Songs That Krishna Taught Us
Songs That Influenced The Incredible String Band
The String Band recorded few straight cover versions in their original career but a number of their own compositions contain 'inspired borrowing' from a variety of sources. From old time country, jug band and blues, to Indian ragas, Bahamian spirituals and of course British traditional folk tunes, it all went into the melting pot to produce something uniquely different. This page details these influences and tries to track down those original recordings. With thanks to 'Be Glad' and the members of the ISB Yahoo group.
The Edinburgh Folk Festival Vol. 1 (1963)
- Jazz Bo's Holiday - by Tarrant Bailey Jr. It's a Robin and Clive recording rather than an actual ISB one though. A classical banjo/guitar duet in the same vein as 'Niggertown' from the debut ISB album.
The Incredible String Band
- Maybe Someday - On page 44 of the 'Be Glad' book it states that 'the melody is possibly Moroccan' and PB concurs that there are similarities to some traditional material from North Africa. However, Mike's sleeve notes on the first album only mentions that 'and if she pays any attention to this track she'll be Bulgarian, Indian, Scottish and schizoid'. It sounds more Bulgarian or at least Eastern European gypsy to me...
- Schaeffer's Jig - credited 'Trad' but actually composed by Arling Schaeffer, a mandolin player active in the 1890s. According to the information for Ray Andrews' 'Classic English Banjo' CD there is an arrangement of this tune by Olly Oakley, although this doesn't say whether this is just the sheet music or an actual recording. As Olly Oakley also recorded a version of 'Niggertown' then it's possible that Clive got both tunes from him. Further information from Carl:
It is possible that Clive got this one from a guy called Banjo John Davidson. From what I know he played around Edinburgh in the 60s and possibly the early 70s. He played the same style of banjo as Clive. At some point he left for Australia. At some point he returned to Edinburgh and I met him one night when I came across a group of people having a session in the backroom of Stewarts Bar in Drummond street. He played Schaeffer's Jig. Unfortunately a few months later I heard that he had died.
- Whistle Tune - credited 'Trad arr. Williamson', no further information yet.
- Dandelion Blues - note from Carl:
A couple of weeks ago I was wandering through Camden and at one of the CD stores heard some old blues guy singing a song which had verses that reminded of Robin's Dandelion Blues - especially the verse about "if your man gets busted and you want to go his way ..." I didn't ask who it was. I will next time!
Robert Johnson's 'Travelling Riverside Blues' starts with the vaguely similar line "If your man get personal want you to have some fun". Tom Rush's self-titled 1965 album also includes a song called 'If Your Man Gets Busted', the lyrics of which appear to be an amalgam of several Robert Johnson songs, including lines from 'Travelling Riverside Blues' (Thanks to PB and Perry for the Tom Rush info).
- How Happy I Am - based on the Reverand Gary Davis' 'O Glory, How Happy I Am'. Mike secularised the chorus and borrowed the tune but the verse is original.
Oh, when I was out in the world of sin
I had no one to be my friend
Jesus came and he taken me in
O, Glory how happy I am
O, Glory how happy I am
My soul is washed in the blood of the lamb
- Empty Pocket Blues - there is some controversy over the authorship of this song, here credited to Clive. Wizz Jones has claimed he wrote it, in an interview in 'Be Glad' issue 10 he said:
I don’t think Clive had written anything of his own so he nicked a song from me – Teapot Blues and changed it to Empty Pocket Blues and copyrighted it! So I lost that song to Clive – but we’re still friends!
Wizz's 'Teapot Blues' appeared on his 1969 self-titled debut LP and is also available as a bonus track on the CD reissue of his and Pete Stanley's 'Sixteen Tons Of Bluegrass' LP. It has also been reported that Nat Joseph of Transatlantic Records threatened to sue Clive for ripping off Wizz, although it has also been speculated that he was less than pleased at being beaten by Joe Boyd in signing the ISB.
Clive's take on this, in an interview in 'Be Glad' issue 14, is that they both wrote songs based on the C-A flat chord progression that was introduced to them by a mutual friend (believed to be Brian Kennedy, who they shared a house with at the time). However, it has since been pointed out that he never mentioned who wrote their song first...
To further muddy the waters, Bert Jansch, who's acquaintance with both Clive and Wizz dates back to the pre-ISB Scottish Folk scene, included a version of 'Empty Pocket Blues' on his 2006 'Black Swan' album, where it is titled 'My Pocket's Empty' and credited as 'Trad. arr. Bert Jansch'. In the sleeve notes Bert writes:
I first heard My Pocket's Empty from Clive Palmer back in the sixties and always loved the song.
Whatever the truth, we can at least be sure that it is not the same song as Pete Seeger's 'Empty Pocket Blues', also known as 'Barrel of Money Blues'.
- Niggertown - credited 'Trad arr. Palmer' but actually composed by classical banjoist Joe Morley and published by John Alvey Turner in 1919. Morley was also the composer of other Clive favourites such as 'Banjoland', 'Darktown Dandies' and 'Fun In The Cottonfields', see this Joe Morley web site for more details. Although he never recorded the tune himself, recordings exist from the time by Ernest Jones ('Vibrante banjo solo by Ernest Jones. Jack Venables at the piano') and Olly Oakley.
- Everything's Fine Right Now - note from Carl:
There's a Carter family song which starts with the line "Who's that knocking on my window" but I've never heard this one myself and the more I think of it the more doubtful I become, but I also have some recollection of a poem from schooldays which also starts with "Who's that knocking at my door (da da da da) and won't come in".
The Carter Family song in question is 'Who's That Knocking At My Window', though it bears no resemblance to Mike's song other than the similiar opening line.
The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion
- Little Cloud - the intro is of course taken from AA Milne's ever popular 'Winnie The Pooh'. The musical setting is believed to come from a 1950s BBC radio broadcast, possibly composed by Flanders and Swann.
How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!
Every little cloud
Always sings aloud.
"How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!"
It makes him very proud
To be a little cloud.
