.

Frank Phillips


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 23 May 97 - 10:53 AM

Unfortunately we have a problem here.
If you can remember a song it is unlikely to go away.
Most of the songs that you mention suffer from one problem only, OVEREXPOSURE. Each of them has survived so far on it's own merits. Just because we are sick of hearing a song doesn't make it a bad song.
Amazing Grace is another in this category, it is a good song but, just once, I'd like to go to a sing and NOT hear it.

I think a more important project would be to list songs that most people have forgotten but need saving.
We are in great danger of losing a lot of good songs just because they fall into the category of "old pop".
A positive emphasis in this direction would reduce the frequency of performance of "SONGS TO DITCH".

Bert


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: LaMarca
Date: 23 May 97 - 10:53 AM

Oh, boy, I've found people who share my aversion to "Don't Think Twice..." I've always felt the protagonist in the song is an absolute scum; this is perhaps colored by some of the toads I kissed before I met my prince. This promises to be a FUN thread; I'll think of my candidates over the weekend and see what other goodies (baddies?) people have submitted on Monday when I get back to work(?) (where my net link is...)


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 23 May 97 - 11:20 AM

Dear Bert, Yes, of course, you are right. Perhaps we should have called the first category the "25 year give it a rest" category. In category 1 everyone started from the premise that they were good songs. The real objections were overexposure and also the way they were always destroyed in presentation. Some people also hated the songs, but.... The second category was different (a bit like the remark about all those Woody Guthrie songs). It was all done in a spirit of fun.

Dear Frank, The only Canadian song that came up was Alouette, and that was during a discussion about list songs and gesture songs, during which Ilkley Moor came up, and we never got back to it. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: LaMarca
Date: 23 May 97 - 11:43 AM

Can't resist adding another comment...

In our song circle (and probably others, too) certain individuals become linked to certain songs. There is always a component of the group who will perpetually request the SAME song from that person; they never seem interested in hearing something new or different. It doesn't mean that the song itself is bad, but the person who is asked to sing it for the 50,000th time is sure sick of it, and so are SOME of the other members of the group (Mrs. Ravoon comes to mind, Bill D.) This is especially true of parodies; a lot of them are funny or amusing the first couple times you hear them, but they fit Heinlein's "Funny once, Mike" classification of jokes.

I have also experienced the flip side of this; being a relative newcomer to the group, I have on occasion found a "new" old song that I think is really neat, learned it and sung it, only to have an old-timer sneer at it because it was over-done 20 years ago. I don't know what a happy medium is between honoring requests for songs one is sick of, and reacting rudely to someone who may have just discovered that song and thinks it's really great.

This leads us into the other traditional folkie social circle habit, "more obscure is better" or "My source is better than your source". If songs are to be pruned because they're overdone, you have to look at the reasons they're overdone. There seems to be an element of human nature that puts great importance on the idea the "My (or my group's) tastes are special and superior". If too many people start liking something, it is now "Popular" and beneath the Inner Circle's attention. There's a line from a Peter Gabriel song (NOT a folkie; sorry Elsie and others) that I'm fond of quoting; it's a cynical song about exclusion, which sums up this attitude wonderfully: "How can we be "in" if there is no outside?"

I am constantly torn between the interest and desire to explore obscure varients of ballads and defensiveness when I elect to sing one that others deem too mundane or common. On the other hand, I don't want to hear "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" every song circle. One of the problems caused by "Rise Up Singing" is that it provides a defined canon of "folk" song that everyone in a group can learn, but is then sometimes used to exclude the vast repertoire of songs that weren't included in the book. So "Popular" can be exclusionary, too. "But that song isn't in The Book..."

This has rambled a BIT off the Folk Songs to Ditch topic, but I think that folks need to look a little at their reasons for wanting to include a particular song...In a lot of cases, this is going to boil down to personal taste and history. Anyway, all that being said, "I've got a little list; they never will be missed..."


