John Roberts & Tony Barrand

Naulakha Redux
Songs of Rudyard Kipling

Playlist   |   Technical Info   |   CD Notes   |   Song Notes   |   Order

1.Ford o' Kabul River*3:20MP3
3.Sir Richard's Song4:49MP3
4.The Land6:18MP3
8.An Astrologer's Song*3:16MP3
9.The Ballad of Minepit Shaw3:19MP3
10.Song of the Men's Side2:34MP3
11.The Liner She's a Lady5:34MP3
12.Frankie's Trade3:28MP3
13.We Have Fed Our Sea3:23MP3
14.A Carol*1:53MP3
15.Danny Deever4:53MP3
16.Follow Me 'Ome*4:52MP3
Total Time67:17
Lyrics for each song can be accessed by following the links in the playlist above.


Tony Barrand: vocals, jaw's harp
John Roberts: vocals, concertinas, banjo
Fred Breunig: vocals, fiddle, button accordion
Andy Davis: vocals, piano accordion

Recorded at Soundesign, Brattleboro, VT
Engineer: Al Stockwell
Mixed by Pete Sutherland
Produced by Dr. Tony Barrand
1997 Golden Hind Music


In the summer of 1994, John Roberts and I were commissioned to put together a series of concerts for the re-opening of Kipling's house, Naulakha, in Dummerston, Vermont, just over the town line from my home in Brattleboro. The Landmark Trust, a charity founded in 1965 "give life to historically significant buildings," was making its first foray into the U.S.A. at the suggestion of an American fan of Kipling's, David Tansey. He had discovered that the house, built in 1892 had been unoccupied since 1942. The Kiplings had returned abruptly to England in 1896 after a much-publicized family dispute and it was only used as a summer home for nearly 40 years after that. Since June of 1995, Naulakha has been available for weekend and weekly rentals.

"Naulakha" means, "Jewel Beyond Price" in Hindi and the house was Kipling's pride and joy. He married Caroline Balestier, the sister of his friend, Wolcott Balestier, with whom he had written a novel of the same name. While in the house, he wrote The Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, A Day's Work, and The Seven Seas. He also began Kim and the Just So Stories. Most of the songs we were privileged to sing at the official re-opening, however came from other books. We were thrilled to accept the challenge of presenting Kipling the songwriter. John and I had grown up with his work cast regularly in musical settings on B.B.C. radio. Our good and, now, late friend, Peter Bellamy, had set about fitting traditional tunes and making up others to go with the pieces from the Barrack Room Ballads, the Puck stories in Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies, and other verse. We had recorded two of these, "A Tree Song" and "A Smuggler's Song," in the 1970's. This recording is as much a memorial to our friend, Peter, as it is an homage to Kipling's verse. Singing from the old tennis court at Naulakha that weekend in June of 1994, looking up at the house, the spirits of both men were paying close attention.

I have a treasured copy of a 1914 edition of Songs from Books in which Kipling had brought together almost all of the verses scattered throughout his prose writings and, as my knowledge of English folk music increased, noticed how often rhythms and turns of phrase had been "borrowed" from the traditional songs. He would have known the folk songs from his time as a journalist in India and his days when the world and pubs of the London music halls was literally across the street. A verse from "When 'Omer Smote 'Is Bloomin' Lyre" sprang out

When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre,
He'd 'eard men sing by land and sea,
An' what he thought he might require,
'E went an' took-the same as me!

He took liberally , especially for the Barrack-Room Ballads. Sometimes the taking was direct: "The Widow's Party" is overlaid closely on the traditional "Doli-A"; "Ford o' Kabul River" has the unique phraseology of the "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Boys are Marching." More often the feeling of the text is a close match to that of a traditional song, for example, "Gunga Din" and the ode to "Maggie May," a much-respected Liverpool prostitute.

Even a superficial examination of Kipling's verse reveals how much of his verse he associated with genres of song. Of the more than 550 items of verse attributed to him in a "definitive collection," 71 contain the word "song," "carol," "hymn" or "ballad" in the title. This is the beginning of a long and delightful project for us. We knew the signs were propitious for it on the weekend before our "Naulakha" concerts when a Boston Globe story on a wayward Chicago congressman named Dan began, "...and they're hanging Danny Deever in the morning."

Tony Barrand
Brattleboro, VT, 1997


Ford o' Kabul River
Not surprisingly, the death of a mate, a comrade in arms, is the subject of many of Kipling's soldier songs. The traditional tune used by Kipling is obvious because it draws directly on the unique phraseology and text repetition of "tramp. tramp, tramp, the boys are marching." Our friend, Peter Bellamy, felt that it did not sustain the intense, restrained anger of the text. We ended up agreeing with him. [The Barrack-Room Ballads]
Vocals: Tony Barrand and John Roberts; Fiddle: Fred Breunig; Accordion: Andy Davis.

Soldiers in the British army have been called "Tommy Atkins" for a couple of hundred years at least. Some suggest that the name is a construction from the initials of the Territorial Army; other folklore has it that "Nosey" (the Duke of Wellington) himself made it up. This enduring piece sees Kipling making one of his best statements of a theme which occurs repeatedly in his appreciation of the plight of the common soldier. [The Barrack-Room Ballads]
Vocals: John Roberts and Tony Barrand; Concertina: John Roberts.

Sir Richard's Song
Soldiering is soldiering, whenever and wherever it occurs. Kipling was just as much in touch with the feelings of a soldier fighting and perhaps dying in a far away country when writing about the Norman conquest. Setting by Bellamy. [Puck of Pook's Hill]
Vocal: Tony Barrand; Banjo: John Roberts.

