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Review: Walter Pardon; Research

Related thread:
Walter Pardon - which song first? (45)


GUEST,Mike Yates 08 Nov 19 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 08 Nov 19 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,jag 08 Nov 19 - 11:30 AM
punkfolkrocker 08 Nov 19 - 11:58 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 12:20 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 12:24 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 12:33 PM
Dave the Gnome 08 Nov 19 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 01:01 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 08 Nov 19 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 01:15 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 08 Nov 19 - 01:27 PM
Dave the Gnome 08 Nov 19 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 08 Nov 19 - 02:16 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 02:34 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 02:34 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 19 - 02:35 PM
Dave the Gnome 08 Nov 19 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Nov 19 - 04:19 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Nov 19 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,jag 08 Nov 19 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Joe G 08 Nov 19 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Nov 19 - 01:05 AM
GUEST,Cj 09 Nov 19 - 02:51 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 19 - 03:55 AM
The Sandman 09 Nov 19 - 04:00 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 19 - 04:01 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 19 - 04:02 AM
Dave the Gnome 09 Nov 19 - 04:22 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 19 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,jag 09 Nov 19 - 04:55 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 19 - 05:10 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 19 - 05:58 AM
The Sandman 09 Nov 19 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 09 Nov 19 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 09 Nov 19 - 06:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 09 Nov 19 - 06:46 AM
punkfolkrocker 09 Nov 19 - 06:58 AM
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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 10:15 AM

When Neutral Observer made the comment that Jim could have been set up on this thread, I was already coming round to this idea myself. Now Pseudonymous writes that he/she has twice been given a kicking. Jim actually wrote that it was Walter Pardon who had been given a kicking. And where does this 'Carthy Family lynching' come from? If from a previous thread then Pseudonymous has previous knowledge of Jim. Then, out of the blue, Pseudonymous adds Joe Offer's previous threat to Jim. Interesting this, or am I beginning to see a complex anti-Jim conspiracy here?
And while I am on, just for the record I am not a Marxist (though I have studied Marxism at Uni and do sometime find it useful to use Marxist ideas to help me understand history). I find it odd that in one place where I am called a Marxist, Pseudonymous used the phrase 'Card carrying Communist' in the next line. Am I being tainted here by word association?
If this is a set up, then it is a very well thought out one. Recently somebody set Jim up with a very bad-taste 'joke' (which, I am glad to say was quickly removed) but the more I think about this I do wonder what is going on.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 10:40 AM

Thanks for the link. Just for the record I have no desire to 'set up' Jim or anybody else. I'm going to make the odd light hearted comment probably because I've been a performer for 40 years. It never entered my head it would be pounced on and turned into a fiasco. Unfortunately it takes Jim Carroll to do that. I just wanted to post my first hand memories of Walter Pardon because I thought they might be an asset to the thread, and could be of interest to the original poster. I don't think anybody else here had any intention of deliberately starting a stupid row with JC, in fact if you look at my other posts and other peoples we are all actively trying to avoid a row.
The only deliberate offence given here is by JC himself-to me to Dick to Dave to Punk to anybody at all.
So-let me try and defuse it a bit. There is great respect for Walter Pardon, there is great respect for most of the posters on here, as Joe suggests above there would be for JC if he would realise that behaving the way he does regularly on Mudcat simply spoils a valuable asset to our mutual love of Folk Music. We are allowed to disagree without it becoming a personal abuse contest. So if another light hearted comment is made like the one I made about the quote from the film could JC at least give me or anybody else the benefit of the doubt before going off on one.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 11:00 AM

Howard,

I do think about what you say, believe me, which is why I am returning despite having other stuff to be doing. It is useful to have people challenge what you say, if it's done in the right spririt etc.

I hear what you say about approaching Pardon for the 'music' if you like, the singing, and feel I understand because this is how I often approach something: I like this, what can I learn from it albeit at my lowly level of skill. Nothing wrong with that, part of my 'tradition' to misuse an overworked word. Far from there being anything wrong with it.

It may even be as you imply that JM's frequent refs to Pardon were part of bringing him to the forefront of my consciousness: I don't really know, there is a world outside the Mudcat bubble. I certainly took trouble to reference in my original post the contributions Jim and Pat had made relating to him, and you can check back to confirm this.

I had sworn not to get involved in discussing JM but it seems unavoidable, but I'm not sure that by selecting a different singer (an idea put into my head by your comments) I might have avoided the problems I perceive (rightly or wrongly) to have arisen since JM came back from a break and joined in this thread. Because he has made over 27,000 posts and is likely to want to join in more or less whatever.

I will say that if I had not in some sense had an interest or sort of liking on some level for Pardon I should not have chosen him. And if people say you need to work on it to get to like him then that is what it seems to me on one level I have been doing.

I'm with Nick Dow but having trawled back over years of threads I don't hold out much hope. People fond of JM may reflect that the main 'heritage' he will be leaving for the future is likely to be 27,000 posts on Mudcat. How that will affect people's willingness to take his research projects seriously is another question. But one worth asking if your name is JM.

But I shall be listening to Pardon and some other singers if I can get all the music as I hope to spend some time enjoying the thesis and comparison.

Have a good weekend everybody.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 11:08 AM

Hello Mike
Thank you for the clarification on your position regarding Marxist thinking. That is exactly the sort of helpful clarification which takes the discussion forward.

The 'card carrying communist' remark was partly flip, though I stand by the underlying thinking; sorry if it caused offence.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 11:21 AM

Re background, you can search Mudcat using my name as a search term and it will bring you up previous discussion, including some of the thread about the current state of folk song. This is all there for anybody to see.   

Once again, have a nice weekend.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 11:30 AM

Thanks for the drawing together of links to articles about Walter Pardon and to his singing. I think the articles stand OK on their own and, despite warning here, I am not left feeling I may have been led astray.
As Howard Jones says "It's usually fairly obvious when a writer is looking at something from a certain perspective"

However, I am not sure what perspective is behind the opening post. To say that a carpenter born in 1919 was literate is a bit like saying he still had all his fingers and thumbs - only worth mentioning if it was not the case. Likewise mentioning that he knew some history. Most 'working people' of that generation did not have access to secondary education but many of them followed their interests through books and took part in civil society in various ways. As a bachelor Walter maybe had more time for reading than most.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 11:58 AM

When I was a teenager, the town library had an impressive collection of Topic,
and other folk record Label LPs.
I spent a lot of time looking over the sleeves,
even collected Topic catalogues from the local record shop.
Curious about the old photos..
But can't remember the extent to which I listened to any Trad folk source singer LPs from the library.

This was at a time when folk rock in the pop charts was turning me onto investigating deeper into trad folk...

But from my 20s to 30s I forgot most of what I found out...

That's why I now find a thread like this on Walter Pardon useful.
But, Pseud's convoluted academic approach is a painful reminder of my degree/post grad courses a lifetime ago...

AS for Jim's outrage, it is a ridiculous over reaction to what he all too frequently misconstrues.
.. and is cause for concern for folks who like and respect him...

The "Dementia" word was raised a few posts back..
My life has been overwhelmed coping with my mum's dememtia..
Music has taken a low priority back seat, which is very disheartening.

From my perspective, all older mudcaters should be sensible, swallow their pride,
and see a doctor to discuss tests for dementia.
Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial...

