Love Will Never Conquer Me / Carolan’s Welcome

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I’m glad of everyone who comes to these pages, and the welcome visits of someone from Ireland reminded of this song which was written by Francis McPeake. I’m surprised I didn’t sing it more often in my professional days in the folk clubs.

We are about to move house so this is the last post, as it were, at least until we are settled in our new home, by which time the trees may be in full leaf, but I hope not to be away too long. Meanwhile I’ll try and perfect Carolan’s Welcome.

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So Fair Are The Flowers In The Valley

After singing at a Dorset folk club in the 1970s I was kindly invited back to a really old cottage for the night. The next day they took me to see an artist friend living right on the beach who gave me the painted pebble I’d admired so much. It was one of my most memorable times and I learned this song as well.

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Jenny, Fair Jen

Max Hunter collected ‘Jenny, Fair Jen’ from Reba Dearmore of Mountain Home, Arkansas 1969. The superb photo is from The Kirsten Project – 1854.

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She’d Kept It All For Me!

The original version of this witty product of the Music Halls era, to which I added several lines, a tune and a happy ending, was originally performed, and perhaps written, by Arthur Lloyd 1840 – 1904.

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The Golden Glove

An elaborate way to get your man, and it worked. The gloves are from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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Lucky Jim

Written by Charles Horwitz & Frederick Bowers in 1896, Lucky Jim was a little-known song until the oft-repeated chorus was heard in the 1957 film of Kingsley Amis’s 1954 novel, though the song tells a completely different story.

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The Penny Wager

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The young man in our song has good reason to be sanguine if his life always runs as smoothly and carefree as this. Free lodgings and a kiss from the landlady! Incidentally, I laughed at one point in this song because I did an unrehearsed guitar ‘twiddle’ between verses, and it worked. It isn’t always like that. I sometimes ruin perfectly good recordings trying something I hadn’t practised.

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The Lark In The Morning

On one of David Attenborough’s programmes there was film of a lark hovering high in the sky. A hawk repeatedly swooped to attack it, but at every dive the lark swerved and the hawk missed. And all the while the lark didn’t stop singing.

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Long and Wishing Eye

‘Long and Wishing’ may have been a Victorian printer miss-hearing the word languishing, but the result is an apt phrase for a delightful song.

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Husband Without Courage

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James Reeves, commenting on the words of this rather sad song, wrote that over the centuries various foods have been associated with aphrodisiac qualities, but “rhubarb is less well-known in this connection”.

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Sunday Arternoon

Billy Cotton sang a song called ‘Sunday Afternoon Arter Dinner’ on his weekly radio programme in the 1950s. I’ve searched for a recording or any mention in print without success. All I remember is the title, so I built my song on that.

I imagined two young people in Edwardian times; he doing manual work, she in service at a big house, and both having little time to themselves. Perhaps at the back of my mind was a girl I once knew whose parents restricted our meetings to an hour a week so that she could continue her studies without distraction. Unlike the couple in the song our friendship only lasted two weeks or, as you might say, two hours.

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The New Mown Hay

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This, the epitome of English traditional song, was sung by Alfred Edgell of Chew Magna, Somerset, to Cecil Sharp on 26 December 1907. The painting is by George Clausen.

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Jenny Lies In Care’s Bed

This is another of the many gems brought in to me by children I taught. The song is, or was, best known in Scotland. The refrain ‘In mickle doule and pine’ means ‘with much doleful pining’. The drawing is by Randolph Caldecott.

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Jack The Sailor

It’s common knowledge that it isn’t what you’ve got that counts, but how much of it you have. Our song (which is about money, not how well you can dance!) was collected by Henry Hammond in 1906 from Jack Panley of Sherborne, Dorset.

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Gypsy Davy

You’d think a song about a woman leaving her husband and baby to live with a gypsy was an unsuitable subject for children. But we sang and loved it at school.

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Love Of My Heart

In a 1946 BBC broadcast, repeated on Radio 4 on 24th July 1980, James Stephens said that his friend James Joyce told him he’d learned the song from his grandfather, that it was the world’s best loved song and that only he knew it. Stephens said that he and Joyce were outside a Paris café when Joyce sang it to him, and he learned it on one hearing – “A knack I have since lost.”

I did the same. It would be interesting to hear that broadcast again and see how close I got. The Nidderdale photograph was taken by Janina Holubecki.

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Cannily, Cannily

The song was written by Ewan MacColl and published by the Workers’ Music Association 1954. Nick Hedges photos were part of a 1966 charity campaign for Shelter.

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Tramps And Hawkers

I sang this Scottish song to my cycling companion when we were on our pleasant cycle ride from London to the Isle of Skye. Singing – and the frequent appearance of tramps and sundry odd folk – took our minds off the occasional shower.

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And A-Begging I Will Go

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When I was a child tramps occasionally came by. None of them played fiddle. Rambling where you fancy was not always so carefree as our song would have you believe.

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A Fair Maid Was Walking

From my album Harbour Of Days.

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The Twenty-Fourth Of February

From W B Whall’s Sea Songs and Shanties, 1920. The ship is HMS Hercule.

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I Will Set My Ship In Order

This ancient night-visiting song has just a hint remaining of the supernatural.

The ship is Eye Of The Wind from classic-sailing.co.uk.

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The Cuckoo’s Nest

Whatever the realities of everyday life English folksong is populated by lusty people enjoying an eternal spring.