The Land
Kipling's deep, abiding passion for his native soil is suffused throughout his stories and poetry. It occurs most notably, I think, in the character of "Hob" who appears regularly in the Puck stories. This magnificent piece, in classic ballad form, was not included in those books. It is too complete a thought to be an adjunct to a story. The setting is Bellamy's. Vocal: Tony Barrand.

Considering the length of time he spent in the U. S., there are relatively few traces of his knowledge of America beyond the novel after which his house in Dummerston was named. This appreciation of the unchanging nature of the countryside of Pennsylvania, in the midst of time's onward march elsewhere, is a rare exception. It is paired with "If-", probably Kipling's best loved poem, by serving as the other bookend to the "Brother Square-Toes" story in Rewards and Fairies. The setting is Bellamy's.
Vocal: Tony Barrand; Concertina: John Roberts.

Cells [Barrack-Room Ballads]
A good a "morning-after" drinking song has always been needed. This is as good as it gets and suggests Kipling was there more than once. Bellamy shortened the chunk after the first verse to serve as a chorus. Bellamy adapted the traditional song, "Boston City," for the setting. [Barrack-Room Ballads]
Vocals: John Roberts and Tony Barrand.

One of the best remembered of the Barrack-Room Ballads. Supi-Yaw-Lat was the widow of King Theebaw of Burma. Hathis are elephants. Setting is by Peter Bellamy adapted from the song, "10,000 Miles Away." [The Barrack-Room Ballads]
Vocal: Tony Barrand; Concertina: John Roberts.

An Astrologer's Song
The uncommon meter of the well-known "Portuguese Hymn", (John F. Wade's "Cantus Diversi" of 1751 which is used as a setting for "How Firm a Foundation") sprang out as a likely rhythmic source for this piece with the feel of a Christian hymn. It sings like a battle hymn of the Cosmic Republic. Setting by Barrand. [Rewards and Fairies]
Vocals: Tony Barrand, Andy Davis, John Roberts and Fred Breunig; Concertina: John Roberts; Fiddle: Fred Breunig

The Ballad of Minepit Shaw
The persisting presence in English folklore of the "Little People" is gloriously captured in the Puck stories. The delightful setting to this ballad is Bellamy's. [Rewards and Fairies]
Vocal: Tony Barrand; Banjo: John Roberts.

Song of the Men's Side
In "The Knife and the Naked Chalk" [Rewards and Fairies], Una and Dan get to hear the story of Tyr, the "buyer of the blade" from the Folk of the Wood. Bellamy's setting adds to the pure joy of singing lines such as: "The price of the knife you would buy is an eye." [Rewards and Fairies]
Vocal John Roberts; Jaw Harp: Tony Barrand.

The Liner She's a Lady
Kipling learned a reputation during the years around Brattleboro, Vermont, as a stern man with little patience for or love of people with a job to do, especially reporters. Yet he captured the sense of the dependence of supposedly "higher" forms of humanity which one finds over and over again in traditional folk songs. "We are all dependent upon the painful plough," states one song from just before the formation of agricultural labor unions in England. Casting the sleek ocean liner as ultimately secondary to the little tug-boats trying to "make the most they can" has that same feeling. Setting by Bellamy.
Vocals: Tony Barrand; Concertina: John Roberts.

Frankie's Trade
The Puck stories are a remarkable vehicle for Kipling to give his slant on English history. His song for Sir Francis Drake, a hero to the schoolboys of our generation, is naturally set as a sea-shanty. Bellamy's tune is derivative from several short-haul shanties used for tightening "sheets" when re-setting sails. [Rewards and Fairies]
Vocals: Tony Barrand and John Roberts.

We Have Fed Our Sea [The Song of the Dead, Part II]
The Song of the Dead is a dramatic piece made of four quite distinct poems but cast into two parts. The first reads like a recitation; the second is a reflective piece to be read quietly to oneself but followed by the third, a song heard on the wind. The fourth sings like many well-worn sea-ballads of Nelson's era. The tune is Bellamy's own but totally traditional in character.
Vocals: John Roberts; Concertina: John Roberts

A Carol [Rewards and Fairies]
Another good example of an obvious traditional folk song source. The giveaway is the position of the phrase, "good sirs" which corresponds to the unique "good man" in the carol 'The Seven Joys of Mary." [Rewards and Fairies]
Vocals: Tony Barrand, Andy Davis, John Roberts and Fred Breunig.

Danny Deever
In his splendid The Life of Rudyard Kipling, [New York: Doubleday & Co., 1956] C. E. Carrington recounts the story (p. 18) of William Henley, the influential editor of the weekly literary magazine, the Scots Observer, dancing for joy on his wooden leg when he first heard this poem. It still has a dramatic, though less uplifting, effect on audiences. Legend also has it that the American most associated with its public performance in a musical setting, David Bispham, was asked by the first lady not to sing it at a concert in the Teddy Roosevelt White House because she had heard it at the New York Statehouse while her husband was Governor there, and once was enough! My wife feels the same way about it. [Barrack-Room Ballads]
Vocal: Tony Barrand, John Roberts; Banjo: John Roberts.

Follow Me 'Ome
The bond of men away from their women, friends made in the face of imminent death, has probably never been summed up as well as in this song: "...passing the love o' women" [Barrack-Room Ballads].
Vocals: Tony Barrand and John Roberts; Concertina: John Roberts; Fiddle: Fred Breunig; Accordion: Andy Davis

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