Cover Story: (19) Beeswing - Christy Moore or Richard Thompson

July 2020 Update: this article, one of a few I have posted about different version of a great Richard Thompson song, is consistently the one that attracts most readers to Salut! Live.

I therefore promote it to the top of the home page and am also offering links* to two other items on the same theme, ie the respective merits of various interpretations of Beeswing.

Oh, and thank you for coming here - and please leave a comment if you feel you have something to say.

There have been more than 40 separate items in the Cover Series series. You will find them all listed at this link  - and this is the original Beeswing instalment ...

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Can Salut! Live's Cover Story series stagger back into life? It can. Apologies for the dearth of updates. I have been on holiday in Corsica - massively recommended - and trying to earn a living (not recommended).

Today, I turn to a song that has been haunting me for days.

On the garage shelves where I keep hundreds of CDs, I came across Christy Moore's album, Burning Times. He's made better, but some tracks stand out. I'd nominate Magdalen Laundries, Hattie Carroll and, yes, Beeswing. I've been playing it over and again, ignoring iTunes's insulting attempt to categorise it as country and western.

1 A further look at Beeswing: Maeve Gilchrist and Galway Street Club
2 Roy Bailey - mourn the man, treasure his work. Another fine version of Richard Thompson's Beeswing

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Instruments of pleasure: (1) John Renbourn and the Earl of Salisbury


 John Renbourn at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2011. Image: Bryan Ledgard 


A chance exchange with an electronic acquaintance at Twitter prompted some thoughts on folk music (and allied forms) without voices, musicians who let their instruments do the talking.

The first examples of instrumental sounds that caught my admiring attention would have been the string of hits recorded by the Shadows; the chart-topping Apache, originally recorded by Bert Weedon whose version enjoyed more modest success, dates from 1960.

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A notable century: 'Who Knows' crowns a series of 100 gems from Sandy Denny's career

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Image: Jef Aerosol

It has been a remarkable labour of love undertaken by a writer for whom Sandy Denny's voice "touches the soul" each time he hears it.

More than 40 years after Sandy's untimely death at 31, Mick Donovan set himself the task of digging out clips of 100 recordings from the outstanding body of work bequeathed by one of the finest singer-songwriters the world has seen. Each was accompanied by a brief description and they can all be found at the Sandy Denny and Family Facebook group.

For his finale - assuming he does not get the urge to resume at No 101, Mick has chosen, as you might expect, Sandy's much-covered classic Who Knows Where The Time Goes, a rather special version as he explains below. I have chosen to let Mick develop the story of what he did and why he did it ... the clip also appears below

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Peter Green RIP. Fleetwood Mac's founder and British blues giant

Image: W W Thaler - H Weber, Hildesheim / CC BY-SA (


Did I reach folk music via the blues or the other way round? I think it was the former; you'd go to folk clubs to hear people playing Dylan and the blues and then find yourself introduced to the traditional music of the British Isles and beyond. I was quickly hooked without losing affection for what had taken me into those smoke-filled, North-eastern pub function rooms in the first place.

Peter Green, the founder of Fleetwood Mac who has just died aged 73, was one of the musicians who inspired me back then.

I cannot overstate how important those British bluesmen were in the development of musical tastes that have remained with me for more than half a century.

Like Green, I grew up on conventional pop and rock - his own early inspiration was the Shadows' Hank Marvin - but came to find it unsatisfying.

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RIP Judy Dyble: a 'crystalline soprano' with Agatha Christie qualities

Image: Judy Dynle in Oxfordshire, 2009 Credit: Wikipedia 'tommytomato'

Salut! Live is not a folk news site.
It can post reflections, reviews, lists, the odd interview and so on but it cannot hope to offer a rolling stream of updates about the music we love and the people who make it.
Sometimes, we are forced to look elsewhere for ways of recording significant events (a US friend of ours, Stan Wilson, for example on the death from Covid-19 of John Prine).
The rock musician Pete Sears now fills another gap. Judy Dyble, who has died aged 71, fully earns a place in these pages as the original lead singer of Fairport Convention.
It is perhaps fitting that I came across Pete's stirring tribute at a Facebook group devoted to Sandy Denny, the singer who replaced Judy when the latter - to use her owns words* - was 'unceremoniously dumped' before the release of Fairport's first album ... I shall now let Pete - whose retrospective consent is being sought, though I cannot imagine he'd mind - take up the story of the woman described in an excellent New York Times obituary as possessing a 'crystalline soprano voice' ...

