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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NaCl (Sodium Chloride)

2014
09.20

A genuinely curious item of which Jon Says, “I grew up listening to the McGarrigles, I absolutely love the sound of their voices, particularly when singing in French. This is a fun little song. Useful for science GCSE exams too as I recall.” Sadly of course Kate died early this year and I suspect it might be her scientific bent behind this, as she studied engineering while Anna painted. I have a copy of The McGarrigle Hour at home that I haven’t listened to in years, but recall being utterly smitten by it, so will have to dig it out (thanks for the nudge Jon.) Call me an anthropomorphic, old softy, but I love the way this turns scientific rationalism on its head (we know how but will we ever really know why) as a metaphor for human relationships.

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The Lord Will Provide

2014
09.19

Another rousing Ballamy derived song, in this case a hymn and Jon Says, “One of the highlights of the Both Sides Then album with the Watersons and Anthea Bellamy chipping in with some pretty scary harmonies.” The words come form the same pen as Amazing Grace, John Newton and as you’ll see on Mainly Norfolk even Bellamy is confused about his source for this. This link gives the date as 1779 and has the full eight verses. Newton himself is another incredible character, a slave trader who spent some years as a slave himself (the biter bit), but eventually became a radical, evangelical preacher and ultimately denounced slavery. Although that final act of conscience came, by his own admission, regrettably late in life, he was none the less an effective voice, joining William Wiberforce and living to see the successful passing of the Slave Trade Act. Here’s the Wiki page on him.

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The Bush Girl

2014
09.18

Another of Bellamy’s settings of a poem to music this time from the pen of Australian Henry Lawson and Jon says, “From the fabulous Second Wind album which I am hoping EFDSS will get around to reissuing at some point.” Bellamy’s original notes can be read on Mainly Norfolk and it’s notable that he compares Lawson to Kipling in explaining his rationale for doing this. I’d also say that Lawson’s original has the sense of a song lyric to it with a twice repeated chorus (if you will.) Jon slightly confuses some of the words, but hey! That’s the folk process and as I can’t even remember all of the titles from one day to the next, let alone the lyrics, I think he’s forgiven as this is lovely. Hauntingly sad and definitely one of my favourites so far. The poem was written in 1901 and should you want a quick introduction to its author, then Wiki has an interesting page.

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Rickety Tickety Tin

2014
09.17

A humorous interlude from the pen of Tom Lehrer, of which Jon says, “This is a great favourite around the campfire of the FSCs, particularly with the younger children for some reason.” There are a couple more verses in Tom’s version, which he called The Irish Ballad, originally recorded in 1953. This Wiki link has the details, but note the cost and initially humble ambition sold on mail order. The songs were re-recorded live for Tom Leherer Revistited in 1960 and you’ll find the lyrics and a transcript of his witty introduction (although it certainly won’t read as well as it will plays) by following this link. I love Tom Lehrer’s stuff, he was a seriously clever man with a sadly short musical career (just 37 songs’ worth)and you can read all about him on Wiki should it take your fancy.

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Oats and Beans and Barley

2014
09.16

This is more of a field recording as Jon is joined by brother Tom. Jon introduces it thus, “Tom and I have been singing this for years. This is a nice two-parter, although it does work better if the harmony is below the tune (as in the Hart/Prior version). Tom and I recorded this in our Mum’s garage near Newhaven hence background bird noise, and I persuaded Tom to record another whilst we were at it.” Yes we have another bonus track for you, so as well as Oats And Beans And Barley Grow, you also get (High) Barbaree.

The former is of course a play song, where actions are performed and Tim & Maddy (Jon’s credited source here) recorded it for Folk Songs of Old(e) England. Their sleeve notes (read them here on Mainly Norfolk) make somewhat more of this than I was allowing, suggesting the ritual elements contained in the rhyme. You can read more at Mudcat here or Wiki here. I’m curious about this. As a nursery rhyme it’s probably very old, but I can’t find any reference to date except for Gomme 1898. There’s certainly a lyric with what looks like old style spelling given in this thread. Any thoughts please. Beautifully sung it is though and I think this harmony works very well.

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As for the bonus, it’s actually the more substantial of the two songs here and seems to be an American update of Child Ballad #285 The George Aloe And The Sweepstake . Reference is made to the tune of this as early as 1595 and there is a ship of 1545 called The Swepstacke according to this link here. It’s likely that the American update refers to the Barbary Wars (read more on Wiki) and certainly has something of the shanty about it. I’ve also picked this up…

Child notes there is an entry for July 31, 1590 of a ditty that was based upon a fight on “the fourth of June last” in the straits of Gibraltar between the George and the Thomas Bonaventure and eight galleys and three frigates. The correlation of the incident to the ballad cannot be confirmed as there were probably several ships named George.

The ballad was given new words and experienced a resurgence of popularity in America between the years of 1795 and 1815 – when Barbary pirates were attacking American ships. America (and most other nations) paid tribute to the pirates until the government took action in 1801. The pirates were not completely defeated until 1815.

Another great performance with Tom leading and on one-row concertina and Jon on fiddle and harmony. It is of course the lead off track on Both Sides Then, which means that there’s a Mainly Norfolk entry for it too.

Bonus Track:

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

  

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