Three Danish Galleys – the full studio recording

A Viking raid on an English village, with terrible consequences for both sides.

Collected over a hundred years ago, and described as ancient then, Three Danish Galleys tells the story of a raid by 3 Viking ships on the English village of Porlock in Somerset. You can read more of the story behind the song and lyrics here.

I have loved the song ever since it was introduced to me by my mate Dave McLoughlin, who has an incredible repertoire of folk songs and an amazing voice to go with them. I originally worked up the song on guitar in DADGAD tuning, often leaving strings open to create a slightly strange feel to combined chords.

I introduced it to lovely harpist Karen Jones (I thought it would sound better on harp than guitar) and she foolishly agreed to play it live and record it in the studio. We worked through my version of the tune with the chords I had used (the main ringing chord is a combination of Em and Dsus4) and change to the timing.

With the ‘base’ done, we discussed at length how the instrument could be used to help support and convey the story, and you’ll hear how the harp playing changes through the song – subtle but beautifully done.

I had a recording session arranged with Tsunami Sound studios, and so off we went with harp, drums and more. We got the whole thing down and rough mixed in one day, including the multi-layered vocals. The multiple drum tracks (middle ages style frame drum and bodhran) represent the 3 English ships that came out to fight the Vikings.

And the ‘çhurch bell’ that you can hear is a real instrument, not an electronic sample. OK, so it isn’t actually a bell, but a very posh metal salad bowl that I picked up for a few coins in a charity shop. I was in buying some camping stuff to take to a festival, and absently tapped this bowl sitting on a shelf as I walked by. Coming back past, it was still ringing – it had to be mine!

I pulled the stems together and did some comping and mixing at my studio. Then off to Jake Booth at Mordecai Records to weave his production magic.

So here it is – Three Danish Galleys.

Bandcamp – Listen for free, purchase to support the music.

Spotify

Apple Music

Amazon Music

It is the lead off track to the album Tales of Common Folk, Salt & Sweet Kisses, and you can read more about the album here.

Picture of Viking ships: Sjöhistoriska museet, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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The Day The Bank Closed Its Doors

It turns out this is a theme so many people can relate to, from all over the country and from many countries; a rural town no longer the thriving centre it once was. Symbolised by how the once fine and established institutions have abandoned the people there.

A while back, I was arranging a weekend trip not related to music and thought, why not see if I can get a gig on the way back?

So I contacted a few peeps I know along the route, and ended up bagging a gig at a small pub for Sunday on the way back. Result!

On the Friday, I was running ahead of time so stopped off to see where I was playing, and as I walked up to the door about 3 in the afternoon it opened. I had a nice wee chat with the landlady, then took a little stroll. What I saw was both shocking the typical.

Shops that are no longer shops – closed down long ago. A wide street once busy and bustling now totally empty. And at the crossroads in the centre, a huge, imposing bank building. With fine looking features and beautiful etched windonws.

Except, it wasn’t a bank any more.

The old bank building

The next morning I awoke early at a friend’s house. A little theme was running round in my head; the closing of the bank as a symbol for a town that is no longer what it used to be. All changed. The day the bank closed its doors for the last time.

Sitting up in my sleeping bag, I reached for pen and paper and started writing. There and then, the song was born.

And on the way back a day later, at the gig in the pub, I played it for the first time. The gig went down well and I happily emailed the invoice over the day later.

Since then I have played the song to many audiences around the country, and often I ask the audience to guess which town inspired it. What surprised me is how many different towns are shouted out, from the deep South to the Far North and almost everywhere in between.

The lyrics are pasted below – see if you can guess which town inspired the song.

You can listen to the song on all the usual platforms; For listening and to buy (Bandcamp), or take a listen on Spotify.

By the way, the pub closed down a few months after. I never did get paid for that gig.

