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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Henry Lyr Req: Old Men Sing Love Songs (John Conolly) (16) RE: Lyr Req: Old Men Sing Love Songs John Conolly 15 Sep 04

Bill and Dave's second CD was called Old Men and Love Songs. The title refers to William Teal of Thetford who used to sing with his neighbour at their garden ends by the pigsties - I think the story comes from Brian Dawson. John Conolly took this image and the death of George Butterworth in the First World War as the two themes for his song.

There are lots of hidden references in the song. John Conolly lives near Brigg, the subject of the song Brigg Fair. Percy Grainger collected the song from Joseph Taylor on 11th April 1905, when he sang it in private after the North Lincolnshire Musical Competition Festival held at the Exchange Hall in Brigg. John Conolly has sung it on the same stage. The song begins, "It was on the fifth of August, the weather being fine". George Butterworth died in the Battle of the Somme in 1915 and his name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial. When John Conolly learned that he had died on the fifth of August, it gave him the impetus to write the song.

George Butterworth's most famous piece, and the last one that he heard performed, was The Banks of Green Willow. It has two themes, from the folk songs The Banks of Green Willow, collected by George Butterworth from Mr and Mrs Cranston of Billingshurst in Sussex in June 1907, and Green Bushes, collected from Mr Cranston in July 1907.

John Conolly set his words to music. He thought that he had composed the tune, but when he sang it, Dave said, "I see you set it to Some Tyrant has Stolen my True Love Away." This proves to be a variant of another Sussex song The American King which begins, "The American King stole my true love away". In an extraordinary coincidence, the song was collected from Mrs Cranston in July 1907 by George Butterworth himself.

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