Song of the Day, June 15: The White Hare by Shirley Collins and the Albion Band

CollinsWhiteHareToday’s song is a wonderful rendition of a traditional British musical theme. The White Hare of Howden — also cited as “from Oldham” and without a location — is an old song (Roud 1110), collected by the redoubtable Percy Grainger in 1908. Many folk singers have recorded it in the century since. The Watersons created their own version for their 1966 debut. Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick merged that approach with the original chorus on 1968’s But Two Came By. When Shirley Collins and Ashley Hutchings assembled the first Albion Band for No Roses in 1971, they used the Carthy/Swarbrick version.

It’s a classic hunting song, relating the chase in boisterous detail. As with many of these songs, the quarry is mystical (often the case with white animals), proving hard to catch. Collins is joined by Lal and Mike Waterson and Young Tradition’s Royston Wood in a rousing vocal performance that captures the fun energy of the song.

Enjoy this delightful performance today.


Album of the Week, March 27: Robert’s Desert Island Discs

RBHSJDIDBadgeToday’s entry is something a little different. As I was looking over the almost 200 albums I have featured over the years, I asked myself the question that drives the famous BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs: If I were stranded on an island, which discs would I be sure to have with me?

The task proved more daunting than I imagined, so I established a few guidelines and started over. These parameters made the selection a little bit easier.

  1. Original, legitimate releases only: no bootlegs, re-issues with bonus tracks, or any other chicanery to pad the offerings.
  2. Enjoy every track: If this is all I ever get to listen to, it had better be great. A perfect test case is Rubber Soul: it’s an unquestionably brilliant album, but if I had to listen to Michelle or Girl more than once a month, I’d throw myself into the shark-infested waters.
  3. Balance, balance, balance: I tried to embrace the breadth of my tastes and represent a good cross-section of the artists I love.
  4. When in doubt, favorite artists win: My collection includes several acts represented by one great album. In order to represent the artists whose whole catalogs I appreciate, I dropped the one-only artists. That included the hard decisions to eliminate Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, London Calling, Rumours, Blood On the Tracks, and I Am A Bird Now.
  5. Greatest hits: I pondered banning these as a corallary to rule 1, but decided to take them on their own merits. As it turns out, I didn’t wind up with any of these on the list, although I looked closely at a couple. In the end, rule 2 trumped them.

I set my album allowance at 13. Why that number? I could say that it represents the bad luck of being stranded on a desert island, but honestly trying to get to eight — the BBC number — was maddening. My list, my rules, so if this Gilligan-adjacent experience includes a weatherproof sound system, it has room for 13 discs.

Without further ado, here they are, in the order in which I finalized their placement on the list.

Richard & Linda ThompsonShoot out the LightsHIGH RESOLUTION COVER ARTShoot Out the Lights (1982, Hannibal) Richard & Linda Thompson
Surprising no-one, I’m sure, this was my first choice — brilliant lyrics, stellar playing, solid band, two of my favorite artists on one disc. Harrowing but hopeful, it captures the human spirit better than anything else for me. Linda delivers some of her best vocals and Richard some of his finest solos. If I had to pick 25 songs to take to the island (please, no!), at least four of them would be from this album.

DifferentKindofLoveSongA Different Kind of Love Song (1983, Appleseed) Dick Gaughan
Another easy choice for me, with some of the best protest music ever written. Gaughan is in fine voice and his guitar work is impeccable. It’s a collection of often dark songs with a shining heart beating at its core. The title track sums things up brilliantly, and inspired me to write an essay for Michael’s blog on the importance of looking at the darkness if we want to get to the light.

AbyssiniansAbyssinians (1983, Topic) June Tabor
June Tabor had to be on the list, but picking the album was tricky. This is my favorite by a narrow margin, and includes a stunning cover of a Waterson song, so it won the day. As Elvis Costello has famously observed, if listening to June Tabor’s voice doesn’t move you, give up music. (Bonus fact: She has worked as a librarian and restaurateur, so she covers the bases of my passions nicely…)

Robyn_Hitchcock_-_I_Often_Dream_Of_TrainsI Often Dream of Trains (1984, Hannibal) Robyn Hitchcock
Another artist I had to have on the island, but a tougher choice. The Soft Boys’ Underwater Moonlight and the Egyptians’ Element of Light are co-equal with this disc for me. It came down to the essence of the album. The spare setting of Trains lets Robyn shine through in all his eccentric glory.

