MacColl & Seeger, Simon & Garfunkel… Baddiel & Skinner?

Reflections from the Lantern Society, Hastings’ Candlelit Acoustic Club, by Trevor Moss

Even the most hermitic ear-fingering folky could not have failed to notice something going on in Russia this month, which respectfully scheduled its fixtures around the Lantern Society, so it was terrace standing room only.

New songs were the mode, as regulars and newcomers alike all seemed to be riding a creative wave. The glorious weather and equally glorious scenes of rare national togetherness inspired by our lion cubs must have fuelled our collective motivation.    

James Burton performing at The Lantern Society

Whilst football may not be coming home this time, the joyous scenes of tens of  thousands of people singing those words in unison sparked a conversation I found myself deep in, long after the lanterns had burned down.

The suggestion put to me was that Three Lions On a Shirt is the folk music of our time. While I was defenceless, choking on my harmonica and picking my Breton cap up off the floor, he came in for the kill, adding Don’t Look Back In Anger was too. The Oasis song was stoically sung in the Luzhniki Stadium following England’s defeat to Croatia and was also the spontaneously adopted anthem following the Manchester Arena bombing.

The main premise of my provocateur’s argument was that these songs are the music of the people, and are therefore folk-music. While I agreed that this is an important element of something being classed as folk music, I believe it is the method by which they become the music of the people that is crucial.

Folk music describes an aural tradition, songs being heard and passed on with no ascertainable origin. Increased literacy and the invention of recorded music arguably ended the old folk tradition. The sound of traditional folk music was incidental and defined purely by its time.

Looking at the youthful faces singing in the crowds, I wonder how many would recognise Baddiel and Skinner, let alone The Lightening Seeds? While watching the final amongst French students at St. Mary in The Castle, they erupted into ‘A-Allez-Les-Bleus’ to the now ubiquitous tune of Seven Nation Army, sometimes also known as ‘O-Jeremy-Corbyn’. How many own a copy of Elephant? How many of you are now are singing the tune but wonder what elephants have got to do with anything?

These songs have detached from their origins, and have been passed from ear to ear, adopted and re-sung. Like a late, sloppy, extra-time winner, I have conceded.    

The next Lantern Society is Thursday 2nd August, and takes place every first Thursday of the month at the Printworks on Claremont Rd.

The Lantern Society Songwriters Festival – Saturday 11th August – The Stade.

Tune in to the Lantern Society Radio hour on Conquest Hospital Radio and online. 

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