Category Archives: Music
“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” (unknown)
Listening to Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of The 70′s on BBC Radio 2 yesterday, I got to thinking about the power of music but how often and unfortunately, that ‘power’ is usually a short-lived trend or fashion, despite original ’cult status’ at the time…
Jonnie Walker was joined in conversation by the Oscar-winning film producer Simon Chinn, to talk about his 2012 film Searching for Sugarman). The film covered the popular revival of the previously little-known American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez and his unlikely rise to fame in South Africa, the one place where he enjoys an almost ‘cult’ status by his fans.
Another little-known fact from Jonnie Walker’s show was that today, 22nd April, is the anniversary of the One Love Peace Concert held back in 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica. The concert, dubbed by the media of the day as the “Third World Woodstock” brought together 16 of Reggae’s biggest acts, and was designed to break the conflict of, and hopefully reduce the deaths arising from, Jamaica’s political civil war at the time.
“One Love/People Get Ready” is a reggae song by Bob Marley & The Wailers and has become synonymous with championing the cause of world poverty, along with many other associated social struggles. It sends out a message of universal love and respect expressed by all people for all people, regardless of race, creed, or social status.
Jamaica’s ‘political civil war’ may now be all but over however; the mostly drug related turf-wars and rivalry between Jamaican Posses and Yardie gangs still continues. Jamaica, in particular cities such as Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town, experience high levels of crime and violence. Jamaica has endured one of the highest murder rates in the world for many years, according to UN estimates. So were the efforts of Bob Marley wasted? Probably not.
Together we can unite a global community to educate and nurture our youth, protect our planet and join together the hands of warring nations in the name of peace…(1Loveproject.com)
Although a worthwhile sentiment, the cynic in me has to wonder; as the project launch more-or-less coincided with the release of Cedella’s “One Love” book – was there also an element of self-promotion involved here?
The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively – Bob Marley
Any self-interest aside, the 1Love project actually joined the ranks of several other musically inspired charitable supergroups and organisations. Following on from George Harrison’s seminal Concert for Bangladesh back in 1971, the likes of Band-Aid, USA for Africa, Band-Aid II and Band-Aid20 have all joined a long line of those artistes seeking to raise awareness about (and much-needed funding for) some of the worrying issues in our world.
Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? – Bob Marley
More than a decade ago now, a small group of documentary filmmakers set out with a dream to create a film rooted in the music of the streets. Their dream was realized and has since blossomed into a global sensation called Playing For Change. The project which includes famous (and not so famous) musicians, “has touched the lives of millions of people around the world.” One of their first efforts was the One Love piece (see below) and their legacy from the original idea is the Playing For Change Foundation.
Even when you look back to 1969 and Woodstock, a monumental music festival which (supposedly) changed our world views for ever, many of the issues raised then are still prominent now. More than half a million people came together – united in a message of peace, openness and cultural expression – to demonstrated and make the views of their generation heard.
Woodstock is more than a moment in time. It is about a way of being in the world…(woodstock.com)
The major political and humanitarian issue of the day was the opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War but sadly, wars are still taking place. Despite much political rhetoric to suggest they are freedom fights and actions to control drugs and/or curb terrorism, many suggest they’re little more than methods in furtherance of American commercial interests and world supremacy.
In short, contemporary artists have used their music in a worthy attempt to change the ills of society, the politics of the day, as with the Punk Rock era of the 1970-80′s, or just simply to raise funds for natural disasters in the world. These efforts have been taking place for more than half a century now, some with a modicum of success but unfortunately, a good deal of them have merely scratched the surface of many of the issues at play, and mostly only whilst fashionable. The efforts of all those musicians in the past, although highly laudable, tends to descend into little more than a sad indictment of our mostly self-interested society; especially when the issue(s) still remain.
What have you done today to make you feel proud? – Heather Small
I don’t know that anything will change substantially and certainly not any time soon; whilst the predominant lifestyle ethics in our society is governed by the cry – “me, me, me” - who actually gives a stuff about anyone else anyway?
