1 Polly Vaughn
Words trad., music Shirley Collins, arr Causley/Dumbelton
I first discovered this gorgeous version of the song on Shirley Collin's album 'The Sweet Primeroses'. The words were collected in the Appalachians by Cecil Sharp and the enchanting melody was written by Shirley herself. Anyone familiar with the English versions of this song (such as Harry Cox's epic version) will notice it's a trifle shorter as it doesn't feature the whole Jimmy's trial and Polly's ghost bit. But I don't mind that as it gets to the point a lot quicker! I’d like to dedicate this song to ‘Old Bean’ Roger Edwards who has given me great encouragement throughout my career and makes me sing this song annually at the English Country Music Weekend.
2 Cupid the Ploughboy
Words trad/Causley, tune Causley, arr Causley/Dumbelton
I fell for Cupid the Ploughboy kinda by accident when I was looking up another song and he happened to be living on the opposite page. I was most disappointed that in the end the narrator of the song and cupid end up getting married; humans marrying gods is just not the done thing and aside from that it made for a really boring ending so I decided to restore him to the mirage he so obviously is. Which goes for the vast majority of young men who declare their undying love!
3 Wild Rover
This more reflective, melancholic version of the somewhat tired old rover was collected from a sailor in Plymouth by the late, great Cyril Tawny. I do love finding interesting versions of songs that have a groan-factor when you so much as mention their names. If only to remind folks that the reason they’ve been done-to-death is simply because they’re fantastic songs.
4 Loving Hannah
Janet Russell is the lady in question for teaching me this. She learnt it from the wonderful Davie Steele in Edinburgh back in the 80's. It’s most likely to be American in origin and Janet and I both agreed that we like the gender ambiguity regarding the narrator and Hannah whoever he/she may be. I could have ironed it out but that’s just dull.
5 Shulé Rune
Here's another American version of a British song. It is reported to be Irish in origin although the accent on the E of Shulé suggests a French flavor and the spelling of Rune also hints at a Nordic connection!
6 Lady All Skin & Bone
This is a version of a song my Mum used to sing to my sister and I when we were children. Her favorite time to sing it to us would be when driving home through winding lanes at night just after she had pretended the car had broken down… I think that explains why I grew up to be somewhat unbalanced! James can take all the wrap for the choice of chords, somehow this arrangement really makes me think of the music to the computer game; ‘Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’. Anyone who has ever owned an Amiga will know exactly what I mean!
7 Traitor’s Love
George Papavgeris. arr Causley/Dumbelton
I collected this song in Chesham, Buckinghamshire from an old singer of Greek origin named George Papavgeris. Well actually he emailed it to me along with a few other of his songs asking if I’d like to sing any of them. I was understandably thrilled and honoured and quickly learnt this one. I first performed it, fittingly, at the Herga Folk Club, Pinner, Middlesex where George is a resident and he informed me that he wrote it as a conversation between two characters. After that there was no question as to what to do with the song. I find George alarmingly convincing as the baddie!
8 Oxford City
I learnt this song from the singing of Freda Palmer from Leafield, near Whitney in Oxfordshire. More commonly known as 'Worcester City' or the plot-giveaway title 'Poison in a Glass of Wine'. This song is an early precursor to warning posters in nightclubs for drink-spiking. I think if I’d chosen the title I would have gone for 'Don't Go Out With a Psycho'!
9 Autumn Days
Estelle White. arr Causley/Dumbelton
Everyone between the ages of 35 and 20 will know and love this song. Simply because we were all forced to sing it at primary school with all the other life-affirming songs in the 'Come and Praise' books. Unlike a lot of the other songs in that book, James and I genuinely do love this song, it brings back happy memories and it goes to show you can celebrate life and spirituality without ramming religion down people's throats!
10 Rolling of the Stones
James taught me this haunting song. It had been floating around in his head for some while so he decided I might as well sing it for him! It crops up in the Child collection and is a not too distant cousin of ‘The Two Brothers’. James and I are aware it is “supposed” to be the ‘the tossing of the ball’ but this is the folk-process and we are stubbornly sticking with our miss-interpreted lyrics coz we like them.