“Fucking hell! That’s a one-take video,” Nick Cave said about the decades-old but still smokin’ hot collaboration with PJ Harvey.
“Nothing is rehearsed at all except we sit on this ‘love seat’. We didn’t know each other well, and this thing happens while we’re making the video. There’s a certain awkwardness, and afterwards it’s like, oh…” Asked if he was actually beginning his brief romance with Harvey in this three-minute video, Cave confirmed, “Yeah, exactly.”
“Henry Lee” (aka “Young Hunting”) is a traditional folk song catalogued by Francis James Child as Child Ballad and has its origin in Scotland.
Like most traditional songs, numerous variants of the song exist worldwide, notably under the title of “Henry Lee” and “Love Henry” in the United States and “Earl Richard” and sometimes “The Proud Girl” in the United Kingdom.
The song, which can be traced back as far as the 18th century, narrates the tale of the eponymous protagonist, Young Hunting, who tells a woman, who may have borne him a child, that he is in love with another, more beautiful woman. Despite this, she persuades him to drink until he is drunk, then to come to her bedroom, or at least kiss her farewell.
The woman then stabs him to death. She throws his body in the river — sometimes with the help of one of the other women of the town, whom she bribes with a diamond ring — and is taunted by a bird. She tries to lure the bird down from the tree but it tells her that she will kill it if it comes within reach. When the search for Young Hunting starts, she either denies seeing him or claims that he left earlier, but when Hunting’s remains are found, in order to revoke her guilt, she reveals that she murdered him and is later burned at the stake. [sources: The Guardian ; Wikipedia]
Anne Briggs: An Introduction to Anne Briggs Topic Records
“She was a rare thing, fine as a beeswing,’ sang Richard Thompson on Beeswing, a song widely held to be about the singer Anne Briggs. The elegiac tone employed by Thompson would have you believe that the subject of Beeswing is no longer of this world, and although Briggs is very much alive and well, her almost complete withdrawal from the public eye and refusal to record any new music since the early 1970s has lent her a kind of mythological status. She has always walked with one foot in another world, as it were.
It is not the music writer’s place to draw conclusions about Briggs’ character or search for clues as to why she turned her back on the music industry (from what I’ve seen, I’m surprised more artists don’t take a similar route), but to claim, on the basis of her music alone, that she is some kind of fragile elfin princess sleeping for a hundred years on a pillow of spiders’ webs is missing something. Sure, she was capable of singing with an unmatched delicacy, and her voice is rightly praised for its striking, crystalline beauty, but she was equally at home singing songs about bad working conditions, plucky poachers and dodgy sex. There was purity, but there was also earthiness, flirtatiousness and at times gutwrenching sadness.
In 1999 Topic released Anne Briggs: A Collection, which contained all of her 1971 self-titled debut album plus everything she had sung on prior to that (a clutch of EPs, including collaborations with Bert Lloyd and Ewan MacColl) – twenty-two songs in total. This followed the 1997 release of Sing A Song For You, which Briggs had recorded in 1973 and subsequently shelved due to doubts about her voice – doubts, it must be said, that weren’t shared by anyone lucky enough to hear the album. This new collection is part of Topic’s Introduction Series and contains fifteen songs cherry-picked from the aforementioned releases. The goal is clearly to entice new listeners who have yet to take the plunge, and in terms of quality it succeeds on pretty much every level. Continue reading →
British guitar god Jeff Beck recorded the traditional song “Greensleeves” on 1968’s Truth – the only acoustic cut on the album, but a glorious one, indeed.
There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn. Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry’s attempts to seduce her, and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer’s love “cast me off discourteously”.
However, the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry’s death, making it more likely to be Elizabethan in origin. [Wikipedia]
It took almost 40 years for Shirley Collins to recover her voice, and with it her identity. After realising that her second husband, fellow musician Ashley Hutchings, was cheating on her – an actress wore his jumper to one of their concerts – the folk singer was struck by dysphonia, and could no longer sing. Continue reading →
After hundreds of densely packed pages on folk song in England — a subject for which I share Steve Roud’s passion — I am none the wiser as to why folk song collectors assumed that a man singing in a pub for free drinks in, say, 1890 or 1920 was de facto a folk singer? A singer of folk songs, yes. A folk singer, maybe not. Such men were ‘professional’ singers of popular songs. They sung what people wished to hear, for recompense: a pint.
If a collector was lucky — and they often weren’t — he might hear on a particular evening the weal and woe and muck and mire of ‘auld ballets’, but they would be buried amid what the 19th-century ballad editor Francis James Child called ‘a veritable dunghill’ of broadside ballads and music-hall pastiches [ . . . ] More at: The vibrant tradition of English folk song | The Spectator