Here we go round again…

2014
02.04

This site was originally conceived by Jon Boden and launched in June of 2010 to deliver at least one new song a day for a year. It’s about encouraging social singing and intended as a resource for the audience to gather their own inspiration, perhaps learn new repertoire and wherever possible take that out into the wider world. Each new song was set to appear at the very start of the day as the midnight hour ticked by. The process was reset each subsequent year, finding a new audience each time around, as well as keeping many devotees happy and has just been started again.

All of the songs were recorded by Jon, sometimes with instrumental accompaniment, sometimes without and occasionally with a helping hand or voice or two. As well as the songs themselves, each day featured a post that tried to unravel the origins and mysteries behind the songs, Jon’s inspirations and some general history wherever it seemed of interest. Those posts were all written in 2010 as a journey of discovery, with links to other resources where appropriate. Some of those resources may not have had the staying power of AFSAD, but we will be trying to fix any broken links that we can as we go.

You will also find that some of Jon’s choices and performances provoked praise comment, criticism and in some cases a good degree of extra ferreting around the net to add to the story, so the comments are well worth your attention. Anyone is welcome to join in, subject to moderation of course, although pretty much all opinions are accepted as long as they are reasonably and politely expressed. Anyone is welcome and no special knowledge is required, so feel free to add to the threads, but more than anything, enjoy the music.

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(Now) Westlin Winds

2014
08.01

Although widely known as (Now)Westlin Winds, the alternate and (probably) more accurate title of Song Composed In August (it’s what Robertburns.org calls it) makes this an apt way to introduce the new month. Jon  attributes his inspiration here as, “Ian Giles, singer from Magpie lane and stalwart of the Oxford folk scene for many years, who introduced me to this song and his is, for my money, the alpha version, particularly at 2am in the Half Moon. Happy days.” There can be little doubting the anti blood sport message amidst this poetic roll call of natures bounty, as the summer gives way to the harvest season. I must say I’m much taken with this and realize I know precious little about Burns, something which even a cursory glance at this Wiki page makes me think I should do something about. Interestingly it suggest that the Peggy referred to in the verse is a Peggy Thompson, although dates seem at odds with the Burns website. Burns clearly lived a hard life, but as a farmer was in tune with the wildlife around him. I love the way he simply places the different birds in their preferred habitat, giving us an insight that is paradoxically profound. Lovely stuff.

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You can buy the August digital album now from all good download stores:



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Tom Padget

2014
07.31

You’ll also find this on Vagabond the Spiers & Boden CD, given a lively treatment. Returning it here to an unaccompanied song, Jon also reverts to the racier lyrics. As he says, “From Lou Killen. Some debate as to the meaning of ‘doldrums’ – see Mudcat thread.” You’ll find that here and note Jon is an active participant in the thread. I can’t add to the Doldrums debate, so will leave you to draw your owninferences and conclusions…

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The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:

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The Old Songs

2014
07.30

Jon says, “Bellamy was always a bit disappointed that this setting of a Bob Copper poem didn’t become more of an anthem for the folk club circuit. I suspect the problem is it’s a bit too wordy, but it’s a shame because it just sums up very well the enduring appeal of folk songs and folk singing.” We’re back to Songs An’ Rummy Conjurin’ Tricks for Peter’s version of this and wordy or not, it’s another welcome addition here, although of course this is another that isn’t Trad. Arr.  You’ll find the lyrics and more at Mudcat here. For those short on time, this is the most interesting entry on the thread.

Bob Copper originally wrote this as a poem around 1945; the above is his revised version of 1984, which Peter Bellamy set to music.  Bob had this to say about it, in an interview with Peter for Sing Out! magazine conducted in 1970: “I felt as if I was the only man in the country who thought the old songs were worth saving…we had no idea of the existence of the English Folk Song Society, even though [in 1887] Granddad had been instrumental in its formation…I was frantically trying to find someone who was interested in these things and who shared my feelings for them.  I even became a member of the Sussex Archaeological Society, and I wrote to them saying that I was in possession of a large number of songs which I considered to be as important as a part of Sussex history as any bit of flint, or old tomb or piece of old furniture (though I was interested in those too), and much more vulnerable, but that didn’t come to anything.  Anyway, this reflects what I was feeling at the time.”

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The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:

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Child Morris

2014
07.29

A version of this appeared on the Spiers & Boden Songs CD with the same tune and Jon Says, “This is one of a number of ballads that I’ve set to a popular English country dance, in this case The Dark Girl Dressed In Blue. Martin Carthy first (?) employed this trick setting The Maid And The Palmer to From Night Till Morn’. Since many instrumental tunes started life as song melodies it seems very natural to reverse the process.” The notes  about the track on Songs say “Or Gil Maurice (Gil Morice and Bill Norrie also -admin)- once a very well known ballad in Scotland inspiring tawdry dramatic adaptations and cropping up all over the place in various ballad versions. Our version is based on a version collected from Banffshire in 1826 from Widow Michael, a very old woman.”  Fittingly it’s also Child Ballad #83 and is likely to prove one of the hardest for anyone to learn on account of its length. As usual, Mainly Norfolk turns up trumps with details of the recordings and you’ll also find some Mudcat here under one of the title variants (there are others, but Child Morris won’t get you anything.) Elsewhere, there are threads that pick at the similarities to Mattie Groves and Little Musgrave, with a Lord Bernard (Barnard) putting the titular subject to the sword in a jealous rage, although the reason here is somewhat different. If you have time this Mudcat thread, trying to nail Lord Barnard in history is quite entertaining, although somewhat futile. If you don’t have time, suffice to say that someone has plucked a reference to Musgrave being sung from a play apparently first performed in 1607.

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The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:

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Maid of Australia

2014
07.28

Although I’m struggling to imagine let alone explain the circumstances, I cannot doubt Jon’s sincerity when he says, “One of the proudest moments of my career to date was singing this song unaccompanied and unamplified at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London whilst sporting a purple beehive wig and no shirt.” A sight to behold no doubt, especially given the somewhat salacious content of this bawdy ballad.  This mainly Norfolk entry gives you an idea of the recordings made, and of those Jon again refers to Peter Bellamy as his source, as does Martin Carthy. Both Sides Then is starting to look like a worthwhile CD purchase for those wishing to explore the singer’s art further, although I’m sure many of you out there will have it already. This wasn’t on the original LP but is on the CD and I’m almost sure it won’t be the last time we’ll reference it. The Mainly Norfolk link is especially appropriate as English variants of this song seems to have been found exclusively in that region. As you’d expect, there’s some Mudcat stuff debating the Australian/English provenance. It rests on whether the river banks should be those of the Hawkesbury, just North West of Sydney, or Oxborough (Oxberry)as in Oxborough Hall on the banks of the River Gadder near Kings Lynn.  The lyrics would seem to point to the former, with the reference to “the forests of native Australia.” The latter is perhaps the Anglicisation of it, possibly due to the Eastern sea ports connection with the transports and the through flow of both the sailors and those returning having served their sentence. Any further evidence will be appreciated.

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The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:

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