LastWordThe Last Word (1992, RNA) Gregson & Collister
Another nice package, with two of my favorites on one album, both at the height of their powers. Clive Gregson’s observations about life and love are timeless, and this set includes a couple of tracks written with Boo Hewerdine, another favorite. Christine Collister has a wonderful voice that sometimes gets over-emphasized on her solo discs. Here, the production is flawless.

MitchellC&SCourt and Spark (1974, Asylum) Joni Mitchell
One of the few commercial successes on my list, it’s a little jazz, a little pop, a little folk, all tied together by the singular talents of Joni Mitchell. It also features her finest vocals, not as airy and bright as her earlier work and not as Cohen-adjacent as her later. All of that, and songs about David Geffen and James Taylor! What could be finer?

Til_Tuesday-Everythings_Different_NowEverything’s Different Now (1988, Epic) ’til tuesday
A sentimental favorite, this is an album I play when I’m feeling lost. It’s a powerful look at relationships and how they go wrong — and right. It landed at just the right time for me, providing insight and outlet as I worked through my own issues. Aimee Mann found her lyrical voice, presaging her later solo work. The band is crisp and smart, lending power to the songs. This is as close to flawless as 80s pop gets.

yaz-you_and_me_bothYou and Me Both (1983, Sire) Yaz(oo)
Speaking of 80s pop… A quick look at my Songs of the Day reveals my fondness for the music of my teen years. As I’ve aged, my favorites tend to be the more obscure music, especially synth-pop and smart dance tracks. Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke perfected both. Their brief collaboration as Yazoo (Yaz in the States) turned out two fine albums. This is the better of the pair by a safe margin. Creative synth work, good lyrics, and Alison Moyet’s rich, wonderful voice — magnificent!

FogelbergInnocentThe Innocent Age (1981, Full Moon / Epic) Dan Fogelberg
Not quite the first album I ever bought — an honor that goes to Helen Reddy’s Long Hard Climb — I consider this the launch of my serious music collecting. It’s also a great collection of songs, singer-songwriter magic at its most compelling. Fogelberg gets pigeonholed as an AC balladeer, but his songs could rock, jig, or soar as well. This beautiful song cycle, created as a cradle-to-grave series, shows off all his talents to great effect. A sentimental and musical favorite, packed with hits.

watersonlOnceinaOnce In A Blue Moon (1996, Topic) Lal Waterson & Oliver Knight
The only reason the extended Waterson family shows up this late is that it was nearly impossible to pick one album. While a stay on Waterson:Carthy island would be delightful, Rule 3 demanded a choice. In the end, a dash of Rule 2 combined with the fact that Lal Waterson is one of my favorite songwriters ruled the day. A brilliant set of songs told in her distinctive style with sympathetic support from her talented son, it’s one of the rare albums that I’ll sometimes put on repeat. As an added bonus, Some Old Salty wraps up the album with a good old family sing-along, sneaking some talented relatives onto the island. Family runners-up included Martin Carthy, Bright Phoebus, Norma Waterson, and Red Rice.

Fairport_Convention-Liege_&_Lief_(album_cover)Liege & Lief (1969, A&M) Fairport Convention
Another tough choice. Fairport belonged on the list (although the Richard Thompson double-dip almost got them cut), and What We Did On Our Holidays is my favorite of their albums. This is a close second, however, and Rule 3 brought it home. A pioneering disc, creating the trad-rock genre, it shows the band at the peak of their powers and adds more traditional British music to my island mix.

FearingIndLulIndustrial Lullaby (1997, True North) Stephen Fearing
Another Rule 3 decision, made with great difficulty. I encountered three very different modern folk talents in the same year (1993) and they form a musical trinity for me. Stephen Fearing, Patty Larkin, and Ellis Paul have unique voices but could easily share a stage. (I’d pay to see that!) Since they weren’t here to play rock-paper-scissors, the decision came down to the sheer poetry — lyrical and musical — of Fearing’s album and its astounding cohesion.

TriffidsCalentureCalenture (1987, Island) The Triffids
I had five albums left on my list, and the Triffids dark masterpiece won the final spot. This album is the least like anything else on the list (with Yaz coming in a close second), a strong rock sound with a uniquely West Australian perspective. Urgent and compelling from start to finish, it’s one of the strongest Rule 2 albums in my collection. It didn’t hurt that the title refers to hallucinations caused by too much time at sea.

