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do songwriters' personal lives matter?

Andy7 06 Dec 18 - 07:41 PM
meself 06 Dec 18 - 07:57 PM
Joe Offer 06 Dec 18 - 09:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Dec 18 - 09:57 PM
Lighter 06 Dec 18 - 11:00 PM
punkfolkrocker 07 Dec 18 - 02:13 AM
Will Fly 07 Dec 18 - 03:54 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Dec 18 - 05:42 AM
Jack Campin 07 Dec 18 - 06:24 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Dec 18 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Gerry 07 Dec 18 - 07:05 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Dec 18 - 07:25 AM
Jack Campin 07 Dec 18 - 07:36 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Dec 18 - 08:10 AM
Iains 07 Dec 18 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 07 Dec 18 - 08:56 AM
Jeri 07 Dec 18 - 09:11 AM
Iains 07 Dec 18 - 09:39 AM
Lighter 07 Dec 18 - 09:46 AM
GUEST 07 Dec 18 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Andy7 07 Dec 18 - 10:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Dec 18 - 10:09 AM
Jeri 07 Dec 18 - 10:13 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Dec 18 - 10:17 AM
Jeri 07 Dec 18 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Andy7 07 Dec 18 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 07 Dec 18 - 11:03 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 Dec 18 - 12:10 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Dec 18 - 01:14 PM
GUEST 07 Dec 18 - 01:16 PM
robomatic 07 Dec 18 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,matt milton 07 Dec 18 - 02:30 PM
punkfolkrocker 07 Dec 18 - 02:58 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Dec 18 - 03:09 PM
GUEST 07 Dec 18 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Grishka 07 Dec 18 - 06:04 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Dec 18 - 06:11 PM
Andy7 07 Dec 18 - 06:18 PM
Joe_F 07 Dec 18 - 06:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Dec 18 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Grishka 07 Dec 18 - 06:40 PM
punkfolkrocker 07 Dec 18 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Grishka 07 Dec 18 - 06:43 PM
punkfolkrocker 07 Dec 18 - 06:44 PM
punkfolkrocker 07 Dec 18 - 06:47 PM
Andy7 07 Dec 18 - 07:15 PM
Lighter 07 Dec 18 - 07:25 PM
meself 07 Dec 18 - 07:56 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Dec 18 - 08:56 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Dec 18 - 08:57 PM
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Subject: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Andy7
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 07:41 PM

Should we avoid performing songs written by people who have had dubious personal lives?

Very few people would actually want to sing anything written by those guilty of the most heinous crimes.

At the other end of the scale, no songwriter is likely to have led an entirely blameless life.

So, should we draw a line somewhere? And if so, where?


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: meself
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 07:57 PM

No.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 09:20 PM

In general, I think that the personal lives of songwriters shouldn't matter. If the song is good, sing it.

We've had a few songwriters who have been questioned here at Mudcat over the years. One is the late Ernest Sands, a Catholic priest and child molester who wrote two very good hymns that are in common use (Sing of the Lord's Goodness and Song of Farewell) - Sands eventually committed suicide.

Another sex offender songwriter, of course, is Rolf Harris.

I had a church music professor in college who insisted he wouldn't perform music by any composer he considered "immoral" - but I've always considered the professor (a priest) to be a real bastard.

But if the song is good, go for it.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 09:57 PM

The personal lives of songwriters are a major factor in shaping their songs.   But the songs stand on their own, and should be judged and sung (or not sung) on their own merits.

The same goes for paintings, sculpture, music, films...


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 11:00 PM

In theory, of course a good song should be separable from a villainous author.

But our brains are not compartmentalized. If a song makes you uncomfortable for any reason, why sing it?

A more interesting question may be, how uncomfortable do you have to be to object to someone *else* singing a song - written by, say, Charles Manson?


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 02:13 AM

My usual reponse is...

What if Hitler, despite his day job, had actally continued painting
and become one of the finest Landscape artists of the 20th Century...???


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 03:54 AM

More to the point: what if you didn't know that the wonderful landscape was by Hitler?

It's the age-old dilemma - do you separate the artist as a person from the art he/she creates? If you know nothing of the one, then you can have no preconceptions of the other. The work of art stands alone, just as it is.