The Day The Bank Closed Its Doors

For years it stood in the centre of town
Drawing folks in as they walked up and down
A castle to commerce, centre of trade

With unnatural high windows all etched nice and neat
Stone pillars and carvings commanding the High St
A cathedral where now there are none come to pray

[Chorus]
The day the bank closed its doors for the last time
The day the bank closed its doors x2

This town was once a thriving old place
The focus for folk who lived miles around
But the highway drove by, then took trade away

There were still plenty of sheep to shave
But the stores have all closed now thanks to Pak n Save
And the old hotel sign starts to peel and fade

[Chorus]

The station was the place for folk coming and going
Now windowless trains rumble by without slowing
Past the old village school, now childless and still

This town lost its heart and soul
The day all those doors closed
Though the name lingers on
So many have gone

Just letters on a plate by the speed limit sign
A word on the map by a big yellow line
The town struggles on while the world hurries by

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One Word War – the story behind the song

I remember just a couple of family stories about the First World War.

Grandad was in the medical corps, front line. He saw the worst of everything but refused to shoot back. There’s a silver cigarette case, swapped with a German officer during a brief lull in the fighting. There’s a bunch of letters his parents saved, but while they tell some interesting stories (an ambulance getting stuck in the mud on the way back to the front), they don’t say anything about what it was really like.

My great-great uncle was a crack shot, and designated sniper, according to my grandmother. She was his favourite niece, but only got him talking about the Great War once; his job was to shin up the skeletal remains of a tree and shoot anyone in the opposing trenches. “What if you saw a German sniper looking back at you?” He replied that it was the one who got his shots off first that lived. Can you imagine the stress, building day after day, year after year?

A while ago I was approached by the organiser of a major commemoration of the First World War slain. Did I have a World War One song? Well, umm, no, but that got me thinking….

I wanted to write from a personal perspective, real individual life rather than the usual ‘they went over the top and were slaughtered’ stuff. I had these two little pieces of story, but not much else. The few letters that have been passed down talk about what they had for Christmas dinner. But not the real, gory front line experiences.

So I struggled to get any more for the song I was writing.

And then it dawned on me. What the real theme / message was….

My grandad said it best, when his new darling wife asked about the war. Apparently he answered; “It was Hell. Absolute Hell. In fact, so bad, I’m never going to talk about it.”

And he never did.

One Word War is about how the experiences were so terrible, people came home but couldn’t talk about it. Carried it with them their whole lives and took it to the grave.

The Song

Imagine you are in a dugout behind the front line. Your companions are soldiers, just as exhausted as you. Someone starts playing a harmonica aimlessly. Then another strikes up, and it becomes a refrain. Then you sing a kind of a war poem (I have actually done this as a poem as well, and had people ask for copies and permission to perform it).

And it is only right at the end that as a listener you realise that the refrain isn’t made up, but a half remembered funeral march.

You can listen to One Word War (and buy the track if you would like to keep it while supporting the music) right here.

One Word War

The glint of the silver cigarette case
Exchanged with a man like me
A pause in the daily grime and blood
Then friend, back to enemy
Bodies in pain and pieces
You can’t guess who’ll live on
A bullet true or missing is
Just a toss of the devil’s coin

One shot – and heads or tails will fall
One word – about the terrible war
He would never say any more

Black and brass, barrel and bullets
Me job to pick off the Hun
In the sights a lad like me
One shot, and I’m alone
It could have been anyone given a gun
In trench or up skeleton tree
Nerves on edge, for years on end
Then home but never free

One shot – and heads or tails will fall
One word – about the terrible war
He would never say any more

We marched off under skies of blue
To foreign fields of green
Turned boggy brown, and bloody too
Now just a museum scene
Green grass came back while friends did not
Just young men sent to Hell
Now graves fill with silent stories
They would never tell

One shot – and heads or tails will fall
One word – about the terrible war
They would never say any more

The track is officially launched on 11th November, to coincide with Remembrance Day. But you can listen now.

Why wait?