- My Name Is Death - credited to Robin but an obvious variation on the traditional English folk song 'Death And The Lady'. Presumably first heard by Robin in the folk clubs unless anyone knows differently. Here's some interesting background info care of PB:
In the Middle Ages, the Dance of Death and dialogues between Death and his victims used to be enacted as a stage morality. Later, the theme was taken up by artists as great as Holbein and as humble as the chapbook illustrators. Miss Anne Gilchrist has noted (Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol.IV, pp.37-8) that "in English balladry the favourite aspect of the subject was Death in its relation to radiant beauty and lusty and careless youth." The ballad, perhaps of late 16th. century origin, was originally in dialogue-form and it may well have been at once sung and acted. Traditional versions have been noted from Devon (Songs of the West, Sabine Baring Gould & others, 1905, pp.202-3), Somerset (Folk Songs from Somerset, Cecil Sharp 1904-9, vol.IV p.4), Wiltshire (Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, Alfred Williams, 1923, p.173) and Sussex (English Traditional Songs and Carols, Lucy Broadwood, 1908, p.40)."
'Fair Lady, throw those costly robes aside,
No longer may you glory in your pride;
Take leave of all your carnal vain delight,
I'm come to summon you away this night.'
'What bold attempt is this? Pray let me know
From whence you come, and whither I must go.
Shall I, who am a lady, stoop or bow
To such a pale-faced visage? Who art thou?'
D. 'Do you not know me? I will tell you then:
I am he that conquers all the sons of men,
No pitch of honour from my dart is free,
My name is Death! Have you not heard of me?'
L. 'Yes; I have heard of thee, time after time;
But, being in the glory of my prime,
I did not think you would have come so soon;
Why must my morning sun go down at noon?'
D. 'Talk not of noon! you may as well be mute;
There is no time at all for vain dispute,
Your riches, gold, and garments,jewels bright,
Your house, and land, must on new owners light?'
L. 'My heart is cold; it trembles at such news!
Here's bags of gold, if you will me excuse
And seize on those; and finish thou their strife,
Who wretched are, and weary of their life.
Are there not many bound in prison strong
In bitter grief? and souls that languish long,
Who could but find the grave a place of rest
From all their grief; by which they are opprest.
Besides there's many with a hoary head
And palsied joints; from whom all joy is fled
Release thou them whose sorrows are so great,
And spare my life until a later date!'
D. 'Though thy vain heart to riches is inclined
Yet thou must die and leave them all behind.
I come to none before their warrant's sealed,
And, when it is, they must submit, and yield.
Though some by age be full of grief and pain,
Till their appointed time they must remain;
I take no bribe, believe me,this is true.
Prepare yourself to go; I'm come for you.'
L. 'But if, oh! if you could for me obtain
A freedom, and a longer life to reign,
Fain would I stay, if thou my life wouldst spare.
I have a daughter, beautiful and fair,
I wish to see her wed, whom I adore;
Grant me but this, and I will ask no more?'
(The last part of the music must be repeated to fit the extra line)
D. 'This is a slender frivolous excuse!
I have you fast! I will not let you loose!
Leave her to Providence, for you must go
Along with me, whether you will or no!
If Death commands the King to leave his crown
He at my feet must lay his sceptre down;
Then, if to Kings I do not favour give
But cut them off, can you expect to live
Beyond the limits of your time and space?
No! I must send you to another place.'
(The last part of the music must be repeated to fit the extra line)
L. 'Ye learned doctors, now exert your skill,
And let not Death on me obtain his will!
Prepare your cordials, let me comfort find,
My gold shall fly like chaff before the wind!'
D. 'Forbear to call! that skill will never do;
They are but mortals here as well as you.
I give the fatal wound, my dart is sure,
And far beyond the doctors' skill to cure.
Flow freely you can let your riches fly
To purchase life, rather than yield and die!
But,while you flourished here with all your store,
You would not give one penny to the poor.
Though in God's name they sue to you did make
You would not spare one penny for His sake.
My Lord beheld wherein you did amiss,
And calls you hence, to give account of this!'
L. 'Oh! heavy news! must I no longer stay?
How shall I stand at the great Judgement Day?'
Down from her eyes the crystal tears did flow,
She says, 'None knows what I now undergo!
Upon my bed of sorrow here I lie!
My selfish life makes me afraid to die!
My sins are great, and manifold,and foul;
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on my soul!
Alas! I do deserve a righteous frown!
Yet pardon, Lord, and pour a blessing down!'
Then with a dying sigh her heart did break,
And did the pleasures of this world forsake.
Thus may we see the mighty rise and fall,
For cruel Death shews no respect at all
To those of either high or low degree.
The great submit to Death as well as we.
Though they are gay, their life is but a span,
A lump of clay, so vile a creature's Man!
Then happy they whom God bath made his care,
And die in God, and ever happy are!
The grave's the market place where all must meet
Both rich and poor, as well as small and great;
If life were merchandise, that gold could buy,
The rich would live -- only the poor would die.
The text published by the Percy Society in Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England (1846) as 'The Messenger of Mortality; or Life and Death Contrasted in a Dialogue Betwixt Death and a Lady'.
There are a number of broadside texts at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. This is not a full listing, but covers most of the material. There is little textual variation, but the woodcuts and engravings are well worth looking at!
Death and the Lady Printer & date unknown (Harding B 45)
Death and the Lady Printed by G Henson, Bridge Street, Northampton; no date.
Death and the Lady Printed by A. Ryle, and Co., Monmouth-Court, Seven Dials, between 1845 and 1859.
Death and the Lady Printed by J. Harkness, (Preston) between 1840 and 1866.
Death and the Lady; or The Great Messenger of Mortality: Printed by T. Dash, (Kettering); no date.
Death and the Lady; or The Great Messenger of Mortality: Printed by J. Evans, Long-lane, London between 1780 and 1812.
Death and the Lady; or The Great Messenger of Mortality: Printed by J. Turner, High Street, Coventry between 1797 and 1846.
Messenger of Mortality; or, a Dialogue between Death and the Lady Printed by M.W. Carrall, Walmgate, York, in 1827
Messenger of Mortality, or, a Dialogue between Death and a Lady Printed by Kelsey, Bookbinder, Boston and Spilsby, between 1879 and 1898.
Messenger of Mortality, or Life and Death Contrasted Printed by J. Pitts, Wholesale Toy and Marble Warhouse [sic] 6, Great St Andrew Street, Seven Dials, London, between 1819 and 1844.
These are all large images.
There is plenty of background material on The Dance of Death available on the Web; for example http://www.britannica.com/.
If you're still awake and the icy hand of death has not yet closed your baby blue peepers you may have noticed that all this does not answer the question of which version Robin heard to base his great song on.