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Jack
Date: 23 May 97 - 11:49 AM

Can I vote Can I huh huh Oh boy!

The Wedding Song

It fits the overexposure category in spades. My wife is a wedding vocalist and everyone wants that song.

But aside from that its not that great a song (IMHO). The melody is so monotonous The 12 string part is a dirge. The lyrics are OK I guess. Not bad, but kind of simple.

I'd stick it in the 25 year hiatus file and intentionally forget it was there.

I love a good vitriolic thread! ;-).


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 23 May 97 - 11:53 AM

If DG is his usual efficient self, the April 97 version of the database will include a version of "The Green Fields of France" which may suggest that before your ditch a song, you should consider shooting it straight between the eyes!

Regards


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: TFT
Date: 23 May 97 - 12:06 PM

Morning Has Broken should be broken.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Dale Rose
Date: 23 May 97 - 12:19 PM

Back in the early 60s, I heard Maybelle Carter tell Ralph Emery on his late night radio program that she was SO tired of Wildwood Flower! I cannot remember the whole conversation, but the gist was that she would just as soon not EVER have to do it again! OK, this leads me into another candidate. The group on any number of TV shows all gather around their separate microphones and for their closing number sings, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and/or "I Saw The Light". Just once, we need to hear these songs done earlier in the show by a single act, or better yet, not at all! Naturally, we need to exclude the "Orange Blossom Special" and "Rocky Top" from any performance that is even remotely bluegrass. Someone actually yelled out, "Rocky Top!" to Ricky Skaggs at a festival. He yelled back, "You're kidding!" Well, that is enough for now, but I am sure that if we keep at it, we may well eliminate at least half of all the folk songs ever written. (Sorry for having used the words written and folk songs in the same sentence.)


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 23 May 97 - 01:17 PM

That reminds me (the hangover is wearing off) that someone at our event mentioned an article from Acoustic Guitar magazine where people who sold guitars had become sick to death of "Classical Gas", "Blackbird", and "Stairway to Heaven". They pleaded with people to test out their potential purchases with something else. I have no idea when the issue was. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Cap
Date: 23 May 97 - 04:33 PM

What a great thread! Personally, I would ditch any folk song that is performed while holding hands and swaying. After all, how is a person supposed to pick? ;-)


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 23 May 97 - 04:48 PM

Cap,

Those songs are supposed to be performed when you are too drunk too pick. Why do you think they are holding hands and swaying? :-)

And talking of picking, let's get rid of "She sat 'neath the Lilacs and played her guitar"

Bert.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Susan of Calif
Date: 23 May 97 - 05:46 PM

I'm not sure if this is officially a folk song, but I could live the rest of my life without ever hearing "Waltzing Matilda" again. Hated it when I first learned it in the 2nd grade, still hate it 30 years later.


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Subject: Lyr Add: RISE UP SCREAMING
From: Barry Finn
Date: 23 May 97 - 06:15 PM

I'm coming back later but i'm tossing in the whole book,
"RISE UP SCREAMING". If I hear open to page %#$&* again,
ever, it's open season. If it's not worth learning why
it, The tune is to "Jack In The Green"

A pub session or a party is a very strange thing
They're all out of fashion, no more do they sing
For they read from a book or copy a tape
They imitate sounds no mortal should make

There's no sound in the kitchen, no sound in the hall
There's a murderous screech that plays off the walls
Where is the music, where are the songs
In the mouths of monsters where no sound belongs

Dead pan they look as they sing in your face
They'l spit out the words and the tune they'll disgrace
A song will be beat o'r and over to death
And in a round robin they'l resurrect it again

No more will be heard a version that's lost
Or a variant that's rare or two songs that were crossed
The borrowing or sharing of a tune or a song
Will be according to the Bible, all else will be wrong

And now for the future, it's bleak for the song
No young mortal will dare to carry it on
They'll be none around who without books can sing
Or swap without tapes or rise up singing.

