Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor Singer!
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Singer! includes the 15 songs listed below; I've quoted Tom's (amusing & informative) liner notes for each.
Accompanying performers on Singer! are: The Friends of Fiddler's Green, comprising (in order of hirsuteness) Cherie Whalen, David Parry, Tam Kearney, Grit Laskin, Ian Robb, Alistair Brown & Laurence Stevenson; and Ken Whiteley.
This album is dedicated to David Parry, singer and consummate actor who deserved a much bigger role.
Click on to listen to a sample of the song. Click on the song title to see the lyrics.
- 150 Days Out from Vancouver. "C. Fox Smith was a fascinating woman and popular author of English Children's stories between the two World Wars. This song is based on her poem: The Ships' Good-bye; from a 1914 book of her poetry entitled: Sailor Town. Her knowledge and insight is profound. Thanks, Cecily, from all of us."
- Sirensong. "Why did and do sailors (of both sexes, nowadays) become sailors anyway?"
- New York Girls. "This early version (i.e. from before the polka arrived in the New World) is respectfully taken from Stan Hugill's: SHANTIES FROM THE SEVEN SEAS."
- The Widowmaker. "I clearly remember, as a small child, often hearing the BBC's words: 'Here is the shipping forecast.' I also remember the many who failed to return.
- Congo River and The African Trade. "Two songs of an industry which may not, even now, be defunct. CONGO RIVER was an 18th/19th century halliard-shanty. THE AFRICAN TRADE was just one of many commercial euphemisms in common usage around that time; when the vast majority of all slave transportation to the Americas was in Liverpool registered hulls; in defiance of the slavery prohibition laws extant throughout Europe and the British Empire, with the resulting, international, naval embargo."
- Somewhere Safe to Sea. "The chorus of this song, about two of my influences (London and Bellamy), is from THE GARDEN OF PROSERPINE by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) and quoted in Jack London's: MARTIN EDEN."
- The Busker. "Please spare a thought (and a coin) for purveyors of urban musical relief."
- Mother Carey. "Yet another fine example of MR. FOX SMITH's (as she was often reviewed) writing."
- All At Sea. "No matter how far from salt water, it seems that regretful 'never were' sailors abound -- and refuse to give up their dreams."
- Bully in the Alley. "My distinguished researcher worked overtime on this but still failed to confirm any of the legendary sources and references. However, SHINBONE was un-refutably, a whistle-stop town in the turn-of-the-century ALABAMA. Shinbone, Al. perhaps?"
- Swallow the Anchor. "Few indeed were the (Royal) naval ratings who escaped being tagged with a 'nickname'. Toughened exteriors often disguised soft-centres; a different interpretation of the term: Shellback!"
- Message in the Bottle. "To borrow from Marshall McLuhan: the garbage is the message!; as I realized on a beautiful, deserted Mexican beach."
- Tinker, Tailor. "If you sing along (or better yet, steal the song) then I'm doing something right."
- Shiver Me Timbers. "Investigating the reference to 'Martin Eden' in this classic from THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT album led me, circuitously, to SOMEWHERE SAFE TO SEA (ibid)."