It's when you get to know more about the personal life of the artist that the difficulty arises.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 05:42 AM

I'm not having any music by Wagner in my house, though I'd defend to the death anyone who wants to listen to it or perform it. I had to bite my lip when I heard that Daniel Barenboim, a hero of mine, was going to perform Wagner in Israel, but that's the way the world is and I won't fall out of love with him. Likewise, I won't listen to music conducted by Herbert Von Karajan. To me, this is a very personal thing. I've struggled when I've read about the lives and wartime doings of Furtwangler and Richard Strauss and am very likely biased because I love what they produced, but "I've given them a pass" after doing a lot of reading about them. I think it's absolutely down to you personally as to what you can or can't stomach and as to where you draw the line, so, to me, there's no one answer to this question.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:24 AM

I love almost all of Wagner's mature music. Finding time to listen to it is a problem. There has been a lot written in recent years about what he was actually up to, and the stereotype is bollocks. Mussorgsky was the man if you want an example of a real bottled-in-bond anti-semite; I like his stuff nearly as much. Janacek was apparently a Slavophile racist - I'm just back from the biennial festival of his music in Brno. Fauré and Debussy were both repulsive misogynists (and Debussy a nationalist bigot as well) but I don't hear it in what they wrote. Piazzolla supported the Argentine generals right through the worst of their reign of terror.

All the music I know by actual signed-up fascists is kinda boring - Mascagni, Rodrigo - but who knows there may be exceptions. Karayannis (who joined the Nazi party twice to make sure) did produce a few interesting performances along with the mass-produced glitz.

Meanwhile I have recently bought a lot of CDs of Gesualdo and Philip Pickett, whose criminal recordes are indisputable.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:42 AM

AN EXTREME EXAMPLE THE DILEMMA HERE - still being debated nearly 8 decades after the events
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 07:05 AM

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Richard Strauss:

Strauss in Nazi Germany
Reichsmusikkammer
In March 1933, when Strauss was 68, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power. Strauss never joined the Nazi party, and studiously avoided Nazi forms of greeting. For reasons of expediency, however, he was initially drawn into cooperating with the early Nazi regime in the hope that Hitler—an ardent Wagnerian and music lover who had admired Strauss' work since viewing Salome in 1907—would promote German art and culture. Strauss's need to protect his Jewish daughter-in-law and Jewish grandchildren also motivated his behavior,[18] in addition to his determination to preserve and conduct the music of banned composers such as Gustav Mahler and Claude Debussy.

In 1933, Strauss wrote in his private notebook:

I consider the Streicher-Goebbels Jew-baiting as a disgrace to German honour, as evidence of incompetence—the basest weapon of untalented, lazy mediocrity against a higher intelligence and greater talent.
Meanwhile, far from being an admirer of Strauss's work, Joseph Goebbels maintained expedient cordiality with Strauss only for a period. Goebbels wrote in his diary:

Unfortunately we still need him, but one day we shall have our own music and then we shall have no further need of this decadent neurotic.

Nevertheless, because of Strauss's international eminence, in November 1933 he was appointed to the post of president of the newly founded Reichsmusikkammer, the Reich Music Chamber. Strauss, who had lived through numerous political regimes and had no interest in politics, decided to accept the position but to remain apolitical, a decision which would eventually become untenable. He wrote to his family, "I made music under the Kaiser, and under Ebert. I'll survive under this one as well." In 1935 he wrote in his journal:

In November 1933, the minister Goebbels nominated me president of the Reichsmusikkammer without obtaining my prior agreement. I was not consulted. I accepted this honorary office because I hoped that I would be able to do some good and prevent worse misfortunes, if from now onwards German musical life were going to be, as it was said, "reorganized" by amateurs and ignorant place-seekers.
Strauss privately scorned Goebbels and called him "a pipsqueak". However, in 1933 he dedicated an orchestral song, "Das Bächlein" ("The Little Brook"), to Goebbels, in order to gain his cooperation in extending German music copyright laws from 30 years to 50 years.

Strauss attempted to ignore Nazi bans on performances of works by Debussy, Mahler, and Mendelssohn. He also continued to work on a comic opera, Die schweigsame Frau, with his Jewish friend and librettist Stefan Zweig. When the opera was premiered in Dresden in 1935, Strauss insisted that Zweig's name appear on the theatrical billing, much to the ire of the Nazi regime. Hitler and Goebbels avoided attending the opera, and it was halted after three performances and subsequently banned by the Third Reich.

