Friday, October 11, 2013

Tam Lin

A friend sent me a link to this marvelous rendition by Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer of the British folk song Tam Lin.

Hearing this version of the song was a shock. It forcefully read reminded me of this version of Tam Lin by the folk-rock group Fairport Convention,, which I first heard in the summer of 1972:

That summer I was in Norwich, England taking part in an archaeological dig. It was a wonderful way to celebrate my graduation from University. The people running the dig provided us with cheap housing and a little bit of spending money, and we scraped or dug dirt. It was a social and informal learning experience and I soaked it up.

The house we were staying in was a student house during term time, and the usual residents had left lots of their property, including a record player and the Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief. I played the album a lot, particularly the song Tam Lin, about "an earthly knight" rescued from the Queen of the Fairies by his lover. I was an SCA member, a historian hoping to be a professional medievalist some day, and someone who really appreciated the rock elements of this particular arrangement.

And Tam Lin was just the beginning. Somebody told me about a weekly get-together of folk music enthusiasts at a pub near our dig, and I went there more than once, although I never had the nerve to to sing an American folk song. And before I left England a friend of mine gave me one of the early Steeleye Span albums.

The result was that I had found in British and later Irish folk the soundtrack of my life for the next decade, The decade when I was a graduate student and when I was most intensely involved in the SCA.

It was really something to reflect on that..

No comments:

Post a Comment