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Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson

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SCARECROW


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GUEST,Ash Ludd 16 Apr 20 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Starship 16 Apr 20 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Starship 16 Apr 20 - 02:10 PM
Mysha 16 Apr 20 - 02:44 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Apr 20 - 05:08 PM
punkfolkrocker 17 Apr 20 - 02:35 AM
Joe Offer 17 Apr 20 - 02:55 AM
John MacKenzie 17 Apr 20 - 04:24 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Apr 20 - 06:13 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Apr 20 - 06:29 AM
Mysha 18 Apr 20 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Starship 18 Apr 20 - 11:48 AM
John MacKenzie 18 Apr 20 - 03:59 PM
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Subject: ADD: Jack Frost (Mike Waterson)
From: GUEST,Ash Ludd
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 01:43 PM

Hey,
I guess this song is about the winter, but I was wondering if people could explain the lyrics to me a little further. I gather they reference certain historic events? What were these events? And what's their relevance to the winter theme?

Here's the lyrics:

JACK FROST
(Mike Waterson)

Talk of heroes, woe for Nelson,
I must disagree.
Sing the praise of Alexander,
He's no use to me.

Here we only have one hero,
One hero of great fame.
Never failing in his duty,
Listen, I'll tell to you his name.


Endless drawings, countless sketches
On my window pane.
Master craftsman, skilled engraver,
Jack Frost is his name.

From the cold wastes of Siberia,
Every winter he has come.
Never failing in his duty
Till the winter time is gone.


Flew the eagle into Moscow,
Sure in its defeat.
Ran the bear and sprang the winter,
Came the grand retreat.

From the cold wastes of Siberia,
Came the hero of my tale.
Three hundred thousand came to Moscow
To perish in the blizzards and the gale.


Endless drawings, countless sketches
On my window pane.
Master craftsman, skilled engraver,
Jack Frost is his name,
Jack Frost is his name.

Watersons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK-k_2MgZng

Waterson Carthy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpBdjRe7tSA


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 02:07 PM

Napoleon's invasion of Russia, 1812. Alexander entered Paris in 1814. Don't know why Nelson is in there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 02:10 PM

I should have added that Napoleon's army had eagles atop their flags, thus I guess that reference. The bear is symbolic of Russia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: Mysha
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 02:44 PM

Hi,

I associate that more with the Mike Waterson/Lisa Carthy version, rather than Mike's own version. But OK:

"Talk of heroes, woe for Nelson,
... Sing the praise of Alexander,"
... Here we only have one hero,
... I'll tell to you his name."

British culture includes a certain amount of hero worship, to the point where historical heroes have been adapted into British stories. Horatio Nelson was a British admiral who is credited with the victory at the battle of Trafalgar, though he actually lost his life there. Alexander III of Macedonia was the conqueror of the known world of his time. The singer, very uncharacteristically by British standards, doesn't deem these people heroes of importance.

"... Master craftsman, skilled engraver,
... Jack Frost is his name."

Jack frost is Winter personified, the force that draws winter wonder on your windows and builds icicle structure from your house.

"From the cold wastes of Siberia ...
Till the winter time is gone."

Winter is coldest with wind from the east, thus from Siberia.
      

"Flew the eagle into Moscow,
Sure in its defeat.
Ran the bear and sprang the winter, ...
To perish in the blizzards and the gale."

Napoleon Bonaparte, (The French Eagle), had his troops attack Russia (the Russian Bear). Eventually, the sheer size of the country meant his troops were still underway by the time they should have conquered a solid foothold in Moscow to spend the winter. Napoleon retreated, but his troops could not be saved so easily from the inclement winter weather.
   

The whole story is someone thinking about winter, and what they consider the strongest force in the fields at that time of the year. If I wrote them out at my myshas.net website, my version has an introduction of the singer slumbering in his bed. I feel that approach links the parts together better.

BFN
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 05:08 PM

I suppose baseline is the power of nature.

I suppose when Mike wrote it the power of mankind to destroy nature was not as evident, or at least not as far up the agenda.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 17 Apr 20 - 02:35 AM

We shouldn't necessarily credit songwriters
with always having any clue what their more 'profoud & poetic' lyrics are going on about..

Most certainly not those writing during the hippy dippy stoned mid 1960s to late 70s...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Apr 20 - 02:55 AM

It's a haunting song. The melody sounds familiar. Anybody know where it's from?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 17 Apr 20 - 04:24 AM

Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these
But of all the world's great heroes, there's none that can compare.
With a tow row row, row, row row row,
To the British Grenadiers.

I think the first verse refers in part to this verse from the song, British Grenadiers.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Apr 20 - 06:13 AM

Joe, closest I can get is the Isle o Man song 'The Ellen Vannin Disaster.'
But the tune is so basic and simple I doubt if Mike used it consciously.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Apr 20 - 06:29 AM

Some talk of politicians, our sailors on the seas,
Of footballers and pop stars and others such as these,
But of all the world's great heroes we cannot help but stress,
With a tow, row ,row, and a tow row row
For the British NHS.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: Mysha
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 11:01 AM

Hm, which Alexander? The Russian one would also have good papers.

This is the part that Eliza Carthy sings differently. (Note spelling fo name, BTW.) If anyone has a connection to her, and has nothing better to talk about, the details of that verse might enter conversation.

Thinking the previous bit over, I realised that what I wrote is the popular version. I should probably mention that in reality they did in fact reach Moscow, but it had been deserted and had partially been set fire to. Though Napoleon continued with his campaign, in the hope of finding someone to conquer, by the time winter set in the army had to live of land that had already been plundered before.

BFN
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 11:48 AM

Tsar/Czar Alexander I think.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jack Frost - Mike Waterson
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 03:59 PM

I'm pretty sure it refers to Alexander the Great, he Gordian Knot fame.


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