January Man


Happy New Year everyone. I’ll hopefully still be at The Queen Elizabeth Hall as some of you are reading this and will report back from the Bellowhead gig at some point. I also hope some of you will be there too. Anyway, this is a fine start to the year from the pen of the somewhat enigmatic Dave Goulder and Jon says, “I learnt this song from a Martin Carthy tape many years ago. Since then I have attempted to sing it every New Years Eve after midnight, regardless of whether anyone wants to listen or not (generally not). A fabulous song, none the less.” I can’t help but agree and note that I’ve read somewhere that this was always meant to be sung unaccompanied. It works a treat like this, but having said that I could also suggest seeking out Karine Polwart and Lau’s version as that spiked my remembrance of this song a couple of months ago. You can link to Dave Goulder’s website here. He seems a fascinating character having worked the fields with his father, the steam trains, become a mountaineer and run a hostel in the Scottish Highland’s before becoming a master dry stone wall builder. Mainly Norfolk as you’d expect has the Martin Carthy angle covered. A cracking start to the year.
You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores.


51 Responses to “January Man”

  1. Reinhard says:

    Happy New Year and thanks for starting it with such a fine song!

  2. Reinhard says:

    For Martin Carthy Fans: “The January Man” is also the title of a new solo CD due to be released at the end of this month, with a live recording of a concert in Belfast in October 1978. (And if you can’t wait, you can already buy it from the record label’s online store.)

  3. Peter Walsh says:

    Great choice to start 2011 Jon. Well chosen and sung! It’s the first time I have heard it unaccompanied. I have a version by Bert Jansch in my iPod, from his Moonshine CD, with lovely acoustic guitar that works well too.

    May I take this opportunity to wish all AFSAD listeners and contributors a Happy New Year. One of our regulars will be sadly absent for a while though; Jane Ramsden is struggling with a broken computer. The poor thing has been on its last legs for a while (the PC, not our ‘Ted’, hahaha!). We really enjoy her comments and I know she is annoyed to be missing Jon’s songs. I’d drag her along to an Internet Cafe…. but those 12 cats need constant attention!

  4. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Jon’s version just a tad too slow for me…..I always think of the January man as struggling briskly against the elements (due to my first hearing being Mike Garland ‘s version.) Bit like seeing photos of “The Archers” cast when you have preset ideas.
    But a great song & performance nonetheless….No Jane eh…a CATastrophe!

  5. Nigel Gardner says:

    I certainly hope for better weather – an apt one for 1.1.11

  6. alan burke says:

    Christy Moore nailed this song on his “Whatever tickles your fancy” album.

  7. StephenH says:

    A very fine song to start the year – what could be more appropriate?- nicely done. A song I’ve enjoyed singing in the past – Martin Carthy’s version being the first I heard, also- but haven’t for a while so it’s nice to be prompted to sing it again. Best wishes to all – and hope Jane is back online soon.

  8. elfpix says:

    I definitely prefer a straigher performance – less portamento. But I’m glad to see you chose to do it without accompaniment. I can’t imagen this song with other voices, much less instruments.

  9. SRD says:

    Good though this is I am inclined to agree with alan burke, although June Tabor does her usual superb job on one of Les Barker’s albums.

  10. jonathan says:

    This rocks- it seems to me to emphasise ‘man’ as temporary and vulnerable- other versions stress the seasons- this gave me a different and new interpretation, thanks Jon.

  11. Shelley says:

    Just catching up (as “I was there” at the Southbank). Beautifully done Jon.

  12. Maureen Musson says:

    I’m still catching up ,too, as I was also “there”.

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you, Jon.

  13. Mike says:

    Pat Broaders & Jimmy Keanes arrangement is by far the definitive version of this great song

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Very belaTedly, I love this song, think Christy Moore did nail it, and agree with Muzza that a bit more bleak mid-Winter ‘bite’ would not go amiss for the unaccompanied singer. However, I liked the mournful, soulful tone Jon brought to his rendition.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Happy New Year all AFSADDERS!

  16. Reynard says:

    Happy New Year, January Jane!

