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Joe Wilson - biographical information

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Joe Offer 23 Apr 06 - 02:01 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Apr 06 - 03:33 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Apr 06 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,Conrad Bladey 23 Apr 06 - 08:45 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 24 Apr 06 - 10:30 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 25 Apr 06 - 08:44 AM
shepherdlass 25 Apr 06 - 04:33 PM
GUEST,heather ging 05 May 14 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,heather ging 13 May 14 - 12:45 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 10 May 17 - 08:27 PM
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Subject: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 02:01 AM

There have been a number of songs from Joe Wilson posted here today by *#1 Peasant* - great songs, too.
The Digital Tradition entry for Sally Wheatley (click) says the following about Joe:
    Though most recordings say that it's traditional (and it's obviously a lot older than Alex Glasgow!), that's not the whole story. The north-eastern singer Bob Fox credits it to Joe Wilson of Newcastle (c.1840-1874), a stage-comedian and
    printer of cheap songbooks, who also wrote such songs as No Work and Keep Yor Feet Still, Geordie Hinny. Bob knows his stuff, so I'd take that as definitive.

    I believe that the version mostly sung nowadays has changed a bit from the original, though, so it's on its way to being traditional, at any rate. MD

    Sally Wheatley is a Joe Wilson song and published in "Bits of Sangs and Homely Stories by Joe Wilson" Published in Newcastle in the late 1880's (I don't have my copy to hand but I will check out the date and publisher). The song also features in the Musical "Joe Lives!" which was written by Alex Glasgow and others hence the association. "Joe Lives" was a project carried out by the Newcastle Playhouse sometime in the mid 70's and recounts the Life of Joe Wilson together with many of his songs and drolleries. Joe was a real 'Character' and
    in his time was a publican, a music hall performer and a famous Temperance speaker. PB
Sounds like Joe was a fascinating character. Can anybody tell us more about him?
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 03:33 AM

Joe - One of the most prolific of the Newcastle songwriters.

Here are a couple of biographical entries about Joe Wilson:

Joe Wilson - Northumbria U

The Bards of Newcastls

If you select Joe Wilson from the drop down at FARNE - Person Search (I think you need to accept their cookie) you'll find 116 records of his songs.

ASFAIR Lloyd's Folk Song In England has a section on Joe Wilson too.

I seem to recall that there was a substantial book of Joe Wilson songs published a long time ago, sadly not one I have.

Alex Glasgow's Joe Lives (I do have the record of this) had the wonderful John Woodvine taking the part of Joe Wilson.


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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 03:40 AM

I should have added that Martha Vicunus' The Industrial Muse has a 4 page section on Joe Wilson (plus numerous other references in the text).

The book I referred to above was, I think, Tyneside Songs and Drolleries, Readings and Temperance Songs, Joe Wilson, 1890?. It was republished in the 70s I think, but I haven't seen a copy for a while and don't think it's in print now.


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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: GUEST,Conrad Bladey
Date: 23 Apr 06 - 08:45 AM

Yes- the main book is out of print I am working from an original....the volume of songs is staggering.....but I am chipping away at it.

There is a bio of Joe here- cited above Thanks!
My songwriters page

Wilson's life is in two parts. Before and after temperance. He was best known as a stage performer. Eventually he purchased his own pub ran it for a while and then turned to temperance. One wonders though if his transition was as much to sell and write songs as for any other reason-he sure wrote a good number of temperance songs.

Let us not forget his recitations which are also wonderful. A staple of song hall performance.

must re set the cookie as I am on another browser~@!#@$#@!~!@#


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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 24 Apr 06 - 10:30 AM

Now that I have a bit more time....

Joe Wilson was a song machine. He took everyday events and wrote songs insptired by them. He is known for going with the original version without editing.

As with a few other important song writers of his time and region Joe was also a publisher. This is of interest. Did he write songs as songs or songs to publish......Mixing business with folk.....

