We’re off into modern territory again as Jon reveals this is “An Al Stewart number taken on by Bellamy. A friend of mine James Davidson recalls watching Bellamy perform this and leaning over to the chap next to him and saying ‘Incredible! Loads better than the original’. It turned out the chap next to him was Al Stewart, who agreed apparently.” Whether true of not, Bellamy and Stewart were close and the notes on Bellamy’s sadly deleted collection Wake The Vaulted Echoes offer, “ This is written by a man I used to run a folk club with once, in 1965 in a filthy little cellar off Charing Cross Rd.” That’ll be in Greek Street according to Al Stewarts Wiki page, but the duo were closer than that, sharing a flat and there’s even a suggestion that Bellamy was airing this in public before Stewart. Apparently a tape survives of him singing it at the Bridge End Folk Club in March of 74, although that’s actually almost 6 months after the albums release. As a similar time period elapsed between the albums recording and release, however, it’s quite possible Bellamy was performing it before then. He’d certainly have known it well before the record’s release. Mainly Norfolk has some interesting notes as well as the lyrics. Without wishing to stir up a Nostradamus debate, I’d suggest that Stewart’s take had a good fit with the deflation of the post-hippie-hangover of the early 70s, laced with impending apocalyptic gloom that lowered in the wake of Vietnam, the cold war stand off and general, gloomy fug of three-day-week Britain. I recall Chariot Of The Gods, gaining undue credence around the same time. Whatever happened to all of those blokes with ‘The End Of The World Is Nigh’ placards? Regardless, I think that Jon gives this a suitable Book Of Revelations fire and pulpit gravitas.

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



40 Responses to “Nostradamus”

  1. John Burton says:

    50 down 315 to go.
    The quality to date is amazing.
    Thanks Jon.

  2. Shelley says:

    My, what a surprise! Brings back memories of my teens when I started singing folk music – we sang a lot of Al Stewart. Love Jon’s interpretation of this.

  3. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I’ve been adding AFSAD to my MP3 player and I find that I’ve been listening to it more than anything else over the last 6 weeks or so. An education and a joy.

    I’d never heard this before and agree that it’s very 1970s, and the treatment is very appropriate.

  4. Stephen W. says:

    Congratulations on 50 days of great music Jon. The time seems to pass by so quickly.

  5. Phil says:

    I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to – in other words, I enjoyed it! Great drones.

  6. Reinhard Zierke says:

    A fine song and a fine interpretation, thank you so much! My prophecy for the next 50 days is that they will be even better.

    But what is Jon singing in the first verse? I’d guess it’s Latin sung with a strong English accent, though I can’t understand a word. Can someone decipher it for me, please?

  7. Phil says:

    My knowledge of Latin suggests it might be Old French… Jon?

    I’ve got a bit of a scoop with regard to the eerie accuracy of Nostradamus, as I actually interviewed the great seer, in a magazine I used to work for, back in 1999. You can read it here.

    Can I make one thing very clear right at the outset? When soldiers cross the burning river, only a young Pope can hold the jam.

    Do you think you could make that even clearer?

    Sorry – force of habit. What I meant to say was, I never actually said the world was going to end on the fourth of July 1999.

  8. Mark says:

    I love it! Up there with Sally, Free And Easy as one of my favourites so far. Keen to know what the Latin (?) is too…

    Can you buy these on itunes once they’ve stopped streaming?

  9. N J Gardner says:

    The story about Al Stewart is too good not to be true – if it didn’t happen it should have.

  10. Reinhard says:

    Mark, look at the top left of this page and you’ll find the album with the July songs.

  11. Reinhard says:

    The “better than the original” seems to be a recurring theme with Peter Bellamy: Wake the Vaulted Echoes cites Steve Tilston about his song Slip Jigs and Reels: “I remember Pete ringing me the night he did this; what he said was “I recorded that song of yours, and what’s more, I improved it!” “

  12. Jon Boden says:

    The intro is Medieval Galician by Martin Codaxín_Codax from It’s all about looking out over the sea of Vigo, which seems to fit reasonably well with the first verse. (I’m sure the words have got a bit mangled over the years I’ve been singing it so it may now be nonsense.)

    I learnt it from Simfonye’s Bella Domna, a truly fabulous album. I think it’s also on Pilgrimage to Santiago by the New London Consort (Catherine Bott and Philip Picket).

  13. Reinhard says:

    Thanks for the links, Jon, and for the Bella Domna tip! I just ordered the CD. And with a bit of looking around I found your intro:

    Ondas do mar de Vigo, /
    se vistes meu amigo? /
    E ay Deus, se verrá cedo!

  14. Matthew Edwards says:

    Medieval Galician!!!??? Well who would have guessed that? 🙂

    Apart from the fact that
    a) it isn’t all in English,
    b) it isn’t a traditional folk song, and
    c) it isn’t unaccompanied, this is a very nice song indeed! This Folk Song a Day is becoming an education in itself. Thanks to Jon for the first 50 days.

    I looked up the Hyperion website where it appears that the recording by Sinfonye: Bella Domna is now available as a budget CD for £6.99.


  15. StephenH says:

    I don’t really have anything clever or original to say about how much I am enjoying this project. I start my day by listening to the latest song. As I am in Canada, I could hear the next song the evening before…if that makes sense. However, I force myself to wait until the morning because I can’t think of a better way to start the day before I go off to work.
    My only comment on this day’s song – other than it is brilliant- is that it would have made an interesting intro to Jon’s excellent “Songs from the Floodplain”

  16. OxfordClareB says:

    Wow – I am absolutely blown away. This is quite possibly my favourite so far (what a hypocrite after all my ‘I’m all for unaccompanied trad’ ramblings…ah well, plus ca change – though anything via PB excels for me!) Okay, so not only my favourite FSaD song so far, but also in my opinion the most thunderingly dramatic and inventive version of this song I’ve ever heard, and *also* one of the strongest performances I’ve heard Jon give of any song in any context. Phew! The Medieval Galician at the start is genius (and Sinfonye are brilliant – have been meaning to check out more of them for years, as well as just buying Hyperion’s entire back catalogue outright!)

