Songs & Ballads Of The Maine Lumberjacks

A Collection Of Traditional & Folk Songs of the area with Lyrics & Commentaries -online book

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xviii                  Introduction
The exact date of the composition of a popular ballad is seldom known. The date when a ballad was taken down should not be confused with the date of the ballad itself. The date of the "Sandy Stream Song" is estab­lished with sufficient accuracy as 1874; that of "The Jam at Gerry's Rock" can be approximated; that of the "Alphabet Song" is not known at all In like man­ner, the authors are usually unknown. It is notable that the author of the "Sandy Stream Song" is only vaguely remembered as a member of the crew; his name and destiny are obscure. In all cases, whether the author is known or not, his personality concerns us very little, if at all. Even in "Peter Ambely," if Peter is held to be the author, the interest of the ballad is quite impersonal. Generally speaking, the author of a popular ballad is simply the medium, usually nameless, through whom a group gives utterance to its united emotion and thought, and to whom a group freely contributes portions — how­ever slight and fragmentary — of the song. With this conception of authorship in mind, for the accuracy of which I have given the testimony of those who were directly or indirectly a party to the song-making, the popular ballad is to be thought of as a communal or group product, with one person, who could sing better than the others, mainly responsible for its composition. Spe­cifically, "The Jam at Gerry's Rock," we know, through evidence, was composed by several. The "Sandy Stream Song" also, notwithstanding the fact that the author is vaguely remembered, was in all likelihood the product of more than one, because of the nature of the subject

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III