Also, note the English ballad is quite distinct from the fantastic American death song called "O Death", as heard on O Brother.
The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
- A Very Cellular Song - the 'I Bid You Goodnight' section is taken from the Pinder Family and Joseph Spence recording from the 1966 Nonesuch LP 'The Real Bahamas Vol. 1', although some lines of this section are common to the opening song from that LP, 'We'll Understand It Better By And By', also by the Pinder Family and Joseph Spence. This song is traditional in origin, 'Sleep On Mother, Sleep On', a recording from circa-1930 by the blues/gospel artist Lonnie McIntorsh, is obviously from a similar source. In addition, the eponymous debut Waterson:Carthy album from 1994, contains a traditional song 'Sleep On Beloved', of which the sleeve notes say:
In the 1960s, the Incredible String Band renamed a song called I Bid You Goodnight which they learned from Jody Stecher's recordings of the great Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence and his family, the Pindar family, and the song became, for some folkies, one of those great standards. A year or two ago John Howson visited Staithes to record the Fisherman's choir, and was accompanied by Maggie Hunt who, at the same time, was interviewing the individuals involved. During conversations, a Mr Willie Wright sang a snatch of the Sankey hymn Sleep On Beloved which he described as a lowering down song at funerals, and which was clearly the same song as I Bid You Goodnight but in an earlier form, and when Norma heard it, she went to see Willie, who kindly proved her with the other verses. When we sang the song to Jody Stecher, he was enormously pleased, not least because its function as a funeral song in the Bahamian fishing community was identical to that in its North Yorkshire counterpart.
It is also reported on many web sites that the 'May The Long Time Sun Shine' bit of the song is a 3HO Sikh traditional song:
"On This Day / Long Time Sun"
Lyrics by Incredible String Band
Arranged by Hari Bhajan Kaur Khalsa
Traditional 3HO Sikh spiritual song
On this day, the Lord gave you life,
May you use it to serve him.
All of our loving prayers, will be with you,
May you never for-get them.
(May the long) May the long time sun shine u-pon you
All love sur-round you,
(And the pure) And the pure light with-in you
Guide your way on.
Guide your way on.
Guide your way on.
However, the Wikipedia entry for 3HO says that it wasn't established until 1969, and another discussion at the Audarya Fellowship forum suggests that the organisation's founder, Yogi Bhajan, got the song from the String Band. There are many (mainly US-based) new-agey sites that claim this as either a 'traditional Irish blessing' or an English translation of a Sufi or Sanskrit chant, but none appear to offer any evidence for this. Indeed, in a further branch of the Audarya Fellowship forum discussion an Irish man denies that it is of Irish origin. Unless other information is forthcoming then it is assumed that this part of the song is indeed Mike's.
Wee Tam & The Big Huge
- Job's Tears - quotes Groucho Marx from 'Animal Crackers' (1930) in which he sang "Hello, I must be Going" by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar. In addition, the title of 'We'll Understand It Better Bye And Bye' by the Pinder Family and Joseph Spence from the 1966 Nonesuch LP 'The Real Bahamas Vol. 1', recalls the last hymn-like section of 'Job's Tears' (although the tune is not similar). A much earlier version of this song is available on the Rev. Edward W. Clayborn's Document CD 'Complete Recorded Works 1926-1928', recorded in Chicago on 19.04.1927, where it is titled 'Bye And Bye When The Morning Comes'.
Raymond Greenoaken's article on 'Job's Tears' on page 121 of the 'Be Glad' book, suggests other 'Real Bahamas' connections. 'Sheep Know When Thy Shepard Calling' by Frederick McQueen and Rev. W.G. McPhee contains references to 'John saw a golden angel... with a crown... with a book in his hand', a possible influence on the 'In the golden book of the golden game / The golden angel wrote my name' section. 'Won't That Be A Happy Time' by Joseph and Louise Spence contains the line 'Over yonder in that fair and sunny clime', possibly paraphased in 'Over in the old golden land', as is 'There will be no more sorrow when we reach that lovely place' in 'You won't need to worry and you won't have to cry'. Finally, the repeated phrase 'Let me go home' in 'Come For Your Dinner' by Frederick McQueen functions in much the same way as 'Let me go through' does in 'Job's Tears'.
- Puppies - On page 105 of the 'Be Glad' book it suggests that 'Puppies owes more than a nod to Leadbelly's Poor Howard'. The Leadbelly song includes the line 'Left me here to sing this song', which is similar to Mike's song, but the rest is fairly generic folk-blues so probably more of a coincidence than any direct borrowing.
- Log Cabin Home In The Sky - there was an article in 'Be Glad' issue 7 that suggested that the tune was lifted from a Woody Guthrie song that Mike first heard on a cassette he obtained by mail order from the States in the mid-sixties, or possibly a mountain fiddle tune. Simmie has now found this, it's 'Cowboy Waltz' from 'Buffalo Skinners - The Asch Recordings vol. 4'. The sleeve notes for this state:
Woody Guthrie, fiddle; Bess Lomax Hawes, mandolin; unidentified, bass fiddle (possibly Alex Stewart)
(Traditional waltz adapted by Woody Guthrie; recorded January 1945, matrix unknown, issued on Folkways 2010 and AA3; from Smithsonian Acetate 517; 12" acetate on aluminum disc)
Variants of this tune have circulated in the West for decades; it has an opening phrase that Tex Owens used for his popular song, "Cattle Call". Woody was not a great fiddle player, but his fiddling does have the same honesty and rough edges that make his singing so unique. There were two fiddlers in Pampa, Texas, who influenced him and were close friends — his uncle Jeff Guthrie and his former brother-in-law and best friend Matt Jennings. From whom he learned this song is not known.
Although 'Cattle Call' does bear a lot of similarities, there are other, possibly traditional, sources that influenced Woody. The Fiddler’s Companion web site, says that Woody's tune was a simplification of 'Kelly Waltz', recorded in 1928 by Oscar Harper. Another version, titled 'Brown Kelly Waltz', was recorded by Eck Robertson in 1929. However, given the above, it's almost certain that Woody's recording of 'Cowboy Waltz' was the inspiration for Mike's song.
There are also a whole host of other 'Log Cabin' songs in the early country idiom that have some similarity, either lyrically or musically to Mike's song. Ernest Stoneman recorded 'Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane' in 1926 and the Carter Family recorded several, including 'My Little Home In Tennessee' and 'Mountains Of Tennessee'.
