Tag Archives: song

The Cottagers Complaint – Anti-enclosure ballad from Sutton-Coldfield

The full title is ‘The Cottager’s Complaint, on the Intended Bill for Enclosing Sutton-Coldfield’ and it was written by John ‘Poet’ Freeth (1731-1808) the owner of Freeth’s Coffee House in Birmingham and a well known poet and songwriter. He published a book called ‘The Political Songster: Or, a Touch on the Times, on Various Subjects, and Adapted to Common Tunes’ which went to at least 6 editions.


How sweetly did the moments glide, how happy were the days!
When no sad fear my breast annoyed, or e’er disturbed my ease;

Hard fate! that I should be compelled my fond abode to lose,
Where threescore years in peace I’ve dwelled, and wish my life to close.

Chorus

Oh the time! the happy, happy time, which in my cot I’ve spent;
I wish the church-yard was his doom, who murders my content.

My ewes are few, my stock is small, yet from my little store
I find enough for nature’s call, nor would I ask for more!

That word, ENCLOSURE ! to my heart such evil doth bespeak,
I fear I with my all must part, and fresh employment seek.

Chorus — Oh the time, &c.

What little of the spacious plain should power to me consign,
For want of means, I can’t obtain, would not long time be mine:

The stout may combat fortune’s frowns, nor dread the rich and great;
The young may fly to market-towns, but where can I retreat?

Chorus — Oh the time, &c.

What kind of feelings must that man within his mind possess,
Who, from an avaricious plan, his neighbours would distress?

Then soon, in pity to my case, to Reason’s ear incline;
For on his heart it stamps disgrace, who formed the base design.

Chorus

Petition of the Pigs in Kent

More info at a folk song a week blog – https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/week-103-petition-of-the-pigs-in-kent/

Original text in 1809 magazine can be found here

Petition of the Pigs in Kent

Ye owners of woodlands, with all due submission
We humbly beg leave to present our petition
That you will be recall this your latest decree
Which tells us that acorns no longer are free

In Sussex and Surrey and Middlesex too
Pigs may ramble at large without much ado
So why then in Kent should pretences be found
To drive us like culprits and thieves to the pound

Since we and our fathers and others before ‘em
Have ranged in your woods with all proper decorum
No poachers are we for no game we annoy
No hares we entrap and no pheasants decoy

Contented are we if an acorn we find
Nor wish for a feast of a daintier kind
Besides we are told and perhaps not mistaken
That you and your friends love a slice of good bacon

But if of good bacon you all love a slice
If pigs are to starve, how can bacon be nice?
For these and for other wise reasons of state
We again our petition most humbly repeat

Ye owners of woodlands, with all due submission
We humbly beg leave to present our petition
That you will repeal this severest of laws
So your woods shall resound to our grunting applause

Singing history pdf’s by Sing London and EFDSS

Some good stuff in these PDF’s by Sing London

https://www.efdss.org/efdss-education/resource-bank/resources-and-teaching-tools/singing-histories

Just currently looking at the ‘Petition of the Pigs in Kent’ ballad from the Kent book… https://media.efdss.org/resourcebank/docs/EFDSS_Education_RecentProjects_SingingHistoriesKent.pdf

Smile In Your Sleep – song about Scottish Highland Clearances

Ewan McLennan just suggested this song ‘Smile In Your Sleep‘ to me, written by Jim McLean about the Highland Clearances.

Beautiful and achingly sad, I personally wonder if it needs another few verses, as I felt from The Cheviot The Stag and The Black Black Oil, that there were a number of defiant pockets of (mostly female) resistance to the Clearances which this song doesn’t touch on.

