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Mike Harding's Beautiful Music

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Lizzie Cornish 05 Jan 06 - 04:50 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 06 - 05:17 PM
alanabit 05 Jan 06 - 05:21 PM
Lizzie Cornish 05 Jan 06 - 05:22 PM
Lizzie Cornish 05 Jan 06 - 05:26 PM
LesB 05 Jan 06 - 07:06 PM
Lancashire Lad 05 Jan 06 - 07:13 PM
Shanghaiceltic 05 Jan 06 - 07:18 PM
Dave Hanson 06 Jan 06 - 02:28 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 06 Jan 06 - 10:51 AM
alanabit 06 Jan 06 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Les in Chorlton 06 Jan 06 - 12:37 PM
Big Al Whittle 06 Jan 06 - 02:09 PM
Lizzie Cornish 06 Jan 06 - 03:10 PM
Les in Chorlton 06 Jan 06 - 04:08 PM
Lizzie Cornish 06 Jan 06 - 04:24 PM
Big Al Whittle 06 Jan 06 - 05:00 PM
Lizzie Cornish 06 Jan 06 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Jan 06 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Jan 06 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Jan 06 - 05:59 PM
Lancashire Lad 06 Jan 06 - 06:14 PM
Lizzie Cornish 06 Jan 06 - 06:33 PM
GUEST 06 Jan 06 - 11:20 PM
George Papavgeris 07 Jan 06 - 07:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jan 06 - 07:34 AM
Lizzie Cornish 07 Jan 06 - 07:43 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Jan 06 - 08:00 AM
Susanne (skw) 08 Jan 06 - 06:37 PM
alanabit 09 Jan 06 - 02:45 AM
GUEST 09 Jan 06 - 08:21 AM
Lizzie Cornish 13 Jan 06 - 06:48 PM
Polite Guest 17 Jun 08 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,eliza c 17 Jun 08 - 12:55 PM
irishenglish 17 Jun 08 - 01:00 PM
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The Sandman 17 Jun 08 - 01:31 PM
Les in Chorlton 17 Jun 08 - 02:16 PM
Rumncoke 17 Jun 08 - 04:35 PM
Jack Campin 17 Jun 08 - 05:59 PM
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davyr 18 Jun 08 - 10:39 AM
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Subject: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 04:50 PM

So I sat there dumbfounded!

To give you a quick history...I'd heard a song on Radio Britfolk a few days ago:

http://www.radiobritfolkhome.co.uk/HomePage.aspx

It was on Jacey Bedford's Christmas show, which is now in the archive section..and it was a Mike Harding song called 'Christmas Eve 1914'. I was very surprised as I thought Mike only did comedy songs, so I mentioned this on the Britfolk thread and someone kindly came on and told me about Mike's song 'Bomber's Moon'....he then even more kindly sent me the song. All I knew about it was what I'd read on Mike's site here:

http://www.mikeharding.co.uk/

...where he says this about the song:

<< Dedicated to the memory of my father, Flight Sergeant Louis Arthur 'Curly' Harding, a navigator in Lancaster Bombers, who died with his crew when his plane was shot down returning from a raid over Germany. Its also dedicated to the memory my good friend Jurgen Boch of Cologne, who was a small child in a bomb shelter in Germany on the night my father died, and to my mother who was a bride, a widow and a mother within the space of a year.>>>

I was instantly interested, because my Dad was also a navigator in the RAF, although he was lucky enough to survive. He never spoke about the war, apart from saying that sometimes, evil becomes so great, that there is no other choice left. He was an 'older Dad' and spent the rest of his life living quietly and being one of the gentlest and kindest people I've ever met. My daughter, now 19, his grandaughter, only knew him for three short years and my son, now 11, his grandson, sadly never knew him at all.

So I sat down at my computer screen and I pressed play and 'Bomber's Moon' started.....and my life took another step forward in a direction I never envisaged, into one of the most beautiful, sorrowful and tender songs I have ever heard. Into the story of Mike's father and mine too.....and many, many others....

Within seconds I was looking at an airfield, having stepped back into 1944. I was watching the young men in The Mess trying to relax, whilst waiting for the call…their captain suddenly announced "Tonight there'll be a bomber's moon. We'll be there and back underneath a bomber's moon…" And then I'm standing at the side of the airfield watching Chalkie White, Curly Thompson, Nobby Clarke and Jumbo Johnson rushing out, hurriedly putting on their jackets, jumping into their planes …....and there's my Dad as well....hurrying to his plane....then..."they sail off up into the silvery night" Suddenly Mike takes me on board. "Sandy Campbell checks his oil gauge, the Belgian Coast is coming soon. Curly Thompson lifts his sextant and lines up the bomber's moon.." You hear the Lancasters engines and watch the lads working as a team, then….they arrive at their destination….

'Flak flies up around the city, Jumbo Johnson banks his plane, goes in low and drops his payload, turns to join the pack again. And people are dying there below the bomber's moon. The city's a raging hell below the bomber's moon." They're flying home when the fighters arrive…"Curly Thompson saw them coming, closing in, before he died. And the young men shot them down below the bomber's moon, shot them down in flames below the bomber's moon. Young men sending young men to their graves….."