- Air - Mike is reputed to have said that this was based on an old Tahitian melody (see the 'Be Glad' book, page 139), though in another interview (on page 316) he says 'no, it's not a pinched tune - more influenced'. In the introduction to 'Gaugin In The South Seas' at an Incredible Acoustic Band show he mentioned how he and Robin had free access to the output of (Elektra subsidary) Nonesuch Records, who released many 'world music' albums including 'The Real Bahamas' from which came 'I Bid You Goodnight'. One of these was 'The Gauguin Years - Songs And Dances Of Tahiti' and several songs on this album do share something of the mood of 'Air', although none are obviously the 'original'.
- Ducks On A Pond - the 'Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore' section is presumably from Woody Guthrie, although Woody said that he wrote his song 'I Ain't Got No Home' to the tune of 'I Can't Feel At Home In This World Anymore', a hymn recorded by the Carter Family. An excellent 1938 version of this by Edith and Sherman Collins can be heard on YouTube.There's also the 'Boys and girls come out to play' nursery rhyme section, the earliest printed version of which seems to be in 'Mother Goose Melodies' published by Thomas Fleet in 1719.
- The Son Of Noah's Brother - from Raymond Greenoaken's article on page 431 of the 'Be Glad' book:
If our titular hero is indeed one of Noah's three sons (the son-of-Noah's brother), it may be that the coat referred to in the lyric refers to the coat that Shem and Japheth flung over their drunken father's naked body in the curious story in Genesis 9:23. Robin has indicated, however, that the reference is not primarily Biblical, but an allusion to Irish myth, wherein the first person to settle in the land of Ireland was Partholon, described in one source as brother of Noah. The son of Noah's brother, in this context, could therefore be a son of Partholon himself, or of one of Partholon's brothers. As it happens, one of the few narratives in the corpus of Irish myth that seems to hint at a notion of physical reincarnation ('Many were the lifetimes...') is the story of Tuan Mac Cairill, who led successive lives as various animals, birds and fishes. Tuan was the son of Sera son of Starn, brother of Partholon, and therefore in a loose sense one of the son's of Noah's brother.
- The Mountain Of God - the lyrics are a mixture of hymns, biblical verses and Winnie the Pooh!
Behold the mountain of the Lord in latter days shall rise
Is from the Church of Scotland hymn 'Behold! The Mountain Of The Lord', see see the Cyber Hymnal for details.
Hark, the herald angels sing
Is from the Christmas carol of the same name.
Hush, hush, whisper who dares, Christopher Robin is saying his prayers
Is from AA Milne's 'When We Were Very Young', see the Winnie The Pooh FAQ for details. Melanie recorded this as a song too.
Do ye not fly as clouds and as doves to your windows
Is from the Bible, Isaiah 60:8.
Who serve as the shadow and the example of heavenly things
As Moses was admonished of God as he was making the Tabernacle
See that ye do all things according to the pattern shown you on the high mountain.
Is also from the Bible, Hebrews 8:5.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
World without end
Is the lesser doxology 'Gloria Patri', see the BELIEVE Religious Information Source for details.
- Douglas Traherne Harding - the lyrics are from the writings of Douglas Harding ('On Having No Head') and Thomas Traherne.
- The Circle Is Unbroken - the tune is from the Irish air 'Anach Cuin', the lyrics of which, ascribed to the poet Anthony Raftery, describe a tragic boating accident. See the Cranford Publications site for the original Gaelic lyrics, along with an English translation, and further details.
- Big Ted - PB: The chorus is stolen from rock & roll.
- White Bird - parts of the tune are borrowed from a Bollywood song, 'Aayega Aanewala' (or 'Aayega Aanewaala', spelling varies), composed by Khemchand Prakash and recorded by Lata Mangeshkar for the 1949 film 'Mahal'. Just after finishing work on 'Wee Tam & The Big Huge', Joe Boyd produced an album for Nonesuch 'Kalpana Improvisations - Instrumental & Dance Music Of India', so, although this doesn't contain 'Aayega Aanewala', it's possible that Joe had a recording of it from researching this album, and Mike heard it from him.
The lines, 'walking onwards every day, sunshine in our faces' seem to have been influenced by the Church of Scotland hymn 'Looking Upward Every Day', see the Cyber Hymnal for details.
It has also been pointed out that the guitar interlude on 'White Bird' has a certain similarity to 'Dali's Car' from Captain Beefheart's 'Trout Mask Replica' album. Probably a pure coincidence, although both albums were released in 1969.
I Looked Up
- Black Jack Davy - a variation on the traditional song 'The Gypsy Laddie', Child Ballad #200, known by various names throughout Britain, Ireland and North America, including 'The Raggle Taggle Gypsies'. Background information from PB:
Nick Tosches wrote a pretty strange book called "Country : Living Legends and Dying Metaphors in America's Biggest Music" (1985). Chapter 2 is called "Orpheus, Gypsies and Redneck Rock 'n' Roll". On page 7 he picks up the story of Warren Smith, who issued a single in 1956, "Ubangi Stomp". Flipside was - aw, you guessed - "Black Jack David", which he copyrighted under his own name.
Black Jack David come a-ridin through the woods
Singin' so loud and merry
His voice kept ringin' through the green green trees
He spied a fair-haired maiden
Would you forsake your husband dear,
Would you forsake your baby?
Would you forsake your fine fine home
and go with BJD?
No Dear Jack I cannot go away and leave my baby
I cannot forsake my husband and home
And go with you BJD
Listen dear lass, my name is Jack
I've come from afar
Lookin' for a fair-haired lass like you
Won't you come and be my bride?
Come and be my bride
Yes I'll forsake my husband dear
And I'll forsake my baby
I'll forsake my fine, fine home
And go with you, BJD
Last night she slept on a fine feather bed
Beside her husband and baby
Tonight she slept on the cold cold ground
Beside old BJD
Nick Tosches: "In 1976, 20 years after he recorded it, I asked Warren Smith the source of Black Jack David. 'I wrote it' he answered."
