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Alex Campbell

Related threads:
Never heard of Alex Campbell (237)
Help: Alex Campbell (45)
Lyr Req: So Long (Alex Campbell) (5)
Alex Campbell -- advice on recordings (16)
Lyr Add: Been on the Road So Long (Alex Campbell) (6)


GUEST,scouse 03 May 04 - 05:18 AM
John MacKenzie 03 May 04 - 05:24 AM
Art Thieme 03 May 04 - 05:51 AM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 08:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 May 04 - 01:42 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 May 04 - 03:06 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 04 May 04 - 12:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 May 04 - 12:46 PM
Tam the Bam (Nutter) 04 May 04 - 12:51 PM
Tam the Bam (Nutter) 04 May 04 - 12:52 PM
John MacKenzie 04 May 04 - 01:03 PM
Art Thieme 04 May 04 - 03:12 PM
greg stephens 04 May 04 - 03:24 PM
John MacKenzie 04 May 04 - 04:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 May 04 - 04:46 PM
Jim McLean 04 May 04 - 04:53 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 May 04 - 05:09 AM
GUEST 05 May 04 - 05:51 AM
Jim McLean 05 May 04 - 05:54 AM
Richard Bridge 05 May 04 - 05:59 AM
Jim McLean 05 May 04 - 06:07 AM
VIN 05 May 04 - 07:44 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 May 04 - 07:59 AM
VIN 05 May 04 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Scouse 05 May 04 - 10:23 AM
John MacKenzie 05 May 04 - 11:07 AM
Dave Bryant 05 May 04 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,JOHN of ELSIE`S BAND 05 May 04 - 11:59 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 05 May 04 - 12:40 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 06 May 04 - 06:26 AM
VIN 06 May 04 - 08:06 AM
Jim McLean 06 May 04 - 04:01 PM
Richard Bridge 06 May 04 - 04:49 PM
Jim McLean 06 May 04 - 05:00 PM
Susanne (skw) 06 May 04 - 05:26 PM
Richard Bridge 06 May 04 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Ballyholme 07 May 04 - 11:19 AM
hga 03 Nov 08 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,big tim 04 Nov 08 - 11:21 AM
John MacKenzie 04 Nov 08 - 12:37 PM
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Subject: Alex Campbell Cassette
From: GUEST,scouse
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:18 AM

Over the week-end I listened to an old cassette of Alex doing a live gig at the "Riverside Folk Club." at the White Horse in Leicestershire. There's no "Info." at all on the insert. Songs etc and more inportantly the date and year the concert took place.Can any-one help. as aye. Phil.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:24 AM

A Discograsphy
This site may help.
John


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:51 AM

JGM

That's a great site and rather a fitting tribute for the man and his music. He truly did document his own work. That's a remarkable amount of recorded material. It must've been the perfect/only time (the Revival) that this music could have been so extensively recorded and saved for future folks.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 08:26 AM

Thanks John, But still no luck. Phil.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 May 04 - 01:42 PM

There are probably any number of tapes of Alex singing mouldering away in attics and cupboards and sheds. They deserve to be rounded up and preserved.

One way and another I suspect that Alex had more influence on the folk scene in this part of the world - England and Scitland and probably further afield than that - than any other individual.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 May 04 - 03:06 AM

Just want to echo those sentiments. He should have been a megastar. Alex was a minstrel, whose grasp of the folk medium was instinctive - before the days when heavy artistic claims were being made for the music.

I remember Tony Savage (who for years kept the folk club at Ampersand near Leicester) telling me a story about Alex. One night I asked Tony how he got into folk music. And the story goes Tony was an opera singer, and one night he was giggging (or whatever the term is for opera singers) the Paris Opera house. There is a disturbance in the performance - two English drunks have hired a box and are trying to sing along. Tony goes up there to confront the ne'erdowells. Of course one of them is Alex complete with cowboy boots and the other is Woody Guthrie.

You can understand how meeting those two might just kindle a slight interest in folk music.....


