Archive for April, 2015

Reynardine


2015
04.30

Jon confesses “I’m totally in love with this song. We started doing a version on the last Remnant Kings tour with wolf noises from the wax cylinder players. I love the line about his teeth shining bright…”

It is a good song this, I’ll agree with a marvellous fiddle part to I, but a bit of an enigma. Mainly Norfolk has a good page’s worth on this, with some surprisingly detailed notes from Bert Lloyd to kick us off that seem to be utterly refuted by this Wiki entry. The suggestion is clearly that this is another of Bert’s ‘interventions.’  It may well be the case, but equally I’m not sure how well researched the Wiki entry is. This Mudcat thread doesn’t really sort much out and takes a while to get through, but there are suggestions that an Irish tune of this title was published in the very early C19th. There is also the question of whether this relates to the Huguenots and the mythical French character of La Reynaudine, who apparently has a sort of Robin Hood status, but I cannot categorically back this up with any evidence either. I do like the suggestion that it could explain the rather peculiar line “brought up in Venus’ train” as mocking the Catholic obsession with Mary. I guess part of the debate here is how much therianthropy is involved. That could well be of Bert’s creation. Foxy or foxing rather than a fox? But be he simply outlaw, fox or something in between, he cunningly beguiles the young maid. So be warned! Should the spring season have prompted a desire to ramble amongst you fair maids gathered here, you’d better have your wits about you. Meanwhile any evidence for the Huguenot element will be appreciated, as it has a certain appeal.

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Auld Triangle


2015
04.29

True to his word Jon reminds us, “As I said, The Gaol Song reminded me of this one, learnt on FSC I think.”

A bit more radical this one, written by Dominic Behan for his brother Brendan and included in the latter’s play The Quare Fellow, it subsequently took on a life of its own. Although it’s not explicit in the song, which seems more mundane in its regrets, the play is set the day before the execution of an inmate for a crime that is never specified. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the song later became identified with the Irish rebel cause. Mind you I think the play actually has wider issues in its sights, but then I’m no expert of Behan either. What I do know is that Brendan spent time in Mountjoy prison and was active in the IRA. His stretch at HM’s pleasure was probably responsible for setting him on the path of writing as a career, as his first play, The Landlady, was written while in Mountjoy. On release he dedicated himself to writing but never renounced the Republican cause. Both literature and politics, however, were somewhat subsumed by his drinking. Start with Wiki on the song here and the play here, then you can delve into the lives of the various Behans at your leisure should you so wish.

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New York Mining Disaster 1941


2015
04.28

Jon recalls “I was amazed to discover that the Bee Gees started off as a folk trio – I heard Martin Carthy’s majestic version of this before `I read the sleeve notes and assumed that the Bee Gees bit must have been a mistake. I’ve never tried this in a session but I reckon the chorus could be a belter.”

This is their rather unlikely first hit and a great song. I say unlikely, as the subject of miners trapped underground, with the deliberate slowing of the lines as their chances of rescue expire along with the air, is hardly the stuff of your average Top 20 smash. But an international hit it was, putting the Bee Gees on the pop map in the swinging 60s, although it may well have resulted from the mistaken belief that it was The Beatles operating under a pseudonym. You can Wiki here for more on the song and here for more on the brothers Gibb. I won’t claim to be a big fan, but their early international success did actually produce some very fine songs (really.) I have read somewhere down the (possibly apocryphal) line that they were more or less forced to leave for Australia on the £10 ticket after several brushes with the law. If true it’s almost echoes the transports.  Anyway Martin Carthy is Jon’s source for this and his version is nicely stark. Perhaps it’s not entirely coincidental that it’s followed on the Signs Of Life CD by a version of yesterday’s song, albeit the decidedly English version called Georgie, not that it shares much in common, apart from a similar plotline, with Jon’s take. You may also appreciate a quick read of Martin’s notes at Mainly Norfolk, which also cover Georgie.

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Geordie


2015
04.27

Jon reveals, “I learnt this mainly to try and learn the guitar part from the June Tabor / Martin Carthy version on Silly Sisters. I didn’t get very far with the guitar part so here it is unaccompanied.”

Knowing Jon is no slouch with the guitar that’s got me curious, but regrettably, the album doesn’t seem to be available. There are numerous different versions of this, however, and both Child and Cecil Sharp collected the song.  It’s another ballad that may have an historical event at its core, but typically the variations pull it in all sorts of directions with some relating it to a battle and some to theft or poaching. Still there seems a detail to this that makes it seem very realistic. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Robbie Burns got his hands on this and submitted a version to a Scottish museum collection. There could well be something in the idea that this accounts for the last verse as delivered by Jon here.  The story is a good one and I like the idea of the simmering tension that perhaps leads the King’s advisor to council mercy. It does then make me wonder whether the money that is then donated to the Lady to secure Geordie’s release is freely given. If so it seems that saving Geordie was a popular cause. I’ll not add to the speculation on the historical element as I doubt anything can be proved, but If you know different please add the details below and I’ll happily eat my words. I will point you at this Mudcat thread for starters and then this one, also Mainly Norfolk for the words and notes of various recordings.

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I Know My Love By His Way Of Talking


2015
04.26

Jon calls this “Another Irish song I believe, but I know it from Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr’s Shape Of Scrape album, which is in my opinion is a hugely important album. It certainly had a massive impact on me.”

This is another song that it’s difficult to add a great deal to. It may be Irish, although it seems to be quite widespread and this Mudcat thread offers a few clues as it certainly appears in Herbert Hughes’ Irish Country Songs. Also the dance hall in Mardyke is in apparently Cork City. It is one of a family of songs, however, that includes Queen Of Hearts and although it wasn’t printed as a broadside until the 1830, there is a suggestion that it has a flavour of the mid C17th about it. That may be speculation, but who am I to argue.

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