Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Sandy Denny

Such a beautiful voice she will light up my afternoon. When she was with Fairport she set them on fire!

So today she can set me on fire!

Such a tragic story.

Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – Buffy St Marie

Buffy a full-blooded Native American Indian who came out of the New York Folk scene. She has recorded in a variety of styles though.

She has produced some of the strongest lyrics I have ever read – lyrics concerning the genocide of the Native Americans and their present-day plight. She is so passionate and forceful

I think ‘My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying’ is one of the strongest songs ever written.

I’m still angry over Cummings, Maitliss and Johnson’s incompetence. I’ll play Buffy and seethe.

Today’s Music to keep me SANE in Isolation – John Renbourn

I remember buying John’s first album way back in 1966. He and Bert Jansch and Davy Graham were leading the British contemporary Folk scene. I used to go up to Les Cousins and Bunjies to see them. Mesmerising.

A little later, when Pentangle were off the ground, I used to go to the basement of the Three Horses pub on Tottenhan Court Road, where Pentangle would meet up for a free concert. Fabulous days.

John was a master guitarist and a charming, self-deprecating man.

I went to Leeds to see Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and John was there. After the gig we were both standing in line to get albums signed and I was chatting to him. He was in awe of Jack. A little while later I went to see Roy Harper at the Royal Festival Hall and John was one of the many performing guests. As I was coming out I bumped into him and we had a little natter about Jack and Roy. Shortly afterwards he sadly died.

Today I will play some delightful music by John and think about the good times.

Music to keep me SANE during Isolation – Bert Jansch

Every day I go out for a walk of about two hours. It helps keep me fit and sane. I’m incredibly fortunate to be out here in a village in the countryside. There are some beautiful walks.

As I’ve been wandering along up hills and down lanes I’ve found myself whistling and even singing (yes I know) various tunes that come into my head – Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land is one that often presents itself. Another is Bert Jansch’s Strolling Down the Highway.

It certainly seemed to suit the vibe. A warm sun, big skies and a pleasant stroll. Busy going nowhere.

So today I’m going to be playing some classic Bert Jansch and mellow out!!

Play it again Bert!

Bert Jansch – I Have No Time

Back in 1965, when I was a lad of sixteen, this song on Bert’s first album was a revelation to me. It blended poetry, philosophy and social comment with music.

I have no time to spend with you
You talk of nothing, what can you do?
You live like kings and you know it’s true
That if famine crossed the waters that’d be the end of you

I’ve heard of people who till the earth
Who sow their seeds for what they’re worth
Who cry for rain all summer long
And weep for the day when winter’s passed and gone

If cherry trees bore fruit of gold
The birds would die, their wings would fold
They’d sing no more their song of love
Nor await the morning sun that lights the sky above

If war returns like it did before
A kiddy’s penny would be no more
They’d cry for love and their candy too
But a kiddy’s wants are nothing ’till killin’ days are thru’

So drink your fill, be happy now
The times will change and you’ll wonder how
A man could die from lack of food
But you don’t give a damn, no reason why you should

Today’s Music to stop me going mad in Isolation – Bert Jansch!

Bert was an amazing acoustic guitarist and songwriter who came down from Scotland to be part of the London Scene in the mid-sixties.

The contemporary Folk scene had exploded in the mid-sixties owing to the Dylan effect. It had catapulted people like Donovan into the Pop Charts.

The London scene was focussed around places like Les Cousins in Soho and Bunjies near Charring Cross Road. It was where people like Roy Harper, Al Stewart, Jackson C Frank, John Martyn, John Renbourn, Davy Graham and Bert Jansch cut their teeth. A lot of Americans also dropped in – like Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

I’d been introduced to John Renbourn and Bert Jansch by a school friend – Neil Furby – in 1965. I was already into Donovan and this first album by Bert seemed more authentic. I loved it – particularly the more political stuff like – Do You Hear Me Now.

I was sixteen and had my first motorbike which had given me the chance to get up to London. So I was able to go to see these guys live. It was at a Bert Jansch/John Renbourn concert at Les Cousins in 1967 that I first saw Roy Harper.

