I recorded this as a demo for a live project, not a future recording, but it struck me that this is a song whose time has come (again), and not altogether in a good way. It was written by Eric Gooding in the 1960s about a holiday job at the doomed Dorman Long steelworks on Teesside. If I remember rightly it was entered for the BBC’s ‘Songs of Grief and Glory’ competition, but not one of the winners. Well, it was my favourite…
Oddly enough, while I was a student at Bangor a few years later I was supposed to take a summer job at Middlesbrough steel works, but the agency cancelled it at almost the last moment. And now, with the closure of the SSI works at Redcar closing, parts of Caparo going into administration and Tata threatening redundancies, there doesn’t seem to be much left of what was once called British Steel. As Peter Bond said in another great song (Category ‘D’):
‘Its purpose served, the ironworks sleeps, and silence chokes the air…’
Also known as Southwind, The Southern Breeze, An Ghaoth Andheas, and so on. Has also attracted quite a few sets of words. Recently crossed my radar when working up some material with a ceilidh band, and I couldn’t resist trying it out. I may well vary the instrumentation for the ‘real’ version, but I quite like it with just guitar (though I’ve overdubbed here).
Sometimes attributed to O’Carolan, but I don’t believe there’s any proof of that, though Greg Clare tells me that it’s often performed along with Planxty Fanny Power (which I believe is O’Carolan) or Planxty Irwin (which is on my to-do list). The Fiddler’s Companion attributes it to Domnhall Meirgeach Mac Con Mara (Freckled Donal Macnamara) and includes Gaelic words and translation as well as much more information.
The world is not short of recordings of this very popular song. This is a variation on an instrumental version I recently rediscovered, having performed it quite a lot in the 70s. I plan to use a more polished version in a forthcoming project.
I find myself in an unusual position. (Steady! Not that sort of position.) I’ve played guitar and/or bass with ceilidh bands from time to time since the 1970s, but have never rehearsed with one until recently.
Which got me thinking that one or two tunes might fit quite nicely into a recording project I’m hatching. This is a sketch only for one possibility. It includes far too many guitars (probably one part would be a bass with just one second guitar to put in some sparse countermelodies) and the actual tune gets buried at some points: it’s just that this has some bits I wanted to keep for reference. I believe the tune was originally recorded in 1909 by Cecil Sharp from John Locke in Leominster. This interpretation is based on a vaguely-remembered recording from the 60s by Jon and Mike Raven. I think this was the record (with Jean Ward): SONGS OF THE BLACK COUNTRY AND THE WEST MIDLANDS.
I’m tempted to buy it, but then I’d have to learn the tune properly. 😉