It won't be as uncomfortable as our first prostrate probe...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 12:20 PM

How dare you people continue as you asre and how dare anybody bring up something I have been in dispute with a modrator for some time ago - that dispute goes far deeper than the matter in hand
Enough
I have bbeen at the centre of ab avbusive attack by Pseudonymous since I pulled him up about his racist behavior towards Travellers

Since then has has turned his attention on Walter Pardon, with the assistance of some others here
If any of you believe that to be fitting behaviour for anybody professing to have the vaguest interest in folk music, then hou come from a different planet than mine#
Travellers have given us more songs and stories than most social groups oin Britain - to write them off as THIEVES, POACHERS, AND SCAVANGERS is totally unacceptable in my world, but those are the exact words used by this abusive troll = ain't that right, ,Pseudonymous ?
Walter appeared on the scene and for twnty years sang his songs and passed on his experiences as England# last large repertoire source singer generously and without hesitation
Again, to Pseudonymous, he was an indifferent and unimportant singer who was gullible enough to be duped into using teh term "folk song" - is that true or not true Pseudonymous ?

When we met Walter in 1975 we discovered he had read every Charles Dickens novel at least three times over and could quote freely from them in casual conversation
At the time, Thomas Hardy was merely a film (Far From the Madding Crowd) and a name on the library shelves - Walter, who had read all his novels half-a--dozen times, encouraged me to read them, so tried, 'Tess' and got as hooked as he was - I have since all of Hardy and most of Dickens thanks to Walter
We have a recording of an interview we did on Walter's literary tastes, where he says "Two of the greatest crimes in literature was the hanging of Tess and the drowning of Maggie Tulliver" (I had to look up who the latter was)

Pseudonymous - if you insult me or anybody once more I will ask that you be stopped from posting to this forum - nobody has insulted you so I suggest you behave like an adult and do likewise - you are a guest here
Similarly, if you (or any of your fellow granddad-bashers use Walter as a target fro your sick humour I will request that this thread be closed
It is totally that one of England's finest source singers be used as target practice by people who obviously know or care about English folk song
How it has been allowed to reach this stage is totally beyond me - this forum should be about promoting and respecting our folk benefactors, not taking the piss out of them - especially when they have been dead as long as Walter has and is not around to speak for himself
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 12:24 PM

Couple of typos thare for the usual suspects to pick up on
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 12:33 PM

"People who aim the word "dementia" as a term of abuse should be thrown off this forum - not sure what you do about if when it's a mod who does it
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 12:51 PM

Who are you referring to when you say "How dare you people continue as you asre", Jim? Just those who disagree with you? Everyone on the thread? Specific people on the thread? If you want to set up a challenge like "how dare you", you need to be specific as to who it is aimed at.

However, as Jeri says, if you are aiming to get the thread closed, stop talking about the subject of a thread in favor of going after other posters. I guess, seeing as you have shown an intense dislike of what is being said, this is what you are trying to achieve.

I understand that Walter.was a kind and generous man, particularly to you, so rather than aiming random broadsides at all and sundry, would you care to share your personal experiences of him?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:01 PM

I have never ever written anything racist about travellers.

You are quite right that the words quoted appear in my post Jim. However you are not right to state that they represent my view on the travelling community.

This is a vile misrepresentation. And to make and repeat it is beneath contempt.

And, regrettably, it is typical of Jim first to unjustly hurl this abuse at me and then to deny ever having insulted anybody. In this case he has simply taken words out of context.

What I actually did was to criticise what I considered to be inappropriate stereotypes of travellers. I noted that travelling people interacted economically with people from the non-travelling community, which was why it was 'unfortunate' (I realise this is a weak word) that they were so often stereotyped in the words quoted by Jim.

I am not the first to complain that Jim did not read my post properly and I shall not be the last. But it is there on the thread for anybody to read.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:13 PM

"I have never ever written anything racist about travellers."
I've just quoted you - do you deny you wrote that ?
You in fact went on to ask "how else do they live"

"Who are you referring to when you say"
Would you like me to quote your "banana" comment in full Dave
I was brought up to talk about older people with the same respect you would if they were in their presence
I suggest you come off your high horse and read your own postings
I don't use the term "snide" unless I believe it to be accurate
I have no intention of causing this thread to close by making it an "I said- you said" battle
The disgraceful way Walter was referred to by several people - Pseud being the first" and most persistent - is still up far viewing (unfortunately)
You need to make sure you take longer spoons when dining in such company
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:14 PM

If this thread is to be of any use at all, it needs to be about Walter Pardon and not descend into trolling, personal abuse and over-reaction carried over from previous threads. I'd also say to Jim that, as far as I've understood, only the OP has made negative comments about his singing, and most other posters have praised it.

Like Howard Jones, whose contributions contain a lot of good sense, I'm interested in the OP's motive in opening the discussion. Putting all our present knowledge of Walter Pardon's repertoire, singing style, life experiences etc. in one place would be no bad thing. However, when the argument from the outset appears to be that everything we thought we knew is thrown into question by the (undefined) ideology and bias of those who met and recorded WP, I begin to suspect an agenda. Dave Harker's thesis in 'Fakesong' was that all previous scholarship was part of an overarching conspiracy to tell lies about working-class culture, and there seem to be echoes of that here.

Going back to the original and subsequent posts by Pseudonymous, there's a rather odd obsession with the possible influence of recordings on WP's singing style. It's not out of the question, but the evidence cited is misrepresented, for example:

Another interesting comment is one made by Roly Brown http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/pardon1.htm (accessed 5/11/2019) to the effect that nobody has considered the possible links between Pardon’s work and his collection of 78 rpm records. My thought here is that the last thing that the folklore establishment would be interested in doing is comparing the singing style on these 78 rms with Pardon’s own. Some of the songs are now digitally available, and there seems to me to be very strong similarities, in, for example, some of the trills Pardon uses from time to time.

What Roly Brown is actually saying is that the booklet notes to the 'Put a Bit Of Powder' CD include a list of WP's 78 collection, but do not directly compare that repertoire with WP's own. He is clearly not talking about singing style. As far as the repertoire goes Brown finds the overlap 'negligible' and the list of 78s 'somewhat gratuitous'. There is no cover-up here. What, in any case, is 'the folklore establishment'? Is Roly Brown to be considered part of it and, if not, why not? What grounds are there for claiming that said 'establishment' would have been anything other than intrigued to find a traditional singer's style to have been influenced by commercial recordings? The same review states that 'Walter rarely decorates', and there is no mention of 'trills' - I never detected any and nor, apparently, did Nick Dow.

Here's another odd remark that seeks somehow to undermine WP's status:

"Somewhere else it is said that Pardon started writing songs down after Billy died. But if so, who is to say where he found the words he wrote down?"

The suggestion here seems to be that WP probably obtained his texts from print, recordings, or possibly even made them up himself. It ignores the most likely explanation, which is that he simply remembered them. I can recall many song lyrics I heard regularly as a child, even ones I've never heard (or sung myself) since. There's no shortage of examples of traditional singers remembering lengthy ballads heard in their youth.

And here's an agenda-driven claim:

"A person who, early after his discovery, was denying singing folk songs cannot have spent so much time surrounded by the ideologues of the revival without picking up on their attitudes, without understanding, in a sense, what they want from him and the language in which they discuss song. The 'data' on Pardon as a traditional singer supposedly produced by so many interviews is hopeless polluted by all this, not to mention the leading questions that his interviewers appear to have been so fond of using."

