Every night thousands of workers keep our cities moving and reset them for the following day. They are largely unseen, unheard and unrepresented. This song reflects on both the loneliness of the nightshift and the perspective that night workers have on the rest of us, heads down in our busyness.

Night Hours

 

I’ve been working through the night

I’ve been working all my life

 

I’m here when your thoughts are not

Night hours in a world forgot

But on my own here I can see the way things are going

 

I’ve been working, until the half-light,

I’ve been up here, nearly every night, an eye on your world

 

I’m here when your thoughts are not

Night hours in a world forgot

But on my own here I can see the way things are going

 

I’ve been working, kept out of sight

In the quiet, unlocked by the night, far from the roar

 

I’m here when your thoughts are not

Night hours in a world forgot

But on my own here I can see the way things are going

 

I’ve been working, working hard to make, some sense of it all,

I’ve been watching, as a city sleeps, I am a man forgot     

 

I’m here when your thoughts are not

Night hours in a world forgot

But on my own here I can see the way things are going

 

Jimmy Aldridge

Boo Hewerdine's brilliant telling of the plight of migrant workers during the great depression in 1930s America. Forced from their farms as the soil disappeared after years of growing mono cropped cotton (a time to remember when we've been told that we have less than 100 harvests left here today due to unsustainable farming practises) many families migrated to California in the hope of finding work picking the rich harvests of the area.

Harvest gypsies

​In October we will come
A hundred and fifty thousand strong
When the picking's over we'll be gone
They call us the harvest gypsies

We only come because we must
We were driven here by dust
And they won't even look at us
We are the harvest gypsies

 

The hardest that it's ever been

I sold my blankets for gasoline

It's only hunger I have seen

Now I'm a harvest gypsy


There's apricots in Santa Clare
In Kern County, they have apples there
And the grapes, they're growing everywhere
All for the harvest gypsies

In a walnut grove I met a man

Who lost a child before San Fran 

We're strangers, they don't understand

We are the harvest gypsies


The gondolas and railway lines
Are filled with men when it is time
Drawn by the orange and the lime
All the harvest gypsies

They hate it when their taxes rise
And the squatter camps that they despise
Without us they would rot and die
Without the harvest gypsies

And the Holbrooks we were farming men
And I dream one day I will again
To miss the soil's a curious pain
When you're a harvest gypsy

 

Boo Hewerdine

Versions of this very well travelled ballad were collected from, among others, Harry Cox in 1945 and from Sam Larner in 1958, both from our native Norfolk.

 

The song imagines a conversation between Napoleon Bonaparte's young son, and Napoleon I's second wife. Mary Louise is warning her son against emulating his father and chasing glory in war. Many singers see the bonny bunch of roses as symbolising England, Scotland and Ireland or as a metaphor for the red-coated British Army. We've always thought they represent the spoils of war and that the young Napeleon's mother fears he will seek to capture them at his peril.

More information on the 'Mainly Norfolk' site here.

Bonnie Bunch of Roses (Roud 664)

By the margin of the ocean, one pleasant evening in the month of June,
The pleasant-singing blackbird his charming notes did tune.
Was there I spied a woman all in great grief and woe,
Conversing with young Bonaparte concerning the bonny bunch of roses-o.

And then up and spoke the young Napoleon and he took hold of his mother's hand,
“Oh mother dear, be patient and soon I will take command.
I'll raise a terrible army and through tremendous danger go.
in spite of all of the universe I'll come back with the bonny bunch of roses-o.”

“Oh my son, don't speak so venturesome, for England she has a heart of oak,
And England, and Ireland, and Scotland, their unity has never been broke.
And so my son, think on, your father in St Helena, his body it lies low,
And you will follow after, beware of the bonny bunch of roses-o.”

“And when first you saw the Great Napoleon, you fell down on your bended knee
And you asked your father's life of him and he's granted it most manfully.
'Twas then he took an army and o'er the frozen alps did go;
And he said, “I'll conquer Moscow and come back for the bonny bunch of roses-o.”

“And so he's took three hundred thousand fighting men, and kings likewise for to join his throng.
He was as well provided for enough to take the world alone.
But when he came to Moscow all overpowered by driving snow
And Moscow was a-blazing, he lost the bonny bunch of roses-o.“

By the margin of the ocean, one pleasant evening in the month of June,
The pleasant-singing blackbird his charming notes did tune.
Was there I spied a woman all in great grief and woe,
Conversing with young Bonaparte concerning the bonny bunch of roses-o.

