FS33: The valiant sailor

I’ve bought a concertina! (English system, secondhand; it’s a Lachenal tutor (for those who know about these things), 100+ years old, thoroughly refurbed 20-30 years ago & checked over the other day). It’s a beautiful instrument – the best purchase I’ve made in years.

The only problem is that I can’t play it yet. I have managed to get a few chords out of it, though, as you can hear on this song. (Four, to be precise: G, D, C and A minor.)

This song has a double debt to John Kelly, who I’ve namedropped a couple of times recently. I learned it from him in the first place – it’s the opening track, and one of the standouts, on his first album Come all you wild young men. This arrangement, slowing it right down to bring out the sadness of the story, is a departure from John’s – but it’s based on what he did to Greenland Whale Fisheries on his second album. I’ve got a weakness for really sad songs, and GWF has always been just a bit hearty for me (“There’s a whale! There’s a whale! There’s a whale-fish! he cried”); John’s arrangement is a revelation. I don’t think anyone’s ever criticised this song for being too cheerful, but I think this slow, still arrangement is quite effective all the same. See what you think.

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Filed under folk song, John Kelly, traditional

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