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Folk Snobbery

GUEST,toubabdoc 07 Jan 20 - 12:38 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 20 - 12:50 PM
John MacKenzie 07 Jan 20 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,Starship 07 Jan 20 - 05:03 PM
Pete from seven stars link 07 Jan 20 - 06:29 PM
Bill D 07 Jan 20 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 Jan 20 - 03:18 AM
matt milton 08 Jan 20 - 05:30 AM
keberoxu 08 Jan 20 - 12:37 PM
Steve Shaw 08 Jan 20 - 12:58 PM
EBarnacle 08 Jan 20 - 01:02 PM
Bill D 08 Jan 20 - 02:09 PM
Steve Shaw 08 Jan 20 - 02:37 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 20 - 03:28 PM
The Sandman 08 Jan 20 - 03:56 PM
Vic Smith 08 Jan 20 - 04:17 PM
Steve Shaw 08 Jan 20 - 05:06 PM
Joe G 08 Jan 20 - 05:43 PM
Tattie Bogle 08 Jan 20 - 08:57 PM
GUEST,Guest 09 Jan 20 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,HiLo 09 Jan 20 - 09:40 AM
r.padgett 09 Jan 20 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,HiLo 09 Jan 20 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,Guest2 09 Jan 20 - 11:17 AM
Cool Beans 09 Jan 20 - 11:23 AM
Johnny J 09 Jan 20 - 11:27 AM
Vic Smith 09 Jan 20 - 11:28 AM
Vic Smith 09 Jan 20 - 11:30 AM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 20 - 12:09 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 20 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,HiLo 09 Jan 20 - 01:11 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 20 - 01:50 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 20 - 01:59 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 20 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Cj 09 Jan 20 - 02:24 PM
keberoxu 09 Jan 20 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,Starship 09 Jan 20 - 02:47 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 20 - 02:50 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 20 - 02:57 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 20 - 03:30 PM
Dave Sutherland 09 Jan 20 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Cj 09 Jan 20 - 04:15 PM
EBarnacle 09 Jan 20 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,toubabdoc 09 Jan 20 - 05:10 PM
GUEST,Starship 09 Jan 20 - 05:28 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 20 - 05:31 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 20 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 04:28 AM
Steve Shaw 10 Jan 20 - 04:36 AM
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Subject: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,toubabdoc
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 12:38 PM

Folk Snobbery

When I was in high school there was folk program on a Philadelphia station on Sunday nights. A friend used to record the programs for me and one day we were listening to one of those recordings when she said, “Listen to this one. It's some guy named Bob Die-lan. He thinks he's Woodie Guthrie!” We both snickered. He was obviously not authentic; an upstart.
There were lots of groups I turned up my nose at over the years: Peter, Paul, and Mary, The Kingston Trio (even though I loved their music earlier), The Chad Mitchell Trio. They were all “too commercial” , too polished, not “ethnic” enough.
We even sang a parody of Dylan's “Hard Rain”: And it's a hard/And it's a hard/And it's a hard/And it's a hard/And it's so haaaaard to be ethnic.” Ethnic was a big word back then.
I remember how he was booed at the Newport Folk Festival in '66 for using an electric guitar. Who now could say Bob Dylan didn't profoundly affect the music of the second half of the Twentieth century, both “folk” and “pop”.
Is the difference between them one of altruism and “folk process” vs. commerce? Much of what we call folk music today was the pop music of the past. Broadside ballads that were once flogged in the marketplace to make a penny for the song-writer are now accepted as traditional. Their purpose may have been to inform or even inflame, but I'll bet it that frequently it was also to support the song-writer. That's commercial, yes? Pop, even?
I was at a pub in Vancouver, BC, back in the '70s, with a mostly Brit group of singers. We went round the table each singing in turn. There were some damned good singers there; the best the BC folk scene had to offer. When it came my turn I sang “When Jones's Ale Was New”. I sang it a bit differently than was known to that group. This led to indulgent (and patronizing) chuckles and glances exchanged between the Brits. I was embarrassed but continued. I've never forgotten that.
The version I sang was just as “authentic” as the version they knew. I'd learned it from a Library of Congress field recording of an old American Cape Horner.
Every singer of a traditional song learned that song from someone else or from some written source or recording. The old traditional singers, most of them probably, learned them from someone else. And every one of them changed the song in some way; a word change, changing a place-name, a dropped or changed word, altering the tune, repeating part of the text as a chorus, perhaps even just emphasizing a different phrase. That's the folk process.
I won't go as far as Big Bill Broonzy's definition of “If folks sing it it's a folk song”, but I'm sure as hell a lot more tolerant nowadays than I was back in high school!