No examples are cited of 'leading questions', but the assumption in this (to me as well as Jim Carroll) patronising and rather offensive statement is that Walter Pardon was a suggestible old man, and we can safely discount the opinions he expressed because they've been planted in his silly head by the dreaded 'folklore establishment'. Never mind that he, by all accounts, was an intelligent man with strong and articulate views of his own. As I said elsewhere, the whole point of trying to learn WP's opinions about the songs was that so few song collectors of an earlier era bothered to do this kind of thing. Most interested parties would celebrate the approach, rather than attempt to undermine it. Jim Carroll's account is that WP maintained a distinction between the older songs in his repertoire and the Music Hall material, as did certain other traditional singers. He also made a clear association between melodies in the non-major modes (melodeon bellows finish extended) and the antiquity of the song.

Here's another questionable point:

"He himself said he believed that his grandfather got them from broadsides. If that source doesn't count as Victorian popular music …."

Actually the OP's original description (on another thread) was 'Victorian pop songs', which was clearly pejorative. Even his diluted version is inaccurate, though. For a start, broadsides typically included no music. Secondly, as the Roly Brown review cited by the OP makes clear, the broadside repertoire we are talking about here 'entered the domain of singers [from] the late eighteenth century up to and including the biggest surge of broadside production during the 1830s and 1840s'. Victoria ascended to the throne in 1737. No doubt many of the same broadside texts were still available when WP's grandfather was a young man (though this would not explain where he got the tunes), but that does not make them cultural products of the Victorian era.

Lastly, Pseudonymous really needs to get to grips with what 'tradition' means in this context. It's about songs being passed on between generations and communities - nothing to do with anonymity, antiquity or performance style. And it's usage has nothing to do with Marxism.

I'm glad Mike Yates has joined the discussion, that makes two contributors who know more about Walter Pardon than most.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:15 PM

Re commenting on Pardon' literacy.

1 I took a wide view of the potential audience here. Not everybody will be aware of the history of education in England. So I felt it worthwhile to sketch out. In any case, it isn't that simple: I have worked in adult literacy and I can assure that there still are some people who for one reason or another cannot read and write, sometimes because for family reasons they slipped through the net, or because school did not suit them, persistent truancy, family problems, all sorts of reasons.

2 Pardon's reading habits are explained in the texts referred to in the opening post.

3 Re JM's threats to request that this thread should be closed, and at the risk of appearing childish: oooo, I'm shivering in my shoes. Lighten up!


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:27 PM

Walter's literacy came from his family's progressive belief that the way to make the world a better place was through self-education (pretty well the attitude taken by MacColl and many of his generation)
When Walter died we discovered an un-returned Library among his things a three volume copy of a Bronte novel - it was stamped the' North Walsham Working Mens' Library'
The activists of that period found the established education system wanting so they set up their own
Not everybody will be aware of the history of working class education in England, as someone,somewhat pompously put it recently
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:27 PM

I am beginning to fear the worst about JC after that outburst. I think this is a job for Joe Offer and it's not one I would like. I will totally understand if this post is deleted.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:35 PM

Would you like me to quote your "banana" comment in full Dave

Yes please, Jim. I would.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:43 PM

On literacy and schooling, I have the example of a much loved great aunt. One of 14 children she had polio as a child and was never sent to school because they did not live and she was in an iron lung a lot of the time. Her father, who had been a coal miner but lost his health underground did teach her to read at home using a bible which was the only book they had around. So, yes I do think it is worth pointing out both that Pardon was literate and that he was well read, both of which I did in the original.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:47 PM

Thank you Brian for a thoughtful post which I shall read when I have time.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 01:48 PM

However, I will comment that the term 'tradition' has been shown within Mudcat to be a contested one.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 02:16 PM

"the term 'tradition' has been shown within Mudcat to be a contested one."

I'd be careful about citing Mudcat - for all its good works - as a definitive source.

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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 02:34 PM

"Yes please, Jim. I would."
Sorry Dave - it's still up on the other thread
Go look it up yourself (search just above "snide" - that should find it)

"has been shown within Mudcat to be a contested one."
The three man and a dog that make up Mudcat (most of whom refuse to discuss origins) - tradition has been clearly established and defined since the middle of the 19th century and there are libraries of books on the subject- those who dispute it usually do so because it's inconvenient not to

"I will totally understand if this post is deleted."
I would like to see your introducing Walter's so-called eating habits onto this forum deleted but - hey - we can't always get what we want
I remind you that it was Pseudo who introduvced Joe into this discussion, not me
I'm willing to leave it the - I suggest you do the same

Brian
The question of broadside in Walter's family is a somewhat confused one
Walter certainly thought his grandfather had them but, as his main source of informant, Uncle Billy, was dead when Walter began to take an active interest, nothing is guaranteed clear
Walter's grandfather's family were extremely poor - so much so that he was forced to leave the land and go to sea and his family were deposited in the local workhouse - they were referred to locally as "Mother hen and her poor chickens"
Broadsides would have been a luxury, certainly in later days

The whole question of broadsides is being far too simplistically in my opinion
Thede "hacks" were notoriously bad poets producing songs that were 'chalk' to the traditional songs 'cheese'
Did the singers but them, take them to their poorly lit cottages and set out to knock of the corners
Usually, the transformation of a broadside usually depended on a healthy oral tradition to use as a polishing tool - as far as I can make out, none such existed around Knapton
Walter's family were involved in church singing yet there's no sign of that influence in any of his songs and his texts are pretty good, even though he's added verses to some of them

From our work in Ireland, I have become convinced that the broadside to oral tradition journey wa very much a two-way street and that the hacks were quite likely to have scribbled plots and verses of traditional songs from visiting tradesmen and made the sow's ears that appeared on the streets
Singers from Clare certainly bought the 'ballads' (Travellers' song-sheets'), but the two impressions we got were either that "you didn't mess with the printed word' or they were used to fortify already existing songs
Tom Lenihan said "you couldn't trust them" but used a coule to fortify part songs
Mikeen McCarthy described going into the printers in Tralee with his father's songs and reciting them over the counter in order to turn them into song-sheets - a printed oral tradition produced by a non-literate Traveller
Mikeen said he responded to suggestions like "why don't you take your daddy's .... into the printer - we'd bu that one
We asked Mikeen if he ever know of songs being written for 'The Ballads' - he replied, "why, we had more than enough among ourselves

I'm trying to write some of this up at present (when everything else if out of the way)
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 02:34 PM

"Yes please, Jim. I would."
Sorry Dave - it's still up on the other thread
Go look it up yourself (search just above "snide" - that should find it)

"has been shown within Mudcat to be a contested one."
The three man and a dog that make up Mudcat (most of whom refuse to discuss origins) - tradition has been clearly established and defined since the middle of the 19th century and there are libraries of books on the subject- those who dispute it usually do so because it's inconvenient not to

"I will totally understand if this post is deleted."
I would like to see your introducing Walter's so-called eating habits onto this forum deleted but - hey - we can't always get what we want
I remind you that it was Pseudo who introduvced Joe into this discussion, not me
I'm willing to leave it the - I suggest you do the same

Brian
The question of broadside in Walter's family is a somewhat confused one
Walter certainly thought his grandfather had them but, as his main source of informant, Uncle Billy, was dead when Walter began to take an active interest, nothing is guaranteed clear
Walter's grandfather's family were extremely poor - so much so that he was forced to leave the land and go to sea and his family were deposited in the local workhouse - they were referred to locally as "Mother hen and her poor chickens"
Broadsides would have been a luxury, certainly in later days