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

Once our valleys were ringin
Wi sounds o our children singin
But nou sheep bleat till the evenin
An shielings stand empty an broken

We stood, wi heads bowed in prayer
While factors laid our cottages bare
The flames fired the clear mountain air
An many lay dead in the mornin

Where was our fine Highland mettle,
Our men once sae fearless in battle?
They stand, cowed, huddled like cattle
Soon tae be shipped owre the ocean

No use pleading or praying
All hope gone, no hope of staying
Hush, hush, the anchor’s a-weighing
Don’t cry in your sleep, bonnie baby

Norwich Farmshare presents – Norwich Central Baptist Church – Norwich – 19/11/16

What
Norwich Farmshare presents
When
Saturday, November 19, 2016
7:00pm - All Ages
Where
Norwich Central Baptist Church (map)
Duke Street
Norwich NR3 3AP
Other Info
Details TBC

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Ewan MacColl – Bring The Summer Home – 1381 The Great Revolt

Peggy Seeger also sent over this track called ‘Bring The Summer Home’ from Ewan MacColl’s 1998 reissue compilation album Antiquities.

It is about the Peasants’ Revolt (or the Great Revolt as it should be know!), the 100 Year War with France, the first attempt at an English Poll Tax and the Black Death.

Someone on the Mudcat forums has a bash at working out the lyrics here – http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=141748.

You can hear it online via this youtube mix tape…

Singing and poetry circle @ OpenFest, Barbican on Saturday 8th October

Rachel Rose Reid and Robin Grey will host a ‘Three Acres And A Cow’ singers circle in the spoken word yurt at 1.30pm for a hour. Do come along 🙂

OpenFest is an all day free festival at the Barbican Centre.

http://www.barbican.org.uk/openfest

https://www.facebook.com/events/287236344999140/barbican-openfest

Three Quakers And A Cow – Friends Meeting House – Bristol – 03/06/16

What
Three Quakers And A Cow
When
Friday, June 3, 2016
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
Friends Meeting House (map)
Champion Square
Bristol, UK BS2 9DB
Other Info
tickets £5 + b/f from http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13796

facebook - https://www.facebook.com/events/639493816207330/

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Three Acres And A Cow – RARA school – Hackney, London – 07/05/16

facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/1608057109521344/
tickets – http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13797

6pm – food by donation
7pm – show startsRARA low res web

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Saturday, May 7, 2016
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
Unit 2, Grosvenor Way,
Mount Pleasant Hill Industrial Estate
Hackney, London, UK E5 9ND

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A place called England – Maggie Holland

I was lucky enough to hear The Young’Uns open with ‘A Place Called England’ at a gig in Bristol last night. Here’s the original version by Maggie Holland – it won the award for Best Song at the BBC Folk Awards 1999. It’s all about gardens and English soil and has a nice reference to the diggers!

I rode out on a bright May morning like a hero in a song,
Looking for a place called England, trying to find where I belong.
Couldn’t find the old flood meadow or the house that I once knew;
No trace of the little river or the garden where I grew.

I saw town and I saw country, motorway and sink estate;
Rich man in his rolling acres, poor man still outside the gate;
Retail park and burger kingdom, prairie field and factory farm,
Run by men who think that England’s only a place to park their car.

But as the train pulled from the station through the wastelands of despair
From the corner of my eye a brightness filled the filthy air.
Someone’s grown a patch of sunflowers though the soil is sooty black,
Marigolds and a few tomatoes right beside the railway track.

Down behind the terraced houses, in between the concrete towers,
Compost heaps and scarlet runners, secret gardens full of flowers.
Meeta grows her scented roses right beneath the big jets’ path.
Bid a fortune for her garden—Eileen turns away and laughs.

So rise up, George, and wake up, Arthur, time to rouse out from your sleep.
Deck the horse with sea-green ribbons, drag the old sword from the deep.
Hold the line for Dave and Daniel as they tunnel through the clay,
While the oak in all its glory soaks up sun for one more day.

Come all you at home with freedom whatever the land that gave you birth,
There’s room for you both root and branch as long as you love the English earth.
Room for vole and room for orchid, room for all to grow and thrive;
Just less room for the fat landowner on his arse in his four-wheel drive.

For England is not flag or Empire, it is not money, it is not blood.
It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud,
It’s blackbird singing from the May tree, lark ascending through the scales,
Robin watching from your spade and English earth beneath your nails.

