What’s this all about?
When I interviewed Steve Roud back in 2017, we talked about the idea that there’s no such thing as a folk singer, as “folk singers” (or source singers, as we might also know them) weren’t consciously singing folk songs. They were just singing songs they knew and loved. The concept of a traditional singer specialising in traditional songs came later.
That’s obviously a controversial opinion, and we won’t go into it here. However, one thing that struck me and really chimed with my own experience and enjoyment of traditional folk songs was the idea that the songs are more important than the singer. For a brief moment of time, the singer essentially looks after the traditional song. It has existed before them and will continue to exist after them. For that period, the song comes to stay with the singer and their audience, and then it’s off somewhere else.
Isn’t that lovely? The timelessness and egoless-ness of that concept is something I completely fell in love with, and I know many other singers of traditional song who feel exactly the same way.
Of course, the singer is still important. Their attraction to the song and their interpretation of the song is what allows it to reach larger audiences.
So, the idea for The Old Songs Podcast is to focus on the songs – where they came from, who originally sang them and where they might be heading – but to do so by interviewing some of the current crop of singers to try and get to the bottom of what makes each song special.
At the same time, I hope to introduce new audiences to the world of traditional music. I know through personal experience that it’s a vast and daunting mountain to be stood at the foot of, and if you’re new to it all, it can seem a bit too niche for comfort.
However, once you step into the traditional folk world, it’s incredibly welcoming and there’s so much to explore. With this podcast, I hope to help people take that first step.
Why ‘The Old Songs Podcast’?
One of the stories that most appealed to me when I was starting to read about the collectors of traditional songs came from George Gardiner, collecting in North Hampshire around 1906/07.
“Once I called on an old lady who was prepared for my visit. Unfortunately, someone else answered the door, and when I spoke of old songs the answer was, ‘We don’t want old songs. We have no money to give for old songs. We really don’t require any today.’”George Gardiner
While the words “no money to give for old songs” resonated on a number of levels, I particularly liked the idea that “The Old Songs” were already old over 100 years ago, and even then people didn’t really have a good grasp of what “the old songs” might mean.
Hence, “The Old Songs Podcast”.
A little help required
The Old Songs Podcast launched in January 2020. In order to do it real justice, I need to travel to the singers to interview them, and I want to improve and maintain the equipment I’ll be recording on. I also have to pay to host the podcast.
So I’m setting up a Mixcloud Select (see below). If you’re interested in supporting this idea, please consider supporting the podcast in this way. It costs only £2.99 per month (you can choose to pay more if you want to), and the artists featured get their royalties properly paid. You can also choose to listen for free if you like. Making a contribution is entirely up to you.
If you’re perhaps involved with a record company or organisation that might be interested in sponsoring the podcast, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat.