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Sleeve Notes for Past and Present by Roger Watson

Past and PresentA mixture of Songs and tunes.


Roger Watson: Voice, 2- & 3-row Melodeons, English Concertina


With Jackie Oates: Voice, 5-stringed Viola;
Tim Walker: Flugelhorn, Cornet, Voice, Side drum


For lyrics to all songs, visit: www.rogerwatson.co.uk

Description


Past & Present Roger Watson


01 Gilliver. words: R. Watson; tune: C. Cater


My late grandfather, Joseph Clarke, left school in 1902 at the age of 12, and like most of his generation, entered the main industry in his Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border community: coal mining. His first job was as a ‘ganger’, the local term for a pit pony driver, and this song, written in 1965, tells a story he told me, using, as far as possible, his own words.


02 Linnen Hall/The Fanocini trad.


Linnen Hall is from Mike Raven’s collection: One Thousand English Country Dance Tunes in the section entitled: ‘Tunes published before 1730’. The Fantocini is a 24-bar jig from the village of Ashover, Derbyshire.


03 Lovely Joan  trad., new lyrics: R. Watson


‘Scamping young blade on milk-white steed attempts to seduce country lass in haystack and is outwitted by her’, or, in this case, ‘Jack-the-lad in flashy motor attempts to seduce hitch-hiker in lay-by … and is outwitted by her’.
04 Idbury Hill/Broken Dagger     trad.


Idbury Hill is possibly best known as a Bledington Morris dance tune and I learned it while playing for South Downs Morris in the early 1980s. Broken Dagger, otherwise known as Green Grow the Rushes-O, is another tune from Mike Raven’s book.


05 Peg of Derby     trad., new lyrics: R. Watson


A frequently heard story in ballads is that of the itinerant soldier, whose beloved – hard-hearted or sensible, whichever way you chose to see it – refuses to follow him to a new posting, causing him to die of a broken heart. I first learned it more than 40 years ago as ‘The Bonny Lass of Fyvie-O’, and later as ‘Peg of Derby-O’. I lived in Derby for a time, just around the corner from the main Rolls-Royce works, and recall vividly the atmosphere in the town when the company crashed in 1971. That became the setting for this version of the song.


06 The Gobby-O trad


A jig from ‘The Fiddler’s Tune Book’


07 Rip Van Winkle   words & music: R J Pegg


I was at school with Bob Pegg in the 1960s and he was one of the first people I heard singing traditional songs. Rip Van Winkle was written for the first album by his pioneering band, Mr Fox.


08 Bengal Rounds/Old Sir Simon the King   R. Watson/trad


There are many 3/2 hornpipes from the North West of England, known as ‘Rounds’: Cheshire Rounds, Shropshire Rounds, etc. Bengal Rounds keeps the melodic pattern common to many of them, but uses the scale of Raga Shivranjani; there is a matching 12-beat rhythm, known in the Indian traditions as ‘Ektaal’ and the piece was originally written for a violinist from Calcutta, Sanjoy Ghosh. Old Sir Simon the King is a triple-time (9/8) jig learned from various sources.


09 Lowlands       trad., new lyrics: R. Watson


Folk songs have always inspired many versions and many interpretations … some dream of drowned lovers, others dream of an end to racial injustice.


10 Hunt the Squirrel/The First of August trad.


This non-jig version of Hunt the Squirrel is from West Sussex and appears in Anne Laughran and Vic Gammon’s collection, ‘A Sussex Tune Book’. The First of August is from the Island of FanÆ, Denmark.


11 Two Brethren trad., new verse: R. Watson


A song best known in the version from the Copper Family of Sussex. We live in a time of great abundance ... for some.  


12 The Manager’s Daughter words & music: R. Watson


In the late 1940s, my grandfathers, along with the other miners in their community, ceased to be employed by the Duke of Portland, and instead began to work for the National Coal Board. It was a time of great hope, but in some ways, only gradual change. The managerial hierarchy still existed … and so did entrenched social attitudes towards them.


