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History and Folk Music

John MacKenzie 12 Dec 01 - 04:47 PM
Jack the Sailor 12 Dec 01 - 04:55 PM
GUEST,Les B. 12 Dec 01 - 04:58 PM
Kim C 12 Dec 01 - 05:01 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 05:41 PM
Crabtree 12 Dec 01 - 05:59 PM
Art Thieme 12 Dec 01 - 07:03 PM
Gareth 12 Dec 01 - 07:12 PM
Willa 12 Dec 01 - 07:29 PM
Deckman 12 Dec 01 - 07:42 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 09:04 PM
Susanne (skw) 12 Dec 01 - 09:20 PM
GUEST,Wyrdsister 12 Dec 01 - 09:33 PM
nosluap57 12 Dec 01 - 09:35 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 09:45 PM
catspaw49 12 Dec 01 - 10:02 PM
catspaw49 12 Dec 01 - 10:05 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 10:52 PM
Big Red 12 Dec 01 - 10:56 PM
dick greenhaus 12 Dec 01 - 11:44 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 01 - 12:47 AM
marty D 13 Dec 01 - 01:05 AM
Steve Parkes 13 Dec 01 - 03:36 AM
Steve Parkes 13 Dec 01 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Stavanger Bill 13 Dec 01 - 04:48 AM
Hrothgar 13 Dec 01 - 06:22 AM
jaze 13 Dec 01 - 06:37 AM
cetmst 13 Dec 01 - 08:42 AM
Jeri 13 Dec 01 - 10:28 AM
catspaw49 13 Dec 01 - 10:34 AM
Steve Parkes 13 Dec 01 - 10:39 AM
Jeri 13 Dec 01 - 11:18 AM
John MacKenzie 13 Dec 01 - 11:47 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 01 - 12:18 PM
Allan C. 13 Dec 01 - 12:23 PM
Jack the Sailor 13 Dec 01 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Steve 13 Dec 01 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Annegi 13 Dec 01 - 01:32 PM
Gareth 13 Dec 01 - 03:44 PM
John MacKenzie 13 Dec 01 - 04:46 PM
Joe Offer 13 Dec 01 - 04:50 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 01 - 05:17 PM
Susanne (skw) 13 Dec 01 - 07:20 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 13 Dec 01 - 08:08 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 13 Dec 01 - 08:09 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 01 - 09:23 PM
Jeri 13 Dec 01 - 09:44 PM
toadfrog 13 Dec 01 - 10:17 PM
Steve Parkes 14 Dec 01 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Stavanger Bill 14 Dec 01 - 05:16 AM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Dec 01 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Stavanger Bill 14 Dec 01 - 06:18 AM
richardw 16 Dec 01 - 12:10 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 01 - 01:27 PM
Keith A of Hertford 16 Dec 01 - 05:15 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 01 - 05:41 PM
Art Thieme 16 Dec 01 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Aldus 17 Dec 01 - 09:50 AM
PeteBoom 17 Dec 01 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Frank 17 Dec 01 - 12:47 PM
Mr Red 17 Dec 01 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 17 Dec 01 - 05:55 PM
rich-joy 18 Dec 01 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 18 Dec 01 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Keith A at work 18 Dec 01 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 18 Dec 01 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,Desdemona 18 Dec 01 - 09:21 AM
PeteBoom 18 Dec 01 - 09:31 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Dec 01 - 09:59 AM
Wilfried Schaum 18 Dec 01 - 10:45 AM
Susanne (skw) 18 Dec 01 - 06:36 PM
Gareth 18 Dec 01 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 18 Dec 01 - 07:00 PM
Susanne (skw) 19 Dec 01 - 07:02 PM
robomatic 19 Dec 01 - 07:16 PM
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Subject: History and Folk Music
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:47 PM

While successfully remembering the answer to a history question on a TV quiz game the other night, I realised that I had garnered the info from a folk-song. It then struck me that I have learnt a lot of history and historical facts from this source, from way back when a song about Lizzy Borden was popular. Recitations of the Stanley Holloway monologue about the signing of Magna Charta, a song about Maria Martin, and various shanties about press gangs,transportation,and the cargoes they carried round the world in the days of sail. Add to these the songs about famous or notorious people, and it all begins to take on the mantle of education, as much as entertainment. I daresay this is not an original conclusion, but I'd like to hear what the Mudcatters think on this theme.
Failte.....Jock


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:55 PM

I was surprised to learn that the rebels used an alligator for a cannon during the "Battle of New Orleans"


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:58 PM

Jack the Sailor - just goes to show that learning history from folk songs can sometimes be a crock !


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Kim C
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 05:01 PM

Okay, I might get shot for this, but.... The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

There's also a song somewhere about the Alabama and the Kearsarge.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 05:41 PM

Lizzie Borden was acquited. Stanley Holloway, the great historian? Folklore ain't history.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Crabtree
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 05:59 PM

re the alligator - i think he was a bit surprised too!!!!!


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 07:03 PM

In some other posts on other threads I've mentioned that for 22 years I did workshops in schools in the six-county area around Northern Illinois. These focused on how folksongs were a time machine that let us hear what the people, all over, might've thought about their spot on the map at a certain point on the timeline.

The songs zeroed in on their own geographical area. They were not always accurate history representations but, like tall tales, they made fun of or highlighted aspects of real life while blatantly being obviously outright lies. The songs reflected the way things were as well as the way people WANTED things to be.

To reinforce this lesson, I handed out maps of the U.S.A. divided into 5 zones. The students colored in the south (red for heat), West (yellow for arridity), midwest (green for crops), eastern seaboard (blue for the ocean)and the west coastal area (whatever-I can' tremember).

Instead of placenames on the land I'd written the names of FOLKSONGS that had been born on or near that location. "The Buffalo Skinners" was over Texas--as were other cowboy songs. "The Pinery Boy" and other lumbecamp songs were written over the Northern tier of states. Old timey songs were generally over the southern mountains. Etc, etc. etc.

For me,these songs are REAL DOCUMENTS---not on a textbook page but in the vernacular of the folks that lived through the events.

