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.
Jon Wishes “Happy Easter everyone,” as do I. He continues, “I’m not 100% sure that this is the right day for this song but it seems appropriate anyway. We did a nice version with Eliza and the Ratcatchers, possibly on YouTube somewhere.”
Well this does seem to entirely appropriate today as far as I can tell and this link will tell you more. It seems that the “Pace” of the title is from Pacha, the Latin for Easter. You’ll find the Watersons version of this song, which I guess is essentially the same as Jon’s version at Mainly Norfolk and this Mudcat link will also give you an extra verse or two. As for The Ratcatchers’ performance, I’ve immediately drawn a blank, but being very conscious of the time theft aspect of YouTube have ducked out. I like the Mummers’ aspect of this, which probably also compensates for the lack of St. George action yesterday.
Jon attributes this as “From the extraordinary singing of Paul Brady. What a voice. Dan Plews introduced me to this (and to Brady).”
Paul Brady is perhaps better known these days as a songwriter, having made the leap from interpreter to composer at the very start of the 80s. It’s also fair to say he’s a bit of a songwriters’ songwriter and Paul’s work is acclaimed by many of his peers. He’s also a regular on the Transatlantic Sessions, which I don’t watch religiously, but always seem to enjoy when I do. As for this song, it strikes me it’s not so much about ‘rambling’ as full scale emigrating, although I suppose the sense of following twists and turns is appropriate to seeking one’s fortune. The other thing that concerns is that this is all very open ended, with no sense of how long the lass is expected to endure alone. Still, I suppose it’s all well intended and no one was murdered, but all the same, I wonder how many parted to seek their fortune and lived up to the promise to return.
By the way it’s St. George’s Day and Jon’s not prepared anything for it for AFSAD, but then it’s hard enough delivering all of these songs without worrying about every anniversary and this year it also coinbcides with Easter. We do have something for St. George’s Day by Waterson:Carthy here for you, following on from yesterday’s Bella Hardy song as part of our Easter Weekend over at Properganda. I’ve just read an interesting comment suggesting that St. George’s day tends to be overlooked because of its close proximity to May Day, which became the natural focus of English celebrations. That also got me wondering about whether saints are more of a Catholic thing and perhaps this also played a part in downgrading the dragon slayer. It’s pure speculation (mixed with curiosity) on my part, so I’d appreciate any informed comments below.
Jon says, “There’s something very convincing about this song, regardless of how far Lloyd re-wrote it. The mix of industrial and rural imagery is very evocative and quite compelling. I know it from Anne Briggs.”
I’ll agree with that with slight reservations. It’s also interesting to note that Bert’s re-write of this is both extensive and has also been acknowledged for some time. Erring on the generous side, he was economical with his source information and as this Mudcat thread makes clear we know the original author as a Robert Anderson. You can read the original text, complete with its regional inflexion. Note it originally had a totally rural setting and the new recruit was a farm worker rather than miner, which I think leads to a couple of awkward little moments in the lyrics. It’s also very likely that this is a Bert Lloyd tune. I should perhaps make clear that I’m one of the people who have no issues with Bert’s ‘editing’ and ‘adapting.’ I doubt that the true ‘blood-line’ of a song was ever much of a concern with singers until the collectors set about the work of preserving the folk-heritage. The need for authenticity simply came with that as part of the package. In this case the original survives quite independently anyway. Either way, the story works well and I wonder how often this scenario has been played out with the distinct possibility that it will all unravel on the battlefield.
I should also direct you today to Properganda today as we have a Bank Holiday weekend’s worth of stuff planned over there and a chance to hear a track, appropriately entitled Good Friday, from Bella Hardy’s brand new album Songs Lost And Stolen.
Jon calls this one “Probably the only song in the revival repertoire written in the Locrian mode. Amazingly it doesn’t sound that strange and lyrically it’s a tour de force by Kirkpatrick senior.”
John Kirkpatrick that is, who has recorded his own version, as has Martin Carthy and you can read more about those at Mainly Norfolk. I don’t have an awful lot more to add and am not scholarly enough to comment on the Locrian mode or scale, although you may like to look at this and this. I’m sure it will make more sense to the singers amongst you, but it gives a slightly odd feel to the tune, which seems to suit the matter-of-factness of it all. For some reason I’m getting a ‘musical’ film feeling from it with visions of a sinister Dick Van Dyke flickering in my mind. I’m not sure why… It may just be the peculiar sort of day I’m having.
Jon says, “In some respects quite an ordinary folk-song story, but the imagery is very powerful here. I first heard this sung by Jackie McShee on the John Renbourn Group’s Maid in Bedlam CD, which is great by the way.”
I’ll add that I’ve come across some lyric sets for this that seem to end happily. This Mudcat thread at least goes some way there, but there are even some verses where our newly arrived hero saves the day. Still I agree that this is indeed powerful stuff, a shudder went down my spine.