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 04 May 04 - 12:45 PM

Tony Savage's story about Alex disrupting the Paris Opera sounds entirely in character. But it can't have been Woody Guthrie who was accompanying him on that night. Woody's only recorded visit to Europe happened while he was a merchant seaman during WW2 - during which, incidentally, he managed to get a gig on the BBC's "Children's Hour" radio programme!

Alex's companion at the Opera was probably either Rambling Jack Elliot, or Derrol Adams, both of whom busked in Paris with Alex in the '50s and '60s.

McGrath's comments about Alex's importance as a catalyst for the folk revival in the UK, and as a stimulus for the wider appreciation of British and American folk music on the European continent, I fully agree with.

Sadly, many of Alex's commercially released recordings were made in haste, with limited studio facilities, and did not reflect the full power and charm of his live performances. And even these old disks, inadequate as they are, are mostly unavailable at present.

Any live recordings of Alex in full flow - particularly if they include the patter between the songs - should be made publicly available for the benefit of posterity. (And also for the economic benefit of Alex's family - sadly, it's too late for him now.)

Alex was a good man - not flawless, but which of us is? - a generous friend, and a superb entertainer. I still miss him, as do many others.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 May 04 - 12:46 PM

English drunks!!!


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Tam the Bam (Nutter)
Date: 04 May 04 - 12:51 PM

Alex Campbell An English man,he came from Glasgow wich as far as I know isn't in England but Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Tam the Bam (Nutter)
Date: 04 May 04 - 12:52 PM

Oh by the way I'm Scottish and I live 30 miles from Glasgow in a place called Saltcoats.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 May 04 - 01:03 PM

Got drunk a few times with Alex, and I used to call him Dad jokingly, he wasn't much older than me. I loved Alex, and admired him too, and still miss him. He had a stage presence which most of us would kill for, and even when he'd had one or two drinks, he could still hold an audience, and they loved him for his warmth and cheekiness. Many people in the folk business, made disparaging remarks about his drinking, and maybe he did do the odd gig a bit the worse for wear, but he could still hold an audience, which is more than some of the tut tutters at the back! He was an inspiration to me, and to many others, God bless him wherever he is!
A final thought, another of his contemporaries in those far off days in Paris was Lionel Bart; could it have been him?
John


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 May 04 - 03:12 PM

I met him in Middletown, Connecticut USA when we were both on the lineup of a folk festival at the university. He hated driving in America 'cause of needing to stay on the wrong side of the road. So, for that reason and because he was usually rather tipsy, I was the designated driver that took Alex on his booze runs if I wansn't working at the moment. Before that festival I'd known of him only from a $1.99 LP of his I picked up at a discount supermarket in Oregon---the other side of the country from Connecticut. --- Good times, those.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 May 04 - 03:24 PM

Alex Campmbell was the Danton of the folk revival, Ewan McColl the Robespierre. McColl got the respectful acclaim, Campbell got the love.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 May 04 - 04:39 PM

That's because it was a far far better thing he did, than anyone had ever done before.
John


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 May 04 - 04:46 PM

And Robespierre and Danton didn't hit it off too well either.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 04 May 04 - 04:53 PM

I first met Alex in London in 1961, I think, he had just come over from Paris. He had very little or no knowledge of Scottish folk song. He had worked in Paris in the Foreign Office and was a highly intelligent guy. He would put on the 'gobshite' attitude all the time to fool the company. His repertoire was mainly comprised of American songs and at that first meeting he asked if I was Josh McRae. He, and his wife Patsy, were a great friends of mine and a lovable guy who drank no more than the rest of us then. I introduced him to a friend of mine in Denmark where he eventually lived and died. To talk about him in a sense of Folk revival is at the best naive and at the worst purely ignorant. The revival was well on its way in Scotland (and England) by the time Alex got involved. He was a great entertainer and could really hold an audience, hell yeah!, but let's put it in perspective. I miss him too.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 04 - 05:09 AM

Depends on I imagine your view of the state of health of the folk revival. I was talking to a young singer last night who said he was worried, because although he love the attentive audiences - which you don't get in the new acoustic venues- the audience in folk clubs was getting older.

