Jack Tar and the Women he loved are imortalized in this hearty collection. Recorded in England, Ireland, Wales, the Isles and Scotland.
SAILORMEN AND SERVING MAIDS — a packet of songs and ballads from the British Isles.
The present collection of songs and ballads, put together by Peter Kennedy from his years of field work, makes it patent that every cove along the British coast, every craft that has taken Britons on the sea, has produced its own lore which should be found before it has disappeared. This collection is remarkable for its time depth, ranging from songs of Norse and Hebridean oarsmen through ballads of superstitious medieval sailors to forebiters sung on board the clipper ships in the 19th century. The collection is also unusual in the wide range of its song-types and themes. Pirates, trawlermen, fishwives, whalemen, packet rats, mermen, Irish immigrants, shanghaiers maids, royal marines, sea widows, navymen, Captain Blighs, and sealmen make up this pageant of sea song that all together begins to tell the story of Jack Tar, the legend of the British seafaring man.
We will never have good recording of the chanteys roared out by gangs of seamen at work — the recording machine came too late for that. But, even so, we know a good deal about them — those magnificently simple melodies that capture the feeling of the British seaman at work under sail. John Goss, Richard Terry, Joanna Colcord, Richard Doerflinger, and, most recently, Stanley Hughill, have preserved this oak-ribbed music in a series of volumes.
Before the tides of change have washed all the songs and tales away, a commission of scholars should record and study the sea-folklore of the British Isles.
ABOUT THE SERIES
With the publication of this series, the full range of British folksongs can be heard for the first time as performed by authentic folk singers. The records were made in pubs and country cottages in isolated sections of the island. Some of the singers are old, others conform to ancient singing styles which will surprise some listeners; yet, in their performances, folk song lives in all of its subtleties. Print and musical notation cannot convey its flavor. Professional singers bury its charm and its nuances under the weight of their training. The only way in which the ballads of the people can be understood and appreciated properly is by listening to traditional country singers, such as these.
This collection was begun in 1950 by Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy. Alan Lomax came to Great Britain, after years of field work in the United States as head of the Archive of American Folk Song in the Library of Congress, to find out whether there was a tradition of living folk music connected with the material he had been studying in the United States. His recording tour of Great Britain and Ireland turned up such beautiful material that other collectors were encouraged to begin field work. The principal figure in this group was Peter Kennedy, whose father headed up the English Folk Dance Society and who had already done work of the first importance in collecting and teaching English folk dances. Employed by the BBC, along with Seamus Ennis, and working in collaboration with Hamish Henderson of Scotland, Kennedy and Lomax discovered scores of fine ballad singers and taped thousands of songs. These volumes are samplings of their huge collection.