Declan Galbraith – “Sister Golden Hair”.

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   Today I want to share with you a song from Declan Galbraith’s (currently also known as Child of Mind) third album, You and Me, released in 2007 when he was fifteen. Just like his previous two records, this one also includes a lot of covers of pop and rock classics, and as perhaps some of you may figure out from the title, so is the case with this one. Sister Golden Hair was a 70’s hit written by Gerry Beckley for his band, America. 

Llio Rhydderch – “Mwynen Machno” (The Enjoyment of Machno).

    Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I want to share with you a traditional tune from the Conwy Valley, played on the Welsh triple harp by Llio Rhydderch. I know that there is a Machno Valley somewhere in Conwy, and a village called Penmachno and some other similar placenames in that area, so the tune’s name must have to do with one of them or the whole area. 

Delyth Jenkins – “Crwtyn Llwyd” (The Grey Lad).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have a traditional Welsh polka tune for you, played by Delyth Jenkins. It comes from the collaborative album that she recorded together with poet Emily Hinshelwood, from which I’ve already shared a couple of other pieces in the past. 

Y Bandana – “Dant y Llew” (Dandelion).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share with you another song from the Welsh pop rock group Y Bandana, from their album Fel Tôn Gron, the last one they released before disbanding. This is one of their more popular songs in Wales as far as I’m aware. Unfortunately I was not able to find written lyrics for this one anywhere online, and while I think I understand a fair bit from it, it’s still definitely not everything, so I didn’t really have the courage to attempt doing a translation by ear for the purpose of this post. But basically, it is about girls, who are called Cadi and Mabli, and the lyrical subject of this song finds very attractive, and their hair is the colour of a dandelion. 

   Y Bandana – “Dant y Llew”

Hirundo Maris – “Trollmors Vuggesang” & Helene Bøksle – “Trollmors Vuggevise” (Troll Mother’s Lullaby).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   Today I have a funny little Scandinavian lullaby for you. I only know Norwegian versions, but apparently it’s also known in Sweden. The first version I want to share with you comes from Hirundo Maris, the early music and folk group founded by Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen. I’ve already featured two of their songs, including Tarantela from the same album. THe other version is by one of my favourite Norwegian folk singers, Helene Bøksle, who hails from Mandal in the south of the country. I have also featured some of her other songs before. Here’s Bibiel’s translation of this song: 

      When troll mother has put to bed her eleven little trolls 

And wrapped them up tightly in her tail 

Then she sings for her eleven little trolls 

The most beautiful words she knows 

Hirundo Maris: 

   Helene Bøksle: 

Jack Vreeswijk – “Hon Kommer Aldrig Hem” (She Will Never Come Home).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I really want to share with you an original  song by Jack Vreeswijk, from his album Underbart (Wonderful). It has a bit of an emo vibe, which you can find out for yourselves, as Bibielz were able to translate it. Bibielz couldn’t, however,  find the complete lyrics  anywhere, so had to just do it by ear. As you might or might not recall, it wasn’t the first time I’ve translated Jack by ear, and it wasn’t particularly difficult this time either. . The only fragment I found a little unclear was the line that I translated as “you are marked by grief”, although I’m not sure that’s  what he’s actually singing, because what I hear is actually “You are marked over grief”, which, as far as I know, doesn’t really sound natural in Swedish and I haven’t found any other examples of the word “over” being used in this way in Swedish, so either I’m completely misunderstanding it, or just this one word, or it’s some phrase or construction I’m unfamiliar with. I’m sharing Jack’s live performance of this song rather than  the album version. 

   Nobody can handle you 

Nobody wants to understand 

That your grief is endless 

Though life is steaming ahead 

Who said that she was yours? 

Not her and not you 

Who believes in eternal love? 

Who believes in it now? 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

Let them see you like this 

Who cares about it? 

