MP claims Simon and Garfunkel song was recorded at expense of County Durham stonemasons

The Northern Echo: Simon and Garfunkel Simon and Garfunkel

AN MP clashed with a Government minister after claiming one of Simon and Garfunkel's most famous songs was recorded at the expense of North-East stonemasons.

Helen Goodman, the Bishop Auckland MP, protested that the legendary pop duo had made an “absolute fortune” from recording ‘Scarborough Fair’.

Yet stonemasons in upper Teesdale – from where the song is now thought to have originated – made “absolutely nothing”, the Labour MP said.

Ms Goodman used the example to urge ministers not to allow people to use a Bill updating intellectual property rights to put patents on our “common culture”.

She explained: “In the 1950s, some people collecting folk songs went to Teesdale in my constituency.

“They got the stonemasons to sing songs and recorded them. They took the recordings away and shared them with people making music. One of the songs they recorded was ‘Scarborough Fair’.

“I think Simon and Garfunkel are great and they made a lovely production of the song, but it was a part of our common culture.”

Asked whether anyone performing Scarborough Fair had to pay Simon and Garfunkel, Ms Goodman replied “Unhappily, I think that that is exactly what did happen.”

However, David Willetts, the universities minister, ridiculed the suggestion, during debate on the Bill which is designed to help firms protect their intellectual property (IP) rights.

Getting his counties mixed up, Mr Willetts said: “I am not aware of Simon and Garfunkel having gone around Derbyshire…sorry, was it Durham?

“I am not aware of Simon and Garfunkel prosecuting folk musicians for singing their version of ‘Scarborough Fair’.

“I do not think they ever did that and I very much doubt that the law would have sustained them if they had tried to do it.”

Speaking afterwards, Ms Goodman protested that the minister had ignored the key point – that the stonemasons had not received a penny of the millions of pounds made.

Evidence that the song can be traced to Teesdale was uncovered, in 2011, by researcher Mike Bettison, from Bowes, from an archive at the Library of Congress in the USA.

A lead-miner named Mark Anderson was recorded singing it in a pub in the late 1940s. The song was “collected”, but wasn’t published until the 1960s.

Paul Simon learned the song in London in 1965 from Martin Carthy, the leading figure in English folk, who gave it its distinctive guitar riff and recorded it that year.

However, in a further twist, Mr Carthy said he later discovered his own music publisher – rather than Paul Simon - had quietly copyrighted the song. Unwittingly, Mr Carthy had signed away his claim in a pile of documents at the end of a 1960s lawsuit against the American singer.

Comments (7)

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9:24am Wed 22 Jan 14

The Grim North says...

Helen, I imagine the stone masons in upper Teesdale are all long dead and well past caring about S&Gs plagiarism.
Helen, I imagine the stone masons in upper Teesdale are all long dead and well past caring about S&Gs plagiarism. The Grim North

9:38am Wed 22 Jan 14

Taxpaying Homeowner says...

We really do have the most rerediculous set of MP's in this area!!

I't's about time there was a real shake up so they realise that they are there to represent the people of the North East rather than perusing their own vanity projects.
We really do have the most rerediculous set of MP's in this area!! I't's about time there was a real shake up so they realise that they are there to represent the people of the North East rather than perusing their own vanity projects. Taxpaying Homeowner

10:52am Wed 22 Jan 14

spyathome says...

Err, a quick look on wikipedia gives you the details:

http://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Scarborough
_Fair_%28ballad%29

The songs a lot earlier than the 1950s. The lyrics + melody of S+G comes from Whitby.

The MP is a lazy, half-wit.
Err, a quick look on wikipedia gives you the details: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Scarborough _Fair_%28ballad%29 The songs a lot earlier than the 1950s. The lyrics + melody of S+G comes from Whitby. The MP is a lazy, half-wit. spyathome

10:57am Wed 22 Jan 14

cromwell1599 says...

If MP's concentrated on matters that needed attention rather than bellyaching about irrelevant nonsense such as this then people like myself would be more inclined to vote for them, as it is come the next election it will be another "no candidate worthy of my vote" spoiled paper.
If MP's concentrated on matters that needed attention rather than bellyaching about irrelevant nonsense such as this then people like myself would be more inclined to vote for them, as it is come the next election it will be another "no candidate worthy of my vote" spoiled paper. cromwell1599

12:23pm Wed 22 Jan 14

lfp says...

Has this woman got nothing more pressing to deal with?
Has this woman got nothing more pressing to deal with? lfp

1:02pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Ally F says...

I am absolutely certain this issue was mentioned to Helen Goodman time and time again by her loyal constituents in surgeries. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe and on another planet called earth....

Well I suppose it diverts attention from another popular topic of discussion by the good folk of Bishop Auckland - their white elephant local hospital with no A&E provision aka 'Milburn's Folly'
I am absolutely certain this issue was mentioned to Helen Goodman time and time again by her loyal constituents in surgeries. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe and on another planet called earth.... Well I suppose it diverts attention from another popular topic of discussion by the good folk of Bishop Auckland - their white elephant local hospital with no A&E provision aka 'Milburn's Folly' Ally F

9:30am Thu 23 Jan 14

MSG says...

Mark Anderson, Teesdale Lead Miner took the existing words and put HIS tune to it. It was tape recorded by the BBC / USA researchers in 1940 at the High Force Hotel. Ewan McColl got access to the tapes and offred the song to Paul Simon. The duo's version is Mark Andersons. other versions with other tunes exist.
Mark Anderson, Teesdale Lead Miner took the existing words and put HIS tune to it. It was tape recorded by the BBC / USA researchers in 1940 at the High Force Hotel. Ewan McColl got access to the tapes and offred the song to Paul Simon. The duo's version is Mark Andersons. other versions with other tunes exist. MSG

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