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 12:50 PM

Most of us are, Toub.
I was about as purist as a revivalist could be back in the 60s. Life's too short to hold onto that shit. I'm a much happier person now with very broad tastes in music. I still spend most of my life in the thick of traditional music, but I can appreciate a lot more besides.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 04:54 PM

The world is full of intolerant arrogant people who make sweeping statements about singers, or styles of singing. We get them on here.
Just ignore them, if you enjoy it, it's good.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 05:03 PM

Well said, and ditto, John.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Pete from seven stars link
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 06:29 PM

One of the benefits of being more inclusive , is that those coming in doing less traditional material , can come to know and appreciate the more traditional too . This was my experience at least


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 06:32 PM

"Much of what we call folk music today was the pop music of the past."

Well, not exactly. In the far past...like before recording and copyrights... the idea of 'pop' music didn't really exist. There were, of course, eventually song sheets sold, but usually without compensation. The idea of 'folk' began as a way to refer to music that developed before we needed definitions and many categories.
   A lot of 'snobbery' is simply the wish by some to retain a way to refer to... without long phrases like "that older music that we often have no real knowledge of it's actual origin.."
   Properly used, 'folk' is not a value judgment, but merely a category which *can* indicate a preference. Sadly, 'folk' is just too handy as a short term to cover about anything that in not classical or blues or Hip-Hop...etc. Even the replacement term 'traditional' doesn't work well when it is used to mean anything created before *I* was born. ?

"That's the folk process"...yep.. sure is. Some of us just shudder when the 'folk processor' is set on puree....


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 03:18 AM

I said a singer whose repertoire he believed mostly came from broadsides was mostly singing Victorian popular songs and got called all sorts.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: matt milton
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 05:30 AM

I always hated that stupid pun that some UK folkies used to bandy about: "snigger snogwriter". If you're a music fan just getting into traditional music, having been into rock or whatever, the idea of not singing your own songs is quite alien and takes some adjusting to.

So when you encounter attitudes that wholly dismiss the very idea of writing your own songs it is a real turn-off. And I say that as someone who doesn't write songs anymore, who performs almost entirely traditional stuff.

Granted, I can think of some regulars at folk clubs who always trot out songs they have written which frankly aren't much cop. At the same time, singers of traditional material that manage to weave songs like 'Paper Roses' (Marie Osmond) or 'Heaven' (Talking Heads) seamlessly into sets of traditional stuff. All part of a folk club's rich pageant.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 12:37 PM

Some people are snobs, period.
And they will be snobbish about everything,
including traditional music.

I'm thinking of a married couple to whom I am a blood relation.
They went to university in the 1950's.
They remember 'folk music' being presented as popular entertainment,
in auditoriums and concert halls; these are two people
who would never set foot in a pub, club, or what have you.

Fast forward to about 1980 and I invite one of them, guest ticket and all,
to a concert in a Massachusetts auditorium, at which the headliner
is Martin Carthy as part of a solo tour of the U. S.
Carthy was as reliable as ever.

And the older snob who was my guest TOOK OFFENSE.
How DARE Mr. Carthy not conform to the image of
the genial host, flattering the crowds
and dressing in his Sunday best?
Who did he think he was!

That's the last time the snob was my guest.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 12:58 PM

It took you an awful lot of words to say it, Karen.

