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Are all folk musicians political?

CupOfTea 28 Jan 21 - 10:37 PM
Phil Cooper 28 Jan 21 - 11:05 PM
cnd 28 Jan 21 - 11:19 PM
cnd 28 Jan 21 - 11:39 PM
BobL 29 Jan 21 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 03:01 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Jan 21 - 03:12 AM
The Sandman 29 Jan 21 - 03:35 AM
Acorn4 29 Jan 21 - 05:36 AM
GerryM 29 Jan 21 - 05:48 AM
GerryM 29 Jan 21 - 05:52 AM
John MacKenzie 29 Jan 21 - 06:10 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Jan 21 - 06:11 AM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jan 21 - 06:30 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Jan 21 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,James Phillips 29 Jan 21 - 09:38 AM
Acorn4 29 Jan 21 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,cnd 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Observer 29 Jan 21 - 11:18 AM
John P 29 Jan 21 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 12:44 PM
Jeri 29 Jan 21 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 01:02 PM
Jeri 29 Jan 21 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 01:29 PM
Steve Shaw 29 Jan 21 - 01:58 PM
Howard Jones 29 Jan 21 - 02:15 PM
John MacKenzie 29 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jan 21 - 03:59 PM
GerryM 29 Jan 21 - 04:37 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 21 - 06:04 PM
Steve Shaw 29 Jan 21 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jan 21 - 11:20 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jan 21 - 11:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jan 21 - 04:29 AM
The Sandman 30 Jan 21 - 05:27 AM
Steve Shaw 30 Jan 21 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Jan 21 - 10:53 AM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jan 21 - 02:50 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 21 - 02:58 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 21 - 03:14 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jan 21 - 09:40 PM
GUEST,some bloke 01 Feb 21 - 01:14 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Feb 21 - 12:11 AM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 03:41 AM
r.padgett 03 Feb 21 - 04:58 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Feb 21 - 06:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Feb 21 - 08:57 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Feb 21 - 09:22 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 21 - 09:23 AM
Bonzo3legs 03 Feb 21 - 09:57 AM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 10:03 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 21 - 10:39 AM
Allan Conn 03 Feb 21 - 11:26 AM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 12:23 PM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 12:40 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 21 - 02:52 PM
Bonzo3legs 03 Feb 21 - 03:45 PM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 04:01 PM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 04:15 PM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 04:27 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Feb 21 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Observer 03 Feb 21 - 06:54 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Feb 21 - 07:54 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Feb 21 - 08:22 PM
The Sandman 04 Feb 21 - 12:02 AM
The Sandman 04 Feb 21 - 12:10 AM
Bonzo3legs 04 Feb 21 - 02:13 AM
Allan Conn 04 Feb 21 - 02:23 AM
Dave Sutherland 04 Feb 21 - 03:53 AM
Backwoodsman 04 Feb 21 - 04:46 AM
Bonzo3legs 04 Feb 21 - 05:48 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Feb 21 - 06:03 AM
Mysha 04 Feb 21 - 05:27 PM
The Sandman 04 Feb 21 - 05:44 PM
mg 05 Feb 21 - 01:39 AM
Allan Conn 05 Feb 21 - 02:52 AM
The Sandman 05 Feb 21 - 02:55 AM
The Sandman 05 Feb 21 - 03:04 AM
The Sandman 05 Feb 21 - 03:06 AM
Bonzo3legs 05 Feb 21 - 05:23 AM
The Sandman 05 Feb 21 - 05:42 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Feb 21 - 05:49 AM
Backwoodsman 05 Feb 21 - 06:00 AM
Bonzo3legs 05 Feb 21 - 06:15 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Feb 21 - 06:15 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Feb 21 - 06:17 AM
Backwoodsman 05 Feb 21 - 06:35 AM
Backwoodsman 05 Feb 21 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,Observer 05 Feb 21 - 10:10 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Feb 21 - 10:51 AM
Raedwulf 05 Feb 21 - 10:58 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Feb 21 - 11:38 AM
The Sandman 05 Feb 21 - 12:57 PM
Backwoodsman 05 Feb 21 - 01:02 PM
Bonzo3legs 05 Feb 21 - 01:50 PM
The Sandman 05 Feb 21 - 02:14 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Feb 21 - 03:49 PM
Bonzo3legs 05 Feb 21 - 04:30 PM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 05:16 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Feb 21 - 05:21 AM
r.padgett 06 Feb 21 - 05:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 05:45 AM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 05:50 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Feb 21 - 06:11 AM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 06:46 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 07:44 AM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 07:53 AM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 08:28 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 08:53 AM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 09:25 AM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 09:52 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 10:05 AM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 10:33 AM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 10:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 11:26 AM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 12:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 12:41 PM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 12:48 PM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 12:57 PM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,# 06 Feb 21 - 01:18 PM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 01:20 PM
Thompson 06 Feb 21 - 01:35 PM
Thompson 06 Feb 21 - 01:37 PM
Big Al Whittle 06 Feb 21 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,# 06 Feb 21 - 02:01 PM
keberoxu 06 Feb 21 - 03:24 PM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,# 06 Feb 21 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Kenny B (inactive) 06 Feb 21 - 04:28 PM
The Sandman 06 Feb 21 - 05:30 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Feb 21 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Kenny B (inactive) 06 Feb 21 - 05:50 PM
Bonzo3legs 06 Feb 21 - 06:09 PM
Allan Conn 06 Feb 21 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,# 06 Feb 21 - 07:49 PM
Thompson 06 Feb 21 - 11:39 PM
Big Al Whittle 07 Feb 21 - 12:46 AM
GUEST,Observer 07 Feb 21 - 12:51 AM
Joe Offer 07 Feb 21 - 12:52 AM
reggie miles 07 Feb 21 - 01:28 AM
Bonzo3legs 07 Feb 21 - 02:28 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 04:11 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 04:13 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 04:22 AM
Bonzo3legs 07 Feb 21 - 04:45 AM
Joe Offer 07 Feb 21 - 04:53 AM
reggie miles 07 Feb 21 - 04:58 AM
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The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 06:14 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 06:22 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 06:26 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 06:49 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 07:22 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Feb 21 - 07:34 AM
Backwoodsman 07 Feb 21 - 07:42 AM
The Sandman 07 Feb 21 - 08:04 AM
Bonzo3legs 07 Feb 21 - 08:08 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Feb 21 - 08:57 AM
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Subject: Are all folk musicians political?
From: CupOfTea
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 10:37 PM

Or is all folk music itself political?

I know it sounds like a question for the BS section, but I've been forced to think about how what/who I listen to and sing, and it cuts to the heart of how one acquires a repertoire. There've been plenty of discussions about eliminating ethnic slurs, names, dialect from songs, discussion of the rightness/wrongness of songs about violence against women, but I don't recall a discussion of liberal vs conservative values in folk song.

This started when I got blindsided by a very dear friend, a singer of early music, and the person who got me started in making music in church, which led to my making music with other people, singing in public, performing. She got upset by something I said on Facebook - which surprised me, since she isn't on it herself, but reading over her husband's shoulder. Now, I knew she was on the conservative side, but I didn't know that she and her whole family voted for Trump! My jaw dropped and the phone almost did, too. Later she said "I love folk music, but do you know why I NEVER come to your folk music concerts?" (I've been part of groups presenting concerts for the last 35+ years, and the recent ones have been in the church hall of the parish where we sing together) "It's because they're too political, and I don't want to have to walk out of them"

Right away I could think of some recent shows that were overtly political - Tret Fure, "Deeper than Skin" from Greg Greenway and Reggie Harris, Zoe Mulford (that was an amazing series) - and the longer I thought, well we do traditional, too... and then thought of Deb Cowan.. yep, political...and I was just stunned to think that so much of what *I* see as the right attitude doesn't seem to sit well with a conservative mindset. Now I don't know how she'd actually think about individual artists, or songs in their repertoire, because, well, she's not listening to 'em.

This is not a rabid Trumpie - she admits "Trump is a jerk" but does nibble around the fringes of some of the other rightwing thoughts. Is it the nature of folk music to not just "be political" but to be politically liberal? I know there are strains of Old Time & Bluegrass that are more congenial to conservatives, but that's just a sliver of it all. What happens when "the people's music" is not embraced by SOME of the people? I live in a liberal bubble in an otherwise conservative state, but I never considered how people could NOT love the music I love because of it's liberal content - "Not to their taste" was as far as I'd thought it through before.

I know you can't please everybody, but is there a way to engage musically with conservatives without sacrificing your liberal viewpoint? Am I being saddened by an issue that cannot be resolved?

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 11:05 PM

There are quite a few performers who try to keep politics out of their sets, even if they are on the liberal side. Dave Van Ronk is one example. Ronny Cox has said on Facebook that he doesn't expound on politics in his shows. I like songs with teeth in them, so they tend to make a point, but I don't believe we make overt statements between songs. I have sometimes said any conclusions drawn from the song are purely the listener's.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: cnd
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 11:19 PM

I think what is often called "folk" music, which is most accurately described as popular folk music is often left leaning, and that has to do with its origins.

In the late 50s/early 60s, bluegrass was beginning a wave of unprecedented popularity across college campuses for a variety of reasons other people can explain better than me. For as much as the northern college crowd liked bluegrass, though, some of its stickier points of conservatism and the conservatism of its singers spurned many of those young fans, who liked the music but disagreed from the often-fundamentalist nature of the songs.