Alex campbell and entertainers like him were part of the reason folk clubs were full in the 1960's. I leave you to draw you your own conclusions about the present state of affsirs and how we got here.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 04 - 05:51 AM

Alex was the first full time pro I saw work. Denim jacket and trousers, gibson guitar, a personality that took over a room, songs you could sing, tunes you could play, stories to make you laugh. If ever there was a template for a performer Alex was it.There was so much I learned from him when I was lucky enough to tour with him once.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 05 May 04 - 05:54 AM

I always enjoyed the liveliness and humour that performers like Alex and Danny Kyle, Hamish Imlach and Nigle Denver brought to folkclubs and I suppose it's my age group who are classed as the 'older'audience. I found the pedantic attitued to ballads with 99 verses a bit off putting although I was entertained to a lesser degree. Maybe it's the absence(?) of performers similar to the above that is turning away the young, I don't know, but what I meant by 'folk revival' was the digging out and singing of those 'lost to the general public' songs and melodies. Alex was great fun but I don't think he added much to the knowledge of folk song, except maybe as a crowd puller who benefited from the knowledge of more trad musicians. I'm not putting Alex down as he was a great friend of mine but I thought a little perspective was neccessary (in my opinion).


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 May 04 - 05:59 AM

Hey, I still know some drunks who still play in folk clubs!

More seriously I did an Alex Campbell song last night - "So Long" - and the landlady of the pub asked about it, having a recording of it in German which was one of her favourite songs by the german singer in question (whose name I didn't get).

Now Campbell definitely (I think, Jacqui knew him, not I, and I have the info from her, but I cannot now ask her) spent a lot of time in Germany, and definitely spoke German (in fact, one of the other drunks I know who still play in folk clubs once punched Campbell when Campbell trod on his guitar, and Campbell said "Himmel").

So did he write the song in English or in German?


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 05 May 04 - 06:07 AM

Alex spoke French (he worked for the Foreign Office in Paris) but very little German.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: VIN
Date: 05 May 04 - 07:44 AM

Saw Alex live two or three times at the Manchester Sports Guild (MSG to most) in Manchester, England. On the first occasion, i did'nt know what to expect and saw this tall figure climb the stage - big buckle belt, pony tail, huge gibson guitar (well it seemed huge to me) and glass of whisky and water chaser. He started off somethin like 'Evenin folks, yeh oh yeh' and asked the people at the bar to 'shut up' in his charismatic way - it worked! He had the appearance of a hard living guy (and probably was) who might just smack you one if you said the wrong thing but would go on ot give the most gentle version of 'Victoria Dines Alone' or 'Don't You Put Me Down'. A great man to see and listen to. Got three of his albums, one with Sandy Denny on in her early years and two live - great treasures!


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 04 - 07:59 AM

I can remember having a similar sort of discussion when the Spinners finally hung up their sports casual leisure wear. Some people really loathed the Spinners, but they were popularisers. I can't think of any other act who could get The bleacher lass of Kelvinhall onto mainstream television Pebble Mill at One or whatever. we have enough purists to fill all the passenger lists on the Titanic. The popularisers are the people who stop our folksongs getting 'lost to the general public'. They gave the folk revival its vitality, And they're pretty thin on the ground at the moent.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: VIN
Date: 05 May 04 - 08:12 AM

Yes it was seeing Alex and the Spinners that got me into folk music. Obviously very different 'styles' of presentation but both eaqually enthusiastic about the 'tradition'. Maybe because the Spinners tried to appeal to a wider 'family' audience with songs like 'The Ink Is Black' and their 'Clockwork Stoybook' album that put the purists off them, i don't know. But as i've said before they were the only ones that, in my 'umnble opinion, could turn the Free Trade Hall into a folk club and get the audience to join in almost automatically as did Alex - they both had that charisma on stage.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Scouse
Date: 05 May 04 - 10:23 AM

Hey Richard, I think the song your thinking of is most likely "Schon So Lang." written and sung and translated by Hannes Wader, who was a great friend of Alex. However it still doesn't get me any nearer my original inquiry to the start of this thread.
As Aye,   Phil


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:07 AM

Someone once introduced Alex on stage with the tag line 'A sort of Scottish Noel Murphy' Those in the know were gob-smacked by the guys ignorance. Alex took it well, but you could see he was unimpressed by the description.
John


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:25 AM

In the early 70s, a friend and I used to run a folk club for a local college. It was a strange arrangement because neither of us had any other connection with the college, but were useful because we provided some continuity and also knew how to contact and book performers that the students wanted to hear.