And suddenly I can feel my father's pain....seeing all this chaos and madness all around him. I can sense his horror at watching those bombs fall, knowing the dreadful suffering that was about to be caused below... and the trauma of seeing his friends dying in planes around him and I realised why he could never talk of it...why he pushed it to the most inner, private sections of his mind. I guess I had as well....when someone chooses to remove something from their memory, you are almost beholden to do that as well...for them.

Then Mike takes you nearly 40 years into the future, to Chalkie's widow, lovingly dusting his picture…, while the tears still trickle down her face, four decades on....still flowing as if it were yesterday. And you feel Mike's terrible sorrow and his anger and frustration as he sings "For God's sake…no more bomber's moons. No more young men growing up to die too soon. Old men sending young men out to die. Young men, dying for a politician's lies….Old men sending young men out to kill. If we don't stop them, then they never will!"

And I think how lucky I am that my Dad came back...and that I was lucky enough to know and love him for 30 precious years.

And at the end, I sat there….absolutely stunned, tears trickling uncontrollably....and you realise how very little you know about Mike Harding and what a deep talent and love it has taken to write something quite so extraordinarily moving. The silence was quite overwhelming......so I put it on again...and it was even more beautiful second time around.

I ordered the 'Bomber's Moon' CD that same night, I typed out all the words, listening to it over and over. I played it to my children and told them all about their Grandpa and about Mike's father too...and then this afternoon, we sat down together and watched 'The Battle of Britain' and realised how very lucky we all are and what we owe to all those young lads.

That film finishes with Churchill's famous words:

"Never has so much, been owed to so many, by so few"

And Mike's song sums that all up in minutes. How I wish that all our children could hear this song! Mike's father and mine too, did not go to war for their nation's children to be spilling their souls out at night in our City centres...all trying to drink themselves senseless to numb their lives out, when they should be loving every minute of their lives. Something is SO wrong!

And last night these words came back and hit me again, even though I'd not been aware of their existence 24 hours previously:

"..No more young men growing up to die too soon. Old men sending young men out to die. Young men, dying for a politician's lies….Old men sending young men out to kill. If we don't stop them, then they never will!...No more...no more bomber's moons, no more..no more bomber's moons"

...because we'd gone to see some friends, whose son is in the RAF and who was out in Iraq recently and also throughout the war...and guess what? Yes, just like my Dad, he too is unable to talk about what he's seen and done as it upsets him so much...50 years on those politicians are still lying and sending our young men out to die and be traumatised. Sending out "Young men to kill young men"....MAKE THEM LISTEN TO THIS SONG....until they know EVERY word off by heart....until they understand WHAT it is saying...until they KNOW that we HAVE to change our world!

AND WHY has Mike Harding become known as The Rochdale Cowboy when he can write songs like this, that move you so terribly deeply?! He is a profoundly talented song-writer and this song should be being played everywhere. I am totally stunned that I have never heard it before. Perhaps I was never supposed to....perhaps it was all meant to happen in exactly the way it has...either way...I am so very grateful to Ian for sending me this song in the first place...and for Radio Britfolk 'being there' to start the whole thing off. They say they want to bring music to people that they didn't even know they wanted....well...they've certainly done that for me!

'Bomber's Moon' now sits proudly on the shelf to the side of me as I write and Mike is singing it as I type. Hopefully it will soon be joined by 'Plutonium Alley' and 'Footloose In The Himalayas'

And I haven't even started on his other songs on this CD, such as 'The Accrington Pals'...but I'll leave that for another day....as 'Bomber's Moon' should stand completely on it's own....

.....for Mike Harding and for his Dad.

Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 05:17 PM

Well said, Lizzie. Just a little correction:

"Never has so much, been owed to so many, by so few" should be

"Never has so much been owed by so many to so few"


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: alanabit
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 05:21 PM

Jürgen Bock is a very nice man. (I hope he is still with us, but I have not seen him for years). He was the engineer for BFBS, when they were based in Köln in the eighties. The operation was closed some years ago and moved up to Detmold. Jürgen also produced the weekly folk programme. He recorded a session of mine once here and I was also up in Senden, near Münster, when he recorded a set by Eddie Walker, the excellent guitarist singer from Middlesborough (I think!)
I have often seen pictures of what happened to this lovely city during the war. It was the nearest city to Allied lines for most of the war, so it was a natural target. Indeed, the Südstadt, or at least parts of it, were still in ruins in the early eighties.
In the sixties so many of my generation were sick of hearing all about the war. I am still finding out things, which I never knew. They are those "small" stories, which concerned few families, but which were shattering and life changing experiences for the families concerned. As time goes on, you realise that no one - even those involved - know all of what happened. You just do not live enough times. The scale of the tragedy is too much for any one person to comprehend.
In 1941, Peter Moorhouse (then ten) watched from Torpoint as Plymouth burned. His parents were somewhere in the middle of it. In 1944 Rolf Peters fled the annhilation of Kleve on the sixteenth of October. (He was twelve). The grandchildren of those men are safely asleep next door as I write.
We can learn from our history.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 05:22 PM

Bomber's Moon by Mike Harding:

"'44 in Bomber County
Young men waiting for the night
In the hedgerows birds are singing
Calling in the falling light