Tosches then cuts to ancient Greece and retails the myth of Orpheus, then traces that through the Child Ballad Sir Orfeo (13th century) which came into English from French, then how the legend morphed into Johnny Faa, The Gypsie Laddie (1737) - he quotes that ballad and we find the verse:
Gae saddle to me the black, black steed
Gae saddle and make him ready
Before that I either eat or sleep
I'll gae seek my fair lady
The ballad in its gazillion variants made its way to America in the 19th century and by 1920 had become "The Raggle Taggle Gypsies" in England, but "Black Jack david" in America (this is to simplify of course).
First recorded in 1929 by Professor and Mrs I G Greer, then in 1939 by Cliff Carlisle and in 1940 by that ubiquitous Carter Family; in 1945 by T Texas Tyler. Carlisle's version begins:
BJD come a-riding through the woods
Singin' so loud and merry
His voice kept ringin' through the green, green trees
And he charmed the heart of a maiden
Charmed the heart of a maiden.
So there you go. Everyone recorded this song, especially in America. One famous version I know is by the Country Gentlemen.
On page 181 of the 'Be Glad' book, Raymond comments that 'Just hearing that fiddle intro to 'Black Jack Davy', with its sly nod to Kenneth McKellar's perennial 'Road To The Isles', instantly pastes a grin onto my face'. He has since clarified this by saying that the first four bars are pretty close to the first four bars of 'Road To The Isles'. You could just about sing the latter to the former. Robin may well have 'quoted' it without realising its provenance: sometimes bits of tunes just pop into your head like that.
Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending
- See All The People - On page 168 of the 'Be Glad' book it states that 'Mike reckons one of the melody lines was taken from a classical piece he'd been listening to at the time'. Elaine recalls something on Radio 4 at the time, and the note in one of her sketch books from the time says 'Viennese Singing Sisters (7) - Hungarian Rhapsody No.2'. The Viennese Seven Singing Sisters were a close harmony group, also know as the Singing Babies, but so far no sign of this performance has been found. Mike's song doesn't seem to bare any resemblance to Liszt 'Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2', so perhaps this is a false lead. As PB suggests, the most likely classical influence is when Mike first sings 'Ha, ha, hahaha ha, ha', which definitely sounds as if he's imitating a classical piece.
- Waiting For You - according to John Quigley's 'Be Glad' article, this is the only String Band song to contain no less than three Louis Armstrong references:
- 'I'm waiting for Willie the Weeper to wake', referring to a famous Hot 7 track from 1927.
- 'I'm waiting for the man they call Shine', Shine being the vaudeville song recorded by Louis in 1930.
- 'Hold that tiger!', from, of course, 'Tiger Rag'.
He also suggests that in the 1936 film 'Pennies From Heaven', Bing Crosby sings a song with the refrain 'I'm waiting for you', sounding as though it might have inspired Robin's similar, but hardly identical song. Colin Ellis has since identified this song as 'One, Two, Button Your Shoe', written for the film by Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke, which was also recorded by Billie Holiday later in the same year.
- The Song Has No Ending - the section between 'Beyond The See' and 'Theta', labelled as 'Part Eight: The Reincarnation Cycle' in the sleeve notes that accompany the Edsel/Demon CD reissue, uses the tune of the traditional song 'Long Lankin', or 'Lamkin', Child Ballad #93. Further information from Raymond:
The tune was quietly filched from a version of 'Long Lankin' (the version found in 'The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs', in fact), though the ISB made it even more rich and strange by slipping an augmented fourth and a major seventh into the fifth and sixth bars, giving it what we musicologists call a Lydian cadence.
- Hirem Pawnitof/Fairies' Hornpipe - 'Hirem Pawnitof' bears a striking resemblance to the traditional Irish song 'Brennan On The
Moor', see this Folk Music of Britain, Ireland & America site for more details. Unfortunately for Brennan he suffered a fate worse than being hit on the head with a tray! The second half of this track, 'Fairies' Hornpipe', is another traditional tune. This note from Carl:
This one Robin got from Finbar Furey (I read this somewhere - I thnk Robin said something about Finbar playing it at his wedding). Anyway I think you can find a recording of Mr Furey playing the tune on his pipes on an early 70s recording on the Leader label; it was part of a series which included other records by Seamus Tansey (flute) and Martin Byrnes (Fiddle).
- Robot Blues - according to Raymond, on page 203 of the 'Be Glad Book', 'Robot Blues' is a pastiche of Robert Johnson's 'Terraplane Blues', in which carnal impulses are expressed in the imagery of the internal combustion engine. The mention of 'Robot Johnson' in the 'U' programme reinforces the Johnson influence, and the line "till my piston fills with oil, you know what I'm talkin' about" is obviously influenced by his famous 'lemon squeezing' line from 'Travelling Riverside Blues', later appropriated by String Band enthusiasts Led Zeppelin.
Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air
- Dear Old Battlefield - the title comes from 'Called To The Foreign Field', an old timey religious song by Alfred G. Karnes released on 'The Bristol Sessions'. Robin says he liked the phrase but the song was mediocre. Alfred Karnes was a cheerfully eccentric old-fashioned (even for the 1920s) performer of self-composed religious songs.
- Evolution Rag - from Carl:
At the end of Evolution Rag Robin plays a very well known ragtime tune. Problem is it's so well known I can't think of the title.
Colin finally solved the mystery, it's 'Dallas Rag' by the appropriately named Dallas String Band, a tune from the 1920s that was reissued in the late 1960s and was apparently 'a popular number among fancy-pants guitar pickers such as Stefan Grossman'.
- Jigs & Reels - 'Eyes Like Leaves' was written by Robin but the rest are traditional. Presumably he first heard these in the folk clubs unless anyone knows of any other earlier recordings.
- Darling Belle - features 'Keep The Home Fires Burning', lyrics by Lena Ford and music by Ivor Novello. Two versions of this song may be heard at the First World War - Vintage Audio site, a popular 1917 version by John McCormack and an earlier 1916 version by Stanley Kirby.
- Strings In The Earth And Air - by Dr Strangely Strange from their 1970 debut album 'Kip Of The Serenes', the lyrics being from James Joyce's 'Chamber Music'. Alright, it's a Robin solo recording rather than an ISB one as such, but it was also performed at the ISB reunions and it's a great song!
- Sandy Land - according to page 270 of the 'Be Glad' book, 'Gonna make my living on sandy land,' runs the refrain of the American traditional ditty 'Sally Ann'. There are many variants of this traditional song under assorted titles such as 'Great Big Taters In Sandy Land', some of which don't include the 'Sandy Land' reference. Several are available for download at Archive.org. This lyric is the only similarity to Robin's song though.
