|Raphael - Saint George and the Dragon, 1506|
It was two days before St George's day so the theme was George, England, dragons and anything else that seemed appropriate.
Colin as MC asked Steve C to start us off which he did with Jock Stewart (Roud 975) which wasn't exactly to theme but we don't mind that.
Derek had other plans for the evening's theme but started off with a token song from Norfolk: The Bailiff's Daughter Of Islington (Roud 483, Child 105).
Colin was first to really hit the theme will full force, singing Billy Bragg's Hard Times Of Old England Retold.
John B pulled a tenuous theme link out of Will The Circle Be Unbroken (music by Charles H Gabriel, Roud 3409) in that despite being thought of as an American gospel song, its words were written by Ada R Habershon who was English.
Simon's first was the definitely English Buttercup Joe (Roud 1635). Simon mentioned that while the lyrics usually "my father comes from Fareham" (i.e. Fareham in Hampshire), he got the song from The Yetties and therefore has the paternal hometown being Wareham in Dorset, somewhere he had passed by earlier in the day on his way back from holiday in Swanage.
Mike sang of The Gallant Ship The Rainbow (Roud 492, Laws N4). and so we were back to Steve C with The Farmer's Toast (Roud 1603).
On subsequent turns Derek played around with the alternative theme of ANZAC Day which is on 25 April, when Australia and New Zealand remember all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served". The trail started with Eric Bogle's The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and continued into parody with this song. Next the obvious trail took him to Waltzing Matilda (Banjo Paterson) though Derek sings slightly different words to the usual and to a different tune as sung here by Trevor Lucas.
Finally, although not Derek's last song of the evening which we will come back to, he sang a song from which he suggested Banjo Paterson had taken the popular tune for Waltzing Matilda. It seems things aren't quite so simple when it comes to The Bold Fusilier. It seems for a start that the song was originally The Gay Fusilier and had only one verse. The additional verses and the new title were added by Pete Coe.
Even the original verse, it seems, can only be traced back to the early 20th century, and Waltzing was written in 1895. It has even been suggested that The Gay Fusilier might have been a British soldiers' reaction to hearing Aussies singing Waltzing Matilda over and over again. Indeed it seems that the tune was written by Christina Rutherford Macpherson specifically for Waltzing Matilda and was based on the Scottish tune Thou Bonnie Wood Of Craigielea (James Barr). Far be it from me to contradict Derek, and my research isn't properly verified, so I may be wrong, but it's an interesting trail to follow. Thank you Derek for the journey.
Colin took me on another, though much shorter journey by singing The Bastard King Of England (Roud 8388). We are told that it has been attributed to Rudyard Kipling but that is almost certainly false. The earliest mention appears to be in Immortalia in 1927 and it is already being attributed to Kipling. Moving on, a cleaned up version of the song even turned up in Disney's Robin Hood.
Returning to Derek for the final song, he sang a version of Leslie Sarony's Ain't It Grand To Be Blooming Well Dead which he got from Herbert McCabe - sorry, I can't find the McCabe version.
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 9, of whom 6 performed)