Monday, 17 October 2011

FROM A TIME WHEN FOLK MUSIC WAS MORE REMINISCENT OF MARXIST PHILOSOPHY THAN CHIPPING NORTON SET CABARET

Just heard Nic Jones's eponymous debut album for the first time this weekend. Particularly struck by the early nineteenth century Bonaparte ballad "Napoleon's Lamentation":

Attend, you sons of high renown
To these few lines which I pen down:
I was born to wear a stately crown
And to rule a wealthy nation.
I am the man that beat Beaulieu,
And Wurmser's hill did then subdue;
That great Archduke I overthrew,
On every plain my men were slain.
Grand travesty, did I obtain
And I got capitulation.

Well, we chased them on the Egyptian shore
Where the Algerians lay all in their gore.
The rights of France for to restore
That had long been confiscated.
We pursued them all through mud and mire
Till in despair my men retired,
And Moscow Town was set on fire.
My men were lost through sleet and frost;
I ne'er before received such a blast
Since the hour I was created.

Well, in Leipzig Town my soldiers fled,
Mount Mark was strewn with the Russian dead.
We marched them forth, in inveterate streams
For to stop a bold invasion.
So it's fare you well, my royal spouse,
And offspring great to my adore,
And may you reinstate that throne
That's torn away this very day.
These kings of me have made a prey
And they've caused my lamentation.


Eat that Zizek.

Also, "We marched them forth, in inveterate streams" is crazy good isn't it? The whole thing is like Sympathy for the Devil crossed with Yeats's Easter 1916; an ideal mixture of hubris and pathos.

3 comments:

Stephen said...

Also check out Jones' "Pretty Words Lie".

Mr. W. Kasper said...

That has to be title of the week!

It's funny - when I was a teenager I'd dismiss folk as being for wankers. I realised I was wrong while it actually was being taken over by wankers. (OK that's a big generalisation, but you know what I mean).

Alex Niven said...

Cheers for the tip Steve, haven't heard that one.

Re the wankers, I actually don't think Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and co can be classed as "folk", even using a very broad definition of the term. There's still a pretty good politically-minded folk scene bubbling under the surface though - see for instance Chris Wood's choon about the Menezes killing, "Hollow Point", The Unthanks, etc.