While blues filled much of the interest from ethno-musicologists and the main popular tilt of college music, those who didn't turn to blues listened instead (or supplemented their listening) with their own versions of this bluegrass music -- "folk" music (aka 'popular' folk).*

So because this 'popular' folk music was created in reaction to conservatism and was progenated among left-leaning people, it has inherently always been a left-leaning idiom of music. You got groups who survived by-and-large on making left leaning records. One example I'll look at for a politified pop-folk group was The Mitchell Trio, whose last 'successful' album, Typical American Boys, featured at least 2/3 (or more) blatantly-leftist songs (some of their songs, in particular Yowzah, have not aged so well despite their good intentions)

Speaking generally about other types of folk music, their popularity among left-leaning audiences makes sense, too. The left tends to look more favorably upon the downtrodden and the more forgotten segments of society, and what's been more forgotten than America's ethnic past? From singing songs in foreign languages a la The Limeliters (who sang in Russian, Yiddish, Portuguese, Spanish and French) to dredging up nearly-forgotten protest songs like Pete Seeger, these aspects of American folk music appeal much more to the left than to blue-collar, right-leaning Americans, for various reasons.

There were, of course, some exceptions. The Lazy Aces recorded Dave Macon's ultra-Fundamentalist (with a capitol F to refer to the Christian group specifically this time) "The Bible's True" on The Young Fogies, or The Yetties' "I Touched Her On the Toe" (see here for a short discussion on that) but more often than not, what I've said above was generally the case.

So I guess in summary, I don't think folk is inherently political; it often features the music of/about the downtrodden, and often shares left-leaning views, but I don't think it *has* to be political despite their frequent associations.

* I should also mention part of the drive from bluegrass to folk was done in the interest of finding the roots of 'true' "American" music, but that wasn't always the main reason for many.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: cnd
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 11:39 PM

If you want to read more about bluegrass/folk and conservatism and what I wrote above, some great reads are:
- Eric Stein's thesis for McGill University titled "Living Right and Being Free: Country Music and Modern American Conservatism"
- Jens Lund and R. Serge Denisoff, "The Folk Music Revival and the Counter Culture: Contributions and Contradictions" (in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 84, No. 334)
- The Sounds of Social Change ed. Denisoff and Peterson, both Jens Lund's "Fundamentalism, Racism, and Political Reaction in Country Music," and R. Serge Denisoff's "Folk music and the American left"


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: BobL
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 02:56 AM

Certainly not all (and in my record collection, hardly any, and then only in compilations). But singers with a political message tend to get more attention - let's face it, they'd be failing if they didn't.

"There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happening, and those who ask what happened." Seems to me that too many political songs are written from the point of view of the third group, complaining about the actions of the first.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:01 AM

Everything is political - whether you like it or not.

Choosing not to discuss politics is a political act.

Choosing not to take part is a political act.

Left, right, or centre, there's no escaping it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:12 AM

I guess your question is not so much why they are political as why they are left leaning. As "the world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet's population" (Sorce: Oxfam 2020) it follows that performers singing of oppression and uneven distribution of wealth will be popular with the vast majority of people. Folk music is by definition music for and by the people. It is pretty obvious, to me anyway, that music stemming from a majority of people that are poor and oppressed will reflect that situation. In my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:35 AM

Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest - PM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:01 AM

Everything is political - whether you like it or not.

Choosing not to discuss politics is a political act.

Choosing not to take part is a political act.

Left, right, or centre, there's no escapin
quote
Excellent post


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Acorn4
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 05:36 AM

I think here in the UK things changed a bit with Brexit.

In the days of Thatcher I think most folkies were firmly in the left camp and knew exactly where they stood, although there were one or two right leaning supporters who probably kept quiet because they liked the music.

With Brexit you were faced with a choice of supporting either David Cameron and Tony Blair or Rupert Murdoch and Michael Gove - total arseholes on both sides of the fence. Most folkies did seem to support remain but I think there were probably more quiet Brexter/sceptics than in the pre-Brexit days.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GerryM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 05:48 AM

"The Mitchell Trio, whose last 'successful' album, Typical American Boys, featured at least 2/3 (or more) blatantly-leftist songs...."

I'm not sure how you're measuring success – I thought the later albums with John Denver were very good – but let's look at the tracks on Typical American Boys:

You Were On My Mind
Jesse James
Cherry Tree Carol
Which Hat Shall I Wear
The Last Thing On My Mind
The Natural Girl For Me
Waves On The Sea
One Man's Hands
Yowzah
My Name Is Morgan
Gorpus Morpus
With God On Our Side

That's 12 tracks. Two-thirds of 12 is eight – can we find eight (or more) "blatantly leftist songs" here?

Certainly we can count Which Hat Shall I Wear, One Man's Hands, Yowzah, and With God On Our Side. That's four. I don't remember what Waves On The Sea is about, maybe it's blatantly leftist, that's five.

But I wouldn't classify You Were On My Mind as blatantly leftist, nor Jesse James, nor Cherry Tree Carol. There's nothing particularly leftist about The Last Thing On My Mind, or The Natural Girl For Me, or My Name Is Morgan. And Gorpus Morpus is an instrumental.

So I count at most five tracks out of 12 – less than half – as blatantly leftist.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GerryM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 05:52 AM

Found the lyrics to Waves On The Sea – not political, so we're down to four out of 12. One-third, not two-thirds.

CHAD MITCHELL TRIO
Waves On The Sea Lyrics
?
Chorus:
Oh, the waves on the sea, how they roll.
And those chilly winds, how they do blow.
My own true love went down in the deep
And the ship never got to the shore.

[CHORUS]

Well the first on the deck
was the captain of the ship,
And a rough-looking sailor was he.
He said, "I care no more
For my wife and my child
Than I do for the fish in the sea."

[CHORUS]

Well the second on board
was a true man of God,
?
Yes, a right reverend Deacon was he.
Said: "I'll forsake all the faith
That I've got in my soul
To be saved from that ragin' sea."

[CHORUS]

Well the third on deck
was my own true love
And a fine lookin' woman was she.
And I heard her cry
As the waves swept her by,
"Please save my baby and me."

[CHORUS]

My own true love went down in the deep,
And the ship never got to the shore.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:10 AM

Protest songs, were they political?
They are certainly anti-establishment, but as the establishment can change after elections, that makes it apolitical surely?
Looking at it from my side of the ditch, the US seems to split into several political camps, musically. My perception is that folk musicians, and remember that what is classified as folk in the US doesn't always coincide with what is classified as folk over here, seem to be left leaning, while country music seems to lean the other way.
Over here the folk scene seems to be almost 100% left wing.

Yes generalisations I guess, but as I am not a political animal myself, it's the best I can do.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:11 AM

You might have thought that "folk" music, music that connects with "folk" (the ordinary people??) would generally attract people who lean towards socialist sentiment, even though they may not identify as socialists or party tribalists, or even as "political" at all. Looking at Mudcat participants, I've always found it to be somewhat surprising (and, to me, disappointing) that a good number of Brits here are (or were, some of them, before they got the boot or passed away) decidedly and expressly right-wing. In the US it has always seemed to me that there is a general and traditional aversion (with honourable exceptions) to the kind of left-wing politics that a few of we leftie Brits cheerily and openly espouse. The Democratic Party is about as left-wing as Cameron or Thatcher were, and calling Bernie Sanders a socialist was an easy slur (you'd hardly recognise him as such this end!), and, to an extent, we need to look at this interesting issue through that lens (I can't make my mind up about the Aussies here, just as I couldn't when I visited Oz - my experience was pretty limited, but politics didn't seem to be much up for discussion). Use small sample size at your peril... And who sez that Mudcat is representative anyway?

I regard myself as a "folk musician," by the way, though, as I am purely an instrumentalist, I find it slightly difficult to express any political sentiment while I'm playing :-) My mates in the pub session were universally of "leftie" sentiment, though that was rarely articulated in the banter even between tunes/songs, and, when I think back, I was probably the only one who was in any way a party animal (which, as you can imagine, would have made me very unpopular had I gone on about it). Heavily "political" songs wouldn't have gone down well with the pub crowd in these parts, and we didn't want to jeopardise the free beer...

On the subject of political songs, I've always been a long-time admirer of the singing of Dick Gaughan and Christy Moore. Many of their songs are overtly political, and I must say that I found their punch-in-the-face political proselytising too much to bear at times. Woody would never have got away with that in the political climate of the US of the time - but didn't he put across an equally powerful, if not more powerful, political message anyway, just by telling the stories in song, without bitter polemic, of badly-treated folk enduring hard times...?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:30 AM

I prefer live recordings of leftie folk performers, then I can delete the Martin Simpson type comments!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:39 AM

Both of our countries have become very partisan in the last 10 years particularly, with very little space in the middle. You're either right or left, and generally speaking you tend to associate with other people of like mind.

About a year ago I posted something to the effect that everyone I have ever met on the British folk scene was decidedly left leaning, if not outright actively socialist. Immediately ONE person, no longer with us unfortunately, jumped in and said they were right wing. Note the emphasis on ONE!

As most posters here have hinted, it goes with the music this side of the pond.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,James Phillips
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 09:38 AM

I don't consider myself to be a "leftie," I'm more of a libertarian whose social views are somewhat liberal. I find myself siding with the left over issues like conservatism, Trump etc. The main difference is that I'm not against capitalism and would never consider myself a socialist or a Marxist. That being said, some of my favorite folk artists are die hard lefties (Andy Irvine, Dick Gaughan etc) and despite the fact that I would probably be at odds with them in an argument about economics, I don't think any less of them as people for holding different views to mine, and I have never let it interfere with my enjoyment of the tunes that I like. I do, however, tend to skip past the overly political songs. It's not so much that I'm "offended" by them, or that I feel like I would have to agree with the sentiment in order to enjoy the song - it's just that in my experience, overly political songs tend to be less interesting musically (e.g. heavy strumming instead of nice fingerpicking etc).


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Acorn4
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:13 AM

I remember a few years ago, the late Roy Bailey did a tour with the late Tony Benn.

