Black Fly EP

by Jennifer Crook

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about

Recorded live with 'The Hawthorns' at Kensington Studios (Josh's house) on 13th July 2009.

Jennifer Crook ~ Singing, Guitar, Harp, Banjo

with The Hawthorns:
• Bethany Porter ~ Cello, Singing, Violin
• Maclaine Colston ~ Hammered Dulcimer, Singing
• Josh Clark ~ Percussion, Singing, ProTools

and Special Guests:
• Robert Harbron ~ Concertina, Mandolin, Guitar, Singing
• Miranda Sykes ~ Double Bass
• Emma Hooper ~ Viola



Black Fly: Written after a festival when I found a banjo in my hands, and a song in my head.

Handmade Life: I wrote this some ten years ago following a visit to West Wales. Some great musical motifs by Maclaine Colston feature in this new arrangement.

Apples: A song I wrote on the harp in memory of my grandmother. The tune is loosely based on the traditional Somerset song 'Searching For Lambs".

Cowboys: Often asked for at gigs (particularly by women!), this is the first time I've recorded this song with a band. Spot the 'country' concertina.

The Darkling Thrush:  One of my all-time favourite poems by Thomas Hardy, written on 31st December 1900. Bleak, but wonderfully hopeful. The arrangement just fell together - a great full band track.

Ribbons of Green (live concert recording): A tale of May Day and maypoles and mournful maidens...

and The Dream Waltz. A beautiful waltz by Cliff Stapleton that was introduced to us by Robert Harbron and seemed to fit perfectly.

credits

released February 22, 2010

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Jennifer Crook Bath, UK

"I urge you to give this a listen. This is contemporary songwriting and performing at it's best"****Maverick

"Heart-wrenchingly gorgeous music" Roots & Fusion

Telegraph***Best Folk Albums of 2014 (Carnforth Station)

“I’m really, really loving the new album ‘Merry-Go-Round’ - it’s beautiful” Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
... more

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Track Name: Black Fly
Simply take the road ahead
That's what the old man said
Try not to fret or care and you'll get there
Two paths in the wood and I
Took the one less travelled by
Then I stood and wondered why the sky was falling

Black fly in my wine
I'll learn to pay no mind
Some things just take their time
Blackbird in my dreams
You sing the saddest things
Little birds will find their wings
By morning

Signs and wonders guide the way
That's what the wise ones say
As I stumble through another day in the darkness
Where are the roses now?
The buds remain upon the bough
And somewhere far above the clouds the sun's still shining

Black fly in my wine..

At first the mountain was too steep
Then the river ran too deep
Then I thought I could not go one step further
When the world was full of doubt
The tide went in and the tide went out
And 'fear be banished' was the shout from every corner

Black fly in my wine...

© Jennifer Crook 2010
Track Name: Handmade Life
Robert was a lawyer, made his daddy proud
Never fitted in with the cocktail crowd
He had the looks and the first degree
And the sense to ask, well what about me?
I’ve got a customary cosmo girl
But there’s not much love left in my world
I think I’m heading for a heart attack
It’s a dead-end street along a one-way track

He’s running to the hills, he’s running for his life
He’s tearing up the bills, and paying off his wife
Heading for the hills with a shovel and a knife
Gone to build a handmade life
Gone to build a handmade life

He met a girl and they settled down
And sold organic veg in town
Every day trying to make ends meet
Putting clothes on the kids and shoes on their feet
It’s always harder than it seems -
A shoestring life for a few small dreams
The men in grey try to claim the land
And the bricks they laid with their own fair hands

Living in the hills is not an easy life
And if you’ve got the will you’d think you’d have the right
But after all the years, the struggle and the strife
Nothing beats a handmade life
Nothing beats a handmade life

Pretty Pollyanna was a patchwork girl
With dreams to see the big wide world
So she gathered every shell in sight
And strung them round the moon each night
She grew and grew up to be five foot ten
She could strut her stuff with the best of them
She found her ticket in a suit and tie
Of a wealthy man with a roving eye

