The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152012   Message #3553451
Posted By: George Papavgeris
27-Aug-13 - 03:10 PM
Thread Name: The Widow's Uniform (uploaded)
Subject: The Widow's Uniform (uploaded)
A piece of work consisting of several songs, whose creation spans more than 80 years. The lyrics were written in the 1890s, and they were put to music (some of it traditional tunes) in the 1970s. They were re-recorded in 1996 by a group of stellar musicians and singers (who in fact toured the work as a show as well), and I heard them on a bootleg CD in 2000 and fell totally in love with the whole works. I am now the proud owner of the very last of the 1000 CDs cut for it. Scouring YouTube for examples of these songs yielded pitifully few examples (though one in particular impressed me, and I told the artist so), which I thought a shame - works such as these should be accessible to the newer generations and should be heard even more often around the country than they actually are.

I am referring of course to Rudyard Kipling's "Barrack Room Ballads", as put to music by Peter Bellamy and recorded on the Realisations label by Brian Peters, Dave Webber, John O'Hagan, Anni Fentiman and John Morris with help from Fi Fraser and Gina Le Faux, in the album "The Widow's Uniform". Having obtained all relevant permissions, I am now going to upload the songs - all except one, for good reason - over the next few days. I have purposely kept the images to a minimum in order to avoid distracting from the songs themselves. I hope I do them justice. If I have not, I am the one to blame.

So, we start today with the first track:

The Widow at Windsor

NOTES: The recording used is from the album "The Widow's Uniform" (REAL CD 0101). Lyrics: Rudyard Kipling ("Barrack Room Ballads"). Music: Peter Bellamy. Full permissions obtained from the copyright holders and all artists involved, for which I am deeply grateful.

Queen Victoria wore a black dress and white cap throughout her 40 years of widowhood but in Kipling the "widow's clothes" are her soldiers' uniforms. This poem records an ambivalence of attitude on the part of the "beggars in red" towards their Queen Empress, though rumours that the Queen was offended by the poem are probably untrue. She was well capable of being flattered by the subjects' apparent devotion - "morituri te salutant"!