1 The Bold Dragoon
Traditional (Roud 321)
The Bold Dragoon is based on the song collected by Bob Copper in July 1955 from Enos White of Axford,Hampshire, and published in Songs and Southern Breezes, (1973). To complete a partial stanza in Mr White’s text, I adapted lines from several nineteenth century broadside versions that I found in the ballad collections at the Bodleian Library.
I’ve also slipped in a stanza from a version that Dr George Gardiner collected from Moses Blake of Emery Down, Hampshire, in May 1906. The tune has evolved too, but it still owes a lot to the singing of Heather Wood in the days of The Young Tradition, long ago.
2 Pride Of The Season
Kenneth Peacock collected this song from Mrs Freeman Bennett of St Paul's, Newfoundland, in 1958. It was published with the title As I Walkèd Forth In The Pride Of The Season by The National Museum of Canada (1965) in his Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2.
When I heard Mary Humphreys sing her version of The Pride Of The Season a few years ago, I was enthralled. She and Anahata kindly introduced me to the wonders of the “Peacock Collection” and I am now the proud owner of a digital copy of the entire three-volume set, complete with many of Ken Peacock’s original field recordings. As a result I was able to learn this song directly from the singing of Becky Bennett.
3 The Isle Of France
With Mary Humphreys, English concertina, and Anahata, 'cello.
This song was collected by Percy Merrick from Henry Hills of Lodsworth, Sussex in 1900 and published in the Journal of the Folk Song Society the following year. I have augmented Mr Hills' text with lines taken from broadside examples dated around 1850 that I found in the Bodleian Library's ballad collections.
“The Isle of France” refers to Mauritius, one of the Mascarene Islands that lie in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. In 1598 the Dutch Second Fleet to the Spice Islands, blown off course, discovered the island and named it in honour of Prince Maurits van Nassau, then Stadtholder of the Netherlands. France seized Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France. British forces occupied the island in 1810 and it was ceded to Britain after the defeat of Napoleon.
4 The Rambling Blade
Traditional (Roud 490)
Learned from the singing of Walter Pardon as recorded by Bill Leader at Walter's home in Knapton, Norfolk, in May 1974.There are many broadside variants of this song, often referring to Newry or Newlyn Town, or Stephen's Green, and all agree that our hero was a “wild and wicked youth”. Walter once told Peter Bellamy that this was his favourite song, the best folksong ever written. It was probably learned from his uncle Billy Gee who was the source of many of Walter's songs. In memory of Sid Long (1953-2005), who had his own version but liked to hear me sing Walter's.
5 Suit Of Grey
Cyril Tawney © Gwyneth Music Ltd.
With Mary Humphreys, English concertina, and Anahata, 'cello.
A fine song from a wonderful man. What better summary than this from Rosemary Tawney (private correspondence): “Suit Of Grey was written in 1960, just after Cyril left the Navy. It's always meant a lot to me because, as a Plymouth girl, it rings very true - though I didn't know Cyril when he was in the Service so I never saw him in uniform. I have always thought it one of his best songs.”
6 The Deluded Lover
Traditional (Roud 3479)
Collected by Paddy Tunney from his mother Brigid Tunney in Belleek, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and published in The Stone Fiddle ~ My Way To Traditional Song (1979) under the title As I Roved Out or The False Bride.
Many interpretations have been proposed for this ambiguous song. In my view, the threads hold together if you think of “the lassie who has the land” as the Queen of England. “Marriage” to her is then an analogy for joining the army in an attempt to escape from poverty. His gift of the three-diamond ring, representing past, present and future, suggests that he married, or at least became engaged to, his poor deluded (and perhaps pregnant) lover before signing up.
7 A Brisk Young Widow
Traditional (Roud 2438)
With Anahata, one-row melodeon.
The only known example of this song in the oral tradition was collected by Cecil Sharp from George Radford at Bridgwater Union Workhouse, Somerset, on 22 August 1905. Mr Radford was 76 at the time, and died less than a year later. According to Maud Karpeles he told Sharp that his father, Job Radford, had been a great singer but that this was the only song he had managed to learn from him. It came to me through the singing of the late, lamented Royston Wood.
8 The Valiant Sailor
Traditional (Roud 811)
With me double-tracked on the refrains.
I learned this song from Roy Palmer's Oxford Book Of Sea Songs (1986) long before first hearing George “Pop” Maynard singing Polly On The Shore, which it closely resembles. Palmer took the text of The Valiant Sailor from John Ashton's Real Sailor-Songs (1891) and collated it with a related song, Lord Carter Is My Name, which was collected by George Butterworth from Mrs Cranstone of Billingshurst, Sussex, in July 1909 and published in the Journal of the Folk Song Society Volume 4 (1913).