There you have it, my island playlist is complete. Before I close, I’d like to acknowledge the many amazing artists that bring me musical joy who stayed safely on dry land: The Bats, Peter Blegvad, Nick Drake, the Finn Brothers in all their incarnations, Jethro Tull, the extended McGarrigle – Wainwright family, Stephin Merritt and his many projects, Oysterband, R.E.M., Spirit of the West, those mentioned above, and many more. I’m VERY glad that I don’t have to make this choice as anything but an interesting exercise.

Finally, a note of farewell to my Album of the Week feature. I truly enjoy writing these pieces — and there are certainly more albums to explore — but the limits of my time, collection, and budget demand closure. It seemed fitting that I bookend the regular features with two Richard & Linda Thompson albums and close out these posts as my Jukebox celebrates its fifth anniversary. I will continue my Song of the Day every weekday and Saturday Time Capsules; I may also add an album now and then as inspiration strikes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the music of my island is calling…

Song of the Day, January 9: The Bird by Lal and Mike Waterson

Lal and Mike Waterson in a bar. Mike with guitarToday’s song is an outtake from one of the finest hidden gem albums of all time, Lal and Mike Waterson’s Bright Phoebus. When the siblings got together to record their original material while the full family band was on hiatus, they had more material than they could use. The final result was sublime, but the songs that got left behind — most of which fortunately survive as demos — are magnificent in their own right. The Bird is a distinctly Waterson song. Celebrating the power of nature while acknowledging its darker strength, it’s a masterful distillation. Lal sings of the bird in the tree outside her window, marvelling in its ability to make a home wherever it lands but bemoaning the happy song it whistles in the face of her personal despair. Open, aching, and flawlessly delivered, this is a brilliant song that would have been right at home with its contemporaries.

The bird does wrong, love,
To whistle in the morning
And sing those strange sweet songs in his tree
Isn’t that a wicked little bird
To sing those terrible songs to me?

Enjoy this bittersweet ode today.

Song of the Day, July 23: The Pretty Drummer Boy by the Watersons

WatersonDrummerGarlandToday’s song is The Pretty Drummer Boy by Lal and Norma Waterson. They recorded it for the Watersons’ third album, A Yorkshire Garland. Since the track only features the two sisters, it was re-released on the CD version of their duo outing, A True-Hearted Girl.

An old traditional song [Roud 226], it features a standard motif, the woman who dresses as a man to enlist in the army or navy. This powerful tune, however, avoids the tropes of a secret lover or a tragic pregnancy. The Pretty Drummer Boy carries off her disguise without a hitch, admirably carrying out her duties.

With a fine cap and feathers, likewise a rattling drum
They learned her to play upon the rub-a-dub-a-dum
With her gentle waist so slender, and her fingers long and small
She could play upon the rub-a-dub the best of them all

Enjoy this delightful song today.

Album of the Week, July 13: Once In A Blue Moon by Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight

watersonlOnceinaRBHSJDIDBadgeSiblings Lal and Mike Waterson brought the band back together with their stunning one-off project Bright Phoebus. The Watersons, including sister Norma and adding her husband, folk legend Martin Carthy, so enjoyed working together on the project that they restarted their recording career. Over the next two decades they recorded four wonderful albums of traditional music and a number of side projects. In 1996 the extended family produced three amazing albums: Norma Waterson’s transcendent solo debut, the first disc by Waterson:Carthy (featuring Norma, Martin, and their daughter Eliza Carthy), and Once In A Blue Moon. Lal had compiled enough original songs to record a new disc; her son, Oliver Knight, provided flawless musical backing and production, resulting in a disc that rivals Bright Phoebus for originality and sheer brilliance.

Title Once In A Blue Moon
Act Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight
Label Topic Release Date 1996
Producer Oliver Knight with John Boyes (track 3) and John Tams (track 9)
U.S. Chart  n/c U.K. Chart  n/c
  1. At First She Starts
  2. Flight of the Pelican
  3. Stumbling On
  4. How Can I Leave?
  5. Altisidora
  6. Dazed
  7. Phoebe
  8. Cornfield
  9. Midnight Feast
  10. So Strange Is Man
  11. Wilsons Arms
  12. Her White Gown
  13. Some Old Salty

The album is less folky and more minimalist than its predecessor. Knight’s production work has always focused on the spaces around the notes, and the uncanny musical connection that he has with his mother makes that approach shine. The only other regular performer on the disc is reed player and occasional singer Jo Freya, a long-time family friend and perfect foil for the stark soundscapes created by Knight’s guitar work.