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Awakes – the making

Pahiatua HospitalFor a week, around 20 musicians occupy an old, disused, hospital on the edge of a small town.

Late nights jamming and recording means walking around in near dark along echoing corridors with shadows at every turn.

And then there’s a statue. Moonlit. You just catch a glimpse of it through a window.

The wonderful way to approach the Outland Sessions, at least for me, is having no idea what you’re going to do when you arrive. Everyone gets to ‘lead’ a song, but you can collaborate with anyone and everyone. And I did!

Waking for the first time there, on day 2, I just had this germ of an idea. A malevolent ‘presence’, trapped in the statue for a long time, awakes. Sitting in my room at the tiniest desk known to mankind, I sketched out a rough ‘story’, complete with guide lyrics. I think in pictures, so the story unfolded as I typed;


A young lady wakes up in a hospital room. Drowsy, she puts on her shoes and opens the door. There’s nobody there.

She walks around, her footsteps gently echoing in the empty hospital ward, and slowly realises that the place is deserted. Closed down, like she has been asleep for too long and the hospital was abandoned, leaving her behind.

Then, quietly at first, she starts to hear sounds. Normal hospital sounds; the opening and closing of a door, a laundry trolley wheeled down a corridor. A tap being turned on and off.

Perhaps she is not alone after all. In the darkness.

She starts to feel uneasy. Who, or what, is in the abandoned building with her? At night. Did someone, or something, else awake when she did? Is it following her?

She finds a hiding place and locks herself in as slow, measured footsteps move down the corridor towards her, then fade as a door is opened and closed in the distance.

Then.

Silence. Silence, except for the sound of her own shaking breaths.

She opens the door. Peers as keenly as she can into the darkness left and right.

Then ….

[The song of IT]

What?

Am I awake?

Ah, I have been trapped so long in the statue, the coldness of stone.

Ah, I feel it. Yes, the echoes of this place. From my time. The time it ended. Faint glimmers of sound, but no light.

What?

Am I alone?

Ah no! I feel it. A presence. It is not empty. There is a trace. And I have been asleep so long, now I am hungry again.

[The song fades]

She walks in the near darkness, as quietly as she can, faint traces of moonlight the only help. Silver-white and cold.

From a doorway, a faint echo of an old fashioned tune played on piano. She creeps closer and for a few seconds she listens. Then it stops suddenly, mid phrase. Like someone heard her. Someone is coming.

She panics, she runs, she tries door handles that do not open, a window that slides up, but only a little and gets stuck.

And then the voices. Many whispered voices, too jumbled to pick much out. Loud whispers like she is in a crowd of ghosts.

From outside, you can hear her hammering on a pane of glass. Hear a faint cry for help.

She hears a drumming in her head. Energetic, chaotic, rising as she runs again.

[The song of IT]

Yes!

I feel alive!

And now this place is mine again.

And you, you are mine. I’ll take my time, but I am hungry once again.

[The song continues as an instrumental. And now we realise it picks up on the melody from the piano, warped and made loud, powerful. Then the song quietens.]

She tries more doors as she runs. And then, relief! A door that opens.

She runs through, down the concrete and out onto the gravel. The crunch of her steps, the ragged breathing, calming and slowing. Quiet enough to hear the faint sounds of ‘outside’; the sigh of wind in grass and trees.

But then, faintly at first, the piano tune again. It rises in volume, closing in. Then stops, suddenly, mid phrase……..


And gradually, over the course of the next five days, the recording came together. I had the melody worked out, and it deliberately starts in the middle of a bar, joins again at the end, in a never ending loop.

So now to find the band members and jam out the two sections of music. It was Bruce’s birthday, Evil Joe had got him drunk as a skunk, which didn’t help, but we got something worked out.

Next day, Bruce was tight as anything. following the white board structure I sketched in Ian’s studio. Tasmin recorded the rest of the band. Rock band for the first section, Black Sabbath for the second. Jesus Joe stepped in on bass and was perfect from the first note. I just love working with such talented people.