A modern day version of the Diggers story. A group of land workers moved onto a 180 acre farm in the forest of Dean when the ownership was in dispute and set about creating an intentional community growing food and championing sustainable farming practices. This song was written after the first eviction attempt which was unsuccessful. Sadly, and unjustly, they were later evicted from the farm.

Humphrey Lloyd is a great songwriter, flute player and food grower based in Bristol and he sang an early version of the song to Sid while they were harvesting salad together. Sid made some edits to the lyric and extended the existing melody, then a tune that Jimmy was playing on the banjo 'Jerusalem Ridge' had exactly the epic, cinematic feel that we wanted to portray so we wove it into the song.

A short history of Yorkley court community farm can be found here.

The Ballad of Yorkley Court

 

Until the fruits are owned by all the land itself by none

 

At Yorkley court a disused colliery where root and branch have reclaimed industry

Where free miners once dug the ground and Warren James the fences downed 

And the river Severn wound it’s way down to the sea

There a band of dreamers did resolve to reawake Winstanley’s dream of old

They built their homes from tin and wood and worked the wasteland best they could

And staked their claim on common good and no mans legal code

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

But then a local magnate posed a hitch, owning lands as far as Severn Bridge

And his Jag of polished chrome and tailored suit from Saville row

With Yorkley court he hoped to grow his lordly acreage

With lawyer and with land agent in pay and knowledge of which laws this case would sway

He’d made his wealth from forest land as half the Dean passed through his hands

Had moneyed friends at his command to make things go his way

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

Despite the fact no legal claim was found to bring Yorkley under these mens bounds

The bailiffs came at break of day with hired goons within their pay

But Yorkley folk resolved to stay to stand and fight their ground

The hired men and troopers they were drove from off the farm and back onto the road

The dreamers then they blocked the gates with trucks to form a stalemate

And then both sides resolved to wait to see what would unfold

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

 Next day a crony meeting it was called under pretense the discord to resolve

The law and gentry took their seats, agent, magnate, the police

While woman, man and child of Yorkley stood out in the cold

And next this case will come before the courts and there we’ll see if justice can be bought

And so all you who’ll take a stand come spread these words like grains of sand

And keep within your hearts and hands the dream of Yorkley court

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

Since Will the bastard landed on this shore or British flags to foreign lands was bore

The gentry’s claim upon the land is but the weapons in their hands

The police are the cudgel and the club is all their law

And so the struggle ever carries on through Dean, Culloden back to Bannockburn

For till we’ve downed each fence and wall then ne’er on earth will freedom rule

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

Humphrey Lloyd/Sid Goldsmith

H.E. Piggott and Percy Grainger collected Shallow Brown from the singing of John Perring of Dartmouth on January 18, 1908. Again collected by Cecil Sharpe and Stan Hugill who recorded it in 1961. It is a mournful West Indies slavery shanty that we have set against Jackie Tar,  a fantastic hornpipe that we've included as a nod to Nic Jones' version which we both love.

More info at 'Mainly Norfolk' here.

Shallow Brown (Roud 2621/5812)

 

Fare thee well, I’m bound to leave you
    Shallow oh shallow brown
Fare thee well, I’m bound to leave you
    Shallow oh shallow brown

 

My masters going to sell me

    Shallow oh shallow brown

Yes my masters going to sell me

    Shallow oh shallow brown

 

Gonna sell me for the Dollar

    Shallow oh shallow brown

Gonna sell me for the Dollar

    Shallow oh shallow brown

 

Gonna ship onboard a whaler

    Shallow oh shallow brown

Gonna ship onboard a whaler

    Shallow oh shallow brown

 

Bound away for old St Georges

    Shallow oh shallow brown

Bound away for old St Georges

    Shallow oh shallow brown

 

Fare thee well my Julianna

    Shallow oh shallow brown

Fare thee well my Julianna

    Shallow oh shallow brown

A song that's been in Sid's campfire repertoire for years without being recorded.

 

"I remember first hearing it sung by a friend in a session and being struck by the sureness of Mary and the sense 0f the strong pair going forward into a dangerous future with each others support."

