Here’s one to stir the radicals, written by Sydney Carter, who apparently also gave us Lord Of The Dance and Jon says, “This was sung most nights in the Half Moon in the days when Ian Giles and myself lived upstairs. Happy days.”
The John Ball in question here is the Lollard priest who became associated with Watt Tyler’s Peasants Revolt. Chris Wood included this on his excellent Trespassers CD and he’s joined by Karine Polwart on this track. You can read about John Ball on Wiki here and note his gruesome demise, perhaps as you’d expect. The thrust of this song comes from a sermon that Ball preached to the rebels at Blackheath that included the question “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?” A link to Mudcat here is most interesting in several ways. There’s more information about the author, a Quaker apparently and that this was written on the 500 year anniversary of the Peasants Revolt. I note with great irony that the song has been removed from Mudcat at the insistence of the American copyright holders. That may be in response to Michael Flatley’s Riverdance, but seems so utterly contrary to the sentiment of this song. I am not in any way in favour of stealing music but in this case I wonder who the beneficiary is. I am, therefore, moved to suggest a mass trespass. Anyone who can should sing this out, loud and proud, but learn it quick or buy the Chris Wood CD (you should do that anyway if you can) and learn it from there, as I wonder whether we will be able to keep this track up.
You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores: