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REH's Musical Tastes


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#1 deuce

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 12:29 AM


Did REH like the music? What music - if any - did he listen to? Did he have any favourite song/ chant?

That was the golden era of radio, I guess he had to listen to it, at least once in a while... or hadn't he?


Hey Marcin! I know Rusty or Paul could come up with the exact quote, but here's my recollection... Howard said something to the effect of,"I come from mountain-people and sea-people, and if there's a song that pertains to either, I know it." As far as "mountain songs", I'm sure REH was referring to the traditional music associated with the Ozarks and Appalachians (ultimately descended from the music of the British Isles). That's one reason I think that REH would've taken kindly to Manly Wade Wellman's "Silver John the Balladeer" tales (KEW certainly did). I also seem to recall that Howard once wrote that he liked "pop music", even if music critics didn't.

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#2 deuce

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 06:12 AM

deuce, thats very interesting, thanks a lot! ;) I'll try to check out about these tales you mention...


"For the Love of Barbara Allen" (which, thanks to Glenn Lord, I read before I ever read a Conan yarn) was directly inspired by an old Appalachian tune. For all those who think that REH would only listen to Fiddy or Dimmu Borgir, all I can say is, "Sorry, he'd listen to the Chieftains, too." (probably) ;)

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#3 godzilladude

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 02:31 PM


Did REH like the music? What music - if any - did he listen to? Did he have any favourite song/ chant?

That was the golden era of radio, I guess he had to listen to it, at least once in a while... or hadn't he?


REH collected and sent in to magazines folk songs. And he wrote about them, and repeated them, in his letters. I don't know that I remember him discussing then-current music at all. Very historical, that way.

#4 Rusty Burke

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 03:31 PM

Hmm... Now, when you've mentioned Bob singing off key to pi$$ his neighbors, I started to wonder about another things.
Did REH like the music? What music - if any - did he listen to? Did he have any favourite song/ chant?
That was the golden era of radio, I guess he had to listen to it, at least once in a while... or hadn't he?


REH loved to listen to the radio, and discussed some of his listening preferences in letters to Lovecraft, though he does not mention listening to popular music of the time. He was a real lover of, and student of, folk songs, particularly, as others noted, "mountain songs" (songs and ballads sung by the people of the Southern mountains in the US), sea chanties, and especially cowboy songs. See the entry "Folk Songs and Ballads" in the Robert E Howard Bookshelf.

According to an interview de Camp did with a couple who had briefly boarded in the Howard's house, Bob would sing "Bye, Bye Blackbird" for hours on end, improvising verses to it. In a letter to Clyde Smith, December 1928, he improvised a lot of verses to "The Sidewalks of New York" ("East Side, West Side"). I don't know where the info comes from, but I've seen it said that he liked "Up the Lazy River," as well.

Harold Preece, in "The Last Celt", mentioned Bob singing "The Rising of the Moon" (Irish revolutionary song) but doing so to the tune of "Where the River Shannon Flows". Undoubtedly, at least during his "Irish phase," Bob would have learned and sung many Irish songs.

Mrs. Ellis told me that Bob had a very pleasing baritone voice.

Rusty

#5 Rusty Burke

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 03:42 PM

"For the Love of Barbara Allen" (which, thanks to Glenn Lord, I read before I ever read a Conan yarn) was directly inspired by an old Appalachian tune.


"Barbara Allen" is an old, old ballad (Child Ballad #84) from the British Isles. Howard discussed a "last verse" of the song he had heard in a letter to noted folk music collector Robert W. Gordon, April 1926, and also with HPL in October 1931. He seems to have believed it to be Scottish, though experts believe it may have been English or Irish as well. It's so damn old no one really knows where it originated.

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#6 Rusty Burke

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 03:46 PM

Hey Marcin! I know Rusty or Paul could come up with the exact quote, but here's my recollection... Howard said something to the effect of,"I come from mountain-people and sea-people, and if there's a song that pertains to either, I know it."


"Coming, as I do, from mountain folk on one side and sea followers on the other, there are few old songs of the hills or the sea with which I am not familiar." -- REH to Robert W. Gordon, 4 February 1925.

#7 deuce

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 08:24 PM

"For the Love of Barbara Allen" (which, thanks to Glenn Lord, I read before I ever read a Conan yarn) was directly inspired by an old Appalachian tune.


"Barbara Allen" is an old, old ballad (Child Ballad #84) from the British Isles. Howard discussed a "last verse" of the song he had heard in a letter to noted folk music collector Robert W. Gordon, April 1926, and also with HPL in October 1931. He seems to have believed it to be Scottish, though experts believe it may have been English or Irish as well. It's so damn old no one really knows where it originated.