And the Captain says
"Tonight there'll be a bomber's moon
We'll be there and back
Underneath a bomber's moon
A thousand bombers over the Northern Sea
Heading out...out for Germany"

Chalkie White stands at the dartboard
Curly Thompson writes to his wife
Nobby Clarke and Jumbo Johnson
Are playing cards and smoking pipes

And over the hangars rises a bomber's moon
Full and clear, rising as the engines croon
And the planes, they taxi out on to Runway Five
And sail off out, into the silvery night

Sandy Campbell checks his oil gauge
The Belgian coast is coming soon
Curly Thompson lifts his sextant
And lines up on the bomber's moon

And the waves are shining there
Beneath the bomber's moon
Lancasters flying high
Below the bomber's moon
Rumbling in along the Belgian coast
A thousand silver shrouded ghosts

Flak flies up around the city
Jumbo Johnson banks his plane
Goes in low and drops his payload
Turns to join the pack again

And people are dying there
Below the bomber's moon
The city's a raging hell
Below the bomber's moon
The planes head out
Towards the Northern Sea
Young men coming home from victory

Over Belgian came the fighters
Flying high against the night
Curly Thompson saw them coming
Closing in before he died

And the young men shot them down
Below the bomber's moon
Shot them down in flames
Below the bomber's moon

Young men sending young men
To their graves
Saw them down
Into the North Sea waves

'83 in Bomber County
Mrs. White dusts the picture and she cries
Chalkie White in uniform
Looking as he did the day he died

For God's sake, no more bomber's moons!
No more young men growing up to die too soon
Old men sending young men out to die
Young men dying for a politician's lies

For God's sake, no more bomber's moons!
No more young men growing up to die too soon
Old men sending young men out to kill!
If we don't stop them, then they never will

No more, no more bomber's moons
No more, no more bomber's moons
No more, no more bomber's moons
No more, no more bomber's moons......




A child's picture: http://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/school/tolstaprimary/images/bombers/alice.jpg


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 05:26 PM

Alan...that was absolutely beautiful...Thank you

And Guest...only *I* could get Churchill's words back to front!
Thank you for correcting me.

Sorry Winston! ;0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: LesB
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 07:06 PM

Lizzie, Tom Bliss has written a song about his Dads experiences as aircrew during the war. An excellent song.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lancashire Lad
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 07:13 PM

Glad I was able to help out on this Lizzie. Sadly all too few people know Mikes real talent as a songwriter. Too many prefer to fire cheap shots at him for his radio show. Sure he never plays all the things I want to hear, but neither would anyone else. The British folk scene would be a lot poorer without him

Cheers
LL


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 05 Jan 06 - 07:18 PM

Thanks for posting all of this. It's like ripples on a pond, an incident occurs (in this case loss of lives on both sides)at the centre and the ripples spread out leaving no part unaffected.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 02:28 AM

Mike Harding is without doubt a very fine songwriter and a very talented musician, this doesn't make him a good radio presenter.

eric


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 10:51 AM

Who claimed that it did?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: alanabit
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 12:19 PM

It seems to me that there are simply not enough radio shows catering for minority tastes. I have not lived in the UK for over twenty years, so I have never heard Mike Harding's radio show. However, it is inevitable that if one man has to be BBC's "folk DJ", a lot of people are going to be disappointed with what he either knows or chooses to play. The more presenters there are, the more gaps will be filled. Sadly, the demands of modern radio mean that "folk music presenters" are a low priority. It is the BBC and other channels which need more hectoring from us - not Mike Harding. We still have internet programmes like Britfolk, The Acoustic Stage, Hober etc If enough of us go for those, the big boys will have to wake up.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST,Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 12:37 PM

It's true, he is a very talented songwriter. He has written some good plays. He has sang lots of traditional songs and played tunes on a number of instruments better than most. He is a fantastic enthusiast and promoter of folk lore, song and music. He is extremely funny.

He was a great President and advocate of the Ramblers Association. His books on walking, containing his own photographs, are very good.

He is a genuine and all round nice bloke. People who don't like some of the music he plays in an hour once a week have every right to complain about his choices but please don't missjudge and undervalue him.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 02:09 PM

Hmm.... as ye sow, so shall ye reep

One of the reasons the song ain't as well known as it should be, the best version I ever heard of it, was by the late great Doug Porter of Derby.

Doug's manly tones and his ex-service man background fitted this song like a glove - both in terms of natural empathy and natural ability.

Of course Doug's delivery was not nearly traddy enough to ever gain the respect of the middle class tripe hounds who put together radio programmes. Doug had the typical working class person's love of country music.

Harding got his big break sneering at American country music, and this activity remains a staple belief of the English traditional folk music - George Jones is insincere and laughable singing about his drink problem and failed marriages, whilst Martin Carthy telling of his close shaves with the press gang - oh they are dead sincere!


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 03:10 PM

With due respect 'weelittledrummer' above, Mike Harding....and Mike Harding alone inspired me to write my 1,369 words above...and they literally poured out in minutes, purely because of how his song, and the tender way he sings it, affected me.

Much as I appreciate that other singers can 'cover' songs sometimes better than the original, I know that no other person could ever touch me in the same way that Mike has with this song. It is entirely his....and....it is quite exceptional.

