Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fairport Convention: What We Did On Our Holiday

One of my all time favorite bands is Fairport Convention and one of my all time singers was Sandy Denny. It was only a matter of time that I would feature one of their songs. This is probably going to be the first of several Fairport albums that I will feature in the months to come.

Sandy Denny first appeared of Fairport’s second album from 1969: “What We Did On Our Holiday,” which was released in the US on A&M Records under the name “Fairport Convention.” The band’s first album, also named “Fairport Convention,” was not released in the U.S. until 1970. I am sure that the same titles of the first and second albums in the US has caused a little confusion.

US release of the album with altered title and cover

Although living in the US, I bought the import of this LP under the original title in the summer of 1973. For some reason, I wanted the import and it became my third FC album; the first being the debut LP and the second was the UK compilation, “History of Fairport Convention” (another import). I still do not have the original US version of this album – although I have always liked the cover photo. The British original features a black board that was assaulted by the band.

Original UK release

This was not the only FC album that A&M altered. The third LP, Unhalfbricking, had a completely different cover – I preferred the UK version myself. There also was a slight difference on the “Angel Delight” LP. The US version had a reddish cover, while the UK issue was in yellow-cream.

Today’s song is the opening tune on the LP and it also became the name of Sandy Denny’s post Fairport band that she and her husband Trevor Lucas formed in 1970. With the exception of bassist Pat Donaldson, the other members would eventually be part of Fairport Convention including Sandy who rejoined the band in 1974.

The song was based on the historical story of the imprisonment and execution of Mary Queen of Scots for treason at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, England. To make a long story short, Elizabeth I of England feared that her first cousin, once removed was a threat to the English throne and sentenced her to death. She was notified on February 7, 1587 that she was to be executed the following day. It is reported that she spent her final hours praying, writing letters, and putting her affairs in order. From my understanding, the inspiration for today’s song came from a book Sandy had read about Mary Queen of Scots.

Sandy Denny died on April 21, 1978 as a result of injuries suffered in a fall during March 1978.

Clipping of the Charleston (WV) Daily-Mail's announcement
of Sandy Denny's death that occurred a week earlier

Fotheringay - Lyrics

How often she has gazed from castle windows o'er,
And watched the daylight passing within her captive wall,
With no-one to heed her call.

The evening hour is fading within the dwindling sun,
And in a lonely moment those embers will be gone
And the last of all the young birds flown.

Her days of precious freedom, forfeited long before,
To live such fruitless years behind a guarded door,
But those days will last no more.

Tomorrow at this hour she will be far away,
Much farther than these islands,
Or the lonely Fotheringay

Unfortunately, the entire LP is not available via YouTube, so I cannot provide a playlist of all of the album’s songs in order. I will, however, provide you Fairport Convention’s signature tune, “Meet on the Ledge,” which also is from this album. This song features the vocal talents of Iain Matthews and Sandy Denny. Currently, Simon Nicol, the band’s only original member, sings lead on this song.

No comments:

Post a Comment