We were getting somewhere. But missing the vital ‘star’ performer; the girl.

And Katie was awesome. I sketched out the ‘sounds’ I wanted, and where around the old hospital to record them, and over two late evenings and a bit more Tasmin and Katie got everything done. Creeping, running, panicking, hammering, breathing. Doors, switches, taps, showers. I was the trolley pusher and creepy footsteps of ‘IT’, by the way (tricky trying to walk to that 6/8 time signature too!)

Katie was the star turn again, improvising piano to the main melody I gave her. Haunting or what?

Assembling the ‘choir’ in Andy’s studio was fun. And they had two jobs. The easiest was a rising chorus of a chord. Multi tracked.

And the real fun stuff. I tore a large sheet of paper into strips and on each wrote out a line ‘relevant’ to the story. ‘The doctor will see you now’, ‘maternity ward this way’, ‘he’s awake’ etc. They chose their own, and boy did they whisper. The way it came together still creeps me out.

Reece and Steve dropped into Felix’s studio to track out the awesome guitar solos at the end of part 2. Without me asking or being there. Just another example of how everyone just gets together and makes things happen.

Nathan has just the most sublime mastery of African drums (and he has plenty of them). His chaotic drumming added the finishing touch. It deliberately uses a different, changing time signature to the main 6/8, but comes back together every so often to build impact.

Andy recorded my frame drum (which was much tighter than I would have liked, but it was January, hot and dry). It’s the ‘heartbeat’ you can hear almost all the way through.

The vocals were tracked on the final evening. I originally envisaged Andrew screaming out some lines, based on the guide I had written, but it didn’t happen. So…. improv. I just laid them down as a spoken word, with Andrew roped in at the end to add some echo vocals. Ricky did a great job in recording those, and keeping Andrew on track.

I did a rough first assembly final night on my wheezy old lap top. Rough as guts but the first time people had an idea of what was in my head. Enough for real engineers and producers to work with anyway.

Almost everyone was involved. Here’s the track credits;

Words & Music – Nigel Parry
Lost girl – Katie Morton
Guitars – Reece Davies and Steve Starke
Bass – Joe Murphy
Drums – Bruce Wenzlick
African drums – Nathan Bregmen
Piano – Katie Morton
Choir and voices – Rose Easter, Steve Starke, Jess Beveridge, Tasmin Pritchard, Shaun Hutchinson, Andy Woodd, Nigel Parry
Voice of ‘IT’ – Nigel Parry
Additional vocals – Andrew Hutchinson

Recording:
Band – Tasmin Pritchard
Drum kit – Ian Moir
Lost girl and hospital sounds – Tasmin Pritchard
Aftican drums and choir / voices – Andy Woodd
Vocals – Ricky Hunt
Additional guitars – Felix Nesbitt
Piano – Ian Moir

Post production – Andy Woodd

Final mix – Ricky Hunt

That’s one hell of a team effort!

Awakes. Click here for Spotify linky thingAnd so, ladies and gentlemen, here we have the finished product. Best played at night, in the dark, through decent stereo speakers or headphones.

Alone…..

Awakes

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“Meet in the dining room at 1pm. Bring shoes.”

“Meet in the dining room at 1pm. Bring shoes.” And that was the start of something very special. Actually it started a day or so before.

I didn’t quite know what to expect going to the 2018 Outland sessions, but I knew I wanted to go. For almost a week a group of 20 musos, some of them recording engineers, took over an old cottage hospital on the edge of Pahiatua, a small country town a couple of hours from Wellington. 3 wings, 5 recording studios and spaces, a supermarket and several takeaways in town,

The focus was for people to get together, collaborate, and for each person to create and lead a song drawing in other people who are on hand and all seemed keen to help. Often that means from start to (sometimes a very late) finish. Totally absorbed every minute of the day and so inspiring to see people carrying instruments this way and that to work or jam together almost any time day and night. Energised and chilled at the same moment, with people I had never met before.