Mary and the Soldier (Roud 2496)

Come all you lads of high renown that will hear of a fair young maiden

As she roved out one summers day to view the soldiers parading

Oh they marched so fine and they looked so gay with their colours flying and the bands did play

Which caused young Mary for to say I will wed you my gallant soldier

Oh she viewed the soldiers on parade as they stood at their leisure

Young Mary to herself did say at last I've found my treasure

But oh how cruel my parents must be to banish my darling so far from me

I will leave them all and I'll go with thee and I'll wed you my gallant soldier

Oh Mary dear your parents love I pray don't be unruly

For when we're in a foreign land believe me you'll rue it surely

For perhaps in battle I might fall to a shot from an angry cannonball

And you so far from your daddies hall be advised by a gallant soldier

Oh I've fifteen guineas in bright gold likewise a heart thats bolder

And I'll leave them all and I'll go with you my bold undaunted soldier

So don't say no and let me go and I will face the daring foe

And we'll march together to and fro and I'll wed you my gallant soldier

And when he saw her loyalty and Mary so true  hearted

He said my darling happy we'll be and nothing but death shall part us

And when we're in a foreign land I will guard you darling with my right hand

And hope that god may stand a friend to Mary and her gallant soldier

As a child ballad it is also known as 'Tom the Barber', 'John Barbour' etc. This beautiful Scottish ballad exists in many variants. In this version, a king who has been away in Spain returns to find his daughter pregnant by Willie O' The Winsbury. He summons him to be hanged but upon meeting him is so struck by his beauty that he offers both land and his daughter's hand. In our interpretation Willie accepts the daughter's hand but refuses the offer of land and title because their love is enough.

Willie o’ Winsbury (Roud 64/Child 100)

 

The king has been a prisoner, and a prisoner long in Spain,

And Willie o the Winsbury, has lain with his daughter Jane

 

What ails you? what ails you, my daughter Jane? What makes you pale and wan?

Oh, have you had any sore sickness, or else been sleeping with a man?”

 

I have not had any sore sickness, nor yet been sleeping with a man.

It is for you, my father dear, for biding so long in Spain.

 

Cast off, cast off your berry-brown gown, stand naked upon the stone,

That I may know you by your shape, whether you be a maiden or none

 

So she cast off her berry-brown gown, stood naked on the stone

Her apron was low, her haunches round, her face was pale and wan

 

Oh, was it with a lord or a duke or a knight, or a man of birth and fame?

Or was it with one of my serving men, that's lately come out of Spain?

 

No, it wasn't with a lord, nor a duke, nor a knight, or a man of birth and fame.

But it was with Willie of Winsbury, I could bide no longer alone

 

And the king he has called on his merry men all, by thirty and by three,
Saying, “Fetch me this Willie of Winsbury, for hanged he shall be!”

 

But when he came the king before, he was clad all in the red silk.

His hair was like the strands of gold, his skin was as white as milk

 

And it is no wonder, said the king, that my daughter's love you did win.

If I was a woman, as I am a man, my bedfellow you would have been

 

And will you marry my daughter Jane, by the truth of your right hand?

Oh, will you marry my daughter Jane? I'll make you the lord of my land

 

Yes, I’ll marry your daughter Jane, by the truth of my right hand.

Yes I’ll marry your daughter Jane, but I'll not be the lord of your land.

And he's mounted her on a milk-white steed, and himself on a dapple grey.

He has made her the lady of as much land, as she'll ride in a long summer's day.

Written about the residents of Newham in East London, and in particular the campaigners in Focus 15, who are fighting a long battle to secure social housing in the area. Newham council sought to relocate long-term residents as far away as Manchester, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Tent. Whilst we understand the housing crisis in the UK has no easy solutions, the injustice of ripping people from their communities cannot be the answer.

You can read more about Focus 15 at their website.

Moved on

I’m of this place, my story is here

It holds together the thread of my years

My tale is written on the streets where I stand

I’m living my life is in this city

Chorus 

I’m not worth the land that I live on

Though I’ve lived here for all of my life

Three generations have rooted me here

Now I’m moved on and kept out of sight

 

This place has been changing for many years now

So much has been lost, too much has closed down

It’s harder to find somewhere to be still

And there’s nowhere to be without spending

 

Chorus 

For all of it’s faults this place is my home

Three generations have called it their own

My life it is here, it’s not in the north,

In the east or the west, or wherever we’re forced

Chorus 

We must make way for progress if that's what this is

So the land can be sold for the highest bid

We must cut off our ties and forget our lives

And move to where we’re not noticed

 

Chorus 

From where you are sitting it may all make sense

We’ve got to move forward, it’s the times that we’re in

But heed my advice this city’s being torn

From the people who hold it together

Chorus 

Chorus 

Jimmy Aldridge

Originally written about the struggles of the Irish being dominated by English lords taking their land to fatten cattle for the folks at home. Sid rewrote the song to reflect on the current overgrazing issues where in parts of the country the industry is held up by (at the time of writing) EU subsidies. This preserves a way of life for people that have grazed the hills for generations but at what cost for biodiversity and stable food growing systems?

George Monbiot writes perhaps harshly but with great logic about the issue in his article 'Sheepwrecked' here.

