Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

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Introduction
17
say, the singer is merely the narrator of events with which he personally has no connection, and for which he has no responsibility The song on the other hand is a far more emotional and passionate utterance, and is usually the record of a personal experience—very frequently of an amatory nature"
The late Professor Dorothy Scarborough of Columbia University, who contributed richly to the study of folk song in America, ra­tionalizes the subject under discussion as follows:
It is not always easy to distinguish between ballads and folk songs The ballad tells a story, yes, but so does a folk song often The much mentioned test of impersonality does not always suffice, for frequendy the ballad uses the first person to narrate an experience apparently associated with the speaker. The folk song dwells more on emotions than does the ballad, but the latter by no means omits them. Ballads are more likely to be tragic than humorous or merely senti­mental as are the folk songs, but we have examples of ballad comedy as of tragic folk songs. So in this volume I rely on other authority than my own, and when Child or Sharp or some other recognized expert lists a specimen as a ballad, that it is for me; and what tradition has set up as a folk song, as distinguished from the ballad, that I accept80
Since Professor Child himself was not altogether consistent in determining what constituted a ballad21 and since other ballad scholars, collectors, and editors admit differences which lack dis­tinction, we feel that we are justified in adopting the liberal atti­tude of Sharp and Scarborough. In keeping with this point of view we give in our notes to each song such evidence as we have found that it is or is not an importation; we have also learned that al­though, like the Child ballads and those of other collections, it may have been recorded in writing or printing at an earlier date, which our notes may indicate, it has survived by the lip-to-ear method for a time long enough to justify its being classed as a folk song.
For either individual or communal authorship we hold no brief. But from all the evidence which we have assembled from oral, printed, and written sources we are sure that "Jack Haggerty," "Harry Bail," "Sidney Allen," "Anson Best," "Little Mary Phagan," "Nat Goodwin," "Springfield Mountain," "Frozen Charlotte," the texts of "Floyd Collins," and several other songs were composed by individual authors. That these were acquired orally by our in­formants we have no cause to doubt. Thus our collection contains some evidence in support of the theory of the individual authorship
M O. D. Campbell and C. J. Sharp, English Fol\ Songs from the Southern Appalachians, p. xi.
80 A Song Catcher in Southern Mountains, p. 259.
a For interesting discussions of this subject see Thelma G. James, "The Eng­lish and Scottish Popular Ballads of Francis J Child," JAFL, XLVI, 51-59; Louise Pound, Poetic Ortgtns and the Ballad, pp. 146-147.







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