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Annie Briggs Slept On My Washing Line

Mike Harding | 10:27 UK time, Friday, 19 December 2008

It will be a matter of no interest at all to any of you (but I will mention it anyway) that I am a very keen (fanatical) fly fisherman.

Like Jeremy Paxman and the late and wonderful George Melly, I have a secret life in which I wear rubber and mess around with bits of fluff and feather which I then chuck at trout in the vain hope that I might persuade one of them to come home, wear a foil overcoat and jump in the oven.

It was at a fishing club "pie and peas" supper the other night, that I met a bloke who is an Annie Briggs fan and who would like me to play a track or two in the months to come.


Well, for once I'm not going to drift off back into the Blue Remembered Hills and tell you how Annie Briggs and Johnny Moynihan once slept in our airing cupboard, but I am going to say "shoulders of giants".

I suppose "giant" is hardly the word, since Anne was a slim slip of a lass, but she was a giant in the world of the folk clubs of the sixties.

It's easy to forget, listening to her now (try Classic Anne Briggs: The Complete Topic Recordings, Fellside, 1990).

Like The Watersons, she drew on the tradition, absorbed it, and like all great singers (Bob Davenport is another that springs to mind) made the songs her own.

Raw, uncompromising but straight into the heart of things, her versions of Reynardine and Blackwaterside are pure classics.

Today we have great singers like Cara Dillon, Julie Fowlis and Ruth Notman and all the digital wizardry in the world at our disposal.

Anne Briggs' waif's voice coming pure and true out of the smoky folk clubs of that analogue age still seems to me, like the best of the singers of today, to be what the Irish call "The Pure Drop".

So, Anne will be there in the next request show on Wednesday 14 January, which is really why I started writing this bit, to get you lot posting your requests up here on the blog.

It's cheap (free) and will give us here at Harding Towers some idea of what you'd like to hear and why.

(The request shows are favourites of mine - not because I'm too lazy to programme the show but because they make for really interesting lucky-bag programmes.)

So, I'm off to tie some fluff and feathers round a bit of wire now - get those requests in!



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