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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,KP Show of Hands on BBC Breakfast, UK (59* d) RE: Show of Hands on BBC Breakfast, UK 18 Feb 10

I feel a bit sad that it seems almost impossible to have a rational discussion of SoH on Mudcat but I'll try to bring it back to the music.

My feeling about SoH is that a) its not folk b) its not trying to be. Steve Knightley is trying to do something really interesting. He's trying to write songs about what it is to live,love, and work in a rural environment, at a time when virtually all pop/rock music is heavily 'urban'.

In America you have songs about rural life: sometimes sentimental, sometimes anecdotal or story-telling songs, usually beautifully sung, and with some of the edges smoothed by more passing chords and harmonic shifts (middle eights) than you get in most folk music. Its called country or alt-country if its rougher and loses the sequins. And the best alt-country isn't a million miles from what is termed folk music in America, and many of its performers will sing folk/traditional songs (Steve Earle?).

What throws people in Britain is there hasn't been such a thing as 'English alt-country' - there are lots of bands playing American country or Americana, but they're not playing or writing about the experience of English rural life. I had a similar discussion with the guys from the late lamented Tanglefoot, who are/have been playing 'Canadian alt-country' in many ways.

For me the best Steve Knightley songs are not his 'rants'(as he describes them) like Country Life or Roots, or his love songs, but his 'narrative' or 'story' songs. You might almost call them ballads except that would be too confusing! On AIG the example is 'Napoli' the song about the modern day chancers taking things off the container ship, who Knightley compares to the Wreckers of the 18th century. On Witness, there is 'The Dive' a story about a man nearly losing his son as they dive for shellfish. On 'Country Life' perhaps my favourite is 'Red Diesel' a song describing the type of country dweller who 'puts his money in a pocket and never in a bank' and who 'said he sang a folk song once but he didn't inhale'.

For people like me who were brought up in the country, and for my brothers who still live and work there, these songs have a ring of truth to them. Are they true stories? It doesn't matter. But you can hear about 'Terry' in Red Diesel and think 'I know a bloke just like that, I wondered if it's based on him?' And quite a few people have tried to identify the yob in Yeovil Town 'a nightmare swaying on his feet, smelling of glue and beer...' And Tanglefoot go into similar ground in their song 'When Dad and Uncle Archie Lost the Farm'

So I'd encourage all to not argue, get past the 'its not folk' bit and listen to the songs!
Cheers to all.

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