It was an interesting combination and I shared a lot (but not all) of their views but suddenly thought what is the point of this as they are essentially preaching to the converted? If you were a Tory you probably wouldn't be going to the gig.

I like songs that highlight individual cases of injustice rather than a broad political sweep unless the latter have an interesting angle.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,cnd
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM

GerryM, that was meant to be read as 2 or 3 and not two thirds, sorry for any confusion.

The claim it was one of their last successful albums comes from reviewer Richard Foss, though it's not a hill I'd die defending.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM

Couldn't stand Roy Bailey so I wouldn't have gone to the gig!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:18 AM

I dare say that all folk musicians are political in that they hold their own political opinions on a multitude of different issues. Whether those opinions are pushed in their choice of material and performance is something else entirely.

Whether at a festival or at a gig, I go to listen to the music, I do not go to attend a Party Political Broadcast, on the rare occasions that has happened I have voted with my feet and gone to find something else to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: John P
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:54 AM

I am very political in my personal life, and not at all in my music. I like to argue politics, but make art as an act of creation.

a quote from above:
Choosing not to take part is a political act.

Ack! Not at all. Please read up on logical fallacies, and stop telling me what I think. This is just as dumb as the religious folks who claim that atheism is a faith-based choice. It's like saying I'm a philatelist because I don't have a stamp collection. The world is full of things that have nothing to do with politics, and so am I.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 12:44 PM

"The world is full of things that have nothing to do with politics".

Name one.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 12:50 PM

A good shortbread recipe?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 12:54 PM

I'm guessing the shortbread would contain ingredients which are subject to taxation?

Would this a printed recipe? In a magazine or newspaper? Online?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:02 PM

And, John P, who makes your clothes?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:11 PM

Flour, sugar, butter, and it's just the one I've always used, and I don't know if that stuff is taxed.
But I see your point.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:29 PM

Jeri,

I'm sure your shortbread is delicious and I hope the people who produced the ingredients were paid a decent wage.

I can't think of anything on this planet that doesn't involve human beings and we all operate within political systems. Some fairer than others but very few genuinely fair ones (if any?).


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:58 PM

Fully with you on that, Greg (but you knew that already...)


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 02:15 PM

Steve Shaw is probably right when he says that "folk" music, music that connects with "folk" (the ordinary people??) would generally attract people who lean towards socialist sentiment. Many on the left then fall into the trap (I'm not accusing Steve of this) of thinking that it could only attract people of that way of thinking. They also fall into the trap of believing that only those on the left are aware of social issues and injustices and are the only ones who care, whereas many on the right also see these but have different ideas about how to deal with them.

It is undoubtedly true that many of the key figures in the folk revivals in both the US and UK were motivated as much by left wing politics as they were by musical considerations, perhaps more. It is also true that folk became the principle musical vehicle for expressing left wing views and social commentary (until punk took over). Consequently no one is much surprised by left wing views in folk, whereas any other point of view will inevitably provoke an argument (remember the row when Vin Garbutt sang a song opposed to abortion?). Those with alternative political views who simply want to enjoy music without getting into an argument tend to keep their opinions to themselves. Perhaps this is why some are so surprised, aggrieved even, to find that others who share their love of this music don't also share their political views.

It's just music. It's an aesthetic experience above everything else. If your politics gives you a particular perspective which helps you enjoy that experience that's fine, but don't assume that political views are necessary in order to enjoy it, or that those views need be the same as yours in order to enjoy it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM

And... don't sit on a stage and tell me how I should vote/think/feel, about A, B, or C. I'm also not really interested in how you feel about it either. I am there to hear you perform, not pontificate. I would never in my wildest dreams attend a political meeting, and I don't expect to find one in my local folk club. Having a microphone and amplification, is no reason to proselytise !
Yes there are hard line singers who always introduce politics onto the stage, and that's why I don't go to their concerts.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:59 PM

Martin Simpson for instance!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GerryM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 04:37 PM

Apologies, cnd, for misunderstanding your post.

Maybe this is a good place to remind people of Tom Lehrer's take on folk/politics.

The Folk Song Army

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against, like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on.

But the nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which, I realize, should be accompanied on a folk instrument, in which category the piano does not, alas, qualify. So imagine, if you will, that I am playing an 88-string guitar!

We are the folk song army,
Every one of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs, yeah,
But we regard 'em with scorn.
The folks who sing 'em have no social conscience,
Why, they don't even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don't have to be clever,
And it don't matter if you put a couple extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English
And it don't even gotta rhyme...excuse me: rhyne!

Remember the war against Franco?
That's the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs!

So join in the folk song army!
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready, aim, sing!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:04 PM

Martin Simpson, what have you done?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:12 PM

I understand that guest posts are allowed in this section. A post from guest Greg F, perfectly respectable and inoffensive, was deleted, yet my response to it is still there. This forum has allowed posts to stand from banned posters, posting as guests in the music forum, which have been far more controversial. I'd point out that the ones allowed to remain were largely from banned right-wing contributors, whereas Greg's cheery and brief contribution was from a leftie. I suppose it shows, within the context of the thread, that at least one moderator on this here folkie forum is of right-wing persuasion...

As Andy Irvine sang, "They're reds and what more do you need..."

As ever, not my gig, of course...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:20 PM

Silly stuff:
Above: "The world is full of things that have nothing to do with politics".
Name one.


Iron (Fe.)

Also: a quote from above:
Choosing not to take part is a political act.
Ack! Not at all. Please read up on logical fallacies, and stop telling me what I think.


That ancient, now banned, Philosophy 101 joke… “Is there a dog house in your back yard?”

Political? The Almanac Singers' name is from the eponymous Daily Worker entertainment column. 2:3 of their early record labels were run by active Soviet agents. What would it take for you to not have to ask if it's political?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:26 PM

But seriously folk:

Hospitality: ...eft la vertu d'une grande ame, qui tient à tout l'univers par les liens de l'humanité. Les Stoïciens la regardoient comme un devoir inspiré par Dieu même. [Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt, 1751]*

Joanne: I know you can't please everybody, but is there a way to engage musically with conservatives without sacrificing your liberal viewpoint? Am I being saddened by an issue that cannot be resolved?

We choose when, where and how to express any viewpoint we may hold and we do it all the time with everybody we know. Duty and sacrifice are a matched set and it's not like your others are asking an arm and a leg of you here.**

*For Steve, roughly speaking: “...is the virtue of the great soul who cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity. The Stoics regard it as a duty inspired by God.” or words to that effect.

**Fish and guests in three days are stale. [Euphues the euphemismist]


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 04:29 AM

my ukulele kills young methodists...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 05:27 AM

my concertina kills bodhran players


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 07:32 AM

My melodeon kills my nipples


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 10:53 AM

So Joanne: Which of the three preceeding killer 'liberal viewpoints' would you not be willing to temporarily 'sacrifice' for the sake of a friend?

If you feel sadness, trust and believe, there is a reason for it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 02:50 PM

and if you don't feel anything, there could be a reason.

Its presumptious and naive to interpolate someone's political beliefs from the music he or she plays.

you think there are no tories out there playing Blackleg Miner....?

no clueless airhead women out there singing Don't Get Married Girls...?

No henpecked impotent bluesmen sing Hoochie Coochie Man....?

As Bo Diddley said You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 02:58 PM

Going back to Joanne's common predicament. You could go crazy trying to provide an entertainment that appeals to everybody. We are all different and have different preferences. That's why we seek to belong to communities that have common preferences, which is what you are doing by running your concerts and what we all do as organisers. If you are providing an entertainment that appeals to enough people that makes it worthwhile to continue then you are doing enough. Don't worry about the others who don't agree with what you are doing.

We take our music out to the general public and we very rarely receive any negative responses, but part of that is we are doing what we love and believe in, and by and large we do it for free. And those concerts we run that are ticketed, if the same people are coming back for the next concert then we are doing it right, no matter what genre you are involved in.

Deep down I'm sure you already know that your friend is not going to be swayed by any philosophy coming out of your music, even if she is 'nibbling at the edges'. If she voted for the DT knowing his many faults perhaps you are better off without!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 03:14 PM

The masses (some would say the 'folk') prefer their music emanating from a piece of machinery. That's fine. It takes all sorts.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 09:40 PM

I think maybe OP has to ask herself....

If there were an accomplished, sophisticated, urbane songwriter doing concerts - but with Donald trump set of opinions and values would she booking be him/her for her concerts?

Perhaps its just a set of things that you don't see eye to eye with. Either way Facebooking each other about your different ideas won't help. An open squabble on FB will only attract your friend's even nuttier friends.

At various times I've had margaret Thatcher fans and Arthur Scargill fans catholics and orangemen work as my roadies cos they liked my guitar playing, or they liked me.

Its one of our tragedies as humans that whilst we may be political animals, and indeed politics may inveigle its way into every part of our lives - still we are more complicated than that. and Thank god, or whoever that we are.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,some bloke
Date: 01 Feb 21 - 01:14 PM

I suppose songs complaining about how the champagne on the last flight was non vintage doesn't have the same edge as one about the factory polluting the water supply.

I remain bemused by the many politically inspired mining songs that have sprung up on the folk scene over the last 35 years. As an ex miner I should feel an affinity with them, but like most actual miners, I don't recognise much beyond the reality.

Reality isn't romantic enough sometimes....


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 12:11 AM

There again, the first time I saw Johnny Handle was at Exmouth folk Club. the place was full of posh rugger buggers from St Lukes Training College and Exeter University. A lot of it comes down to the charm of the performer.