I would have to admit to not being a real folk buff – I like some of it but it’s just one of the many musical genre that I have dipped into during my life. That said, the folk music of England (and other Nations) is important from both social and musical viewpoints. This post is dedicated to the memory of one Folk Music legend and his legacy…
Ian Campbell (1933-2012)
I remember first being introduced to Folk Music during the early 1970s. This was mostly due to the fairly regular folk club events held at my parent’s pub in Skipton at the time but secondly, it was also probably thanks to a funny little tubby man from Lancashire called Mike Harding.
Known to many as ‘The Rochdale Cowboy’ after the title of one of his hit records, Mike Harding at various times in his life has also been a stand-up comic, photographer, traveller, filmmaker, playwright musician and, until the end of this year (see here), a popular BBC Radio 2 presenter.
Like me Mike is also a Yorkshireman by choice, a factor reflected in Mike Harding’s Yorkshire Dales. But Mike also has a passion for all things Yorkshire, not just the Dales. He enjoys the countryside and the environment and he values many of those traditions which are (thankfully) still often displayed in rural communities. He is an avid fisherman (see his Guide to Tying North Country Flies) and perhaps most importantly; we’re both members of the same political party, The STP (Stuff The Politicians)!
When the Yorkshire Post asked Mike - What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? – He replied…
I think it’s to do with being far enough away from London not to take much notice of it, as Lancashire is too. We tend to look down on London and rightly so. Also, the Yorkshire landscape – the hills and moors – have bred people that have always been independent…(Read more)
The thing I like most about many examples of folk music is how the songs often tell real life stories, as opposed to many of today’s commercially contrived clap-trap records. These are usually designed for one thing and one thing only, to simply make money for people. But in addition to the ubiquitous story telling about tales of daring do and social trauma throughout history, folk music can also be fun.
Although purists will say that some of Mike’s musical work isn’t folk per se I for one don’t really give a stuff. Mike was simply putting a modern slant on that age-old practice of story telling by song. He came up with tracks like Rochdale Cowboy and Strangeways Hotel which were both forms of social observation. Wether they are considered to be folk music or not by ‘folk snobs’ matters not a jot to me; both told stories by music and people enjoyed them – good enough to my mind.
My somewhat nostalgic memories of Mike and his humour, along with periodic visits to his Radio shows, are the main reason behind our virtual friendship on Facebook. That ‘friendship’ is also how I became aware of Ian Campbell’s sad demise today.
The Ian Campbell Folk Group were one of the most popular and respected folk groups of the British folk revival of the 1960s. The group made many appearances on radio, television and at numerous national and international venues and festivals. Ian was also the father of four sons, three of whom have became famous to the music world in their own right, all be it in a totally different genre.
But Ali and Robin Campbell (and latterly Duncan Campbell) all of UB40 fame have, like their father, created something of a lasting legacy for the music world. UB40 and the Campbell brothers should be seen as one of the most important influences on the popularity of Reggae music. Not just within the UK but probably the remainder of the world outside of the Caribbean.