This thread is about Mike Harding as a musician. He gets enough criticism elsewhere for other things. But what I hear on his CD is a talent that I didn't know existed, and one for which he should be duly recognised and praised.

Many thanks,

Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 04:08 PM

"Harding got his big break sneering at American country music,"

In what sense is this true? It is not about breaks it is about talent and hard work.

"and this activity remains a staple belief of the English traditional folk music - George Jones is insincere and laughable singing about his drink problem and failed marriages," Look, you either like a song or you don't that all their is, to paraphrase M. Carthy.

whilst Martin Carthy telling of his close shaves with the press gang - oh they are dead sincere!" Nobody, least of all Carthy believes they are the people in the songs they sing.

Why do have to bring such ignorance, aggression and unpleasantness to this place?


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 04:24 PM

Oh..and Les B above, I forgot to say earlier, many thanks for telling me about Tom Bliss's song...I've only just discovered Tom's music very recently. I shall pop over to his site and try and find it.

Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 05:00 PM

I've just seen too many brilliant artists excluded from the English folk revival - some of them dead now like Dougie and Roger Brooks.

rochdale cowboys- of course all country music based artists are halfwits - some like Jack Hudson have to put up with the sneers of being a 'pseudo yank' - that's how sneering!

the point is that Carthy and a dozen others less talented believe they can empathise with a period in history when working people were treated like pigs.And so we get the current crop of songwriters singing of rosy cheeked maidens at the hiring fair, and the currently very popular Kate Rusby thing about a collier ladddy going off to fight. In it way dressing these characters up in a Laura Ashley dress is the ultimate insult to generations who lived too hard.

one in 3 marriages end in divorce, binge drinking is an epidemic. But its quite a while since the rigours of factory overseer's lash impinged on anyone. So who IS singing the folk music for today George Jones or Martin Carthy?

I'm entitled to ask an intelligent question. theres no bitterness, unless its for the neglected geniuses who entrusted their talent to a folk revival that turned their back on them. the only bitterness is in your bluster.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 05:34 PM

I think you should start a new thread WLD....it would be very interesting to hear what others thought of your ideas...but it will get totally lost in this thread though.

Why not simply call it 'Who IS singing the folk music of today?'..go on...if you don't I will! ;0) It would be a great thread and I'm sure you'll get loads of people replying to it...and I can think of loads of answers for you, but I'd rather keep this thread to Mike Harding's music if possible.

Thanks

Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 05:44 PM

Thanks for the plug Les. It's called 'Someone Upstairs' and it's on the Silverlode album, Lizzie.

[http://www.turnstone.tv/someoneupstairs.html]

I don't sing it much these days - a lump jumps into my throat in the intro and then I can't reach the top notes!

John Waller, who's chief booker at the Topic folk club, has a haunting song called Liberator in which the ghost of an airman meets the girl who pulled him from the wreck, and who he would have married if he'd lived (I may have got that slightly wrong - must dig out the album).


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 05:46 PM

Thanks for the plug Les. The song you mention is called 'Someone Upstairs' and it's on the Silverlode album, Lizzie.

[http://www.turnstone.tv/someoneupstairs.html]

I don't sing it much these days - a lump jumps into my throat in the intro and then I can't reach the top notes!

John Waller, who's chief booker at the Topic folk club, has a haunting song called Liberator in which the ghost of an airman meets the girl who pulled him from the wreck, and who he would have married if he'd lived (I may have got that slightly wrong - must dig out the album).
Tom


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 05:59 PM

Good grief - what an unusual website!

I mean...

Good grief - what an unusual website!

Sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lancashire Lad
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 06:14 PM

Sadly there were many excluded from the English folk revival, but likewise there were many excluded from the "British invasion" of early / mid 60s American pop culture and likewise the skiffle craze or the 1970s punk explosion. Ultimately not every artist gets the credit they deserve, or that we believe they are due.

Anyone slagging off Jack Hudson is a fool. He has a genuine songwriting gift. This was present for all to see on his early Folk Heritage LPs in the 1970s, and it is just as obvious if you listen to his recent "Elvis is alive and Well" CD. Hopefully we now live in more enlightened days where we are not so snobbish to exclude performers due to an appreciation of American influences. And if someone still holds that point of view, their blinkered life must be considerably less richer.

Moving back to Mike Harding, Mike "served his time" working the folk circuit around the north west for many years as a musician and general humourist.... long before the Rochdale Cowboy was even conceived. As much as I dislike that song (and most comic songs in general), I don't think it was in any way a "sneering" attack at country music, merely one of his daft songs.

With regard to his radio show. the point of attack should be Radio 2. Mike Harding has a brief that his show should appeal to a wide cross section of the folk audience, and he manages to that regularly. To my ears, he may well play more Irish music than I would personally want, but I am sure there are those who say he plays too much English music, American music or whatever. It's purely down to our own personal taste. As with TV programmes, all we have to do is switch channel. The BBC provide a wide range of folk and roots programmes accross the local network. In this digital age, all we have to do is log on and listen. Additionally there are now numerous independent net based radio stations playing folk music. All we have to do is tune in.

Returning to the topic of this thread which is Mike's talent as a songwriter. The album Bombers Moon is a fine album containing a handful of truly memorable tracks. Bombers Moon itself and The Accrington Pals are genuinely moving to hear. Likewise, the covers on the album are excellent. His version of Dave Goulder's January Man is faultless, while his version of Eric Bogle's "Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is the equal of the original and up there with June Tabor's as a classic cover version.