The whole question of broadsides is being far too simplistically in my opinion
Thede "hacks" were notoriously bad poets producing songs that were 'chalk' to the traditional songs 'cheese'
Did the singers but them, take them to their poorly lit cottages and set out to knock of the corners
Usually, the transformation of a broadside usually depended on a healthy oral tradition to use as a polishing tool - as far as I can make out, none such existed around Knapton
Walter's family were involved in church singing yet there's no sign of that influence in any of his songs and his texts are pretty good, even though he's added verses to some of them

From our work in Ireland, I have become convinced that the broadside to oral tradition journey wa very much a two-way street and that the hacks were quite likely to have scribbled plots and verses of traditional songs from visiting tradesmen and made the sow's ears that appeared on the streets
Singers from Clare certainly bought the 'ballads' (Travellers' song-sheets'), but the two impressions we got were either that "you didn't mess with the printed word' or they were used to fortify already existing songs
Tom Lenihan said "you couldn't trust them" but used a coule to fortify part songs
Mikeen McCarthy described going into the printers in Tralee with his father's songs and reciting them over the counter in order to turn them into song-sheets - a printed oral tradition produced by a non-literate Traveller
Mikeen said he responded to suggestions like "why don't you take your daddy's .... into the printer - we'd bu that one
We asked Mikeen if he ever know of songs being written for 'The Ballads' - he replied, "why, we had more than enough among ourselves

I'm trying to write some of this up at present (when everything else if out of the way)
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 02:35 PM

Why the .... did that happen
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 02:48 PM

Sorry Dave - it's still up on the other thread

What other thread, Jim. I post to many. If you are not prepared to quote my "banana" comment in full, why offer to do so? You are obviously implying I said something that you have taken offense at, yet again. Why not just tell me what I am supposed to have said? Or, yet again, again, are you just blowing not air?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 03:21 PM

I haven't read the most recent posts, but this is 'the story' as I see it:

There was a thread on the state of UK folk, which did go off topic and this was partly me voicing thoughts I had been having. At the polite request of Joe G who started that thread, and because of the tone of it, and because I hoped to continue the discussion, I opened this thread.

I started it with a longish piece, specifically labelled a draft, in which I tried to put every 'reference' I could find to Walter Pardon, including links to his repertoire, lists of interviews, articles, films. I drew on and acknowledged in particular the work of Mustrad, another wonderful site.

If anybody was 'set up' it was me, and I did it, as I invited comments and feedback as well as additional sources, and obviously this being Mudcat I was aware some feedback might be strongly worded, strongly felt and so on. And up to a point there is nothing wrong with that.

I think there have been valuable contributions of many sorts, including not least the thoughts of those who have seen Pardon perform, not just how they felt but where he performed.

I have made notes and in some cases amended the draft, which was a draft and have on balance got a lot out of the thread.

If it is closed on the demand of unhappy posters, I shall still have taken a lot from it.

And once again I thank those who have taken the time to express their feelings and thoughts in response to the original post.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 03:25 PM

Brian, yes Mudcat not necessarily definitive, but often interesting and lively.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 03:49 PM

Jim Carroll

I don't know whether you are aware of the idea of taking words out of their context and twisting them? Because it seems plain to me that this is precisely what you are doing with my words in relation to the travelling community.

I am not denying that the words you quote appear in my thread. They did, but it is clear from the context that I did not do so because they represent my view. So I have no interest in denying that I typed them.

To explain this as simply as I can, one could quote from the works of Donald Trump without approving his policies.

The post is there in its context for people to read.

I was, I suppose, making the old point that once literacy had been invented there could be no such thing as a 'pure' oral tradition.

And in pointing out the economic links between the travelling community and those around them, I was pondering how interactions would take place. An example from memory would be knife mending: as a child in the country I recall travelling people sharpening my mother's kitchen knives. We also bought trinkets from them. Rightly or wrongly, my mother believed that they secretly marked the house to show others that it was a place they could call. Now I am not claiming that we ever sang songs to or with them, but the point that there was interaction is reasonable, and you yourself have made it often.

I don't want to make a big thing of it, but at one time I was involved in community relations work, lobbying local councils to obey the Caravan Sites Act before it was repealed, something I think was wrong. I was twice invited into a traveller's caravan, one family who considered themselves Romany travellers, and one who had Irish origins. At another time, I have worked with a traveller who came forward as an adult wishing to learn to read and write.

I have made my views on your posts relating to this issue clear. You appear to think you are some great crusader: that isn't how you come across to me. From my perspective you have jumped to ill founded and unfair conclusions on the basis of nothing but what is in your own head. I'll leave it there.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 04:19 PM

Thinking about adult literacy got me thinking about discussion skills, and some useful pointers are here. How to disagree politely, I seem to be forgetting how to do it.

https://www.eapfoundation.com/speaking/discussions/agreeing/


And more advice here


https://www.eapfoundation.com/speaking/discussions/


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 04:19 PM

Patronising and pretentious? Moi?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 06:14 PM

Brian,
Like you I also suspect Sue has an agenda, more than one agenda perhaps, but most of the initial post is presenting available information and trying to put together an overall picture which is mostly reasonably balanced (IMO). Rather than condemn the facts and opinions presented it would be better to discuss them in a reasonable and reasoned manner, particularly the contradictory evidence, and also in a wider context comparing Walter with other source singers and their repertoires. This can easily be achieved by ignoring any kneejerk OTT reactions. Sometimes by throwing in one or two controversial opinions as Sue has done it can provoke a more lively discussion (but without getting personal or resorting or twisting what is being stated).


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 06:32 PM

Pseudonymous. You didn't say in the OP that Walter was well-read. If you had done you would not have needed to say that he was literate.

That he enjoyed and was very familiar with well-crafted story telling seem very pertinent to me when considering his songs.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 08 Nov 19 - 07:29 PM

By Sue I assume you mean Pseu, Steve?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 01:05 AM

Hello Jag, your point 1 this is a reasonable and helpful suggestion. I have had to pick myself up off the floor. point 2 I had to ask 'did this sort of thinking really occur on Mudcat?' Speaking as a massive fan of Charles Dickens myself (though not sure about him on trade unionism) this was one aspect of Pardon that appealed to me. Though of course Dickens had massive appeal before Pardon's time with newly literate readerships in his own times. So thank you for both points.

I am quite happy for 'people' to 'suspect' that I have an agenda. Not sure I like the language but I can live with it. But I do have some sort of 'thesis' and this brings me back to the house Pardon lived in and the language (I am thinking some people here will be able to tune in to this sort of analysis) he was presented in.

Time after time I read he live in a farm labourers's cottage. His maternal grandparents had lived there, the Cook Gee family (dating from a 19th c marriage between a Cook and a Gee). Yet when I listen to the BL stuff I hear Billy explain that it had been a 'smallholding'. In other words, lived in by smaller scale tenants.

I have ancestors similar, some blacksmiths into the bargain. Up to mid 19th century. To me it was obvious that it had been a farmhouse of sorts as opposed to a labourer's cottage. You only have to look at the film of it And again, obviously it was not a farm labourer's cottage in the days when Pardon lived there, as he was a carpenter. Pardon was a skilled worker, not a labourer. Yet his house is demoted from 'had been the farmhouse on a smallholding' to 'labourer's cottage' in accounts of his background.

To me it is reasonable to suggest that such semiotic choices in presentation play into the theoretical and political leanings of the people who discovered and marketed him.

I have sent for a history of Knapton, getting tangential but then I always like to get things in context.

On the 'card carrying communist' comment discussed before. On reflection, this isn't so far off the mark. Now once again my language (these are quick notes) may not be the most tactful, but Topic Records was in some sense what you might roughly call and I say might a communist party front originally, linked with other CP projects. Now if I am wrong here, happy to be corrected. I am sure I hae read that this is the case. Not trying to criticise anybody here, just thinking in historical terms.

