Category Archives: Music

Love in folk songs

I’ve been listening to Nic Jones (great man; his set at Towersey a few years ago is one of the highlights of my musical experience) and, well, after an evening in the company of Annachie Gordon and a Bonny Light … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, folk music, folk song, love, Music, Nic Jones, verse | 1 Comment

Comfort listening: five songs

This started off as a blog about folk songs. I haven’t talked about them much recently but they are there still as the backdrop to my writing and so, to give you something of their flavour, here’s a post about five of the Child … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, folk music, folk song, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Short Story: Usher’s Well

She waits by the window. Behind her, the kitchen clock beats out the time. Seconds slip away into minutes; minutes pile up into hours. Strangers’ voices fill the room: the pips, the news, The Archers, drama, more news. She listens. … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, death, folk music, folk song, Harriet Goodchild author, Karine Polwart, Music, short story | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Night visiting

Well, it’s autumn, the evenings are darkening, the clocks are about to go back and Hallowe’en is approaching. Time to think about ghost stories. One of the most poignant I know is the Wife of Usher’s Well (Child Ballad no. … Continue reading

Posted in Allegory, Child Ballad, death, folk music, folk song, Karine Polwart, love, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The tender side of a monster

History in song again. I think Henry VIII a monstrous figure, even within the context of his time. He set no limit on himself, and others suffered for it. Nevertheless there is a very tender portrayal of him in Child … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, death, folk music, folk song, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, love, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Faversham to Tunis: the pirate’s tale

I don’t, on the whole, recommend that you go to folk song as evidence for what actually happened in one period of history or another. Facts get distorted as stories are improved by the telling (or singing). Nevertheless I’ve found … Continue reading

Posted in Child Ballad, folk music, folk song, Music, pirates, Spiers and Boden | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of farmers and fishermen

I wrote last time of John Barleycorn and have been thinking since of double meanings in folk songs. These are not usually terribly deep or terribly hidden – a typical example is the old equation of human and earthly fertility, … Continue reading

Posted in Allegory, folk music, folk song, Maclaine Colston, Music, Saul Rose | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

bread, beer and blood

It’s summertime, in my hemisphere anyhow, and oats and beans and barley grow and thus today’s song is John Barleycorn. This is as bloody a tale of murder as any border ballad. Little Sir John is brutally slain, dragged around, … Continue reading

Posted in Billy Bragg, folk music, folk song, Imagined Village, John Barleycorn, Music | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red wine, new moon, deep water

I was looking through my music collection making playlists for a party last weekend and found I have six different recordings of Sir Patrick Spens (Child Ballad no. 58; to be strictly accurate, I have eight but three of them are … Continue reading

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Death and the ravens

More knights this time. Not murderous for a change, only dead. One song in particular caught my attention: The Three Ravens (Child Ballad no. 26). It’s an achingly sad tale set after some battle or other. The ravens are looking for their … Continue reading

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