Song of the Day, July 3: Happiness by Eliza and Martin Carthy

CarthyElephantHappinessToday’s song is a family affair. Martin Carthy has been performing and recording for over 50 years; his daughter Eliza  for two dozen. They’ve worked on a number of projects together, but never created an album as a duo. After Eliza’s wonderful 2010 duo album with her mother Norma Waterson, Gift, she and her father began to plan their own duo. After selecting 11 songs — mostly traditional — they worked up a method of preparing the tracks to keep them fresh. The Moral of the Elephant features vocals from both Carthys, Martin’s guitar, and Eliza’s fiddle, a spare sound that lets the songs speak for themselves.

A standout is Happiness, written by Molly Drake. Best known as the mother of Nick Drake, she was an unpublished poet and songwriter whose style had a significant impact on her son. Since interest in his work has surged in the 21st Century, some attention has come to her work as well. Nineteen songs that she played at home on piano were recorded by her husband, Rodney. They were released as Molly Drake in 2013, 20 years after her death.

Eliza observes that the songs are

full of an old Englishness, of musing and reminiscences, childhood, picnics in the woods, and emotional and humorous intelligence beautifully expressed to a piano I can’t help but see in a drawing room bathed in afternoon light. It’s all very romantic, and now never far from my stereo. I may be mellowing, she may be helping.

The Carthy duo create a lovely treatment of this sweet song. Enjoy their performance today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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