Yes, REAL folk songs and history cannot be separated.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Gareth
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 07:12 PM

History tends to be distorted. As it happens by way of a little light entertainment I was reading The Oxford History of England Volumn GOK "From Domesday Book to Magna Carta 1087 - 1216" today whilst recovering from the Flu.

Different version of history regarding King John and Magna Carta than the simplified version. But that's by the way.

With regard to the CSS Alabama click here: ROLL ALABAMA ROLL But at best it is a simplified version of a complex history.

On the question of Folk Music and History see this thread Click here

On the subject of Folk Memories - They can be distortion, and grossly inaccurate.
For example, it is a "shibboleth" in South Wales that Churchill (as Home Secretary) sent tanks in to crush the striking miners in the Rhondda in 1911. Not bad as that was 5 years before the first tank squelched across the mud of Flanders. But that's the myth - and personally I have no doubt that if tanks and armoured cars had been available in 1911 Churchill would have given those orders.

The fact is Churchill gave orders that Cavalry was to be used, Haldane the Army minister countermanded those orders and substituted The Somerset Regiment (Infantry) who were told to go and keep the peace.

Please see this post for some more background.

A minor point - but it shows how matters have been distorted.

AS Another example (depending upon your point of view)
Benedict Arnold was of the opinion that the Rebellion of the English in North America had gone beyond what was reasonable, and had succeeded in obtaining sufficient concessions from the Crown to satisfy the original and legitimate concerns of the colonists.
In order to shorten the war and minimise the loss of life and damage to the land and people he had arranged the surrender of the Rebel stronghold and garrison at West Point. Unfortunately this opportune scheme was betrayed and Arnold was forced to flee.

Now which version is correct ????

Gareth (in Inoclastic mood)

And what is treason? - Merely a matter of dates!


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Willa
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 07:29 PM

Giok, I agree with you, whilst acknowledging that some other comments about 'incorrect history' are true. I've recently learnt'The Testimony of Patience Kershaw', 'Sing John Ball',and 'St.Peter's Field', amongst others, and in each case went to find background information about the events of the song.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 07:42 PM

... right back to you, Art. You are so right. I suspect that you and I are somewhat the same vintage, but i suspect I'm a bit older. Actually, these days I suspect that I'm a bit older than everyone! Anyway, I do enjoy your post so much. As any dedicated folksinger, i too have spent time in the classrooms attempting to connect the songs with the kids, or the kids with the songs. I actually prefer to think that the folk songs we revere (sp?) are perhaps more accurate in the tale telling than that which we observe today on the the history channel. etc. As you might be able to tell, I'm NOT a fan of tv. For example, if you want to really understand what the women went through on the western migration, you only have to read their diarys and learn their songs. Their stories are true ... the decades later tv representations are not. Don't ever forget that ther real purpose of tv is to sell soap! Again, I so appreciate your postings. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 09:04 PM

Yes, a lot depends on point of view; as Gareth says, Arnold is a good example. Afterwards he lived in New Brunswick, among Loyalists who moved north. Of course, they were all renegades to the people south of the border. His plan was not so much betrayed but stopped by dissention among those who were to surrender in the deal. Benjamin Franklin spent time in Montreal trying to get the sympathy of the inhabitants- even set up a press there, but unfortunately the Colonial troops in the region, without real leadership, were a bunch of drunkards and looters, so he left empty-handed. Otherwise, the area of the initial United States might have been larger.
I agree with Art Thieme up to a point. The songs reflect the passions and the humor of whoever wrote them, and those whom were like-minded, but may not have reflected any concensus. They may be documents but they must be interpreted within the context of history. Unfortunately, much of our primary school history teaching reflects the current bias of the teacher and the views of the people in the area where the school is located. More considered viewpoints are obtained only at the university level or in individual study.
Songs do reflect areas, but only to a certain extent. The area of old songs was, as you say, in the southern mountains, but also in the piedmont and coastal areas, where people settled early and stayed.
The cowboys of legend worked from Mexico to the Dakotas and Montana, moving Mexican and Texas cattle to the railheads and to the Indian agency camps (the real area of the buffalo hunters on the old Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho lands mentioned in the "Buffalo Skinners"). Bias and ignorance causes us to overlook the area and songs of the vaqueros in our southwest as well as the early cowboys in Louisiana (Acadian, largely). Mexican beef was regularly supplied to the drives.
The earlier lumbering songs would be from the area running NE-SW paralleling the east coast from eastern Canada to Alabama and Mississippi, west to the Ohio River and south to the pines in the sandy soils of east Texas. Nowadays we think only of cutting in the coniferous areas in the northern tier of states and the surviving west coast forests. "The Pinery Boy" is more a song of the raft, barge and boat people of the river and lake systems who moved cut timber among other materials. Our oldest known lumbering songs come largely from New England. The northeastern area, including Ontario and Quebec, remained harvestable for white pine and other timber until about 1900.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 09:20 PM

Even though folk songs may not be an accurate source of history (which history book is?), they make history and also sociology come alive. For me they were the starting point for finding more info about events I might never have bothered with otherwise. They did not so much teach me as instil the wish to learn more, which is the basis for any successful teaching.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Wyrdsister
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 09:33 PM

What's interesting about the fact that history often gets distorted in "popular" media such as folk music, it also gets pretty wacky in the hands of the "official chroniclers" as well.

Certainly at least until the Reformation, much history was recorded for posterity by clerics, who had their own particular reasons for portraying events and personalities in a particular light (William Rufus in the 11th century comes especially to mind--no great patron of the Church and an essentially irreligious man by the standards of his day, his portrait was pretty unflattering as painted by contemporary chroniclers; ditto King John in the less-than-objective journalistic hands of Matthew Paris 100 years later!).

