Over The Hills And Far Away



Bonus track: Over The Hills And Far Away (Live at Pontardawe Arts Centre, 17th Feb 2011)


Another that Jon first learnt from Martin Carthy of which he says, “Popularised by John Tams in Sharpe, which I loved. But I heard this first from Carthy so it will always be Queen Anne for me.”

This has a rather curious double life and although Martin’s notes at Mainly Norfolk makes much of the resentment of leaving, I get more a sense of boldness and high spirits on the march. Perhaps the mentions of gentlemen add an odd class reference, suggesting the common soldier is ennobled by volunteering. In its other life this is better known as a children’s song and I note the historical role of Tom in mummer’s plays. The links at the foot of Reinhard’s page are worth a quick look, although be warned the first two play a tune at you without a way to turn it off. It’s a site I’d use more often to link to but for that, as there are often interesting twists and facts to be had. Still, you can turn the volume down or grin and bear it. There are some very interesting additions and variations on Mudcat too. Certainly Tam’s version has more of the longing for home, but there are also some extra verses to be had for this version, that reinforce that death or glory feel to the song, along with the clear merits of volunteering over being pressed.

You can buy the February digital album now from all good download stores.


30 Responses to “Over The Hills And Far Away”

  1. Sue says:

    This is “our song” My understanding is that the origins are Queen Anne, it is also made famous by John Tams in the Sharpe series as Sharpe portrays a soldeir from The 95th Regiment of Foot, who excelled themselves in the Peninsular wars and at Waterloo and were taken out of the line as the Rifle Regiment, then Greenjackets and now The Rifles. As a member of a Napoleonic reneactment group(95th) we sing this around the campfire all summer and it brings tears to our eye at Christmas.

    This song would have been played as the men marched to take ship to fight at Waterloo.

    Songs do not exist in a vacuum, they have meaning of their own, and AFSAD is the most brilliant way of bringing some less well known songs back to life.

  2. Anne says:

    Hi Jon
    what happened to the group rendition last night of this song?

  3. Sue says:

    I forgot to say that in the Peninsular wars etc this was one of the marching songs of the 95th along with I’m 95. And will be associated with them forever

  4. John Phipps says:

    We are gearing up in Maryland to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 when the British sodgers came to visit. And we are celebrating the birth of George Washington this weekend. Does Yankee Doodle count as a folk song?

    Do they flog deserters in the reenactment camps?

    A court-martial, a court-martial, a court-martial was then,
    And the sentence they gave me was a hundred and ten;
    From thence to the guard-house on a straw bed did lie,
    From thence to the halberds the very next day.

  5. Mike Edmunds says:

    I was at Pontardawe last night and the show was excellent. Five superbly talented musicians thoroughly enjoying what they were doing (even though many of the songs in the first half were about the break down of society, death, hanging and flogging!). The live singing session in the bar after the show was worth the entrance fee alone. Much appreciated Jon and band and we look forward to your return.

  6. Sue says:

    John -we do have court martials-but they are fairly lighthearted affairs to entertain visitors- flogging has been suggested- but the train of thought is that it may upset some more sensitive visitors-the usual punishment is “running the gauntlet”

    There is a fine line between living history and putting on a show for visitors. All talk here is of Waterloo in 2015, but there are many commemorations between now and then. I can’t tell you if Yankee Doodle dandy is a folk song. The Girl I left Behind Me is a popular soldeirs song .

  7. John Phipps says:

    Brighton’s Camp indeed. Made popular here by John Ford westerns. In this neck of the woods it’s American Civil War reenactment. They should be showing up a few miles from my house at the Battle of the Monocacy battlefield. My ancestors had the honor of having our farm occupied by the Yankee army during both battles of Manassas.

    There is a group that does Napoleonic era reenactment around Baltimore. Maj Gen Robert Ross met his end attacking the town Sept 12, 1814 leading tourists from the 85th, 44th, and 21st Foot . The locals get a bit stroppy and are holding a Defenders Day gathering on Sept 4 including a reenactment of the battle. It might be interesting if British reenactors showed up and showed the colonials what for.