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Summer Breezes

My father joined the Royal Navy at the age of fifteen and told me almost nothing about his life at sea or of any other time, which is why the song is short. But it’s all true.

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The Shepherd’s Daughter

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From English Folk-Songs for Schools, collected by Sabine Baring Gould and Cecil Sharp. The story of an astute young woman and the song’s chorus, intrigued me as a boy and still pleases me.

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The Wiltshire Wedding

Everyone in our song is eager for a wedding, in contrast to Victorian society where proper ladies should not be enthusiastic. The one in our picture clearly shows reluctance bordering on distaste for the whole unpleasant business.

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Tom The Drover

For some reason barley is traditionally associated with ‘sport and play’ in folk song. The mother in this tale won’t hear of her daughter taking a walk over the fields with a local lad, but something changes her mind. That’s traditional too.

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Sir Patrick Spens

In a story dating as far back as the 13th century an enemy tells the king that Sir Patrick Spens is the best man to sail to Norway in the depths of winter…

Court Richards took the photograph of the tall ship Astrid sunk off the coast of Kinsale.

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Captain Coulston

Captain Coulston is one of several excellent songs I collected at a village school where I taught; so fine in fact that I’m surprised not to have seen it elsewhere.

P A Jobson drew the four-masted barque Sally Ann for K M Gadd’s 1953 school reading book of that name.

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Squire & The Gypsy

The words are from a broadside in the Bodleian Library, the tune a variation of one sung by Sarah Gulliver, Combe Florey, Somerset in 1905.

The painting is by Charles Sillem Lidderdale (1831-1895).

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We Are Three Brethren

It seems perfectly reasonable for a mother to reject a trio of ruffians who turn up to court her daughter. She lost the chance of riches (if they really had any) but as so often, mother was right.

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The Blackbird & The Thrush

I like the free and easy way of this traditional Irish song & tune.

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The Green Wedding

The beautiful and much courted bride, when she is named at all in the various versions of this ancient ballad, was Katherine Jaffrey. Her love is sometimes named Lochinvar. Whatever the identities and details of this story, from the early 13th century onwards there were many known abductions of brides on the wedding day – not always with their consent –  and our tale is likely to be true.

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Billy Is A Jolly Sailor

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I was a teacher at a village school and the children in my class brought me songs, rhymes and games from their parents and grandparents as part of a project – and because they knew I’d appreciate them. Billy Is A Jolly Sailor is one of several gems I’ve not found anywhere else.

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A Soldier Boy For Me

Collected by Cecil Sharp in the Appalachian Mountains sometime around 1916. There are several English children’s rhymes and games like this song.

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Rainy Days

From my collection of vintage verse about bicycles, to which I added tunes.

The easiest way to mend a bicycle is to have someone else do it for you as did Gene Smith from Upstate New York before our big cycling tour in the ’80s. I wonder where he is now?
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The Bold Benjamin

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When I asked my father if he’d learned any songs during his thirteen years in the Royal Navy he said, ‘Nothing I want you to hear.’ 

A version of the ill-fated Bold Benjamin was first printed in about 1670. I have no reason to suppose it was one of the songs my father wished to suppress.

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The Crystal Spring

This week two members of the present day King family posted comments about my recording of It’s A Rosebud In June which Farmer William King sang to Cecil Sharp at Castle of Comfort on 15th April 1904. William must have impressed the song collector because he came back on 25 August 1904 to note The Crystal Spring at East Harptree, Somerset.

The East Harptree photo dates from c.1910

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It’s A Rosebud In June

The photos were taken on a bridleway above Andover, Hampshire, on a sultry day that made me think of this beautiful song which Farmer William King sang to Cecil Sharp in 1904.

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The Tailor In The Chest

Unlike Beatrix Potter tales, in English folk song tailors rarely come off best.

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Susan and the Sailor

True love and a brace of pistols change the mind of Susan’s oppressive father. From the album ‘Harbour Of Days’.

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Gosport

A lady fallen on hard times, a kindly sailor and Rowlandson’s illustration of the time and place.

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The Whistling Thief

An Irish song rather different from English and Scots night visiting songs.

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Glenlivet Beer House

A medley of Irish tunes which a listener said should be called Beer Hall Of The Mountain King. Wish I’d thought of that.

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Jackie Munro

There are many traditional songs on the theme of a woman dressing as a man and enlisting as a sailor, and it certainly did happen. Jackie not only follows her sweetheart, but saves his life too. Now that’s what I call love.

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Jimmy Sailing

To complete the story I attached all I have of a different song, which suits the time of celebration.

The photo of Eye Of The Wind at anchor is from the excellent Classic Sailing which is well worth a visit and a sailing adventure…

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On A Tuesday Morning

On A Tuesday Morning (The Sign Of The Bonny Blue Bell) came from sisters Mrs Louie Hooper and Mrs Lucy White in Hambridge, Somerset, September 1903. Collected by Cecil Sharp.

Louie with the concertina given to her by Cecil Sharp.

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Cold Winter’s Morning

Singer, musician, and old friend Lorna Blythe (as was) wrote this lovely song half a lifetime ago.

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Carolan’s Welcome

Turlough Carolan was a blind Irish harper and prolific composer celebrated in his lifetime (1670 – 1738) and even more widely today.

The music copy is from my notebook.

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Banish Misfortune

I have a large collection of songs and an even larger one of music, both are expanding almost daily. I can’t hope to record everything that takes my fancy, but here’s a favourite Irish tune on concertina, bodhran and guitar. May it set your toes tapping and banish the blues.

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