The Grazier Tribe (Originally Roud 2998)

 

Oh, ye toilers of this nation I hope you will draw near,
A new and true narration I mean to let you hear,
It’s for your information my pen I take in hand
To try describe a grazier tribe that now infests this land

This grazier clan has overran your country so fair,
Enough to make the angels weep or drive you to despair;
The herd that caused the lords to steal and tether what was free.
Now calls the lot to shoot the pot and live by subsidy

 

Here’s to the small hill farmer the blame is not within,
But on such scale it does prevail to leave a desert scene;
You men in name have you no shame to see this beauteous land,
Made uniform one giant lawn where oak and thorn did stand.

 

And you sons of honest labour if ever you'd be free,
Now take your stand upon the land and strike for liberty;
The price of oil’s not set to fall, but rise until it’s gone,
So work the soil with sweat and toil and sing your harvest song.

 

So ye valiant sons of labour wherever you are found,
To seek a home you need not roam but quietly look around;
There may be seen fine meadows green and bullocks sleek and grand,
Just get your pole and take a stroll and clear them from the land.

 

And if Bob be there to fume and swear and threaten you with jail,
Its for your good behaviour you surely will find bail;
But still you'll find good friends behind to cheer you in your woe,
Then you'll be so grand with house and land that yourself you will not know.

Trad. Rewritten by Sid Goldsmith

Jimmy learned this from the singing of Ewan D. Rodgers. A.L.Lloyd recorded it on his 1956 album 'Australian Bush Songs' (available on Fellside FECD219). He wrote: The Australian bush poet A.B. (banjo) Patterson included this text among his published works, though it is not clear whether he actually wrote it or merely remade it as Burns did certain Scots folk lyrics. Sometimes called The Old Jig Jog, it is well known among sheep and cattle hands. The Castlereagh is one of the tributaries of the Barwon River in New South Wales. Patterson entitled it A Bushmans Song.

Castlereagh (Roud 8399)

 

I'm riding down the Castlereagh, and I'm a station-hand,
I'm handy with a ropin' pole, I'm handy with the brand.
I can ride a rowdy colt and swing an axe all day;
But there's no demand for station-hands along the Castlereagh.

And It's shift, boys, shift, there isn't the slightest doubt
It's time that we were moving to the stations further out

I saddled up my pony and I whistled on me dog
And I made for the country at the old jig-jog.

 

I answered a call for shearin' once along the Marthaguy.
“We shear non-union men,” says he. “I call it scab,” says I.
I look a look along the shearing floor as I got up to go:
There was 8 to 10 non union men a’ shearin' in a row

And It's shift, boys, shift, there isn't the slightest doubt
It's time that we were moving, the leprosies about
I saddled up my pony and I whistled on me dog
And I made for the country at the old jig-jog.

 

I went to Illawarra where my brother' has a farm.

He has to ask the landlord's leave before he'll lift an arm.
The rich man owns the countryside: man, woman, dog and cat,
And they haven't the cheek to dare to speak without they tip their cap

And It's shift, boys, shift, there isn't the slightest doubt
That little landlord he and I are soon to fallen out
Was I to tip my hat to him? Was I his bloody dog?
And I made for the country at the old jig-jog.

 

I'm riding down the Castlereagh, and I'm a station-hand,
I'm handy with a ropin' pole, I'm handy with the brand.
And I can ride a rowdy colt and swing an axe all day;
There's no demand for station-hands along the Castlereagh

 

And It's shift, boys, shift, there isn't the slightest doubt

It's time that we were moving, the leprosies about

I saddled up my pony and I whistled on me dog

And I made for the country at the old jig-jog.

A.B.(Banjo) Patterson

Brought up in the countryside and living in the city there are bound to be times of yearning and dreaming for a simpler life. Where the connections between our daily labours and our fundamental needs are more obvious and satisfying. Sid wrote this in one of those moments.

Something Good

 

A patch in heart of the valley

Wood pasture and spring

The furrows would feed my whole family

The trees fold us in

We’d call this place our home

 

Landlords and byelaws prevent us

From tilling this soil

With boldness and faith in the venture

We’d sweat and we’d toil

To call this place our home

 

For the tree’s they are fruitful and the girl’s by my side

We will tend and belong to this land

May our bellies be round as the season’s repeated

We will build something good to pass down

 

We’d cut the copse in the winter

Sow seeds in the spring

In the summer we’d tend to the shelter

In the evenings we’d sing

The lullabies that we know

 

For the tree’s they are fruitful and the girl’s by my side

We will tend and belong to this land

May our bellies be round as the season’s repeated

We will build something good to pass down

Sid Goldsmith