This gives me an excuse to talk about the New England folk singer Ruthanna who began releasing albums in the mid-1970s. I've been stalking her work on ebay for some time and was able to spend some Christmas money to pick up her second album, the live recording Radiant Circle.
There is surprisingly little about her on the web, possibly because she is very much around and the music-sharing web-sites are reluctant to share her albums. On e-bay she's sold as 'weird folk' and much of her stuff is gospel influenced - although her own MySpace website hints at a bit of a spiritual journey, possibly away from the church. Her first album sells for 50 dollars.
If you collected the Ancient Star Song site's Christmas albums you would have picked up her collaboration with the Catholic priest Richard Ho-Lung - the astonishing Star Lullaby.
I would say she's somewhere between Joan Baez and an Appalachian singer and fits neatly into the genre of remarkable New England musicians that includes Dana Lee Price and more recently the Innocence Mission.
Anyway Radiant Circle, which I am still playing on continuous loop, includes a version of 'Pack Up Your Sorrows'. It's more derived from the jingle-jangle Joan Baez version than the Parchment rendering - which, like so many Parchment interpretations, seems to have been utterly unique and was a deeply moving adaptation of the song.
Ruthanna uses an instrument called the lute-guitar and that may be responsible for some of the tingly backing music on the album.
Here's our last report on Pack Up Your Sorrows
Friday, January 14, 2011
Monday, January 03, 2011
It seems it could be a Gaelic melody, rather than an English one, as the writer John Macleod Campbell Crum was the son of a Gaelic speaking wealthy Scottish business family. Crum himself spent his adult life in England as a Church of England clergyman, according to the programme.
The programme, number 11, features a stunningly beautiful acapella Gaelic version of the song, known as Èirigh Bileag Ur Ghorm. You may be able to find it on the BBC iPlayer if you're quick. Failing that Alba's website has another, equally glorious, rendition of the Gaelic version of the song, performed by a band, and you may find it by following this link and selecting the song title.
Parchment's high acid folk version of the song has attracted the interest of collectors in recent years as we recorded some six years ago.
* I have just spotted that an anonymous poster on this site last year suggested the melody was very similar to a French carol. The band always recorded the song as "traditional" as I recall. So did Crum borrow from a French carol - or did a French carol composer borrow from Crum?