So here’s two cheers for a place called England, sore abused but not yet dead;
A Mr Harding sort of England hanging in there by a thread.
Here’s two cheers for the crazy diggers, now their hour shall come around;
We shall plant the seed they saved us, common wealth and common ground.

Three Acres And A Cow – Nexus Art Cafe – Manchester – 16/04/16

3A&aC Manchester Nexus low res web flyer

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Saturday, April 16, 2016
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
2 Dale Street
Manchester, UK M1 1JW
Other Info
featuring Naomi Wilkins, Tim Ralphs and Robin Grey
Tickets from Nexus Art Cafe or http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13651

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Summer Youth Residency

Toby and Georgie sing a duet

Way back in warm, sunny August, seven young people gathered somewhere in the depths of the East of England; the outskirts of a town called Diss (plenty of puns were made) in a lovely cottage, previously home to the writer Roger Deakin.

Five of us were from the youth organisation Woodcraft Folk, and we were glad to be joined by Molly and Kathleen who we hadn’t met before but quickly made friends with.

We were joined by Robin and Rachel and spent the week reading, singing and learning all about the history of our land and the struggles that have been fought for it. We listened to podcasts, taught each other songs and shared food together between practicing sections of the show ready for a performance.

At the end of the week, we performed a full show of Three Acres and a Cow as a group, complete with poetry, sketches and, of course, singing.

Since the residency, Anna has successfully applied for funding to develop a Quaker version of the show alongside Robin, and I have been involved in various performances of the show in my new role as youth apprentice.

Here is a selection of photos from the week:

– Naomi, apprentice of Three Acres And A Cow

Three Acres And A Cow – Edibles – Huddersfield, West Yorkshire – 15/04/16

3A&aC Huddersfield low res web flyer

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Friday, April 15, 2016
6:30pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
The Cowshed, Paddock Farm, Park Gate Road, Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire
Huddersfield, UK HD7 5XA

Featuring Naomi Wilkins, Tim Ralphs and Robin Grey
tickets from http://www.edibles.org.uk/threeacresandacow

Other Info
with Naomi Wilkins, Tim Ralphs and Robin Grey
Tickets from http://www.edibles.org.uk/threeacresandacow

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The Land – The Liberal’s Land Value Tax song

“The song became a Liberal radical anthem in the aftermath of David Lloyd George’s “people’s budget” of 1909 which proposed a tax in land. During the two general elections of the following year, ‘The Land Song’ became the governing Liberals’ campaign song.” (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Land_%28song%29)

Sound the blast for freedom, boys, and send it far and wide,
March along to victory, for God is on our side,
While the voice of nature thunders o’er the rising tide:
“God made the land for the people”.

The land, the land, ’twas God who made the land,
The land, the land. The ground on which we stand,
Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?
God gave the land to the people.

Hark! The shout is swelling from the east and from the west!
Why should we beg work and let the landlords take the best?
Make them pay their taxes for the land, we’ll risk the rest!
The land was meant for the people.

The banner has been raised on high to face the battle din,
The army now is marching on, the struggle to begin,
We’ll never cease our efforts ’til the victory we win,
And the land is free for the people.

Clear the way for liberty, the land must all be free,
Britons will not falter in the fight tho’ stern it be.
‘Til the flag we love so well shall wave from sea to sea,
O’er the land that’s free for the people.

Three Acres And A Cow – GalGael, Glasgow – 07/04/16

Thursday 7th April
Glasgow – http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13608
Gal Gael –  15 Fairley St, Govan, Glasgow, Glasgow, G51 2TS
http://www.galgael.org/
£12 (£5 concessions)  – entry by donation for all Gal Gael volunteers and workers

Please note, this show is mainly focused on English history with some Scottish and Irish content. We have been invited to showcase it in Glasgow with a view to supporting the creation of a new show with similar spirit, focused on Scottish history.

What
Three Acres And A Cow
When
Thursday, April 7, 2016
6:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
15 Fairley Street, Govan
Glasgow, Scotland G51 2TS
Other Info
Tickets on sale via - http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=13608

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Cultivate Festival – The Asian Centre – Walthamstow, London – 26/03/15

Doors from 6.45pm – show starts at 7.30pm – there will be locally cooked and grown organic food by donation before the show.