Things open powerfully with At First She Starts. It’s a typically enigmatic Lal Waterson lyric, evocative and embracing. Charles O’Connor lends a nice fiddle part to the mix, enriching the engaging energy of the song. While all the songs work on multiple layers, the balance of the tracks fit into three categories.

Most like her songs on Bright Phoebus, three of these are naturalistic vignettes. Flight of the Pelican is a yearning song of peace, freedom and love, achingly crafted. Phoebe is a dark, mysterious meditation that shows off Knight’s contributions nicely. It segues into the nostalgic Cornfield, a track that manages to be both wistful and joyous.

Three more tracks are snapshots, self-contained stories that rise above their literal framework. Her White Gown feels like a generational narrative, a sequence of mothers and daughters seen through a singular prism. It features one of Lal’s most subtly compelling vocals. Dazed is the lone track with an outside writer, based on a poem by Rimbaud. Capturing hungry children looking through a baker’s window it’s perfectly structured and the Waterson/Knight arrangement underscores the lines of the poem perfectly — it feels as though Rimbaud wrote it for Waterson to sing. Altisidora has quite a different inspiration, a painting by nine-year-old Laura. Waterson captures the creative energy of childhood delightfully and Freya’s jazzy clarinet work moves things along evocatively.

Five of the songs deal fairly directly with various aspects of romance. How Can I Leave? is a charming amble of need and independence with great contributions from Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy. Stumbling On is one of the best suffering-from-a-bad-breakup songs ever written, enigmatically painful and perfectly delivered. It features a great harmony vocal from Marry Waterson, Lal’s daughter. Wilsons Arms blends the naturalism of much of Lal’s work with glimpses of a romantic interlude in one of the most effectively simple presentations on the disc. So Strange Is Man is an aching love song from a mature woman, a perfect glimpse into how lives grow together even with the spaces between us. Midnight Feast is one of the best songs Lal ever wrote, a lusty metaphor that celebrates physical love flawlessly.

The disc ends even stronger than it began, with Some Old Salty. An a capella number with a sea chantey flavor, it draws together all the strands of Lal’s musical approach. Part dance hall nostalgia, part quirky traditional harmonies, part love song, part ode to nature, it’s a joyous romp that wraps up the whole package with a celebration.

FURTHER LISTENING: Lal died before she and Oliver could complete their next collaboration, but they had recorded enough material that he was able to release A Bed of Roses, another strong set that only comes in second because of Once In A Blue Moon‘s haunting power. Since then, he’s built on the musical structure of their work. Mysterious Day, officially a solo album, is a solid set of songs (including more lyrics written by Lal) with a stunning array of guest stars. It included a duet with sister Marry, which led to their forming a musical partnership. Her lyrics and vocals are eerily reminiscent of her mother’s while maintaining a clear identity of their own. The Days That Shaped Me is a bit inconsistent as the siblings work out their family ghosts and find their groove — the high points are very satisfying indeed, however. Hidden is a much stronger, more cohesive offering, promising a wonderful continuation of this family tradition.

Song of the Day, February 13: To Make You Stay by Lal and Mike Waterson

LalMikeStayToday’s song is To Make You Stay by Lal Waterson, taken from the brilliant album she recorded with her brother, Mike, Bright Phoebus. The disc is a wonderful sampler of their songwriting skills, filled with stellar guest stars but anchored by the siblings’ powerful talents. Lal sings this unadorned song with backing by Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy on guitars and Ashley Hutchings on bass.

It’s a quiet plea for someone not to leave while also acknowledging the need for independence. With the naturalistic imagery frequent in her songs, it fits the family’s traditional folk mode while being distinctly Lal’s own work.

Don’t you feel happy when it’s all done?
Don’t you feel sad when you’ve lost someone?
Dear, dear stay till the dawn comes in;
Teach me to be a summer’s morning.

Enjoy this beautiful song today.

