Hello Dear Subscribers,
The book is now one third of the way to publication thanks to your generous support. Things have slowed down a bit in the last few weeks as I took time off the campaign trail to start writing a musical about tattoos, trigger samples in a live broadcast with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and go to the wonderful Isles of Scilly to read poems to older people, run a writing workshop and adjudicate a one act play festival. In fact I am on the way back from the Islands right now writing this on a train from Penzance to Bristol.
Yesterday evening I sat on the beach at St Mary’s and sang songs with a borrowed guitar. A man came along with a dog, stopped to listen, gave me a thumbs up and said, ‘You’re good, mate.’ I can’t tell you how good it feels to have approval from a stranger, on a beach at sunset. In the days before I dared sing to in public (which was only last year), I used to dream about such things happening.
With this post I have included a new video of a punked up folk song for the month of May. I have a history with this song. In 1989 I got a job as a producer in the Pop Music Department of the BBC World Service and yes, it really was called the Pop Music Department. Among the programmes I produced was a weekly show called Folk Routes. At the time I didn’t know anything about folk music, but that didn’t matter because the presenter, Ian Anderson, editor of Folk Roots magazine, did all the work. All I had to do was make sure he didn’t swear and deliver the programme on time at the right length. I asked Ian whom I should listen to in order to be less ignorant and he suggested I start with this song, as interpreted by The Oyster Band, who had fused the energy of punk with English folk tunes. It was like a door had been opened and nearly thirty years later I am still wandering around inside the same building finding rooms I didn’t know were there before. The band’s name is now abbreviated to Oysterband and this year they are celebrating 40 years together. They offer a potent commentary on Britain and perhaps none more vital than a song they put out yesterday. My Country Too is an anthem for our times. https://youtu.be/sGYMYrEbvak
This version of Hal-An-Tow was recorded live in my kitchen on 30th April. I then added some overdubs, which is why there you can hear a thunderstick, a harmony, a melodica and some percussion but only see me playing the guitar and singing once. This technique is very common among the Youtube generation, I understand.
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