The other major faction of chroniclers tended to be literate Court writers (also with clerical backgrounds; "lay" clergyman) like the brilliant Jean Froissart, who wrote for posterity but also for personal advancement, and even literary geniuses like Chaucer and Boccaccio, writing fiction and verse that paints a vivid picture of their impressions of their times. In any case, how much of the actual facts of any given situation are represented is really anybody's guess. I'd guess that the versions of events recorded in folk music are probably as accurate a reflection of the popular view of events as the chronicles are of the viewpoint of the more literate elements of society.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: nosluap57
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 09:35 PM

A chronicle of Irish history in song:

http://home.t-online.de/home/shamrockshire/ireland/A_History_of_Ireland_in_Song.html

BTW- how do I make that link active?


Link added - for instructions, see the Mudcat FAQ.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 09:45 PM

History is never a matter of a particular book or single historian. It is the interplay of available sources. I think that is why history gets a bad rep in the schools. The survey books used in the primary and secondary schools today are often cobbled together from secondary sources of little merit. I devour folk lyrics, but they must be treated with many grains of salt as far as accuracy is concerned.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:02 PM

Dicho, you're now getting to it. Great post Art BTW...

Sandy wrote to me the other day about a new book by a Berea College professor, asking if I'd known him, and indeed I had. Richard Drake was a history prof at Berea (noe emeritus) and has written a history of Appalachian. In talking to Sandy about him, I remembered (and his book seems to reflect the same thing) that history must be seen through as many "lenses" as possible and that many well known books simply approach history from a particular angle. Most are told in terms of politics and wars and economies, but Drake felt that the many aspects of sociological history, such as folklore or geography for instance, could not be ignored as they often were as equally compelling as anything else.

We've had many talks here about "history and Hollywood" and frankly you can't learn history there at all....nor can you learn it through folk music. Equally, you cannot learn it through many oft quoted texts because, in the final analysis, all history is philosophy.

A folk song contemporary to it's time provides two things. It gives us an additional "lens" and from it we may spark an interest in a thing which leads us to better research and hence, better history. Were it not for the songs, there is much we would never hear about or know about many years later. We cannot accept them as fact as they are simply a view, but an important one. Same as Hollywood, if they trigger further investigation or enhance the awareness.......well friends, that ain't all bad.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:05 PM

Geeziz...I gotta' pruufreed.....Drake is noW a Professor of History Emeritus and the history is of Appalachia, not -ian. Any others forgive me....

Spaw


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:52 PM

Aa lot of histories I've looked at ain't histories a tall a tall- they are a string of biographies of the important people that "make" history. Very little is said about the people who either support or hate the "great man." Anecdotal history, old broadsides, diaries, etc. flesh out the story. But evrything is open to argument.
I did some bad stuff also, inc. a totally wrong whom.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Big Red
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:56 PM

I'm suprised nobody called Jack the Sailor on his comment about :rebels" at the battle of New Orleans. The battle was in the War of 1812 and involved the U.S. and the British.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 11:44 PM

It's been said that folksong is often incorrect, but is always true. Probably more than you can say about history.

"history doesn't repeat itself; historians repeat other historians"


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 12:47 AM

On the other side of the water, I guess the English were still calling the Americans rebels. If they hadn't abandoned the 1812 effort ??? (Is Jack from "Over There"?)
Only bad historians repeat other historians. Good ones are always looking for new sources.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: marty D
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 01:05 AM

Well I learned that 'Johnny Yuma was a rebel'.

Davey Crockett killed him a 'bar when he was only three.

The prettiest girls live in Abilene.

And the most startling bit of information about the Green Berets that I could ever imagine. Who would have guessed that they were "Fearless Men who Jump and Die"? History be damned, give those poor guys some parachutes so that SOME of them can land in one piece.

marty


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 03:36 AM

I think songs, like novels, can give you a feel for what it was like to live in a particular time or place or situation, like getting a postcard from a far-away friend. It's not necessarily accurate, but it's very atmospheric. "History" is written by academics, but accounts of land and sea battles (before tv and radio) are largely based on the on-the-spot notes written as it happened by officers taking part, even to the point of the exact time of each event; the various accounts would later be combined into the official account.

I've been singing "Alabama" for a good many years (without knowing much about the actual events until relatively recently), andf I've always ended with "Off the three-mile limit in 'sixty-five/The Alabama went to her grave". A couple of weeks ago someone said he'd learned it as "Off the three-mile limit in 'sixty-four/The Alabama went to the ocean floor"! (BTW, how should I pronounce "Kearsage"?)

Steve


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 03:48 AM

Aha! Just found this account fo the Alabama. (And there are some interseting and pertinent questions at the end.) It was 1864, which just goes to show you shouldn't believe everything you sing!

Steve


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Stavanger Bill
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 04:48 AM

Good thread

Lots of songs dealing with historical events are written retrospectively. Below I have listed some examples of 'things historical' as explained by children in answer to some short tests - taking these as 'gospel' I would love to hear some of the songs that might be written as a result:

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

3. Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

6. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

7. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: "Tee hee, Brutus."

8. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw.

9. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah."

10. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. Sir Francis Drake circumsized the world with a 100-foot clipper.

11. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

12. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

13. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backward and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

14. Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

15. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

16. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

17. The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered the radio. And Karl Marx became one of the MarxBrothers.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Hrothgar
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 06:22 AM

Then you can start on some of the (obscure)Canadian history Stan Rogers has dug up for a base for his own songs.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: jaze
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 06:37 AM

Thank you, Stavenger Bill!! I needed a good laugh. I love those accounts of history. Keep them coming. James


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: cetmst
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 08:42 AM

To Steve Parkes - put another 'r' in it - Keer-sarge, equally accented - from the foot of Kearsarge North - Chuck Taylor


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 10:28 AM

I'm not sure how to write this phonetically: Kearsarge is pronounced KEER-sarzhe. The "sarge" part has a softish G, as in "barrage." Make any sense?

From the Town of Warner, NH site:
A picture of Kearsarge is here.

The first KEARSARGE was launched on 11 September 1861 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH; sponsored by Mrs. Henry McFarland, wife of the editor of the Concord Statesmen, and commissioned 24 January 1862 with Captain Charles W. Pickering in command.

