There are many songs out there that are older than I am, songs older than my house, older even than the village in which I live. Some of the oldest songs are lost, gone forever with the loss of those who last sang them, and some are still sung, having reached some form of critical mass, and will last for years to come, and finally there are some that fall between these two extremes.
These songs that still hang on by their refrains, resisting the silence, are perhaps known and sung by only a very few people or are maybe even partially lost with only a few verses still known, and these songs are a rich seam that repays investigation, reveals much of interest, plumbs deep emotions and gritty historical experience, provides reflections upon our modern world that often reveal profound takes on humanity that we’d easily have missed without the added perspective of history. They deserve to be preserved, these songs that crystallise the wisdom of elders as sung art. Excitingly, it is often these diminished, shattered and incomplete works that can be manoeuvred or cajoled into revealing things their authors and countless previous singers had never imagined.