I know that I just wiped out a musical library in one
swift stroke, but there is alot of talent in closets
due to 'sing that same one'.

HTML line breaks added. -JoeClone 27-Feb-01


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From:
Date: 23 May 97 - 08:13 PM

To Susan of Calif.

There are 2 tunes to Waltzing Matilda.

The original or "Queensland" version which I picked up from an Aussie site and the current or "Victoria" version which I won't sing any more. My voice teacher, Don Hansen, knew the tune since someone played it for him on his trip to Oz last summer. This would indicate that the Queensland version is still alive and well "danunda" and perhaps used as relief from the usual tune.

To Bert.

Right. It's overexposure that does it. However I think that overexposure may be relative to local conditions. I haven't heard Guantanamera in such a while that I am actually learning it out of Pete Seegers book.

Frank Phillips


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 23 May 97 - 09:31 PM

To Susan of California:

Once a jolly swagman went surfing through the internet
Came upon a forum of folk songs so rich
When who should he find but Susan of California
Saying Waltzing Matilda is the first song to ditch.

Susan how dare you, Susan how dare you?
You've just insulted our national pride
Matilda is our unofficial national anthem
And fifteen million Aussies are after your hide.

No, I don't really mean all that. It may be a silly song but we're quite partial to it down under.

Now I'm about to do the same thing:

A song I've hated since I was in primary school is The Happy Wanderer. Still hate it 45 years later

To Frank

The two most common tunes to Waltzing Matilda are the Marie Cowan version which is probably the most familiar tune outside Oz and the Queensland version which you may hear in Aussie folk clubs. However you are not likely to hear either version in a folk club - we can all sing it but we choose not to (for fear of overexposure).

Cheers, Alan


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 May 97 - 09:48 PM

Can someone lend me a ten-foot pole that that I won't touch this thread with?


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Alison
Date: 23 May 97 - 11:42 PM

Well seeing as so many others are getting their spoke in, I'm going to be a complete traitor to my home country and recommend that "Danny Boy" is ditched . It's not so much the song which annoys but the never ending variety of ways people find to murder the tune, from the misty eyed drunk dreaming of home version, to the over the top warbling tenor one. (apologies to any tenors out there!) Alison


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: cleod
Date: 24 May 97 - 09:26 AM

Hey, I heard a version of Waltzing Matilda sung by Tico Torres (of Bon Jovi) I'll bet he sounded much better than all those other people who mangled the poor song...


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: LaMarca
Date: 24 May 97 - 09:51 AM

I'm working on the crew for the Washington Irish Festival this weekend; here's a list of songs you probably WON'T hear at this great traditional Irish music festival, and if I had my druthers, never again anywhere:

The Wild Rover (with clapping or beer mug pounding on chorus)
The Unicorn Song (written by that great Irishman, Sheldon O'Silverstein. He should be ashamed.)
ANY song involving audience participation with hand gestures, unless the audience is 10 years old or younger.
Danny Boy (see above thread)
Any IRA song sung by a drunken American audience who doesn't have to personally experience the results of their political sentiments.

Re Waltzing Matilda: The Queensland version was also recorded by A. L. Lloyd, who brought a wealth of Australian folk songs to the attention of us folks in the northern hemisphere. I've always liked that tune a lot. For a good time Down Under, check out Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Song site:

http://www.chepd.mq.edu.au/boomerang/songnet/

He's put together a great collection of songs there, and links to other related sites.

To Barry Finn: GREAT song! Okay if I pass it around to our song circle?


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: TFT
Date: 24 May 97 - 01:39 PM

What about that song with the "gospel makers" that you have to sit through while people expound on who "the rivals" were? One is one and all alone, and that is what you'll be if you sing that song again!


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: SSWINNEY@worldnet.att.net
Date: 24 May 97 - 06:17 PM

...and if we're discussing protagonists who were creeps, how about "That's What You Get For Lovin' Me"? I'm still looking for a version of "Banks of the Ohio", a song with a wonderful little melody, that doesn't include murder!


