Jake Thackray was a writer, singer and guitarist. I’ll start that again – Jake Thackray was a remarkable writer, singer and guitarist; far more remarkable, I think, than most of his audience realised. Few people can write with the grace and wit he displayed, and hardly any of them are half the guitarist he was. Respect didn’t translate into financial security – does it ever? – and his career didn’t end well; he was declared bankrupt at the age of 61 and died two years later.
Most of his material was funny, but this isn’t; it’s a story about another woman herding of her ewes together, told from a very different perspective. (I got it from a recording by Tony Capstick, who knew a good song when he heard one.) The facility – and often the superficiality – of Jake Thackray’s work can lead him to be lumped together with the likes of Miles Kington and Richard Stilgoe, instead of more substantial writers like his hero Georges Brassens. Certainly there wasn’t any radicalism or anger in his songs – except when there was.