On 17 June 1935, Strauss wrote a letter to Stefan Zweig, in which he stated:

Do you believe I am ever, in any of my actions, guided by the thought that I am 'German'? Do you suppose Mozart was consciously 'Aryan' when he composed? I recognise only two types of people: those who have talent and those who have none.
This letter to Zweig was intercepted by the Gestapo and sent to Hitler. Strauss was subsequently dismissed from his post as Reichsmusikkammer president in 1935. The 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics nevertheless used Strauss's Olympische Hymne, which he had composed in 1934. Strauss's seeming relationship with the Nazis in the 1930s attracted criticism from some noted musicians, including Arturo Toscanini, who in 1933 had said, "To Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again", when Strauss had accepted the presidency of the Reichsmusikkammer. Much of Strauss's motivation in his conduct during the Third Reich was, however, to protect his Jewish daughter-in-law Alice and his Jewish grandchildren from persecution. Both of his grandsons were bullied at school, but Strauss used his considerable influence to prevent the boys or their mother being sent to concentration camps.

Friedenstag
In 1938, when the entire nation was preparing for war, Strauss created Friedenstag (Peace Day), a one-act opera set in a besieged fortress during the Thirty Years' War. The work is essentially a hymn to peace and a thinly veiled criticism of the Third Reich. With its contrasts between freedom and enslavement, war and peace, light and dark, this work has a close affinity with Beethoven's Fidelio. Productions of the opera ceased shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939.


Strauss at Garmisch in 1938
When his Jewish daughter-in-law Alice was placed under house arrest in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1938, Strauss used his connections in Berlin, including opera-house General Intendant Heinz Tietjen, to secure her safety. He drove to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in order to argue, albeit unsuccessfully, for the release of Alice's grandmother, Paula Neumann. In the end, Neumann and 25 other relatives were murdered in the camps. While Alice's mother, Marie von Grab, was safe in Lucerne, Switzerland, Strauss also wrote several letters to the SS pleading for the release of her children who were also held in camps; his letters were ignored.

In 1942, Strauss moved with his family back to Vienna, where Alice and her children could be protected by Baldur von Schirach, the Gauleiter of Vienna. However, Strauss was unable to protect his Jewish relatives completely; in early 1944, while Strauss was away, Alice and his son Franz were abducted by the Gestapo and imprisoned for two nights. Strauss's personal intervention at this point saved them, and he was able to take them back to Garmisch, where the two remained under house arrest until the end of the war.

Metamorphosen
Strauss completed the composition of Metamorphosen, a work for 23 solo strings, in 1945. The title and inspiration for the work comes from a profoundly self-examining poem by Goethe, which Strauss had considered setting as a choral work. Generally regarded as one of the masterpieces of the string repertoire, Metamorphosen contains Strauss's most sustained outpouring of tragic emotion. Conceived and written during the blackest days of World War II, the piece expresses Strauss's mourning of, among other things, the destruction of German culture—including the bombing of every great opera house in the nation. At the end of the war, Strauss wrote in his private diary:

The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany's 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom.
In April 1945, Strauss was apprehended by American soldiers at his Garmisch estate. As he descended the staircase he announced to Lieutenant Milton Weiss of the U.S. Army, "I am Richard Strauss, the composer of Rosenkavalier and Salome." Lt. Weiss, who was also a musician, nodded in recognition. An "Off Limits" sign was subsequently placed on the lawn to protect Strauss. The American oboist John de Lancie, who knew Strauss's orchestral writing for oboe thoroughly, was in the army unit, and asked Strauss to compose an oboe concerto. Initially dismissive of the idea, Strauss completed this late work, his Oboe Concerto, before the end of the year.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 07:25 AM

As an admirer of our most prolific and talented songwriter who, thirty years after his death, is still being dug up to give a ritual kicking, I have to say I view this subject with a somewhat wry smile
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 07:36 AM

So from what Gerry quotes, it appears that Strauss was to Nazism what Jeremy Corbyn is to Brexit.

I actually know a classical composer who is a UKIP activist. He isn't very good and you aren't likely to have an opportunity to boycott him, so there's no point in naming and shaming.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 08:10 AM

My point wasn't that I eschew the music of anyone with a dodgy personal history. I regard Karajan and Wagner as extremists with shrivelled hearts and souls and don't want anything to do with them. Even brexiteers and Ukippers may have good points, however. It's just me, that's all. I have no reason on earth to disrespect anyone for being a Wagner lover. Didn't know that about Mussorgsky. Thank Christ I hate his music.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Iains
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 08:22 AM

