This is a new sort of songbook, for people who are serious about singing traditional songs.  And the main reason that such people sing these songs is ... because they have to!  We all know that, from time to time we have encountered a new song - or a new version of a song - which just demands that we sing it.

But, if we're serious about singing, we will also know that, while we now have to sing that song, we may not want to sing exactly that version of it.  Modern sensibilities may mean that certain parts of it don't sit comfortably with our philosophy of life; we may know of another tune we prefer; it may omit verses or aspects of the story found in other versions which we'd like to have in our song - so we may want to change it a little (or a lot) before we sing it.  And it's only right and proper that we should.

There's no reason why a singer in the 21st century should be required to sing the same version of a song, to the same tune, as was sung by someone with whom s/he has no connection, with an entirely different socio-cultural background, from a different part of the country (or, indeed, a different country), maybe a hundred years ago.  And I bet there are very few songs which have been in any singer's repertoire for more than a week or two, which haven't had the odd word or phrase changed, intentionally or no, better to fit the singer's take on it.  Certainly we know that (whatever they may have said to the contrary) many traditional singers have been recorded singing different (sometimes quite radically different) versions of songs at different times in their lives.  And there's every good reason that we should do the same - particularly as we have access to many more versions of songs than even the most avid of traditional singers did.

So, if you agree with me about the above - this songbook is for you.  A book where (in most cases) each song is presented:

Then you will have the opportunity of putting together your own version - one which fits better in terms of point of view, clarity of plot, resonance, melodic variation, etc - and without having to gain access to numerous other conventional song books to achieve this end.  The intention is that you might then end up singing your own song, rather than just copying someone else's.

In addition, each contributor will give his/her e-mail address (but spaces have been inserted either side of the @ to prevent web-crawlers and 'bots picking them up) so that others can contact him/her with ideas and queries.  That way, a reader can contact just the contributor of the song, or several contributors together, as seems most appropriate.  It is to be hoped that this feedback will allow for:

I firmly believe that you, as a singer, and those you share these songs with, will gain enormously in terms of enjoyment and enthusiasm - and it will certainly do a lot to refute the tired and flawed argument that these wonderful old songs are no longer 'relevant'.  Yours will be relevant to you - and your listeners will realise it very quickly!

Rod Stradling - 25.6.04