The Ian Campbell Folk Group   •   The Sun Is Burning

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  • The Sun Is Burning
    • 1971 - ARGO ZFB 13 LP (UK)
  • Side One
    1. Come Kiss Me, Love (Trad., Campbell)
    2. The Snow Is Falling (Campbell, Dunkerley)
    3. Old Man's Tale (Campbell, Tams)
    4. I Don't Know (Campbell)
    5. Alexander Somerville, Dragoon (Campbell)
    6. The Sun Is Burning (Campbell)
  • Side Two
    1. Lover, Let Me In (Trad., Campbell)
    2. A Hard Life on The Cut (Campbell)
    3. I Just Can't Wait (Campbell, Dunkerley)
    4. The Man in Black (Campbell)
    5. Apprentice's Song (Campbell)
    6. Talking Blackbird (Campbell)

  • The Ian Campbell Folk Group
    • Ian Campbell: Vocals
    • Lorna Campbell: Vocals
    • Brian Clark: Vocals, Guitar
    • John Dunkerley: Banjo, Guitar
      • (I'm assuming that the above is correct, as the line up of the group isn't credited)
  • Credits
    • Producer: Frederick Woods
    • Arranged by Bill Le Sage
    • Engineer: Adrian Martins
    • Cover picture of a solar flare reproduced by permission of Mitchell Beazley Ltd.

Sleeve Notes

I cannot claim authorship of this song, merely the credit for bringing its component parts together. The tune comes from an American folksong called Peggy Gordon, which is an emigrant version of the English traditional song The Banks of the Sweet Primroses, and the words were patched together from various traditional sources. In reassembling traditional elements in this fashion I have merely helped to perpetuate a process to which folksongs have always been subject, and which has been responsible for many of the variants which have added to the richness of our tradition.

The symbolic use of the seasons of the year to represent the phases of a love affair is an artistic concept which has become respectable with age. I lost interest in my original tune and came to prefer this one by John Dunkerley; the orchestral textures of Bill Le Sage add. I think. another dimension.

Written after an enjoyable evening spent with some Old Age Pensioners in Birmingham. The tune is from the cornkister, Nicky Tams.

As far as I know the words and music of this song are original. This always a dangerous claim to make, because all songwriters have had the experience of burning midnight oil on the creation of a masterpiece which, on its first performance to a critical friend, is immediately recognised as a currently popular song. I once sat up all night writing a song which I later recognised as The Water is Wide. Still, as far as I know . . .

I was moved by the story of the Scottish country boy who became a dragoon in the Scots Greys and was flogged in 1832 for expressing his sympathy for the Chartist demonstrators. It seemed irrelevant that in later life Somerville became a journalist of eccentrically reactionary ideas; I suspect that the flogging which failed to break his spirit may well have broken his mind. I tried to write the song in a style which would reflect the period, and composed a tune intended to stand on its own when played on fife and drum.

This was probably the first lyric anti-war song to achieve popularity and wide circulation in the British CND movement. The demonstrators marched to the strains of The H Bombs Thunder, but when circumstances called for something less rousing and more introspective this, I am proud to say, was the song that in the early days often met the need. It was written for Lorna and she has made it uniquely her own.

John brought this Bosnian folk tune back from a holiday in Jugoslavia and I liked it enough to attempt to write a set of words. I based it on a half-remembered Czechoslovakian song, but it is also reminiscent of many British night-visiting songs like The Spinning Wheel and Are Ye Sleeping, Maggie?

Written for "A Cry From the Cut", a BBC radio-ballad type of programme produced by Charles Parker.

For many years I worked as a craftsman in the Birmingham jewellery trade, where loyalty and skill are notoriously underpaid. Out of those years, and some of the men I worked with, came the words of this song. One of my workmates was John Dunkerley, who wrote the tune.

It has been pointed out to me that in parts of Ireland a priest is sometimes referred to as the Man in Black. This mere coincidence; my Man in Black is not intended to symbolise the organised church, nor The Bomb, nor pollution, nor racial intolerance, although he can be any or all of these. The song only says that the Man in Black, whatever form he takes, is the product of wilful ignorance: that our world is being poisoned not by THEM but by you and I and the other ordinary people who fiddle while Rome burns.

This was written some years ago for the apprentice fitters at Birmingham's Saltley Gasworks, which has now been displaced by North Sea Gas.

I wrote this after reading in a nature magazine about the treatment meted out to an albino blackbird by its own kind. Perhaps because of its length I have tended to neglect this song, but I suspect I would perform it oftener if I could carry Bill Le Sage's up-dated talking-blues backing around with me.

© 1971, Ian Campbell
© 1971, The Decca Record Company Limited London.