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What You Remember Might Not Be The Original

Back in the year 2009, my kids first viewing of “The Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens was “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” by Disney.

At the time, I knew that having the their first exposure to such a classic novel was wrong somehow, even though it seemed innocent enough.  Most of the older neighborhood kids  had seen the movie, so I followed the tend and let my kids watch the kidified (yeah, I made that word up) version of the classic by Mr. Dickens.  But still what was lost in the translation of the classic still bothers me a little today.  Oh not in a big way, but I know it has tainted the original message, feeling and meaning forever for my kids.  Whenever the see a version of this classic, they will first think of Mickey Mouse.

When I was a very small child, my parents use to play the song “Scarborough Fair” by Simeon and Garfunkel.  I was amazed by the song and I thought the two singers were geniuses.   I couldn’t totally understand the words, but I knew the lyrics were a bit magical to me, and I was in awe of them.  I often wondered how these two individuals came up with such striking lyrics!  I really thought they were something special…  But, in this case I was wrong!

You see the lyrics to “Scarborough Fair” and the basic melody has existed a bit before Simon and Garfunkel sung the classic song.  In fact, it’s from Medieval times and had various versions of the ballad!

While there is a great chance that I would have never heard the song if it wasn’t sung by Simeon and Garfunkel, I think it’s a bit deceiving letting people believe that they created the ballad.  Perhaps they did mention it on the album, and my parents knew and just never told me…  But I bet a lot of you didn’t realize this little fact either.

It is a great song, but it wasn’t the original…

I wonder how many more things in life are like this great little song?  Remakes of some other great piece of work by others in time?  I know the original writers of this song is uncredited and unknown.

This is a simple example, but I wonder how often we miss hearing the original version of such works in its original context?

-MR

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7 Responses to What You Remember Might Not Be The Original

  1. Oh I love that song by S&G! Didn’t realize that wasn’t original. 🙁

    But the title of your post reminded me of a quote by Sam Johnson:

    “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good.”

    (Not a reflection of Charles Dickens or S&G, I love them both, just a quote that came to my head! ) 🙂

    • As a kid I loved that song too. My mom would play it sometimes on her record player.

      The lyrics aren’t so original, I’m sure S&G made it somewhat there own (esp. in the US…), but it does some some rich culture that should be known.

  2. “Louie Louie” is another one of those songs; originally recorded by Richard Berry, but made famouse by the Kingsmen.

  3. “There’s nothing new under the sun.” anonymous. I think good work inspires. Remaking of the old is sometimes even better than the original. BTW, have you seen the remake of True Grit (not great for little kids)? It’s amazing.

    • I did check out “True Grit”, at least on IMDB.com, and the remake received a higher rate than the original John Wayne movie! If it’s a book, I bet the book is better than both though 🙂

  4. I think covering, sampling, remaking, and “borrowing” has been going on since the dawn of art and we only notice it when we grow old and we see the younger generation re-interpret our art and culture in their way.

    I knew I was getting old when I found myself saying things like, “You know that’s a XYZ cover, right?” or “Pfft, they just ripped off XYZ!” I remember all the “old” people used to tell me that when I was young.

    Sometimes the “kiddified” version can inspire a child to seek out the “real” version. My mom used to buy abridged and kiddified books of classics and when I got older and learned some more grown up words it made me want to read the real version of the books that I loved.

    • True, but there is a beauty in seeing the original in the closest for to what the author/artist wanted it to be perceived as… Especially the Dicken’s story…