Through an Open Door — JR001

Through an Open Door JR001

Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
The Mingulay boat song
The snow it melts the soonest
Our wedding day
Lord Franklin
Derwentwater’s farewell
The drowned sailor
Blow away the morning dew
The lass of Glenshee
Rolling home
The parting

Click on each highlighted title to hear a sample.

This album was only produced as a cassette, and sold out many years ago. Nonetheless, people sometimes request it in CD format. This is possible by special arrangement with Jill.

After singing on other people’s albums for some years, Jill finally took the plunge in 1990, and recorded some of her favourite traditional British Isles songs on her first solo recording. She gathered around herself a bunch of friends and colleagues in what has now become an historical musical document of the Israel folk community: the late Ray Scudero; Marc Gittelson; Shay Tochner, and the late Paul Graham.

Focusing on England, Ireland and Scotland, Jill presents in this collection a delightful range of melodious, gentle song, ranging from the lyrical and romantic to the comical and historical (but not necessarily in the same song!). While she has grown tremendously as a musician and artist since the days of this recording, it remains an enjoyable indicator of the songs that were and are to come.

Here is the text of the insert, with some more recent additions — the result of more updated research than was available  in 1990:

Jill Rogoff – vocals, guitar and keyboards
Marc Gittelson – guitarone
Ray Scudero – guitar, keyboards and harmonies
Paul Graham – mandolin and harmonies
Shay Tochner – guitar on The Mingulay Boat Song

Recorded and mixed at the Jerusalem Music Centre, Jerusalem, August – September 1990.

Production: Ray Scudero; Victor Fonarov; Yoram Getzler & Yuval Shomron.

This recording is dedicated to my husband Mike,and my parents Joce and Reuben Lederman.

Special thanks to Marc; Paul; Shay; Yoram; Yuval, and particularly Ray and Victor.

Thanks to everyone who has helped, and given both encouragement and constructive criticism over the years.

Cover photograph: Jeremy [wish I could remember his family name!]

All titles traditional. All arrangements copyright.All rights reserved. © Song commentary © Jill Rogoff 1990.

Jill Rogoff was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to a musical family. Her father’s interest in the folk music of the western world sparked her curiosity from childhood. At age 10, she began to write down the words of the folk songs she had learned, and to search out their history and variations. By her late teens, her special interest had become a cappella (unaccompanied) singing. After her move to Israel in 1979 she began presenting her music to a wider audience. Since then, Jill’s reputation in Israel has grown with her appearances at a variety of venues, both solo and with various musician friends. She is making her mark there especially through her exploration of traditional British, Irish and Celtic music.

One challenge has been introducing this music — and particularly the a cappella material — in a country where English-speakers are in a minority. “It has taken a while for people here to begin to listen to this kind of music. Everyone in the West these days is used to ensemble music, but many have never known the subtlety of just one lone voice. It is a totally different experience for both singer and audience. When I’m singing at an outdoor venue, I particularly enjoy singing a cappella: I feel that time stops, and that I could be singing anywhere in any century.”

The old folk tradition does not neglect songs with instrumental accompaniment, of course, and this recording includes several rich arrangements. For Jill it is a matter of opening a new door for those not yet familiar with this musical tradition — hence the title of this recording. For her listeners it is a door to an enchanted garden.

The songs

Let No Man Steal Your Thyme. Flowers, trees and herbs are commonly found in English folk song as symbols for a state of mind or emotion: the rose as passion, the willow as sorrow, and thyme as innocence. There are many variants of this song – all of them beautiful.

The Mingulay Boat Song.  A tune from the Scots Gaelic tradition, adapted & arranged by Hugh S Roberton. The Minch is the rough sea between the Scottish mainland and the Outer Hebrides.

The Snow It Melts the Soonest. Her lover may reject, her, but this lass is sure that her “craft” will “melt the young man’s scorn”. I have heard this sung by both Scots and English singers.

Maggie. The sentimental Irish song (based on a song from Canada) at its best – pretty words and a glorious melody. [After later research, Jill discovered that the original lyrics were written by Canadian George Washington Johnson (1839-1917) for his wife, Maggie Clark († 1865), to a tune by James A. Butterfield (1837-1891). It passed into the Irish repertoire in the 1920s, when Sean O’Casey adapted it as Nora for a play called The Plough and the Stars.]

Our Wedding Day. This Irish song is also called She Moved Through the Fair.

Lord Franklin. Lord John Franklin set out to find the elusive Northwest Passage in 1845, but disappeared. When the ship’s log describing his death was discovered in 1859, this song had already been written. It was only in 1983 that the bodies of several of the crew were found in the Arctic ice.

Derwentwater’s Farewell. The Scots Jacobite risings between 1689 and 1746 reflected the antagonism of the Scots Gaelic and English cultures as much as that of the Catholic and Protestant faiths. In the end, the Jacobites lost, but they left behind many beautiful and stirring songs. The Earl of Derwentwater was a popular Jacobite leader in ‘The 45’. When the rising failed, he was tried for treason and executed. This moving song is based on his final letter to his wife.

The Drowned Sailor. This lyrical song comes from Yorkshire. If I kissed someone 10,001 times ‘all o’er’, I think I’d lie down and die, too… of exhaustion!

This may be based on a lament, published in 1671 as a broadside which spread about England and also washed over to the USA. During the 19th century, a burlesque was made of it, but it eventually became a serious model for a number of “drowned lover” ballads both in Britain and America. The current ballad probably dates from the 19th century, and seems to hail from Flamborough. Stow Brow is just to the south of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Blow Away The Morning Dew. This English song is the comic core of a longer ballad published in 1609. Country boy tries to seduce country girl, but she outwits him.

The Lass Of Glenshee. This haunting Scots melody was a real ‘find’, and singing it is a special pleasure. It is unusual in its celebration of the state of matrimony seven years after.

John Ord comments in his 1930 book Bothy Songs and Ballads: “I do not know a more popular song than this. It has been sung in nearly every farmhouse, cottage and bothy in Scotland for the past seventy or eighty years. The author of it was a shoemaker named Andrew Sharpe, a native of Bridgend in Perth; who died there on 5th February, 1817.” It later spread to Ireland and the Maritimes of Canada, where other versions were collected. Some time in the last quarter of the 19th century, a protracted lawsuit took place in Scotland over the authorship of a song called The Crooked Bawbee. It was freely admitted in court that the song was based on the old, traditional song The Lass O Glenshee.

Rolling Home. This poem was written by Charles Mackay (1814-89), but sailors from all over the English-singing world adapted it and added verses, substituting the name of their home-town or native land in the chorus. Caledonia is the old Roman name for Scotland.

The Parting. The message in this old Irish song is one of the triumph of love despite seemingly impassable barriers. I think there just may be a lesson in that.