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February 5th, 2018


The Watersons - The North Country Maid

The Oak and the Ash is a Northumbrian folk tune that for years I only knew from sheet music. Yeah, that's how cool I am. I've got an extensively paper library of old folk tunes and dances, and I used to play them all. All the airs, all the jigs, all the laments. Music nerd for life, baby.

Anyway, that meant that I was particularly pleased when I finally heard Lal Waterson's version of the tune, from the 1966 album The Watersons. It's a tune with lots of minor notes and it would be easy to overdramatise them, but she eases off. I mean, if you're already singing about urban alienation then there's no need to rub it in, is there? The person who sings those words is actually going to want a few comforts, a bit of reprise from life's cold shoulder. Lal's voice could teach the world a thing or two about loneliness, but she'd rather she didn't have to.

The Watersons - The North Country Maid