The Sloop of War KEARSARGE departed Portsmouth 5 February 1862 for the coast of Spain to join in the blockade of Confederate raiders. Captain John A. Winslow, took command of the KEARSARGE on April 8, 1863, while she remained in European waters searching for raiders. Arriving in Cherbourg, France on 14 June 1864, she found the Confederate Ship ALABAMA in port. On June 19, ALABAMA stood out of Cherbourg Harbor for her last action. Careful of French neutrality, KEARSARGE'S new commanding officer, Captain Winslow, took the sloop of war well clear of territorial waters, then turned to meet the Confederate cruiser. ALABAMA fired first but the battle quickly turned against her and within an hour the ALABAMA had been reduced to a sinking wreck and her Captain Raphael Semmes struck his colors and surrendered.

KEARSARGE rescued the majority of the ALABAMA's survivors; but Captain Semmes and 41 others were picked up by a British yacht. Captain Winslow was promoted to Commodore and the New York Chamber of Commerce honored him, the KEARSARGE, and her crew, mainly men from New Hampshire, for their victory.

The KEARSARGE returned to sea and the coast of Spain in April 1865 in search of Confederate ships. After cruising the Mediterranean and the English Channel south to Liberia, the KEARSARGE returned to the Boston Navy Yard in August 1866.

In January 1868 KEARSARGE sailed to serve in the South Pacific and along the coast of South America to protect American interests for the next four years. She later performed similar duties in the Asiatic waters of Japan, China and the Philippines. During this time she carried Professor Hall's scientific party from Nagasaki, Japan, to Vladivostok, Russia, to observe the transit of Venus.

The last assignment for the KEARSARGE was protecting American interests in the West Indies, off Venezuela and along the Central Americas. On February 2, 1894, on Roncador Reef off the coast of Nicaragua, the KEARSARGE was wrecked. Having attained the rank of Rear Admiral, Winslow's years of service continued long after the famous sea battle. He died in Boston on September 29, 1873.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 10:34 AM

Hey Jeri....ask Hollowfox about the Kearsage. We were at a carver's museum together and saw another Kearsage he had carved....not the same ship! She went back and researched the history of several named Kearsage. When we were there she turned to me and said, "I don't think that's the one we sing about is it?" And it didn't fit the story at all, I had to agree.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 10:39 AM

Thanks Chuck--now I'm more confused! A quick search reveals that the original USS Kearsage only had one "r", and was "named for a mountian in Merrimack County, New Hampshire"; but the subsequent Kearsarges (named for the original) had the second "r", including the present one: even in NH it seems they're not sure! Not only that, but Merrimac (another famous US ship, as well as the county) has an optional "k"!

Sorry for the thread creep,
Steve


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 11:18 AM

Steve, it proves folks in NH have just as much of a problem spelling things as anyone else. If they spell fonetickly, they'd probably drop one or both "r" or both, because folks in New Hampsha don't necessarily pronounce ah's.

If you scroll down the page I linked to (the link now works, BTW) you'll see it is, and always has been KearsaRge...RRRRR.

The links in the buttons on the left side of the page are to photos of different ships named "KearsaRge."

I have a 2 volume history of the Civil War in the basement - I can't find the publishing date for the first volume, but the preface is dated 1862. Second volume was published in 1864. If I come up with anything on the Kearsarge, I'll probably type it into its own thread, so this one can stay more general.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 11:47 AM

That's a funny place to have a war!! It's a good job it's civil..;-{)>
Failte....Jock


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 12:18 PM

The two posts by Steve Parkes and Jeri begin to illustrate some of the problems faced by historians trying to flesh out a story. The account by Jeri is a straight account without any personal incidents. The account given by Steve is a personal account of a man who was there, but given to a reporter(at the bottom there are some suggested questions for the reader). As any good cop (and good historian) knows, many things color the account of a witness. You have to take the parts that seem reliable and can be verified by other witnesses. Reporters are sometimes (always?) careless and can mis-hear.
Songs written after the event bring in more questions. The song writer is more worried about rhyme, meter and impact that the bare truth of the matter.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Allan C.
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 12:23 PM

I learned how spinning is done in relationship to a rock (drop spindle). I discovered who the "wild geese" were. I found out that Irish lads were conscripted into the British army to fight in the French and Indian war. I learned the possible significance of red petticoats or even how to keep "the wee folk" at bay. I was told the location of Buttermilk Hill. I learned all of this and much more from threads about a single song, "Shule Aroon". There are similar treasures of knowledge buried within thousands of folk songs. Discovering those treasures is one of the many beautiful things about the Mudcat that keep me coming back day after day.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 12:46 PM

I am Canadian. I guess I got mixed up between the revolutionary war and 1812.

Thank God folks understood what I meant though, I was worried!

I don't think the point I made was lost though. You have to take folksongs with a grain of salt or maybe as inspirations to find out more about the events described.

I think the main benefit of folksongs is how they often capture the feelings and emotions of and event. For instance Woody Guthrie's "1913 Massacre." A completely accurate history? Probably not. A complete history? Certainly not. But when you listen to the song you feel like you are a witness and you sympathies are stirred.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Steve
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 01:19 PM

The late Great Scottish folklorist David Buchan had an article called "history and Harlaw" in which he showed that folksongs had given a more accurate account of the battle than many contemporary histories. But, of course, one can only find this out by examining either more recent, more accurate secondary histories or primary source material.

As to whether folk songs "are" history, you have to ask yourself what history is. If it's a story we tell about our past in which we attempt to give our own viewpoint while maintaining a certain level of accuracy, then folksongs are as much history as any other speech or writing. As some have already pointed out, Froissart and Paris and their Ilk, not to mention many later historians, were no more scrupulous about accuracy than many songmakers. If their works are history, then folksongs are too. This is not to say that folksongs conform to current standards of accuracy held within the discipline of History, though.

On the other hand, if we want to say that only works living up to current standards of historical research should count as history, then folksongs aren't history...but neither are the works of many many historians, particularly those in past eras.

