This collection is dedicated to the memory of our dear friend and fellow dancer, Steve Adams, who was lost with so many others in the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. It celebrates staple songs from our repertoire which we have used, but mostly not recorded, in the 35 years that we have been singing together.
The Anchor Song
The poem is by Rudyard Kipling (1893) and the tune setting by Peter Bellamy. "Mother Carey" refers to the deep ocean where the pelagic birds known as storm(y) petrels do indeed feed their chicks at sea.
The Golden Vanity
This version was collected by Cecil Sharp from Alfred Emery of Othery, Somerset in 1908. Sharp published a piano arrangement in his One Hundred English Folk Songs For Medium Voice, a fine collection of songs still in print from Dover Publications.
Collected in 1940 from "Tink" Tillett of Roanoke Island, NC, by Frank and Anne Warner. We learned it from the singing of their sons, Jeff and Gerret Warner.
Jonah and the Grampus
Written and performed by Marriott Edgar. His many recitations became well known from recordings by Stanley Holloway and pamphlet collections of his poems. This was one of many done by Tony's father, Charlie Barrand, at church, family, and work "socials."
A Pilgrim's Way
Once again, the poem is by Rudyard Kipling (1890) and the tune setting by Peter Bellamy. We learned this to sing at the memorial gathering held for our Mummer and Morris dancer friend, Steve Adams, who had just begun a new job in the Windows on the World restaurant on September 11, 2001. Kipling precisely captured Steve's infectious egalitarian spirit with the refrain line, "The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!"
Helen Hartness Flanders and Marguerite Olney collected this ballad (Child #18 "Sir Lionel") from Alfred Ferguson in Middlebury, VT, 1942.
Who Killed Cock Robin?
What we called "nursery rhymes" (known in the U. S. as "Mother Goose rhymes") almost always had tunes associated with them. We both knew this unrelentingly sad lament as children. The tiny English "cock" Robin has little in common with the American Robin, the largest of the North American thrushes. Iona and Peter Opie speculate in their classic The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford Univ. Press, 1951) that it may have been a political commentary on Robert Walpole as it was first recorded during his tenure as Prime Minister in 1744. If so, the hard-hitting parody on the death of Marilyn Monroe, "Who Killed Norma Jean?" (Words by Norman Rosten, Music by Pete Seeger, 1963), maintained that usage.
We learned this from the singing of Bob and Evelyn Beers at Fox Hollow Folk Festivals in the early 1970s.
All Through The Ale
This version of the well-known drinking song was collected by Roy Harris in Derbyshire.
The Rawtenstall Annual Fair
This song is still well known in Lancashire and John learned it as a student at Manchester University in the early 1960s. It was written by the prolific Music Hall team of Weston & Lee, who also gave us such timeless gems as "The Body In The Bag" and "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm."
Learned from a recording by the monologist and composer, Billy Bennett. A collection of his recitations and songs, Almost a Gentleman, was recently re-issued by Topic records.
The Nutting Girl
A staple song among morris dancers since Ashley Hutchings' influential Morris On album (1972), we pair it here, of course, with the Cotswold Morris dance tune.
Since our first days singing together in 1969, it has been a rare show in which we did not include a piece from the Copper Family of Rottingdean in Sussex. Since we take so many songs from Kipling and the Coppers, a pleasing link for us is that Rudyard Kipling moved from his house "Naulakha" in Brattleboro, VT (where Tony makes his home), to live in Rottingdean.
The Week before Easter
Early Christians believed the week before Easter was a good time to be baptized, calling it "White Week" because of the clothing customarily worn between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. The song is also known as "The False Bride" who was, in keeping with the season, "dressed all in white." We took this version in the 1970s from the singing of Robin and Barry Dransfield.
Another Lancashire song, this was written by Roger and Pru Edwards, based on a local legend. John learned it from members of The Valley Folk who would come down from Rawtenstall to sing at the Bury Folk Club, where he used to sing regularly in its early days.
The text of this song is in Gale Huntington's Songs The Whalemen Sang, from the logbook of the whaleship Three Brothers, Nantucket, 1846. The English singer Tim Laycock gave it a tune. It, too, was sung at the memorial for Steve Adams. Row on, Steve!