I was doing a little updating of this site recently and realised that I hadn’t posted about Nick’s remarkable book yet. Nick is a dear friend and I had the joy of arguing with him on the finer details of an early manuscript as well as accompanying him on one of the book’s trespasses. Well that is not quite true, I was on the train with him and then decided not to go along as his description of the landowner freaked me out too much to want to risk it.
If you are on this website, you’ve probably already read it, but if not, please acquire it at your soonest convenience and pause your life until you’ve had the change to drink it down.
This book is basically the spiritual companion to our show.
The wonderful singer and promoter Sophie Bostock was waxing lyrical about this book to me and I’m so glad that I bought it as soon as she recommended it to me. It is a gem. I learnt so much from this including songs such as The Cutty Wren, The Bitter Withy, and The Death of Bill Brown.
A.L. Lloyd is very thorough and includes lyrics, music and background to all manner of songs from around England and beyond going back as far as he dare go and then some.
“Changing the story isn’t enough in itself, but it has often been foundational to real changes. Making an injury visible and public is usually the first step in remedying it, and political change often follows culture, as what was long tolerated is seen to be intolerable, or what was overlooked becomes obvious. Which means that every conflict is in part a battle over the story we tell, or who tells and who is heard.” Rebecca Solnit
I have yet to read this book but have it on authority that it will blow my socks off so I thought I might take the step of telling you all about it asap as my backlog of books is somewhat chronic as of late!
Roy Palmer has spent much of the last thirty years hunting for ballads and using them to weave together a people’s history of England. He has mastered the art of this in a number of excellent books of which this is a great starting point.
This book is utterly superb and should be bought without hesitation. Each song has a melody and words, along with a page or two giving its historical context.
The blog Who Owns England? by Guy Shrubsole and Anna Powell Smith has been a near constant source of excellent original research into the state of land ownership in England for the last few years. It was happy news when the learnings from this project were augmented in summer 2019 with the arrival of an eponymous book written by Guy.
Now it would be amiss of me to state at this point that both Guy and Anna are good friends of mine and I was one of the people who read Guy’s draft and fed back into the book’s journey. Luckily, I genuinely thought and do think that this is a really great read which draws the reader through the important information Guy and Anna have uncovered, illustrated with insights, stories and more than enough linguistic colour to be really quite compelling.