Long time ago - Johnny was telling us how Alf Robens would sort out the coal mines.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 03:41 AM

Al, i disagreed with vin garbutt views of abortion but i respect the fact he has a right to freedom of speech.
i would not have had a problem booking him, people can vote with their feet and he still drew audiences.
I once made some off the cuff, humourous, uncomplimentary remarks about mrs thatcher at a gig, an organiser [who was a rabid tory] from a different club was there and would not book me, it took 30years and the organisers death, before i played the club


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: r.padgett
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 04:58 AM

The title asks "are all folk musicians political" musicians is the key word here ~ musicians I assume perhaps should be singers [maybe we should start again lol]

I think folk song is the important distinction ~ singers convey largely the malcontent that they themselves have suffered or empathise with having seen ~ this may or may not have political repercussions or indeed may be the result of political decisions made

All points of view are raised in songs which you may or may not agree with ~ the politics by and large tends to be from workers leftist angle

Ray


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 06:37 AM

The "Vin has a right to free speech" argument, though I'm not disagreeing with you, is quite an interesting one. I'm not talented enough to be regularly booked anywhere, so I don't get the opportunities to gain a public platform, as Vin did, to spout about a subject unconnected to my musical talents. I have same the thought when I see or read about some low-culture celeb sounding off in the Daily Mail about how we should all be bloody vegan or about how we should be bringing up our kids, etc. We all have the right to say these things but we don't all the same "right" (aka access) to the platform that they have. Well I suppose I could petition the Mail's editor to let me have a double-page spread with colour photos of me with me tits heaving out, accompanied by my thoughts on the evils of eating red meat, or the merits of homeopathy, or how pomegranate juice and goji berries saved my life, or how great my "therapist" is and everyone should have one, but I somehow doubt it would get me the gig...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 08:57 AM

I think Vin's career did suffer from expressing his views. I'm pretty sure Graham Parker's career also hit a few obstacles after his anti- abortion song became a news story

Not being in sympathy with those views, it didn't bother me much at the time.

Its odd when you look at all those people voting for and supporting SPUC etc - its strange they didn't ride to Vin and Graham's rescue. After all Trump had millions of supporters. The Catholic Church , you would think, would have lent support to artists echoing their views.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 09:22 AM

Vin was one of our favourites at the Tree Inn and we had him lots of times. I wasn't keen on hearing his stance on abortion but it didn't stop me from going to see him. He had his point of view, but a gig in which the platform was his alone didn't seem to me to be a particularly "democratic" place to expound it. To be fair, I always felt the same about Dick Gaughan (who I've also seen a good number of times) who delivered us his point of view between the eyes, both in his songs and in between. I agreed with everything he put out, but there he was with his platform with no debate in sight...Uncomfortable...It's what I was saying about Woody, in contrast, who'd give you the story, leaving no doubt as to where he stood but stepping back from proselytising. You could listen unpressurised and make up your own mind and still love him...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 09:23 AM

Is a religious/life issue like this to be seen as purely political?
I also didn't follow Vin's beliefs but it was just a small facet of his persona. There is a massive difference between someone following a belief like this for no personal gain and those who promote movements where one group gains significant personal gain over another.

Personally I have no objections to anyone, be they scientist/expert/celebrity, promoting obvious proven healthy behaviours or those that help the ecology of the planet. Those who use the media to tell lies about the opposites are the ones I worry about.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 09:57 AM

I care nothing for a performer's political beliefs, I just don't want to hear about them - absolutely nothing to do with the music.

I DO care about the sound of the music!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 10:03 AM

Bonzo, you sound rather dogmatic


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 10:39 AM

Hi Bonz
If you care about the sound of the music the odd political quip or single song shouldn't deter you too much. It wouldn't me.

When I was teenager I objected to MacColl as a political animal and avoided his concerts, along with others of that ilk. I now realise that was my loss and I grew out of it thankfully.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 11:26 AM

Re Steve Shaw's comments about Dick Gaughan I agree. I agree with much of Dick's politics but yes I found he preached to much between the songs when he played Kelso Club - and he actually got into a lengthy argument with someone in the audience. Not a local to the club so I think the guy had come some way to see Dick so you'd think he'd just put up with the politics but he got into an argument with the performer. The general consensus from the regulars was they didn't want to pay to watch two guys arguing politics.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 12:23 PM

As a prformer i do not care what anyone on this forum thinks, i will present my performance in the way that i think best.
I do not think that Martin Simpson cares one iota what right wing people think about his comments or his presentation, if he is anything like me he will disregard the opinions of people who only listen to sounds rather than lyrics and sounds.
to please the likes of the dogmatic man from croydon who is only interesed in sounds,
we might as well play instrumentals and mouth music all night
i have encountered some half wits in my time but the idiots who are only interested in sounds remind me of the pschodelyic hippies of the 1960s, far out man timothy o leary rules, drop out and drop a tab , imbeciles


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 12:40 PM

it is an example of what is partly wrong with the uk folk revival the emphasis on listening to sounds rather than lyrics and arrangements , and people who are only interested in sounds but not lyrics, are just not getting the music they might as well listen to most pop.
anyway in answer to the OP. NO not every performer is overtly political.
as a perfomer[ i am sure like many others] I decide to have a balance of subject matter in a set and a beginning middle and end to a set, including changes of tempo and changes of keys and hanges of mood and subject
i personally feel that one politically thought provoking song in a set, has more effect than four or five, performance is to some extent about contrast and variety, presentation of politically thought provoking songs is important sometimes it is better to say little and let the song speak for itself, IMO IT IS A MISTAKE TO TALK DOWN OR LECTURE AN AUDIENCE


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 02:52 PM

Basically we sing songs because we like them and our audiences like them, for whatever reason. Any politics is just a side to that.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 03:45 PM

Where on earth does Sandman get all of his rubbish from?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 04:01 PM

that is debatable, and is only partly true, i can think of performers like pete seeger,ma reynolds EwanMacColl peggy seeger who had other considerations


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 04:15 PM

My post was in response to, Steve,


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 04:27 PM

Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs - PM
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 09:57 AM

I care nothing for a performer's political beliefs, I just don't want to hear about them - absolutely nothing to do with the music.

I DO care about the sound of the music!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 05:15 PM

Which post and which Steve?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 06:54 PM

Totally agree with the following:

John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM

And... don't sit on a stage and tell me how I should vote/think/feel, about A, B, or C. I'm also not really interested in how you feel about it either. I am there to hear you perform, not pontificate. I would never in my wildest dreams attend a political meeting, and I don't expect to find one in my local folk club. Having a microphone and amplification, is no reason to proselytise !
Yes there are hard line singers who always introduce politics onto the stage, and that's why I don't go to their concerts.


Cannot put it any better than that. Well said.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 07:54 PM

Well I think you're missing some nuances. First, politics wheedles its way into our lives in all sorts of ways and folk song is no exception. There's politics in songs about badly-done-to sailors, there's politics in songs about maidens badly treated, there's politics in Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out. There's politics in Pretty Boy Floyd. There's politics in songs about whales, and, what's more, your "hard-line singer" might be my mouthpiece for social justice. There are two points to be made. First, it's how the point-making is put across. If it's in-yer-face preaching, bad, unless you're a compete acolyte. But if it's put subtly to get you thinking but not telling you what to think, well what's to object to? After all, we are all grown-ups. Second point: just don't go to the gig. Or go to the gig if the guy is that good, bite your lip and enjoy the other stuff. That was me with Vin. Objectionable apropos of abortion, two percent, the funniest and most joyously life-affirming man on the planet, ninety-eight percent.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 08:22 PM

Well I think I'm on my own here. I really love political songs.

One of the things that really drew me into folk was the Third Programme production, The Northern Drift. Alex Glasgow singing My Daddy is a Left Wing Intellectual. Also Woody Guthrie, and Ewan MacColl of course.

I loved folksong turning up in the Ban the Bomb type playwrights - John Arden's Sergeant Musgrave Dance and Henry Livings Nil Carborundum.

Also the Irish rebel songs, and Leadbelly singing Bourgeois Blues.

On reflection, i think the politics is the best bit.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 12:02 AM

I too like certain political songs, but i also like story songs and i also like love songs.
What annoys me are people who do not make their meaning clear when they post on mudcat.
Bonzo brought MartinSimpson in to this discussion, unless you have a closed mind[ which Bonzo appears to be trying to have], it is difficult not to be affected by the lyrics because it is a powerfully written song, you might have valid crticisms of the song as Jim McLEAN has done, from the point of view of a conscientous objector and because it does not say, as the universal soldier does that people can refuse to go to war, but it is difficult not to be affected by it,
It is difficult not to be affected by the lyrics of strange fruit, because it is powrfully written. we are talking primarily about   lyrics
if the song has a clear meaning it is not necessary to give a political lecture., a few words will suffice. the people who go to listen to martin simpson for his guitar wizadry are not getting it at all. Songs have something to say,if you want guitar wizadry listen to guitar instrumentals.
there is only one daft person on this forum and that is the person who says.
Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs - PM
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 09:57 AM

I care nothing for a performer's political beliefs, I just don't want to hear about them - absolutely nothing to do with the music.

I DO care about the sound of the music!!!

he is effectively saying that lyrics are not important,
furthermore i believe he is not telling the truth. I am sure that if there was a song about cruelty to greyhounds, Bonzo would be listening and clappimg loudly
Bonzo just does not want to hear left wing opinions in song.I am sure Martin Simpson takes no notice of the likes of Bonzo, thank god for that.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 12:10 AM

in the above post i was referring to the song masters of war written by dylan and performed by martin simpson


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 02:13 AM

Everybody has to think something!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 02:23 AM

You're not alone Big Al. I like political songs too. Just not paying to watch a performer argue with the audience between songs.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 03:53 AM

Certainly not alone Al I have loved political songs right from entering the folk scene fifty odd years ago.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 04:46 AM

I’m in Big Al’s camp, I enjoy political songs - it was the ‘Protest’ songs coming from the US that first attracted me to the folk clubs back in the late ‘60s. But I’m also with Allan - I don’t want to be preached at by the artist between songs (even though I almost always agree with what’s being preached), and I definitely don’t want to listen to the artist arguing with the audience when he/she should be getting on with the next song.