  8. Andy says:

    Ah! Happy memories of a magic evening.
    Don’t leave it too long before you come back, Jon – we Welsh don’t need a lot of encouragement to start singing in the bar!

  9. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Makes me ache to have been there – this is utterly wonderful and as good an exposition of Jon’s advocacy of social singing as you could get. Might even have to go and watch some old episodes of Sharpe on one of the replay channels

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    Last time I heard (and sang along to) this song was by John Tams (aka Daniel Hagman) himself at our Topic Folk Club. Sitting directly in front of him, I had my timbers – or should that be timbres? – well and truly shivered! And you were pretty timber-shivering yourself there, Mr. B – well sung!

  11. Teresa Emmett says:

    As with anything any of you are involved with, a great show in Pontardawe and the singalong in the bar was an added bonus. Think you enjoyed the Welsh song Calon Lan & weren’t just being polite. Include Pontardawe in next year’s tour and we’ll think of a few more by then. Just one question – what were the names of your two elderly guest performers? Website says Eric & Ernie, but we thought you introduced them as Edith & Ernie. Was this to check we were paying attention?

  12. Phil says:

    Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
    Tecach yw na’r lili dlos
    Nid ond calon lân all ganu
    Canu’r dydd a chanu’r nos

    Takes me back. I remember my father saying that the last couple of lines was particularly Welsh – “only a pure heart can sing: sing all day and sing all night”!

    The solo version of this song is magnificent, and the live version is blissful. I’m remembering now why I got into this stuff in the first place.

  13. Phil says:

    I think it’s all about the pacing. Originally it had some huge number of verses and would have been taken at quite a fast pace, which I think would make it sound much more like a straightforward recruiting song. We slow it down now, cut out most of the verses and let the melancholy overtones of the music come out.

    More thoughts on the song – and my own performance – here.

  14. Diana says:

    I know the title and the tune but the words that Jon sings are unfamiliar to me so can only think that it’s the children’s version that I must have known at one time. It certainly an interesting and patriotic song.

  15. Diana says:

    Well sung Phil and I don’t believe it is one of the easiest songs to sing. I think that is the right tempo as well and any faster would have spoilt it making it a “more altogther now” type of song.

  16. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    When ever I play my melodeon I get many requeste to play “Over the hills and far away”

  17. Diana says:

    @ Muzza: You are now a bona fide member of the Ja/Jo/Di club. See above.

  18. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    If I am to believe the “young folk”..a little ‘e’ never ‘urt no one- innit!”

  19. Diana says:

    Muzza was that in english?

  20. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    I’m with Simon here………A marching song……..soldiers singing and urging others to join them as they pass through towns….the beat of a drum would be effective.
    @Sue (3 comments from the top)…..still going to re-enactments at the age of 95?
    @John P(4 comments from the top)..Huzzah…we find John is from the U.S of A…..
    he should put that in his ‘Comment address’ to show just how wide the AFSADers are spread.

  21. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    @Diana(2 above)……..No it’s (E)nglish..only a year late to chastise you unmercifully and I’m still up after chasing folk songs all over Youtube for the last couple of hours.

  22. Diana says:

    @Muzza would you chastise me then because I did not ;ut a capital E for English. Naughty me!!! Hope you found what you seeked.

    Do like this song though.

  23. Diana says:

    A great sont still. Have heard John Tams sing it in Sharpe now.

  24. Little old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    Diana…yep-Nothing like a great Sont to get the day started.

  25. John Bryson says:

    Great versions of this song – I know I repeat myself, but super to have AFSAD back, and having this superb material to listen to again

  26. Diana says:

    Lovely to see some of the same names as well.

  27. John Bryson says:

    I agree as well re the same names Diana

  28. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    lucky I checked….I was going to make the same comment as did way back in 2012

  29. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ref my comment above…..very nearly did it yet again….lucky I re read the comments.
    So sweet to see Dainer still talking to us in our memories via her greatly missed innocent banter.

  30. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Ref John Phipps Maryland) comment 2011……over the hills and far away…soldiers…. war….when will the occupants of planet earth learn to live in peace…we are still blasting each other to bits!

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