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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The Prentice Boy

2014
09.01

Jon took this originally from the book Marrowbones first published in 1965 and reprinted by the EFDSS with additional annotation (follow this link.) Jon says, “Here’s another pretty gruesome girlfriend murdering song, more or less the same as The Cruel Knife, but with a bit more graphic violence. It’s pretty horrible really – fun to sing though.” Bellamy, Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick are notables who have recorded this and there’s also a version from Harry Cox that you’ll find on The Bonny Labouring Boy CD, which adds to the Norfolk provenance. Mainly Norfolk, appropriately therefore, has a good summary of the various versions and differences in the lyrics and alternate titles. You can read the various sleeve notes too, which make the point that this must be one of the commonest plotlines in folk song. The subtext of unwanted pregnancy is more explicit in some variants, so I guess there’s some cautionary morality to explain the frequency of the story line in an age before successful birth control was common place. Still it’s a rather drastic solution to the problem and a grim outcome all round.

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

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Yarmouth Town

2014
08.31

I know I’m not giving much away when I say that this is one of 11 cuts to make Hedonism, due with us on October 4th. Jon once again refers to the Norfolk maestro, “Bellamy’s sublime live album Won’t You Go My Way ended ‘Last one so make the most of it…’ So it seems a good way to end August (is that the end of summer technically btw?)” As to the summer question my vote would be the equinox, although arguably, meteorologically it seemed to finish when the schools broke up as far as most of the UK is concerned. Speaking of schools, as a parent (formerly concerned now mostly immune), I had to include this link for the sheer inappropriateness of it. I hasten to add, the fault probably lies with the researcher for the article rather than the ‘former voice of Madeline the ragdoll from Bagpuss,’ or at least I hope so!! Mainly Norfolk as always has the Bellamy angle covered.  Mudcat is dubious about the age and provenance of this song. Bellamy’s original notes were brief and simply refer to this and Fakenham Fair as “…straight forward good-time songs,” going on to claim they were “…both learned from Peter Bullen from Norwich who had them from his grandfather.” I see no reason to doubt this and the somewhat explicit nature may have put some of the collectors off documenting the song elsewhere, mind you that hasn’t stopped others making it to print. Still, either way, it naturally makes classic Bellowhead material for Jon to draw on here. Finally, I’ll add that trawling to the bottom one of the Mudat threads I found that the town motto of Yarmouth, Maine, is “Our latchstring always out.” The mind boggles! Perhaps you can add to this.

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


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William Taylor

2014
08.30

We’re back to more familiar folk themes and Jon recalls, “This is Dave Burland’s track on Voices (Fellside CD). John and I played this for our first few gigs, but somehow it slipped out of the repertoire. Maybe we’ll have another go at it at some point.” Perhaps we can look forward to that on the next S & B tour, we’ll see. On a side note that Fellside CD has a lot of the songs that feature on this site and you can link directly to a Mainly Norfolk page about it here, linking to see what Reinhard has about (Bold) William Taylor here.  Interestingly the sleeve notes  on Voices refer to the song being “found in the English, Scottish, Irish and American traditions,” and to Burland’s version being collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset. Another version was collected by Percy Grainger  in 1908 from a Joseph Taylor in Saxby-All Saints in Lincolnshire and Percy was apparently the first collector to use recording equipment. I guess we’re back to the universal theme of infidelity with another dramatic outcome. As such I’m rather taken with the alternative last verse…

If young folks in Wells or London
Were served the same as she served he,
Then young girls would all be undone,
Very scarce young men would be!

Further to that, if you Mudcat here you can also see in some variants she’s actually rewarded for her act with command of a ship!

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


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Yorkshire Couple

2014
08.29

Jon Says, “I heard this by Kate Rusby on an Andy Kershaw session many years ago. I was a big fan of Kate & Katherine and subsequently Kate’s solo stuff, so it was fortuitous that my finger happened to slip on to the record button of the stereo whilst the programme was on, giving me opportunity to learn this little vignette…” I can add nothing to that other than a broad grin.

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


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Bonny House of Airlie

2014
08.28

Crediting Lou Killen as his source Jon says, “Another song that I learnt partly as an exercise – hell of a song to sing and Lou’s a hell of a singer to learn it off.” We’re staying in Child Balled territory here and this is #199. For once this is categorically linked to an historic event, even if the ballad is probably somewhat embellished by the presence of Lady Ogilvie, who almost certainly would not have been at home had 1,000 men (more in some variants of the story) come to call. At least not without a roughly equal number of her own standing in the way. Having said that I’m no expert on the history of Scotland and this Wiki link has a more graphicly expressed fate for the Lady of Ogilvie. Although equally I’ve read elsewhere that the castle was deserted as everyone had fled, so whether this is simply to make a political point of some sort I can’t say. Another dabble suggested that Argyll eventually had his comeuppance in the shifting political landscape of the C17th. This link looks to tell a plausible story and it’s possible several events have been rolled into one song, but perhaps those more thoroughly schooled in the Clans and National Covenant Rebellion can enlighten us. Mainly Norfolk is once more packed with information about the recordings and quotes again from the various sleeve notes that have gone before. I couldn’t find sufficient on Mudcat to embellish anything here, but again if you know differently please add away.

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


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