In either case, however, folk songs, if carefully handled, can be wonderful historical data. Just as church registers, birth certificates, diaries, recipe books, tombstones, land titles, etc, are not THEMSELVES history, without them we'd lose a lot of historical knowledge. Historians using these kinds of documents can also use folksongs, as long as they are sensitive to the oral process that changes folksongs through time.

Enuff! Sorry for the long rant, but it's a fascinating thread with much good stuff!


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Annegi
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 01:32 PM

As a teacher of history I have used songs in my teaching. I am only too aware that history can often be the teaching of facts and the people are forgotten, so for example I use 'No Man's Land' by Eric Bogle to make the pupils aware, by a different medium, of the personal, human suffering caused by war. I can state very baldly that there were 60,000 casualties on the first day of the Somme but it must be remembered that every one of these was a father, brother, uncle, son. Can I also say that even if the song is inaccurate, biased, exaggerated it is still a useful source as pupils have to be aware that not all sources, primary or secondary tell the truth? Apart from that it is good for them to hear music that they may not ever have come across and I enjoy introducing them to some 'folk' music old or new. History is about people no matter if it (ie the history) is political, economic or social. It all impacts on 'Joe Bloggs'.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Gareth
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 03:44 PM

Guest Annegi - There is, of course, the ripost to Bogle CLICKY HERE

Gareth


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 04:46 PM

The histories of wars are almost almost written by the victors. Very few histories and/or folk songs are wholly neutral, given that the writer has his own point of view. However while keeping this in mind, if a song subject can stimulate the listeners interest enough to make him or her want to learn more, then it has succeeded.
When I mentioned Stanley Holloway in the opening post, it was not that I was placing him in the role of historian but rather, the monologue he performed on the subject of Magna Carta, taught me some facts about English history. As a Scot wholly educated in Scotland, I was largely ignorant of English history.
Failte.....Jock


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 04:50 PM

Be sure to take a look at Manfred's History in Song Website.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 05:17 PM

Giok, history is usually taught with one eye closed, as you suggest in your post about the Magna Carta. I was raised in a (at the time) largely Spanish area of New Mexico. The Spanish conquest was emphasized, and we had a book on New Mexico history. The Mayflower, pilgrims, etc. only received incidental mention, and they remained foreign to most of us. In our last year of high school we got a course in world history (optional) where items like the Magna Carta came up. I think we were given the idea that the rights of the average Englishman were protected by that document; only in university did I find out that only a bunch of lords gained rights, and that it was a long, long time before the average guy got a fair shake.
It's fun to play What If? In WWI, if the Germans had won, a German relative of the King would have gained more power and the headache of a bunch more colonies would have descended on him. The Irish would have been free. German would have been taught as well as English in all British schools. A nonsensical game but fun. If the English had posed no resistance, a lot of people would have remained alive- but after a generation or two, given the evolution of thought at the time, would there have been any loss of liberty? Or just that bugaboo, pride? Would the favorite English song be Gott Mit Uns? A Bogleite.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 07:20 PM

nosluap's link above is missing a vital dash. Try this:http://home.t-online.de/home/shamrockshire/ireland/A_History_of_Ireland_in_Song.html . Looks like an interesting site!


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 08:08 PM

If you want some of the histories that deal with songs, there are a lot of threads devoted to discussing the stories behind a particular song. I started a thread to have a central place to look them up. HAve a look at this thread

Origins of: Found on Mudcat

Lots more of them. If you see any, make a link in that thread, in the form of

<a href="/thread.cfm?ThreadID=BBBBB">Title of Thread</a>


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 08:09 PM

Where BBBBB is replaced with the thread ID number.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 09:23 PM

George, did it like you said, and got black on your thread. Do you space the words in the thread like they appear in the heading? Or run all together?


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 09:44 PM

Dicho, there's a space between the a and the href. Otherwise, the link would have worked fine.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: toadfrog
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 10:17 PM

There are things you can learn from songs, and things you can't. Songs are historically interesting when they illustrate the social or political attitudes of people at the time they were sung. From this point of view, popular songs surely tell us more about history than folk songs, because popular songs are directly identifiable with a specific time and reflect the feelings of people that lived at that time. The fact that they were popular proves they reflected the popular mood. Thus I suspect Stephen Foster can tell us a whole lot about the attitudes of the Northerners of his day toward the South. And songs are also evocative and so put us in the mood to touch the past. When I hear "Tenting Tonight" or "Hard Times Come Again No More, I feel as if I were back in the 1860's. "Bless 'em All" is both historically interesting and wonderfully evocative.

But songs are not a particularly good source of facts. It is not a good idea to take them too literally. Thus all those transporation ballads are evocative, but it is a mistake to think they reflect the feelings of the lags who got transported. As Bob Bolton points out in that other thread, many of them were made up by popular broadsiders for very ulterior reasons. "The Alabama" is not a source of facts; it only helps remember them. It won't provide any particular insight into the Civil War. On the other hand it's a damn good song, chock full of names and dates, and thus a good mnemonic device.

And it's a bit silly to expect to learn a lot about 1812 from "Battle of New Orleans," a "folk song" written by Jimmy Driftwood in the 1950's.

But what really annoys me is the widespread idea that a "folksong" is a song written by a fashionable singer songwriter in the 'sixties or 'seventies, and that "learning history" means absorbing the attitudes that were fashionable then. Maybe those attitudes are all a hundred-percent correct, I don't know, but "learning" should not be confused with indoctrination.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 03:35 AM

While official accounts of battles are made (as I said earlier) on the spot by literate educated officers (and in the last 150 years by journalists), "historical" folk songs are made by less literate, less educated ordinary mean and women, often after the event, and from memory. Sometimes they're made from handed-down stories from parents, grandparents or others; Eric Bogle wasn't arund in the First World War, for instance.

Subsequent generations may (will!) change the sense or the emphasis of a song, or even attach it to a different event. In "Greenland whale fishery", the lines "To lose that whale," our captain cried, "it grieves my heart full sore sore,/But, oh, the losing of those five brave men,/It grieves me ten times more" got turned around i the fifties, to make the captain into a wicked profit-oriented capitalist; that refelcted the spirit of the times, but was "historically" incorrect. We can never be sure how much an old orally-transmitted song has changed since its first creation, nor how "accurate" it was to begin with.

