English folk songs. A bit out there but…

English folk songs. A bit out there but…

I am particularly partial to English folk songs and dances. I am currently in college and taking an introductory music class. I get to pick a song to sing in front of the class, although it has to be a pop song.
I was wondering if anyone might know of any English folk songs that are considered more traditional but modern enough to be qualified as pop? I know that sometimes artists like to take old songs and modernize them. Just wondering if anyone knows of anything out there… thanks.
Wanderer

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Thanks so much AB (I feel like we’ve been interacting quite a lot tonight!) Will check them out.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

This seems like a very strange assignment to me. If I were a student there I would be asking for a definition of both ‘traditional’ and ‘pop’ before I could even begin to imagine how to fuse them. I can’t think of one true English ‘pop’ song that is also truly traditional, well not unless The Beatles are now accepted as part of English traditional music. But if your task is to sing in the style of a pop song, will you be singing with backing? I couldn’t imagine it working without it. There have been many pop tunes that *sound* traditional but are in fact modern. I was thinking of the likes of ‘Colours’ by Donovan (Yellow is the colour of my true loves hair). But you would have to have say, guitar or banjo backing for it. It *sounded* traditional and it went into the English charts in the 1960’s. Finbar Fury sings a great version of it. The problem with that one though is that Donovan is actually Scottish, so does that count? When I was student at uni I would never start an assignment until I had forced the person who was going to mark my efforts define*All* the terms. That way they can’t hold you responsible for their own misunderstandings.

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Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Gobby, it’s music.
Music does not need to be difficult. Neither folk, nor pop. It is all music.
Love & peace, man.

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Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Thanks Gobby. To clarify, the assignment is to sing a pop song, but I was looking for something that was also folk because I like it. The backing would be piano (my teacher plays piano and said she is willing to learn anything her students are interested in).

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

I have a great liking for Beeswing by Richard Thompson, Crazy Man Michael, also by RT [and following AB’s suggestion theres that Sandy Denny/Fairport link]. A lot of RT’s earlier songs could almost be considered English trad.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Did you listen to Bellowhead? Spiers and Boden?
how about The Imagined Village?
they do traditional songs, rewritten/changed to better fit the current times.
listen to original version of My Son John and TIV version.
then listen to Tam Lin version by Fairport Convention - granted more Scotish than Engligh material.
then listen to TIV version 😉
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bIvFg5fXUM

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Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Tamlin and crazy man micheal are the 2 that come to mind . Tamlin Is in a weird rhythm and loads of verses !! Classics though

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Scarborough Fair.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Laura Marling’s songs are definitely pop but have a folk mood, if that makes sense? Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer also did an album of Child ballads arranged so they sound more modern. Love the suggestion of Beeswing!

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Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Thanks. Will check these all out!

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Steeleye Span too: "electric folk" but some of their’s got under the "pop" radar. All Around my Hat for example: the album of that name reached no 7 in the UK Album Charts in 1975. The song reputedly dates from the 1820s.
(Cross-posted with David50)
Ralph McTell - "Streets of London" - reached no 2 in the UK chart (pop) singles in 1974. Although comparatively modern, it is in trad style.
And yes, look at Bellowhead and that ilk.

As for defining "pop" or "traditional" - thousands have tried and failed to agree!

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Donny Osmond had a hit in the ’70s with ‘Shanagolden’. A few words were changed, as was the title, but it was the same song. He called it ‘The Twelfth of Never’.

In my defence, I was totally unaware of this until yesterday, when a load of old videos showed on TV; I was truly shocked by the whole unfortunate experience, and outraged by the lack of respect.

Good luck if you try that one; might be best to wear body armour.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Donny Osmond …….called it ‘The Twelfth of Never’.

Johnny Mathis had a hit with the same song about 10 years before. So, it was called that already.
🙂

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Jaysus! thats me playing the almost inaudible tenor banjo……………..

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

You had a fine head of hair then, Christy.
🙂

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

I was going to say that I thought Day Trip to Bangor was English Musical Hall rather than English folk. But I checked and Wikipedia says it was newly composed.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

still have - only its gray now!

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Thanks for letting us know, Christy!

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Wow! These are all such great videos. I think my favorites of these are "The Day We Went to Bangor" and "Ghosts." Thank you so much for all taking the time to give suggestions.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Another vote for Scarborough Fair. It is the combination of traditional and pop most likely to be familiar to your professor and classmates. The Simon & Garfunkel version was a major hit. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200. Dooo eeet.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

The Byrds recorded “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

I love "Wild Mountain Thyme!"

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Take a look at Spiers and Boden, their material may be up your alley.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Sorry, I obviously read and took your post too literally. I mean, "Wild Mountain Thyme " is not an *English* folk song is it? (or am I wrong? Surely it is Scottish?). Day Trip to Bangor is obviously contemporary, what with all those wheels going round and the bottles of cider etc. It’s about a coach trip. Still, it’s a good song, and I recon it qualifies as (I believe) it was adapted from a the truly traditional English folk tune, "Captain White’s Jig"… https://thesession.org/tunes/2134

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Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Yes, I’m pretty sure "Wild Mountain Thyme" is Scottish. Still a great song though.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Aha, you’ve touched on a raw nerve there, Wanderer. Scottish or Irish? Read all the debate here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Mountain_Thyme Didn’t Rod Stewart get into some legal wrangles when he recorded it as "traditional"?

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I’ve been travelling, but thanks for all these additional videos. I had to laugh at your "soooo baaad" title, though, Johnny. My teacher is a woman in her mid to late 60s so may or may not find this one amusing…

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Anything by Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span (The Wind That Shakes the Barley is good). Rod Stewart recorded an English folksong some years ago that was very popular, can’t remember the title.
Beth

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

If you want to err on the side of pop, in terms of stylistic references, rather than actual songs, you could do worse than listen to the Dixie Chicks (don’t judge me 🙂 ) . Depending on your definition of folk music, and mine is quite broad, they take songs from a folk-type idiom and make them very poppy. Truth No 2 is a good example.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

How about ‘Gaudete’ and/or ‘All around my hat’ - both recorded by Steeleye Span.

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Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

AAMH already been suggested further up the post, Bazza!

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Gaudete !! Wow a blast from the past. Brilliant song , I’m going to search for it on you tube. Thanks for that reminder

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus,
Ex Maria Virgine, gaudete.
One of the few advantages of doing Latin at school! Have the full lyrics if anyone wants them.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Wow, I remember Gaudete too, from back in my early years of discovering Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and Steeleye Span back in the day. Thanks for the memory jog.

I went through so many years of listening to that stuff, and later bands like Capercaillie and Altan, while being sidetracked into other music genres like Blues guitar. I enjoyed it, but never thought I could play that music. Now lo and behold, in my 50’s and 60’s it’s the music I play now. Who would’a thunk it. I sure didn’t. I should have started on this stuff a lot earlier.

Re: English folk songs. A bit out there but…

Popular song ! I spent half hour going through some of the list, thought the choir in the stairwell was one of the best . Love the harmonies with the kings singers . All sorts of versions ! One with heavy metal guitars ! One with modern beats ! Lots of acapella