Sleeve Notes for I am the Song by Jim Causley
In 2013 I made an album of a selection of Charles’ poems which I had set to music to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death. The Charles Causley Trust most kindly allowed myself along with a small group of musician friends to take over Charles’ little house ‘Cyprus Well’ for five days and record the album in his study and I got to use his very own piano too! It was a magical experience and one that I will always hold very dear.
Last year the Charles Causley Trust commissioned me to create another project using Charles poems to help celebrate the centenary of his birth, this year in 2017. I felt that I would not want to try and create a “Cyprus Well 2” and that it would not be possible even if I wanted to. So instead I was made ‘Artist in Residence’ in Cyprus Well for a week in September 2016 where I soaked up the magic of Charles’ home once again by living and sleeping in his house, exploring his home town by stepping out from his own front door and this time I wrote the music for the poems on Charles’ piano instead.
I also felt that I wanted to look at a different aspect of Charles’ work this time around and so as his ‘Collected Poems for Children’ has recently been republished I thought it would be great fun to focus on those poems. And great fun it has been too! I’ve called in lots of friends who I knew would bring their particular brand of magic and fun to the album and we have had such a huge amount of fun making it I can’t begin to tell you. I hope all the joy of Charles’ wonderful poems combined with the celebratory nature of the music comes through and brings another generation of readers to the treasure trove of Charles Causley’s work. The hardest part of this project was deciding which poems not to record! There are simply too many great ones but I’ll leave those for you to discover when you buy the book, here’s just a little taster…
The musicians are:
Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll
Mary Humphries and Anahata
Keith Kendrick with Bandanglo
A little about Charles Causley
Charles was born and raised in Launceston, Cornwall in 1917 by a Cornish mother and a Devonian father who hailed from the village of Trusham on the eastern edge of Dartmoor (where Jim’s father’s family also originate). His father died when Charles was just seven due to long-standing injuries sustained in WW1.
Charles attended teacher training college and eventually became the head teacher at the local National school which he himself attended as a child. During this time he became well known as a poet of national importance, publishing books and giving recitals alongside his busy teaching career. In 1958, Causley was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a CBE in 1986. When he was 83 years old he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature: he greeted this award with the words, "My goodness, what an encouragement!" There was a campaign to have him appointed Poet Laureate on the death of John Betjeman, but Causley, ever a modest man, was not interested in taking up the post. Ted Hughes described him as "the greatest poet laureate we never had". He was interviewed by Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs on 1 December 1979.
1 Python on Piccolo
All words by Charles Causley, all tunes by Jim Causley
2 Newlyn Buildings
is actually a terrace of houses in Launceston!
3 I Don’t Want to Grumble
May contain traces of Hickory Dickory Dock!
4 Here We Go Round the Roundhouse
A small octagonal building in Newport Square, Launceston, built in 1829 by the Duke of Northumberland to house the old market cross
5 5. At Linkinhorne
A village on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor
6 The Money Came In
7 Lady Jane Grey
The ill-fated young lady who was Queen of England for just eleven days in 1553
8 Mrs McPhee
Charles would have passed through South Zeal along the old A30 on his way to visit his friend Ted Hughes in North Tawton
9 One Day at a Perranporth Petshop
10 Good Morning Mr Croco-Doco-Dile
Features the tune Thaxted Square by Simon Ritchie
11 One for the Man
12 Colonel Fazackerley
13 Lord Lovelace
A medieval earl of Cornwall
14 Tabitha Tupper
15 As I Went Down Zig-Zag
A famous zig-zagging footpath in Charles’ hometown of Launceston. Features part of the tune Jan Pook by Bill Murray
16 I Saw a Jolly Hunter
17 A Mermaid at Zennor
18 John Tidy
Alias Jim Causley
19 I Took My Wife to Market
Tune inspired by The Derby Ram. The arrangement features the tune The New Rigged Ship in the break.
20 The Obby Oss
The central character of the annual May Day celebrations in Padstow. Features snippets of the Swinton May Song, the Furry Dance, Now is the Month of Maying and the Padstow May Song
21 I am the Song
features words and chorus by Jim, inspired by Charles original poem