Wilson was a performer as well as writer. First in Pubs, then in organized concerts, then in song halls. He became a publican then gave it all up and wrote and performed temperance pieces.

Could this transition have been because of demand shift for his songs. The temperance movement did become more important.

Wilson's work centered around Geordie Genre pieces- daily life, everyday happenings, births, life with chidren, death. He had a few characters- the gallogate lad and also covered sporting heros and events- primairly boat races.

One wonders how Wilson's speech would have sounded in his everyday life. How real was the Geordie? As with Cruikshank the famous engraver and artist Wilson like so many others of his time focused upon these quaint scenes. As in London efforts in Newcastle were underway to bring people to the city. Cruikshank accomplished this as purpose behind many of his London life scenes. One reads Wilson's work and one can come away with the feeling that he is saying- come here and encounter these wonderful folk.....could this be the purpose behind the publishing and writing? Was it really just to take home a memory of a song hall night or to sing at home.

Some day I may have the time to look for inconsistancies in Wilson's dialect. If these exist in great numbers then it is more likely that the dialect was part of the act rather than the reality.

How many of the songs of Wilson were actually sung at pubs.....this will have to wait until diaries and personal communications are studied more in depth.

Certainly with his commercial connections Wilson is more the Tin Pan Alley type writer rather than a collector. One wonders at times at the accuracy of the life he portrays- is it fun and fiction or record of life. Close call.

The songs are amazing- and he certainly produced hundreds of them. Interesting also are the tunes. Lots of these as well although he tended to use several a few times. Some day I will get a list of tunes together and start chipping away at them. A job in itself.

One thing Wilson does is give us a good Ideal of the song hall stage and local concert scene. We do know what the people went to hear even if it may not be a reflection of life or part of the oral tradition.

Certainly after Wilson's time many of the songs were forever stampped upon the memory of many people who took them to their lives and to the pubs and social settings they visited.

What we need today is to inspire new singers to sing and recite the work of Joe Wilson. Today it is available as never before. We just need to find those willing to put it to use.

Conrad Bladey

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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 25 Apr 06 - 08:44 AM

I sing a number of Joe's songs and actually have a copy of the "Homely Sangs" which I inherited from my granny although it is in a delicate state. I also have a copy of the LP of the "Joe Lives" Stageshow.

Joe's former pub The Adelaide" still stood in New Bridge Street the last time I was in Newcastle though that was a couple of years ago now. His grave is in Jesmond cemetery. He was a prolific writer and performer and died relatively young or no doubt he would have written a lot more.

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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: shepherdlass
Date: 25 Apr 06 - 04:33 PM

Conrad's said just about it all.   The songs were written for the music hall and for publication, but the relatively small area of distribution would place his repertoire somewhere in between pub songs, broadsides, and Tin Pan Alley. Wilson also travelled out to the pit villages to perform at soirees in miners' reading rooms and the like, where he was stated to have inspired the young Tommy Armstrong to start writing songs. As for the dialect, I'm sure Conrad's right to suspect that there'd be some stage-Geordie exaggeration, but it's very rare to hear anyone singing exactly as they speak anyway.

Another book you could look for which contains several Wilson songs is Allan's Tyneside Songs. This was reprinted in fascimile in the 1970s by (I think) Frank Graham.

As for the Alex Glasgow connection, the lovely wistful tune we now associate with "Sally Wheatley" is Alex Glasgow's.

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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: GUEST,heather ging
Date: 05 May 14 - 01:34 PM

Is this a Joe Wilson and has anybody got the line I am missing

Oh dear what mun Aa dee
there's nee place left ti play
The canny Forth and Spital tee
They've tyun them aall away.

Nee place ti bool wor pace eggs noo
Ti lowp the dyke and run
Dee da dee da dee da dee da
They've spoiled Newcassel Toon

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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: GUEST,heather ging
Date: 13 May 14 - 12:45 PM

does anybody have the missing line pleasse

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Subject: RE: Joe Wilson - biographical information
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 10 May 17 - 08:27 PM

here he is!

wilson bio

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