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Trench Tales

The Young 'uns
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2019
The ballad of Johnny Longstaff
Johnny-Longstaff
Lyrics taken from mudcat.org


The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff è un concept album preso da uno spettacolo di teatro folk che narra la storia di Johnny Longstaff, eroe della "working Class", l'avventura di un ragazzo che inizia mendicando per le strade arriva in Spagna nelle Brigate internazionali, passando per la partecipazione alle Hunger Marches e alla battaglia di Cable Street

Any Bread? - Carrying the Coffin - Hostel Strike - Cable Street - Robson’s Song - Ta-Ra to Tooting - Noddy - The Great Tomorrow - Ay Carmela - Paella - No Hay Pan - Trench Tales - Lewis Clive - David Guest - Over the Ebro - The Valley of Jarama



Trench Tales was written in February 2018 mainly in the van going to and from primary schools in Cambridgeshire whilst we were working on a project called the Sounds of Identity. In 2014 we recorded a trilogy of ‘trench tales’ for a WW1 compilation album called Songs for the Voiceless and it seemed fitting to bring back our ‘three singing soldiers’ and send them to Spain. ‘Carbunchies’ were chickpeas (they were crunchy because no British cook realised they had to be soaked overnight). ‘Salud’ is a popular Spanish greeting. The story of Wally Tapsell’s boots has been retold many times in the testimonies of British veterans. Tapsell died at Calaceite in March 1938. The story of Chamberlain’s mule was remembered by Bob Cooney. John Leith ‘Hooky’ Walker from Fife was the popular quartermaster of the British Battalion. He survived the war. ‘Aviones’ were aeroplanes. 
We are three singing soldiers and now here we are again 
We survived the Great War boys and now we’ve come to Spain 
So crunch on your carbunchies lads and drink that canteen dry
Comrade one, 
‘Salud!’ 
Your time has come, make those tonsils fly! 

Wally Tapsell was a London lad as honest as they come
And when they picked the Commissars they said he could be one
So he bought a pair of thigh high boots long and laced and lean
And each night he left them by the door for someone else to clean
Now one night as I was standing guard along comes Barney Shields
I think he was the drunkest man that I have ever seen
Then Barney whips his johnson out, he swivels and he shoots 
In no time at all he’s missed the wall and filled up Wally’s boots 

Ah ya da da da da da da da da da da da da

Now here’s a little ditty for our four legged furry friends
Let’s hear it for the mules, me boys, they’re with us till the end
And here’s to the brave muleteers boys - the lads who make them go
But there’s one mule to break the rule his name you all should know
Well I reckon he’s a turncoat and now so do all the men
Cos when we’re near the enemy he tries to run to them 
Well I sez to Bob, ‘that mule’s a spy what shall we call him?’ 
‘Well he trots towards the fascists so we’ll call him Chamberlain!’ 

Ah ya da da da da da da da da da da da da

Our cook is Hooky Walker and one day he sez to John
‘Young Longstaff do you like a drop, are you a drinking man?’ 
When Johnny said he hardly supped well Hooky smiles with glee
‘Then you can fetch the vino, boy, for all the company!’ 
So Johnny sets off into town with empty jars in store
He filled each one up to the brim till he was feeling sore
So he tried a little drop himself, he sucked it thirstily 
And we found him three hours later, boys, sleep beneath a tree

Ah ya da da da da da da da da da da da da

So now you’ve heard our stories lads and now our song is done
Aviones are all swooping boys it’s time that we were gone
Wherever heads are drooping low and men lie in despair 
In times of war when hearts are sore - we’ll be singing there

inviata da Dq82 - 19/5/2019 - 19:34



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