One evening we had Alex booked, and we arrived at the pub with him to find a message that the students had an emergency union meeting - could we please keep Alex happy for an hour. That wasn't difficult, but keeping him in a suitable state was a bit more taxing. The two of us kept taking sips out of Alex's glass when he wasn't looking. Well in the end Alex did a wonderful gig, but I'm afraid it was the residents who were a bit inebriated.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,JOHN of ELSIE`S BAND
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:59 AM

When we used to run the folk club at "The Old Tigers Head", Lee Gren, SE London, during the 70`s. Alex was booked the night we held a custard pie eating contest. Alan "Tiny" Graig got stuck into the pies as well as copious amounts of cider and duly threw up on Alex`s guitar and case. As you can imagine, Alex was not best pleased.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 05 May 04 - 12:40 PM

Bliss was it to be alive, Greg, and to be young was very heaven....

I recall transporting both him and Nigel Denver from Farnborough to Euston station, in the back of my min-van - both of them three sheets to the wind of course, and hysterical that they were going to miss the sleeper to Glasgow. It says much for the resilience of the mini, and it's road-holding qualities, that the journey was completed to schedule and without incident.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 06 May 04 - 06:26 AM

A thought or two about Alex, for Jim McLean in particular.

Jim, you wrote:

"To talk about him in a sense of Folk revival is at the best naive and at the worst purely ignorant. The revival was well on its way in Scotland (and England) by the time Alex got involved."

Sorry, but I think you've missed the point I was trying to make. Sure, Alex didn't start the '60s folk revival – a lot of other people were around before he made an impact on the scene. And sure, there were singers, instrumentalists, and songwriters on the circuit who were technically more accomplished. But in certain very important things he surpassed everyone else I heard during that era.

Firstly, he was a great communicator. Alex could reach out to people of all ages, kinds and categories - highbrows, lowbrows or no-brows - and make them feel, for an hour or so, that they were part of one big family, having fun together.   None of the pioneering figures of the revival was so good at winning over the unconverted, and sending them home from their first visit to a folk club determined to come back the following week. That's why many organisers of fledgling clubs chose Alex as the guest performer for their opening night.

Secondly, he was a gifted interpreter, with a genius for seeing into the emotional heart of a song, and making it accessible to everyone in his audience. Alex could deliver a song he'd learned only the day before as if he had known it inside out for years. And he could take a song that he (and some of us in the audience) had heard many times before, and still make it sound fresh and exciting.

Thirdly, he was a great educator. He always credited the sources for the songs he sang, and many of us got our first introduction to traditional performers like Jeannie Robertson and Jimmie MacBeath, and to contemporary songwriters like Cyril Tawney and Tom Paxton, because Alex recommended them to us.

It's true that Alex didn't make the revival happen single-handed: but without him, I believe, it would have taken a very different course. If we had a few more entertainers like him around today, there would be less reason for the anxieties about the future of the folk movement which appear so frequently in this forum.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: VIN
Date: 06 May 04 - 08:06 AM

Some nice comments, Mike of Northumbria. Alex was not bogged down with traditinal/contempory/folk/country labels too much, he just liked to sing and play to the best of his abilities, to and for the people. As one of his songs states:-
    Some people they say I don't work, boys,
    my life is all pleasure and ease,
    It's true that I ramble around, boys,
    drink whisky and do as I please,
    But I've worked all over this country,
    done most of the jobs that there are,
    And I like best to sing you my folk songs,
    and play my old Gibson guitar.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 06 May 04 - 04:01 PM

As I said before, MikeofNorthumbria, Alex was a great crowd puller but I don't think he was 'a catalyst for the folk revival in the UK' and I don't understand what you mean when you say that ..'the revival would have taken a very different course'? He was a great entertainer and busker who brought a lot of fun into people's lives but Hamish Imlach, Danny Kyle and Nigel Denver were all on the scene long before, during and after Alex and performed similar rôles so I can't see what he really changed. He should be seen and remembered as a decent, compassionate guy who contributed his own lovable style. Don't make a martyr of him.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 May 04 - 04:49 PM

In Nottingham I saw him drink two pints of vodka in the interval. His second set was better than his first.