At the first gathering where all 20 of us introduced ourselves with video clips etc of each person’s style and what they could bring to other people’s music, I remember Bruce being about tenth and said, “I’m not going to bore you with videos to show what I do. I’m going to do this.” He hopped on the drum kit to beat out some great rhythms in more than one time signature.

When it came to my turn I had no idea what I was going to say, let alone what song I wanted to create. I remember looking up at these amazing musicians and suddenly thinking ‘lets have some fun’. I got everyone making percussive noises or humming, sort of like Bobby McFerrin or Fred Smith. I still had no idea what I was going to do at the event, but when I woke in the (not so) wee small hours (we stay up late, we jam, we drink and chat) the two things sort of came together. A drummer bored with beating out dull 4/4 and being unappreciated goes rogue with 5/4.

35238531_10160575168760046_6785256992840613888_oI stomped around every piece of floor in every room to find the right sound that was in my head. The sound of around 20 people stamping and clapping together was amazing and captured beautifully. Then the ‘band’ got together, including Bruce of course. I had a chat with him about drumming, just let him talk over coffee, and you’ll find plenty of drum references in the lyrics. Then on to record heaps of vocals and people noises.

It was just such a collaborative effort. I had the feeling that everyone was way better than me, and all the other musos were thinking the same thing about everyone else. The result; the most amazing collaborative week with everyone just pitching in with incredible enthusiasm and skills.

Wow. Just …. wow !

So here’s a little clip of the first, and major, part of Mr 5.

It was released as part of a 3 EP set (each EP collects the songs that go together), and here’s a rather good reveiw of the EP Daylight.

And here we have it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the finished product – Mr 5.

And for the REALLY curious, here’s the lyrics;

Ready with the skins, and limbered limbs, he strikes a pose.
Where his head is that, it’s just a fact, God only knows.
4 is just so boring, and my beat you’ve been ignoring
My hands are alive, let’s kick it up, let’s try in 5

Says Mr 5
Mr 5
Mr 5
Mr 5

Ready with the sticks, cue the click, there’s one beat more
Dancing on the skins, brush the cym-bals, here’s the score
I’m more than a banker, find the root, and here’s the anchor
Make the songs alive, Starts to drive, from 4 to 5

It’s Mr 5
Mr 5
Mr 5
Mr 5

[Br]
Let’s kick this off
Here is the hook
Mr 5

Here’s the fills and trims
Yeah, I’ll write the book
Mr 5

Signature,
just sing it
Patterns,
I’ll just wing it
Mr 5
Mr 5
Mr 5

Ba da da daa ..
Ba da da daa ..
Ba da da paradiddle
Ba da da daa ..
Ba da da ba-dum tish

And if you’ve read this far, might as well do the credits thing;

Mr. 5: NZRI11802160

Nigel Parry: Vocals
Bruce Wenzlick: Drums
Steve Starke: Electric Guitars
Chris Fursdon: Bass
Nigel Parry: Acoustic Guitar
Backing Vocals and noises: Rose Easter, Charlie Phillips, Joe Harrison, Steve Starke, Nigel Parry
Body percussion: The entire OLS 2018 group
Written by Nigel Parry
Instruments recorded by Felix Nesbitt & Jake Booth
Vocals recorded and produced by Andy Woodd
Mixed & mastered by Jake Booth at Mordecai Records

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Original Song Award Winner – Ship of Dreams

It’s an odd feeling. I wasn’t going to enter, then I was persuaded. I never expected to win.

That evening, hosted in a big RSA, there was a long list of entrants, a panel of judges and an eager audience. The contest was purely for original songs, and each had to be performed live on the night with no recordings or backing tracks.