If the song is well-written and well-performed, it will stand up on its own and needs no further preaching to make its point. IMHO, of course, and YMMV.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 05:48 AM

I enjoy a song if I like the singer's voice and a good instrumental backing.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 06:03 AM

Dick brought up Strange Fruit, which is a song that sort of illustrates my point. There's no doubting what the words are about and there's no doubt that it's a highly political "protest song," but the words don't mention "negros/niggers/blacks" (OK, "black bodies") and they don't use the word "lynching" and they don't point directly to the perpetrators (it was a particular lynching - you can see the photo of it if you have the stomach - that moved the writer of the song to put pen to paper). There are stark and jolting juxtapositions ("Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth") that unsettle without any preachiness. I think that the song is all the more powerful for its tough allusions and that, had the words been more direct in the ways I've said, the song would have lost a lot. I'm not sure that this is about whether we like or dislike political songs. A political song has a message, and the way that message is put across will govern our individual reactions to it. It takes skill to compose a song, and it takes skill to nuance the message, and we should expect that from a good songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Mysha
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 05:27 PM

Are all folk musicians from the USA?

(Yes, it's very much a BS thread, even if it has some musical overtones.)

Bye,
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 05:44 PM

From: Bonzo3legs - PM
Date: 04 Feb 21 - 05:48 AM

I enjoy a song if I like the singer's voice and a good instrumental backing

So Bonzo, do you listen to the lyrics or just the sound of the voice, for example whem masters of war is sung by martin simpson do you listen to the lyrics, do you understand the lyrics, do you shut out of your mind the meaning of the song and just listen to the sounds, you clearly disagree with his political comments.
Do you ignore the lyrics and listen to the sounds
do you listen to the lyrics of this song about cruelty to dogs, it is not unaccompanied
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoxbgbeteRw


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: mg
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 01:39 AM

i have no idea who martin simpson is although i have probably heard the name. I find it very hard to listen to lyrics, even when i try to make myself. i rarely get the story line. i vaguely know that a ship was wrecked or a mine collapsed. sometimes i will read the lyrics if i can find them. i like the sound of things. i do not like silly songs, parodies etc. or lyrics that do not sound melodic. if the singer has a pretty voice and the tune is nice and the lyrics do not grate on my nerves, then i will like it. not planning to apologize for this.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 02:52 AM

Everyone listens to music differently and what mg says reminds me of my wife. She often doesn't really doesn't clock what a song is about. It is more the sound of the words she likes so as long as there is not a line that grates she is happy with the words and chooses not to analyse. It is more the melody etc she goes for. On the other hand I do kind of delve into the words and try and work out the meaning or story if there is one etc. People will enjoy music as they wish to enjoy music. Saying that I don't need songs to mean something or have a story. I like abstract lyrics too where it is more just the sound of the words and images thrown up. Like much mid 60s Dylan or the likes of Bowie's "Bewley Brothers" and "Quicksand" etc.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 02:55 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAarZg0K8lM here is martin simpson singing a bob dylan song
there is no need to apologise


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 03:04 AM

i think bonzo does listen to lyrics when he does not disagree with their political content, which is different from mg.
i bet if he turned on that clip about animal cruelty he would listen because he agrees with it politically.
i suspect Bonzo decideds to deliberately shut his mind off, that is different from being unable to concentrate on listening to words


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 03:06 AM

the op said quote
but I don't recall a discussion of liberal vs conservative values in folk song.
I suspect because Bonzo is a conservative he deliberately refuses to listen to left political songs but listens to the lyrics of political songs whose content he agrees with


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 05:23 AM

You can suspect what you like!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 05:42 AM

yes because you will not come forward and be honest,
people that say on this forum such as guest observer, object to politics in folk music actually object to politics they disagree with
which means we would have to leave out a vast chunk of the folk repertoire, why not end up singing cliff richard songs, such as summer holiday, the lyrics of which do not upset anyone as political opinions ,well that is musical fascism.
Bonzo is a conservative, yet dislikes cruelty to animals but he will not admit to liking a song which has lyrics criticising animal cruelty


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 05:49 AM

Can't help thinking that the Bonzo avenue of enquiry was long since exhausted, Dick. It would be nice to peruse this interesting thread without having to sift the constructive bits out from the tirade of contumely...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 06:00 AM

Wow! I’ve learned a new word! Thanks Steve, that’s a good ‘un!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 06:15 AM

"The tirade of contumely" is a great name for a band!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 06:15 AM

"Tirade of contumely" was one of the expressions frequently used by Terry Wogan, always when in humorous mode. I use it a lot since hearing him saying it. Another one is in here: "If Dick keeps up this tirade of contumely aimed at Bonzo, there'll be wigs on the green..." :-)


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 06:17 AM

Hey, "Wigs On The Green"... Another great band name!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 06:35 AM

Better than ‘Whigs on the Green’ eh, Steve?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 07:15 AM

Explanation of the term ‘wigs on the green’...

Who knew? Certainly not me! My education is complete...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 10:10 AM

This was my original comment:

"I dare say that all folk musicians are political in that they hold their own political opinions on a multitude of different issues. Whether those opinions are pushed in their choice of material and performance is something else entirely.

Whether at a festival or at a gig, I go to listen to the music, I do not go to attend a Party Political Broadcast, on the rare occasions that has happened I have voted with my feet and gone to find something else to listen to."

Now exactly how that translates to:

"people that say on this forum such as guest observer, object to politics in folk music actually object to politics they disagree with which means we would have to leave out a vast chunk of the folk repertoire" - Dick Miles

I have no idea, I mention no specific political slant just politics in general.

At various Folk Clubs, as mentioned by John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM

"And... don't sit on a stage and tell me how I should vote/think/feel, about A, B, or C. I'm also not really interested in how you feel about it either. I am there to hear you perform, not pontificate."


Now I do not think in stating that that he was referring to the songs but the "patter" in between songs [Dick Gaughan, also mentioned by others on this thread, was particularly guilty and very bombastic in doing this regularly.]


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 10:51 AM

Well just talk past him, Bonzo. We've heard enough about all that.

As 'twas I who brought up Dick Gaughan, I wish to say that he is, to me, an absolutely outstanding performer and I'm sad that he's hit on hard times. I went way out of my way to see him several times and I wouldn't have missed him for the world. My comments about his more political stuff really come down to just a few songs from his huge repertoire. I feel the same about Christy and Roy Bailey. One of the many reasons I love all three so much is that I share their political ideals. Perhaps that's my problem: it isn't great to be cuffed about the ears with things I already heartily agree with. To be reminded and inspired is one thing. To be beaten round the head with what I already espouse is entirely another. But that isn't most of their songs, and, to me, they aren't defined by it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Raedwulf
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 10:58 AM

Responding only to the OP, not having read everything since... Folk music CAN be political. All genres of music can make a point (political or otherwise) if they wish to. But punk is the only one I can think of off the top of my head where the foundation of it seems to be "We want to protest... About..."

No, broadly speaking. Folk music isn't political, and folk musicians aren't political. First and foremost, surely, folk musicians are musicians? 99% of 'em anyway. Some recycle songs because they want to repeat the point; others recycle the songs simply because they love that melody, love the well-crafted lyrics. Etcetera. I can draw you 101 shades & nuances between those two poles, but I don't think I need to.

For some the music is all; for a very, very few the music is a vehicle to carry their message. On those grounds alone (if you accept the point as valid), there cannot be any "all", whether it's folk, rock, pop, acting, writing, emptying the dustbins… ;-)


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 11:38 AM

I think Martin Simpson is from Scunthorpe.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 12:57 PM

guest observer, you object to Dick Gaughans patter, since his patter is related to the song he sings, you are also objecting to the song and its lyrical content. you are surely not going to try and tell me his patter is not related to the content of his song


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 01:02 PM

”I think Martin Simpson is from Scunthorpe.”

Indeed he is, a former member of Scunthorpe Folk Club. Resides in Sheffield nowadays.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 01:50 PM

I always felt I needed subtitles at a Dick Gaughan gig, so I never knew if he was talking politics or not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 02:14 PM

i understand his accent ok.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 03:49 PM

At least you went to the gig, Bonzo!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Feb 21 - 04:30 PM

Saw him at the Cellar Upstairs in London and at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:16 AM

Listening to Johnny Coppin's "Midwinter" live CD, and excellent it is - nice songs, great band and no politics nonsense!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:21 AM

There's room for it all in m'humble.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: r.padgett
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:39 AM

Much of what we in the early days of folk music were listening to was political or certainly was telling stories or expressing a point of view

and yes there is a place for more sentimental songs and humorous songs too

Folk is for me an expression of something that I can empathise or just agree with, political or not

Ray


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:45 AM

I didn't know Dick Gaughan had hit on hard times. Is anyone having a whip round?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:50 AM


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 06:11 AM

Dick had a stroke several years ago and gave up performing for the foreseeable future. We had a couple of threads in September 2016 about him, one of which was about a fundraising effort. I can't update things beyond that.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 06:46 AM

ah yes Johnny Coppin, romantic pictures of rural Gloucestershire,The sort of thing most Conservatives would like, the days when farm labourers doffed their forelocks respectfully and brittania ruled the waves songs with very little political content, safe, rose tinted spectacle music


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 07:44 AM

Yeh wht you need is something more 'with it'.