If eople care to check out some of his other songs from other albums, you will see the gift has always been present (even though often hidden behind comic monolgues and gags). For evidence see early recordings of Jinny Bobbin, The Lancashire Lads, The Mills of the Valley, etc.

As for weelittledrummers question about who is singing the folk songs for today, I would offer up Dick Gaughan, Robb Johnston and Billy Bragg.

Well that's my two penneth

Cheers
LL


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 06:33 PM

Thanks Tom,

I've just read your lyrics and a shiver went through me!

http://www.turnstone.tv/someoneupstairs.html

And yes....I'd love to find the lyrics to Liberator somewhere as well...had a quick search but nothing so far.....

I've a 'strange' story as well, although it doesn't involve a song, but is along slightly similar lines.

Years back I worked as a medical secretary to a Cardiologist. As a child he'd watched 'Reach For The Sky' one day in the cinema. He was smitten by Douglas Bader, stayed in the cinema all day and watched the film over and over. He vowed there and then that he was going to be a pilot when he grew up. Many years later he joined the RAF and was a highly succesful pilot.

He later trained as a doctor, becoming a very highly thought of cardiologist. And one of his most precious patients turned out to be....Douglas Bader.

He looked after him for many years and was his cardiologist right up to the end. It broke his heart when Sir Douglas died, but I always thought it was so fitting that the young child in that cinema grew up, not only to be a pilot who based his whole attitude to life on Douglas Bader's, but also ended up being his friend and doctor as well AND being there for HIM at the end of HIS life. Two lives intertwined at different stages.

How strange some things appear to be, yet they always seemm to happen for a purpose...and how lovely that your grandfather survived Tom, against some inexplicable odds and that you became a musician and singer, able to write the song of his story and pass it on for many others to hear. And how strange that it is Mike's father who has brought us all together in here......

Everything in life happens for a reason I believe, no matter how sad or joyful....it all leads us into the 'next room'...and beyond....

Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jan 06 - 11:20 PM

"Never, in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many, to so few."
Churchill was talking about Fighter Command, after what became known as the Battle of Britain. Bomber Command's time, and great sacrifices, came later in the war.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 07:13 AM

Great story about the cardiologist and Douglas Bader, Lizzie! Whewre do you get them girl! Though the devil in me spotted straight away the "funny" in it... Did ya all geddit?






scroll....
















scroll....






It was the bit where the cardiologist's heart was broken at the death of DB...

OK, perhaps not so funny at second read... Sorry - back to the thread.

One of the characteristics of folk music that I particularly love is when it mirrors life, especially the lives of ordinary people being in extraordinary circumstances, because it shows the capacity of each and everyone to do heroic things. The stories in this thread alone give material for a dozen songs. Well done Lizzie and all.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 07:34 AM

well i realise that I'm old and grumpy and my ideas ain't exactly fashionable.

However you seemed interested in the song. so I thought that it might be of interest to know that there was this guy called Doug porter. he had no time for me or my music, and he wasn't a friend.

But he lived in Derby and he ran the local folk magazine. he was a a helluvva singer and guitar picker - much better than most of the people on the stage every folk awards nonsense night.

He gave most of the second part of his life to folk music. he did a fantastic version of Bombers Moon, and for whatever reason - he was never booked for any of the larger festivals, and if he was ever played on the folk radio - it escaped my attention. Which seemed to me a pity then , and it still does.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 07:43 AM

I didn't spot that one George...trust you!! ;0) I hope you're busy writing those songs down though! Count me in for the CD.

I met Douglas. He was very brusque with me at first and then one day he had some tests that needed to be booked up. Dr. S. hurried off to see his hospital patients and I was left alone, in my small office, to arrange said appointments. Douglas sat right opposite me, on the ultra-smooth leather armchair, waiting for dates and times to be written down for him.

Suddenly I hear a thump! I look up to see him on the floor right in front of my desk! He'd literally 'slipped' off the chair! He sat there staring hard at me.....I sat there staring at him....PANIC!!!!!   

'Reach For The Sky' played through my head in a matter of seconds....and I recalled his tough character, his sheer bloody-mindedness and his gruffness...so, I took a deep breath and said "What the HELL are you doing down there!!"....then I stopped breathing for a second or two and waited.....

He threw back his head and screamed with laughter, then he winked, pulled himself straight back up onto the chair with his immensely powerful arms and sat there chuckling away whilst I finished what I was doing.

After that he was always exceedingly warm and friendly towards me. He always laughed at and defied any advice he was given, by any doctor anywhere! I think he just enjoyed coming to see everyone! He was determined to live his life the way he always and he did, right up until the very last moment.

Dr. S. knew that whatever he advised would be completely overlooked and I think that's why he admired Douglas so very deeply.



Been listening to Mike again today and LL is right, there are so many other songs on that CD that need to be heard. 'Accrington Pals' 'A Small High Window' and 'These Poor Hands' are all quite beautiful...but I haven't got time to write about them this morning!


Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Jan 06 - 08:00 AM

Folk songs of today?

It took me four corrections to get that sentence correct, what does that say?

