A response to the rise of nationalism in England and the use of a romanticised idea of what the country once was in order to stoke fear of change. It's a defiant song that says that the country must not allow it's history to be misused in this way.

HOPE & GLORY

 

They speak of hope and glory

And generations past

The bugle’s call on the wind

And poppies in the grass

 

The red deer in the valley

And merlin’s overhead

They recall a time, a golden time,

A land of lost content

 

CHORUS

Their tales of old merry England

Ring with a hollow sound

They seek to sow the seeds of hate

All on our common ground

 

They tell of ancient victories

And lines of marching men

Thin red streaks tipped with steel

They’d do it all again

 

They talk of faith, of one belief

And the peel of familiar bells

Spires climbing high above

A land that never was

 

CHORUS

They say they see a river

The banks are creaking now

Wider still, and wider

‘Til they burst across the field

 

But in the towns and in the valleys

They’ve heard it all before

And the memory of this people

Will be abused no more

 

CHORUS


Aldridge/Goldsmith

A bothy ballad from Scotland that timelessly depicts the struggles of poverty and working to make ends meet. There is an additional verse written by Martin Carthy who first recorded the song in 1990.

WORKING CHAP Roud 5591

 

I’m a working chap as you may see

You’ll find an honest lad in me

I’m neither haughty mean nor proud

Nor ever take to things too rude

 

I never go above my means

Or seek assistance from my friends

But day and night through thick and thin

I’m working life out to keep life in

 

CHORUS

No matter friends what ere befalls

The poor folk must work away

Through frost and snow rain and wind

They’re working life out to keep life in

 

The poor needlewoman that we saw

In reality and on the wall

A picture sorrowful to see

I’m sure with me you’ll all agree

 

Her pay’s scarce able to feed a mouse

Far less to keep herself a house

She’s naked hungry pale and thin

Working life out to keep life in

 

 

CHORUS

 

Don’t call a man a drunken sot

Because he wears a ragged coat

It’s better far, mind don’t forget,

To run in rags than run in debt

 

He may look beaten very true

But still his creditors are few

And he trudges on devoid of sin

Working life out to keep life in

 

CHORUS

Oh mischief mine where do you roam

When reason called you weren’t at home

If you take cheese off the rat

Is he then free to hunt the cat?

 

If free from unions, free from dues

Are you free of choice or free to choose

Or free as birds blown by the wind

Working life out to keep life in

 

CHORUS

 
 

A song that tells of the unique ability of the elements to heal and restore us. Following a difficult period in their lives Jimmy and his partner were caught in a huge storm on the Cornish cliffs one New Years Day and returned alarmed but completely renewed.

TURNING OF THE YEAR

 

At the turning of the year

We walk through icy air

To where the sea meets the land

And rolls it’s temper across the sands

And the winds that beat the western shore

Welcome us, alone once more

In a rolling storm that clears a year away

A rolling storm that clears our year away

 

At the turning of the year

As the sunlight cuts the longest night

An early dawn, a waking light

On cliffs that meet Atlantic tides

We wait in the grass

For a storm to break and pass

 

In a rolling storm that clears a year away

A rolling storm that clears our year away

At the turning of the year

The curlew’s call is on the air

Woodland in winter’s sleep

Leans against the frosty breeze

It is only here on that western shore

That we can be alone once more

 

In a rolling storm that clears a year away

A rolling storm that clears our year away

 

At the turning of the clouds above

We climb to the cliffs and watch

The battle of a rolling storm

Playing out the pain we’ve worn

It leaves behind a new years sky

A new beginning for you and I

 

In a rolling storm that clears a year away

A rolling storm that clears our year away

Aldridge/Goldsmith

A traditional song about a traveller who falls in love with a girl from Hoveton - a village very close to where we both grew up. He has to decide whether to settle down with her or to follow the call of the road. The song was adapted by Jeff Wesley of Whittlesbury, Northamptonshire and sung to John Howson in 1988. Our version is sung over the stunning organ in St. Helens, Hoveton.

REEDCUTTERS DAUGHTER - Roud 5397

Come all you young fellows who mean to start roaming,
Pray pay attention and listen to me.
For I once loved a girl and I would have married
But I belonged to the road and I had to be free.


For I was a tinker a-fixing and mending
Camped by a village and earning my pay,
While she had a house and a father to care for,
The reed cutter's daughter from Hoveton way.

