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Sleeve Notes for Stones on the Ground by Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer

Stones on the GroundMaybe folk songs are like stones. You pick up the ones you like, you arrange them together, you put the in your pocket and carry them for a while and then put them down or pass them on. Treated well, they’ll last forever.


Vicki Swan
Scottish Smallpipes
Flute, Whistle
Double Bass

Jonny Dyer
Piano Accordion

Guest Musicians
Mark Southgate - Bass Guitar
Pete Flood - Percussion


Billy Boy / Nancy’s Fancy
(Lyrics vs 1-4, Trad, vs 5-7 J. Dyer. Melody J. Dyer / J. Dyer)
The best known version of this song was collected by Sharp in Somerset 1904 from the singing of Lizzie Welch. Standard versions cover the evening and night of Billy and Nancy’s courtship. This version carries on to the end of their lives.

Viggo’s Vaggvisa / Dancing Out
V. Swan / V. Swan
Viggo is the newest addition to Vicki’s family in Sweden so it seemed appropriate to write him a lullaby The alliteration of the Swedish word vaggvisa (lullaby) with Viggo’s name was too good an opportunity to pass by!
Dancing Out is a jolly tune about the joy of dancing out of a place and off into the future with all opportunities and possibilities wide open.

Broken Token
(Lyrics Trad arr. J. Dyer. Melody J. Dyer)
Collated from a number of traditional variations on the broken token theme. Boy goes off to make a fortune but somehow has the foresight to think that on his return, his true love won’t recognise him. Perhaps in disguise, on his return he wants to find out if she has been faithful. In all the versions we have read, there’s never been a reference of her seeing if he has been faithful. That’s equality for you!

Emily’s Waltz / Gilwilly
(J. Dyer / J. Dyer)
Two tunes in E melodic minor with a slight Breton feel. Gilwilly, short for “Gilwilly Trading Estate” is the birthplace of Jonny’s new guitar.

En Gång / Singi Sunset
Trad / V. Swan
A Swedish song about getting married. Rough Translation:
One day you’ll stand next to me and the priest will ask if you will be my one chosen friend. I won’t grieve if you say ‘no’, there will be someone out there that loves me.
Ploughing but not sowing; proposing but getting turned down. Rather a cold heart than a cold minded friend. My heart it smiles in me when I look at you at and think about how we could be.
The priest takes the forth the book and asks us the vows. Then takes the ring of reddest gold. Puts it on my hand, it is a wedding band. Now you have become my gracious husband.
The opening tune which is woven throughout the song refers to a hiking hut on the King’s Trail up in Northern Sweden: Two days hike from the nearest road where we spent a fantastic candlelit evening recovering from climbing the tallest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise.

Button Oak / The Polecat
(J. Dyer / J. Dyer)
Our pub has closed to be replaced by houses, we have a new bypass coming soon, people come and people go, everything changes – but Button Oak just stands there watching and waving at the wind.

Herr Hillebrand and Proud Lena
Translation V. Swan - Lyrics Arr J. Dyer - Melody J. Dyer
A major murder ballad, traced back through several different Swedish ballad collections. We gathered up 52 verses on our journey putting together this ballad (including old Norwegian). Vicki translated (with help from various family members), Jonny edited, made it rhyme and generally made it into an understandable saga. This is a classic ‘man proposes and lady declines’ story. The lady’s rejection statement by Lena caught our imagination:
“I would take more heed of the stones on the ground than you in your finery, there is dog in my mothers house with coarse and matted hair, I would rather kiss that little dogs lips than you in your kingdom fair”
From our research is unclear why Hillebrand gets so incensed by Lena. One story says that Lena knows she will die in childbirth and so is avoiding Hillebrand for that reason.

(J. Dyer)
A Smallpipe duet. One set in D and one set in A. This only works if the A pipes can have D drones (or no drones). Playing this live might be a little tricky.

Lord Randall
(Lyrics Trad arr. J. Dyer. Melody J. Dyer)
Child Ballad #12. Thought to be one of the oldest traditional ballads of England, it might be about Randolph, 6th Earl of Chester who died in 1232. A young lord is poisoned by his ‘love’. In the song he bequeaths his estate to his family and justice to his poisoner.

The Cedar Fence / The Three legged Rant
(J. Dyer / J. Dyer)
The Cedar Fence is a stomp tune in C-Dorian. Keeping the same pulse, The Three Legged Rant would be a rant but for the rhythmical emphasis on the offbeats in the ‘B part’.

The Oxford and ‘Ampton Railway / The Broken Spike
(Lyrics Trad arr. J. Dyer. Melody J. Dyer / J. Dyer)
The Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton railway was finished in 1853. This song was clearly written before its completion when there was great enthusiasm for how wonderful the line would be for all. After its opening, it was known as ‘the worse and worser line’ for a number of reasons including in 1858 ‘the worst fatal railway accident in history’.
‘The Broken Spike’ is the lament for an ageing navvy ‘spike driver’ who is soon to be too old to work.

Track Notes

1 Billy Boy / Nancy’s Fancy

2 Viggo’s Vaggvisa / Dancing Out

3 Broken Token

4 Emily’s Waltz / Gilwilly

5 En Gång / Singi Sunset

6 Button Oak / The Polecat

7 Herr Hillebrand and Proud Lena

8 Valnötslångdans

9 Lord Randall

10 The Cedar Fence / The Three Legged Rant

11 The Oxford and ‘Ampton Railway/The Broken Spike