Surely the merit of the work stands on its own regardless of the originator. Do we deny the use of medical data because it is derived from sources we are extremely uncomfortable about? It is not merely Nazi experimental data, let us not forget Porton Down and the "common cold research" and Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. or even medical data derived from animal experiments. The data exists. To refuse to use it on ethical grounds in my view demeans and dishonours those whose sacrifice produced it.
Do we abuse newton and deny his laws because he dabbled in esoteric arts? Do we ignore the scientific contribution of Einstein and Tesla because they may have been on the autism spectrum? Where does it end?
It is as ridiculous as dismissing articles by a person because you do not like his politics.Do you refuse to use an autobahn because they are a legacy of the Nazis? A total absurdity.
To be able to create a song that is successful is a gift. It is a roll of the dice as to who was granted that gift so why attach any significance to it?


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 08:56 AM

I'd just like to point out to Jim Carroll that Richard Thompson is still alive, and is also one of our most talented guitarists.
:-)


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 09:11 AM

I think we don't want to support people who do bad things, but if enjoying what they created doesn't support them, doesn't enable them to keep doing bad things, then it's not a big deal. If it gets in the way of your enjoyment, then avoid their creations.

It's like any form of communication: there's the messenger, the message, and the receiver. Anything that gets in the way significantly enough to eff up the experience and ruin enjoyment, just let it go.

(And if you sing a song you like, and somebody gives you chapters and volumes of opinions about why you shouldn't sing that, because that songwriter was a _______, then you're probably just in a Mudcat thread.)


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Iains
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 09:39 AM

Jeri I do like your concluding sentence.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 09:46 AM

In the cold light of reason, medical and other scientifically established data, if accurate, are matters of fact of potentially significant value, no matter how distastefully acquired. Even if the methods used to establish a fact are repugnant or revolting, as in the cases cited, a recognized fact is a recognized fact.

But whether the Nazis, for example, used methods untainted by their all-consuming ideology, and thus established medical facts, is another matter. Whether they, or the syphilis study, discovered anything of real importance is another matter still. Whether a scientist or statistician should bring himself to even consider the findings, given their awful origin, is a third issue.

In contrast, biographical data are also factual but of less practical significance than scientific findings.

Now for art. The value of a work of art is almost entirely subjective. There's no way to demonstrate the "accuracy" or "correctness" or objective truth of an aesthetic response. All you can do is to enjoy or dismiss, and, if you've a mind to, try to persuade others to see the work of art your way.

And as long as we're talking theory, my theory is that I can enjoy Wagner because his antisemitism was at a low level, perhaps even lower than Stephen Foster's white racism.

But, so far as I know, such artists didn't harass, persecute, torture, or kill anybody. So I, personally, give their productions a pass despite their creators' personal failings - mainstream at the time. (Based on The Merchant of Venice, a case can be made that Shakespeare was a brilliant dramatist but still a conventional Elizabethan antisemite: just saying.)

Much of my willingness to blink at Wagner and Foster comes from my gut-level enjoyment of their best work. That reaction will usually override any logical arguments, which come later.

On the other hand, if a hypothetical Hitler had created hypothetical landscape masterpieces, I would disdain them, no matter how technically accomplished and acclaimed. Not because of my level of art appreciation, but because I know the "master" was also a monster.

Would that be "fair to the paintings," as some might say?

No. You don't have to be fair to a painting. Paintings don't have feelings.

Would it be "fair to the artist"?

Absolutely.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:01 AM

I have in my repertoire a couple of songs written by a songwriter who was convicted of an unpleasant crime when an older man.

But he wrote those songs decades earlier; so the man that wrote the songs hadn't committed, or even considered, the crime, as far as anyone can tell.

I wonder whether that makes a difference.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Andy7
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:02 AM

Oops - last guest was me.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:09 AM

Too bleeding complicated.

one thing you may have noticed though. Advertise for musicians, and you always attract two or three psychopaths.

Some you recognise straightaway...you know the sort of thing.
Drummer wanted...sense of rhythm an advantage.
But the ones you only find out about their condition driving to gig a few weeks later.

But then you've got to say to yourself...well he plays the banjo all right, what matter his collection human heads in the fridge?


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:13 AM

I'm reminded that a Press Room session attendee used to sing "Old Black Joe". It's a lovely song, but people know it was written by Stephen Foster. Now, the can think he was a racist because he lived and wrote in racist times, and wrote minstrel songs. He never lived in the south, though. If you listen to "Old Black Joe", it's just a sweet, sad song. Foster had issues, but I don't believe racism was one of them.

