folksongs

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  • Topic: Lockheed Ventura, 2007 singles, Birthday
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  • Published : April 21, 2014
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Howard 1

My Folksong Portfolio
Roy G. Biv
Professor Johnson
English 1101
April 18, 2014

Howard 2
Folksong #1: “Happy Birthday to You”
Assignment:
Your job now is to collect a variant of this song from an actual person. The most commonly sung basic text of the song goes like this:
“Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear

(insert name here),

Happy birthday to you.”

The variant you will collect should depart from this version in some interesting way, either in wording or in manner of presentation. Write down the text of the song as you heard it. Then write a paragraph that answers the following questions:

From whom did you collect the song? Who taught it to that person? Where did you collect it? Where do they normally sing it?
Why do they sing it? Why do they sing it like that?
When do they sing it?
How do they sing it?
Can we draw any interesting conclusions about the song, folk groups, or folklore in general from talking to this person about the song?
Note: The answers are especially important if you pick up a version of the song that differs in texture. You need to describe the manner in which the person sings it. The final product is due April 18, 2014, along with the other parts of the Folksong Portfolio. I will give you the subsequent parts at different times throughout the semester with other kinds of prompts.

Howard 3
Song lyrics:
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Get plastered, you bastard,
Happy birthday to you.

Response:
I collected this version of “Happy Birthday” from a friend, Barre Toelken, in July 2013 when we were sitting in his office in the Merrill-Cazier Library on the Utah State University campus. He is in his 70s and had a stroke a few years back, but he was still able to recall this song. He could not remember who taught it to him, but it happened on one of his folklore collecting trips. He said the song is generally sung at birthday parties, but in certain settings it isn’t socially appropriate, such as situations in which women are present. In fact, the profanity and the reference to alcohol are perhaps the most telling parts of this version because while in some circles those things may be taboo. The joking use of profanity signifies a closeness and comfort between the individual who sings and the person whose birthday it is. The mention of alcohol also suggests that these individuals like to drink together as a part of their relationship, and perhaps some of their best times have occurred while drinking. Birthdays are considered a rite of passage; they are both a reason to celebrate because we commemorate birth, but they are also a time to recognize that we are growing older. The song works best when it’s sung loudly.

Howard 4
Folksong #2: “Banks of the Ohio”
Assignment:
In folklore studies, we often write research papers about songs like this and other pieces of folklore. In the process, we not only study the song itself, but we also need contextual research to acquaint ourselves with the thing we are studying. That’s what I want you to do for this piece of the portfolio. Find two credible sources (academic or historical sources) and write annotations for both of them. Go to the following link to figure out what goes into a good annotation: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01/ Pay specific attention to the ideas of summary, assessment, and reflection. Each annotation needs to be at least 150 words. In your portfolio, turn those annotations in with this cover sheet. The final product is due April 18, 2014, along with the other parts of the Folksong Portfolio. I will give you the subsequent parts at different times throughout the semester with other kinds of prompts.

Howard 5
Source #1:
Citation #1:
Burns, Lee. “The Ohio River, Its Influence on the Development of Indiana.” Indiana Magazine of History 19.2 (1923): 169-81. JSTOR. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
Annotation #1:
Burns’ article provides a...
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