Thank you


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 02:51 AM

Ok. Topic Records a Communist Party front? I'm intrigued.

Any evidence there? At all?

"Roughly" doesn't excuse your making of statement.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 03:55 AM

"Jim Carroll
I don't know whether you are aware of the idea of taking words out of their context and twisting them? Because it seems plain to me that this is precisely what you are doing with my words in relation to the travelling community."
A word of advice
If you start postings with this aggressively abusive tone you are going to find yourself ostracised as others have been for attempting to talk down to people

If you make a statement, kindly have the balls to stand by it and not hide behind "someone else said it"
As far as your racist outburst towards Travellers - you said what you said and that sort of degrading language has no place in discussions on folk song

The relationship between orality and literature is a complex one - you appear to be treating it on the "Do you still beat your wife - yes or no" level
We spent some time examining the relationship - not by scrambling around the net looking for suitable cut-'n-pastes, but actually spending time with the people involved
Judging by the lack of requests for the article based on Walter describing his attitude to folk song, people are as disinterested in what he had to say on folk song as they are on what I have to say, and would much rather pontificate on the subject by removing the singers from the equation

Of course there is no such thing as a "pure oral tradition", just as there is no such thing as a printed folk song that hasn't relied on orality
Nobody will ever know which came first - we can only make intelligent guesses - if we put in the work we might just be able to come to some sort of a conclusion based on the little the singers were allowed to say
The only certain thing in all this is ONCE YOU ACCEPT THAT "THE FOLK" WERE CAPABLE OF HAVING MADE THEIR OWN SONGS, THEN YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT THEY PROBABLY DID

"a Communist Party front"
Can we assume from your choice of antedeluvian language that you have yet to emerge from The Cold Way ?
Please don't make these threads a platform for your own obvious extremist right wing views; they have as little place in these discussions as do your formerly expressed contempt of Travellers
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 04:00 AM

the cold way?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 04:01 AM

Any evidence there? At all?
Please don't allow this individual to make this a platform for his own political views
It's worth remembering that had he and his kind had their way Walter Pardon's family and their workmates would have found themselves being tried in an Un-East Anglian Activities Court
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 04:02 AM

Cold War Dick - sorry
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 04:22 AM

I believe oral communication predates the written word by quite a while. If this is true then there is no guesswork involved as to whether the oral tradition or printed songs came first. Or am I missing something?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 04:32 AM

"Or am I missing something?"
You are not Dave, but as far as folk song is concerned, some people would have us believe that the folk were incapable of making their songs and had to go out and buy them
Oddly, that idea finds favour with those who regard Topic and the folk revival as a "Communist plot" - a pretty 'political' view, I would have thought (but certainly not 'Communist')
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 04:55 AM

Looks like a farmworkers cottage to me on Google Maps Pseudonymous. Most of what you see on the film is the farm. Look for the barn with the slit windows on Streetview. Seems like the cottage entrance still has the round nameplate.

I had a relative born in about 1895 who was an estate labourer. His tied cottage was about that size but had outbuildings and rented land to make it up to a smallholding.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 05:10 AM

You could have asked
Walter's home was originally a single storey labourers cottage standing on its own small piece if land - it was 'modernised' in the 1950s)
The barn to the left (on the village side) belonged to a local farmer, and had nothing to do with the cottage
The village once had a shop but never had a pub, so all singing locally was done at Harvest Suppers of at family parties
A description of the home singing can be found in the sleeve notes of the album, 'Our Side of the Baulk'
'The baulk' was the long support beam that ran the length of the house - if those sitting on one side of the room thought that the other side were getting more than their fair share of the singing, the cry would go up, "Our side of the baulk"

Walter only ever sang one song at these gatherings, 'Dark-Eyed Sailor' because "Nobody else wanted that old thing"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 05:58 AM

A lot of space, but this seem to be the only way to get Walter heard in this strange discussion - it's a pity it was necessary
Jim Carroll

From
Dear Far Voiced Veteran, (Essays in hounour of Tom Munnelly OKS 2007

A Simple Countryman?
Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie
“Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de-jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk”. [our italics]                                                                                                                                                               
Note by Phillips Barry to ‘Lake of Col Finn’, in the Helen Hartness Flanders collection, New Green Mountain Songster, Yale University Press, 1939
The writer of the above note, American Phillips Barry, was regarded as an eminent folk song scholar in the early part of the 20th century. Aside from a distaste for the phrase “sunk to the level of the folk”, it seems somewhat dismissive of the talents of those who gave the collector for whom he was writing, many wonderful examples of the oral song tradition. Of course, memory is of utmost importance to the singer but the act of creation involved in singing also embraces ‘invention’, a process developed from thought and imagination. To be fair to Barry, his statement is at variance with a number of comments that he makes in the Foreword to the above collection. There he writes of “the folk singer’s prerogative to be also folk composer, to recreate textually and musically a song he has learned”. It is this latter assertion that has been our experience over the thirty years during which we have been talking to and recording singers, and we would like to draw on our work with the English singer, Walter Pardon, as illustration. All quoted passages are taken from interviews recorded between 1975 and 1993.

East Anglia in South East England has proved a fertile area for traditional song, probably due in part to its relative isolation [see map]. Norfolk, in particular, produced three fine singers in the 20th century: farmworker Harry Cox from Catfield; Sam Larner, a fisherman from Winterton; and lastly, Walter Pardon of Knapton, a carpenter from a farming background, each living within twenty miles of each other. In the earlier years of the 20th century, collectors like Ralph Vaughan Williams and E.J. Moeran were finding the county a rich source of traditional song: particularly noteworthy was Moeran’s work in the l920s with Harry Cox. In the 1950s, the BBC’s mopping up campaign was still unearthing singers with a wealth of material despite the fact that, by that time, the singing tradition in England had entered a steep decline and, indeed, had almost died out, leaving us with a handful of traditional singers and a somewhat larger number of what Ewan MacColl aptly described as ‘song carriers’: people who had not necessarily been part of the singing tradition but, for one reason or another, had clung on to some of the old songs and music. Although lucky enough to catch Harry Cox and Sam Larner in the flesh just once, we were able to spend twenty years with Walter Pardon, the youngest of the trio, from 1975 until his death in 1995.               

Walter was born in 1914 into a family of mainly agricultural workers employed on local farms and also as gardeners and groundsmen at local golf links. Knapton is a small rural village, a couple of miles from the sea at Mundesley and the same distance from the market town of North Walsham; it has no pub and the single small shop closed years ago. When Walter was growing up, the roads were unmade which meant outside influences were very few. Walter was born and lived all his life in the same house that his mother and her siblings were all born in and into which Walter’s maternal grandparents moved when they were first married, probably about the mid-19th century. His mother’s father was apparently the main source of the family songs and played clarinet in the church gallery, in the choir, and was a bellringer. His maternal great grandfather had moved to the village from North Walsham in about 1820. The earliest Walter knew of his father’s family connection with Knapton was his great, great grandfather’s grave, dated 1851.

Walter was an only child and so became the focus of attention, not only of his parents but also of the two bachelor uncles [his mother’s brothers, Walter and Billy] who lived with them. Walter appeared to have had a happy childhood but times were hard. As a boy, he, along with other children, helped on the land: pulling beet, pitching hay up on to the stacks, etc. At that time, the children’s summer holidays were determined by the dates of the harvest; the farmers told the schools when they were going to start so that the holidays could coincide. They worked from dawn to dusk six days a week. Walter was told of earlier times:

“Years back the children, when they used to hollow out the turnips and mangles, instead of cutting them out right clean like they done when I remember, they, little children, crawl in between the rows and pull them out with their fingers”.