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    Thank you, Reynard. January Jane sounds like a song. Cue for another, Daddy Fox – hahahaha!

  18. Diana says:

    A Happy New Year to all who sail in the good ship AFSAD – the Captain, the crew and the passengers too.

    Absolutely loved this song, must get the lyrics.

  19. muzza (N.W Surrey) says:

    Hey ho..off we go again……
    .morris Dancing and Mummers play in the wind and rain in sunny North Hampshire.
    Just getting ready for a radio interview at 8:40 on Radio Berkshire (95.4FM)
    Fame at last!

    @Diana…………..the words as I know them

    The January Man (Dave Goulder. b 1939))

    The January man he walks abroad
    In woollen coat and boots of leather
    The February man still shakes the snow
    From off his hair and blows his hands
    The man of March he sees the Spring and
    Wonders what the year will bring
    And hopes for better weather

    Through April rains the man goes down
    To watch the birds come in to share the summer
    The man of May stands very still
    Watching the children dance away the day
    In June the man inside the man is young
    And wants to lend a hand
    And grins at each new comer

    And in July the man in cotton shirt
    He sits and thinks on being idle
    The August man in thousands takes the road
    To watch the sea and find the sun
    September man is standing near
    To saddle up and lead the year
    And Autumn is his bridle

    The man of new October takes the reins
    And early frost is on his shoulder
    The poor November man sees fire and wind
    And mist and rain and Winter air
    December man looks through the snow
    To let eleven brothers know
    They’re all a little older

    And the January man comes round again
    In woollen coat and boots of leather
    To take another turn and walk along
    The icy road he knows so well
    The January man is here for
    Starting each and every year
    Along the road for ever

  20. Dainer says:

    Thanks Muzza for all your trouble, it was good of you to type them out. I have just had to turn the light on as my typing was going haywire, as its still raining here for about the 10th day on the trot and I don’t know when we can expect daylight.

  21. viv says:

    Good unaccompanied rendition of a much loved song. I do like Mike Harding’s accompanied version on Bombers Moon more though.

  22. Edith says:

    Happy New Year to all. Love this song unaccompanied.

  23. Diana says:

    Have just printed “The January June” – equality of the sexes. Mind you someone must have been very busy as these lyrics weren’t there earlier.

  24. Reynard says:

    Diane, I’ve added a few more links for The January June and a nice picture in sombre mood and boots of leather.

  25. muzza(N.W.Surrey) says:

    What a day…never been so drenched in my life…but that doesn’t stop the morris AAARRRGH..
    and so I came onto AFSAD to cheer myself up and followed the links to the parody “January June” (not impressed) and thoroughly depressed by “The Easter Tree”…….oh for a happy folk song!

  26. Adian says:

    What a picture, what a picture, what a photograph followed by crash bang wallop. Were those clothese ever in fashion Reynard? Anyway a Happy New Year to you, although it looks like you have been working most of the day.

  27. Reynard says:

    Muzza, I think you must be a fan of June Tabor and of Les Barker’s wit to appreciate all the allusions in this version.

    And Adian, if I see pictures of me from 30 years ago I too wonder how I could have been brave enough to look like that 😉

  28. Adian says:

    Surprising how fashions change over the years, or is it? I remember when jeans and trousers were not an acceptable form of clothing for women but now every woman or most of them are seldom seen in skirts and dresses. Would have liked to seen you 30 years ago if you dressed like that – I sorta expected you to be in romper suits then.

  29. Reynard says:

    No, I wasn’t dressed in skirts and dresses 30 years ago. And the romper suit was s good fifty years ago.

  30. Adian says:

    Oh very funny – you knew I didn’t mean you were dressed in skirts and dresses. But I will forgive you for being so cheeky.

  31. Adian says:

    And it might surprise you to know I remember drape suits and crepe – soled shoes so perhaps I am not as young as you might have expected.

  32. muzza (N.W Surrey) says:

    I just hope that Lucy isn’t reading these notes!!!!!!!!(see her comments on 26th Dec to song “The King”)
    @Reynard………I am a big June fan and Les is a legend ………..mind you..she misses the point completely when she sings “Band played Waltzing Matilda”.
    I loved the picture of June and yourself in the big leather boots
    (before you changed your name!)

