“Such is life; and we are as grass that is cut down…”
- Jerome K. Jerome, ‘Three Men In A Boat’, 1889
“All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.”
- Louis Armstrong
The timeless relevance and universal relatability of folk music should no longer surprise me, yet ever it does.
On the morning of the 13th of December, 2016, I entered a small second-hand bookshop on Greenwich South Street named Halcyon Books, to kill some time. I remember the date because not two hours later I was in Greenwich Park proposing to my fiancée. I remember the place because it is where I found The Garden Of Song.
Every book was on sale for £1, and there were plenty to choose from. The smell of musty old decaying dust jackets full of pages un-turned in years infiltrated every hair in my nostrils. As I remember it - which may be exaggerated - the shelves were spaced maybe 3 feet apart and towered a good 6 inches or so above my head, in the instances where they didn’t continue straight to the ceiling. By way of categorisation, I recall ‘Fiction’, ‘Non-fiction’, ‘Biographies’, ‘Military’, and ‘The Arts’. I suppose there is little that cannot be categorised as such, in some way. I didn’t have much time so, having gravitated towards ‘The Arts’ (as so often I do), I elected to buy whatever caught my eye, and be done with it, if only as a souvenir. Glistening gold letters emblazoned on a small volume bound in faded green buckram advertised to me ‘An Anthology of Poems and Lyrics’, which I thought seemed up my street, so I paid my pound and left.
It wasn’t until August 2017 that I finally opened the book. I don’t know quite what I expected to find inside, but there it was, right there on the page. A song, just like the cover said. Except it was more than that. These words instantly became larger than letters on a page; a song. With melody, chords, harmony, structure, resonance, dissonance; a song. Looking up at me from the paper as a cat waiting to be fed - as if saying ‘Well? I’m right here, what is taking you so long?’ - a song. Turns out, the book was full of them. The clue was in the title really. All these words on life, love, mankind & nature, were all as relevant now as they were over 100 years ago when this compilation was published (1911), and spoke to me as closely as anything I have ever conceived of or written, so much so that I just couldn’t help myself but sing to you these poems the way they sang to me. Some, if not all, of them were originally written with musical accompaniment, but as far as my own research has gone these are lost to time, so you will have to make do with mine.
The five you will hear on this EP are the five I felt came together to create the most cohesive expression. I also had a few extra songs hidden in junk drawers around my house that I felt fit well, so I threw them in as well. All recorded to cassette in my house in Calgary on a Tascam 464 Portastudio, everything you will hear is me. So now that spring in western Canada has finally arrived, come and smell the flowers with me in The Garden Of Song.
BUY TICKETS TO THE EP LAUNCH ON JUNE 2ND HERE
Calgary Folk Fest was an unbelievable weekend. Met so many great people, listened to so much great music, shot a whole bunch of film and drank a whole bunch of beer. Couldn't ask for more.
- Receiving life advice against cynicism from Billy Bragg.
- Discovering that my music teacher from 10 years ago now plays keys for Michael Kiwanuka.
- While we're at it, Michael Kiwanuka's set on Friday. Unbelievable.
- Sitting by the river discussing Tom Waits with Foy Vance.
- Shooting portaits of some of my current favourite artists
- Inexplicably playing lead guitar on the main stage for the finale rendition of 'The Weight'
- Drunkenly bitching about Canadians not understanding our accent with Peter Stone of 100 Mile House
...and so much more. So grateful to CFMF for having me, and to everyone who showed up to see me. Here's to many more.