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Benjamin Hollister (hollister@tanstaafl.net.au)
Date: 24 May 97 - 09:25 PM

Oh Boy, I wasn't gonna but I have to.

I remeber the relief felt when I first heard the folk version of Matilda but could do with out it now. Unfortunately always get asked to play/sing it when travelling OS me being Aussie.

My songs fall into the category that Billy Connolly once summed up as "Shortbread Tin Songs" where the singer is standing like the figures on Scottish shortbread tins.

Danny Boy is one especially with the spoken bit about the soldier in the first world war (And Alan what about Barry Crockers version!!!! I played that at a bad taste party recently and had the whole crowd singing

Others are: Maids when you're young never wed an old man Cockles and Mussels Black Velvet Band Maggie/Nora (Slightly bearable when sung in Irish) Wild colonial Boy (even when done to Ghost Riders in the sky) Carrickfergus/Wild Mountain Thyme/Fields of Athenry (depending on who and how sung) Any Irish song sung in Country and Western style

Anyone who wants to experience this The Irish Australian Assoc in Adelaide 4th and 5th Fridays of month.

I feel so much better

Benjamin


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Bill D
Date: 24 May 97 - 10:31 PM

WOW!...you miss 2 days and an entire opus has been written! We had an Open Sing once(the local name for a song circle....we do it with topics)where the topic was "Oh,no-Not Again", in which we were invited to publicly air those songs we were tired of and offically retire them for some ambiguous amount of time. It was almost too painful to endure! Songs are like favorite foods-the same meal too often can cause one to give it up for a while.I love "Jock 'O Hazeldean" and "Rose of Allandale", but I don't want to hear them every day, so the 2nd catagory, "songs which need to be edited or pruned" could vary a lot from group to group..(yes, Mrs. Ravoon is among them....I'll do it once a year...on Halloween).

A rule I have is that the 'thinner' or 'weaker' a song is(that is, the less it has to say, or the less well crafted the lyrics) the longer the time between public airings. For example, "Give Me the Roses While I Live", a neat little song with a catchy tune...until you realize that all 4 verses say the same thing!You get tired of it half-way thru! I will think of some more examples and add to this later.. As to stuff like "Waltzing Matilda" and "Danny Boy". These can be fine songs when not overdone-and when performed well! Lame attempts and maudlin arrangements may kill them yet.(I have heard ONE version of 'Danny Boy' which I like, by an Irish singer whose name escapes me at the moment...but he makes you feel why the song was written).

Songs which should never have escaped into the real world: So many..."Old Wooley" by Don Lange...performed by Priscilla Herdman...a great idea, badly crafted!

3/4 of all the "Mother,Father,Sister,Brother,Friends" songs.

"Circle of the Sun" by Sally Rogers...it ain't about anything, it goes nowhere, and it ruins good meter trying to get there.

"Fox on the Run"...What can I say? Yuck!

Songs which are usually ruined but can be great...

"Rolling Home"...often done too fast, in the wrong rhythm, with no feeling...but Lordy! When done well,sends chills up my spine!

"Rolling Down to Old Maui"....same story...and it is easily over done...

"Andy's Gone With Cattle"....several versions, usually sing-songy and in wrong meter..Gerry Hallom does it right! "Goodnight Irene"...too many people know it...and they tend to sing it 'at' each other.It is really work to get into just the right mood to do justice to it.

well...I only have 200-300 more in each category...let's see where this goes......What? You don't all agree with my opinions? Humpf!


