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Lyr Add: Old Fid (Bill Lowndes)

DigiTrad:
OLD FID
OLD FID
OLD FID


Related thread:
Lyr Correction: Old Fid (9)


Crane Driver 23 Apr 03 - 12:26 PM
MMario 23 Apr 03 - 12:41 PM
Nigel Parsons 23 Apr 03 - 12:44 PM
MMario 23 Apr 03 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,MCP, Tune Add 23 Apr 03 - 03:10 PM
radriano 23 Apr 03 - 04:40 PM
MMario 23 Apr 03 - 04:48 PM
radriano 23 Apr 03 - 06:03 PM
GUEST, GEST 23 Apr 03 - 07:44 PM
Joe Offer 24 Apr 03 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,MCP 24 Apr 03 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,T-boy 24 Apr 03 - 08:02 AM
Charley Noble 24 Apr 03 - 02:23 PM
kendall 24 Apr 03 - 02:33 PM
radriano 25 Apr 03 - 11:18 AM
Charley Noble 25 Apr 03 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,Bobbo 15 Oct 08 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,David 25 Jan 11 - 02:13 PM
kendall 25 Jan 11 - 03:58 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD FID (Bill Lowndes)^^
From: Crane Driver
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 12:26 PM

Yes, I know there are other threads on this excellent song, but this is something a bit different. We made contact with the author Bill Lowndes last year, via an internet contact. He and his wife live in quiet retirement in Cornwall, UK - they don't want to be invaded by lots of folkies, so they asked us not to be more specific.
"Old Fid" himself was a retired Norwegian sailor who settled in Bill's town. Bill would see him every day, sitting on a bench staring out to sea, and eventually got to know him and heard his story. The old man would look down at his hands and say "Look at 'em - every thumb a marline-spike and every finger a fid", which gave Bill his starting point for the song.
When he heard our recording (Baggyrinkle - Old Swansea Town), he liked it but said that we, like everyone else, missed out half a verse. Apparently the first person to record Old Fid missed it out, and everyone's version goes back to that one. Bill was a bit upset that his song had been mutilated, so we said "No problem, give us the missing bit, and we'll put it back in." He did. We have.
This then is the Authorised Old Fid, as dictated to us over the telephone by Bill Lowndes in 2002:

OLD FID
(Bill Lowndes)

I'll sing me a song of the rolling sky,
To the land that's beyond the Main,
To the ebb-tide bell or the salt pork meal,
That I'll never taste me again.
There's many a night I've lied me down,
To hear the teak baulks cry,
To a melody sweet with a shanty-man beat
As the stars went swimming by

(Chorus)Don't ask me where I've damn well bin,
        Don't ask me what I did,
        For every thumb's a marline-spike,
        And every finger's a fid.

I mind the times as we were becalmed,
With never a breath for the sheet,
With a red sun so hot that the water would rot,
And the decking would blister your feet.
And then there's the times, as we rounded the Horn,
With a cargo of silk for Cadiz,
The swell roll was so high it were lashing the sky
Till the whole ruddy world were a fizz!

(Chorus).

Be it spices from Java or copra from Yap,
Or a bosun so free with the lash,
It were "Up with the anchor!" and "Run out the spanker!"
And "Damn it, move faster than that!"
I've loved proud women from Spain's lusty land,
And I've seen where the Arab girl sleeps,
And the black girls as well, though they're fiery as hell,
Have all kissed me when silver was cheap.

(Chorus).

Lord, how the man's changed from the young cabin boy
To the old man that sits on this bench!
Now he's too old to fight or to stay out all night
In the company of some pretty wench.
Just an old clipper man who's long past his best years,
He knows that he'll never be free
From the smell of the tar that once braided his hair,
From the salty old tang of the sea.

(Chorus)^^

Note that the first three verses are first-person, the words of "Old Fid" himself. The last verse is third-person, Bill's comments on Old Fid and his life. BTW, the "black girls" of Old Fid's amorous memories were Australian, not African.

Bill accepts that songs change as they pass from singer to singer, and is really pleased that people sing his words even if changed somewhat, but I thought you might like to know what he actually wrote. And what a great song! Nice one, Bill.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 12:41 PM

it's one of the "missing" tunes - would it be alright with him if the tune gets posted?

And is there anyone who can post it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 12:44 PM

Certainly a worthwhile addition.
Thanks Andrew.

And, to forstall MMario, how about a tune?

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 12:47 PM

too late!


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Subject: Tune Add: OLD FID (Bill Lowndes)
From: GUEST,MCP, Tune Add
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 03:10 PM

Here's the tune as I remember it. (I'm open to corrections).