Who's today? The Bush/Blair voter, the unemployed, the yoof, the burger flipper, the person with HIV, ....................... lots of todays, lots of things to say.

The 50s Folk revival happened for all sorts of reasons but one was the empty pop/rock of the early fifties. Rock today has a lot more to say, Arctic Monkeys, Rap even if you don't like some of the things it says.

Lots of old songs come from a time when lots of people did the same kinds of things on the land perhaps that's why the songs survived. Some old somgs come from the Industrial Revolution and have a lot to say about the lives of those people.

What am I to sing today? I guess songs I feel comfortable with. I feel silly singing some old songs in the same way I would if I sang blues. In turn I feel ill at ease when Mancunians sing American Country or blues but it's up to each of us to decide.

Great songs like great literature have more than the some of their parts:

So, come all you maids that go a courting
Listen now to what I say
Their is many a dark and stormy morning
Turns out to be a bright, sunshiny day

or

Too soon to be out of my bed
Too soon to be on this bus queue caper
Searching for change for my picture paper
On Monday Morning

And just to show that I haven't lost the thread (?) completely, who wrote this, where was he, when was it and why does this song matter?

See how hunger has eaten the faces
Tired flesh to the bones just clings
There's dust in the lungs and the bodies are twisted
This is the valley where Cotton is King


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 06:37 PM

Al, it's never old-fashioned to alert others to an unknown artist, and from your description I for one would like to hear some of Doug Porter's work.

However, it might have gone down a lot better if you hadn't, in the process, tried to slag off Mike Harding and others. Chips on shoulders hardly ever get you anywhere, and the whole music business is a matter of different tastes anyway. As has been said before - some make it deservedly, some make it undeservedly, and some never make it, much as we may regret the fact.

So, where can I find Doug Porter material?


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: alanabit
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 02:45 AM

"King Cotton" is one of Mike Harding's finest songs from his early days. I used to have it on an album along with another fine song, "Jimmy Spoons", which was about a former WWI soldier, who was known for playing childrens' songs.
I have always liked the man. One thing I liked in particular, is that he seems to be even more passionate now than when he was a younger man. Most people move in the opposite direction.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 08:21 AM

'Sometimes evil becomes too great ...'.

Alas, as long as there are people (good or bad, right or wrong) who think there is a need to fight, there will always be bomber's moons.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 06:48 PM

Mike's 'A Small High Window' is beautiful too....here are Mike's words about it:

"A SMALL HIGH WINDOW

When I was seventeen I worked scaling industrial boilers for a Northern firm. One of the places we worked in was a massive steel foundry in Manchester. There was a window high in the far wall of the sheds, that let the only bit of light into the foundry cavern, where huge steam hammers pounded red-hot steel into shafts for giant turbines and cranks for ocean going ships. There was a boy there the same age as me. He, like me, was crazy on cycling, climbing and rambling the Pennine moors. On hot summer days locked in that noisy dark prison, we could see through that small high window the far shimmering hills where we both so much wanted to be. I was lucky, I got out. I suspect that he didn't - I often wonder what happened to him. This is his song."

It's such a gentle song....and you can sense his yearning, as he gazes up at that tiny bird singing by the window

"..How I wish that I could fly, free as that bird, out to the moor...."

And to me this song is about escaping anything. You can take Mike's 'small high window' with you, wherever you go in life and at times when things get too much, you can 'fly' right through it and onto those moors, where you too can be 'Freedom's King' Where all troubles are left behind and there is just you and acres of space, vibrant yellow gorse, tumbling rivers foaming wildly over the boulders and sweet, fresh air.

I wonder what he would have done without that window being there, to give him the glimpses of freedom? It seems those glimpses kept him going until Sunday, when he was free to roam wherever he wanted, for as long as he wanted. Perhaps that's what gave him his deep love of the environment.

And 'The Accrington Pals' is so moving. All those men from one town joining up together in WWI and so many dying together, shortly after. It never ceases to amaze you how stupid politicians can be...I mean, didn't they ever think of what could happen!

"..1916 came the call. 'We need more lads to battle with The Hun. Lads of Lancashire heed the call. With God on our side the battle will soon be won.' So they all came marching to the beating of the drums, down from the fields and the factories they'd come. Smiling at the girls who came to see them on their way...they were marching, marching, marching away, The Accrington Pals.

Blue sky shining on that perfect day. A lark was singing high above the sun. Brothers, pals and fathers lay, watching that sweet bird sing in the quiet of the dawn. And they all went walking out towards the howling guns, talking and laughing, calmly walking on. Believing in the lies that left them dying in the mud. And they're lying, lying, lying still The Accrington Pals...."

http://www.pals.org.uk/pals_e.htm

Imagine the dreadful pain in that town........

In my town recently we lost just one young man and the town's pain was palpable.

The headline in last week's Sidmouth Herald screamed out 'Killed For Keeping The Peace' It reported on the court case of the murder of a young man in Sidmouth, who died the Friday before Folk Week 2005 trying to 'keep the peace' He like so many others in the past was trying to stop his brother from being killed, but not in a World War this time, but in my small, sleepy seaside town. He was killed by a Samurai Sword which cut straight through his ribs and his heart. Another young man killed him. Just like in Mike's 'Bomber's Moon' This time though, he wasn't dropping bombs but drunk out of his mind.