And now, it gets down to whether you believe gossip, and generally unproven, but rumored Bad Things? You can probably find a way to drop most songs out of your repertoire. Is it about the music, or about a cult of personality? No judgement on what you decide, just don't believe other people should share your decision.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:17 AM

I'd just like to point out to Jim Carroll that Richard Thompson is still alive, and is also one of our most talented guitarists.
:-) :-) :-)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:21 AM

This is kind of a test to see if anybody read the opening post...

Andy, I'd say if it doesn't matter to you, just sing them and let other people argue about it.

The funny thing about folk music is that composers are usually forgotten. Who knows if the guy who originally wrote Barbara Allen used to molest farm animals?


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Andy7
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 10:28 AM

Yes that's a good point! Old trdaitional folk songs have been changed so much across the years, by so many different people, and some of those contributors must have been pretty nasty!

Also ... even where the writer is known, and comparitvely blameless ... what about their proofreader, their publisher, the singer/s that made the song famous, the DJs that played the song ...

Probably every song is tainted in some way, by some connection to it. (Except maybe the songs I've written myself, haha!)


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 11:03 AM

even where the writer is known, and comparatively blameless ... what about their proofreader, their publisher, the singer/s that made the song famous, the DJs that played the song ...

I once read an interview with Gyorgy Lukacs where he said "an artist is responsible for the use of their work till the end of time".

Interviewer gulped a bit and asked Lukacs for an example of somebody who passed his test.

Lukacs said "there is not a bar of Mozart that can be misused".


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 12:10 PM

Well.... I'll still enjoy Gary Glitter's glam rock hit singles...

..just maybe not as loudly, in case folks are walking past our bay window.....

[an innocent bloke up the road in Bristol was accused of being a paedo,
then beaten and burnt to death,
just because halwitted thug vigelantes thought he looked a bit weird...]


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 01:14 PM

"Who knows if the guy who originally wrote Barbara Allen used to molest farm animals?"
The sheep maybe?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 01:16 PM

It matters for certain songs - the ones about his/her personal lives.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: robomatic
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 01:58 PM

The most honest answer I can give is that for me it does not matter - until it does.

The observational answer is that usually damaged people produce damaged products.

Formally I take the First Amendment view. If it can be put in print, it should stand or fall on its own merits. To quote Robert Graves' Claudius: "Let all the poison that lurks in the mud hatch out."


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 02:30 PM

I don't understand how anyone could feel comfortable singing a song they knew was written by a child molester. Doesn't matter how much I liked the song, it would just feel horrible.

I had precisely this kind of experience recently. I was checking out recordings of Etudes by Frederic Chopin. I came across recordings of them by Wilhelm Backhaus. They are amazing - really beautiful performances that are genuinely innovative, witty, and manage to sound very modern and complex.

Wanting to find out more about Wilhelm Backhaus a day or two later, I discovered he was complicit with the Nazis in wartime germany and gave a private recital for Hitler.

It just immediately put me off wanting to listen to them ever again. And if I ever did, all I would hear would be some music by the guy that played for Hitler.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 02:58 PM

I can enjoy music / art by depraved human beings,
I can even enjoy music/art/cultural products that are considered by my liberal/lefty contemporaries
to be vile and untouchable....

How...???

I just have this innate ability to switch intellectual and pleasure modes
depending on the material I am currently enjoying.
To engage distinctly separate areas of my critical faculties...

Does that mean I might be a sociopath...!!!???

..or just open minded, at the same time as being keenly aware of the rights and wrongs of contentious material.

Having said that, there are things I will never consider going anywhere near, because they are illegal
and do not interest me, or so inhumane they make me despair of humanity...

20 odd years ago, some building site labourer housemates had a copy of 'Animal Farm' VHS
they'd acquired from their 'blueys*' dealer.
I caught a few seconds of it on the communal TV,
then left them to it laughing their bollocks off with cans of beer...
same for their German scat videos...


[*blue movies - delicate mudcatters.. well might be one or two...???]