Good old Gloucester!
Gloucester's best!
Its the county of Fred West!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 07:53 AM

I prefer DYLANS political songs, North country blues,times a changing blowing in the wind, masters of war to anything of Coppins, then we have some great songs from MacColl, thirty foot trailer, get along shift,freeborn man.my old man, all with social comment
and then Peter Bond with joe peel,baron and the busker

Alan Taylor ROLL ON THE DAY
As the dawn comes creeping, roll on the day
Another night not sleeping, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
Praying for another day, roll on the day
But when it comes, it wastes away, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
Every night you fight for breath, roll on the day
It hurts so bad, you wish for death, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
As the dawn comes creeping, roll on the day
Another night not sleeping, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
A POWERFUL SONG ABOUT ASBESTOSIS in my opinion
knocks anything of johnny coppin into a cocked hat


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 08:28 AM

Rubbish


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 08:53 AM

You obvious;y don't get it. Its the infantile school of folksong writing. All the colours are different shapes.....


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 09:25 AM

I don't need to get it, only interested in the sound - good voice and good backing.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 09:52 AM

the culinary equivalent of living on bootiful turkey,
i am reminded of donald trump, another man who likes to throw his toys out of the pram.
What are you doing on the folk scene? if you are not interested in the lyrics but sound and backing would you not be more at home listening the rolling stones they are non political.. or daniel o donnell, or tom jones, and there are all those middle aged ladies throwing their knickers around and no politics


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 10:05 AM

don't insult bonzo3legs.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 10:33 AM

Al
but my opinion, and this is only an opinion, is what is anyone who is not intersted in lyrics and only interested in sounds doing on the uk folk scene ,
the only exceptions i understand, are those people who are inttersted in playing irish or scots or world tradtional instrumental music.
i am not insulting anyone, tom jones the stones daniel odonnell are competent performers
but i am genuinely mystified why anyone who is only interested in sounds and good backing is not happier at a stones concert or at tom jones.or daniel o donnell
.if you come to listen to folk music you are going to encounter political songs or songs of social comment ,if you dont like that why listen to folk music, you are not guaranteed songs of no political content. so unless you are a masochist you have come to the wrong place for just good voices and backing ,why not stick to the bee gees or beach boys


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 10:48 AM

If you go to folk clubs or folk festivals you must expect to hear some political songs and some songs of social comment.That has been my experience of 50 years of involvement with folk music
if you want songs which are non political you will find that a good proportion of the repertoire is unsatisfactory.
if you want songs that just have good voices or good backing but are not political you are likely to be better satisfied going to pop concerts, that is not insulting anybody
if i w\ant to hear good improvisation, i go to a jazz club, i do not go to a country and irish concert.
i do not generally expect to hear as high a standrd of improvisation at a folk concert as at a jazz concert,[it might happen very occasionally] but that is not why i attend folk venues, horses for courses


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 11:26 AM

you wouldn't like it if someone said you reminded them of Donald Trump.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 12:28 PM

I am Talking about throwing toys out of prams. Trump does that.
these posts are like someone throwing toys out of prams
Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs - PM
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 08:28 AM

Rubbish
and
Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs - PM
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 09:25 AM

I don't need to get it, only interested in the sound - good voice and good backing.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 12:41 PM

Well he's entitled to do what he likes - they're his toys to throw out the pram,

If someone is being unreasonable, its no use applying reasonable arguments and getting angry.

He says this is what he likes, and not what you like. end of argument. congratulate him for knowing his own mind.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 12:48 PM

Bonzo is "only interested in the sound - good voice and good backing" lets stick to this intellectual proposition.
He does not want anything other than
"only interested in the sound - good voice and good backing."
So why come to a genre[the folk scene]where there are many songs where lyric content is important.
many songwriters who consider their lyrics to be important include Ewan MacColl Alan Taylor Peter Bond LeonRosselson harvey andrews anne lister jez lowe peggy seeger richard grainger graeme miles ron angel ed pickford,
Quite frankly it is insulting their efforts to come on this forum and state
I don't need to get it, only interested in the sound - good voice and good backing.
it seems logical to me anyone who wants thjis is in the wrong place and would be happier listening the sounds of the beach boys tom jones bee gees rolling stones,or and at their pop concerts
I have been involved on the folk scene for 50 years and in all that time songwriters and singers of trad songs consider lyrics to be as important as sounds and good arrangements content is as important as form


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 12:57 PM

No Al. i am not angry,I am mystified as to why he goes to folk concerts He is only interested in voice and good backing, imo his attitude is belittling the efforts of song writers who consider their lyrics to be important .
he might be happier leaving the folk scene and going to stones concerts, no politics there, just voice and good backing. he would be inthe company of fellow conservative MickJ agger
congratulate him for knowing his mind?
that is ridiculous, should i have congratulated mrs thatcher for knowing her mind


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 01:03 PM

I might be happier if sandman minded his own business for a change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 01:18 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZH2bmbUTl4

(Couldn't resist.)


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 01:20 PM

"it seems logical to me anyone who wants thjis is in the wrong place and would be happier listening the sounds of the beach boys tom jones bee gees rolling stones,or and at their pop concerts"

what is he talking about?? go away boy and play with your concertina and whatever else you play with!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 01:35 PM

Sure, folk music is political. By definition, it's the music of the people, and it reflects the concerns of the political. For example:


    This one, Thompson?

    O Antonis or "Andonis" is the second song of "The Mauthausen Trilogy", also called "The Ballad of Mauthausen", a cycle of four arias with lyrics based on poems written by Greek poet Iakovos Kambanellis, a Mauthausen concentration camp survivor. (O Antonis)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3qMCU6mpS0

    Looks like the current settings of Mudcat are very intolerant of anything but the "Standard Character Set."
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 01:37 PM

Whoops, Mudcat doesn't like Greek. Maybe a moderator could swipe it away? It was a folk song called O Antonis; I'll leave you look up the words yourself.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 01:37 PM

A lot of folk music isn't to do with the meaning of the lyrics.

All that Chieftains stuff, morris tunes, Clannad, ....

The branch of folk music that you and I like values lyricism, wit, sophistication - frankly sometimes to the detraction of musicality.

That's okay, blessed are the simple, for they shall be simplified, and its of no great concern or inconvenience to us.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 02:01 PM

Here it is in Greek and English.

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/o-antonis-o-adonis-adonis.html


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: keberoxu
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 03:24 PM

Well, Joanne, you opened Pandora's Box, it looks like!

Mary (mg), I have heard of Martin Simpson, but
not for political bias during performances.

Actually, I am reminded of the remark made during my late lamented days singing in a church choir.
One rehearsal evening our director could not be present,
and one of the choir members, a wife and mother with a long-time membership in the church, substituted.
As we were reviewing the hymns for the coming service,
she quietly remarked that

"for some people who come to church,
our singing is the only Gospel they truly hear."


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 03:38 PM

Great voice, great backing and no politics!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 03:52 PM

In the parlance, that is good enough to make a bishop put his foot through a stained glass window. However, it introduces the notion of class/place in the social order and invites comments (should one be so inclined) to do with 'why'. That isn't necessarily political, but it could be.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Kenny B (inactive)
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 04:28 PM

A perfect entertaining example of politics in the Folk Club Scene
"This is a bitter satire by the late, much loved Alex Glasgow, a passionate socialist and a great singer."

Alex Glasgow - As Soon As This Pub Closes

As the subjects of politics and/or religion are frowned on in many pubs
why do we never hear hymns, psalms or Gregorian chants never heard in the hallowed environs of english speaking folk clubs?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:30 PM

Bonzo, it is my business i write songs, i spend time crafting lyrics, and someone comes along and says "only interested in the sound - good voice and good backing."
As a singer i am offended because you clearly know nothing about singing, being a good singer is not just about having a good voice,it is also about interpreting lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:39 PM

>>>>why do we never hear hymns, psalms or Gregorian chants in the hallowed environs of English-speaking folk clubs?<<<< Mostly because they're not seen as folk songs, but there are plenty of carols.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Kenny B (inactive)
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 05:50 PM

Very Subtle Steve?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 06:09 PM

That is your problem sandman, not mine.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 06:50 PM

I am not sure that getting upset that someone doesn't care much for taking note of the meaning of words in our songs is very productive at all. Not everyone listens to music the same way. Just the way it is so why get offended? I do like to take note of the words of a song but at the same time I can fully appreciate how one can enjoy music without taking note of, or even being able to understand what is being said. I love lots of Gaelic language music, French music, Latin music, music with vocal sounds rather than words (for example some Caroline Shaw etc). It is perfectly possible to enjoy singing without knowing what the words are.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 07:49 PM

I agree with Mr Conn completely.

Fiorella Mannoia comes to mind. She does a beautiful song (written by Ivano Fossati) entitled 'I treni a vapore', and it has knocked my socks off for years. Fossati also does it and his takes work for me also. YMMV and likely will, but one need not understand a language to appreciate the music people have written in or because of that language. The song is beautiful even though it took me over a year and countless 'listens' to appreciate it more fully. My favourite take of Mannoia's is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odGWcJnnzVM and Fossati's is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2p_hz-oOcM


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Feb 21 - 11:39 PM

Dunno about "all that Chieftains stuff". There's a lot of political music in there, from Mo Ghile Mear to The Rebel Jesus to Róisin Dubh.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 12:46 AM

Sandman - there are some singers for whom the song is nothing but a set of technical exercises, and there are some people who like this kind of singing and cannot engage with it on any further level. You can still love those people - even if they don't understand music on any other level than it being a nice sound.

My own father was one such. he could never understand why Shirley Bassey 'brass band' type reading was almost an affront to George Harrison's Something - totally missing as it does,   the yearning and wonderment of the lyrics.

I loved my Dad and respected him. I'm not asking you to love Bonzo, but just accept the fact that his ears are wired to a different circuit to yours and mine. Argument is quite pointless.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 12:51 AM

Hate to point this out BUT:

He is only interested in voice and good backing, imo his attitude is belittling the efforts of song writers who consider their lyrics to be important .

