1) Singing the Unspeakable: from ‘Sheath and Knife’ to ‘O Bondage, Up Yours! and 2) Pioneers, Friends, Rivals: Social Networks and the English Folksong Revival, 1889-1904
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1) In their desire to shock their listeners, the British punk bands of the mid-late 1970s delighted in performing lyrics that extolled mob violence and sexual deviance. The Sex Pistols, the Clash, X-Ray Spex and Wire (among others) may have taken the musical celebration of violent rebellion and the abnormal to new heights (or depths) but in so doing they were merely following in the footsteps of vernacular song-writers from Giles Earle (if indeed he, rather than the ubiquitous Anon, was the author of “Tom o’ Bedlam”) to Lou Reed and David Bowie. This paper discusses a handful of the ballads and songs on ‘difficult’ topics, such as incest, infanticide, serial criminality, venereal disease, and madness, and explores the songwriters’ attitudes, ostensive and implicit, to the ‘outlandish’ protagonists and their socially unacceptable deeds. 2) Three figures were at the heart of the Late Victorian folksong revival: Sabine Baring-Gould, Frank Kidson, and Lucy Broadwood. They were familiar with each other’s work in the field of folksong collecting and editing, and they also knew each other socially. However, they did not always see eye to eye on key issues that emerged during the 1890s, such as the relationship of folksong to broadside balladry. Correspondence in the Broadwood archives at the Surrey History Centre and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library reflects their differing viewpoints and discussions, and reveals their changing perspectives on the nature of English folksong and on their own fieldwork. This paper analyses their friendships, their rivalries, and their judgments concerning each other’s work. It also suggests that their views on folksong did not remain static but evolved during the 1890s, in part as a result of their social interaction and intellectual debates.