The Best:

The Best: English Folk Songs

by Adam Tait

The Best: English Folk Songs

About this playlist

At some point in the past a bloke called George supposedly killed a dragon, which is - understandably - a big deal. And despite suspicions this may or may not have actually happened in what is modern day Turkey, the English have adopted dear George as their patron saint.

So, with St. George's day arriving, we're celebrating some of the nation's most enduring musical heritage with out English Folk Songs playlist.

The English folk tradition stretches beyond written history, with the earliest songs passed between sailors and travellers to while away long hours of tedium.

England, as the seafaring giants they once were, produced some of the longest lasting sea shanties the folk tradition has known. Songs like 'What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor' and 'Blow The Man Down' are so entrenched in British culture they're recognisable even to modern children.

Songs like 'Bold Nelson's Praise' laud naval successes England once knew, while 'Leave Her Johnny' tells of the tough lot that is a sailor's life.

But it wasn't just the waves that concerned the English folk tradition.

'Fair Maid Of Islington' tells of a young women of, er, questionable profession who refuses to be tricked out of her pay by a sneaky punter.

'The Sheffield Apprentice' features a young man discontent with his employment who finds himself in trouble with the law after spurning the romantic advances of the woman financially supporting him.

Plenty, like 'Abroad As I Was Walking', concern the urgent need to get married. And make it look as simple as a man firmly and assertively letting his chosen partner know they were to be wed. Simpler times. Better times.

'Scarborough Fair', while made famous by America's Simons & Garfunkel, actually dates back as far as 17th century England, where it has its origins as a sort of musical riddle.

And while the folk tradition has never left the English music scene - with young artists constantly appearing, eager to re-imagine the genre - the traditional standards have survived the test of time still more valiantly.

Celebrate England's saint's day with a dose of the nation's musical history. Enjoy our English Folk Songs playlist here](pp.185259354:PLAY).

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