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Tony Grist

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Captain Kidd [Jun. 9th, 2004|05:34 pm]
Tony Grist
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.

From: isoldout
2004-06-09 10:22 pm (UTC)
There is a great version of that song, "Sam Hall", in the last Johnny Cash album. It's about the only upbeat song in that album, for the rest are capable of tearing my heart out.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-06-10 01:30 am (UTC)
Thanks, I must look out for that.

I've just remembered yet another set of lyrics. They're about Admiral Benbow- who was killed in an encounter with the Spanish or the French (or whoever the enemy happened to be at the time) in the early 18th century. A couple of his captains refused to obey his orders and were subsequently court martialed and shot.

"Said Kirby unto Wade
I must fly, I must fly,
Said Kirkby unto Wade, I must fly.
I will be to my disgrace,
But the enemy I can't face,
No, the enemy I won't face
Lest I die, lest I die."

The narrative is rather different from that of Kidd or Sam Hall, but at least it ends with an execution.

I don't know of any recordings, but there must be some.
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