- Antoine - the lyrics are influenced by 'The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz' by Hector Berlioz. This from Nick:
The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, translated and edited by David Cairns (London: Gollancz, 1969):
From the prologue:
I took my first communion on the same day as my elder sister, at the Ursuline convent where she was a boarder. This unusual circumstance gave to my religious initiation a quality of sweetness which I recall even now with emotion. The almoner of the convent came to fetch me at six o'clock in the morning. It was spring; the sun shone brightly, as light wind stirred the rustling poplars; the air was full of some delicious fragrance. Deeply moved, I crossed the threshold of the chapel. I found myself in the midst of a multitude of young girls in white, my sister's friends; and with them I knelt in prayer and waited for the solemn ceremony to begin. [31f.]
From ch. 3:
In the highest part of Meylan, right against the mountainside, was a small white house half hidden in gardens and vineyards with a wide prospect over the valley of the Isère far below... It was the villa of Madame Gautier. She lived there during the summer with her two nieces, the younger of whom was called Estelle ... The moment I beheld her, I was conscious of an electric shock: I loved her. From then on I lived in a daze. I hoped for nothing, I knew nothing, and yet my heart felt weighed down by an immense sadness. I lay awake whole nights disconsolate. By day I hid myself in the maize fields or in the secret corners of my grandfather's orchard, like a wounded bird, mute, suffering. [36f.]
Rather than the large & scholarly Cairns, Mike might have used the Victorian translation by the Misses Holmes, which was an old Everyman for a while. But what's striking about this is that, even knowing that he was using this text, there's no very close borrowing, and if we hadn't been told it was from Berlioz' life, nobody would ever have made the connection.
- Black Jack David - see the 'I Looked Up' entry for 'Black Jack Davy'.
- Seagull - the tune and chorus are in the same ball-park as 'Out On The Rolling Sea' by Frederick McQueen, Shelton Swain and George McKenzie from the 1966 Nonesuch LP 'The Real Bahamas Vol. 1'.
No Ruinous Feud
- Jigs - credited as 'arr. Williamson', the second tune, 'The Mountain Road', is by Sligo fiddle champion Michael Gorman, the other two are both traditional. This from Carl:
Regarding the 'Jigs' on NRF the liner notes are of course more accurate where this track is described as "a selection of traditional reels". The three tunes are 'Speed the Plough', 'The Mountain Road' and 'The Mason's Apron'. The latter was very popular at the time - perhaps a result of the Boys Of The Lough who did a very virtuoso performance of it. 'The Mountain Road' is included in Robin's book of Fiddle Tunes and he includes a poem he wrote to go with it.
I always thought that many of the tunes Robin played were quite obscure - not the usual stuff of sessions. I also got the impression that he maybe got some, if not most, from the written page as it were rather than hearing them played by other 'traditional' players. That said, Hamish Henderson (Scottish poet, songwriter, folklorist etc) told me that he knew Robin from when he was a schoolboy and, still in short trousers, he would come to listen to field recordings of fiddle players and singers.
- Second Fiddle - written by Duke Reid, one of the original 'Sound System' men in Kingston, Jamaica. Along with Coxsone Dodd he was the biggest producer of reggae during the mid to late 60s - with hits by Alton Ellis, The Paragons and The Melodians ('River Of Babylon'). The Duke Reid produced original recording of 'Second Fiddle' is by Tommy McCook and The Supersonics. This from Tim:
'Second Fiddle' was one of the few things that came from a project that Island Records started, pairing it's white 'rock' acts with it's black reggae roster. Hence ISB and Greyhound (Oh that it could have been Bob Marley!). John Martyn was also an act that started on the project, ref. 'Johnny Too Bad'. My information is that Marley and the Wailers would have been put alongside Jethro Tull (Chrysalis being a linked label) if the album had reached fruition.
- My Blue Tears - by Dolly Parton, from her 1971 debut album 'Coat Of Many Colors'.
Hard Rope And Silken Twine
- Ithkos - the lyrics are influenced by the novel 'Wolfwinter' by Thomas Burnett Swann, this from Nick:
I've just been rereading the interesting but rather forgotten Floridan fantasy novelist Thomas Burnett Swann (1928-76), who in a brief, intense career curtailed by cancer published 18 novels and a number of superior shorter tales, mostly set in classical or near eastern antiquity, and nearly all centring on ancient prehuman species - dryads, fauns, centaurs, and the like - surviving in small pockets of wildwood. The quality of his novels got very variable after 1968 or so when he took up writing full-time and started knocking them out at a rate of two or three a year; but one of his best is Wolfwinter, whose first and only edition was as a Ballantine paperback dated November 1972. It's a strange historical fantasy about a member of Sappho's circle who becomes pregnant after a fling with a satyr, is then married off to a Greek merchant from southern Italy, and has to save her half-human child by fleeing with it into the wilds, where she gets caught up in a war between the forest halflings and a sinister alliance of ghost-men and wolves, before eventually metamorphosing into the local Sibyl. The novel won the Phoenix Award for Fantasy in 1973.
Why, the glazed looks say, is he telling us this? Well, Swann's novel opens on Lesbos, and bells start ringing in the second paragraph with the phrase "bark-brown eyes" (a recurrent image, as it turns out). There's a reference on the second page to the heroine's attempt "to flush my cheeks with carmine". On page 3, a character jokes about dedicating her virginity in perpetuity to "Artemis, the chaste huntress". By the time we hit the bottom of page 3, guns really start smoking: there's a festival of Aphrodite, in which we meet the line "The temple of Aphrodite was sweet with sandarac" (3), closely followed by "The air was salt-fresh from the Aegean and pungent from the resin of torches" (4). On p. 19, a merchant is introduced "whose ships carry my father's grain from the hinterlands of the Black Sea to Lesbos, Miletus, and then to Sybaris" - among whose "fluted columns" (32) the whole second chapter take place (and which, incidentally, the heroine bears great scorn, though not in those exact words...).
