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    I should like to consider the folk song and expound briefly on a theory I have held for some time to the effect that the reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people. If professional song writers had written them instead, things might have turned out considerably differently. For example, consider the old favourite, with which I'm sure you are all familiar, Clementine, you know:

    In a cavern
    In a canyon
    Da da daa, da da da daa

    … a song with no recognisable merit whatsoever, and imagine what might have happened if, for example, Cole Porter had tried writing the song. The first verse might have come out like this:

    In a cavern
    In a canyon
    Excava-ha-ha-hating for a mine
    Far away from the boom, boom, boom of the city
    She was so pretty
    What a pity
    Clementine.
    O Clementine,
    Can't you tell from the howls of me
    This love of mine
    Calls to you from the bowels of me?
    Are you discerning the returning of this churning, burning, yearning for you,
    Ooh, ooh, aah, aah.

    Well supposing at this point that Mozart or one of that crowd had tried writing a verse, the next one might have come out as a baritone aria from an Italian opera somewhat along these lines:

    Era legera
    E come un fairy
    E suo shoes numero nine
    Herring bo-ho-ho-hoxes senza to-ho-ho-hopses
    Sandale per Clementina si, per Clementina si,
    Per Clementina sandaleka
    Clementina sandaleka,
    Clementine,
    Clementina, Clementina, Clementina.
    Herring boxes senza topses
    Sandaleka Clementina,
    Herring boxes senza topses
    Sandaleka Clementine,
    Che sciagura Clementina
    Che sciagura Clementina
    Cara Clementina cara Clementina-na-na-na.

    Supposing at this rather dramatic juncture in the narrative one of our modern cool school of composers had tried writing a verse. The next one might have come out like this:

    A one, a two, a three, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
    Drove those ducklings to the water
    Yep rock, doodle a doo doo, ah ah
    Every morning like 9 am
    Whoopa da doo da doo doo da
    Got her hung upon a splinter
    Got her hung upon a splinter, doo da, hoo hoo
    Fell into the foamy brine
    Dig that crazy Clementine, man!

    To end on a happy note one can always count on Gilbert and Sullivan for a rousing finale full of words and music and signifying nothing.

    That I missed her depressed her
    Young sister named Esther
    This mister to pester she tried.
    Now a pestering sister's a festering blister,
    You'd best to resist her say I.
    The mister resisted,
    The sister persisted,
    I kissed her – all loyalty slipped.
    When she said I could have her
    Her sister's cadaver
    Must surely have turned in its crypt
    Yes, yes, yes, yes!
    For I love she and she loves me
    Enraptured are the both of we
    Yes I love she and she loves I
    And will through all eternity.

    See what I mean!

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