  33. Muzza+425days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Listening for the 3rd time…………I have come to like Jon’s version as well….
    there are so many ways to interpret a song……and this is a very deep song.
    Could depress you if you were feeling a bit down.
    Mike Garland’s version was the first I heard…..link attached….recording not at its best but you’ll see there is a contrast to Jon’s interperetation.
    Hey- lovely sunny morning here…….hoping it will stay for the morris and mumming 1pm.
    Happy New Year to all you AFSADers

  34. Muzza+425days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Just been over the Mainly Norfolk site and looked again at ‘January June’ lyrics and realise that I completely missed the humour the first time..must have been half asleep!

  35. Jan says:

    Hello Muzza, have you looked at the old frog lately? Since they changed YouTube I’m not sure if things are getting through to you, but I posted a group from the Greenwood Quire singing Shepherds Arise recently.
    Re January June, I’m glad you have seen the funny side – I find it h. Ilarious, but then I love a good send-up! Love the original song too.

  36. Phil says:

    Here’s mine, from just under a year ago, recorded for 52 Folk Songs – which, with the recording of two belated ‘extras‘, is now complete.

    The January Man

    A Happy New Year to one and all, especially if you’re Scottish & couldn’t be wished one before today.

  37. Jan says:

    I like it, Phil, and a Happy New Year to you and everyone!

  38. Diana says:

    Happy New Year to everyone It has come round again – and the weather is just as dreadful as last year at this time.

  39. Jane Ramsden says:

    Happy New Year, Afsadders! Xx.

  40. Muzza+426days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane………they don’t come sadder than us me deario……welcome back.
    @Jan……….looked at the old frog lately…what will people think!..yes everything getting through……glad you are getting more on youtube…I must try harder…..before I pop off

  41. John Bryson says:

    Happy New Year one and all. May I also recommend The Albion Christmas Band’s version of this fine song, with Kellie While on the vocals.
    Since moving back to Leicestershire I have become involved with a semi pro football team, and the opening line of this song got me laterally thinking, as I ironed merrily away a couple of days ago, and finished up with me writing an article for the match day programme. I wonder why I am referred to at times as an anorak?All Hail, Wassaill, I say!

  42. Jane Ramsden says:

    Helloooo, John and other Afsadders! Happy New Year from January Jane! Lol.

  43. Linda says:

    Happy New Year Muzza and anybody else who is visiting AFSAD say hello don’t be shy!

  44. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:


  45. Old Muzza (N W Surrey) says:

    Another year has flown by and the lucky among us, still clinging to the wreckage…..
    and I start in a bad way -spitting feathers at the honours list.
    Rewards should go to those folk who beaver away, unrecognised, in the background not folk who already get paid by the bucket load and are just doing their celebrity jobs.
    Right…that’s off my chest…..happy new year to all the other folkers out there as we enjoy all the songs again.

  46. Linda says:

    Happy New Year all ??

  47. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    I’ll say again…have grown to appreciate Jon’s version
    and also I’ll say again…..why the heck are ‘honours’ given to sportsmen/musicians/FAILED LIBERAL POLITICIANS……..and not front line aid workers/brain surgeons and folk that beaver away without recognition.
    (Lindy Lou and me having crafty, previous peek a day early!!!)

  48. Linda says:

    Happy New Year to everybody….hope Jon managed his yearly sing of this…..

  49. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Hi Lindy Lou….I’m a bit late but here’s wishing you a happy new year.
    Managed to get along to the Cricketer’s Hartley Wintney to see Yateley Morris men and as usual, fine all morning and then-Basinga-…as bally usual, rain started just as the dancing started.
    Fortunately, it passed quickly and a good time was had by all.Yup……I let the side down dressed as a gorilla with baby gorilla and big inflatable banana….welllll….I don’t know how many Christmases I have left!….so what the hell!

  50. Linda says:

    Happy New Year everyone

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