But back to their father Ian… The following YouTube clip of An Old Man’s Lament is sung here by Jon Rennard but the words were written originally by Ian Campbell. The song is better known by the title “The Old Man’s Tale” (or “The Old Man’s Song”) and is famous amongst folk music lovers…
An Old Man’s Tale…
At the turning of the century I was a boy of five
My father went to fight the Boers and never came back alive
My mother left to bring us up no charity would seek
So she washed and scrubbed and brought us up on 7/6 a week
When I was twelve I left the school and went to find a job
With growin’ kids my ma was glad of the extra couple of bob
I know that better schooling would have stood me in good stead
But you can’t afford refinements when you’re struggling for your bread
And when the Great War came along I didn’t hesitate
I took the royal shilling and went off to do my bit
I fought in mud and tears and blood three years or thereabout
Then I copped some gas in Flanders and was invalided out
And when the war was over and we’d finished with the guns
I got back into civvies and I thought the fighting done
I’d won the right to live in peace but I didn’t have no luck
For soon I found I had to fight for the right to go to work
In ‘twenty-six the General Strike found me out on the street
For I’d a wife and kids by then and their needs I couldn’t meet
But a brave new world was coming and the brotherhood of man
But when the strike was over we were back where we began
I struggled through the ‘Thirties out of work now and again
I saw the Black Shirts marching and the things the did in Spain
But I raised my children decent and I taught them wrong from right
Then Hitler was the lad that came and showed them how to fight
My daughter was a land girl, she got married tae a Yank
They gave my son a gong for stopping one of Rommel’s tanks
He was wounded just before the end and convalesced in Rome
Married an Eyetye nurse and never bothered to come home
My daughter writes me once a month a cheerful little note
About their colour telly and the other things they’ve got
She has a son, a likely lad, he’s nearly twenty-one
Now she says they’ve called him up to fight in Vietnam
We’re living on the Pension now and it doesn’t go too far
Not much to show for a life that seems like one long bloody war
When you think of all the wasted lives it makes you want to cry
I don’t know how to change things but by Christ we’ll have tae try
An Old Man’s Tale is a perfect example of social history story telling set to music. It must also have played it’s part in the award that Ian Campbell received earlier this year - the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Good Tradition’ Award. This recognition was given for, Campbell’s outstanding contribution to folk music over five decades. A fitting final tribute to valued member of the folk music world.
The damper for me, given the impending removal of Mike Harding from BBC Radio 2 Folk Music coverage, perhaps it was a little inconsiderate to have the award presented by Stuart Maconie (reportedly Harding’s replacement). It must have felt a bit like a smack in the mouth for Mike. Even more so if you consider his fifteen years plus of working to raise the profile and popularity of folk music amongst the listening public?
I suppose, as is often said, “that’s show business!”
- BBC Radio 2 folk DJ Mike Harding hits out at boss after sacking (guardian.co.uk)
- Harding was ‘pushed’ from Radio 2 (bbc.co.uk)
- Radio 2 axes Mike Harding from folk role (telegraph.co.uk)
- Voice of folk music silenced: Mike Harding axed as presenter of Radio 2′s Folk Show after 15 years (mirror.co.uk)
Time Out from the daily grind is a must for all of us, without a little R&R some people tend to get a little fractious and usually don’t function very well. Despite being semi-retired I’m no different, much to the annoyance of my wife who often asks; “what the hell have you been doing all day?”
Sometimes I have to admit and/or be a little ashamed; often I can’t really give a satisfactory account of myself. I can’t say I’ve done anything productive and I’ve probably forgotten to do some (or all) the jobs my wife asked me to do. But I simply got lost, I wandered off into a land of thought, it’s a kind of conscious unconsciousness I suppose.
Apart from a lifelong love of the outdoors and my passion for fishing, my other great source of relaxation has always been music. I have very eclectic musical taste but as I’ve aged my favourite bands and artists haven’t really changed that much, they’ve just changed position in my order of preference, a choice that can be dependent on so many things.
The Old Grey Whistle Test (OGWT), presented by Whispering Bob Harris, was one of those places and I used to get lost in, before we reached the realms of the iPod age. The dawn of now widespread personal portable music ensures that more than ever, people can cut themselves off from the outside world and immerse themselves in music.
The major problem with that is; so much of it appears to be inane boom boom bollocks, the drum & bass type noise that is interspersed with foul-mouthed explicatives, promoting a loose lifestyle of drink, drugs and violence. It appears to do little more than pummel their brains, perhaps that’s a reason why we have so many airheads?
And now for a little self-indulgence with a small selection from musical tastes…
The Specials - Too Much Too Young (OGWT 1979)
And as for the title of this post?
If there’s no music there is always fishing…
“The solution to any problem – work, love, money, whatever – is to go fishing, and the bigger the problem, the longer the trip should be.” – Angling Times