13 Fred Pigeon’s Polka/Donkey Riding        trad


Fiddler Fred Pigeon played at least three otherwise nameless polkas. This was one of them. I first played Donkey Riding with this minor chord sequence about 20 years ago, and it seems to like it that way …


14 Seafarers   trad


Stan Hugill, in his ‘Shanties from the Seven Seas’ (published 1994, Mystic Seaport Museum), writes: ‘I believe that these verses are of comparatively recent date and that they came from a poem (the author of which I have never discovered). Probably some versatile shantyman thought them “just the job” and spliced them to the old Packet Rat shanty. Nevertheless, they were accepted and sung by hundreds of shantymen in the later days of sail’.



Track Notes


1 Gilliver


My late grandfather, Joseph Clarke, left school in 1902 at the age of 12, and like most of his generation, entered the main industry in his Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border community: coal mining. His first job was as a ‘ganger’, the local term for a pit pony driver, and this song, written in 1965, tells a story he told me, using, as far as possible, his own words.

2 Linnen Hall/The Fantocini


Linnen Hall is from Mike Raven’s collection: One Thousand English Country Dance Tunes in the section entitled: ‘Tunes published before 1730’. The Fantocini is a 24-bar jig from the village of Ashover, Derbyshire.

3 Lovely Joan


‘Scamping young blade on milk-white steed attempts to seduce country lass in haystack and is outwitted by her’, or, in this case, ‘Jack-the-lad in flashy motor attempts to seduce hitch-hiker in lay-by … and is outwitted by her’

4 Idbury Hill /Broken Dagger


Idbury Hill is possibly best known as a Bledington Morris dance tune and I learned it while playing for South Downs Morris in the early 1980s. Broken Dagger, otherwise known as Green Grow the Rushes-O, is another tune from Mike Raven’s book.

5 Peg of Derby


A frequently heard story in ballads is that of the itinerant soldier, whose beloved – hard-hearted or sensible, whichever way you chose to see it – refuses to follow him to a new posting, causing him to die of a broken heart. I first learned it more than 40 years ago as ‘The Bonny Lass of Fyvie-O’, and later as ‘Peg of Derby-O’. I lived in Derby for a time, just around the corner from the main Rolls-Royce works, and recall vividly the atmosphere in the town when the company crashed in 1971. That became the setting for this version of the song.

6 The Gobby-O


A jig from ‘The Fiddler’s Tune Book’

7 Rip Van Winkle


I was at school with Bob Pegg in the 1960s and he was one of the first people I heard singing traditional songs. Rip Van Winkle was written for the first album by his pioneering band, Mr Fox.

8 Bengal Rounds/Old Sir Simon the King


There are many 3/2 hornpipes from the North West of England, known as ‘Rounds’: Cheshire Rounds, Shropshire Rounds, etc. Bengal Rounds keeps the melodic pattern common to many of them, but uses the scale of Raga Shivranjani; there is a matching 12-beat rhythm, known in the Indian traditions as ‘Ektaal’ and the piece was originally written for a violinist from Calcutta, Sanjoy Ghosh. Old Sir Simon the King is a triple-time (9/8) jig learned from various sources.

9 Lowlands


Folk songs have always inspired many versions and many interpretations … some dream of drowned lovers, others dream of an end to racial injustice.

10 Hunt the Squirrel / The First of August


This non-jig version of Hunt the Squirrel is from West Sussex and appears in Anne Laughran and Vic Gammon’s collection, ‘A Sussex Tune Book’. The First of August is from the Island of FanÆ, Denmark.

11 Two Brethren


A song best known in the version from the Copper Family of Sussex. We live in a time of great abundance ... for some.

12 The Manager's Daughter


In the late 1940s, my grandfathers, along with the other miners in their community, ceased to be employed by the Duke of Portland, and instead began to work for the National Coal Board. It was a time of great hope, but in some ways, only gradual change. The managerial hierarchy still existed … and so did entrenched social attitudes towards them.

13 Fred Pigeon's Polka / Donkey Riding


Fiddler Fred Pigeon played at least three otherwise nameless polkas. This was one of them. I first played Donkey Riding with this minor chord sequence about 20 years ago, and it seems to like it that way …

14 Seafarers


Stan Hugill, in his ‘Shanties from the Seven Seas’ (published 1994, Mystic Seaport Museum), writes: ‘I believe that these verses are of comparatively recent date and that they came from a poem (the author of which I have never discovered). Probably some versatile shantyman thought them “just the job” and spliced them to the old Packet Rat shanty. Nevertheless, they were accepted and sung by hundreds of shantymen in the later days of sail’.