arts / BCB / Broadcasts / Movietime / Swing Easy

May 24: Singing at the Castle

A song for fine weather on Bank Holiday

Took my refurbished 1935 Gibson f-hole to the Castle pub in Bradford and sang a single song for the coming Spring Bank Holiday, Long May the Sun Shine. Let’s hope it comes true.

I’ve composed a couple of new verses since I recorded the track you can play back on this page with Ben Paley and some of his heavy friends in Brighton:

This world was created as a place of delight
But we’ve made it a horror of darkness and night.

Forgive us our sins against our Mother Earth
And help us to witness Creation’s new birth.

True love never dies, though the world be war-torn:
The skylark still flies over fields of green corn.
What we reap tomorrow today we must sow
We are planting a harvest of gladness or woe.

At least one person in the room may have appreciated the significance of the second line of that second verse: skylarks and corn are metaphors I borrowed from her, imagery which I return to over and over again each spring.

I didn’t use the PA. Having sung to several thousand anti-apartheid campaigners in London’s Trafalgar Square when the police turned off the PA every time I started singing (no, this was not a critical judgement; someone had forgotten to get a music licence) I don’t need amplification in a fairly small room. I also find acoustic singing improves communication. And though I had a pick-up fitted to my Gibson a few decades ago, I prefer not to use it, cos most DI sound tends to be tinny and toppy.

My guitar was handed on to me by John Hasted, and it has been over the world for me, though I haven’t used it much since I bought my Martin. Now that she (I call her Martina) is in the guitar hospital for some serious remedial work, I have brought the Gibson back into service. I rather liked playing it. Strumming it quietly with a plectrum seemed to work better than my previous thrashing technique.

When I did a set at Putney’s Half Moon pub many long years ago (using an open G tuning and trying to sound like Richie Havens) John-O commented after I came off: “Well, your guitar’s certainly got balls”. I was pleased at the time, but now I think he may not have meant it as a compliment.

Tracks 2, 7 and 8 on the above album demonstrate some of my open G work, though without the thrashing.

My week

  • Swing Easy on BCB radio Tuesday night, 8-9pm with the focus on big-band swing.
  • Movietime, Wednesday 6-6.30pm same station.
  • Thursday’s the Feast of Corpus Christi so I’ll be singing Down in Yon Forest somewhere, possibly here.

Coming up

I’ll be leading the prayers in church on June 9, and attending the Sheffield Doc/Fest some time between June 12 and 16.


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