"Young men growing up to die too soon....Young men sending young men to their graves...."

Are our 'Bomber's Moons' rising in the sky twice as quickly as they once did? It seems, at times, that we are now at war with each other. We no longer even need to think of each other as 'the enemy' in order to kill one another.

One young man again, sacrificing his life for a brother, his own brother, just like The Accrington Pals.

The wall of flowers that appeared on the spot where young Matthew died last year, showed the pain, of friends, family and strangers...

But is this REALLY what those terrible wars were for?

"No more young men growing up to die too soon...If we don't stop them, then they never will..."

Lizzie


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Polite Guest
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 10:50 AM

The first song I ever heard that made me realise Mike Harding was far, far more than 'just a writer of comedic songs' is now on Youtube, for all to here, so, I thought I'd share it with you.

It's Beautiful...

'Bomber's Moon' on Youtube




Bomber's Moon by Mike Harding:

"'44 in Bomber County
Young men waiting for the night
In the hedgerows birds are singing
Calling in the falling light

And the Captain says
"Tonight there'll be a bomber's moon
We'll be there and back
Underneath a bomber's moon
A thousand bombers over the Northern Sea
Heading out...out for Germany"

Chalkie White stands at the dartboard
Curly Thompson writes to his wife
Nobby Clarke and Jumbo Johnson
Are playing cards and smoking pipes

And over the hangars rises a bomber's moon
Full and clear, rising as the engines croon
And the planes, they taxi out on to Runway Five
And sail off out, into the silvery night

Sandy Campbell checks his oil gauge
The Belgian coast is coming soon
Curly Thompson lifts his sextant
And lines up on the bomber's moon

And the waves are shining there
Beneath the bomber's moon
Lancasters flying high
Below the bomber's moon
Rumbling in along the Belgian coast
A thousand silver shrouded ghosts

Flak flies up around the city
Jumbo Johnson banks his plane
Goes in low and drops his payload
Turns to join the pack again

And people are dying there
Below the bomber's moon
The city's a raging hell
Below the bomber's moon
The planes head out
Towards the Northern Sea
Young men coming home from victory

Over Belgian came the fighters
Flying high against the night
Curly Thompson saw them coming
Closing in before he died

And the young men shot them down
Below the bomber's moon
Shot them down in flames
Below the bomber's moon

Young men sending young men
To their graves
Saw them down
Into the North Sea waves

'83 in Bomber County
Mrs. White dusts the picture and she cries
Chalkie White in uniform
Looking as he did the day he died

For God's sake, no more bomber's moons!
No more young men growing up to die too soon
Old men sending young men out to die
Young men dying for a politician's lies

For God's sake, no more bomber's moons!
No more young men growing up to die too soon
Old men sending young men out to kill!
If we don't stop them, then they never will

No more, no more bomber's moons
No more, no more bomber's moons
No more, no more bomber's moons
No more, no more bomber's moons......


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music/
From: GUEST,eliza c
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 12:55 PM

WLD, why pick on people who have managed to do well if your problem is that people are unable to do well? It is not MC's fault that the people you admire have not gotten the work that they undoubtedly deserve. Anyway, Dad isn't a folk singer, he's a singer of traditional songs, and sometimes he writes more contemporary material but it isn't his strength. He believes that traditional music has lessons to offer, that's all, nothing to do with imagining he's being pressganged; contemporary echoes in arcane poetry and experience.
Making a meritocracy between two different genres is disingenuous. He works hard to have the small amount of recognition he gets in the field he has chosen, is a committed musician and humanist, as as such has inspired people, not playing at some foolish, whimsical costume drama in his head. I know there are people out there that do that, but he isn't one of them and as a rule has trouble understanding those that do, just the same as you.
I like George Jones, and Brad Paisley, and Vince Gill, and the more modern country stars like Gillian Welch. In all seriousness, modern folk music is to be found in the likes of the Arctic Monkeys or Reverend and the Makers,
x e Dizzie Rascal, the Gorillaz, or Scroobius Pip. My generation still hasn't quite engaged with current politics but there are people like Karine Polwart around with a keen eye on what's going on if you like things more acoustic, and the scene is much more geared towards making a career these days if you are prepared to work hard and make a professional product that people want to buy. Which is a weird old trap in itself, there's not a great deal of room for real traditional music, but then it's a commercial scene these days and that's what happens.
Back on topic, sorry everybody, I hadn't heard that song before either, and it is gorgeous. Thanks Lizzie.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: irishenglish
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 01:00 PM

Eliza....well put as usual, coincidently while listening to your dad and Swarb doing Byker Hill! BTW, any idea when your new one will be available in the US?


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: nutty
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 01:23 PM

Well put but 2 years out of date.

Still , it's nice to hear a daughter defending her father.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 01:31 PM

Martin Carthy is a fine singer.
to me what matters is the music people make not what label they have.
Sara Carter another fine singer, who cares whether she is folk or country.
wait...do I hear Jim Carroll,a coming...hangman slack thy rope slack it for a while...


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 02:16 PM

Only two kinds of music - the stuff you like and the stuff you don't. But that old weired stuff it is a bit special isn't?


