|Friendly zombies in Dublin (Photo: Simon Meeds)|
Last Friday's session started before the whistle blew and even before I arrived. I am told that a pub regular entered the room and offered to sing. He gave those present two songs which I understand to have been The Queen Of My Heart (Jimmie Rodgers) and Devil Woman (Terry Britten, Christine Holmes). We might even suggest that the latter was on theme!
Once we were all present and our thoughts collected, MC Colin started off the session proper with The Devil's Nine Questions (Roud 161, Child 1).
There were many scary, spooky or otherwise Halloweenish songs through the evening. I will pick a few which for one reason or another are notable, most of the rest you can discover in the usual way from the "a selection" link at the bottom of the page.
Predictably I suppose for a ghoulish theme, Colin's was not the only Child ballad of the evening. Derek gave us four: Sweet William's Ghost (Roud 50, Child 77), The Unquiet Grave (Roud 51, Child 78), The Holland Handkerchief (Roud 246, Child 272) and Binnorie (Roud 8, Child 10). The YouTube recording of the last of these isn't a very good match for Derek's version. A bit of detective work suggests to me that he may have sung this version collected from the singing of John Strachan. I count this as a bit of a triumph since this song, which goes under many names including Twa Sisters was collected by Francis Child in more versions than any other, and is now known to exist in over 100 forms.
Unusually Colin only brought out one of the two songs he knows about a devilish local story about a wedding at Stanton Drew - the song he sang was Dancers Of Stanton Drew (Jim Parker, Muriel Holland).
Colin sang two more songs of particular interest. I knew he had sung The Devil And The Farmer's Wife (Roud 160, Child 178) but it took me a long time to work out that it was in fact an American version called Teeroo but starting at what seems to be the second verse.
Colin also sang Dance With Me from the singing of Steeleye Span. I understand that this song is an English translation of a Danish ballad, Herr Olof.
I can't miss out Geoff who gave us a monologue of a visit by President Ronald Regan to Ireland during which he met a leprechaun from whom he won a prize which he might come to regret. Geoff's most appropriate song was maybe Riders In The Sky (Stan Jones).
Simon's most off-the-wall contribution was probably native American rock group Redbone's 1971 hit Witch Queen Of New Orleans (Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas).
If the number of songs seems a little thin this week it is because of some very interesting extended conversations at the break. One covered stories of Mike's family and started out of a question from Geoff about Mike's self-penned song, Children Of The Train, about the Charfield rail disaster of 1928.
Another discussion was on the subject of shanty singing or as much about the relative lack of it in the Royal Navy. We learnt that the Navy's equivalent of the forebitter is the wardroom song. At this Mike broke into Cindy Oh Cindy (Robert Nemiroff, Burt D'Lugoff writing as Robert Barron, Burt Long), a song that got to number 5 in the UK charts for Eddie Fisher, its chart run spanning November 1956 to March 1957. Mike said it was derived from a wardroom song which he thought may have come in turn from a song sung by the men (as opposed to the officers). Derek and I simultaneously realised that its root, or at least the tune came from a shanty which Mike himself sings: Pay Me My Money Down (Roud 21449).
After all this chat there was time for just one more circuit of the room finishing with Colin singing of Widecombe Fair (Roud 137).
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 6, of whom 6 performed)