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman - ptimmerman@ifias.ca
Date: 25 May 97 - 04:43 PM

I have received some more phone calls and e-mails about this, (it seems to have engendered a lot of therapeutic response if nothing else) among which it is suggested that I should tabulate or post a top Ten (three was felt to be too restrictive). If you feel strongly about something left off category 1, or have a good line -- you could post it here, or send it to me by e-mail. I will repost the new results, oh, in a few days. I have no way of making a vote tabulation, so I will do my best. Yours, Peter P.S. Category 2's are O.K. too.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: H. Burhans - burhans@frognet.net
Date: 25 May 97 - 05:40 PM

I heartily agree with the nomination of "the Wedding Song" In fact, my husband and I can no longer get through it without laughing, 'cause we've parodied it too much! But my all-time most detested song is (ducking!) Heart Like a Wheel! The stupid metaphors drive me nuts! *Some say the heart is just like a wheel (oh yeah, famous saying - learned it at Mom's knee) *You can bend it, you can't mend it (or something like that) *But my love for you is like a sinking ship *And my heart is on that ship out in the ocean (or something) I rest my case.... HB


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: H. Burhans - burhans@frognet.net
Date: 25 May 97 - 05:40 PM

I heartily agree with the nomination of "the Wedding Song" In fact, my husband and I can no longer get through it without laughing, 'cause we've parodied it too much! But my all-time most detested song is (ducking!) Heart Like a Wheel! The stupid metaphors drive me nuts! *Some say the heart is just like a wheel (oh yeah, famous saying - learned it at Mom's knee) *You can bend it, you can't mend it (or something like that) *But my love for you is like a sinking ship *And my heart is on that ship out in the ocean (or something) I rest my case.... HB


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Andres R.
Date: 26 May 97 - 09:51 AM

I don't know if this is a folk song but one of the most nauseating songs ever, ever is Wind Beneath My Wings. A song for the little people behind the big humble star, bleahh. It is grounds for desertion -- can you imagine some poorlongsufferin wife or husband hearing that and going into the bathroon to throw up and then heading for the luggage rack. Andres


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Les Blank
Date: 26 May 97 - 10:09 AM

Well, I held off as long as I could !! Peter, when you and your followers get finished trashing those (G)oldies, please let me know so I can scavenge your dumpsters. I will scoop up your throw-a-ways and lovingly pack them away, to be resurrected years hence after your latest fad has faded. Music is forever -- and, thank Heaven, all of us are not !!

Les Blank


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 26 May 97 - 11:27 AM

Dear Les, Well, I don't think they are followers of mine! I sort of like Danny Boy, even ruined innumerable times. While I have you on the line (maybe) did you ever get back to Greenfields (a good song)? I suspected that the chorus might be in the major (C), but got stumped again. I am not much of an accompanist. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Will
Date: 26 May 97 - 09:21 PM

Hmm, I guess I'll dive into this. I have mixed feelings about this thread. On the one hand, it is hilarious. On the other, though, it smells a bit of folk-crowd literati. As several people have mentioned, many of the songs that people have mentioned are on the list because they show up so often, not because they are intrinsically bad songs. So some people must be voting with their ears. I am reluctant (very reluctant) to object to pretty much any song in the same way that I am reluctant to object to pretty much any book. There are many songs I don't play or sing or listen to, just as there are many books that I don't read, but I object strongly to banning books (even Madison County, Bridges thereof). Similarly, I find it difficult to object to other peoples' taste in music.

Part of the reason I am having this reaction is that I am going off to an annual camp that we have organized with my daughter's school class for the last four years. We have dinner, and then sit around a campfire and sing songs and beat at guitars. Some of these people I see every week; some I see once a year. We end up singing songs that most of us know, including many (most?) of the songs on the outre' list. We sing them not because they are great music, although some of them actually are wonderful songs, but because most of us know the tunes, the words, and can guess at the chords. While part of me wants to view the campfire as an opportunity to introduce wonderful unknown songs to a new audience, the greater part of me justs wants this to be a comfortable evening singing songs with a group of nice people. While I will probably try to play a wonderful Stan Rogers song that no one else has ever heard, along with the standards, I suspect that I will get no more than a grudging listen, because what people there really want to do is sing together, rather than listen to me show off what I have learned in the last year.