Later chapters go off in a different direction from Mike's song and haven't been so visibly used, but they do clear up a couple of things that have long puzzled me. One is that you can't sail out from Sardis, as it's 80 miles inland; but Sardis turns up on p. 66 of Wolfwinter in a list of cities ("Athens. Miletus. Sardis.") where the other two are both ports, and a reader who knew his Lydian mode better than his Lydian geography could be more than forgiven for assuming Sardis was likewise. The other is the name Ithkos itself, which isn't a real Greek name and has no obvious etymology; but Swann's novel has a major supporting character called Iskos, who comes of ancient near eastern stock and whose name is evidently supposed to sound like a generic but unspecified ancient language. This is evidently why Mike adapted it for his hero, who may be either Greek or Lydian.
As'll be clear from all this, the actual storyline of the song owes nothing to the novel beyond the idea of a merchant trading between Lesbos and Sybaris; the debts are entirely on the level of phrases, images, and names. Nevertheless, Swann's novel is clearly the principal source for the most striking touches of historical and lyrical detail - apart from "Ithkos wipes his mouth and drops the wineskin", which is wonderful and very novelistic but seems entirely Mike's own.
Thomas Burnett Swann died on May 5, 1976. Apart from a small-press omnibus of his minotaur trilogy, his novels have never been reprinted. He never knew about the ISB song.
BBC Radio One Live In Concert
- Bright Morning Stars - miscredited to Mike on the sleeve although it's actually traditional, being based on a version by the female vocal group The Pennywhistlers from their 1965 album 'A Cool Day And Crooked Corn'. Note from DS:
'Bright Morning Stars' tune is basically the same (95% - I think one note is different) as the Pennywhistlers' version but the words are different. Their words are basically the same as those recorded by the Young Tradition on a sampler in 1969 (available on the recent Peter Bellamy box set or Young Trad re-issues). Mike has re-written most of the verses, so it is technically tune trad and words mostly-Heron.
Steeleye Span and many others have also recorded this song, see the Ibiblio Folk Music Index for further details, although these are believed to follow the traditional version rather than Mike's rewrite, so only Ziggurat's direct tribute version earns a place in the ISB covers list.
- Willow Pattern - in the sleeve notes to the 2007 Hux CD 'Across The Airwaves' (HUX 087) Robin says that the Chinese melody used in the song is a genuine one 'from somewhere East of the Urals.'
- Whistle Tune - credited on the sleeve notes as a Williamson/LeMaistre compostion, but according to Raymond on page 415 'Licorice played tenor guitar on the Peruvian whistle tune featured on 'In Concert'. The Peruvian reference apparently came from a concert review at the time, which the writer may have taken from an on-stage introduction, although he could equally have made it up or simply been mistaken!
- You've Been A Friend To Me - another old favourite from the ubiquitous Carter Family, written by Kentucky song writer William Shakespeare Hays in 1867. A.P. claimed writing credits for most of the Carter Family's recordings despite the fact that many of them were obviously traditional or, as in this case, from other sources.
First Girl I Loved - Live In Canada 1972
- Wild Cat Blues - credited as 'Trad/Arr. Williamson', it was in fact written by Thomas 'Fats' Waller and Clarence Williams. Background information from PB:
In October 1922, Waller made his recording debut as a soloist for Okeh with Muscle Shoals Blues and Binningham Blues. He began a series of recordings the same year as accompanist for several blues singers including Sara Martin, Alberta Hunter, and Maude Mills. In 1923, a collaboration with Clarence Williams led to the publication of Waller's 'Wild Cat Blues', which Williams recorded with his Blue Five, including Sidney Bechet (July 1923).
- Catwalk Rag - credited as 'Trad/Arr. Williamson', this is actually Scott Joplin's 'Swipesy Cakewalk'. Background information from PB:
Composer-musician Arthur Marshall was retired from the music business when he moved to Kansas City, but lived the last years of his life here. He was born on November 20, 1881, in Saline County, Missouri, near the birthplace of the black musical genius Blind Boone. He became a protegee of Scott Joplin when Joplin stayed at the Marshall home in Sedalia while looking for a permanent residence. Scott Joplin collaborated with Arthur Marshall on 'Swipesy Cakewalk' in 1900, adding a very good trio to Marshall's other three delightful themes. Other Marshall rags published include: 'Kinklets-Two Step' (1906), 'Ham-and-Rag' (1908), and 'The Peach-Ragtime Two Step' (1908). All were published by John Stark. In 1907, Marshall again collaborated with Joplin on 'The Lily Queen', which was published by the Willis-Woodward Company of New York. Marshall moved to St. Louis in 1904, married, and moved on to Chicago. After his marriage ended, he made a living as a professional musician. He remarried in Booneville, Missouri, in 1907, moved back to Sedalia in 1909, then to St. Louis a year later. Deeply affected by the death of his second wife just before World War I, Arthur lost weight and developed a left hand twitch that forced him out of music. He moved to Kansas City in 1917 and married a third time, but never again played music professionally, although it is said that he would play the 'Maple Leaf Rag' at the drop of a hat. He died on August 18, 1968, and is buried in Highland Cemetery in Independence, Missouri.
The Chelsea Sessions 1967 (Second Issue)
- Medley: All Too Much For Me/Take Your Burden To The Lord/Let It Shine On - a medley of Robin's otherwise unreleased 'All Too Much For Me' and two blues/gospel songs from Blind Willie Johnson.
Across The Airwaves
- Raga Puti - a traditional Indian song, reputably one of Ghandi's favourites. According to the sleeve notes of the 'Across The Airwaves' CD, Mike first heard this on an Ananda Shankar LP (his 1970 self-titled debut, where it is titled 'Raghupati'). It was also recorded by the American folk group the Weavers, who included it on their 'On Tour Live' LP.
Tricks Of The Senses
- Relax Your Mind - a variation on an old Leadbelly song, also recorded by Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band. This from PB:
RELAX YOUR MIND
Relax your mind, relax your mind,
Oh, make you live a great long time
Same time you got to relax your mind.
When the light turns green,
Oh, push down on your gasoline,
One time you got to relax your mind.
When the light turns red,
Oh, shove your brakes down to the bed,
One time you got to relax your mind.
Relax your mind, relax your mind,
Oh, make you feel so fine some time,
Some time you got to relax your mind.
When you're driving in an automobile,
Oh, keep your eyes out through that windshield,
That's the time you got to relax your mind.
Once was a man crossin' a railroad track,
Oh, boy, and he forgot to relax,
That's one time he shoulda relaxed his mind.
Relax your mind, relax your mind,
Oh, make you feel just as fine as wine,
Sometime you gotta relax your mind.