In three hundred years 

No one will know anymore 

Let them babble behind your back 

That you are marked [by?] grief 

The grief is embracing you 

The grief is your last castle 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

She will never come home again 

The Lovely Wars – “Brân i Frân” (Crow for Crow).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   We’ve had a lot of Welsh music on here. But as much as in the beginnings of this blog it was mostly pop/rock, lately there’s been a lot more of Welsh folk on here, which happens to reflect a slight shift in my own listening habits where Welsh music specifically is concerned, so today I thought it would be a good idea to go back to pop for a bit. The Lovely Wars is a five-piece band from Cardiff, formed by Ani Saunders and her former school friends – Alice and Ceri. – The other two members – Bill and Dan – joined a little later. The band’s name was inspired by a 1965 satirical musical  by Joan Littlewood called Oh, It’s a Lovely War. It tackled serious, difficult issues in a witty and humourous way, and Ani says she wanted to do the same with her band. Together with her sister Gwenno (whose music I love and shared two songs from her album Tir Ha Mor (Land and Sea) in the VERY early days of this blog) Ani was also a member of an English indie pop girl group called the Pipettes. At the moment she’s doing quite well on the Welsh-language music scene as a solo artist under the name  Ani Glass. Her father is the Cornish poet and linguist Tim Saunders, who writes in several Celtic languages but mostly Cornish, and he is also a fluent Cornish speaker, so both Ani and Gwenno speak Cornish in addition to Welsh and English. Ani is actually an illustrator by trade and has worked on album artwork for various musicians. 

Nansi Richards – “Y Ferch o’r Sger” (The Maid of Sker).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share with you another traditional tune from the Welsh harpist Nansi Richards. This song was composed by a Welsh harper from Carmarthen called Thomas Evans, who died in 1819. He fell in love with a maid who lived in Sker, a farm house in Glamorgan which took  its name from a headland nearby called Sker Point. And this song is about her. 

Bendith – “ANgel”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I thought I’d share with you this soothing piece by Bendith. For anyone unfamiliar with Bendith, it was a collaborative project between the alt-folk sibling trio Plu (who are very frequently featured on here since one of its members, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, is one of my faza  people) and Carwyn Ellis from the indie band Colorama. I was even able to translate this song for you guys, though it probably does have some mistakes or things that perhaps could have been phrased more aptly or something. There are some phrases in it that were completely new to me, like “sana i’n”, which is a colloquial phrase used in southwest Wales and means “I don’t”, but I was totally unfamiliar with it and it took me quite a while to figure out what it actually was. 

   And if something worries me 

She is the one who comes to my mind 

Nothing can stop her 

From coming to my side 

She is my angel 

 

If it all got too much for me 

So she waits, she comes straight away 

Just say the word and that’s all 

She’ll do it, by my side 

She is my angel 

Beside me, that’s where she will be 

Any time of the day or night 

If anything comes to bother me 

She is by my side 

She is my angel 

 

And if I’ll need a hand to help me 

I don’t worry, she’s still here 

To share the burdens between us 

Here by my side 

She is my angel 

Penguin Cafe – “Solaris”.

   Hi guys! 🙂 

   Today I have another instrumental piece for you, but it’s quite different than yesterday’s. This one is performed by an English group called Penguin Cafe,  founded by the composer Arthur Jeffes as a way to continue  his father – Simon Jeffes’ – legacy and the music of his band Penguin Cafe Orchestra. However, Penguin Cafe is its own entity with a different line-up and they also play music composed by Arthur Jeffes himself (like this one) as well as other composers, but their primary focus is on the work of PCO. Their music can be described as a blend of chamber jazz, folk and classical genres. 

Llio Rhydderch – “Anhawdd Ymadael” (Difficult to Depart).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you yet another piece from the great Welsh harpist from Anglesey, Llio Rhydderch, who plays the Welsh triple harp. Her music has been featured on here quite a few times, and this particular tune comes from her album titled Sir Fôn Bach (Little Anglesey). This is a traditional Welsh farewell tune, but sadly I don’t really know anything beyond that about it. Still, I think it is beautiful. 