    Thank you Jon. I get the feeling I will be pressing ‘repeat’ a good deal…

  17. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I suspect that I’m the only on on this blog [apart from Jon] who possesses the Sinfonye CD, but I can highly recommend it, wonderful haunting singing by Mara Kiek.
    a sample of her style of singing can be heard here

    it also includes the only surviving song to suvive with music by a female Troubadour

  18. John Phipps says:

    There is a Cantiga a Santa Maria Dadas done by Theatrum Instrumentorum that seems to merge the Spanish with a sound between old timey American and Bulgarian. Good to see the cantigas being remembered.

  19. Jane Ramsden says:

    You don’t hear sthg like this everyday! In fact, it didn’t sound like Jon at first! And I loved the accompaniment. This must have a wonderful chance of being August’s most popular.

  20. Sue says:

    I love Peter Bellamy’s version of this song (yes, he did improve it, sorry Al Stewart), and I really love this version too, thanks Jon. Hope it’s going to be on the album?

  21. admin says:

    Hi folks back from Devon, where I did a little AFSAD inspired Drake delving (Frankie’s Trade got me going) amongst the beer drinking, walking and so forth. Glad you all seem to have been enjoying this in my absence. I’ll catch up with everyones’ comments once I’ve got myself ahead of the posts, but I just wanted to comment here as Stephen H, no special expertise is required, although it’s surprising how many of these songs seem to have a life on your side of the Atlantic. I’m glad you are here and enjoying it. Nice apocalyptic linkage there too.

  22. Kevin Adams says:

    oh no – Al’s version definitely has the edge – this weird timing and over instrumentation is so unnecessary

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

    Well Kevin……..we all have different tastes………….
    Jon’s version was the first one that I heard and I felt it carried the mystery of a soothsayer and the accompaniment backed this up….and it is tops with me.
    I had a look at the Al Stewart video…all credit to him for writing the song and inspiring others…..but as Jon’s version shows…it is interpreted and performed in the way of the singer.

    The link to Al Stewart’s original follows and includes excellent visuals but for me, it comes over as a run-of-the-mill popsong as opposed to Jon’s surreal version.

  24. Jan says:

    Hear, hear, Muzza! As far as I’m concerned, Jon’s interpretation suits the song beautifully. I loved the Galician, and have ordered the Bella Domna CD, so thanks for that tip!

  25. Linda says:

    Thanks Muzza for the youtube link to Al Stewart. Found I understood the song better having seen the pictures with the Al Stewart version. Found Jons version quite “haunting” especially the start. Enjoyed both versions.

  26. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Well….what a fickle old fella I am…………(see my comment three above)
    I reconfirm what I said about Jon’s version but listening to Al Stwart’s version again…
    I now don’t see it as ‘a -run- of- the- mill popsong’…..I am grieved that I said that….it is excellent in its own way and really something special with the accompanying visuals

  27. Diana says:

    The words are interesting enough but the music is too sombre for my taste – only the chorus livens it up. I shall listen again later and it may grow on me.

    @Muzza are you catching up with all my responses to you? I fear not.

  28. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Diana…I have checked and cannot see any I have missed……..perhaps I am old and ugly enough to let a lady have the last word

  29. Diana says:

    @Muzza….. That’s okay as long as you got my thank you for the photos which I enjoyed looking at as they were lovely. Especially the one with all the folk on your hat.

  30. Linda says:

    Just revisited Muzza’s link to You tube 2011 still like both versions.

  31. John Bryson says:

    One of the great things about the AFSAD year being repeated is rediscovering these songs.

    A great version of a great song here by Jon. I have just come back from three days sitting in a field in Oxfordshire – otherwise known as Fairport’s Cropredy Convention – and Al Stewart was the penultimate act, performing immediately before Fairport Convention on the Saturday of the festival.

    This wasn’t in his set – does he still perform this I wonder?

  32. John Bryson says:

    Just seen yoir comments Linda and had a look at the Youtube entry – same song, two different takes on it.

    I would also recommend Damien Barber and Mike Wilson’s version – like Jon’s, not as elaborate (if that is the right word) as Al’s

  33. Linda says:

    Also found Peter Bellamy’s version on You tube.
    Having seen the exciting selection on TV , I also found this which I have just watched.will try a link if it doesn’t work look for….. Crude Apache presents Peter Bellamy’s Ballad Opera The Transports

  34. Linda says:

    Need some lessons on links to You tube. @Muzza HELP!!!!!!

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

    Hi Linda…I don’t think that you did anything wrong………although your link doesn’t exist.
    The procedure is…..start the Youtube video playing… -then copy the link from the top ‘field’………….come back to AFSAD….and plonk/paste link into comments field…..
    just harvested following one of Fay & Jon while checking your link.

  36. Linda says:

    Muzza lets try again It’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it…

  37. Linda says:

    Re wind Muzza you’ve got to far in front… looking back through the links its still intriguing to see the different arrangements and interpretations of songs

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

    Ha Lindy Lou……….your comment tells me that you have also been naughty and have been looking ahead…………yes I spend quite a time checking all the links

  39. Linda says:

    the 2015 link still works but you can also find the newer version of The Transports performed at Shrewsbury Folk Festival in 2017…another one worth a watch if you have an hour and a half to spare….

  40. Linda says:

    Seem to be alone maybe to hot for everybody….still think this is a haunting song….

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