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 03:09 PM

In this thread I think it's fine to express our subjective opinions about what we will or won't listen to or perform for whatever reasons. What would be wrong would be to prescribe things for anyone else. I don't think less of people who are Wagner completists. In addition, we are all free to dig and delve into composers' private lives - or not. You could love Wagner without ever having done any research into him, and that's perfectly valid. Of course, my expressed opinion about his antisemitism (which was anything but "low-level," incidentally) might get the occasional Wagner aficionado thinking a little. No harm in that either. Quite a difficult thing is to decide how much allowance should be made for behaviour that's "of its time." Richard Strauss held his nose but undeniably did little to impede the legitimisation of Naziism. Furtwangler was a great musician but also an apolitical, naive sucker who maybe didn't realise how useful he was being to Hitler. Whether that's forgivable is up to you. Yehudi Menuhin certainly forgave him. Karajan, on the other hand, was a cheerfully card-carrying Nazi who knew exactly what he was promoting and celebrating in Hitler's wartime Germany. That won't do for me. I'm no fan of his severely self-regarding and autocratic behaviour with his orchestra either (he had James Galway removed from the team photo because he refused to shave off his beard, which Herbert detested, and made it clear that any photo of himself must be taken from his chosen angle only. I suppose such things shouldn't affect my judgement, but at the end of the day it's MY judgement!)

As it happens I think that Wagner's music is overbearing, overblown, full of ego and had a deleterious effect on a number of other composers who tried to follow him. His work became a dead end. But what's that got to do with it! :-)


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 03:22 PM

I did not know nor care.

However, this is now forever tainted.

Play me digeridoo, Blue
Play me digeridoo
Keep playin' it till I shoot through, Blue
Play me digireedoo


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:04 PM

What worries me most in this thread is that all contributors except for "GUEST,Gerry 07 Dec 18 - 07:05 AM" are absolutely sure they know who is a villain. Tabloid newspapers and analogous media have done their venomous job.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:11 PM

Not fair. We all have our opinions about people and we fairly express them, but nobody here is telling anyone else what they should or shouldn't embrace.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Andy7
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:18 PM

"What worries me most in this thread is that all contributors except for "GUEST,Gerry 07 Dec 18 - 07:05 AM" are absolutely sure they know who is a villain."

Please don't make such a sweeping statement without evidence to back it up.

Have you really read every post in this thread carefully, and then fairly concluded that 'all contributors ... are absolutely sure they know who is a villain'? My guess is 'no'!


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Joe_F
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:27 PM

Hans Leip, who wrote the words to "Lili Marlene" (mostly during W.W. I), was not a Nazi, but survived the war in Germany. Norbert Schulze, who fitted it with the music we all know, was an actual member of the party and wrote songs to encourage the troops in eastern Europe. I do not hesitate in the least to sing the song -- even the German, which is far more poetic than any of the English versions I have heard. It would be a pity to do without it.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:29 PM

One advantage of traditional folk songs is that you can't even begin to worry about all this kind of stuff. All you have is the song.

In fact only quite rarely have I any notion of the names, let alone the character of whoever wrote the songs I enjoy in any type of music.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:40 PM

Andy, the evidence is up there. I admit that "all" is an exaggeration.

The actual fallacy is to conclude from "was convicted of ..." or "was caught ..." or "wrote texts that I consider ...ist" to "was a villain". People do things for various reasons, and even if convicted rightfully to the last iota of the law my still be trustworthy in other aspects.

The converse is more common, though: highly respected persons of rotten morals.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:42 PM

GUEST,Grishka - try reading the entire thread before spouting off and making yourself look so silly...


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:43 PM

Godwin's law in full action, proving my point as a corollary.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:44 PM

GUEST,Grishka - we cross posted - fair enough, you now recognise your hasty writing...


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 06:47 PM

ps.. bollocks to Godwin's pompous 'law'...


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Andy7
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 07:15 PM

Yes, that so-called 'law' is just one person's strange idea, haha!


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 07:25 PM

Hitler is a useful figure in these discussions because he provides an extreme test case.

Before Hitler, and before the Internet, I believe Caligula and Nero were the usual examples.


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: meself
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 07:56 PM

No one's going to stop me listening to my recordings of Nero fiddling!! (The snap, crackle and pop just add to the ambience ... ).

As for Henry VIII, now - I'll have to give another listen .......


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 08:56 PM

It's a good topic is this, and one that has given me a fair amount of angst over the years. Trouble is, I tend to like reading of the lives of composers and musicians and, quite often, my readings throw up some unexpected unsavoury aspects. Schubert and Benjamin Britten certainly liked to hang around with what we'd regard today as, er, under-aged persons. Mozart was obsessed with bare bottoms and turds. We've had more disconcerting info from Jack about Mussorgsky and Debussy. And so on.

Mind you, what's so wrong with bare bottoms anyway...


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Subject: RE: do songwriters' personal lives matter?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Dec 18 - 08:57 PM

...and that was a serious point!


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