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Sleeve Notes for On Blue Stockings by Lauren McCormick

On Blue StockingsLauren McCormick is making waves on the folk scene with her live trio line up, weaving traditional and contemporary song with original tunes and intricate arrangements.

Dave Delarre - guitar,
James Delarre - violin,
Roz Gladstone - cello


Effortlessly combining spellbinding storytelling with vocal prowess, Laurenís song choices are perceptive, speaking of the condition of woman both historical and modern, and delivered in her own mischievous fashion. Once a member of vocal harmony group The Devilís Interval (2007 BBC Folk Award nominees) along with (recent star of the Under One Sky project) Jim Causley, Lauren has also toured with Waterson:Carthy for five consecutive years as part of the annual Frost and Fire Christmas show and she was recently invited to appear at the South Bank Centre in London as part of The Shirley Collins Folk Roots New Routes series. She has also co Ėpromoted the influential folk club ĎThe Magpies Nestí in London over last couple of years, booking and performing alongside many great names.

The bluestocking circle were a group of women and men in the mid 1700s who believed in education for everyone, making it possible for many women to become recognised in fields that were otherwise dominated by men. They paved the way for the political commentary of the Ďradical intellectualí Mary Wollstonecraft and many who came after. They were rather modern for their time, replacing demure amusements with the delights of alcohol, tea and literary conversation. I admire their attitude that you can do what you want, whoever you are. To be a bluestocking was very highly thought of at the time, but some people couldnít handle it and the term was turned derogatory by Victorian stiffs in the 1800s. This is my tribute to their ideas.

Track Notes

1 A Game of Cards
Trad arr McCormick

From Betsy Renals. The girl in this song knows what she wants and takes it. Very good advice I think, although she is a bit naughty.

2 Trees Grow High
Trad arr. L McCormick

This tune comes from May Bradley via the listening room at Cecil Sharp House. Her take on the story was rather happier than usual - nobody died and the young couple just had a nice chat for two verses. As lovely as this is, I thought Iíd flesh it out with some verses from the George Butterworth Collection.

3 One too many mornings
B Dylan

I heard this on somebodyís Desert Island Discs (I canít remember who!). It took me ages to track it down as I had in my head that it was called One too Many Mondays. It cast such a vivid image in my mind that I couldnít rest until Iíd found it. Iíve changed a word in this song, which has caused surprising outrage amongst aficionados of the original! Terribly sorry; artist prerogative.

4 A sprig of thyme
Trad arr. L McCormick

This might be my all time favourite song. Tune and verses from Joseph Taylor and extra verses from Pop Maynard. Emily Portman, Jim Causley and I realised that between us we knew about 7 versions of it, but I believe this is the most beautiful.

5 Everybody Knows
L Cohen

Leonard Cohen is one of the worldís great wordsmiths. This song says everything.

6 The Old Garden Gate
Trad arr. L McCormick

I have loved this song since I was lucky enough to be involved in the Song Links II project with Shirley Collins and Martyn Wyndham Reed. Martyn sang the version on the English CD and the very wonderful Kieron Means sang the American version. Martynís version had a more complete narrative but Kieronís version had such lovely lyrical verses that just broke my heart. I loved them both so much that I stole Martynís version in its entirety and also quite a few verses from Kieron.

7 Lady Isobel
Trad arr. L McCormick, D Delarre, J Delarre

This is taken from Child 4, version A. I found the tune in the Take 6 archive, in the Gardiner collection. Gardiner collected it from one Charles Bull Snr. in Marchwood, Hampshire on 12th June 1907, for those of you interested in such things. He sang it to a version of the Outlandish Knight, also Child 4. Huge thanks to EFDSS for such an amazing resource.

8 A song for my Mother
L McCormick

The first verse of this song fell into my lap one day. It took me about 3 years to decide what the rest of it wanted to be. Iím not sure if Iíve got it right yet, but I thought Iíd let you hear it as my Mum deserves a song.

9 Dear Mary
L Thompson and T Thompson

I was attracted to this song because of the hidden motivation of the narrator character. Iím not sure whether she is concerned for the Mary character, or whether she is actually a manipulative bitch, although the latter is rather more convincing. I have various ideas about who she might be and what her connection to Mary is, which makes interpreting it interesting.

10 Lucy: meaning light
L McCormick

I seem not to be able to stop myself signing up for various courses that are always very interesting, but turn out to be much more work that I had anticipated! I became really interested in the Blue Beard tale type when writing an essay on short stories for a course about The Creativity of the English Language. This is my version, which was inspired by retellings from the Grimms, Perrault and Margaret Atwood. The tune is stolen from The Rambling Comber, which I kind of wanted to sing but I donít actually like beer that much...

11 The Cuckoo / Le mas noyer
Trad arr. L McCormick, D Delarre and J Delarre / J Delarre

From The Seeds of Love book. This was quite a pretty version until it was Delarred. Itís much better now!