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Singing the Fishing 1959

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Ewan MacColl 1915 - 1989
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Singing the Fishing 1959
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Ballad of the Big Ships

"When we left school, that was sea or jail for us ..."
- Sam Larner

singingthefishing1959.jpg

The story of herring fishing in England and Scotland from the 1880's to the 1950's.
A beautiful recording to send shivers up your spine. Much based on the life of Sam Larner, who tells of how he started on board a sailing ship when aged about 12 in the 1880's.The blending of actuality, speech and song has never been surpassed. The songs were written based on interviews and speech patterns of those interviewed, and have a real feeling of "traditional" song. They are not just incidental, but really help the action along. "Shoals of Herring" is perhaps the most famous song from the programme, but all the songs are pure imagery.

Winner of the Italia Prize (documentary category) for 1959. (TSCD 803)

A' the week your man's awa'
And a' the week you bide your lane
A' the time you're waiting for
The minute that he's comin' hame
Ye ken whit why he has tae work
Ye ken the hours he has tae keep
And yet it's making you angry when
Ye see him just come hame tae sleep

Through the months and through the years
While you're bringing up the bairns
Your man's awa' tae here and there
Followin' the shoals of herring
And when he's back there's nets tae mend
You've maybe got a score or twa
And when they're done he'll rise and say
Wife it's time I was awa'

Work and wait and dree your weird
Pin yer faith in herrin' sales
And oftimes lie awake at nicht
In fear and dread of winter gales
But men maun work tae earn their breid
And men maun sweat to gain their fee
And fishermen will aye gang oot
As long as fish swim in the sea

A' the week your man's awa'
And a' the week you bide your lane
A' the time you're waiting for
The minute that he's comin' hame
Ye ken whit why he has tae work
Ye ken the hours he has tae keep
 And yet it's making you angry when
Ye see him just come hame tae sleep

The words by Ewan MacColl , set to a traditional Scots tune, manage effectively to convey the quiet despair of the fisherman's wife resigned to the frequent absence of her husband without lapsing into self-pity nut rather extending an underlying feeling of pride at her lot in life

1. Up Jumped The Herring, The King Of The Sea

2. Come All You Gallant Fishermen

3. It's Up With The Dawn

4. Years Ago, You Started Very Young

5. I Started To Go To The Sea In 1892

6. So It's Off With A Boiler Full Of Steam

7. When The Wind Is Freshening

8. What Shall It Profit A Fisherman
 
9. It's Busk Ye, My Lads, Get You Up On The Deck

10. There's No Feeling Like Coming Into Harbour

11. Came A'ye Fisher Lassies

12. Up Jumped The Herring

13. Cwa, Ye Herring Fisherman

14. A' The Week Your Man's Away

15. Wi' Our Nets And Gear

16. Our Ships Are Small

Sam Larner1878 1965. fisherman, singer
Sam Larner 1878-1965. fisherman, singer

influence on Peter Bellamy

Now Is The Time For Fishing

Singing the Fishing
BBC Radio Ballad No 3

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