He related how his Uncle Billy was sent off to work alone on one occasion:

“There’s a long loke [boreen], a mile long and he was sent down the loke to work alone and he said to one of the men, ‘How shall I know the time, no watch?’ So the man say, ‘When you can see two stars with one eye, leave off work’. So Billy could see two, come up into the yard and John Blanchflower [the farmer] was there; he said, ‘You left off early Billy’. Billy said, ‘I was told when I could see two stars with one eye I could leave off’. And the old man look up and he say, ‘I can see more than two so you’ve got a right to stop work’. So that’s how he got out of that one all right”.

Walter spoke of his great grandfather, unusually named Brown Pardon, who worked for a farmer in Knapton and they quarrelled:

“I think he swore at the old man. Anyone who answered back, you see, that was instant dismissal in them days then, this would be, I should think, in the early 1850s or even 1840s. He was given instant dismissal and no-one would employ him. My grandfather and his three sisters, he had to keep them and their mother. He’d got no money so he went to Yarmouth and went to sea, like Sam Larner did, you know, this trawling. My grandfather and his sisters and the mother had to go into Gimmingham Workhouse while he was away at sea, ‘cause no-one would employ him. There’s a man told me that when his mother was a little girl, they all come past the house crying to think they had to go in the workhouse; she cried to see them cry. But father said my grandfather told him he liked it in the workhouse, it was warm and he was fed. Well, they’d have starved, workhouse or starve, so they went in there until he could come home with some money”.

Walter was apprenticed as a carpenter in the neighbouring village of Paston when he left school at 14 and he worked mainly locally, probably within a radius of 20 miles, cycling to work each day. He never lived away from Knapton except for his four years War Service when he was employed as a carpenter on various Army camps about the country.

The Gees, his mother’s family, were musical: singers and instrumentalists. In the past, they had played fiddles, concertinas, clarinets and accordeons but Walter had only heard his Uncle Walter who played melodeon and Jews Harp. Walter learnt songs from his family: his mother, his Aunt Alice and, principally, his Uncle Billy. Billy, who was born in 1863, had a great number of songs from his father, Tom Gee, who was well known as a singer with a very large repertoire. Walter remembered, as a child, sitting on Billy’s knee and absorbing the songs and tunes. He was about seven years old when he learnt his first complete song, THE POACHER’S FATE.

The family was constantly acquiring songs: from neighbours, gramophone records, etc., and Walter knew several Irish songs from workers who had travelled to the area to work on the land [we found several Irish names in the area, e.g. Murphy and Cahill]. The singing was done at Harvest Frolics, the celebrations after the harvest, which died out while Walter was young, and at Christmas parties. Apparently so many people came to the cottage then that they had to have meals in two sittings.

“I can remember going, it’s finished now, the old beer stalls at North Walsham. I think the man is dead now, Arthur Harvey. I don’t know how many years back, I got four little bottles of nips I think they were, put in a bag. He says, ‘Is that all you want?’ I says, ‘Yes, that’ll be enough for me’. ‘My word’, he said, ‘It’s a lot of difference now than what used to be carted in to your house. There used to be a lot come’. I say, ‘Yes, very near twenty’. He say, ‘I carted more beer to that house ready for Christmas night than any house I went to and I went miles!’ ”.

There would be conversation, music, singing and dancing at these parties but always perfect quiet for the songs. The living room had an exposed beam running across the ceiling called the baulk and the shout would go up, “Our side of the baulk” after someone had sung from one side of the room and they would take turns across the room. They each had their own particular songs for these occasions. Apparently no-one wanted THE DARK EYED SAILOR so that was Walter’s song, or sometimes WHEN THE FIELDS WERE WHITE WITH DAISIES. They all knew the tunes but everybody was very protective of their own songs and did not want others to learn them. As the favourite youngster, Walter was the only one to whom Billy Gee would give his songs but none of his contemporaries wanted them anyway; they would only learn new songs as they came out.

“There used to be Christmas night and the Harvest Frolics, yes. Well they sung the songs as they learnt as new. The ages stretched so much, you see, from the oldest down to the youngest and there was years difference, you very near knew when they were born by the songs, you see. They’d be the folk songs that went back probably to the eighteenth century, early nineteenth; then when the younger ones come along, songs would be sung what they learned perhaps in the eighteen or nineteen hundreds, up to early perhaps nineteen twenty. So they all learnt them as new, as they come out in their time. And there was only me learnt the old ones, you see, what had gone back, what grandfather sung.
The Harvest Frolics finished when I was a boy, anyhow. Then that gradually died as the old people kept dying; then the old Christmas parties finished altogether, so there was no more left to carry it on and no-one left but me who knew the songs”.

There was no pub singing in Walter’s time but he knew that there had been in the past which Billy had taken part in from the age of about seventeen [1880], at the Mitre Tavern in North Walsham in particular.

“They had a singing room there and that was where they used to assemble with accordeons and flutes and fiddles and singing and step dancing, all that sort of thing. And he used to go up Thursday nights, walk up, that’s market day in North Walsham. That was the night they held the singing”.

Walter heard Billy sing only once in a pub: after an Agricultural Workers’ Union meeting at the Crown in Trunch, the next village. Walter was very proud of his family’s association with the early Agricultural Union movement. When George Edwards restarted the Agricultural Workers Union in Norfolk in 1907, the first one started by Joseph Arch in the late 19th century having folded, Walter’s father Tom had the second Union card issued, Nos.1 and 3 going to men from nearby villages. Forty years later, all three men were awarded silver medals for their services to the Union. Walter learnt a number of songs, parodies and rhymes connected with the Union; for example:

                               OLD MAN’S ADVICE
(To the tune of My Grandfather’s Clock)

My grandfather worked when he was very young
And his parents felt grieved that he should,
To be forced in the fields to scare away the crows
To earn himself a bit of food.
The days they were long and his wages were but small,
And to do his best he always tried,
But times are better for us all
Since the old man died.

For the union is started, unite, unite,
Cheer up faint hearted, unite, unite,
The work’s begun, never to stop again
Since the old man died.

My grandfather said in the noontide of life,
Poverty was a grief and a curse,
For it brought to his home sorrow, discord and strife
And kept him poor with empty purse.
So he took a bold stand and joined the union band,
To help his fellow men he tried,
A union man he vowed he’d stand
Till the day he died.

For the union………………………               

My grandfather’s dead, as we gathered round his bed,
These last words to us he did say:
Don’t let your union drop nor the agitation stop,
Or else you’ll soon rue the day.
Get united to a man, for it is your only plan,
Make the union your care and your pride,
Help on reform in every way you can,
Then the old man died.

For the union…………………….

Influenced by his family’s love of song and music, Walter developed a deep interest in the songs – he said he supposed he’d inherited it. After his Uncle Billy died in 1942, he began writing down his family’s songs on scraps of paper and in exercise books; one notebook was dated 1948. Including fragments, we recorded over 200 songs from him, with a solid base of some 100 complete songs, largely traditional.