For the times they are hard when a girl loves a rover,
When really she shouldn't and knows that it's so.
Each night as the sun set to me she would wander,
Each morn as it rose to the house she would go.


I knew that some day we'd be sad for the parting
Each morn I would wish and each night I’d pray,
So happy together with this blue-eyed maiden,
The reed cutter's daughter from Hoveton way.

When I think of the short time that we spent together
Often a frown passes over my brow.
She told me that some day I'd grow to forget her
But many's the time that I think of her now.


I was cruel to be kind when the time came for parting
With a kiss and a smile and “I'll see you again”.
But just as I found her I left her a-standing
The reed cutter's daughter from Hoveton way.

Yes, I thought it was cruel, now I see it was kindness.
For she could not leave there and I could not stay.
But oft times I wonder if I'm still remembered
By the reed cutter's daughter from Hoveton way,
By a reed cutter's daughter from Hoveton way.

This was written by John Conolly in response to a call from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature for songs about our (mis)treatment of the natural world

THE LAST PLOUGHSHARE

When first we roved out in glory 
On the earth's broad and gentle plain
Turned the first pages of the story
Took the wide world as our domain
There were no promises to break then
As the earth's morning swelled with light
Calling humankind to rise and wake then 
From the dark mantle of the night

We are thinker, we are maker
Gaining strength as the years unfold
Mountain mover and heaven shaker
Weaving bright dreams from threads of gold
There are none now can overthrow us 
As we strive for the victor's crown
Losing sight of the earth below us 
Where the seed-corn is trampled down

For the world's treasures grow with sharing
There is bounty for every need
Only we count the cost of caring
Only we live by guile and greed
There is no room for simple kindness 
As the weakest go to the wall
In the proud prison of our blindness 
We have conquered and we must fall

When the sun strikes the flint and tinder 
Of the earth's fierce and final dawn
Who will plough then the ash and cinder 
Of the lands war has stripped and torn
Who will green all the battlefields then 
As the earth's blind and bloody Lords
Grimly gathering the final yield then
Turn the last ploughshare into swords

John Connoly

Our rewrite of the slave spiritual No More Auction Block imagines a world without military conflict.

HAWKS CALL

 

No more desert blood for me x2

Many a thousand gone

 

No more reaping wings for me x2

Many a thousand gone

 

No more death bells toll for me x2

Many a thousand gone

 

No more Hawks call for me x2

Many a thousand gone

Aldridge/Goldsmith

A song about Shirebrook in Derbyshire which for years was the home of a unionised colliery and now, on the very same ground, houses several Sports Direct warehouses employing people on zero hours contracts and paying less than minimum wage. We ask whether these warehouses represent a troubling monument to our times. The stepped ford was written by Sid on the English Acoustic Collective summer school last year.

A MONUMENT TO THE TIMES/THE STEPPED FORD

 

On ground that gave a million tonnes

And honest work for Derbyshire’s sons

Who stood together in union

 

Here stands a monument to the times

Freedom for the pike is death to the minnow

 

Where miners once worked now workers slave

In a warehouse, a workhouse day after day

No voice, no power, no decent wage

 

Here stands a monument to the times

Freedom for the pike is death to the minnow

 

This warehouse deals in plastic dreams

To line the pockets of men unseen

Exploiting those with mouths to feed

 

Here stands a monument to the times

Freedom for the pike is death to the minnow

 

The many in Shirebrook feed the few

To the north and south the same is true

This brave new world is serving who?

 

Here stands a monument to the times

Freedom for the pike is death to the minnow

 

But in Shirebrook and the country round

Something deep is stirring now

Many a thousand stand unbowed

They stand a monument to the times x2

Aldridge/Goldsmith

This beautiful song of love was written by Liam Weldon and recorded in 1976. Love reflected in nature is something of a holy grail in the folk tradition and this song manages it so well.

VIA EXSTASIA

 

If you were the restless sea and I the steadfast stone,

You the waving kelp above, I the bleaching bones,

Your little waves to lap my feet,

Advance and kiss, encroach, retreat;

Surround, submerge, at last complete,

Oh, you and I truly one.

 

And were you then a yellow bloom, dancing in the grass,

I, the hunting honey bee pausing e’er I’d pass,

And as I’d sip your nectar sweet,

Your pollen grains cling to my feet,

In that ecstatic moment meet,

Oh, you and I truly one.

