Chumbawamba the song collector

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The Folk Society meet on Thursday
nights; clear their throats and put
their coughs to flight to sing the
dusty cobwebs from the room - a
repertoire both in and out of tune.
Don't assume a singalong, or worse;
this history in song and countless
verse pays homage to the man who,
long ago, collected all the songs the
singers know. Edward Alexander,
man of action - armed only with his
reel-to-reel contraption - one hundred
years ago in mac and boots set out to
faithfully preserve the region's roots.
And every night in some small village
inn, fortified with fortitude and gin, Mr
Alexander, for a shilling would thus
record your song, if you were willing.
So word got round, and soon there
formed a queue; and the line of willing
singers grew and grew. Brass for oohs
and aahs? You can't go wrong when
there's someone paying a shilling for
a song. When all his tapes are filled
up, Edward leaves. There's a history
preserved, so he believes; but all the
so-called singers back inside know
they took a city scholar for a ride - for
they shook the man for every coin he'd
got with words and tunes all made up
on the spot - invented tales not twenty
minutes old; so history, like ale, is
bought and sold. The old contraption's
packed away and boxed and a century
is marked upon the clock. So tradition
holds that Edward's great collection is
honoured with a weekly resurrection.
And now the old Society sing the
songs word for word, and kept where
they belong, as once again, they
eulogise the past ... you can hear the
ghosts of history laughing last.