All In A Day (MP3)
Written by Alex Glasgow for a T.V. documentary programme on the shipbuilding
industry. In the song the workers comment that after all the celebrations
and ballyhoo surrounding the ship launching ceremony it will be back
to work as usual in the wet and cold on the following day for them …
in those days there was a good chance of another keel to lay.
Hexhamshire Lass Trad/arr PLF
Comes from the John Stokoe collection, Songs and Ballads of Northern
England first published in 1899. It is a song of anticipation and, as
Benny has often described it, unrequited lust. Courtship was hard in
Harry Simms Garland/arrPLF
From the pen of Jim Garland, who is better known for the song 'I don't
want your millions mister'. Jim was a veteran of the days when being
a union activist in the United States could mean imprisonment or even
death. Jim used to introduce this song with the immortal phrase - 'this
won't be pretty, because union songs are not pretty!' It tells the tale
of Harry Simms, a 19 years old labour organiser, who was shot dead by
the employers 'gun thugs' during the organising of the Kentucky coalfield
by the National Miners Union in 1932. Makes good old British strike
evictions seem good natured in comparison.
Grandfather’s Clock Formby/arr PLF
A parody of the popular American song, the inspiration for which is
the timepiece in the George Hotel, Piercebridge, on the river Tees.
This version which wanders into the realm of surrealty comes from the
pen of George Formby Senior who was a bigger star in his time than the
ukulele strumming George we all know. When Formby Snr. died he still
had years of advance bookings in his diary. Benny pestered Mike Hockenhull
for ages until he gave us the words. Ta Mike.
Davy Lowston Trad/arr PLF
This song concerns a sealing party who ended up marooned in Open Bay,
New Zealand after their support vessel sank en-route to collect them.
It is believed the song was written around 1814 in Australia. The story
is based on a real life incident of 1804 in which one Davy Lawrieston
and ten others were rescued by the vessel “Captain Bligh”
after the ship due to pick them up foundered.
The Catch Trad/arr PLF
Defined in the New Everyman Dictionary of Music as.. “ A part
song, in vogue in the 17th to 19th centuries, in which the voices follow
each other in the manner of a canon or a round, with the difference
that....the words thus mixed up acquire new and ludicrous meanings,
often of an indecent nature.” A society called the Noblemen and
Gentlemen’s Catch Club, founded in London in 1761 apparently still
exists. We prefer to think of it as a Readers Digest Condensed Ballad,
and use it as a singing /drinking game. If you mess your lines up you
have to buy the beers. The winner (usually Benny) is the last one singing….standing
John Barleycorn Trad/arr PLF
It is believed that the original John Barleycorn was based on a fertility
ritual dedicated to the corn god. The poor victims of this ritual were
slaughtered and dragged through the fields to ensure good crops!! Time
has worked its changes and this version is more associated with the
brewing of strong drink. A change for the better in our book.
Just One Spark Benny Graham/arr PLF
This one was written by Benny in 2000 as part of a play to commemorate
the Wallsend pit explosion in 1835. When he was researching the subject
he found that according to the coroner’s inquest the colliery
safety arrangements were not faulted and all the officials had behaved
in a proper manner !!…. The incident was attributed to possible
carelessness in the use of naked flame by the miners. At the time of
writing the Wallsend play there was a TV news report of an explosion
in a mine in the Ukraine. The results of the subsequent inquiry were
almost exactly the same as those of the Wallsend explosion. This song
is for all those who have suffered in the past and for all those who
undoubtedly will suffer in years to come.
A Mackerel Song Watson/arrPLF
The words are from Aaron Watson of South Shields in 1899.
Johnny Handle wrote the tune for inclusion in the Northumbrian Anthology.
The song could have been written yesterday as today’s fishermen
are facing similar problems multiplied by new technology and muddled
by international politics.
The Sailors Way Trad/arr PLF
From the 1951 William M. Doerflinger collection entitled Shantymen and
Shantyboys. The tune is commonly used for the epic ballad “ The
Sair Fyeld Hinny Trad/arr PLF
Another song from the Stokoe manuscripts. It concerns the problems of
ageing. We chose this song because it has a superb Northumbrian melody
and the subject is something none of us can escape. The range of the
tune makes it quite a challenge to sing. Over or under pitching can
have dire consequences! There are those who attribute the basis of the
Geordie yodelling tradition to this one song.
Strange Lover Is A Coal Mine Pickford/arr PLF
Written by Ed Pickford prolific composer of songs ranging from the hilarious
to the serious. His song book is well worth a read (www.ed-pickford.co.uk).
This song, which gives a strange persona to the coalmine itself, will
evoke memories familiar to anyone brought up among the mining communities
of the North East.
Old Admirals Stewart/arr PLF
This is fairly new to us but has been in Geoff’s repertoire for
over 30 years. From the Al Stewart album Past, Present and Future the
song concerns Admiral Sir John Fisher, who was at the time Britain’s
First Sea Lord. He resigned in 1915 after a contretemps over Gallipoli
with Winston Churchill then Lord of the Admiralty. He ended up watching
the events of the early twentieth century from the sidelines waiting
for the call to arms that never came.
Wild Goose Shanty / Essequibo River Trad/arr PLF
Two sea shanties, both of which are to be found in the folksinger’s
Shanty bible “Shanties from the Seven Seas.” by Stan Hugill
and the W.M.Doerflinger book.”Shantymen and Shantyboys”
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