Gwenan Gibbard – “Trafaeliais y Byd” (I Travelled the World).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you a traditional Welsh song performed by Welsh harpist and singer Gwenan Gibbard. It comes from her album Sidan Glas (Blue Silk). I don’t understand the entire lyrics, but from what I do gather it is about someone who was travelling (sailing, I’m pretty sure) through the world and had to say goodbye to his native country – Wales – and a lot of places in North Wales are mentioned by name that have been dear to the lyrical subject as well as things he enjoyed doing there. 

Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson – “The Rose and the Lily”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today I have a traditional English murder ballad for you. I am familiar with many different versions of it, but this one is the first that I have ever heard. Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy are mother and daughter from Yorkshire who are both very prominent English folk singers. This song comes from their first collaborative album called Gift.

   Norma started her career in a group called The Watersons that she formed together with her siblings. Later, she married folk singer and guitarist Martin Carthy who also became part of the band’s line-up. Over time, the Waterson-Carthy family have become such influential musicians that they earned themselves the title of the English folk dynasty, with Norma (who passed away last year)  considered its matriarch. Their daughter Eliza is also a great singer and a very skilled fiddle player.

   I was introduced to the music of both  women through this collaborative album, and I think this is my favourite track from it. Like this song alone, the whole album is also rather dark and sombre overall and the topic of death is quite prevalent throughout it. This ballad is also better known as the Cruel Brother. 

Lady Maisery ft. Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith – “The Old Churchyard”

   Hi guys! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share with you a tune from a group  about whom I was sure that I must have shared something from them in the past already, because I like them and have been familiar with their music since very early on in my English folk music exploration journey, but it looks like I’ve never talked about them on here so I figured I’d do so today. Lady Maisery are a vocal harmony trio from the north of England, consisting of Hannah James (who is also a clog dancer and plays piano accordion, and used to be part of another group called Kerfuffle), Hazel Askew (who plays melodeon, concertina, harp and bells, she also performs with various early music groups playing on medieval harp) and Rowan Rheingans (who plays fiddle, banjo and bansitar, she is also a part of The Rheingans Sisters). They sing both traditional as well as contemporary folk music, including their original songs. The name of the group comes from a ballad titled Lady Maisry. 

   This particular song comes from an album that they have recorded in collaboration with the English folk duo Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, titled Awake Arise: A Winter Album. It is originally an American Christian hymn which has over time also been embraced as a folk song. It is a comforting tune about death, reminding Christians that it is not something to only weep about, but that we should rejoice together with those we knew who have passed, because they are now in heaven. The song was collected from Almeda Riddle from Arkansas. 

Plu – “Gollwng Gafael” (Letting Go).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you this lovely song by the Welsh alt-folk trio Plu, whose music is fairly frequently featured on here. It comes from their album Tir a Golau (Lad and Lights). Quite surprisingly for myself, I was even able to translate it. You guys know that I’m still pretty bad at translating Welsh music solely by ear, and when you’re into some small languages, it’s not always as comfy as googling “Artist Song lyrics” and finding said lyrics right away, because often it might require a bit more perseverance to find what you’re looking for at the bottom of the Internet, or it might not be available online at all. Plu’s lyrics usually don’t seem to be, but what I always try to do in such cases is fish out a part of lyrics that I can completely understand and that at the same time is not too generic and distinct enough that it’s not likely to pop up in too many other contexts except what I’m looking for, and then I google it in quotes. And this time round, I happened to be lucky, because I found an S4C (Welsh-language television channel) transscript of a programme where Plu were singing this song. And the lyrics are pretty easy linguistically so I was able to translate it with no particular issues, though again, it’s not like I’m an experienced Welsh-English translator or a native speaker of either of these languages so it’s definitely possible that it has some mistakes or that it just could be better, but as always it’s just to give you more or less of an idea of what it is about. I am sharing with you a live version of this song which they sang at a Celtic music festival called Cwlwm Celtaidd. They precede the song with two verses of a traditional Welsh lullaby called Mil Harddach (A Thousand Times More Beautiful), for which the below translation comes from Mama Lisa’s website

   You’re a thousand times more beautiful than the white rose
Or the red rose on the hillside,
Or the proud swan swimming in the lake,
My little baby.
A thousand times better than all the gold in the world
Is to see your smiles in your crib,
You are my fortune and my blessing,
My little baby.

