“Old John”is a famous “folly” at Bradgate Park, Leicester well known to people in the East Midlands. A great place to visit.It is built to look like a beer tankard!
Here’s a new recording of a song I have written and recorded about a building on a hill at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, England. It is a strange building (known as a folly) that is built to look like a beer tankard. My friend Al Owens wrote the lyrics and I did the music. It was built as a memorial to a miller who’s name was “Old John”
A FOLLY CALLED OLD JOHN
Lyrics: Al Owens Music : Kenny Wilson
Old John worked at the windmill
On a hill in Bradgate Park.
John was there when the mill collapsed
In a storm; the night was dark.
Too long it took to lift the beam
That threatened certain death
And no-one in that howling gale
Heard John breathe his last breath.
Later on in that same year
The owner of the lands
Built a tower from the scattered stones -
He and his farmyard hands.
They stuck an archway on the side
Of that folly on the hill.
From the left and right Old John looks quite
Like a tankard you could fill.
Bradgate house has become a ruin -
Crumbling, ghostly, stark.
No Lords or Ladies dwell there now
And the public own the park.
Footprints of those darker days
Have faded out and gone.
Yet upon that hill upright and still
Stands a folly called Old John.
Here is my second recording in the Romantic Poets series. It is “A Poison Tree” by William Blake. I intend to do a few more from the “Songs of Innocence and Experience”. They are obviously intended as songs and are just the right length. Blake is a particular inspiration to me. In 2019 I went to an exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London of Blake’s art and poetry. It displayed the work in it’s original context, in book form. Some of the books are tiny, which is something I wasn’t expecting. Seeing the words and pictures together, in print form, really enhanced their meaning for me. It was probably the first time in my life that I really understood these poems. It has encouraged me to undertake far more original work of my own, a real inspiration!
I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears, Night & morning with my tears: And I sunned it with smiles, And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night. Till it bore an apple bright. And my foe beheld it shine, And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole, When the night had veild the pole; In the morning glad I see; My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Here is a remix of the song. I have taken out the drums and harpsichord and added accordion. Which do you prefer? Let me know!
Here is a song I have just recorded in my home studio. An old song of mine given a new treatment. All existential angst and swirling accordion, mandolin and guitars. I wrote it when I was 23 and it was a breakthrough for me. Previously my songs had been quite restrained and rather bland. With this I made my voice higher and tried to be more expressive. I developed a kind of method of unconscious writing. I was pleased with the result. It is still capable of shocking some people with it’s raw pessimism. It was inspired by the song “Father of Day, Father of Night” from the New Morning album by Bob Dylan although the meaning of my song is almost the opposite.
Dylan’s lyrics are:
“Father of night, Father of day Father, who taketh the darkness away Father, who teacheth the birds to fly Builder of rainbows up in the sky”.
I kind of reversed it. My favourite verse in my song is:
“Father of Nightmares, Father of Dreams, Show me an answer, say what it means. I have been searching, I could not find, I have been living deep in my mind”
This verse still speaks to me from my subconscious mind.
This is a video I have made of the time I went on the footplate of a steam locomotive at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough, U.K. An amazing experience. The music is my recording of the Jug Band classic “Mobile Line”. I learnt it from a record by Jim Kweskin and his Jug Band.
Here are some recordings of Bob Dylan songs that I did a while back. This Sunday 24th May 2020 I will be doing a live session of Dylan songs on my Facebook Page. It is part of the “Bob Dylan’s Week” festival in Florence, Italy that I am unable to attend because of the dreaded virus! Check it out 14:00 in U.K. and 15:00 Italy.