Just because a song writer considers their lyrics important does not mean that they are actually important, relevant or meaningful - all that song writer is doing is expressing his, or her, view on something. It is an opinion, nothing more, nothing less.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 12:52 AM

We had an obituary for Anne Feeney this week. I would think of her as a consummate folksinger, although she didn't often sing traditional songs. She wrote activist songs, and used her songs in her lifelong career as an activist. Was Malvina Reynolds a folksinger?-I think so. Was she political?-You betcha.



But I really almost hate to see that word "all." There are many folksingers who sing apolitical songs, and many folksingers who sing political songs. I like 'em both.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: reggie miles
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 01:28 AM

Well, I can't speak for all folk musicians. I can only speak for myself. And I have written a pile of political songs. One of my political songs landed me in a news story, called, "No Dough In The Do Re Mi, Songwriters Take On The Recession" (2009), that made the cover of the Wall Street Journal. In the article, the writer Robert Tomsho, mentions three prominent political songwriters, Woody, definitely a political Folk music hero, Tom Paxton, definitely a political songwriter, and Neil Young, I wouldn't have considered him strict folk music figure. I'd say he's a cross-over artist, who branched in the larger scene of Folk/Rock but many of his songs have a definite acoustic Folk vibe and he definitely has a strong interest in political songs. I've heard Dave Van Ronk offer up one of the strongest political folk songs I've ever heard with Patrick Sky, "Luang Prabang." A musical partner and I used to offer it together as well...

Luang Prabang


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 02:28 AM

"Just because a song writer considers their lyrics important does not mean that they are actually important, relevant or meaningful - all that song writer is doing is expressing his, or her, view on something. It is an opinion, nothing more, nothing less."

How true!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 04:11 AM

No ,Songwriters do not just express their opinion on something, that shows a lack of understanding of songwriting, they also tell stories, express emotions describe situations all through the power and use of words.   What observer says diminishes the art of songwriting
here are examples of well crafted songs that do not express a SUBJECTIVE opinion on something.
Britains Motorways[MacColl] John Of Dreams, Unicorns, Icarus, Moth, Whitby Whaler, Song For Ireland ,Ring Of iron Three Score and Ten[W Delf].Shoals of Herring
all these songs do more than that, they are not just an opinion, and to try and claim such, only belittles the songwriting

I have np problem with someone who can only concentrate on lyrics for a short while, like mg.
Alan Conn, yes of course when music is in a foreign language you listen to it differently from how you do if you understand the lyrics.
    but the OP is talking about lyrics when we understand the language,This is primarily a forum where english and american is the spoken language and the OP is talking about the american folkscene and the uk folk revival and the english american language
Furthermore, in reply to observers comment
"Just because a song writer considers their lyrics important does not mean that they are actually important, relevant or meaningfu"
Bonzo and Observer , to decide that you have to feckin well listen first. if you do not listen to the words, how can you decide if they are meaningful, to decide if they are meaningful you have to have listened..
Bonzo . claims he is only interested in the sound good voice and backing, so it would appear he is not interested in the lyrics , yet   he agrees with the following statement from observer
"Just because a song writer considers their lyrics important does not mean that they are actually important, relevant or meaningful
   THAT MEANS BONZO DOES ACTUALLY LISTEN TO THE LYRICS otherwise he could not make a value judgement as to whether they were meaningful. Here is the lyrics of ENGLAND's MOTORWAYS

Come over here, my little son, and I'll tell you what to do
Undress yourself and get into bed and a tale I'll tell to you
It's all about your daddy, he's a man you seldom see
For he's forced to roam, far away from home, far, far from you and me

CHORUS
But remember lad, he's still your dad
Though he's working far away
In the cold and the heat, all the hours of the week
On England's Motorways

So if you fall and hurt yourself and get up feeling bad
It isn't any use to go a-running for your dad
For the only time since you were born that he's spent some time with you
He was out of a job and he hadn't a bob, he was signing on the buroo

CHORUS

Sure we'd like your daddy here and wouldn't it be fine
To have him working here at home and be with us all the time
But beggars can't be choosers, so we have to bear the load
Cos we need the money your daddy earns, working on the road


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 04:13 AM

The Shoals of Herring
Ewan MacColl
With our nets and gear we're faring
On the wild and wasteful ocean.
Its there that we hunt and we earn our bread
As we hunted for the shoals of herring
O it was a fine and a pleasant day
Out of Yarmouth harbor I was faring
As a cabinboy on a sailing lugger
For to go and hunt the shoals of herring
O the work was hard and the hours long
And the treatment, sure it took some bearing
There was little kindness and the kicks were many
As we hunted for the shoals of herring
O we fished the Swarth and the Broken Bank
I was cook and I'd a quarter sharing
And I used to sleep standing on my feet
And I'd dream about the shoals of herring
O we left the homegrounds in the month of June
And to Canny Shiels we soon were bearing
With a hundred cran of silver…

This is an example of a song , that does not just express an opinion


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 04:22 AM

here are two well crafted songs that are political but are not just an opinion but are a description of what it is like to suffer from asbestosis
Roll on the Day
Allan Taylor
As the dawn comes creeping, roll on the day
Another night not sleeping, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
Praying for another day, roll on the day
But when it comes, it wastes away, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
Every night you fight for breath, roll on the day
It hurts so bad, you wish for death, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
As the dawn comes creeping, roll on the day
Another night not sleeping, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
Roll on the morning, roll on the day
I hear the old man softly praying, roll on the day
PeterBondJOE PEEL
(Peter Bond)

Workington way, when lads left school
Just the pit and foundry beckoned.
Young Joe went down to hew the coal
But not for long, so some folks reckoned.
For Joe could tackle hard and Joe could run,
He only needed time for growing,
And soon he'd signed his name to play
And to the city moved away.

Now on the sports page he'd appear,
The idol of the local lasses.
Out on the field he played it fair,
While all the girls made forward passes.
Until another match turned all the heads -
Jarrow lads V ruling classes,
And with no future in it now
It's home again and underground.

Back underground to hear no lark,
Thirty years from dawn till evening,
Until the coal had left its mark
And to the bank the earth returned him.
No more to sweat his days out in the dark,
Some years on top the dust had earned him,
And all the while the sickness grew
Still he'd ask what he could do for you.

He'd do odd jobs for one and all,
Though snow was thick or rain was teeming,
And all the world would seem to call,
The kettle never finished steaming.
"Reach up!", he'd say, "By God you're looking thin",
While mischief in his eyes was gleaming,
"If Lizzie thinks you're hungry still
There'll be nowt for us in her will".

The day you left I stayed outside,
With scalding tears, no comfort knowing.
We all turned up to say goodbye,
The church was filled to overflowing
You'd never've believed it if you'd seen
How many people mourned your going
And just how lucky folks still feel
To say they knew Joe Peel.

You'd never have believed it if you'd seen
How many people mourned your going
And just how lucky folks still feel
To say they knew Joe Peel.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 04:45 AM

Listening to Soledad Pastorutti, a wonderful Argentine singer.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 04:53 AM

Now, Dick, be nice to Bonzo, as he should nice to to you. We're here to talk about music.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: reggie miles
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 04:58 AM

If a political folksinger sings a song in the middle of some backwoods tree covered hollow and no one is there to hear it, does it make a difference? Most songwriters write from a perspective of appeasing their own personal muse or demon. Even if they are the only ones to ever hear the song, the writing and singing of it to an audience of one can be enough to sooth the savage beast or nagging feeling within.

Songs are, in many ways, the way in which we, as songwriters, come to terms with the world in which we find ourselves. They are wakeful dreams, a means of wrestling with the challenges we face. I would argue that the lyrics of any song are important enough to the songwriter to write them and that's enough. "... actually important, relevant, or meaningful...", those are abstract subjective notions. What might be "important, relevant, or meaningful" to one person certainly may not be the same to someone else but who is the judge? Who becomes the arbiter of importance, relevance, or meaningfulness?

I recently found out that one of my political folk songs, has been being sung by other performers for years, in an area of the country I've never visited, Nashville. Those singing it weren't even aware that it was my song. They attributed me as who they heard sing it but they weren't aware that I wrote it.

I haven't sang the song that much myself. I have so many of my own songs, that it's a challenge to give them all enough time, sharing them during performances. And I am always writing new songs. Something has got to give. I let some songs slide, as I endeavor to work up new songs, or songs to which I've previously given less of my time.

I gave the political folk song in question plenty of my energy and it reaped some rather unique attention, having made its way into an MTV B-Sides music video. Still, I saw no particularly significant resonance, at least not from among listeners in the region where I primarily perform. Who'd a thunk that somehow my song would find its way to Nashville and reap so much attention? I certainly didn't envision any of that happening. Nor did I knowingly have a hand in any of that happening. It just happened.

As the writer of the political folk song, I certainly felt the song was important, relevant and meaningful. I wouldn't have written it, if I didn't feel that way. But I cannot control the way any given listener responds to it. In this particular instance, it seems that location played a primary factor in the song finding the resonance it needed to survive. Somehow my political folk song found its way into the souls of those it was written about and they helped to bring it to the Nashville area.

I found out all of this after being contacted, about a month or so ago, by a Nashville resident, who shared this with me. He told me that I have many fans in the area because of my song. That was and still is such a strange revelation to hear.

I've noticed that many of the songs I write resonate with listeners below the Mason Dixon Line. That's likely due to the particular finger style pickin and bottleneck slidin that I use when I play. It's made me feel as though I'm living in the wrong part of the lower 48. I've attempted to make some inroads to perform more in the Deep South but thus far, I've had little to no success in that endeavor.