Song of the Day, November 26: Lal Waterson’s Reply to Joe Haines

NormaReplyToday’s song is Reply to Joe Haines. When Queen singer Freddie Mercury died, journalist Joe Haines wrote a scathing article about him in the Daily Mirror. Filled with faulty assumptions, rabid homophobia, and smarmy self-congratulation, the piece was a vitriolic misery. Lal Waterson was so enraged that she took to her craft and wrote an open letter to Haines which she later set to music. Shortly after Lal’s untimely death in 1998, her sister Norma included a cover of the song on her second solo album, The Very Thought of You. She describes the song in the liner notes.

the white knuckle fury of my sister Lal’s Reply to Joe Haines (originally called An Open Letter to Joe Haines) which is just that. A reply to the iniquitous article written by that man on the subject of Freddie Mercury’s disclosure that he was HIV positive (indeed that he had full blown AIDS) and which the Daily Mirror saw fit to print.

It’s a perfect description, and Norma sings it with a cold anger that does the lyrics proud. As with most of the album, it is half of a song pair, with Mercury’s Love of My Life from the band’s brilliant A Night At the Opera providing a beautiful counterpoint.

Read your letter, tore the page
Wondered whether to write in rage
Then I thought it better to use your trade
No-one should ever die of AIDS

Enjoy this powerful song today.

Song of the Day, September 12: Fine Horseman

SillyHorsemanToday’s song is Fine Horseman, written by Lal and Mike Waterson. The siblings included it on their brilliant album of original music, Bright Phoebus. Lal’s vocal is both dreamlike and anarchic, creating a jarring but beautiful sound that is perfect for the song. It’s a celebration of nature and its wild power mixed with distinctly English images and a sense of being pulled along by forces beyond one’s control.

Your dreams among my dreams
Blue seas amongst sunbeams
Shades of yellow, shades of green
These are your dreams among my dreams
Fine fine sparrow, fine fine horseman.

The song has been covered many times, including a lovely reading by reclusive folk singer Anne Briggs and a driving cover by Dayteller on the tribute disc Shining Bright. The most stunning version is by Maddy Prior and June Tabor, on their second album as Silly Sisters, No More to the Dance. Their powerful, bittersweet harmonies have never been better and the use of each voice together and alone is masterfully arranged. Dan Ar Braz provides the perfect guitar accompaniment. Capturing the dark dream flawlessly, the pair manage a performance at least equal to the compelling original.

Enjoy Lal’s brooding original and the Silly Sisters’ haunting interpretation today.

Album of the Week, June 2: Bright Phoebus by Lal and Mike Waterson

brightphoebusThe Waterson siblings — Mike, Norma, and Lal — grew up in a musical family. They were surrounded by all kinds of songs: classical, jazz, big band, pop, and more. They also heard the traditional English songs of their native Yorkshire. In the late 50’s they toyed with forming a skiffle band, but soon dropped that idea. Joined by cousin John Harrison, they switched to a cappella versions of traditional folk songs. Their harmonies were powerful and unique and their love of the music shone through in every note. They quickly became a major force in the folk revival of the 60s. They released three albums in two years and appeared on many compilations. By 1968, tired of touring and concerned with the uncertainty of raising families on folk wages, they took a break. Norma followed a boyfriend to Montserrat where she became a DJ. Mike and Lal stayed in Yorkshire, where they discovered that each had been writing their own poems and songs while pursuing other jobs. They decided to collaborate on an album of original material; thus was Bright Phoebus: Songs by Lal & Mike Waterson born.

Title Bright Phoebus
Act Lal & Mike Waterson
Label Trailer Release Date September 1972
Producer Bill Leader
U.S. Chart  n/c U.K. Chart  n/c
  1. Rubber Band
  2. The Scarecrow
  3. Fine Horseman
  4. Winifer Odd
  5. Danny Rose
  6. Child Among the Weeds
  7. Magical Man
  8. Never the Same
  9. To Make You Stay
  10. Shady Lady
  11. Red Wine and Promises
  12. Bright Phoebus

Once they got started, they assembled a crack team of singers and musicians to join them. Norma was back in Yorkshire; her new beau and future husband Martin Carthy joined the party. Guitarist Richard Thompson contributed to most of the tracks; his former Fairport Convention bandmates Dave Mattacks and Ashley Hutchings were the rhythm section for several songs. Tim Hart and Maddy Prior (Hutchings’ and Carthy’s cohorts from their time in Steeleye Span) contributed a number of guest vocals. The all-star approach together with the unique writing of the Waterson siblings resulted in one of the finest underappreciated albums of the 70s.