A folk songs is a historical document, like a period artefacts=; it shows us something of what life was like at a particular time and place in society (if you can pin it down closely enought!).

Steve


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Stavanger Bill
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 05:16 AM

In one of the posts above Allan C says that one of the "historical" things he learned from a folksong was, "...I found out that Irish lads were conscripted into the British army to fight in the French and Indian war." - I can't remember any French and Indian war post 1916 (The year conscription was introduced as a means of raising men to serve in the British Army - Also conscription has never applied in Ireland, the rumour that it might be was one of the factors that triggered the Easter Week Rising of 1916.)

Another one that always puzzles me is the seemingly automatic assumption that the late Willie McBride was an Irishman - If the pipes played "The Flowers of the Forest", he would almost certainly have been a Scot, or someone serving in a Scottish Regiment.

I agree with toadfrog above when he says that, "..songs are not a particularly good source of facts." A good example of this is, taken from another thread, where someone made a reference to a line contained in "The Cottiers Story" (??) about "twenty million" being paid by Britain to alleviate the suffering of slaves while all Irelands needs during the famine had to be covered by fifty thousand pounds, also that the largest source of relief, by donation, came from native American Indians. This is simply not bourne out by the facts - Donations from America, approximately 1.5 million, donations from the Society of Friends (Quakers) in England, approximately 2.5 million, Cost to the British Government approximately 9 million (Source for this is C. Woodham-Smith's book "The Great Hunger").

Generally, when it comes to conflicts (be they civil, social, or military), the victors tend to write the history, the losers tend to write the songs. I can think of lots of Jacobite songs covering the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, but can think of very, very few where the Governments case is stated in song (one of which is the unsung verse of the British National Anthem which contains the line "Rebellious Scots to crush"). One of the best examples of factual lyrics is found in the words of "Sherrifmuir". The words were written, by Robert Burns, from three perspectives. Like many of "his" songs, Burns put words to pipe tunes to save them (wearing of tartan and playing bagpipes were proscribed during Burns lifetime). Sherrifmuir was a battle in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. Inconclusive in nature (the respective left wings of one army overpowered the respective right wings of the other, while the centre sections fought a stalemate) it was technically a Government victory as it halted the Rebels advance. When Burns wrote the words he used his own notes taken from three survivors, each of whom had fought in each position on the battlefield.

An interest in history led me to folk music. I think it's great reading of instances where people listen to the lyrics of a song and are moved to research the history and context of a song. Possibly one good thread subject might be "What song have really liked and then been really disappointed when you researched it?"

Fascinating thread Jock - Thanks for introducing it!!!


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 05:56 AM

And a case in point from your own post; although the wearing of Highland dress (rather than "tartan") was indeed forbidden for a while, the bagpipes were never proscribed.  That is a myth of later years; see, in an earlier discussion here,  The bagpipes in the aftermath of Collodden

Burns was quite a prolific collector of folksongs and tunes, and was indeed concerned with preserving them; but the perceived threat to them was not from any legislation, but from the urbanisation that had already begun in his day, and the tendency of the growing middle classes in Scotland (and England, for that matter) to aspire to a bourgeois "art music" cultural model based on fashionable Continental forms rather than on "native" tradition.  The object was in large degree to make Scottish vernacular music culturally respectable, and in this he and his colleagues were pretty successful on the whole.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Stavanger Bill
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 06:18 AM

Hi Malcolm, thanks for the correction. I had a read down through the thread you referred to - as I concluded in my mail above fascinating stuff!

cheers Bill.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: richardw
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 12:10 PM

Jumping back a little here-- I agree with Art's message. Dicho is also on target for me but in correcting Art also makes some common assumptions that are not entirely accurate. The first cattle drives were not Texas to Montana. They were from old California, Washington and Territories to the goldrush camps of BC in the 1860s. There are lots of records of these drives and we hope one day to find the songs that tell the story.

Dicho says: "Songs do reflect areas, but only to a certain extent. The area of old songs was, as you say, in the southern mountains, but also in the piedmont and coastal areas, where people settled early and stayed."

I may be misunderstanding the term "old songs" but we have found many songs here in B.C. (that's Canada) that do indeed reflect place, occupation and time. Not only do we find certain "popular" songs being sung in the 1860s-70s but also songs being brought in from other traditions and new songs being written to feflect the current work and time. For instance, some miners had previousle been Irish constables, had fought under Wellington at Waterloo, probably under Napoleon as well and many had come from the Crimean War. So those songs were being sung in B.C. goldfields. Then we have men like James Anderson, a Soct on whom I am writing a biography and CD, who used poets of the day like Hood, Tennyson and Burns, to write songs and poems reflecting his situation. One in particular "Rough But Honest Miner" was a favorite of miners. How do we know it reflects popular opinion? Because he was asked to sing it over and over at the local music hall. (The words of this song have been posted here about a year ago.) So I would argue that these songs, for example, do reflect concensus, as do many other. He also wrote one of the first labour poems or songs, modeled on Hoods "Song of the Shirt".

Dicho says: "They may be documents but they must be interpreted within the context of history."

That is so for ANY document. If we think a lettter or diary or journal is any different we are wrong. Letters reflect who is being written TO, not just the writer. And diaries and journals even more so. Journals were written for someone to read. Find out who and new light is shed. If for oneself then they show one side. If they are written for mother or wife or husband to read they will be written quite differently.

