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Norwich Gaol

Peter Bellamy


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[1977]
Parole e musica di Peter Bellamy
In “The Transports. A Ballad Opera.”
Con la crema dei folksinger inglesi dell’epoca, tra cui The Watersons, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, A. L. Lloyd, June Tabor, Martin Winsor, Cyril Tawney e Dave Swarbrick.
Testo trovato su Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music

thetransports

Un’opera che racconta una storia vera, quella di Henry Cabell e Susannah Holmes, “two poor fellows” che nel 1783 furono condannati alla deportazione per aver commesso dei furti a causa della miseria. I due erano amanti e dalla loro relazione era nato un bimbo ma ai due non fu in un primo momento concesso di sposarsi e la famigliola corse il serio rischio di essere smembrata. Uno dei loro carcerieri s’impietosì e intercesse per loro presso il ministro dell’interno.

Il convoglio “First Fleet” entra in Botany Bay, 1788. Disegno del tenente William Bradley.
Il convoglio “First Fleet” entra in Botany Bay, 1788. Disegno del tenente William Bradley.


Così Henry e Susannah poterono unirsi in matrimonio e nel 1787, dando corso alla sentenza, furono imbarcati con il figlioletto su uno degli 11 vascelli del convoglio battezzato “First Fleet”, il primo trasporto verso l’Australia. Dopo 250 tremendi giorni di navigazione le navi approdarono nell’attuale zona di Botany Bay (Sidney), dove fu allestito il primo insediamento europeo e anche la prima colonia penale inglese nel continente australiano.



Gli ambiziosi progetti artistici di Peter Bellamy, come l’opera “The Transports” e gli album dedicati alla poesia di Rudyard Kipling, gli valsero il plauso della critica ma un forte ostracismo commerciale. Privo di ingaggi per concerti nei club, Peter Bellamy scivolò gradatamente nella depressione, fino al suicidio commesso nel 1991.
The food is foul, the air is bad, the company not choice;
'Twould make you scowl to hear that mad old turnkey's rasping voice.
'Twould make you wonder would you ever live to tell the tale
Of the hardships and the miseries you've known in Norwich Gaol.

So early in the morning the turnkey rings his bell;
So early in the morning we wish his soul to Hell;
So early in the morning when the night begins to pale
We wonder if we'll ever see the last of Norwich Gaol.

Our water here is scummy-green, our beds is heaps of straw;
There's water running down the walls, rats running o'er the floor.
There's naught to eat but rotten meat that'd make a dog turn pale;
Oh, it's dainty board-and-lodging when you visit Norwich Gaol!

So early in the morning the turnkey rings his bell;
So early in the morning we wish his soul to Hell;
So early in the morning when the night begins to pale
We wonder if we'll ever see the last of Norwich Gaol.

Whene'er we fancy bathing, we paddles in the drains;
And when we wants a concert, we rattles of our chains;
And when we want a banquet we drink sludge and call it ale.
If you want a good time, commit a crime and come to Norwich Gaol!

So early in the morning the turnkey rings his bell;
So early in the morning we wish his soul to Hell;
So early in the morning when the night begins to pale
We wonder if we'll ever see the last of Norwich Gaol.

Now if you fancy gaming here the race is run by fleas;
The stakes are perilously high, a crust of moldy cheese.
The first time that I tried my luck, I nearly lost my shirt
But lucky for me they couldn't see the bugger for the dirt.

So early in the morning the turnkey rings his bell;
So early in the morning we wish his soul to Hell;
So early in the morning when the night begins to pale
We wonder if we'll ever see the last of Norwich Gaol.

If they'd sent us to America today we would be free,
But since the Revolution that land we'll never see.
We are not for New England's shores three thousand miles away;
They say we're bound for some further ground and they've named it Botany Bay.

So early in the morning the turnkey rings his bell;
So early in the morning we wish his soul to Hell;
So early in the morning when the night begins to pale
We wonder if we'll ever see the last of Norwich Gaol.

Well perhaps it's out by India, or maybe near Japan,
Just off the coast of Canada or in the hills of Spain.
But wherever that strange land may be we know it cannot fail
To be a far, far better place than stinking Norwich Gaol.

So early in the morning the turnkey rings his bell;
So early in the morning we wish his soul to Hell;
So early in the morning when the night begins to pale
We long for the day when we'll sail away from stinking Norwich Gaol.

inviata da Bernart Bartleby - 29/4/2015 - 14:02


Una canzone in memoria di Peter Bellamy (1944-1991), scritta da Phil Edwards, musicista, folk singer e curatore di Fifty-Two Folk Songs, un bel blog purtroppo fermo da più di un anno.



La canzone in ricordo di Peter Bellamy - l'ultimo post sul blog, in data 25 ottobre 2015 - è corredata anche da una lunga nota del suo autore.

ONE EVENING IN AUTUMN

As I walked out one evening in autumn
To view the green hills and to take the fresh air
I seemed to see another evening that I never saw truly
And I thought what I might say if I could be there.

O why do you sit up here, Bellamy, Bellamy,
In the cool of the day, in the sun’s dying light?
“To look out upon the country, to look out on the land,
To look down on the people and bid them goodnight.”

And what do you have with you, Bellamy, Bellamy,
What have you brought for your comfort and good?
“Cold ground beneath my head will be my only pillow,
Strong drink and strong poison are my only food.”

“For there’s no pillow for a head full of comfortless memories
And there is no food for a hunger so deep.
And when I’ve had my fill of strong drink and strong poison
It’s then I’ll lie down and I’ll take a long sleep.”

O why would you leave us so, Bellamy, Bellamy,
When you’re such a fine singer of many’s the fine song?
“A song is not a fine song when there’s none will stay to listen
And the singer best knows when he’s gone on too long.

“O, once I sang the old songs, the old and forgotten songs,
And then I sang songs half a century old,
Then, blast me, I sang new songs, never sung, newly written –
The ink was scarce dry before my welcome was cold.

“The people, the people, I was good enough for them,
I sang to the people the people’s own song.
But the people, Lord, the people, they have turned their backs on me.
Out of me and the people, one of us has gone wrong.

“‘Make us laugh, Mr Folksinger! Tell us your anecdotes!
Or sing of your girlfriends with their eyes of blue or brown,
Or sing the glorious victories of the workers united –
Just don’t sing us a folk song and bring us all down.’

“Let the campaigners campaign, let the comics have their comedy
In rock opera heaven or hit parade hell,
At the Wheeltappers’ and Shunters’ or the London Palladium –
Let ’em all forget folk song and forget me as well.”

But they will remember you, Bellamy, Bellamy,
Though your life is cut short, your name will live long
Half a century from now, you shall not be forgotten:
Fifty thousand young voices will bellow your song.

“O don’t take this moment for your comfortless memory,
And don’t think this evening has struck the final note
Perhaps some other fires may burn where these embers smoulder
Just don’t let the grey ashes catch in your throat.”

As I walked out one evening in autumn
To take the fresh air with the green hills around
I saw another evening that I never saw truly
And I thought of what’s lost and what can yet be found.

Bernart Bartleby - 25/11/2016 - 08:46


Pagina principale CCG

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