So, who deems a song "important, relevant, or meaningful?" Perhaps it's whether the song finds resonance among those listening. I played an open mic once and when I stepped away from the stage, I was approached by a young woman who was working in the kitchen. The kitchen was located in a separate room in the back, behind the bar. She told me that she couldn't get the words of one of my songs out of her head. I wasn't even aware that I could be heard from way back there in the kitchen. Does getting one's lyrics stuck in the heads of listeners qualify as relevance? Well, if you're a songwriter, that's an important quality to include in your songs. You definitely want to be able to write songs that will stick with listeners.

I'd offer that considering universal themes in your songwriting is important, if one's goal is hoping to find resonance and relevance in the hearts and minds of others. But to circle back to what I stated earlier, I think that first and perhaps foremost, songwriting is a personal journey in which the songwriter searches for truth, understanding, and meaning in a world that can often make those concepts challenging to find. To thine own self be true.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 05:48 AM

I do declare it's snowing - must play "Snowfalls" by The Albion Band!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 06:14 AM

I am being nice to Bonzo,much nicer than if i met him face to face. here is a sensible quote
Does getting one's lyrics stuck in the heads of listeners qualify as relevance? Well, if you're a songwriter, that's an important quality to include in your songs. You definitely want to be able to write songs that will stick with listeners.

and writing songs means not just the melody it means the feckin words
.And people who come on to this forum and try and tell songwriters that there words are only important to themselves are well wide of the mar, of course they are important to themselves but they are important to listeners too. the eesnce is here..
that the words have to be listened too for a judgement to be made ,therefore words are important, if people deliberately close their ears ti the words how can they make a judgement.
it is like trying to talk to closed minds or rather like the woman in the film, shirley valentine who talks to the wall
I have given several examples, earlier in this thread of political songs that describe situations [joe peel, roll on the day, england motorways, shoals of herring, that are meaningful to many, but do not give an opinion, they let the song be told through the WORDS


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 06:22 AM

Here is an example of a well crafted song with well crafted lyrics that does not give an opinion or is political, which highlights observers comment for what it is a half truth.
Icarus
Anne Lister
I never wanted to fly high: I was too fond of walking
So when you said you'd reach the sky, thought it was a way of talking
But you told me you'd build some
Wings, you'd found out how it could be done
But I was doubtful of everything, never thought you'd reach the sun.
You were so clever with your hands, I watched you for hours
With your glue and rubber bands, feathers and lace and flowers
And the finished wings gleamed so bright, like some bird of glory
Began to envy you your flight, like some hero's story.
You asked me to go along with you, tried all ways to dare me
But I looked at the sky so blue and said the height would scare me
But I carried the wings for you up the path to the cliff face
Kissed you goodbye and watched your eyes already bright with sunlight.
It was so wonderful at the start to watch you soaring higher
It was a pain in my heart—the wings seemed tipped with fire
Like some seagull or some lark heading for the heaven
Like some ember or some spark vanishing from earth for ever.
And I believed you'd reach the sun, I believed all you'd told me
Do a thing no man had ever done and catch a star to please me
And then I saw the white wings fold, saw the feathers tremble
Watched you drop like a ball of gold, the waves and waters ripple.
Well some are some who are born to rise and some are born to follow
Some who head right for the skies, some walk in the hollow
And as I watched your body fall I knew that really you had won
For your grave was not the earth but the reflection of the sun.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 06:26 AM

and anotherTHE SHELLBACK SONG
Words & Music by EWAN MACCOLL

I am a bold sea-faring man, I come from everywhere;
Name any point of the compass you like, you're bound to find me there.
Born in a gale in the Roaring Forties, entered in the log -
Sent up aloft to the tipper t'gan's'ls, and christened in navy grog.

All that I own are the clothes on me back and the tools of the sailor's trade;
Me fid and me palm, a few needles, a spike, a knife with a good, keen blade.
I've a hunk in the fo'c'sle, a place on a bench in the galley where I can feed,
And a hook for to hang me old oilskins up. What more does a shellback need ?

Been up in the rigging with Lascars and Swedes when the stormy winds do blow;
Bunted the royals with Arabs and Finns with the boiling sea below;
Hauled on the braces with Friesians, damn near drowned in the same big wave;
Chinamen, Yankees and Scousers and all of 'em bloody hard men to shave.

I've sailed both Atlantics and doubled both Capes more times than I can tell;
Fought the big seas in a parish-rigged barque and froze at Cape Farewell.
I've cursed the calms in the Doldrums when you'd swear the wind was dead;
Laid to off the Horn in a westerly gale that would blow the hair off your head.

I've shipped in high-loaded East Indiamen, been crew on a coastal barge;
Come bowling along on a smart clipper ship when she was running large.
Schooners, lime-juicers and barcatines, they're all well-known to me,
And I've worked as a flying fish sailor dodging the reefs in the China Sea.

To the maggoty beef and weevily bread, I've added me word of abuse;
I've pounded hard biscuit to powder and mixed it with bug-fat and jaggery juice.
With the galley awash for a week on end, I've gore hungry early and late;
Been served with pea-soup that could stand on the poop deck and scare off a blue-nosed mate.

I've signed on in short-handed Yankee ships with masters who know the score;
I've sailed with the drinkers who can't navigate a course past the bar-room door.
I've been with masters who're seamen and know how to treat a sailor well,
And some of the others, the miserable buggers, have made me life a hell.

I know all the boarding-house keepers ashore from Cardiff to Tokyo;
Know all the crimps and waterfront pimps from Riga to Callao.
I've spent me advance at Rasmussen the Dane's, I've lodged with Paddy West,
And I've know the slop-chest to take half of me screw while Big Nellie she took the rest.

I've sailed out of Rio in ballast, I've loaded grain in Frisco bay;
Raced with a cargo of tea from Shanghai on the old Thermopylae;
I've carried nitrates from Iquiqui and whisky out of Leith;
Sailed in the woolrace on old Cutty Sark, with the wind between her teeth.

Goodbye, you square-riggers, your voyaging's done, farewell to the days of sail;
Goodbye, you Cape-Horners and every tall ship that ever defied a gale;
Goodbye to the shellbacks who rode the winds through a world of sea and sky,
Your roving is ended, your seafaring's over; you mariners all, goodbye.
t


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 06:49 AM

here is a political song that does not give an opinion, but the lyrics are important
Song lyrics Anthony John Clarke - The Broken Years
The whole family's sitting watching TV
The only thing that makes me feel better
And no one plays the radio
The news is always bad

The kids, they've been keeping daddy up all night
Rock 'n' Rolling, shouting, fighting
Tomorrow is the marching season
We'll meet at the roundabout

I want to eat at the same table
I want to break the same bread
I want to march down the same streets
I want to hear the same bands
I want to sing the same songs
I want to say the same prayers
Together we can mend the broken years

Jimmy would get married in September
First of all he had to write a letter
Requesting dispensation
Just to be with the girl he loved
And in the end, hardly anybody came
Mother' side all blamed it on the weather
Three cheers for the broken years

I want to eat at the same table
I want to break the same bread
I want to march down the same streets
I want to hear the same bands
I want to sing the same songs
I want to say the same prayers
Together we can mend the broken years

(Instrumental)

Connor's late for school again
He's out of breath and running at the double
Get his education
He had to take the long way 'round
For even if he stayed out on the main road
Chances are he'd run into some trouble
Three cheers for the broken years

With all the pretty colours on the pavement
The green and gold that lighten through it all
And all the little broken shops and houses
With those badly spelled slogans on the wall
It's no wonder that everybody's leaving
It's no wonder at all, at all, at all
Three cheers for the broken years

I want to eat at the same table
I want to break the same bread
I want to march down the same streets
I want to hear the same bands
I want to sing the same songs
I want to say the same prayers
Together we can mend the broken years

Eat at the same table
Break the same bread
March down the same streets
Hear the same bands
Sing the same songs
Say the same prayers
Together we can mend the broken years


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 07:22 AM

This is a music forum , I am showing well written songs with well crafted lyrics to illustrate the point that lyrics have meaning to more people than just the song writer, and that these lyrics can be political and also non political [icarus] etc, this is in reply to guest Observer
Backwoodsman, if you do not like it you can go beneath the line or go to a different post


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 07:34 AM

Yes it's a music forum. Dick tells us how important the words are. But it's a MUSIC forum. Songs are words AND MUSIC. The incessant posting of sets of lengthy lyrics, WITHOUT THE MUSIC, is vexatious in the extreme, and makes no point that I can personally glean. Name the bloody song, make your point and give us a YouTube link to somebody you enjoy singing it. Deal?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 07:42 AM

Spot on, Steve.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 08:04 AM

no, you can do that for yourself.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 08:08 AM

How many listened to this when first broadcast??


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 08:57 AM

And how many people do you think are going to do that as a result of wading through your huge sets of lyrics? Telling us who you like singing 'em on YouTube would be an incentive. Beating us round the head with masses of stuff to scroll through is a total DISincentive.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 09:13 AM

”And how many people do you think are going to do that as a result of wading through your huge sets of lyrics? Telling us who you like singing 'em on YouTube would be an incentive. Beating us round the head with masses of stuff to scroll through is a total DISincentive.”

...and simply C&P-ing lyrics to songs which have some political content, with just a “Here’s a political song” type of comment (or even no comment at all) adds absolutely nothing to any kind of discussion - it’s just wasting bandwidth and server-space.

If Sandman thinks we rely on him to educate us as to what constitutes a ‘political’ song, it says far more about his over-inflated ego than it does about anyone else here.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 21 - 10:10 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDtGpJQkMGw Alan Taylor.
backwoodsman
I do not read your posts good night, Steve Shaw is perfectly able to go and find you tube clips
why not seek out some of the clips instead of your perpetual arguing below the line, put in some effort go and find clips of the songs,instead of arguing in the bs section .
you lot remind me of alf garnett


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