Here we go round again… Unblocked!

2015
02.04

Sorry for the temporary blockage, but we are back on track again…

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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Lemady

2015
03.31

Jon refers to this as “A beautiful aubade sung quite widely in a variety of versions. This is from Martin Carthy who sung it on Lark Rise to Candleford. I’m not sure where he got it from – sounds a bit more broadside-ish than the Copper family’s version so perhaps he compiled it from written sources? That’s a guess though.”

Not wishing to disagree, but this actually comes across as a mixture of Martin’s version on Larkrise and Eliza’s, although without the latter’s heartbreaking of parting at the end. Have a look at the various versions on Mainly Norfolk and you’ll see what I mean. I was also getting set up for delving into the name Lemandy and the possible midsummer tradition that Malcolm Douglas refers to in his notes (scroll down the page for his Cornish version.) That was until I followed the link over to Mudcat and got the sense that Malcolm disowned that line of thinking. There is no doubt that leman is archaic for lover or sweetheart, so there might be a simple word link. The idea of some sort of Leman Day, however, is  not something I’ve been able to gather any evidence for, although I was rather taken by ‘aubade’ being obviously French in origin and ‘leman’ at least sounding as if it is. If someone can point us in the direction of something that verifies Leman Day that would be good, as it all sounds rather appealing. While we’re at it, an aubade is serenade at the other end of the day, morning rather than evening, but you probably knew that already! As usual the trouble with all this ferreting is I’m actually not much the wiser as to the origins of this. It was collected by the Coppers, but as Jon notes versions seem to be fairly well spread. If you follow the Mudcat thread down, there’s even a suggestion that it’s actually an Irish song.  Like many songs there is the sense of only fragments surviving, with some knocked into shape and printed as broadsides. In many ways, therefore, Jon’s suggestion of a composite is probably not far off the mark.

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Juniper, Gentle And Rosemary

2015
03.30

Jon calls this “Another lovely song learnt from Magpie Lane. They may have got it from Pete Coe, not sure. I’ve mentioned Magpie Lane a few times so thought it might be nice to put some of their stuff up on AFSAD. They have kindly agreed to let us put their version of this track up (from Six for Gold). Marvellous!”

We’re back into Child #1 or #2 territory again and also Scarborough Fair and Captain Wedderburn. As the observant amongst you will doubtless have recognised, I mentioned the daughters in my write up of that. Juniper and Jennifer are the same thing and Gentle is another name for Hawthorn. This version is Pete Coe’s, or at least from the same source, following the version transcribed at Mainly Norfolk.  It’s another curious ballad, with one sister letting the valiant knight in, one making his bed and the third answering the questions to gain his hand – if only life generally followed such an orderly procession. There’s a distinctly faulty bit of maths involved too, as I count six questions. Mind you there are versions of this involving the Devil asking as many as nine questions and I wonder whether there might be a touch of numerology involved. I found this Mudcat thread entertaining and you may agree or rate it a complete waste of time, as the debate about the magical significance of the plant combination rages. I can see a certain logic to it in the context of the supernatural question setter in other versions, but have grown more cautious of accepting such theories as factual. Besides the knight here seems merely mortal and there’s a somewhat different refrain under debate anyway, with “lay the bent to the bonny broom” possibly having the erotic inference that Phil was suggesting in his comments for Scarborough Fair. In that case I wonder at the “dew flies over the mulberry tree”!!! (Or should that be lies?) As compensation for the scholarly stuff,  there are some other good riddle/impossible songs in the thread to distract you, with a couple of very interesting, comic and somewhat surreal examples. I’m going to have to make notes on all of these riddle permutations, as you never know when a crib-sheet could come in handy. Mind you, knowing my luck it’s more likely to involve Old Nick than any fair young maidens . Anyway, I hope you enjoy the bonus too as it’s lovely stuff.

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Bonus track by Magpie Lane

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Maid On The Shore

2015
03.29

I can see what Jon means as he calls this “A crazy tune that takes some learning! We did a version of this song with Eliza And The Ratcatchers but this version is from Frankie Armstrong.”

Magic or simple cunning? Either way the maid in question does a nifty job of getting herself out of a tight spot. I’m guessing that the moonlight adds to the suggestion of a supernatural event and the sleeve notes for Martin Carthy’s version, as included on The Bird In The Bush also pick up on that as you’ll see on Mainly Norfolk. You’ll also find a YouTube video of Eliza & The Ratcatchers on the page. There are a number of threads circling around this on Mudcat, but I’ve not been able to pin down anything especially fascinating, although there is an extra verse about the maid suggesting she was somewhat lovelorn and hence prone to wander alone on the shore-o. You’ll see that both Eliza and Rachel McShane have included that if you compare and contrast the versions on the above link. It’s an interesting contrast to note the more recent versions start with this verse, which makes me wonder from whence it came. Someone more diligent than I might turn up a pearl on this. Please share it if you do.

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Whiskey Is The Life Of Man

2015
03.28

Jon reveals “I busked this arrangement of Whiskey at the Matachin recording session, to be used as a sort of quiet intro before the raucous band version. It’s a bit of a liberty on what is a pretty lively, salty number, but I think it works quite nicely like this.”

I’ll have to agree as it brings out the essential sadness of the life abandoned to the bottle. I’m assuming that most, if not all, will be familiar with the rambunctious Bellowhead version, so I’ll leave you with a quick link to Mainly Norfolk to contrast and compare with Ewan MacColl, The Clancy Brothers and Bob Roberts . Ill also note Lou Killern’s and Graham Metcalf’s names in the mix. You can also follow Reinhard’s link on to Mudcat at the bottom of the page for more drinking merriment.

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Ye Mariners All

2015
03.27

Jon Identifies this as “Another song that I first heard on the magnificent first album by Waterson:Carthy, sung by Martin. I think Graham Metcalfe used to song it at the Half Moon too. It’s a good drinking song, despite not having much of a chorus.”

I don’t have a whole lot to add to that. It’s fairly well covered by Mainly Norfolk with Bert Llloyd and Martin Carthy’s versions both transcribed with sleeve notes from both. The source as collected by the Hammonds is the same and I like the idea of the mariners/mourners confusion, although given the fish reference in the song, the former seems more likely for sure. There isn’t a whole lot more known about this songs as far as I can tell, so I suppose we should just enjoy it. I must say I intend to charge a glass myself this evening as I’m feeling somewhat tired for a bit of a stroll round London. Some good company and plenty of it to. I’ll raise a toast to the TUC.

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