Enough for know. This is a great thread. BTW I am not arguing with Dicho, just discussing this facinating topic. Th words to "Rough but" are also found here, as is more information on Anderson. http://goldrushbc.com/anderson.htm

Richard Wright


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:27 PM

Richardw, you have a point about the cattle drives in relation to the gold fields. I was objecting to the laying of hands solely on Texas for cattle drives. "By old songs," I was referring to the old ballads (Child material, etc.), 18C or earlier, that were preserved in the areas of old settlement. I should have written more clearly.
Speaking of British Columbia and Canada, I get questioning looks when I mention the Hawaiians working as voyageurs. Most people in B. C. know about the Hawaiian carpenters that helped build Fort Langley, and helped in the Hudson's Bay trading efforts, but not elsewhere. And, of course, the Hawaiians working for the Spanish in California in the hides trade.
And the first cowboys outside of Louisiana and the Spanish areas were those in Hawaii, Mexican vaqueros rounding up cattle left on the Big Island by Vancouver and others (pre-Gold Rush days).
Lots of stuff for which we have, in our culture, no or few preserved folk songs. (Whoopie-ky-yi-yo may be LA French according to some scholars, but was more likely vaquero range communication)


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 05:15 PM

When I was told that the Alabama was sunk in 64 not 65, I thought about it and decided that going to her grave was amuch better ending to the song that starts with her keel being laid.Being a few months out is not as important as a good last line.
Apart from fiddling the facts to improve the song, folk song is inevitably partisan. Most British versions of Plains of Mexico award the battle of Monterey to Santiana.
Did the British really run at New Orleans?
Heave away,
Keith.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 05:41 PM

Santiana? Do you mean President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the great Mexican patriot and hero?
The battle near New Orleans was a post-war victory, fought two weeks after the cessation of hostilities. Such were communications at the time. Legend has the pirate Lafitte contributing to victory. Did the British run? Honestly, I don't know. How many were involved? Not all that many, but the battle (skirmish?) contributed little to history, although much to legend.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 06:18 PM

Well, cowboy songs were, very generally, all over the western part of my U.S. map. Granted, I hadn't put many of those in Oregon and Washington. Those states were full up with "Portland County Jail", "Acres Of Clams" and some of Woody's songs--"Roll On Columbia" etc. Only one of those might've been sung by people all the way "From California to the New York Island" though. ;-)

The map, like the songs, didn't have to be totally accurate to get the idea over that there were different strokes songs created by different folks in certain places. The occupations of those people were reflected in the songs too. Fishing jobs were most likely by the oceans--but some were from the Great Lakes too (although very few whaling ballads came from Chicago or Lake Michigan ;-) -------- My friend Scott Alarik does do an amazing rap about GREAT LAKES WHALING but that's about Minnesota and Lake Superior. And we all know what to expect from those guys.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Aldus
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 09:50 AM

Many years ago I did a thesis on the Industrial Revolution in Yorkshire. What I discovered was that the feeling of the ordinary person was often to be found in songs. In fact , social history is often told through music.Although not a factual source,songs often convey the emotions of the time much better that any other source. This is a most enjoyable thread, I have learned a lot


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: PeteBoom
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 12:08 PM

Regarding the British at New Orleans. No, they did not run. No matter that the song written 140 years after the event said they did. No contemporary accounts describe anything other than a grudging withdrawl from the major (last) assault.

Pakenham (British commander) was fighting in bad ground - his heavy equipment had to be brought through the bayou by boat - even though there were places where the water was only inches deep. Where Jackson's command had the time and resources to make rudimentary defenses - including the cotton-bale breast-works shown in the movies - they also firmed up the defensive line by building gun platforms for artillery from wood planking.

They brought in barrels of dirt to build defensive positions that were higher than the very wet ground surrounding them - giving them an edge in two ways - First, the defenders could be more or less dry - they could build fires and dry out wet clothing. They could have hot meals on a regular basis. This meant they were better rested and, even though on alert regularly for some two weeks, more fresh than the British troops who had come by ship to be landed in a swamp where they had no landmarks they could recognize.

Second, and this is subtle and is often times missed by armchair generals who have had no experience in close-order drill. The attackers found themselves looking UP at the defenders - even if only by a few inches in places. That can be a fairly demoralizing situation to be in, no matter how battle hardened your rank-and-file are.

Jackson controlled the initiative from the onset - he kept roving patrols of dragoons operating between the lines on an irregular schedule - this kept the British from obtaining solid information about what the defenses looked like, their size, etc. He also sent small units out nightly to attack pickets and keep them in close to the British camp. Finally, he sent marksmen as close to the British camp as they dared go to pick off British officers. They'd fire a round and move - then fire again. These things combined to wear down British resolve.

New Orleans is often shown, and in the song was implied to be, a veritable turkey shoot. In reality, it was a close-run thing. The main British column was stopped short of the defenses with great loss of life. The American left (if I remember right) was actually driven from their positions.

Quick action by the American gunners kept the British troops from using the captured American artillery for firing down the American lines. If this had happened, it is likely that the outcome would have been very different. The riflefire that cut down the British infantry would have been facing point-blank artillery from their own ranks. This would have allowed the British main force to overwhelm the defenders. The American artillery officer on that flank was able to get the guns spiked and destroyed the prepared cartidges (threw them in the water). This made the loss of the flank a mere side-show to the bloody main event.

Jackson was heavily criticised by armchair "regular army" types for not pressing home his advantage and attacking the British army while it withdrew back to the waiting ships. This criticism was unwarranted. What most people do not realize is that even with massive losses, the British forces outnumbered the Americans nearly 3 to 1.

Jean Lafitte (that does not look right... ah well) assisted in reality, not just legend - his "privateers" joined the American ranks as gunners, bringing their own heavy artillery on ships' gun carraiges - massive pieces that were three and four times the weight of the American field artillery Jackson had otherwise. Also, the residents of New Orleans took up arms. One, I've forgotten his name, had been a general of artillery under Napoleon, had retired and emigrated to New Orleans after the Napoleon was sent to Elba. He was credited with directing the fire of a couple of huge pieces that detroyed or damaged the largest pieces in the British artillery park. That left the attacking infantry without effective artillery protection. THAT allowed the American artillery to fire on the British infantry instead of British artillery.

Sorry for the history lesson. Just could not resist...