It is interesting to study Walter’s tunes which are often similar to familiar versions but subtly different. It is difficult to say that this is exactly how he learnt them, although he thought so. During the long period of not hearing them, at least 20 years, he kept the songs alive for himself by playing the tunes on the melodeon. Did they perhaps get changed then? Were certain phrases easier for him to play on the melodeon? Or was it simply his own creativity, that he preferred certain musical phrases to others? We’ll never know, of course, but certainly Walter’s tunes are a little different to standard versions and very distinctive.

Walter was aided in putting together songs which he had heard but never sung by his prodigious memory. He was able to describe local lore and events not only from his own experience but those which had been recounted to him by his elders. He could recall long vanished field names, local words and names of animals, farm implements, etc. We gave him an exercise book once and asked him, if he had time, would he write down some of the sayings, proverbs, stories, dialect words, etc. Shortly after, he had filled every page completely with close writing; bought two more books and filled them in the same way.

Aware that Walter had been putting together the family repertoire, his cousin’s nephew, Roger Dixon, who had also been interested in the songs from a boy, endeavoured to persuade him to put some on tape.
Eventually, having bought a tape recorder, Walter set about it and later described his efforts at recording himself:

“I used to think I could manage to sing the old RAMBLING BLADE; I put it on and it sound so blooming horrible I wiped it right out; oh, that did sound dreadful. I don’t think that was as bad, perhaps, as I thought it was but that was a long while, trying different things until I thought that was better as I kept hearing it, you see. And I know that was about October, 1972, when I started it. Oh, I don’t know, it took about up to Christmas time to fill one side; I used to forget there was verses in the songs, you see, I used to keep wiping it out and putting them on again. That took a long time to get them up into the pitch I could sing them in, not having sung the things. Well, I got one side done somewhere from the October up to the Christmas1972 this was. And I know when it come over to the following New Year, I was in here one Saturday night and that was bitterly cold; oh, that was a wind frost, wind coming everywhere. I was that cold, I had a big fire going one side and that little stove the other. So I thought then I’d do some more taping so I got warmed up; I had a strong dose of rum and milk, and I had another one. And so I got the tape recorder going, I can remember well enough, that was CAROLINE AND HER YOUNG SAILOR, and when I finished it was the best I ever did do. Well, I found out I drank more than I should, I had to keep right still, that was true. In fact, I was drunk. and then of course I went to bed; I never did have any more. And the next morning when I got up and tried it I knew I was, how that was coming out with all the words all slurred, so I wiped it all out. Well, I found then as I kept going, that it wouldn’t pay to drink anything. Anyhow, eventually that was filled up in the March; that was March 1973”.

Roger Dixon passed these tapes to Revival singer Peter Bellamy, a former pupil of his and, recognising Walter for the superb singer that he was, Peter passed them on to record producer, Bill Leader, who went to Knapton and recorded material for two albums: A PROPER SORT and OUR SIDE OF THE BAULK.

This opened up a whole new world that Walter had not known existed: first at the Norwich Festival and later at folk song clubs throughout the country.

“I had a vague idea they had folk clubs of some description: all these doctors, solicitors etcetera, would go and sing in someone’s big house. I never realised, you see, working people done that, never knew a single thing about it”.

From the outset, Walter’s approach to his new-found celebrity was professional: To him, performing was a job to be done properly and for which he prepared carefully, so that he did not forget words or pitch wrongly and he only ever drank shandies – slowly. He gave a lot of thought to his singing and always stressed the importance of singing naturally, as spoken. He had his own positive ideas and he became very disturbed at the way in which some audiences would completely ignore, for instance, the speed at which he was singing and would draw out the choruses painfully slowly so that he found himself way ahead and trying to adapt to the audience. He considered, quite rightly, that this was very discourteous, if nothing else, and he dropped one song from his working repertoire for that reason. He told us that his Uncle Billy, his greatest influence, sang “quite steady and straightforwardly” and, although Walter did not think he sang as fast, he must have been affected by Billy’s style to a degree; he always resisted the temptation to drag out ballads. Referring to pacing a song, he said you had to have the right ‘strook’; perhaps Norfolk dialect for stroke but he spelt it for us: STROOK.

It is perhaps surprising that the collectors working in Norfolk missed a family of singers such as the Gees but it was certainly quite phenomenal that, out of the blue, appeared a singer of such ability with such a large, rich and varied repertoire and such splendid tunes. The ease and conviction with which he handled his material [classic ballads, bawdy songs, Victorian parlour ballads, Union or Music Hall songs] was striking as was the informed, intelligent and emotional response to them, particularly the depth of his involvement.

It is revealing to note his choices when asked to list six songs for a performance:

“THE PRETTY PLOUGHBOY would be one, that’s one; THE RAMBLING BLADE would be two, VAN DIEMAN’S LAND three, LET THE WIND BLOW HIGH OR LOW, that’d be four, BROOMFIELD HILL, that’s five, TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH, six, that’d be six”.

These are all from the classical traditional repertoire, including one Child ballad, of which he had several. BROOMFIELD HILL was certainly one of his favourites:

               BROOMFIELD HILL   [Child 43]
‘A wager, a wager with you, pretty maid,
My one hundred pounds to your ten,
That a maid you shall go into yonder green broom,
But a maid you shall never return.’

‘A wager, a wager with you, kind sir,
Your one hundred pounds to my ten,
That a maid I shall go into yonder green broom,
And a maid I shall boldly return.’

And when she arrived down in yonder green broom
She found her love fast asleep,
Dressed in fine silken hose with a new suit of clothes
And a bunch of green broom at his feet.

Then nine times did she go to the soles of his feet,
Nine times to the crown of his head,
And nine times she kissed his cherry red lips,
As he lay on his green mossy bed.

Then she took a gold ring from off of her hand
And placed it on his right thumb,
And that was to let her true love to know
That his lady had been there and gone.

Then nine times did she go to the crown of his head,
Nine times to the soles of his feet,
And nine times she kissed his cherry red lips
As he lay on the ground, fast asleep.

And when he awoke from out of his sleep
‘Twas then that he counted the cost,
For he knew that his true love had been there and gone
And he thought of the wager he had lost.

He called three times for his horse and his man,
The horse that he bought so dear;
Saying, ‘Why didn’t you wake me out of my sleep
When my lady, my true love, was here.’

‘Oh master, I called unto you three times,
And three times I blew on my horn,
But I could not wake you out of your sleep
‘Til your lady, your true love, had gone.’

Farewell and adieu to her loved one in gloom,
Farewell to the birds on Broomfield Hill.
A maid she did go into yonder green broom
And a maid she remains forever still.

“Yeah, that sounds an old tune, don’t it? Nine has gone in, the witch’s number”.

Walter maintained that a good imagination was essential to the singer and felt that his singing had matured in this respect since his first public performances:

“…….put more expression in probably; I think so. Well, you take these, what we call the old type... the old folk song, they’re not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song? There’s a lot of difference in them……. it all depend what and how you’re singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are....... well, if there’s a sad old song you don’t go through that very quick…… UP TO THE RIGS is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can’t sing them all alike. Well, most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is, you put the expression in or that’s not worth hearing; well, that’s what I think anyhow.

Walter’s always thoughtful evaluation of songs was interesting. He said that, if he performed before a big crowd, he liked to sing THE PRETTY PLOUGHBOY: “because it ends happily; so many ended with being transported or shot or something going wrong; like VAN DIEMAN’S LAND - a sad old song”. He also said it “was a long old song but it was a long old journey” – an indication of the strength of his sympathy and identification with the story.

