Week 26: Mary Hamilton, John from the Isle of Man, Tom the Barber

Week 26: the last week of the Blue album, and the halfway point of the project as a whole.

Counting this week’s (of which more in a moment), so far I’ve uploaded 66 tracks, including 44 traditional songs and 21 contemporary. (The totals don’t add up because two of the traditional songs appear twice (same words, different tunes), and one of the contemporary songs is actually two songs.) Can’t believe it’s that many, but then I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for six months.

I’ve sung songs learned from Peter Bellamy, Jon Boden, Tony Rose, Nic Jones, John Kelly, Shirley Collins, June Tabor and others, and one that I wrote myself. I’ve sung songs I’d already sung in public (34 of them), songs I learned in order to record them (21) and a few others.

The people’s choice, or at least the songs with most complete plays, are Lord Bateman, The unfortunate lass, and Come, love, carolling. My own favourites: The bonny hind, Dayspring mishandled, Poor old horse, The unborn Byron.

I’ve taught myself to write harmonies, bought and learned to play two different instruments and got some use out of a pair of bongoes that hadn’t been played for longer than I care to think. (I was planning to have learnt to play the concertina by now, but all in good time.)

It’s been a great project so far; I’d recommend it to anyone.

This week’s three songs are two Child ballads. I learned Mary Hamilton (Child 173) from John Kelly’s second album, which I strongly recommend. (This isn’t the tune John uses, though.)

John from the Isle of Man is one of the many variants of the song more commonly known as Willie o’ Winsbury (Child 100). This is a faithful, nay, slavish copy of a recording made by the Irish singer Robert Cinnamond.

Tom the Barber is another Willie o’ Winsbury variant, picked up from Tony Rose, who liked it so much he recorded it twice. This isn’t the tune he used, though.

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