Scouse, Jim, both of your posts are interesting. The "So long" that I thought was an Alex Campbell original starts
    I've been on the road, so long (so long)
    I'm tired and cold, so long (so long)
    I've been to the south, where the winds they are warm,
    Travelling the road of no return, so long (so long)
How does that "Schon so lang" start, and translate? Clearly there is some similarity in the title.

Off to the DT to look for "So long"...


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 06 May 04 - 05:00 PM

I think in German one would translate 'for a long while' as 'shon lange'


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 06 May 04 - 05:26 PM

Richard, 'So Long' is an Alex Campbell original. Hannes Wader made a very personal translation into German as 'Schon so lang', which is basically Alex' title made to scan in German. BTW, I know the title as 'Been on the Road So Long'.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 May 04 - 05:28 PM

Thank you Susanne. I will pass the info on...


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Ballyholme
Date: 07 May 04 - 11:19 AM

I had the privilege of spending a few days in the company of Alex the year before he died. He was invited to the Belfast Folk Festival as a non-playing guest and I became his "guide" or "minder" for most of the weekend, taking him around the various venues and interviewing him for radio.

He was genuinely surprised that he was recognised in Belfast (he had only ever played there once - in the early 60s) and got the chance to meet some friends from the past (the McPeakes, Maggie Barry, etc). Unfortunately he could no longer sing and by that stage and couldn't be persuaded to play guitar (Maggie Barry was looking for a guitar player for a short radio spot).

He was, however, fulsome in his praise for other performers and remained a wonderful raconteur, especially when recalling the "old" days. I told him that he needed to write a memoir but he had no interest in involving himself in such a task. Come to that, the folk scene is remarkably shy of autobiographies and biographies (Hamish Imlach, Ewan MacColl?). Is there a folk equivalent of George Melly out there? His "Owning Up" is a classic that should be a template for folkies.


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: hga
Date: 03 Nov 08 - 05:49 PM

I would like the chords and words for alex campbells ¨My Old Gibson Guitar¨ many thanks


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,big tim
Date: 04 Nov 08 - 11:21 AM

Not being a musician, I can't provide the chords.

But, the song can be heard on Al's CD 'Been on the Road so Long: the Alex Campbell Anthology' (2005), which a good sort of overview of his career (and a chance to hear the young Sandy Denny on backing vocals on one version of the title track!).

btw, just in case anyone is interested: Alex Campbell was born in 1931, not 1925. Alex's family knew this, obviously. His (ex)-wife believed that Al added 6 years to his age so that he could say that he had fought in WW2! I believe he had quite a sense of humour!


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Subject: RE: Alex Campbell
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 Nov 08 - 12:37 PM

Some people say I don't work boys,
My life is all leisure and ease,
And it's true that I ramble around, boys
Drink whisky and do as I please
Yet I've worked all over this country
Know most of the jobs that there are
But I like best to sing you my folk songs
And play my old Gibson guitar


Well, I've worked on a farm, boys
I've helped to forest the hill
I've been a white collar worker, boys
In a factory I've worked with a will
Yes I've worked all over this country
And I've even worked in a bar,
But I like best to sing you my folk songs
And play my old Gibson guitar.


I don't have much education, boys,
So politics aren't for me
I just want a life for my family boys
In a world where they're equal and free
I hope for a great day that's coming
Without hatred and killing and war
And perhaps I might even be helping
As I play my old Gibson guitar.

Alex played it in E A and B7

It sounds a lot like Rosin the Beau


JM


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