J. C.    When you’re singing in a club or at a festival, what do you see when you’re singing?
W. P.   Actually what I’m singing about; like reading a book. You can always imagine you can
            see what’s happening there; you might as well not read it.
P. M.   How do you see it, as a moving thing or as a……..?
W. P.   That’s right. The pretty ploughboy was always ploughing in the fields over there; that’s
            where that was supposed to be.
J. C.    How about VAN DIEMAN’S LAND?
W. P. Well, that’s sort of imagination what that was really like; I mean, Warwickshire; going
            across, you know, to Australia; seeing them chained to a harrow and plough and that sort
            of thing; chained hand-to-hand, all that. You must have imagination to see, I think so.            
            That’s the same as reading a book: you must have imagination to see where that is, I think   
            so; well I do anyhow.
P. M.   But you never shut your eyes when you’re singing, do you?
W. P.   No, no.
P. M.   So if you haven’t got a microphone to concentrate on; if you’re singing in front      
            of an audience, where do you look?
W. P.   Down my nose, like that!

Walter’s ability to differentiate between the various types of song in his repertoire belied the popular perception of the traditional singer as being totally non-discriminatory. This is how he explained how he judged the age of his tunes with the aid of his accordeon:

“…………Well yes, because there’s a difference in the types of the music, that’s another point. You can tell VAN DIEMAN’S LAND is fairly old by the sound, the music, and IRISH MOLLY and MARBLE ARCH is shortened up; they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you’d hardly start before you’d finish, you see; you’d only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that’d finish. You’d get that done in half a minute; and the music wasn’t as good. Yes, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by THE BROOMFIELD HILL, that’s an old tune; THE TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH, you can tell, and GENERALS ALL.
Nine times out of ten, I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell what is an old song. Of course, that doesn’t matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth [century], they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how GENERALS ALL, that got an old style of finishing, so have THE TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH, so have THE GALLANT SEA FIGHT, in other words, A SHIP TO OLD ENGLAND CAME, that is the title, THE GALLANT SEA FIGHT. You can tell they’re old by the drawn out note at the finish. Well, a lot of them you’ll find, what date back years and years, there’s a difference in the style of writing the music. Like up into Victorian times, you’ve got OLD BROWN’S DAUGHTER; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter. I think you’ll find if you check on that, that’s right”.

Walter had a quiet sense of humour, which was often reflected in his choice of songs, such as, THE STEAM ARM, DARK ARCHES, THE DANDY MAN and THE CUNNING COBBLER; this last he described as “Chaucerian”.

He also had quite a few non-traditional songs that he had heard and learnt, but he sang them in the same traditional style as his other songs. He always maintained a quiet, still stance; he had no affectations and never imitated music hall mannerisms. He had only fragments and tunes of several songs so he put them together from books and broadsheets; he virtually reconstructed one song to fit his tune and chorus. He said he had to “cut the words” to fit his tune; he “liked the words to go out with the nice flow of the tune”. The only song which, to our knowledge, was completely new to him was, in fact, a poem by Thomas Hardy. He made a tune for THE TRAMPWOMAN’S TRAGEDY, which is written in ballad form, but he never learnt it or sung it in public.

Walter had always read a lot and probably even more so after his father died in 1957 leaving him living alone for nearly 40 years. Hardy, Dickens, H.E. Bates, Zane Grey - he had quite catholic tastes, probably with a preference for the Victorian writers but mainly just for a good story which he remembered with amazing clarity, often quoting from books that he had not read for perhaps 20 years or more.

Walter was proud of his family’s songs and he considered it very important that they were sung well in public. Having lived a fairly sheltered life, not having seen many live performances, he found himself, at the age of 59, suddenly propelled into a strange, new world which he took calmly and modestly in his stride. However, because of his intense involvement with his songs, he did find performance quite draining and, at the age of 75, he felt that it was difficult for him to maintain the high standards he had set himself and so decided to stop singing in public.

We first met Walter in 1975 and became very close over the following twenty years. He was a wonderful companion, a real delight, a very humourous, gentle, kind man, incredibly generous with his material and his time. The first time we called on him as complete strangers, we had only been chatting a short while when he asked, “Have you a tape recorder with you?”

Walter put great store on passing the songs on; on several occasions he said “They’re not my songs, they’re everybodys”. This, to a degree, went against what had happened in the past, especially within his own family, where the singers had jealously guarded their songs, even to the extent of altering words or omitting verses if they thought there was somebody present trying to learn them. He was insistent that it was generally recognised that, at home, some songs ‘belonged to’ certain singers and that nobody else would sing them in the presence of the ‘owner’. However, throughout his life he persisted with his belief in the common ownership of songs:

“I saw a chap at Happisburgh this summertime, he said he knew songs, he said, ‘I always refuse to let anyone have them. Once you let someone else have them they aren’t yours’. Well, I say, that is true, but I say, when you die you take all the knowledge of the songs with you, so someone might as well have the benefit after you are dead”.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 06:06 AM

jim what happened to Walters cottage after he died, did he have any relatives that inherited it, did he die intestate?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 06:08 AM

Thank you for that post Jim. It's something I would wish to copy and keep.
I'm off to have a two week holiday at the home for the bewildered after reading this thread, and your last post has just saved my sanity.
Honestly genuine thanks.
Nick


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 06:16 AM

Many years ago, when Jim, Pat and myself were living in London we discussed the possibility of working together on a book about Walter and his songs. But Jim and Pat moved to Ireland and I moved up to Northumberland and the idea fizzled out. Having read Jim's article, printed above, I am certain that this would have been a highly important publication. It really does annoy me to see how Jim, who has done so much important work over many, many years, in England, Scotland and Ireland, is belittled. Yes, he can be a pain at times. But his outstanding field work deserves far more recognition that it seems to get at times.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 06:46 AM

Yes, thank you, Jim. A very good piece to go along with the documentary. I would recommend anyone interested in Walter to read your essay and watch the documentary. I wish you would stick to that type of post and temper your more extreme responses. We treasure your knowledge and don't want to lose you on this forum. I don't think you will like my reply to Mike though. Please take a breath and count to 10 before you respond to anything.

Mike. No one, as far as I can see, has belittled any of Jim's work or his contribution to folk. In fact it is the wealth of knowledge he possesses and so generously shares that makes it difficult to say this. It is his getting getting hold of the wrong end of the stick, taking offense where non is intended, denigration of the people who are now running folk clubs and general petulance that people rail over.

We should not be discussing individual posters though but the topic in question so this will be my last word on that topic.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Nov 19 - 06:58 AM

Jim - I'd suggest you need a little bit more evidence than you have
before you start judging and accusing folks in public forum of being racist and far right...

Just because you jump to a conclusion that somebody is racist/far right
does not make it so in reality...

If you are proven wrong in this, your're the one who will need to back down and apologise.

Mudcat should not be a place where we hang people on suspicion,
then ask the corpse questions later...

..and you know I am just as anti racist/far right as you are...

Pseud for or all the intellectual/academic pretentions
["semiotic" this early on a Saturday morning fer f@ck's sake...],
aint exactly a clear effective communicator...
But from what I can make out from the verbiage,
there is not enough to go on so far to back up your hasty accusations.

I am neither tolerant of racism,
or gratuitous false accusations of racism...

Let's just calm down, keep it as friendly as we can, and exercise a bit more caution before jumping to conclusions...

I'd like to come out of the end of this thread knowing far more good quality information
about Walter Pardon and similar singers,
than I do now...
Or knew decades ago but have forgotten...

So let's please concentrate on the positive educative possibilities,
rather than the aggro...

I don't have time to read your new big post until this evening,
got to visit my mum,
but I look forward to learning from it later when I travel home...


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