9 When Fishes Fly
Traditional (Roud 1403)
Words: Traditional (Roud 1403) arranged by Mary Humphreys
Tune: Traditional arranged by Mary Humphreys and Anahata
With Mary Humphreys, banjo, and Anahata, 'cello.
Mary brought this song to life by combining and adapting traditional material from various published sources. The tune is mostly as collected by Cecil Sharp from Lucy White at Hambridge, Somerset in April 1904. The text is a combination of Lucy White's and versions from Emma Overd of Langport, Somerset (Cecil Sharp, August 1904) and Everett Bennett of St Paul's, Newfoundland (Kenneth Peacock, August 1958). There are several earlier broadside versions in the Bodleian Library, mostly under the title No, My Love, Not I. The Common Rue (Ruta graveolens), a symbol of regret in folklore, has herbal properties relating to abortion that would have been well known to country women of Lucy White's generation.
It is a sign of a true friend that Mary has allowed me to make some slight modifications to her carefully crafted text in order to suit my interpretation of the song.
10 Annan Water
Traditional (Roud 6562)
Words: Traditional (Roud 6562) arranged by Nic Jones
Tune: Traditional arranged and extended by Nic Jones
With Mary and Anahata singing harmonies in the chorus. In l969 Nic Jones found Annan Water in Volume IV of Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, included as an Appendix to number 215, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie". Child had taken this text of fourteen four-line stanzas from Scott's Minstrelsy Of The Scottish Borders (1802). Neither publication included a tune. In a masterpiece of contraction, Nic selected eight stanzas and grouped them in pairs, slightly modified and anglicized, with the original final stanza following each pair as a chorus. For a tune he took the first part of an English song called The Brisk Young Lively Lad, collected in Surrey by Lucy Broadwood and published in the Journal of the Folk Song Society Volume 1 (1900), which he extended to suit his eight-line stanza format. The result is nothing short of pure genius.
11 The Slave's Lament
Words:Robert Burns (attrib.) Tune: Traditional
With Mary Humphreys, English concertina.
I am grateful to my good friend Sylvia Watts for introducing me to this song. The Slave's Lament was published anonymously in the fourth volume of The Scots Musical Museum (Edinburgh, 1792), an extensive collection of Scottish folk songs to which Robert Burns was an enthusiastic contributor. It is known that Burns was responsible for its inclusion and it is likely that he composed the text himself, though it resembles an earlier blackletter broadside entitled The Trapann'd Maid.
I think it's interesting to note that in 1792 Burns met and befriended Dr James Currie. As an impressionable young man, Currie had spent five years in Virginia during the social turmoil that led to the American War of Independence. He would have been no stranger to the condition of slaves there and his tales may have provided the inspiration for this haunting lament.
12 The Ploughman's Love
Traditional (Roud 2636)
I first heard Nic Jones perform an enigmatic three-stanza version of this song almost thirty years ago. In search of more, I traced Nic's text and tune to a version collected by the Hammond brothers from a Mrs Notley of Higher Woodsford, Dorset in January 1907. It was published that year in Volume 3 of the Journal of the Folk Song Society under the title The Flandyke Shore. Cecil Sharp had collected a similar four-stanza version from Mrs Betsy Pike in Somerset the previous year. Both can be seen in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House. They are clearly fragments from a longer ballad, and the search for a more complete version occupied me off-and-on for many years.
Eventually I came upon a chapbook text that was included in the Appendix to Volume 2 of Andrew Crawfurd's Collection Of Ballads And Songs (ed. Emily Lyle, 1996) as an English counterpart to the Scots dialect song The Flanders Shore. Printed and distributed by J. & M. Robertson of Saltmarket, Glasgow, in 1802 under the title The Ploughman's Love to the Farmer's Daughter, it contains all of the fragments that were collected by Hammond and Sharp more than a century later. I have adjusted Mrs Notley's tune only slightly to fit the Robertson text.
13 The Victory
Traditional (Roud 2278)
Words: Traditional (Roud 2278). Tune: Nic Jones © Mollie Music
With Mary Humphreys, banjo, and Anahata, anglo concertina.
Yet another song that I owe to Nic. The text comes from a ballad sheet in the Harding collection at the Bodleian Library that was printed by John Harkness of Preston between 1840 and 1866.
According to Nic, the tune was composed in the “Halliard” days sometime between 1966 and 1967. I adjusted it a little to suit my interpretation of the text and then tweaked the text to suit the modified tune. Hey ho!