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Lyr Add: The Saint Anne of Dunkirk (Ron Baxter)

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Jack Blandiver 15 Feb 11 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Feb 11 - 11:38 AM
Charley Noble 15 Feb 11 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Feb 11 - 12:23 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: The Saint Anne of Dunkirk (Ron Baxter)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 05:08 AM

Further to the discussion over at The New Traditional Songs thread I offer this for your consideration. Ron handed me these words as we were putting the Beware the Fylde Coast Sands show together a few years back and asked if I could put a tune to it as it was proving problematic on account of the odd foot in the verse structure. In the event the tune fell quite naturally under the fingers of my Black Sea Fiddle on account (I insist) of the potent nature of the verses which carry more than a flavour of what Peter Bellamy called the Traditional Idiom. As I said over on the other thread, however else we might define a Traditional Folk Song surely Musical Idiom must be a crucial consideration, and in this respect Ron has created a convincing piece of musical archaeology here (as he has done on lots of other occasions) enabling the melody to flow as though from deep within, or from beyond, in mediumistic communion with the Collective Soul of Traditional Melody.

Anyhoo, here's the song, which you can listen to Rapunzel & I singing over on Soundcloud (and download it too if you like) though this is just a rough demo as we were figuring out a jaunty arrangement of it with the fiddle & harmonium, so some of the lines are a bit breathless. Nice enough though:

The Saint Anne of Dunkirk, Or The Spanish Ship, Being a Tale of Civil Warfare & Ship-Loss, Written by Mr Ron Baxter & Set to Music, in Seance, by Mr Sedayne

The Saint Anne of Dunkirk by the seas much hurt
Seeking a haven limped into the Wyre
There Parliaments soldiers they swarmed aboard her
To steal her canon it was their desire.
But James, Earl of Derby, of the kings army,
Quickly set off with a troupe of horse, boys,
To stop their endeavour and with them to engage.

The Spaniard he swore this isn't my war
But bold Major Sparrow he would not be swayed;
Orders have come - shot, powder and gun -
To Lancaster Castle they must be conveyed.
So wagons he sought for the guns to transport,
And to defend them he called up his men:
Three hundred troupers were at his command.

He marched through Layton, with pike and gun waiting
But when Derby advanced, oh, he sounded retreat;
Streamed on through Carleton, fled on past Poulton,
Though no shot was fired the rout was complete.
The Wyre did ford and with one accord,
They never stopped, boys, 'til Preesall hill top,
Screaming that Derby was hard on their heels.

And so the Saint Anne fell to Derby's hands
But he had no time for the guns to remove;
For far outnumbered and with guns encumbered
If brought into battle the fight he would lose.
So the guns he did spike Major Sparrow to spite,
And as he retired the Saint Anne he fired,
and left her a beacon to blaze in the night.

As a foot-note to this sorry tale, it's said that the crew of the Saint Anne were sent out on their way as vagabonds where their existence on the Fylde is unrecorded but for exeption of several graves in the cemetary of St. Michael's-on-Wyre which are known traditionally as The Soldiers' Graves and said to contain the bodies of certain of the Spanish crew of the Saint Anne. How and when they died is not recorded, but given the craftsmanship of the graves and their proximity to the church itself respectful burials can be assumed.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Saint Anne of Dunkirk (Ron Baxter)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 11:38 AM

I listened to your recording. It's a fine effort. I like the tune and the playing. There's only one problem. When I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can only understand a few words.

I suggest you both sing more gently, as if telling a story to your own family. Concentrate on making each word clear.

Nonetheless, it's very good.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Saint Anne of Dunkirk (Ron Baxter)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 11:59 AM

Nice to hear you singing this one. The arrangement has a nice edge. I hope you don't lose it in the ultimate recording.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Saint Anne of Dunkirk (Ron Baxter)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 12:23 PM

Cheers, L & CN! We normally sing it quite freely (& softly) with the Back Sea Fiddle rather than the violin (as I think we did when you were in The Steamer with us that night, Charlie). I like the rhythmic one but it gets a bit breathless in places, though that was the first (& only) take we did of it in that session. Otherwise, it remains unrecorded!

Anyway, it's a fine wee song and a fascinating piece of local history that links the open sea to the tranquil rural charm of a medieval cemetary some ten miles inland along the Wyre. See HERE for a picture of the graves.

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