Bill, I actually think that the difficulty in finding the right pigeonhole is a very healthy thing. Whilst words can never hurt me (at least on this subject), I find all sorts of folkie terms awkward. "Folk music," "traditional music" (or even worse, "trad"), "revival," "folk scene" and now "source singers"...Come to think of of it, "folkie..." we have to say SOMETHING just for convenience, admittedly. What's healthy is that the squabbles over terminology betray the fact that the music that brought us all to this website simply can't help evolving.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: EBarnacle
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 01:02 PM

Bill, consider that many contemporary songs are now listed as either trad or anon. I once called out Steve Romanoff on this issue, when he cited "Fiddler's Green" that way on a Schooner fare album.

I suspect that many performers either pick up the songs from others who don't know the source , are just too lazy to do their homework or don't want to pay royalties.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 02:09 PM

EBarnacle... exactly. When a guy who actually wrote a song has it sung to him as 'traditional', it is kind of a compliment, but disturbing that so many singers have tunnel vision and just don't bother.

I heard 'Scarborough Fair' on the radio at work once, and when I said something about being surprised to hear it, two young guys said, "Don't you know that one? That's by Simon & Garfunkel" and wouldn't believe me that the original was a couple hundred years old. I had to bring in an old book and show them.

Their version is pretty and listenable, but they never made an effort to clarify things.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 02:37 PM

Then was was the charlatan Dylan stealing Nic Jones's arrangement of Canadee-I-O...


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 03:28 PM

Which, of course, Nic Jones stole from somebody else - but Nic Jones didn't make any money on it....


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 03:56 PM

joe, nic jones did not steal a guitar arrangement from anybody, you are ignorant, check it out, or better still keep your mouth shut when you do not know what you are talking about.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Vic Smith
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 04:17 PM

Dick,
Your posts have taken a rather negative turn of late with quite a number of harsh comments. They do you no favours. I agree with you that the wonderful guitar arrangement of Canidee-i-o that Nic Jones created was original - but why not just make that point and then leave it at that?


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 05:06 PM

Retract, Joe. You got that wrong.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe G
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 05:43 PM

I've not commented much recently as I've been away from my PC and typing on the phone is a pain. I'm making an exception now just to ask people to be less combative - let's talk to each other as if we were in the pub together rather than at the opposite ends of the virtual world. On this and other threads

We'll all feel better for it


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 08:57 PM

Well said, Joe G!

And I hope my comment on the thread topic won't sound combative, but it's an observation of things that sometimes regrettably happen, and annoy me just a little.(And I may have mentioned this previously on other threads).
You go to a singing session which is advertised as "a chance for everyone to sing", but said session has a "host" who picks and chooses who shall sing next, maybe more than once in the session, leaving others, whose faces are less well-known, silent and uninvited on the sidelines. This, to me, is either folk snobbery - or total ignorance/lack of imagination in not recognising that pretty well all the people in the room are active singers, whether mein host knows them or not, and might like a wee turn, please!
I'll qualify this by saying this is very much a minority situation, and most sessions I go to do give everyone an equal chance of leading a song.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 09:34 AM

Sorry Joe
If I read the above posts correctly you turned up the heat by defending your fellow American who - much as I admire him - has been guilty of plaigerism on more than one occasion.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 09:40 AM

Could you give some examples ?


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: r.padgett
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 09:56 AM

O dear, ~ I do think any allegations need to be backed up by facts ~but keep it amicable!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 10:03 AM

Well, it would be nice to see a few examples. Dylan has written hundreds of songs. So which ones are outright theft, which is what plaigerism is...so a few lyrical and musical examples would be helpful.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Guest2
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 11:17 AM

I didn't think Joe O's point was about the arrangement, Joe O's not dumb. I read it as mocking crazy rows about ownership/origins by giving an example. And I bet Joe knows as well as anybody what the issues about attribution and so on are.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Cool Beans
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 11:23 AM

Here in the States we now refer to folk music as Americana, which covers a lot of ground: traditional, singer-songwriter, acoustic versions of popular songs, and more. What do you call it in Britain, Ireland, Australia...?


