Wednesday, 25 May 2016
When might March follow May?
Our numbers were reduced even further at the break and as we started going round in ever decreasing circles we put the night out of its misery slightly earlier than usual but a good variety of songs were nevertheless sung.
Derek started us off in a very seasonal way with Whitsun Dance (Austin John Marshall). Quite a number of May songs were still coming out of the woodwork, starting with Mike's singing of Claudy Banks (Roud 266, Laws N40).
Phil as usual took us across the pond, this time with Chuck Berry's Downbound Train. Roger kept us there, and in the railway theme with Chatanooga Choo Choo (Harry Warren, Mack Gordon).
Colin's first was quite different, being To People Who Have Gardens (Agnes Mure MacKenzie, Marion Macleod, Marjory Kennedy-Fraser).
Simon was totally off any topic for his first contribution, which was Ellan Vannin (Hughie Jones).
Roger sang Ol' Man River (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II). Famously the words have evolved since it was written in 1927 according to the sensibilities of various times and the linked version is rather earlier than the one which Roger sang. But it wasn't the words which caused some discussion but their best-known singer, Paul Robeson. Roger recalled that Robeson was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Roger thought he fled to Moscow. In fact he had travelled to Moscow previously in 1948 but when he was awarded the International Stalin Prize in 1952, he was unable to travel to collect it, since he had been denied a passport. Simon believed he remembered that Robeson had played Othello at Stratford-upon-Avon, this was later confirmed by Derek to have been in 1959, after his passport was reinstated.
Phil sang Don't Let Your Deal Go Down (Roud 4854) and soon after this Derek sang Lord Gregory (Roud 49, Child 76), commenting on the similarity between this and the later verses in Phil's song. Derek challenged anyone to investigate the means by which this particular story crossed the Atlantic. Well, I haven't actually managed to do that, but I did find these details on Child 76 which mention a version sharing verses with Roud 4854.
Another puzzle raised by Derek related to his singing of his own song about the Jarrow marchers which came about because he once heard a song sung by Dave Douglass which he believed to be by Ed Pickford. When he later asked Pickford for the words, he was unable to provide them and he had not been able to get hold of them. Well, either I have got the wrong end of the stick here, or Derek has forgotten something because this thread from Mudcat Café has Derek (known there as "Young Buchan") telling the story and Ed Pickford apparently providing the words (or some of them) to his song which he calls The Dowdy Streets Of Yarrow.
The catalyst for this discussion of the Jarrow march was a mini-theme started by Colin on workers' rights and union disputes. Colin's own contributions were Part Of The Union (Richard Hudson, John Ford) and the Jarrow Song (Alan Price). Derek's has already been mentioned. Mike contributed Blackleg Miner (Roud 3193) and Simon sang Poverty Knock (Roud 3491, probably written by Tom Daniel).
The final song of the evening, coming from Colin, was Running Down To Cuba.
There seems to be no specific theme for this week's session, so bring any songs or tunes you wish to perform and we reserve the right to build a theme around them if the mood takes us. Otherwise you are very welcome to come and listen, and optionally join in any choruses that become available through the evening.
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 6, of whom 6 performed)