Category Archives: Jo Freya

AS39: When I set off for Turkey

First, a quick apology: all the sources for this song file it under A, the first line being “As I set off for Turkey”. I don’t know where I got the ‘when’.

The song is another one from Jo Freya’s Traditional Songs of England; I’ve never heard it anywhere else. It’s a “song of lies”, with recognisable kinship to the Derby Ram – although instead of elaborating on a single conceit this song works by piling up unrelated absurdities.

My arrangement echoes the over-the-top, “one damn thing after another” quality of the song. Plus, ukulele! (Keep listening.)

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Filed under folk song, Jo Freya, traditional

AS37: General Wolfe

This is a song I already knew (courtesy of Dave Bishop), but fell in love all over again on hearing Jo Freya’s Traditional Songs of England.

I don’t know the history of this song, beyond the obvious point that it post-dates the Battle of Quebec. There are some oddities in the lyrics – particularly the time-shift in the first verse – which made me want to find an earlier version, but I didn’t have much luck; I managed to trace it back as far as the Watersons (which isn’t very far) but couldn’t find any broadside copies.

The accompaniment is mostly concertina – with a bit of recorder – although the chords eluded me, so I went for drones instead.

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Filed under Dave Bishop, folk song, Jo Freya, O my name is, traditional

AS38: The green cockade

The green cockade is a Cornish version of a song more widely known as The white cockade; in other versions it’s blue. I dare say it depends who was recruiting in the area at the time. The Cornish version says less than some about the actual recruiting, focusing mainly on the loss and heartbreak angle.

This is another song I’d vaguely known for a while, but which I never rated particularly highly until I heard Jo Freya’s beautifully realised version. There’s concertina here too, and this time I did work out the chords.

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FS42: Rounding the Horn

Also known as “The gallant frigate Amphitrite”, although in most versions the ship has a far more prosaic name. An unusually uneventful sea song (apart from the two poor souls who end up feeding the sharks); the main message is that there are some nice girls in Chile, particularly if you’ve got money to spend.

There’s something curiously magical about the way place names crop up in traditional songs sometimes; just think of the London Waterman and

And he rowed her over to Farringdon Fair

What could be more idyllic? Similarly, the evocation of Valparaiso here really makes you want to roll down to Rio, and then carry on all round the Horn – so to speak.

I haven’t heard Bellamy’s version; if I had a recording in mind it was Jo Freya’s on her 1991 Traditional Songs album. The arrangement on that recording (by producer Gef Lucena) gets a surprising number of variations out of a concertina, some violins and a pizzicato cello. Here I did the layering thing with English concertina, recorder and drums; there was going to be a drone in there at one point but I ended up going for chords instead.

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Filed under folk song, Jo Freya, traditional