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Johnny J
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 11:27 AM

We refer to it as folk music, if that's what it is.

Or, perhaps, "traditional", if that's what it is.

Terms such as "Americana", "Celtic" and so on are nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 11:28 AM

we now refer to folk music as Americana, which covers a lot of ground: traditional, singer-songwriter, acoustic versions of popular songs, and more. What do you call it in Britain, Ireland, Australia...?
As soon as we have agreed a definition of folk music, we promise to let you know.

Vic then ducks to avoid the fall-out from this comment


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 11:30 AM

Vic then ducks to avoid the fall-out from this comment -


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 12:09 PM

Shitfire. The Indignancy Corps are at it again. I meant to compliment Nic Jones, not to castigate him. Nic Jones brought new life into many well-used songs and made them his own - but most were not completely his own compositions. Dylan did much the same, but made a lot of money on it (and got sued for it). Maybe Dylan ain't as 'orrible as some make him out to be. But I tend to prefer the work of Nic Jones.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 12:42 PM

Well, when Dylan released the album with that track on it I had a sub to Folk Roots (as I think it still was in about 1992 or whenever the release was). The album was reviewed by Ian A. Anderson, the editor, and the review was basically an explosive polemic ripping into "talent-fucked" Dylan for not only blatantly stealing Nic Jones's arrangement but for utterly failing to acknowledge Nic as the source of the arrangement. Those of us who went to the trouble of listening to both versions side by side could amply confirm that the "lift" was effectively verbatim. Joe, in your post of 03.28 PM of yesterday you were grossly mistaken. I can't understand why you couldn't just research it a little and admit the error. Beating us around the head about it is defensive and unfair. By the way, I've scrutinised your post in question and I can't find even the merest hint of a compliment to Nic Jones in it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 01:11 PM

I have just spent some time listening to these two versions of this song..they are similar, but not identical. Firstly, Dylan is not a good enough guitar player to totally reproduce what Nick Jones played. Secondly, they are not note for note the same....folk process perhaps ?
   I much prefer the Nick Jones version, every thing about it is better than Bob Dylans version.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 01:50 PM

So, Steve, is the song a totally original Nic Jones composition with a totally original tune? Of course not - he built on the work of others, as we all do (and as we all should). Dylan did the same, although he may have crossed the line. Does that make Nic Jones good and Dylan bad? No - I think both did what they thought they should be doing.
Let the courts decide the question of ownership and royalties, and let the rest of us just do the music without being so frigging judgmental.
Stop being so tight-assed about it, and just enjoy the music.
-Joe, who sings other people's songs with wild abandon-


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 01:59 PM

The arrangement is a totally original Nic Jones one. That is the whole point, Joe. Ok, HiLo, but the plagiarism line was well and truly crossed. No argument. There is a point here. Dylan makes big money out of his records. Joe singing someone else's arrangement in a pub doesn't. And Joe is fairly likely to say where he got his version from. Dylan didn't, so Nic loses out. Wassup, Joe?


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 02:08 PM

Well, no, Dylan probably didn't give attribution every time he sang the song. He often didn't speak between songs at all. Everybody knows (or should know that) "Canidee-i-o" is an old, traditional song with an unknown author. The Traditional Ballad Index. Nobody really cares who did the arrangement, and I've rarely heard performers identify who did the arrangement of a traditional song.

If there are rights and royalties to be assigned, that's for the lawyers to fight about. More power to them.

And if that offends your self-righteousness, have your lawyer talk to my lawyer. I can't be arsed about it. My, don't we have some prime examples of "folk snobbery" right here in this thread?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 02:24 PM

I could be wrong here, but I always thought that Nic Jones wrote the melody line, as well as arranging the lyrics to fit. Basically, he took the printed word and made a song of it with no reference to any previous tune. Is that correct? If so, that is why Dylan's wholesale copy was a theft, not a folk process or whatever.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: keberoxu
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 02:27 PM

indignant, indignance, indignancy ...

brain freeze.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 02:47 PM

Indignancier and indignanciest.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 02:50 PM

are the nancies to blame?