Later I’d go along to the Three Horseshoes pub basement on Tottenham Court Road to hear Pentangle play for free! Imagine that!! What would we pay for a dose of that now?

So today I’m going to reacquaint myself with the music of Bert Jansch!

Ye Vagabonds – Supporting Roy Harper in Edinburgh at the Usher Hall

Ye Vagabonds – Supporting Roy Harper in Edinburgh at the Usher Hall

The Mac Gloinn brothers again performed their superb support in Edinburgh. They brought old Celtic songs to life with their great harmonies, interweaving their voices in a delicate beauty, while their own compositions fitted in seamlessly. The tones of their voices complemented each other so well. A joy to hear and a fitting start to the concert. At times they reminded me of the Incredible String Band – at other times they were quite unique. This blend of harmonies has a long tradition that goes way back into Celtic history and was resurrected in the early country and western of the 1930s-1960s in the USA. Brothers have that genetic link and upbringing that enable the nuances to develop so well. There are a host of them (Louvin, Delmore and Maddox to name a few). This was the area that the Everly Brothers tapped into on their album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us and I was interested to see that the Mc Gloinns had a cover of Barbara Allen (Barbara Ellen on their album). The stand out track for me was their own composition – Pomegranate. I look forward to seeing them again for a longer set in more intimate surrounds.

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Following their set I nipped along to purchase a CD and have a brief chat. Brian and Diarmuid were doing good business. I obviously wasn’t alone in liking their sound. They were proving popular.

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I asked if they were touring and they told me that they were bringing out another CD soon and would likely be touring the UK in December or January. I told them to be sure to play York and Hull (musical heart of Britain).

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At the end of the concert, which was the end of the tour,  Roy brought them on stage. They had just been part of something momentous – the return of Britain’s greatest singer-songwriter!

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Woody Guthrie
I’m an individual. There ain’t nobody who can write like me.
When I was a kid my favourite track was the Kinks – ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’. I still love it.
My blog is full of whatever takes my mind. If it’s in there it will come spilling out. I live to write.
My books are full of my knowledge and imagination. I give it full vent.
Woody Guthrie is one of my heroes. Not just because of the brilliant legacy of songs that he left us – which are devastatingly brilliant and unique. He invented the topical song story – protest song and social commentary. I love him for it. But I admire him as much for his stance.
Woody stood for something and never held back. He said what he believed. He lived the way he spoke.
Woody believed in equality. He lived with the poor and blacks and fought for justice, civil rights and equal pay. He stood on the picket lines and was defiant in the face of threat and violence. He took the blows.
He was a communist who believed that trade unions were the means for working people to gain a fair wage from selfish, exploitative bosses.
He painted ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ on his guitar. He believed education and reason would win over fascist views. He thought that violence creates more violence. You oppose fundamentalist ideology with reason and intelligence.
Fascism and fundamentalism by the likes of ISIS and creationists was bound to thaw in the heat of intellectual examination.
He was a great man
Billy Bragg was asked by the Guthrie Estate to take some of Woody’s lyrics and put them to music. The result was brilliance.
Billy is another of my heroes. He is ideologically sound, a brilliant songwriter, performer and warm individual. He cares.
I chose ‘Way over Yonder in the Minor Key’ because I liked the story and the picture it creates. Being an ugly kid yet full of gusto I could relate to the lyric. I had my tanglewood days too.
This song resounds with me.
Thanks Woody and Billy. Genius!

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key

I lived in a place called Okfuskee
And I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
How one little boy got so ugly
Yes my little girly that might be
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]
Way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

We walked down by the Buckeye Creek
To see the frog eat the goggle-eye bee
To hear the west wind whistle to the east
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Oh my little girly will you let me see
Way over yonder where the wind blows free
Nobody can see in our holler tree

And there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]

Her mama cut a switch from a cherry tree
And laid it on the she and me,
It stung lots worse than a hive of bees
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Now I have walked a long long ways
And I still look back to my Tanglewood days
I’ve led lots of girls since then to stray
Saying ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]

Ain’t nobody that can sing like me