Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Captain Kidd

I've been waiting over a year for the new Waterson:Carthy album, Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand- mainly so's I could hear Eliza Carthy sing Captain Kidd again.

The tune is one that serves several sets of lyrics. In all of them a (deceased) villain tells us about his mis-spent life. The version I heard first (decades ago) was one that Peter Sellers (of all people) sang on TV. Seller's villain was a chap called Sam Hall and the last verse went something like this.

And now in Heaven I dwell,
In Heaven I dwell
And now in Heaven I dwell
In Heaven I dwell,
And now in Heaven I dwell
And it is a bloody sell:
All the whores are down in Hell,
Damn their eyes!

Even in Sellers' comic, music-hall version the song is oddly moving. In Waterson:Carthy's performance- with an authentic historical figure as the subject (Kidd was hung for piracy in 1701) it becomes eerie and tragic. The female singer channels the dead pirate; On some plane of the multiverse she is in love with him. The refrain, "as I sailed, as I sailed" gives the song a dreamlike quality- as though all the sea battles and murders happened by chance along the way- as though the sailing (to nowhere in particular) was the main point of Kidd's life.

The time we saw the band, live at Salford's Lowry Centre, Eliza was in tears before she reached the end.
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