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 02:57 PM

You're wrong, Joe, and you can't insult your way out of it. Frankly, I'm amazed.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 03:30 PM

Was the melody an original composition by Nic Jones? I don't know


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 03:45 PM

Anyone know whether Bob Dylan got the hump over Nic Jones (or Tony Rose for that matter) arrangement of “Boots of Spanish Leather”?
(And before anyone kicks off I have/had the highest regard for both Nic and Tony and booked them both on several occasions)


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 04:15 PM

Listening to the Harry Upton version, which is the earliest version I'm aware of (but my knowledge of this is only a vague knowledge), Nic Jones' take is fairly far removed. I reckon he could quite easily claim to have written "his version" of the tune, although there are rhythmical similarities.

https://youtu.be/rCcORCcp-Jo


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: EBarnacle
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 04:17 PM

Woody said it best--Every writer steals and I steal more than anyone else. The quote is not exact but the sentiment is.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,toubabdoc
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 05:10 PM

Stop being so tight-assed about it, and just enjoy the music.
-Joe, who sings other people's songs with wild abandon-

Thanks, Joe!


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 05:28 PM

EBarnacle, I found this online: ' Or as Woody Guthrie put it when advised that another folk singer was "plagiarizing" his work: "Ah hell; he just steals from me-I steal from everybody." '


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 05:31 PM

Using the same tune/melody is one thing. Woody did it, the Pogues did it, many a folkie does it. Folk tunes are generally simple things. But we are talking about an intricate guitar ARRANGEMENT here, not a melody. That is not the same thing. Woody used a lot of tunes that had been used by others, others who may have penned them or borrowed them themselves. Time-honoured. Find me a Woody ARRANGEMENT that he stole note for note from someone else that he failed to acknowledge and I'll admit that I'm wrong. I'm honestly not that bothered about this, but I am bothered about people not being truthful. And the truth here is that Nic invented a superb guitar arrangement to accompany his singing of the song (not stolen from anyone else), and Dylan, without acknowledgement, lifted the arrangement almost (OK, HiLo?) note for note, chord for chord. The very definition of plagiarism.   

I'm wringing my hands here, banjaxed by the inability of respectable members to admit mistakes. I've made mistakes here and I admit to them and apologise if necessary. I mean, cor blimey, Joe...


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 09:59 PM

Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn. I suppose I should just give in and cry "uncle" to the British Bully-Boys and concede that whatever they say must be right, because they won't shut up until I agree. I don't know what the right answer is and I don't care. The entire matter seems entirely inconsequential, and not worth arguing about. And those who insist on arguing seem silly, or maybe should be described with less polite words.
So, Stevie and Dickie, you go ahead and insist whatever you want to insist. I don't care.
It might have been a nice thing to discuss, but not to get all hot and bothered about.


-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 04:15 AM

Sorry, this note for note stuff is bonkers. I don't think Dylan even has his guitar tuned the same way.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 04:20 AM

And nice as Nic Jones' piece is, it come out of a fairly well established house of similar stuff, an example of a genre rather than a strikingly original piece. Both men are drawing on a similar repertoire of guitar styles. And the word 'Bully' is right. But not all Brits are like that, trust me, please!


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 04:28 AM

I'm trying to work out what 'tight-assed' means. Something to do with a bum (UK usage), constipated? Divided by a common language as Churchill is supposed to have said.


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Subject: RE: Folk Snobbery
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 04:36 AM

All my responses to this particular issue have been unfailingly respectful and polite. Persistent beyond the call of duty, perhaps, and I'll take that on the chin, but that is not the same thing as bullying. In return I've been called, as well as a British bully-boy, tight-assed, Indignancy Corps, self-righteous, friggin' judgemental and a folk snob. Then that resort again to calling me a name that isn't mine. True colours, eh? Have a nice day, Joe. I'm moving on.


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