June 25, 2013

Fairport Convention - Reynardine (1969)

Guitarist Simon Nicol and bassist Ashley Hutchings (male) first met in 1966 while playing in the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra in North London. They practiced together in Nicol’s father’s house, named “Fairport,” in the same part of town that The Kinks’ brothers, Ray Davies and Dave Davies, had grown up in. Soon uniting with Richard Thompson and Shaun Frater, the musicians borrowed the name of the home in which they practiced and called themselves the Fairport Convention. At their very first live performance, their drummer Frater was challenged by an audience member claiming to be able to do a better job. Martin Lamble, the accuser, permanently took Frater’s spot. With the addition of female vocalist Judy Dyble, the first solid incarnation of the band was formed. As mentioned in our previous post featuring this group, it would be unwise to try and list all the personnel changes over the coming years, as over twenty-five members’ names would need to be explained.

This song, which was released on the band’s 1969 Liege & Lief album, is a traditional English ballad. The song, dating back to before the 1800s, deals with a main character, Reynardine, who attracts beautiful women back to his castle. In 1904, a new version of the song was arranged that included a new aspect to Reynardine, the ability to transform himself into a fox. The 1904 version, now the most widely known, is commonly overlooked as a “new” version, as people generally believe, incorrectly, that the werefox aspect of Reynardine was a part of the original song. The album which this particular version of the song appears on, Liege & Lief, is disputed as one of the first in the English folk rock genre (not to be confused with the American folk rock genre started by bands such as The Byrds years prior).

album art

Fairport Convention - Reynardine (1969)

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One evening as I rambled among the leaves so green
I overheard a young woman converse with Reynardine

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue, her lips as red as wine
And he smiled to gaze upon her, did that sly, old Reynardine

She said, “Kind sir, be civil, my company forsake”
“For in my own opinion, I fear you are some rake”

“Oh, no,” he said, “no rake am I; brought up in Venus train”
“But I'm seeking for concealment all along the lonesome plain”

“Your beauty so enticed me, I could not pass it by”
“So it's with my gun I'll guard you along the mountains high”

“And if, by chance, you should look for me, perhaps you'll not me find”
“For I'll be in my castle; inquire for Reynardine”

Sun went dark, she followed him, his teeth did brightly shine
And he led her over the mountains, did that sly old Reynardine

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