SOURCE: Julius Lester and Alan Lomax, The 12-string Guitar As Played by Leadbelly (Oak, 1956, p. 41; with music & chords)
The Balmore Tapes, Late 1966/Early 1967
- Join The Band - a hauling song from the days of the big sailing schooners, it's featured on 'Sounds Of The South - The Classic Alan Lomax Sessions Recorded Live In The Southern States Of The USA' performed by John Davis and group.
- Cindy's Crying - a song by Tom Paxton, included on his 1969 album 'Tom Paxton 6', although presumably he had been playing it for some years before that. Robin must have heard it performed live, either by Tom himself or in the folk clubs.
- As I Roved Out - an Irish traditional song.
- Every Time - by Tom Paxton, from his 1965 album 'Ain't That News' and also on the extremely rare 1962 Gaslight album, 'I'm the Man Who Built the Bridges' (where it's titled 'Ev'ry Time'). This was also performed at the 1997 Robin & Mike reunion shows.
- Relax Your Mind - see the entry for the 'Tricks Of The Senses' archive release.
- I Ain't Goin' To Work Tomorrow - from the Carter Family song book.
- Down On The Track - believed to be an American traditional song.
- More Pretty Girls Than One - an American traditional song recorded by Ramblin' Jack Elliott and also Tom Rush:
More Pretty Girls Than One
There's more pretty girls than one
More pretty girls than one
Every town I ramble around
Has more pretty girls than one.
Look down that railroad line
Hear the train roll by
Train rolled by with the woman I love
Hung down my head and cried.
Look out across that sea
See the breakers swell
How many a love is washed away
No human tongue can tell
From "Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Best of the Vanguard Years".
- Engine 143 - an old-time country song from the Carter Family.
- The Little Gypsy Girl - a traditional Irish gypsy song, sung by many people including Shirley Collins on her 'No Roses' LP.
- Wordless Song - believed to be an American traditional song.
- How Sweet To Be A Cloud - from AA Milne's 'Winnie The Pooh', as featured as the introduction to 'Little Cloud' from 'The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion'.
- Anach Cuin - a traditional Irish air and the source tune of 'The Circle Is Unbroken' from 'Wee Tam & The Big Huge'.
- A Ballynure Ballad - an Irish traditional song.
- The Month Of January - a traditional song from the West of Ireland.
- The Twa Sisters - a traditional song, Child Ballad #10, found under various titles and variants throughout Britain and America ('Binnorie', 'The Cruel Sister', 'The Wind And Rain', etc).
- The Cruel Brother - a British traditional song, Child Ballad #11.
- George Collins - a British traditional song, a variant of Child Ballad #85, 'Lady Alice'.
- Sir Patrick Spens - a British traditional song, Child Ballad #58.
- Fiddle Tunes - a selection of presumably traditional tunes.
Julie Felix 'Once More With Felix', 3.2.68
- Geordie - a traditional British folk club favourite, Child Ballad #209.
Fillmore East, New York, 27.11.68
- Jigs - Ten Penny Money/The Kid On The Mountain - more traditional fiddle tunes. Where would Robin have heard these?
Berkeley Community Theatre, 31.12.69
- Muddy Roads - yet another traditional fiddle tune, where would Robin have heard this?
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 17.7.70 + Brighton Dome, 10.10.70
- Jigs - Rakish Paddy/The Mountain Road - 'Rakish Paddy' is traditional whilst 'The Mountain Road' is a tune by Sligo fiddle champion Michael Gorman which would later be heard on the 'No Ruinous Feud' album. Where would Robin have heard these?
- Medley: Join The Band/This Little Light Of Mine/Let It Shine On/Rainbow/May The Long Time Sun Shine - 'Join The Band' is a hauling song (see the entry for the Balmore Tapes), 'This Little Light Of Mine' is a traditional negro spiritual and 'Let It Shine On' is by Blind Willie Johnson (see the entry for 'The Chelsea Sessions 1967' album). 'Rainbow' is of course a Mike original from 'U', and 'May The Long Time Sun Shine' is part of 'A Very Cellular Song'.
Stuart Henry's 'Sounds Of The Seventies', 24.9.70 (Recorded 17.9.70) + Others
- Jigs - Chief O'Neill's Favourite/The Mountain Road/Rags And Tatters/Unknown Reel (Possibly Appalachian) - another set of fiddle tunes, where did Robin get these from? 'The Mountain Road', is by Sligo fiddle champion Michael Gorman and would later appear as part of the jig set on the 'No Ruinous Feud' LP. 'Rags And Tatters' is an Irish tune, also known as 'The High Leap', 'The High Road', 'Rattigan's' and 'Redigan's'.
Paul's Mall, Boston, 8.10.72 + Others
- The Entertainer - by Scott Joplin, a Gerard Dott party piece.
Bolton College Of Technology, 23.2.73 + Others
- Elite Syncopations - another of Gerard's Scott Joplin party pieces.
Tampa, Florida, 29.4.73 + Palau De La Musica, Barcelona, 25.5.73
- The March Of The King Of Laois - yet another traditional fiddle tune, it's possible that Robin learnt this from the Chieftains' recording on their 1971 LP 'Chieftains 3'.
Studio Session, April 1974
- Blue Moon - unlikely as it may seem, this is the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart song written in 1934 that has become a standard, performed by Elvis and many, many others. The ISB version, from a studio session produced by Mike in April 1974, exists in the Island vaults as an unmixed 16 track master. It features Mike on vocals, lead guitar and congas, Robin on harmonies and Malcolm on Moog!
Golders Green Hippodrome, London, 17.5.74 (Broadcast 1.6.74)
- Jigs - Good Morrow To Your Nightcap/Crawley's Reel/Small Coals For Nailers/Katie Hill - and even more fiddle tunes, where did Robin get these?
Songs that were perform live but for which no recordings are known to exist. See the lost songs page for more details.
- Faraway Look - reputedly featuring lyrics written by the wife of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, after she waylaid Robin on the streets of the city and handed him a piece of verse that she suggested he might like to set to music. Performed live in 1970.
- Lost Lover Blues - an old Blind Boy Fuller blues song, performed live in 1970.
- Stealin' Stealin' - an old The Memphis Jug Band song, performed live in 1970 and covered by many people at the time.
- Cajun Song - a Robin song, in French, which borrows the tune from 'Le Vieux Soulard et sa Femme' by Clemo Breux. Performed live in 1971.