Folk song as an antidote to modernity

Folk song, tradition and resurrection of all that is good and pure in the world 

I had a discussion yesterday about whether or not in the olden (golden?) days times were more gruesome or not.  Did more awful things happen?  I was erring more towards yes because of some of the folk songs that contain infanticide and other terrible murders

(eg The Well Below the Valley…which I actually thought was Irish until now!) or The Cruel Mother

But when we look on the other end of the spectrum there is far more beauty than bad stuff in those old ballads

It is true that they often speak of the harsh realities of day-to-day life, such as in this song

The Poor Loom Weaver

or the sadness of war and parting

Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

But more often than not they are filled with idyllic images of a time gone by, of fields, wildlife, good honest farm labour, wood chopping, love and all such wonderful stuff

‘Ark at this song (lyrics below)

The Copper Family sing When Spring Comes In

When Spring comes in the birds do sing,
The lambs do skip and the bells do ring
While we enjoy their glorious charm so noble and so gay.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
The primrose blooms and the cowslip too,
The violets in their sweet retire, the roses shining through the briar,
And the daffadown-dillies which we admire will die and fade away.

Young men and maidens will be seen
On mountains high and meadows green,
They will talk of love and sport and play
While these young lambs do skip away.
At night they homeward wend their way
When evening stars appear.

The dairymaid to milking goes, her blooming cheeks as red as a rose,
She carries her pail all on her arm so cheerful and so gay,
She milks, she sings, and the valleys ring.
The small birds on the branches there sit listening to this lovely fair.
She is her master’s trust and care, she is the ploughman’s joy.

The Copper Family have so many such songs on their album:

My favourites being….

The Banks of the Sweet Primrose

The Seasons Round (this one especially)

Unfortunately folk music can be twisted to suit peoples political/ideological agendas.  I have just watched such a video on YouTube linking folk music to some stupid politicised modern agenda.  Why do this? Traditional folk music (to me especially that from the British Isles mainly because that’s where my own roots lie) for me represents all that is good and pure in this world.  A revolt against the  modern world.  Like a kind of rebellion in song.

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