Some of the comments about "Rise up singing" jump out in this context. I don't use the book much when I am playing at home. Instead, I use books that have music and songs that I don't already know. But I leave those books at home for campfires and take a couple of copies of RUS, because I know that we will find some songs that we know how to sing and because there will be just enough chords that people who only play a few times a year can play too. Intrinsically, I suppose it's not good music, certainly I wouldn't record it. But, extrinsically it is very good music, because we can all slide into it easily without having to spend all our time worrying about teaching each other words and phrasing.

I think that part of the point, for me, is that music is as much about a social context and a social language as it is about a particular tune and a set of words. Over time, some songs beccome part of a common language. I suspect that there are many reasons why a song becomes invasive, whether it is a catchy tune, a memorable set of phrases, or a particular link to a time and society that people care about for whatever reason. Dylan is probably a good example ("Don't think twice"). There are a bunch of links there: to the 60s, with both the positive and negative aspects of those 10-15 years, a good tune, and an easily remembered verse. I play "Don't think twice" sometimes, other times stop myself because I don't like the sentiments (I have the same reaction to much of the blues). But I wouldn't ditch the song or tell someone else not to sing it. If I hear it on the radio and it bothers me, I switch stations. If I am with a group of people and someone sings it, I'll either wait for the next song or find another group of people if there are too many songs I don't like.

Perhaps another part of the point is that some songs are a form of comfort food, like pasta. I sing "Michael" almost every night to my kids. Have done so for years. By now they both know the words and know that I sing it badly. But it is part of the ritual of going to sleep. While I could get very tired of the song if I heard it in public a lot, I suppose, I don't get tired of it at home.

I am somewhat apologetic about the tone and length of this post. As I said, I think the thread is hilarious. But I don't want us to become too diverted from what I think is our reasonably shared understanding about music, which is that people sing songs and listen to songs that mean something to them. That really is the power of music. So if a bunch of people seem to find something meaningful in a song that I am really tired of, or never got the point of in the first place, I am willing to believe that they must find something that I don't and leave it at that.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 May 97 - 03:08 AM

Will, I think you speak the truth. We can pass judgment music all we like and push all sorts of it aside because it doesn't meet our standards, but that's not the point. If somebody enjoys performing or listening to a song, then that song has value. Some of the music I've enjoyed most is corny, trite, and sloppily sentimental. Sometimes I enjoy that stuff just because it's weird; and sometimes I just like a little sentimentality.

Many moons ago, I spent eight years in a Catholic seminary; and one of my greatest pleasures there was singing. We'd gather in the chapel vestibule before evening prayers and smoke cigarettes and sing Engelbert Humperdinck songs. We would chant bus schedules in a Gregorian psalm tone. We'd gather around a piano with a group called the "Rolling Lambs" and drink beer and sing gospel songs. We did all that in jest, but we put a lot of sincerity into all those corny 60's commercial folk songs - including Kumbayah. Whatever the case, we sure had a good time singing a lot of bad music.

Now I'm in a song circle that uses "Rise Up Singing" as a hymnal. Yes, the book has a lot of corny songs; but I sure have a good time singing them. Isn't that what it's all about?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: AndyG
Date: 27 May 97 - 07:42 AM

Ok, I live in England, and drink (and help run a folk club) in an Irish Pub, so here's my list of ditchable songs.

English:
The Wild Mountain Thyme (please Go lassie).
Pleasant and Delightful (for who?).

Irish:
The Black Velvet Band (Still awful after all these years).
Whiskey in the Jar (clap,clap,clap,clap... Oh deary me).
The Wild Rover (even to the tune of Ghost Riders in the Sky).

But, on the other side of the coin I see:-
the phenomena amongst English singers, (anywhere else ?) of singing songs to new and obscure tunes so they, and only they, can sing the chorus, which tends to make even well loved songs long & probably dreary.