Tickets are £5 plus a £1 online booking fee – you can buy tickets for £5 without the booking fee from The Hornbeam Centre, 458 Hoe Street, London, E17 9AH. Book online here – http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=12363

Here is the facebook page if you are that way inclined – https://www.facebook.com/events/417177085106233/

low-res-poster-flyer

What
Cultivate Festival
When
Thursday, March 26, 2015
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
18A Orford Road
Walthamstow, London, UK E17 9LN
Other Info
Thursday 26th March @ The Asian Centre, 18a Orford Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 9LN

Tickets are £5 plus a £1 online booking fee - you can buy tickets for £5 without the booking fee from The Hornbeam Centre, 458 Hoe Street, London, E17 9AH.

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The Truscott Arms – Maida Vale, London – 23/04/15

West Central London Green Party proudly presents
Three Acres And A Cow, A History Of Land Rights And Protest In Folk Song And Story

Thursday 23rd April @ The Truscott Arms, 55 Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, W9 2JD
Doors from 7.00pm – show starts at 7.30pm tickets from http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=12554

——————–

‘Three Acres And A Cow’ connects the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with current issues like fracking, the housing crisis and transition town and food sovereignty movements via the Enclosures, English Civil War, Irish Land League and Industrial Revolution, drawing a compelling narrative through the radical people’s history of Britain in folk song, stories and poems.

Part TED talk, part history lecture, part folk club sing-a-long, part poetry slam, part storytelling session… Come and share in these tales as they have been shared for generations.

web promo

What
The Truscott Arms
When
Thursday, April 23, 2015
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Where
55 Shirland Road
Maida Vale, London, UK W9 2JD

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Manchester Rambler by Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl was on the first Kinder Scout trespass and wrote this amazingly catchy tune inspired by the experience.

From http://www.kindertrespass.com/

In April 1932 over 400 people participated in a mass trespass onto Kinder Scout, a bleak moorland plateau, the highest terrain in the Peak District.

The event was organised by the Manchester branch of the British Workers Sports Federation. They chose to notify the local press in advance, and as a result, Derbyshire Constabulary turned out in force. A smaller group of ramblers from Sheffield set off from Edale and met up with the main party on the Kinder edge path.

Five men from Manchester, including the leader, Benny Rothman, were subsequently jailed.

75 years later the trespass was described as: “the most successful direct action in British history” by Lord Roy Hattersley.

April 2012 saw the 80th Anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout celebrated by a week of walks, talks, and exhibitions, with a launch ceremony featuring Mike Harding, Stuart Maconie, and the leaders of major agencies involved in access to countryside. A new book was published, and commemorative posters are on sale.

The trespass is widely credited with leading to:

  • legislation in 1949 to establish the National Parks.
  • contributing to the development of the Pennine Way and many other long distance footpath.
  • securing walkers’ rights over open country and common land in the C.R.O.W. Act of 2000.

The trespass was controversial at the time, being seen as a working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouse shooting.

Song On The Times

A song from 1840s

You can see an original copy of it here – http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/20000/18540.gif

You working men of England, one moment now attend
While I unfold the treatment of the poor upon this land
For nowadays the factory lords have brought the labor low
And daily are contriving plans to prove our overthrow

So arouse you sons of freedom, the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

There’s different parts in Ireland, it’s true what I do state
There’s hundreds that are starving for they can’t get food to eat
And if they go unto the rich to ask them for relief
They bang their door all in their face as if they were a thief

So arouse you sons of freedom the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

Alas how altered are the times, rich men despise the poor
And pay them off without remorse quite scornful at their door
And if a man is out of work, his Parish pay is small
Enough to starve himself and wife, his children and all

So arouse you sons of freedom the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

So to conclude and finish these few verses I have made
I hope to see before it’s long men for their labor paid
Then we’ll rejoice with heart and voice and banish all our woes
Before we do old England must pay us what she owes

So arouse you sons of freedom the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town