She’s running to the city she wants to get a life
She’ll be sitting pretty if she plays it right
But she traded all her treasures when he took her for his wife
Forsaken was the handmade life

And shiny things can look like gold if you don’t look too close
Be careful now for what you sold might be what you need the most

Too many years not keeping score
If not for love what is life for?
She begs the bottom of her G&T
Where did the music go and all the poetry?
She had a longing for the mountain air
The sound of spring and her favourite chair
She called her mother on the telephone
Put the kettle on I’m coming home

She’s running to the hills she’s running for her life
She’s giving up the pills and the four-wheel drive
She doesn’t care about the money if her heart survives
Gone to build a handmade life

She’s gone to build a handmade life…


© Jennifer Crook 2010
Track Name: Apples
Apples falling on the grass
Red brick houses, things that last
Feed the birds and sweep the path
Another day's begun

Picking fruit and shelling peas
Making endless cups of tea
Keeping track of history
As the day moves on

Piles of papers, odds and ends
Things to grow and make and mend
Mother, sister, Granny, friend
Loved by everyone

Snow on Sunday, shoes for best
Clocks and books and winter vests
Better get yourself undressed
Now the evenings come

Take the candle, climb the stair
A hundred brushes through your hair
And don't forget to say a prayer
Now the day is done

Count your blessings don't be sad
God bless Mum and God bless Dad
And relatives I never knew I had
God bless everyone
God bless everyone


© Jennifer Crook 2010
Track Name: Cowboys
You come around here in your chaps and your old fashioned clothes
Stinking of beer, but your smile is still sweet I suppose
Since you left town and I grew to be strong
I’ve got bread on the table and a place to belong
And I won’t give it up for some old-time song
If that’s what you’re asking of me

‘Cos I’m too old to be following cowboys down dusty old tracks that don’t lead anywhere
Too young to settle for memories of what used to be
So please don’t ask me to ride by your side
Or watch the sun set at the edge of the sky
‘Cos it’s too hard to kiss you and wave you goodbye when you leave

He thinks of her often, like when he’s watching the swallows nest
And when the moon rises as bright as her eyes he loves her the best
When the owls start calling and there’s snow on the barn
He thinks of the last time she lay in his arms
“A little adventure won’t do any harm so why won’t you come out with me?”

It’s true that I’ve wondered just what I did with my travelling shoes
And some kinds of freedom can leave a heart bleeding and bruised
So pick up your hat, get your boots off the floor,
I don’t need to gamble on your love anymore
‘cos if your planning on keeping one foot out the door it looks more like losing to me

So ride when you’re restless, sleep when you’re done,
Live by your own rules, die by the gun,
Drink when you’re thirsty and love just for fun
But don’t think you're counting on me


© Jennifer Crook 2010
Track Name: The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
 
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
 
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited ;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
 
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.


Words by by Thomas Hardy
Track Name: Ribbons of Green / The Dream Waltz (Live)
She took the ribbons from out of her hair like one untying a dream
She said when I saw him I promised I’d wear my beautiful ribbons of green

He asked me to stay on the first of May and we would go walking at dawn
He’d take down my hair, in the woods we would lay, but now my ribbons are torn

And I’ve danced round the maypole now so many years, the colours I cannot undo
Nor can I begin to untangle my heart and shake off these ribbons of blue
For he is in love with some other girl, he told me last night in my bed
And won’t love another in all the wide world, so now my ribbons are red, she said,
My ribbons are red

I’ve danced round the maypole now so many times and woven the patterns so tight
These pretty garments grow smaller each day and it’s too late for ribbons of white
But a year to the day it’s the first of May and I will be dressed like a queen
I’ll find me a worthier man for to wear my beautiful ribbons of green
ribbons of green, ribbons of green, white, blue, ribbons of white, blue, red,
ribbons of blue, red, white, ribbons of red, white, blue,
ribbons of green

© Jennifer Crook 2010