The Story of Tales from the Crow Man

The Story of Tales from the Crow Man

Ok, I apologise.

I was looking through some of my old blog posts looking to write a few more Story of the Song posts when I saw that I had also started a Story of the Album series, got up to The Cauldron Born back in 2014, then stopped! How rude of me.

Best address this right away!

You can catch up with the previous articles in the series here:

Herne’s Apprentice

Hills they are Hollow

Spirit of Albion

The Cauldron Born

IMG_7567So how about Tales from the Crow Man? Why, after four albums of original songs with just a few covers invest time and energy in an album of traditional folk songs?

There were two reasons really. The first was The Cauldron Born. After writing and recording that album I was completely wrung out, both creatively and energetically. I remember hitting the final button to burn the master disk and how that felt. It was different to the first three albums. As I said, with The Cauldron Born I had shifted my focus from mythology to the land, the human world, and a deeper look at my Druid path. It was such a personal album. I was incredibly proud of it, but relieved when it was all done nonetheless.

The second reason was my love of folk music. Many of you know I love my rock and metal, but folk, particularly back in the 60s and early 70s, was the punk of the day. Some may find it hard to believe but it’s true. The songs people sang in independent folk clubs all across the country were a huge part of the heritage of Britain, but particularly England. Scotland, Wales and Ireland had clung onto their culture of music through years of oppression. The English on the other hand had let it go. It was pioneers like Francis James Child, Cecil Sharp, the Copper Family, and Martin Carthy that kept these old songs alive, and re-introduced them. Sung by countless generations, changed and adapted from England, to the USA, Australia, and beyond, I got caught up in the energy of the songs and music and was compelled to add some to my live performances.

Wild Mountain Thyme soon became a live favourite so I began to water and tend the seed of what would become the Crow Man album. But I didn’t want to just make another folk song cover compilation. It was Cerri who came up with the idea of the Crow Man. A scarecrow on the edge of the village that had seen everything, who had seen the dramas held within each song unfold, and then went on to tell the stories. I loved the idea, and that was the catalyst that began the recording.

I’ve just listened to it for the first time in quite a few years and I’m still very happy and pleased with the album. I remember thinking that, after The Cauldron Born, Crow Man would be an easier album to record. I didn’t have to write the songs after all. I underestimated the amount of energy it would take to come up with my own arrangements for the songs. It certainly wasn’t an easy album to record, but it was a hugely enjoyable one. I felt utter freedom with it, but also wanted to honour the old songs’ journey.

I do intent to re-visit that old figure outside the village again one day and see what other songs he might sing to me. There will be more tales in the future, that’s for sure.

7 responses to “The Story of Tales from the Crow Man”

  1. Tales from the Crowman is a superlative album, Damh! It summons so many different emotions from traditional roots that it must be somewhat unique within its field! My favourites change all the time, but at the moment “The Twa Corbies” ranks high on my list! 🙂 xxx

    • Yes, Gary ‘Twa Corbies’ is right up there for me too, as well as ‘The Parting Glass’. That song always brings a tear to my eye.

  2. I really liked this album …. it calls upon the traditional songs of our islands which, in many ways were a snapshot of life and politics of the time.
    It would be a real shame to see these songs disappear ….. by doing so, the stories of the real people would disappear too .

    I admire all the “modern ” folk singers who keep these songs alive , and when the time comes , when you feel the need to visit that old figure outside the village again, I, for one will avidly wait to hear the stories he has to tell you.

  3. Yes, Tales from the Crow Man is an excellent cover album. I’m looking forward to your next conversation with him!

  4. I just love your version of Twa Corbies, and judging by the previous comments I see I’m not alone. Crow Man is the first of your albums I listened to all the way through – I’d only heard individual songs of yours up until then – and the album really hooked my on your music. You’re a great story teller, Damh, and even your covers reflect your distinct style. Not many artists can pull that off. You really make the traditional songs your own. And you make even the most covered songs like John Barleycorn and Scarborough Faire sound brand new. Well done!

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