This is a live solo performance from back in 2001. Kate was already such a polished presenter of traditional songs.
Kate recorded this song with a band on her 1999 CD ‘Sleepless‘. It was re-recorded in 2002 for her tenth anniversary collection ‘Ten‘.
This song is a version of #215 in Francis James Child’s famous collection ‘The English and Scottish Popular Ballads’, generally known as ‘The Child Ballads’. I believe the tune is Kate’s own.
This is from a 2001 performance, in the days before Kate played with a polished backup band.
Kate learned this traditional song from Nic Jones and recorded it on her 1997 album ‘Hourglass‘. I think Nic had learned it from some old Scottish versions and had changed a few of the lyrics to make them more accessible to modern English audiences (although I still like the line ‘turled low on the pin’). Nic recorded a very jaunty version of it on ‘Penguin Eggs‘, but I like his live versions better.
You can find out more about the song at ‘Mainly Norfolk’ here.
Kate’s version is on ‘Hourglass‘. Her website is here. Nowadays she mainly sings her own original songs, but I still love her traditional songs best of all.
There have been a lot of people on Facebook recently sharing albums that shaped them when they were teenagers, which is quite interesting. I thought I’d also like to share my current ‘Top Twenty’ – in alphabetical order by artist surname, with the proviso that I will not let myself pick more than one album per artist. These albums are by the artists I currently play the most and consider essential to my musical well-being and inspiration.
- Nicola Benedetti: ‘Vaughan Williams/Taverner’
- Billy Bragg: ‘Tooth and Nail’
- Anne Briggs: ‘A Collection’
- Matthew Byrne: ‘Hearts and Heroes’
- Martin Carthy: ‘Martin Carthy’
- Bruce Cockburn: ‘Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws’
- Maria Dunn: ‘Gathering’
- James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters & Lucy Ward: ‘The Liberty to Choose: A Selection of Songs from the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’
- Genticorum: ‘La Bibournoise’
- Nic Jones: ‘Penguin Eggs’
- Choir of King’s College Cambridge/Philip Ledger: ‘Orlando Gibbons: Tudor Church Music’
- Mark Knopfler: ‘The Ragpicker’s Dream’
- London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis: ‘Handel’s Messiah’
- Maddy Prior: ‘Seven for Old England’
- Jean Ritchie & Doc Watson: ‘At Folk City’
- Red Tail Ring: ‘Mountain Shout’
- Stan Rogers: ‘Northwest Passage’
- Kate Rusby: ‘Ten’
- Martin Simpson: ‘Kind Letters’
- Sting: ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’
Anyone else like to share their top twenty?
My favourite track from Kate’s album ‘Sweet Bells’.
Here’s our Kate with one of her Christmas songs.
Kate has two excellent Christmas albums, Sweet Bells and While Mortals Sleep.
Live recording from 1996; similar to, but not exactly the same as, the version she eventually recorded on ’10’.
Kate Rusby website
Interesting background information about the history of the song (including the controversy about just how heavily Bert Lloyd ‘edited’ it) is found here. Note my take on this subject here.
The oldest version of ‘The Blind Harper’ in Francis Childs’ ‘The English and Scottish Popular Ballads’ dates back to 1791, but there are undoubtedly older versions. Nic Jones recorded his version on his 1978 album ‘From the Devil to a Stranger’, and most recordings since then have been strongly influenced by his. Kate Rusby has never concealed the fact that she regards Nic Jones as her musical hero, and her version follows his pretty closely, although her musical arrangement is quite different.