There were many really good songs. So when third place was announced, I thought; ‘Yeah, good song.’ Second place was announced and I thought; ‘Really liked that one. Nice.’

Then, as you do, started casting my eyes around the room; who was going to be the winner? There were quite a few worthy candidates.

So when Ship of Dreams was announced, it took a few seconds to register. I never expected to hear my name or that of the song.

SongwritingAward01What?
Oh.
Wow.

It’s the only songwriting competition I’ve won. Then again, it’s the only one I’ve ever entered (usual crisis of confidence). Thanks so much for all the lovely comments on Facebucket.

And if you’d like to find out a bit more, maybe see the lyrics and the story behind the song, there’s this blog post.

Fancy a listen? You can find your Ship of Dreams here.

And .. well .. um .. gosh [blushes].

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Three Danish Galleys – and a bit of a Tease

A few years ago, on the campsite of a historical re-enactment festival in the south of England, my mate Dave came up to me with an obscure tome in hand. I had just been performing some middle ages music.

“What do you think to this?”

Viking-InvadersThree Danish Galleys, in a book by Somerset folklorist Ruth L Tongue. The lyrics tell a really gripping story of a Viking raid and the story behind the song, on the same pages, made it even more interesting. I’m not a great sight reader but the tune didn’t look like anything modern.

Three Danish Galleys

Three galleys come sailing to Porlock Side
And stole them away a new wed bride

Who left my true love, lying dead on the shore
Sailing, out and away
I never shall see my dear, home no more.

Then up to her stepped the Danish King
And her he would wed with a golden ring.

The bride she made answer her tears between
I never will wed with a cowardly Dane.

Then out of the galley they tossed the bride
And laughed as she drowned in the cruel tide.

There came three small galleys from Porlock Bay
They fought with the Danes for a night and a day.

They fought til the decks with blood ran red
And every man of the Danes was dead.


(Sung to Ruth L. Tongue in London, 1919, by “a sea captain born in Porlock”.)

Miss Tongue had this to say about it:

“I had just finished a Folk Song Recital in London, and made my way back to sink exhausted into my dressing-room chair, when there came a hearty bang on my door which opened, and an elderly sea captain came in. He was smart, grey-haired, scarlet-faced, and as full of enthusiasm as a young westerly gale -and he had a ballad for me. His family had been Porlock folk right back to Drake’s time and before, and they had treasured and kept strictly to themselves this ancient ballad. Now having listened to that evening’s Somerset wealth, he had decided regardless of family traditions that it must be brought to the free air of a singing world and that I was the one to do it. Before the force of this Severn Gale, I found my weariness blown clean away, and was soon singing too. He had a tremendous voice and it hit like hammer-blows into my memory. He sailed tomorrow he said, so I must learn it then and now. I did, every verse, and sang it back to him. He gave me a delighted smile, a hearty farewell and a handshake that clamped my fingers for the rest of the evening, and went away, forgetting to leave his name.
The Danish raids on Porlock are mentioned in the AngloSaxon Chronicle (918), and The Three Danish Galleys is a very ancient ballad which has survived the alterations of singers of other centuries, and is surprisingly unspoiled.”

Doubt has been cast by some observers as to the history of the songs in the book. All are claimed to be old folk songs collected, but maybe they are a little too odd, a little too similar? And I looked up Porlock on the Anglo Saxon Chronicles online (you can do the same).

So, either it really is an obscure old folk song, held in one fmaily for generations.

Or she made the whole thing up.

Either way, I think it is a very cool song, so I’m happy with both explanations. Here’s a version performed live at the Te Rangi Festival.

 

Incidentally, I have done a demo with the amazing harpist Karen Jones, which will hopefully lead to a full studio version soon. If you want to hear it (and it was recorded at the wonderful Tsunami Studios so, trust me, you do want to hear it), then come and ask at one of my gigs. Give me your email address and I’ll ping you a sectet little link.

Cool eh?