 

And were I, then, a single seed of all the millions in the field,

You, a gentle raindrop from the sky,

And as you fall upon my breast and

Waken me from my long rest,

In that moment, by the old gods blessed,

Oh, you and I, truly one.

 

And were you, then, the last wild leaf on an autumn bough,

I, the wind, a wanton thief, blow as I blow now,

And if you’d fall as fall you must,

And I to be the waiting dust,

Free from sorrow, pain, or lust,

And lie, forever, truly one.

Liam Weldon

Learned from one of our absolute favourite Norfolk singers, Harry Cox, who was recorded singing it in 1970. The act of poaching in traditional songs seems to us to be an illustration of the age old battle against land and power lying in the hands of the rich.

POACHERS FATE - Roud 793

Come all you lads of high renown

Who love to drink strong ale that's brown

And pull a lofty pheasant down

With powder, shot and gun.

 

I and five more a-poaching went;

To kill some game was our intent.

Our money being gone and spent,

We'd nothing else to try.

 

And the moon shone bright,

Not a cloud in sight,

Our money being gone and spent,

We'd nothing else to try.

 

But the keeper heard us fire our gun

And to the spot did quickly run.

He swore before the rising sun

That one of us must die.

 

Was the bravest youth of all our lot

 Was his misfortune to be shot;

His memory ne'er shall be forgot

By all his friends below.

 

For help he cried

But was denied

His memory ne'er shall be forgot

By all his friends below.

 

That murderous man who did him kill
And on the ground his blood did spill,
Shall wander far against his will
And find no resting place.

 

He must wander through the world forlorn

And always fear the rising sun

He’s pointed out with finger scorn

To die in sad disgrace

 

            Destructive things

His conscience stings

He’s pointed out with finger scorn

To die in sad disgrace

 

To prison then we all were sent,
We called for aid, but none was lent.
Our enemies were fully bent
That there we should remain.

 

But fickle fortune on us shined
And unto us did change her mind
With heartfelt thanks for liberty
We were soon let out again.

 

And the moon shone bright

Not a cloud in sight

With heartfelt thanks for liberty
We were soon let out again.

 

I and five more a-poaching went;

To kill some game was our intent.

Our money being gone and spent,

We'd nothing else to try.

Jimmy wrote this song for an event celebrating the history of Rotherhithe on the south bank of the Thames. It reflects on the relentless tide of the people (and the river) in and out of London every day.

THE TIDE

 

6 am the river runs through

A city waking anew

Ten million souls jolt to life

 

It’s one more day on the great Thames tide x2

 

8am the city roars again

Sirens sound and the traffic thunders round

A marching mass rushes past with no time to stop

 

It’s one more day on the great Thames tide x4

 

One more morning passes by

Windows exposing the bowed heads, the cowed heads

Of armies drilled with busyness

 

Dusk falls and lovers stroll hand in hand

They walk against a rushing tide,

Spilling through every crack, the city’s drained

 

It’s one more day on the great Thames tide x6

 

The black of night, the river lies still

Silently she waits for the tide to turn again

Aldridge/Goldsmith

Originally a poem by Joseph Campell, we learned this version from a recording of Peta Webb and Ken Hall who had included an additional verse by Jeff Wesley. It is sung over some full full throated bird song recorded at dawn in Wacton, Norfolk.

THE SEASONS

 

I will go with my father a-ploughing
To the green field by the sea
And the crows and the rooks and the seagulls
Will come flocking after me
I will see the patient horses
And the lark in the clear air
And my father will sing the plough song
That rejoices in the cleaving share

I will go with my father a-sowing
To the red field by the sea
And the crows and the rooks and the starlings
Will come flocking after me
I will see the striding sower
And the finch on wings so low
And my father will sing the seed song
That only the wise men know

I will go with my father a-reaping
To the gold field by the sea
And the crows and the rooks and the children
Will come flocking after me
I will see the tan-faced reaper
And the wren in the heat of the sun
And my father will sing the scythe song
That rejoices in the harvest home

I will go with my father a-threshing
To the barn set by the sea
And the crows and the rooks and the sparrows
Will come flocking after me
I will sing to the labouring thresher
As his flail swings over his head
And my father will sing the flail song
That rejoices in wheat for the bread

Joseph Campell/Jeff Wesley