Mick



X: 1
T:Old Fid
M:3/4
L:1/4
Q:3/4=50
C:Bill Lowndes
K:DDor
A,|D D E|F F G|(A G) F|G2
w:I'll sing me a song of the roll_ing sky,
c/ c/|d A A|(A< G) F|G3-|G2
w:To the land that's be-yond_ the Main_,
E/ F/|G2 G|G E F|(G E) D|C2
w:To the ebb-tide bell or the salt_ pork meal,
(D/ E/)|F G F|E D> C|D3-D2
w:That_ I'll ne-ver taste me a-gain_.
A,|D< D E|F2 G|(A G) F|G2
w:There's ma-ny a night I've lied_ me down,
c|d2 A|(A< G) F|G3-|G2
w:To hear the teak_ baulks cry_,
E/ E/|G< G G|G E F|G> E D|C2
w:To a me-lo-dy sweet with a shan-ty-man beat
D/ E/|(F G) F|(E< D) C|D3-|D2||
w:As the stars_ went swimm_ing by_
"^Chorus"A,|D2 E |F2 G|(A G) F|G2
w:Don't ask me where I've damn_ well bin,
c|d2 A|(A G) F|G3-|G2
w:Don't ask me what_ I did_,
E|G2 G|(G E) F|(G E) D|(C< D)
w:For ev-ery thumb's_ a mar_line-spike_,
E|F> G F|E D C|D3-|D2||
w:And ev-e-ry fin-ger's a fid_.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: radriano
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 04:40 PM

Thanks Crane Driver!

Now I'll have to re-learn the song but I always felt it was missing some lines. Got any idea what a teak baulk is?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 04:48 PM

a heavy timber made out of teak.

baulk - primarily british variant of balk - =beam or timber.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: radriano
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 06:03 PM

Thanks, MMario.

I may add Old Fid to my set list for the Sea Music Festival in San Francisco on May 3rd, if I can re-learn it in time.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: GUEST, GEST
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 07:44 PM

Along with teak baulk, I found the definition of a fid in the American Heritage Dictionary also a bit of interesting nautical heritage. :-)

NOUN: 1. Nautical - A square bar used as a support for a topmast. 2. A large tapering pin used to open the strands of a rope before splicing. ETYMOLOGY: Origin unknown.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 12:21 AM

Is the spelling correct - "marlinespike"??
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 03:43 AM

Strangely, I checked just that when I posted the tune. Though I'd always seen the second spelling, my OED gives both marline-spike and marlinspike (both pronounced marlinspike). (Marline being: "A small line of two strands, used for seizings" - OED)

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: GUEST,T-boy
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 08:02 AM

Drifting slightly ...
The first person I heard sing this song was Don Shepherd - I even had it on an LP at the time.

Question ... does anybody know the whereabouts of Don ? I had heard that he had been very ill, and that was some time ago.
An unforgettable character.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 02:23 PM

Andrew-

Thanks for posting the corrected set of words, and noting the change in person from first to third for the last verse; that change makes more sense to me. I never liked that Old Fid appeared to grow sentimental in the last verse. In fact, I'd worked out my own new wording as an alternative:

Just an old clipper man who's long passed his best years,
And I know that I'll never be free
Of the smell of the tar that once braided me hair,
And the roll and the toss of the sea.
So I'll sing my old songs as the tide slips away
And the wind shifts onto the shore,
I'll mind me old mates, Lord knows their fates,
That I'll never sing with no more.

Now I'll have to re-think which way I want to sing this!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: kendall
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 02:33 PM

I've been singing this for years, thanks for the added verse.
The way I do it, I recite THE LOCH ARCHRE by John Masefield as a prelude. Works great.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: radriano
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 11:18 AM

Hey Charley, how's it going?

You've written some nice lines but since this is a composed song with the author still alive I would suggest that you sing it the way it was written.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 12:42 PM

Richard-

"...since this is a composed song with the author still alive I would suggest that you sing it the way it was written."

My position on this generally is that if I'm planning to use such a song for a commercial recording I will forward the composer a MP3 file of the way I am singing his song and let that person decide where it should go from there. If the composer objected to any new words, I'd respect that and reconsider whether I wanted to go back to the original words or drop the song all together. If I'm singing a composed song more informally, I generally experiment with the wording as I would with any "traditional" song and sing whatever pleases me. I do think that it is important for people such as me to acknowledge their changes up front; if any of these changes are adapted by other singers I would be pleased to have made my own contribution to the "folk process."

I am especially pleased to see Bill Lowndes' original words to this song, having wondered if what was recorded on my old Victory Sings Songs of the Seas CD was original or adapted.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (The Authorised) Old Fid
From: GUEST,Bobbo
Date: 15 Oct 08 - 06:54 AM

My take:

Am/C/F/G
Don't ask me /where I've /damn well /bin,
G/Am/C/G
Don't /ask me /what I /did,
G/F/G
For every thumb's_ a /marline-/spike,
G/Am/G
And /every /finger's a /fid.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fid (Bill Lowndes)
From: GUEST,David
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 02:13 PM

Geoff Kauffman gave this a spirited performance at the evening event on June 14, 2010. I picked it up on the simulcast thanks to WPKN radio.

He used "Don't ask me where I've bloody well been, ..." which scans really nicely to the tune.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Fid (Bill Lowndes)
From: kendall
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 03:58 PM

Run out the spanker? Didn't he mean run UP the spanker?

I never saw marlin spelled with an E on the end.


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