Non-folk song #1 is this relatively little-heard piece by Noël Coward. I first heard it on Desert Island Discs, of all places, when a radically-inclined guest had selected the last verse – all about the Reds and the pinks and learning the lyrics of the old Red Flag. A bit of a shock to the system on first hearing, although you do realise fairly quickly that the Master was expressing disapproval of the above.
If it’s not a radical song – and, to be honest, it really isn’t – it’s still a bracing slice of cheery nihilism, expressing a refreshing reluctance to be conscripted into painting a smiley face on things (and we’re not going to tighten our belts and smile, smile, smile). It has an odd kind of manic energy, partly because – as revue songs often do – it says the same thing over and over again in slightly different phrasing. This makes it difficult to learn and very difficult indeed to deliver without hesitation, repetition or deviation – it took me a week to nail the tune and another week before I was totally confident that it was the horizon that was gloomy as can be and the outlook that was absolutely vile. (It’s quite a timely song, really.)
See what you think.