Things kick off in fine fashion with Mike’s Rubber Band. Rife with wordplay and joyously energetic, it’s a rousing choral tune that rings with lovely harmonies. The full band is in place, making it clear that this isn’t a typical Watersons disc. The addition of a jaunty brass section makes the Yorkshire via New Orleans feel complete. Up next is a distinctly English song, the haunting The Scarecrow written by Lal and Mike together. Its mystical tone and agricultural setting make it seem like a part of their traditional repertoire, with Mike’s aching vocal adding to the timeless quality. It’s one of the finest songs on the album and has been covered many times. Lal’s Fine Horseman is next, keeping with the traditional feel and mystical bent. Mysterious and powerful, it’s one of Lal’s finest vocal moments.

Things shift in tone again with Winifer Odd, a character sketch of an aptly named woman. Lal writes and sings her story, in which nothing ever goes quite right. Poor Winifer is even snubbed by Death, left behind with her sad life. Up next is Mike’s Danny Rose, another fictional biography. This character is a notorious criminal, and the song reads like a 30s crime story from Chicago. It’s nicely crafted and deftly explores the public fascination with flashy ne’er-do-wells. Side one of the original LP wraps up with Child Among the Weeds, a duet between Lal and fellow folk luminary Bob Davenport. A quirky but ultimately uplifting lullaby, it presages her later work with son Oliver Knight.

The second side opens much like the first, with a full chorus number about an entertainer. Magical Man, written by Lal and Mike, is a fun look at stagecraft. Switching narrative point of view between the astounded audience and the supremely confident performer, it’s nicely crafted and delightfully sung. Never the Same is one of Lal’s darkest songs, a look at the many ways that people crush the joyous spirits of children. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. To Make You Stay is a romantic song, a plea for a lover to remain. Lal is in especially fine voice on this track as well, backed by a simple guitar and bass figure.

The final trio of songs are different forms of celebration. Shady Lady is Mike’s entreaty to a woman to make the most of her life and not hide herself away. It’s another choral treat, with all the voices coming together to urge her to “take a chance.” Red Wine and Promises is another true standout, even in this company. Lal composed a magnificent song that June Tabor has introduced in her shows as “a song of somewhat vulgar independence.” That sums it up nicely. Sung beautifully by sister Norma, it’s a declaration of the self, wonderfully rendered.

The siblings saved the best for last with the title track. Mike credits the inspiration to a flash of sun caught out of the corner of his eye. That moment led him to write a powerful, jubilant celebration. With everyone joining in, it’s an amazing song of hope.

Ironically, the album that got the Watersons recording together again was poorly received. Fans wanted traditional, unaccompanied songs. With Martin Carthy replacing John Harrison, the quartet began providing just that, releasing a number of wonderful albums over the years. Mixed with various side projects, the family discography is impressive. Despite — or perhaps due to — its starkly different nature, Bright Phoebus remains a singularly fine element in that canon.

FURTHER LISTENING: Over the years, many tracks from Bright Phoebus have been covered by a wide variety of folk, pop, and rock acts. Scarecrow, Red Wine and Promises, and Fine Horseman have had especially robust careers. For the album’s 30th anniversary, producer and graphic artist David Suff assembled a loving tribute collection. Shining Bright features fifteen songs (including two versions of the title track) by a wide variety of friends, family and fans. They cover eight of the original album’s songs as well as six other lovely tracks written at the same time. It’s a great companion piece.

Song of the Day, December 19: Memories by Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight

LaliverBedMemoriesToday’s song is Memories by Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight. After the mother and son duo recorded their stunning collaboration Once In A Blue Moon, they began work on a follow-up. Sadly, Lal died of cancer before the project was finished, but Oliver was able to use her vocals and assemble a lovely album, Bed of Roses. It’s a strong set of songs that provide a fine coda to Lal’s distinguished career and sets the stage for Oliver’s later work solo and with his sister, Marry Waterson.

The first track is a lovely introduction to the disc and takes on added poignancy with Lal’s passing. It’s a celebration of life, acknowledging that the highs and the lows are both needed to appreciate the whole. It also speaks to the need for companions — especially family — to truly enjoy the journey.

All that is mine is my mother and father’s line
And the day and evening time
It’s such a fine little line
Caught up in the hall of time
Then the day and the evening collide

That’s when your memories catch fire
Without those memories you’d be a soulless child
Pounding on the door
Like a lost lover
Scrounging on the shore

Enjoy this beautiful song today. As an added bonus, here is a live version recorded by Marry Waterson with Oliver Knight and Eliza Carthy at a Lal tribute in 2007. Marry’s vocals are hauntingly like her mother’s in this performance.


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