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Sleeve Notes for Songs from the Past Into the Future by Derek Gifford

Songs from the Past Into the FutureDerek has been singing for over 35 years and is  well known as an excellent solo performer throughout the U.K.  

Some of the songs on the album are unaccompanied but most are accompanied by Derek on guitar or bowed psaltery with the support of concertina, cello, fiddle and oboe. Chorus songs are one of Derek's specialities and the album has some great chorus singing.

Apart from his love of folk song Derek is also a keen conservationist and many of the songs on this album reflect these interests giving it a strong 'green' theme.

Track Notes

1 Land and Sea
Richard Grainger

Best described as an environmental song, this is Richard's angle on the depredations of human kind. Just my thing!

2 Ellis Island
Brendan Graham

I first came across this song when I was doing some work with a choir in a local school. Ellis Island is situated in Upper New York Bay near Liberty island. It was the United States' busiest immigrant inspection station and the gateway for millions of immigrants from 1892 until 1954 - not 1943 as the song unfortunately wrongly states. This song encapsulates the atmosphere through the eyes of a fifteen year old.

3 Do You remember?
Rod Shearman

Similar in sentiment to Richard Grainger's song this is another more comprehensive view of the planet's demise from the late Rod Shearman. Considering he wrote it over 25 years ago we still don't seem to have learned the lessons of human folly.

4 Songs They Used to Sing
Mike Bartram

Written by my friend Mike Bartram who is a resident at the long standing Wooden Horse Folk Club here in Lancashire. It says it all in terms of what we're about in the chorus singing folk world.

5 The Cocklers' Song
Alan Bell/ Tamlyn Music

Alan Bell wrote this song following the disaster at Morecambe Bay in 2007. He was inspired by the fact that the poor Chinese labourers were actually on their mobile phones to their loved one's as they drowned which is acknowledged in the chorus.

6 Five Pounds
Les Sullivan

the press gangs strike again! A fine song of cunning too. Thanks to Les Sullivan we shanty and sea song performers have another good song to add to our repertoire.

7 Farewell to the Brine
Pete Coe/Backshift Music

I first met Pete in the late 1960s at the Drover's Arms Folk Club in Birmingham. We've been trading friendly insults ever since! He has written some great songs over the years but this one is one of his early ones. This song is about his home town of Northwich, Cheshire. It fits the bowed psaltery like a glove and I bet Pete wishes I'd play it with one instead of a bow!

8 Dives and Lazarus

this was one of my early additions to my traditional repertoire which I learned from the singing of The Young Tradition. The simple moral of this tale of course is that if you're rich you'll go to hell and if you're poor you'll go to heaven - so we're all right!

9 Spirit of the Sea
Malcolm Gibbons

As soon as I heard Malc' sing this at our local session I knew it was one I had to learn. He dedicates it to the RNLI and this dedication features in the lyrics in the last verse.

10 For The Day
Steve Ritchie

Steve Ritchie was one of the members of Tanglefoot a superb, unfortunately now disbanded, group from Canada. He wrote this for people who are reasonably comfortable in life and who have the good fortune to be able to keep it that way.

11 Bold Fisherman

this is one of the first and finest English traditional songs I ever learnt and it has stood the test of time. Some say this song is the story of the marriage of Christ. This version was collected by Lucy Broadwood from a Mrs. Joiner of Chisnell Green, Hertfordshire in 1914.

12 Early One Evening
Miles Wootton

this is a somewhat dated parody of 'Early One Morning' but I believe that there are still a few pub's in existence like the one in the song . A moment of light-heartedness.

13 Nantucket Sleighride
Bob Watson

this was the name given to the process of the harpoon boat being dragged through the water by a whale after it had been harpooned. Nantucket was a major whaling station on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Bob Watson's fine song relates this and brings it up to date with a strong conservation message.

14 Coming in Further
Brian Hooper

A more humorous look at the state of the environment from one of Southampton's Foícísle Folk Club's residents. Since learning it I now spend a lot of time looking for 'air miles' on supermarket shelves and so should you!