FS11: The death of Nelson

This song has a surprisingly tangled history, which you can read about here. Peter Bellamy sang all three verses of the Richard Grainger version, but dropped the chorus and bulked it out with two verses from a completely different song (“Nelson’s Monument”). Subsequently, fuller versions of the song have appeared, from whatever source; a number of people have sung another five-verse version, with one verse before Grainger’s three and one after. I sing Bellamy’s version, but without the first of the two verses from “Nelson’s Monument”.

Alles klar? Everyone still here?

This for me was one of those songs where one line sticks in your head and can’t be budged until you’ve learnt the whole song; in this case it was

There is no reprieve, there is no relief – great Nelson, he is dead.

Quite brutally grim. The commander doesn’t say “it’s bad news, lads”; he says “I know you’re hoping this isn’t true, but it is”. Then he says it again. As for the track, there’s no arrangement to speak of and no multi-tracking: just a couple of minutes of big voice for you.

PS Writing this on Armistice Day, I see that my unerring knack for missing significant dates hasn’t deserted me – On the twenty-first of October (Trafalgar Day) I was posting Sam Hall. Oh well.

PPS The picture on the Bandcamp page is a portrait of Nelson, and one which Nelson himself thought was a particularly good likeness. He wasn’t a vain man.

1 Comment

Filed under folk song, Peter Bellamy, traditional

One response to “FS11: The death of Nelson

  1. The Richard Grainger composition as you say has my original tune and chorus alongside some of the lyrics found in traditional versions.
    However I did enjoy reading this. Thanks for your work to try and make some sense of the song in its many versions for you and others.

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