Rusty


Hey Rusty! Good to see you back on the forum. I hope the vacation went well. When I wrote "Appalachian", I wasn't referring to the ultimate source of the ballad (see my previous post about "mountain-music"). :)

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#8 deuce

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 08:39 PM

REH loved to listen to the radio, and discussed some of his listening preferences in letters to Lovecraft, though he does not mention listening to popular music of the time.
Rusty


Me again. :) Now, previously, I wrote, "as I recall". I've been thinking about that. It might be a "mnemonic hallucination" or something, but I seem to remember a letter where Howard was talking about literature one was "supposed" to read that he really didn't care for, and then he veered off using (Gilbert and Sullivan?) as an example of "common/low-brow" music he liked, as opposed to "high-brow" classical, I guess (wonder what he woulda thought of Poledouris? or Morricone?). Whew. :rolleyes: That's one of the longer sentences I've laid down in a while. :)

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#9 Rusty Burke

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:04 PM

It might be a "mnemonic hallucination" or something, but I seem to remember a letter where Howard was talking about literature one was "supposed" to read that he really didn't care for, and then he veered off using (Gilbert and Sullivan?) as an example of "common/low-brow" music he liked, as opposed to "high-brow" classical, I guess (wonder what he woulda thought of Poledouris? or Morricone?).


You may be thinking of this, from July 1933:

"My tastes and habits are simple; I am neither erudite nor sophisticated. I prefer jazz to classical music, musical burlesques to Greek tragedy, A. Conan Doyle to Balzac, Bob Service?s verse to Santayana?s writing, a prize fight to a lecture on art. I read the wood pulp magazines and enjoy them. I laugh uproariously at slap stick comedy in the movies. I respect men?s religion whether I believe in it or not. I am a 100% American and damned proud of it. I think the United States is the finest country on earth, and I wouldn?t trade a quarter section of it for the whole land of Europe. I cheer and yell madly at football games, prize fights, and horse races. All in all, I qualify, according to the standards of the ?professional intellectuals? as a Babbitt, a yokel, a moron, etc."

In another letter, a couple of months later, he wrote:

"And yet it would be erroneous to say that all radio programs are entirely without cultural value.... Leaving out certain programs which I personally enjoy, but which I realize have no particular esthetic merit, I have heard some things which were not without such merit. I have heard, among other things, such plays as 'The Blue Bird', 'John Ferguson', 'Cyrano de Bergerac', 'Antigone', 'The Admirable Creighton', 'Tartuffe', 'Trelawny of the Wells', 'The Iron Master', and a number of Shakespearean plays. Of course I had rather see these things on the stage, but as my chances of doing that are so slim they are practically non-existant, I was grateful for the opportunity of hearing them over the air. And I am further grateful to the radio for reviving and giving to the world many old folk-songs and legends of the cow-camps, the cattle-trails, and the southern mountains. Then I have heard the music of Wagner, Beethoven, Liszt, and other masters, played by the finest modern musicians, and some splendid recitals of poetry."

So we see that he was not entirely averse to classical music.

Rusty

#10 deuce

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:29 PM

Thanks, Rusty! The "jazz" and "musical burlesques" must've been what I was thinkin' of. BTW, I'd say "jazz" would qualify as "pop music" in 1933. ;)

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#11 Ironhand

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 05:06 AM

Thank you very much for your response, lads! Posted Image


wonder what he woulda thought of Poledouris? or Morricone?


Deuce, I just can't imagine author of Conan, Kull and Bran Mak Morn turning off either Morricone or Poleudoris, if they were to play on his radio :lol:


If he liked Beethoven, Wagner, and Liszt, he would have liked Polidouris. Evidently he liked music that was full of energy, and programmatic. The kind of classical music that is used in movies, or the kind of sound tracks that sound like classical music.
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#12 deuce

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 06:33 AM

Thank you very much for your response, lads! Posted Image


wonder what he woulda thought of Poledouris? or Morricone?


Deuce, I just can't imagine author of Conan, Kull and Bran Mak Morn turning off either Morricone or Poleudoris, if they were to play on his radio :lol:


If he liked Beethoven, Wagner, and Liszt, he would have liked Polidouris. Evidently he liked music that was full of energy, and programmatic. The kind of classical music that is used in movies, or the kind of sound tracks that sound like classical music.


