Tuesday, 28 June 2016
The Leaves of Summer
This week's session was marked by the absence of the regular Scribe, which meant that not only do you have to suffer my account of the proceedings, but many of us were forced to make up wholly imaginary cricket scores to get us through the evening.
More happily, Maggie was well enough to accompany Mike and Indy to the session, where she fulfilled the important task of trying, not entirely successfully, to keep him quiet by stroking his neck and tickling his ears. It didn't work too well with Indy either.
This session came on the day the Brexit referendum results were announced, and Mike and Colin already had to hand a number of songs of Farewell, before Derek opened the evening with The Leaving of Liverpool (Roud 9435).
In fact, Mike had gone so far as to improvise EU-based versions of the shanty Leave Her Johnny (Roud 354), and of Babylon is Fallen (Roud 13968), a song which, after intensive research, I can state to have been definitely written by an anonymous Englishman circa 1645. Or by an anonymous American circa 1830. Or by Henry Clay Work just after the American Civil War. Or by W Chute in 1878. Since no one seems able to make up their mind on the question, there may soon be a referendum on it. [Ed: The result of my previous research can be found here but I don't claim any sort of authority]
Leaving is such a common motif in folk songs (and since Colin performed McCartney and Lennon's She's Leaving Home, we'd better just say songs) that no one had any difficulty in contributing theme wise. But as Terry remarked as he made his opening with Say Goodbye My Old Friend [Ed: perhaps Old Friends by Eric Bogle or Goodbye Again by John Denver?], it seemed strange to hear so early in the night songs that are usually held back to the final round.
The Farewell selection also included Terry with Fields of Athenry (Pete St John), Colin with Rosabella, Mike with the 'Transports' Shanty [Ed: This one?], Derek with Shall My Soul Pass Through Old Ireland and Farewell to Greta and Tom and Hilary with Leaving on a Jet Plane (John Denver) and Morningtown Ride (Malvina Reynolds).
It is of course much more difficult to find songs that include the word Remain, and after Derek had been roundly and loudly abused for his effort, no-one else made the attempt. The object in question was Harry Cox's version of The Death of Nelson [Nelson's Monument] (Roud 1552), which includes the line: Fighting the French on the water. Remain! [sic]
Not all the performances were leave-related. In spite of Tony's fear that his concertina was about to fall apart due to lack of wax, he and Hilary (mainly on autoharp) gave us a number of items including the instrumental Llantony Abbey and John Denver's Annie's Song.
Finally a special mention of Terry's performance of Alan Burbidge's Empty Echoes, a notoriously difficult-to-enunciate song which he completed with great verve at a lick I would never attempt to emulate.
[See you this week for another session with no prescribed theme. Come sing, play, dance, recite or whatever you like within reason]
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 8, of whom 6 performed)