And here’s Bibielz translation of Gollwng Gafael. 

      You love the land more than the earth 

And the wave more than the water 

You love “was” more than “will” 

And what is the world without its story? 

Without sky, there are no horizons 

Without tomorrow, there is no yesterday 

Open your eyes 

To experience letting go 

For you, the inspiration is in a song 

And the bleak books in front of you 

The inspiration is everyday 

Uncovering the truth 

By pulling off every layer 

Without sky, there are no horizons 

Without tomorrow, there is no yesterday 

Open your eyes 

To experience letting go 

   You love the land more than the earth 

More than the truth 

Cynefin – “Y Fwyalchen Du Bigfelen” (The Yellow-beaked Blackbird).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share  a really beautiful Welsh tune with you that I have first heard on Radio Cymru some two years ago and it  resonated with me right away. The tune is from Cynefin, a project by Owen Shiers from the Clettwr Valley, which focuses on preserving  the traditional songs and heritage of Ceredigion in the west of Wales, many of which had never been recorded before or have become nearly lost over time. One could have thought that nowadays, when even musicians from non-Anglophone countries whose official languages are doing very well and are not as threatened by English as Welsh is; oftentimes sing their music in English and make it sound very universal and global, it’s enough of an obscure niche when you focus on folk music of Wales in general, let alone just  a small piece of Wales. But I really like it and am happy about it that there are people like Owen Shiers who are strongly connected to and proud of not only just their country, but also their local area and its heritage. 

   If you look up “cynefin” inn a dictionary or a translator or something like that, it is most commonly translated as “habitat”. But in fact, this is one of those deep, untranslatable (at least to English) words, with a meaning that is oddly specific, yet also quite broad at the same time. Much like hiraeth  about which I’ve already written on here several times, and which, by the way, also happens to occupy the central place in this song I’m sharing with you all today. Cynefin has originated as a farming term for paths and trails  frequently used by animals, but over time it’s meaning has become broader and a bit more abstract and deeper, as it is used to mean a place that one is very familiar with and rooted in, and feels a sense of belonging to it. I believe it is also used to describe the relationship one has with such a place. 

   The tune I am sharing with you today is a so-called llatai (love messenger) song. Usually, in this type of songs, or poems, the lyrical subject directly addresses the love messenger, who is usually some animal or creature, often a bird, and sends it to their beloved with a message, because they’re far apart from each other. One example of such tune could be “Ei Di’r Deryn Du?” (Will You Go, Blackbird?) which I shared not long ago. However, this particular llatai song is quite different, because there is no human lover. Instead, the young boy who is the lyrical subject here is feeling a longing (hiraeth) for his home country – Wales – while he is away in England. His longing is emphasised by the singing of a blackbird, which reminds him all the more of the home he left behind. I really like the idea of writing/singing a love song about your home country kind of as if it was a person. 

   According to Cynefin’s Bandcamp page, this song was collected from Mrs. J Emlyn Jones near Llandysul and recorded in the Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin Cymru (Welsh Folk Song Society) magazine. However because some words were changed by the collector, the words in Cynefin’s song were written by Llew Tegid. The translation below also comes from Cynefin’s Bandcamp. 

   Oh, yellow beaked black bird, 

Enchant the heart with your early song. 

Sweet notes of a merry heart 

Wakes the choir of little birds. 

 

Come and listen to the complaint of a boy 

Who is in heartache night and day: 

A cruel longing pursues him, 

Longing breaks his sad heart. 

 

Leaving the elegant vales of Wales, 

Leaving the enchantment of the land of song, 

O so difficult is separating 

A pure Welshman from fair Wales. 

 

Your notes evoke the hearts longing 

As you tarry in the Englishman’s land, 

In memories of Coed-fron 

Where once your voice was so dear.

Soap&Skin – “Safe With Me”.

   Hey guys! 🙂 

   Today I’m coming to you with a song from an artist I discovered just a couple weeks ago. Soap&Skin is an experimental project of Anja Franziska Plaschg, a musician from south-east Styria in Austria. Anja has had a passion for music from a young  age, learning piano at  six and violin at fourteen. As a teenager, she developed an interest in electronic music and began performing live at eighteen, quickly gaining success in Vienna. She has also played in a couple German-language films. 