Andy

Fun thread tho'


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 27 May 97 - 09:23 AM

Yes, well, all this is ruining the slightly drunken simplicity of the original game. Oh well. Currently, most offthread contributors (well, some of them have started tuning in to follow this thread -- hi guys) have much more interest in ditching certain pop songs. This seems to bring out real hatred, and not just the "25 year give it a rest" weariness (unless you are singing it as a lullaby to your children, I guess -- the world is new every morning). Probably there needs to be a new Web site somewhere for worst song ever (somewhere else and thought up by someone else, I have no time!!!) I don't want to give away any secrets, but "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" is way up there. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Susan of California
Date: 27 May 97 - 11:27 AM

Will, I agree with you that much of the time music is about social context. People from different parts of the world have different feelings about songs, and if someone from Australia sang "Waltzing Matilda" at my campfire, I'd probably have a soft spot for it :-) And what really matters is the human connection that music often makes. Look at the symbolic use yellow ribbons have now, that they might never have attained if not for a hokey song. And as far as singing to your kids goes, I have found that when mine were little, I could get away with singing them virtually anything-one of their favorites was a severely mangled "Tura Lura Lura" (is that from Finnean's Rainbow?) I'm sure that I don't know the right words or tune but I can remember my Mom singing it to my little brother, I sang it to them, and I bet they will produce their own version of it when they have kids..at least I hope they will. Now that they are getting older, they just wish I'd quit singing, and their dad would leave his guitar out in the rain. Arggh. Having teenaged kids is such fun.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 27 May 97 - 12:09 PM

I seem to remember Frank Harte recording "Molly Malone" a few years ago and commenting that just because a song had fallen on hard times because of the company it kept, it didn't mean it wasn't a great song!

Let's keep an open mind and be prepared to gently subvert the restrictive corsets into which songs get pushed. Sorry about the mixed metaphor!

Now can can we get back to songs?

Regards


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 27 May 97 - 12:21 PM

I seem to remember Frank Harte recording "Molly Malone" a few years ago and commenting that just because a song had fallen on hard times because of the company it kept, it didn't mean it wasn't a great song!

Let's keep an open mind and be prepared to gently subvert the restrictive corsets into which songs get pushed. Sorry about the mixed metaphor!

Now can can we get back to songs?

Regards


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: hartley
Date: 27 May 97 - 06:17 PM

I'm for complying the top to-be-ditch candidates in several categories--Irish sung and unsung, dated folk music, country/western, children's tunes, etc. This would be subject of good conservation as we sing them.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: hartley
Date: 27 May 97 - 06:20 PM

I'm for complying the top to-be-ditch candidates in several categories--Irish sung and unsung, dated folk music, country/western, children's tunes, etc. This would be subject of good conservation as we sing them.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: hartley
Date: 27 May 97 - 06:22 PM

I'm for complying the top to-be-ditch candidates in several categories--Irish sung and unsung, dated folk music, country/western, children's tunes, etc. This would be subject of good conservation as we sing them.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Cathy Brady
Date: 27 May 97 - 06:42 PM

I've just started going to bluegrass jams with my fiddle. I'm getting so I don't want to name my request when it's my turn. The last time I asked for Angel Band I got the cold shoulder for the rest of the night. As I read this thread it occurs to me that maybe it was "overexposed"? I finally get over the "obscure is cool" thing I was in in the sixties and seventies... it got lonely. If Garrison K. can make "Tell Me Why" a pleasure to sing, I'm in pursuit of the friendly song circle. Of course i'd be the first to punch out the person who wants us to play Rocky Top. Maybe we should ask them "What key will you be playing in?" This thread has been great fun and thought provoking, too.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Tim Rossiter
Date: 28 May 97 - 09:46 AM

I think we need to realize that what may be "over-exposed" to performers is not to listeners. John McCormack (not what we might call a folk artist, but . . .) said he gave his audiences three things at a performance, Songs they want hear, Songs from his home and Songs they should want to hear.

