Congratulations to Matthew Byrne!

The album from which this song is taken just won the award for Traditional Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards! Congrats to Matthew Byrne for a richly deserved win for ‘Horizon Lines’!

(By the way, you guitarists, Matthew’s guitar is tuned to CGCGCD and he’s using a very hard flat pick).

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Matthew Byrne: ‘Nancy from London’

This wonderful traditional song appears on Matthew’s most recent album, ‘Horizon Lines’.

In my opinion, Matthew Byrne is the finest interpreter of traditional folk songs in Canada today. He learned his traditional songs the old fashioned way – from his mum, who learned them from an aunt, etc. etc. He has a wonderful singing voice, and a superb guitar-playing style. As a guitarist myself, I was amazed to discover that he plays with a pick rather than with his fingers; I’ve never have believed flatpicking could sound so much like finger-picking.

His website is here. Edmontonians – my friend Bill Werthmann tells me Matthew is on the list of performers for the 2018-19 season of the Northern Lights Folk Club. January 19th 2019!

Gregory Alan Thornbury: ‘Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?’

33877924Today I finished Gregory Alan Thornbury’s brilliant biography of Larry Norman, Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock. Here’s the response I wrote on Goodreads:

I was a Larry Norman fan in the 1970s and 80s but lost touch with him after that. I heard stories about his failings, but was never really familiar with his story. However, songs like ‘The Outlaw’, ‘One Way’, ‘Reader’s Digest’ and ‘The Great American Novel’ were permanently etched on my musical imagination and I continued to listen to the old albums with great enjoyment.

So I was excited when I heard about this book, and it did not disappoint. Larry Norman emerges from these pages as a real human being, one who struggles with weaknesses and failings as we all do. And yet, his influence on my life as a Christian and a musician was entirely positive, and I suspect thousands of others could say the same thing. Having heard some of the rumours about him I expected to think less highly of him after reading this book, but the opposite is the case. I will go back to the old records and listen to them again with more appreciation for the real human being who created them, and I will gladly own up to being a Larry Norman fan.

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? on Amazon.ca.

Here’s the song the book is named after:

And here’s another favourite Larry Norman song:

Be Mery and Glad This Gude Newyere!

Here’s a medieval New Year’s carol.

What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

“Lyft up your harts and be glad”
In Cryste’s byrth the angel bad;
Say eche to oder, yf any be sad:
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

Now the kyng of hevyn his byrth hath take,
Joy and myrth we owght to make.
Say eche to oder, for hys sake:
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

I tell you all with hart so fre,
Ryght welcum ye be to me.
Be glad and mery for charite!
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

The gudman of this place in fere
You to be mery he prayth you here;
And with gud hert he doth to you say:
What cher? Gud cher! Gud cher! Gud cher!
Be mery and glad this gude Newyere!

(From a manuscript from Balliol College, Oxford, MS.354. Described as ‘Richard Hill of London, commonplace-book in English, Latin and French, including transcripts of late medieval poems and carols, London annals, family memoranda, etc., first third of the 16th century.’ Original here. The Clerk of Oxford has a modernized text here.