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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Jock Stewart

2014
10.23

Another from camp and Jon says,“From FSC and a great chorus, although there’s not much else to recommend it, but there it is.” That’s slightly dismissive perhaps as there’s more to this than first meets the eye. This seems to be a Scottish or Borders version of an Irish song call I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day, a version of which, I believe appeared on the Pogues Rum, Sodomy And  The Lash, but also seems to have some considerable history. Mudcat offers this thread for starters and there’s lots more if you search around here for example, although I caution you that this latter link drifts into pointless time theft. Perhaps Jon’s right and the chorus is it. While you’re there then, mine’s a pint!

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Bellowhead make the Official UK Charts Top 20

2014
10.22

Just thought you’d all be intererested to know that Broadside entered the charts at number 16 yesterday. In a world where Mumford & Sons are most peoples idea of folk music, this is a remarkable achievement and hearty congratulations are in order, with a big thankyou to everyone who bought a copy to put it there.

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Santa Fe Trail

2014
10.22

Jon says, “Bellamy again and what a song! ‘She had smiles like acres of sunflowers’ – lovely.” Is this our first cowboy song? I will point you to Mainly Norfolk for info on the Bellamy version, which only differs in the order of the verses. I also note from this Mudcat thread it’s one of the most copyrighted and stolen songs in America. I have to agree with Jon that the words to this are great, but it certainly has the sophistication of a ‘writer’, as James Grafton Rogers was and that puts it into the same league as the Kiplings, but prehaps more Henry Lawson’s Bush girl from September. I also note that the tune was composed by an organist John H. Gower, at least according to Mudcat. This link should take you to a letter written by JGR, to a Katie Lee on the subject of this and Dolores, which he also wrote. Said missive is quoted in her book 10,000 Goddam Cattle : A History Of The American Cowboy In Song, Story And Verse. A few minutes with Wiki about the actual trail is also worthwhile, just for the scale of the geography. It brings home the wide open spaces and the epic quest for the mysterious, elusive girl with the aforementioned smile. Lovely indeed.

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All For Me Grog

2014
10.21

I can relate to Jon’s comment on this, “I was a bit obsessed by Mike Waterson’s performance of this and wore the vinyl out listening to it obsessively.” The Watersons’ version, massed chorus and all, is really very good and Jon follows their version faithfully. Mainly Norfolk has The Watersons’ version and Bert Lloyd’s Aussie alternative. It’s interesting to spot in the various sleeve notes that this was also found in Nova Scotia and the suggestion of a Music Hall link. This is definitely a seafarers’ song though, as the reference to grog is nautical through and through. For those that don’t know, the mixing of the ration of rum with water was made by Vice Admiral Sir Edward Vernon who was nickname Old Grog because of an impressive grogam cloak he wore on deck in all weather. He made it response to epidemic drunkenness across the fleet and the order was hugely unpopular with the men. We’ve been here before with shanties, but you can immediately find a different set of verses for this, such as this link. It’s also interesting to see this claimed as Irish and I note videos of performances by the Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem are also prominent. I’d suggest this as another song that travelled the world as a work song and may have had many variations, to suit the singers, the situation and the task in hand. There is much ado on Mudcat about this should you wish to explore at length. That thread mentions Roud index no. 475 as  instructive, as this being mostly collected in England, once in Scotland, but not in Ireland.

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Close The Coalhouse Door

2014
10.20

One form the pen of Alex Glasgow and Jon says, “I think I learnt this from the Colpitts but can’t really remember. We recently had The Wilsons at our club (www.royaltraditions.com) and this one brought the house down.” Alex was a Socialist and songwriter who grew up in the North East of England and this song was originally about the struggles of the regions coal miners. You’ll note that there is an extra verse added here about the Aberfan disaster – “Close the coalhouse door boys, there’s bairns inside…” and you’ll read more, including a couple of later miners strike era additions on this Mudcat thread. Regulars of a certain age will at least be familiar with his singing of the theme music for When The Boat Comes In, but that’s hardly the pinnacle of his achievement, as he also wrote several of the episodes of that series. This song title is also shared by a musical play written by Alan Plater that included some of Alex’s songs amongst a series of sketches. There’s also mention of When The Tyne Slides By, a song cycle created for another BBC series, as his masterpiece in this Wiki entry. It’s worth a few minutes as is this Guardian obituary from Alan Plater, still poignant and perhaps more so almost 10 years on.

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