   The song I want to share with you today also has to do with film, because it was featured in the soundtrack for an Italian film called Sicilian Ghost Story, directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza, inspired by a true story of a young boy from Sicily who suddenly disappeared and was then killed by the Sicilian mafia. 

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “En Visa om ett Rosenblad” (A Song About a Rose Petal).

   Hiya people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you a lovely, kind of bittersweet and very jazzy song from Cornelis Vreeswijk. The melody to this song was actually composed by Georg Riedel, who is a Czech-born Swedish jazz musician and who, after Cornelis’ death, released an album called Cornelis vs Riedel, with his arrangements of Cornelis’ poems, sung by his daughter Sarah and Nikolai Dunger, several of which I’ve shared on here in the past. 

   I like this song for quite a few different reasons, but I think mostly because, while it sounds like a very clear allegory of the oh so commonly occurring and depicted,  classic theme in romantic relationships where a man manipulates a woman just to hurt her and eventually leave, over the years, as I’ve been listening to this song again and again, I have realised that it also works as an allegory for many other less obvious things, or has not so obvious mini allegories within it, though no idea if it was a conscious/deliberate thing on Cornelis’ part. Perhaps it’s just one of those things in which everyone sees something a little different, or the same individual sees something a little different in it with each listen. And then I’m pretty sure that, on a more personal level for Cornelis, Ann-Katrin Rosenblad (a character who frequently appears in his songs and poems), or her real-life counterpart(s) must also be present somewhere here, it must be about a “rosenblad” for a reason. Regardless, I like how sensitively all of these allegories are handled here. I also do really like it musically, even though regular people on here know that I am generally not overly big on jazz. The translation below is Bibielz. Bibielz had no particular issues writing it, because the original lyrics are quite easy and uncomplicated language-wise, so it should be more or less alright. 

      Once upon a time, there was a little rose petal 

And the rose on which she grew was red 

Then one day she fell off because the rose was dead 

Then an icy wind passed by, then she was happy 

Because the wind was a cheerful and fiery guy 

Who was on his way from south to north 

He blew her ear full of beautiful words 

Come, sweetheart, said the wind, come 

Then she got dizzy 

She couldn’t resist what he said 

She gave him everything he asked for 

He brought her with him to a big rich city 

Here will the two of us live, he said. 

And she said yes 

But the wind was an unfaithful specimen 

Who only wanted to tumble around in the sky 

He blew her away from himself, she fell down into the mud 

Then he left the city in a hurry 

And she stayed 

Should you see a flower petal somewhere 

Among rubbish and dirt in our happy city 

Remember that she once was a beautiful rose petal 

She once loved a wind and she was his 

And the rose that she grew on was dead 

And the wind whom she loved, he’s gone 

Every night she walks into the room where I live 

She is called a rose petal 

And her colour is red 

Ffynnon – “Llys Ifor Hael” (The Court of Ifor the Generous).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   For today, I have another song by Ffynnon for you. This time, it is a medieval englyn – a short poetic form traditional to Wales and Cornwall – written by Ieuan Brydydd Hir. It is a lament over the state of the court of Ifor ap Llywelyn of Bassaleg in Gwent, who was a patron of bards, including one of the greatest Welsh poets – Dafydd ap Gwilym. – It was also Dafydd ap Gwilym who gave him the name Ifor Hael (Ifor the Generous). The translation below comes from Ffynnon’s website. 

   The hall of Ifor the generous, poor it looks
A cairn, it lies amongst alders
Thorns and the blight of the thistle own it
Briars, where once there was greatness

The muses are no longer there 
No bards nor joyous tables
No gold within its walls
No armour, no generous giver

Cold grief for Dafydd, skilled in song
The burying of Ifor in the earth
Paths where once there was singing
Are now the haunts of the owl

Despite the brief glory of lords
Their greatness and their walls end
Houses on the sand
Are a strange place for there to be pride