Pete


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 12:47 PM

History gets the facts but the songs get the spirit of the times. Even then, those "facts" are subject to interpretation. Some of the "facts" in songs are made up by a point-of-view. The reporting becomes less accurate when history is older. Sometimes folklore and history can become blurred such as the Washington Cherry-Tree myth. Or "I cannot tell a lie".

I think that Joseph Campbell is right about the myth being as important as the fact in assessing the meaning of history.

Frank


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 05:43 PM

Actually these songs can be merely the seed, the kernal, the starting point of a very interesting fuller story.
Take the Alabama and the Kearsarge, I read/heard somewhere that the stand-off at Cherburg took so long that 10,000 people were standing on the cliffs to watch the showdown.
I suppose the modern equivalent of that would be CNN (et al) in Afghanistan.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 05:55 PM

This is a great thread, and really a pretty inexhaustible topic; how much of the "news" we get with all of our global village technology is objectively factual, and how much is ANYTHING 100% "true", when we all see things from our own individual perspectives?

I'd say, as an historian, that in order to get the best possible chance at actually understanding what happened at any time (even yesterday!), you'd just have to get as many opinions & versions from as many sources as are available, and let's face it---you're still going to ultimately draw your own conclusions based on the accumulated data.

Now, about that alligator.....


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: rich-joy
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 05:24 AM

I seem to recall reading a book on this very (most interesting) subject some years ago - by British Folk Historian, ROY PALMER - but it was a library book and I don't have the reference - worth chasing up though, to read the comparisons between various folksongs and the accepted history on the particular subject ... Cheers, R-J


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 05:35 AM

..also Battle of New Orleans: some UK singers sing "Jackson" instead of "Pakenham" as the British leader (I've been guilty myself in the distant past), thus making him change sides!
BTW Just how many miles is it on the Cumberland Gap: 14,16,19?
RtS (final staff meeting today to hand over my jobs: they've brought in a trained chimp especially, but he may be overqualified)


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Keith A at work
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 07:41 AM

Er..the version I know doesn't name the Brit commander, but gives the US cmndr as Packenham.(P. said we could take them by surprise...) so according to Pete Boom, those UK singers were right Roger.
Re the artillery, what size shot can be stuffed in an alligator's head?
Keith.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 08:26 AM

I think I meant sang Packenham instead of JACKSON...or whatever...should be: "Along with Col Jackson to the mighty Mississip"
AS Pete Broom says,Pakenham was the Brit commander, Jackson the American.
RtS (nobody stays to listen to me beyond the first line any way!)


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 09:21 AM

My husband came home last night to find me hunched over the computer (I've been home with the 'flu), cross-referencing various folk songs & Child ballads w/various mediaeval literature. What I think is so fascinating is this sort of basically unchanging vocabulary of themes that recur over and over; just as many of Chaucer, Bocaccio & Gower's stories have roots going back at least as far as Ovid, many of the traditional ballads are essentially telling these same stories, woth very slight variations. One can easily see how exploring & researching these connections can become an OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE behaviour (especially when one is running a fever)! ;-)


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: PeteBoom
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 09:31 AM

Back into it - try "Ol' Hick'ry said we could take 'em by surprise...". With that being a nick-name given Jackson during the Creek campaign of 1812-13.

Pete


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 09:59 AM

I like this quote:

"The use of history . . . is to rescue from oblivion the lost causes of the past. History is especially important when those lost causes haunt us in the present as unfinished business." [Paul (?) Goodman, 1960].

In general, history – at least the part of it we are usually taught in school – has done a lousy job of rescuing those lost causes. Folk music has a chance of filling the gap.


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 10:45 AM

When I was a pupil, history lessons tended to be a listing of monarchs (or presidents later on), dynastic interests and a lot of battles, and woe to you, when you forgot the years everything happened in.
It were the folksongs where I first learned how the common man felt in those times glorious of victories (defeats are mostly mentioned only when the opposite site got a good biffing. Naturally there are a lot of historical songs, e.g. about the battle at Pavia in 1525, where the German lansquenets beat the French and Swiss, or the deeds of their General v. Frundsberg,where the main events are meticulously reported. Opposite to them are the soldiers songs describing their hard life pressed to service, how they were drilled, beaten with rods, or the terrors of the battlefields (... here you see lying a head cut off, here an aram; God ha' mercy on us, as a German songs puts it). Also the songs of various trades, some proud, some very dreary, especially the bricklayers working in danger on their high scaffoldings. Those songs give a living impresion of the life of our ancestors, and sometimes I'm glad to live in our times with a lot of progres making life a little bit easier.
But the best example I know are the songs of the German revolution in 1848-49. The songs are still sung, especially you heard them at the 150th anniversary. Nearly every family in South Germany has lost a member killed in action, executed, jailed or, in the best case, fled to the US of A because fighting for freedom.
From the singers I learned a totally different approach to history than at school, where we learned, how a rebellion was subdued by the forces of law and justice. These songs held alive the memory of their grand- and great grandfathers and their burdens fighting for a noble cause.
Wilfried


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 06:36 PM

Desdemona - I don't need to run a fever, actually! It's a great way of pretending to yourself you're too busy to do the washing up, or write that article you promised when the deadline was comfortably far away. I hold the Mudcat, and the opportunities for song research it provides, largely responsible for the growing mounds of unfinished business around my computer ...


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Gareth
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 06:48 PM

Just a thought Wilfred - Is Lille Marlene history, and if so whose ?

Gareth


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 07:00 PM

Susanne-AHA! So that's why my house is such a pigsty! I KNEW it couldn't be my tepid enthusiasm for housewifery that was to blame.....

Thanks for alleviating my incipient sense of personal responsibility ;-) !

In perfect truth, I need little excuse to neglect my domestic tasks in favour of historical minutiae (to say nothing of my job!); it's just nice to know I'm not alone!


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 19 Dec 01 - 07:02 PM

Same here, Desdemona! :-)


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Subject: RE: History and Folk Music
From: robomatic
Date: 19 Dec 01 - 07:16 PM

I learned from Warren Zevon how commandos are able to be so mobile:

We parachute in, we parachute out Death from above we're screaming now

Sweat and muscle and jungle work


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