Without the ability to check on REH's quote, I was left to speculate. :) Let my predicament be a lesson to all Howard fans: buy ALL THREE volumes of the "Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard" from the REH Foundation. :) For the record: I am a fan of Morricone and Poledouris (and Wagner). :)

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#13 Haemogoblin

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 03:42 AM

His story "For the Love of Barbara Allen" got me thinking about what other songs REH was familiar with or liked. What evidence do we have of what he enjoyed listening to? Is there any specific reference to music in any of his letters?

I can only speculate that he was familiar with various hymns, folk songs, and ballads.
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#14 deuce

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 05:20 AM

His story "For the Love of Barbara Allen" got me thinking about what other songs REH was familiar with or liked. What evidence do we have of what he enjoyed listening to? Is there any specific reference to music in any of his letters?

I can only speculate that he was familiar with various hymns, folk songs, and ballads.



There are several references cited directly from Howard's letters in the "REH and the Irish" thread. REH also seems to have liked jazz a bit.

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#15 amster

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 01:10 PM


His story "For the Love of Barbara Allen" got me thinking about what other songs REH was familiar with or liked. What evidence do we have of what he enjoyed listening to? Is there any specific reference to music in any of his letters?

I can only speculate that he was familiar with various hymns, folk songs, and ballads.



There are several references cited directly from Howard's letters in the "REH and the Irish" thread. REH also seems to have liked jazz a bit.


I wish I still had my copy of The Last Celt, but didn't it contain an amateur publication where REH gave a very negative assessment of jazz music, calling it "jungle music" and saying that it has no place in society?
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#16 deuce

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 05:24 PM



His story "For the Love of Barbara Allen" got me thinking about what other songs REH was familiar with or liked. What evidence do we have of what he enjoyed listening to? Is there any specific reference to music in any of his letters?

I can only speculate that he was familiar with various hymns, folk songs, and ballads.



There are several references cited directly from Howard's letters in the "REH and the Irish" thread. REH also seems to have liked jazz a bit.


I wish I still had my copy of The Last Celt, but didn't it contain an amateur publication where REH gave a very negative assessment of jazz music, calling it "jungle music" and saying that it has no place in society?


You could be right. Of course, REH is known to have contradicted himself before. As I recall, it was in a letter to HPL talking about how he (REH) liked current, popular music. However, it might've been in reference to stuff like Gilbert & Sullivan. I can say without any doubt that Howard was a huge fan of "folk/mountain" music from a very early age. Basically all of that, in the end, falls under the broad "Celtic" category. I seem to recall that REH once noted he wasn't fond of polkas, but I may be wrong in that. Other than where this topic intersects with REH's interest in the Celts, I haven't looked at it much.

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#17 deuce

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 05:48 PM

We don't seem to know musc about his taste in music but he did like Irishness. Also, didn't he once right a story called " For the Love of Barbara Allen "? He must have had at least some Liking for old ballads.


Hidden within the depths of the REH Bookshelf: Folk Songs and Ballads.



A little something from Rusty...

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#18 deuce

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 06:26 PM



His story "For the Love of Barbara Allen" got me thinking about what other songs REH was familiar with or liked. What evidence do we have of what he enjoyed listening to? Is there any specific reference to music in any of his letters?

I can only speculate that he was familiar with various hymns, folk songs, and ballads.



There are several references cited directly from Howard's letters in the "REH and the Irish" thread. REH also seems to have liked jazz a bit.


I wish I still had my copy of The Last Celt, but didn't it contain an amateur publication where REH gave a very negative assessment of jazz music, calling it "jungle music" and saying that it has no place in society?


An article by Mark Finn about REH and a Texan jazzman:

http://www.thecimmerian.com/?p=3154

Here's a quote from an REH letter to HPL:

"My tastes and habits are simple; I am neither erudite nor sophisticated. I prefer jazz to classical music, musical burlesques to Greek tragedy, A. Conan Doyle to Balzac, Bob Service’s verse to Santayana’s writing, a prize fight to a lecture on art."

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#19 daniel

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 07:13 PM

this thread shows how different the definition of "classic" has become since the days of howard. consider: a/conan-doyle was not considered a "classic author" then, as was service, as a poet. both are considered classics today, as well as howard himself. those so inclined may note, that arthur sullivan took great pride in his "serious" music, such as his simphony,his grand opera "ivanhoe",music to shakesperean plays, etc. yet, these are known only to those specially inclined to look for them. i'm also quite sure that howard knew that the folk music of america was studied and preserved by ethonolgists and musicologists. so, this puts the matter in a new perspective.

#20 deuce

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 09:56 PM

A bit of poetry from REH with allusions to Celtic music:

http://www.thecimmerian.com/?p=11783

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