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Rumncoke
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 04:35 PM

My Dad was aircrew, and used to like to watch the old films about the RAF - but you could see how he was affected when one of the aircraft did not return - the ground crew and staff waiting and watching long after there was no possible hope of them coming back.

He used to work on Lancasters, I think also on the Manchesters, rocket firing Typhoons, the pathfinder Mosquitoes, and the American Dacotas. He had a reputation of being able to find faults and was sent over to the American squadrons to get their aircraft started when their mechanics failed.

He spoke about the German fighter planes - Stukas, I think, lying in wait for the bombers just as they came in to land after a sortie, and the satisfaction of putting in disguised ac-ac guns to blast them before they could do damage. One of them straffed the bicycles laid in a heap by the dispersal, which put the ground crew in a distinctly bad mood, having to walk miles around the airfield.

I think he would have liked Bomber's moon - though it would have come as no surprise that there would be one, there would have been no need for an announcement.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 05:59 PM

There is an ex-bomber-pilot who sings in folk sessions around Edinburgh and Midlothian, called Chris Egan. I only knew about that part of his life when a German visitor came along to the same session and he said "I've been to Germany but I only saw it from 10,000 feet behind a bombsight".

Chris does slow soft country ballads, mostly Willie Nelson numbers, singing very softly, with an utterly minimal guitar technique that just uses his thumb, and with a radiant sincerity that carries every word and note across. He can reduce the noisiest bar to absolute rapt attention in a few bars, even when the audience never ordinarily listens to that kind of music (as I don't). He hadn't been to Sandy Bell's for years when I invited him along to the Sunday Scottish trad session I'm a regular at. It's a hell of a noisy place, but he did the same there.

He used to gig regularly in the local area, but he's never really tried for much of a career in music - he's made a CD but you have to ask repeatedly to get one out of him. I feel honoured that he let me have one.

And I've never heard him slag another musician off.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 10:31 AM

here is a first world war song written by Dominic Williams.http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ5xZQVkhak


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: davyr
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 10:39 AM

"He spoke about the German fighter planes - Stukas, I think"

Messerschmitts, probably, Rumncoke - Stukas were dive-bombers.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: glueman
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 10:56 AM

One theme that keeps recurring on this site is bitterness about 'recognition'. Many of the people I admire working in different media and genres are marginal figures of one kind or another. The fact that I love what they do doesn't blind me to the knowledge they are an acquired taste, or they lack crossover appeal or fall between stools of one kind or another.
If people pursue a passion with an expectation of appreciation there's a good chance they'll be disappointed, it doesn't matter how 'talented' they are, popularity and genius were never easy bedfellows.

Perhaps it's time we stopped criticising people based soley on their public persona. Mike Harding isn't my cup of tea but I respect that he's done more good than harm for the tradition.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 11:13 AM

Hear, Hear

But wait till I point out to Richard Bridge and Jim Caroll this quote from Eliza's post (with which I agree by the way): "In all seriousness, modern folk music is to be found in the likes of the Arctic Monkeys or Reverend and the Makers, x e Dizzie Rascal, the Gorillaz, or Scroobius Pip".

I shouldn't, I know I shouldn't, but the devil in me...


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Banjiman
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 11:15 AM

George,

Not like you to light the blue touchpaper..............









I do agree though!


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Silas
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 11:19 AM

Quite right! Modern folk music may well be. Look at the way Bob Fox sings Big River.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Silas
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 11:25 AM

However, that does not stop me preffering 'traditional' or at least 'traditional stlye' folk music.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 11:42 AM

Lots of uncomfortable things going on in this thread:

I've not heard 'Bombers' Moon'. Very impressive words - but a wicked part of me says, if you want to get 'em going, you can't beat a song about the tragedy and futility of war.

And even though it's no doubt a terrific song (by Mike Harding even ... no further comment!) is it a folk song?

And is the great Eliza C. really saying "all music's folk music, I ain't heard no hoss etc.". Oh dear, I hope not ...


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: GUEST,Trev
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 12:36 PM

On the question of "Today's Folk Music", whil;e I agree that rap etc probably has more to say these days than many feel folk does, do people actually 'cover' other rap tracks, do people sit around a piano in their local all having a merry rap-along to 'White Lines" or "Ice Ice Baby"?

I recall Dick Gaughan once saying something like the problem with writing about contemporary issues in a 'new' folk song is that it takes time for the song to become known and then the subject matter has moved on.

Perhaps one of the strengths of folk is in using old material, or material about the past as an 'everyman/woman/person' rather than making it specific to today. Doesn't mean we can't try, tho'.


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Subject: RE: Mike Harding's Beautiful Music
From: Rumncoke
Date: 19 Jun 08 - 11:17 AM

Yes - you are right it was the Messerschmitts that lay in wait for the bombers - the Stukas got the bicycles though - they carried three bombs with wailers on, and they had sirens on the planes so they made a noise when diving - they also had four machine guns.

My Dad was nicked by a bullet that day - he had the scar just above his left eye.

An inch more towards the centre and I wouldn't be here.

When he got back to his billet he found his bed covered in rubble - until then he'd been grumbling about having to turn out early that day to get shot at and bombed....

It might all be hitory to the kids, but I'm not dead yet, or I wasn't when I checked last and I'm old enough to have had a ration book.


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