Second in a row from Pete Sixsmith. After his choice of Bellowhead's Prickle-eye Bush yesterday, he turns to Jim Causley and one of the few parts of the UK he has never visited. As with Bellowhead, this is a departure from the main purpose of Song of the Day Revisited since Jim did not feature in the original series ...
I have never been to Cornwall. The closest I got was to glimpse it from a boat taking me on a trip around Plymouth harbour. I now have a real reason for going and this is Jim Causley’s superb album Cyprus Well.
It is one of my favourites, a good companion on a long journey, soothing and relaxing after a long day at work or watching Sunderland stumble to yet another goalless draw at Burnley or Leicester or some such place.
It’s a favourite because of Jim Causley’s excellent voice, beautiful arrangements and fellow musicians like Lukas Drinkwater on this clip. And then there are the poems the songs are based on…..
I am not a great poetry fan. I like limericks, can deconstruct a bit of Seamus Heaney and appreciate the rhythms of a Shakespeare sonnet. If you were to ask me for my five favourite poems, I might get stuck at four.
One of those four would be Timothy Winters, written by the Cornish poet Charles Causley, a distant relative of Devon-born Jim.
It’s a poem I came across when I was at school in the murky 60s and I have used it in my teaching with some success. A group of 15-year-old boys taking alternative lines and yelling the words out as if they were Timothy is one of the few highlights of my teaching career.
Jim took this poem and several others and produced this album, named after Charles’s house in Launceston. Some of it was recorded there; it had remained undisturbed after his death in 2003.
There are many fine tracks: Angel Hill, Who?, All Souls Day and, of course, Timothy Winters, all of them outstanding. So good that a friend of mine, who blames Fairport Convention and the introduction of electric guitars into folk music for all the ills of the world, pronounced the album as the best he has heard since Cyril Tawney first arrived on the scene.
My favourite track is this one, which gives us a picture of life in Cornwall half a century ago – “he plays a rugby football match on a Saturday afternoon,” tells us that Cornwall is one of the few parts of England where the 15-a-side game is one that the working classes took to.
It’s also a love song and a simple straightforward one at that. On this video it is lovingly sung by Jim who accompanies himself on the accordion along with Lucas Drinkwater of 3 Wise Monkeys.
One pleasure among many.
* As if by magic, Jim Causley's Cyprus Well album is available at the Salut! Live Amazon link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00CJ3T9OY/salusund-21