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Lockdown sounds: Kate Rusby and kids sing the Bangles' Manic Monday and a Bangle applauds

As Salut! Live's little world knows full well, I adore Kate Rusby, her songwriting and singing and even the "natteriness" as she once described the garrulous ways she'd acquired from life as a Yorkshirewoman.

Interest to declare: I worked for her once - a short biography for her website, much improved since by others.

Out of the loop these days, I relied on my elder daughter Christelle, not a folkie at all but open to different sounds especially when selected by Jo Wiley for BBC Radio 2, for an alert to this enchanting version of the Bangles' hit Manic Monday, a home-made product of lockdown.

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Peruvian dreams. How to make music for love not money





David Denny: 'with our faithful Ericka La Roja at Uchos where the new bridge across the Marañon was being constructed. You can't see it but we are about 1,000m below where road enters the canyon'


Every now and then, the electronic postbag at Salut! Live yields something special. This is an example. It's from David Denny, a response all the way from Trujillo (the city of everlasting spring') in Perú, to a piece here about the dramatic effect of lockdown on the performing arts. I told David I was minded to promote and if possible expand his contribution to the status of self-contained article and this is the result of our exchanges.

I did not know this when I wrote to him but there is indeed a connection with Sandy Denny. 'I do have the same surname as a beloved departed singer,' he said. 'We are cousins. I am a bit older than she would be, and I had my guitar first... hare and tortoise.' That said, it is not a connection he seeks to exploit.

Here is what David wrote on a subject close to his heart, followed by a fascinating playlist of YouTube clips from which I have chosen to highlight one delightful piece, Monica Pantoja's exuberant and infectious El Funeral de Rio (despite the sombre title, this is a protest song about the ruination of La Paz's river Choqueyapu)  ...

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Cara Dillon, Ian Anderson, John Spiers and the tragic lockdown tale that cries out for an uplifting new chapter

Two small slices of social media grabbed my attention today. Someone posted at a neighbourhood group to which I belong in Ealing, west London that a motor-cycle had been nicked from outside an address at the other end of the avenue from my street. Crikey, I thought mischievously, our wretched Government has even let down the pilfering classes, ensuring that in bleak times even for them - burglaries must surely be down if everyone's been stuck inside - criminal lowlife must find its own ways to survive.
Then I saw Cara Dillon's tweet shown above. And I have to confess to feeling a great deal sorrier and angrier about the plight of musicians, entertainers generally and the venues in which they used to perform before Covid-19 than I do about any grievances thieves may harbour.
I have wondered at different stages of the crisis whether there might be anything this tiny site could do to help. Would Salut! Live's small but sometimes influential readership make some sort of crowd-funding appeal work? This tweet from John Spiers - think Bellowhead but much more, including a stream of spot-on tweets as @squeezyjohn - sums up how performers feel about the appalling lack of support they and their industry have received ...

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Oh no. Not more lists of favourites

Cinema paradiso


Lockdown is a time for forced jollity and virtual audience participation.  We're all being bombarded with demands to take part in nominating our favourite films, music, poetry and, for all I know, Brexit and Boris lies. It's usually friends asking which makes it awkward to decline (though a few have done so when I've passed on requests). Some of us have done our bit of bombarding.

For poetry I let down my trade of journalism and - because I don't actually know many poems -  offered Humbert Wolfe's Victorian lines, which always raise a smile:

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
   thank God! the
British journalist.
    But, seeing what
the man will do
    unbribed, there's
no occasion to

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