I do "feel your pain" with some of the Son of Kumbaya liturgical songs, and although many people insist they easier for people to sing and encourage participation, I don't think a Panis Angelicus or Pange Lingua would hurt now and then.

NB. I think the so-called "I.R.A." category needs to be split into three. There is nothing wrong in celebrating Irish freedom from Britain with patriotic songs such as "Rising of the Moon", or educating about current injustices with songs such as "H-block Song". The third category could be those songs which advocated killing civilians or burning churches. Frankly I can't think of any.

Tim


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: LaMarca
Date: 28 May 97 - 03:11 PM

In the past couple years Dave Barry has had a "Ten Worst Rock and Roll Songs of All Time" contest in his column. I don't remember the whole list, but his number one loser was "MacArthur Park", a song so full of bombast and overblown metaphors that it collapses under its own weight ("Someone left a cake out in the rain..."), especially when "sung" by the musically impaired Richard Harris.

This contest was a lot easier for rock'n'roll than for folk songs in some ways; a lot more REALLY BAD songs get a whole lot more exposure and airplay in the pop music world than in folk music circles. One good thing about the oral tradition; if a song REALLY stinks, it will die after a couple generations. Unfortunately, those of us living in the same generation the song was "born" or written in are stuck with it...

There's a really big crop of recently written "folk" music I'd love to see consigned to the trash dumpster of history, especially "message" songs that advocate feminism, ecological correctness, peace, love, freedom and other politically correct causes without regard to melody, meter or elegant language. It's not that I don't agree with the political viewpoints expressed; it's just that the songs are written with all the subtlety of a 2 X 4, and sung with such painful earnestness that I want to cringe. There's the generic protest song, "Gonna Keep on Walkin' Forward" (your cause here), the sappy/cute eco-consciousness song "Hugh the Manatee" (Hugh Manatee - get it?, get it? Aren't we clever), any of the myriad of "Wymyn's movement" songs("all men are scum and we sisters should become lesbians and just get rid of them"), etc. Personally, I think Tom Lehrer's "We Are the Folk Song Army" should be required listening for anyone tempted to write a topical/political song!

Ah, well, I know that in generations to come, right thinking people (meaning those who share MY opinions) will bury these mistakes in the collective unconscious, whence they will be revived by earnest amateur folklorists like myself looking for a "new" obscure song to present to THEIR fellow folksingers...


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 28 May 97 - 05:26 PM

Dear LaMarca, If you could find a copy of the Dave Barry list, I would appreciate it. I am sure he also has some appropriate remarks. The other request is more gruesome -- do you have a copy of Hugh the Manatee? I have never heard it, and it sounds so hideous that it might be worth, well, I am not sure what. I speak as an ardent environmentalist. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Sheye
Date: 29 May 97 - 10:40 AM

An example of the 25 year hiatus clause being subjective: I remember Molly Malone from grade school and haven't heard it in years. The first part is all I remember and would love to hear it again.

Greensleeves could go to sleep for a while. Was never partial to green and envious that since I wouldn't be wearing green, I wouldn't be turning heads.

Dave Barry's list was a blast and I'd love to read it again...


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: joebass@inforamp.net
Date: 29 May 97 - 11:59 AM

I sure enjoyed that read. Learned that there are some good humoured people out there, also learned that we are not without our snobs. Somebody said that all Shakespeare did was string together a whole bunch of cliches. I wish I was a cliche.

Best, Joe


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 29 May 97 - 01:11 PM

Joe,

You could substitute "Country songs" for "Shakespeare" in your message.

Also, I went to a songwriter's workshop a while ago and they told us "Don't use cliches" . I said "Well there goes all my songs."

Bert.


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Subject: RE: FOLK SONGS TO DITCH
From: Canadian, eh?
Date: 29 May 97 - 04:28 PM

Have the non-Canadians among this group been overexposed to Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", or did the CBC save that just for us? I will apologize now to any loyalists I may have slighted.


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