 

 

 

From The Chime Child, or, Somerset Singers, Ruth L. Tongue (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968) © Ruth L. Tongue, 1967.
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The Story Behind the Song – In the Dawn

It’s that wonderful, soft, warm feeling when you wake next to your special someone. And slowly, gently, one thing leads to another…

 

In the Dawn

The softness of your skin
The cool morning whispers
And the touch in your voice
As slowly we waken, in the grey of the morning
In the dawn

My hands do the talking
As a bird starts its singing
And fingers, do the walking
So gently stroking, feeling together
In the dawn

Your eyes they are saying
What my heart it is feeling
And your lips are so soft
As together embracing, making love in the morning
In the dawn.

 

A simple song, and one I enjoy playing – especially if there’s a special someone in the audience.

Oh, and you can listen to your heart’s content on Spotify.

Thanks, and enjoy.

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She Moved Through the Fair

I first discovered this haunting song on an album by a band calls All About Eve. Loved it ever since, so on my return to folk music a few years ago I started singing it again, with a newly developed guitar part.

The song, in this form anyway, was collected in Donegal around 1903 by a team that included the musicologist Herbert Hughes when he was 22, along with his brother Fred J. Bigger, and John Campbell, all from Belfast. The version of “She Moved…” collected by Hughes, Campbell and Bigger was adapted by the Irish poet Padraig Colum, and was published by Hughes in 1909.

The version Hughes published is;

My young love said to me, “My mother won’t mind

And my father won’t slight you for your lack of kind”,

And she stepp’d away from me and this she did say,

“It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.”

She stepp’d away from me and she went thro’ the fair,

And fondly I watch’d her move here and move there,

And then she went homeward with one star awake,

As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

Last night she came to me, she came softly in,

So softly she came that her feet made no din,

And she laid her hand on me and this she did say

“It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.”

There are other versions, including ‘Out of the Window’, and versions of such similar songs and themes that they might well have origins in the same song, from the isle of Uist (in Gaelic) and the north of England. There is little doubt that it has traditional origins.

You can find my take on it here;

https://nigelparry.bandcamp.com/track/she-moved-through-the-fair

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The Story Behind the Song – Ship of Dreams

Go out to your ship of dreams
Time to leave the shore
Row out to your ship of dreams
Don’t stand there waiting for your ship of dreams for ever more

Row Out to your ship of dreams - Nigel Parry

Album artwork and design by Grace Parry – cool eh?

If you have a song, A song you’d like to sing.
Just step right up and share it with the world
There’s music in your dreams
And soul in every note and every word.

If there is a soul, Someone in your heart
Do they know how much they mean and how you feel
Why hide behind your fear?
You’ll often lose a soul that’s never told

If there is a place, A place within your soul
A place that brings some meaning to your world
Start making travel plans
And the journey will be just as great a part

You may find your ship of dreams, In your heart and in your soul
In your own distant horizon that’s inside
Leave the fools gold
Only your ship can reach your rainbow’s end.

You know how sometimes you wake up in the night with something going round in your head (yeah, I’ve written a song about that too)?

Well, on one occasion it was something I had read years earlier. A short passage that said something about people waiting all their lives for their ‘ship to come in’, maybe they should go out to meet it instead.

Round and round it went. And the chorus and first verse were the result, that night while lying in bed. I got up and quietly sung the lines and melody into my phone.

Next day, the first version of the song was complete, with lyrics including an extra verse (which made the whole thing too long and didn’t add anything new to the sentiment, so was cut).

Originally worked out on guitar in standard tuning, the big leap that made the song come alive in performance was the use of open G tuning – something guitarist Julian Ward brought to the first on-stage performances and the recording on the CD Row Out To Your Ship of Dreams. I guess its sort of a title track.

And an ambition I hope to live up to, every now and then at least.

Here’s a version you can listen to (and purchase).

Julian dropped the whole tuning down to open F, but I play it live in open G.

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