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Closehauled on the Wind of a Dream

The Poetry of C. Fox Smith

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I first discovered C. Fox Smith's poetry in the bottom of an old sea chest at The Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and immediately became a fan.  These delightful maritime tales were told by one who had experienced life aboard the tall ships during the great "Age of Sail" -- not a salt-encrusted "shellback" but a Victorian Englishwoman, inspired by the likes of Masefield and Kipling, with words magically crafted and literally screaming out from the page to be sung!

Much of the singability of these lyrics stems from the author' great love of English traditional folksong, especially sea shanties.  Biographical into on Ms. Smith is scanty, and most has been assembled and maintained by a small cadre of loyal fans, scholars and speculators, most specifically Joyce and Danny McLeod, Alan Hardy, Charlie Ipcar and Jim Saville.

By the time of her death on April 8, 1954, Cicely had published some twenty books of poetry, fourteen books of nautical non-fiction, and ten children's books as well as numerous articles, stories and poems for a bevy of English magazines.  Though she and the tall ship have passed, both have resurfaced, returned and remain with us today, "closehauled on the wind of a dream."

Click here to order

1. Ships and Folks demo lyrics   11. Ships That Pass demo lyrics
2. A Dog's Life demo   lyrics   12. The Red Duster demo   lyrics
3. The Eternal Feminine demo   lyrics   13. The Ballad of the Eastern Crown demo   lyrics
4. The Blue Peter demo   lyrics   14. Racing Clippers demo   lyrics
5. Pictures demo   lyrics   15. The Tow-Rope Girls demo   lyrics
6. Sea Dream demo   lyrics   16. Bill's Christmases demo lyrics
7. Casey's Concertina demo lyrics 17. Eight Bells demo lyrics
8. Ice (The Bosun's Tale) demo lyrics 18. Leave Her, Johnnie demo lyrics
9. The Tryphena's Extra Hand demo lyrics 19. Frisco Bound demo lyrics
10. The Portsmouth Road demo lyrics


Liner Notes:

The AUTHOR
I first discovered C. Fox Smith's poetry in the bottom of an old sea chest at The Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and immediately became a fan. These delightful maritime tales were told by one who had experienced life aboard the tall ships during the great "Age of Sail" – not a salt-encrusted "shellback," but a Victorian Englishwoman, inspired by the likes of Masefield and Kipling, with words magically crafted and literally screaming out from the page to be sung!

Much of the singability of these lyrics stems from the author's great love of English traditional folksong, especially sea shanties. Biographical info on Ms. Smith is scanty, and most has been assembled and maintained by a small cadre of loyal fans, scholars and speculators, most specifically Joyce and Danny McLeod, Alan Hardy, Charlie Ipcar and Jim Saville.

By the time of her death on April 8, 1954, Cicely had published some twenty books of poetry, fourteen books of nautical non-fiction, and ten children's books as well as numerous articles, stories and poems for a bevy of English magazines. Though she and the tall ship have passed, both have resurfaced, returned and remain with us today, "closehauled on the wind of a dream."

The SONGS
1. "Ships and Folks" (2:41) contrasts sailors and the varied ships on which they sailed. The tune is mine as well as the chorus.
2. "A Dog's Life" (4:16) is a song for the sailor who loves to complain. The tune "Three Drunken Maidens" immediately came to mind.
3. "The Eternal Feminine" (2:05) asks, why are ships women? Bill answers this old question to the tune of “The Old Orange Flute,” or “Betsey from Pike.”
4. "The Blue Peter" (4:28) is the signal flag flown to indicate a ship's imminent departure. I used the minor-key version of "Spanish Ladies," or "Augathella Station."
5. "Pictures" (2:16) – "I knows what I likes, and, dat's all dat I likes!" – Popeye (p.s. note the reference to "modern art.")
6. "Sea Dream" (6:21) reminds us that sometimes the mind transforms the ordinary into an object of extraordinary beauty, if only in a dream.
7. "Casey’s Concertina" (2:20) shows how music can weave a bit of a spell over who we are, and were, when last we sang, danced or heard its strains.
8. "Ice (The Bosun’s Tale)" (1:57) takes us on a temporal journey triggered by a sight, a smell, or a drop in temperature – and then, that piece of the past is upon us again.
9. "The 'Tryphena's' Extra Hand" (5:23) is a ghostly apparition going about his shipboard duties, as he did in life. The tune is reminiscent of "The Rising Of The Moon."
10. "The Portsmouth Road" (3:35) tells us you can, indeed, go home again ... though much will have changed, including the place, and yourself. I set this poem to the tune of "Mormond Braes."
11. "Ships that Pass" (6:19) may reunite us with the "precious cargo" of our pasts – closehauled on the wind of our dreams.
12. "The Ballad of the Eastern Crown" (3:55) proves that there are times in life when our shortcomings may turn the tide in our favor.
13. "The Red Duster" (2:20) refers to the flag of the British Merchant Service. You can take the man from the sea, but you can’t extract the salt water from his veins.
14. "Racing Clippers" (3:23) takes place when competition from steam and diesel ships forced the remaining square-riggers to "downsize" their crews, and race for the best prices on tea, wool, grain, etc. The tune is traditionally used for "Great Grimsby," or "The Biggler."
15. "The Tow-Rope Girls" (4:32) was the first CFS song I heard, sung by Seattle’s "Pint & Dale," with William’s fine setting of the old legend of the ship being towed homeward by the collective karma of all the crew's women on shore. This setting uses the tune of "Quare Bungle Rye."
16. "Bill’s Christmases" (3:27) are "channel markers" in this sailor’s years at sea. "God rest you merry sailor men ... let nothing you dismay!"
17. "Eight Bells" (2:34) are rung every four hours, when watches change to their sound. Amongst our watches and years, we welcome in the new, bidding adieu to the old, and yearn for "a bit more smooth with the rough!"
18. "Leave Her, Johnnie" (3:35) is traditionally used for pumping out the bilges at a voyage's end. Here, a bunch of "old salts" tried to keep their sinking ship afloat with this old shantey.
19. "Frisco Bound" (4:43) is a vignette is from Sailor Town, one of CFS's many prose books, capturing the essence of the author's love for the passing age of sail. Special thanks to Lyn Lewis, reprising her role as Cicely, and Tom Lewis, as the "blue-nosed mate."

CREDITS:
Bob Zentz: Vocals, Guitar, Autoharp, Banjo, Button Accordion, Jew's Harp, Spoons, Bodhran, Ukulele, Concertina & Halyard
Rick Lee: Vocals and all Keyboards
"Fiddler Dave" Tweedy: Fiddle (track 1)
Cathy Britell: Autoharp (track 17)
Chorus Voices: Rick Lee, Tom Lewis, Gary Mitchell, Rob Temple, and the "Grog-ettes:" Anne Haley, Sundae Horn, Lyn Lewis, Katy Mitchell, Kitty Mitchell, and Kitty West

Production and Mastering: Gary Mitchell, Soundside Studios, Ocracoke NC.
CD Design: Bryan Zentz, Invisible Friends.
Special thanks to maritime artist Stephen E. Mirisch for use of his painting, "Ship At Sunset," on the cover. Please visit his Web site, http://mirich.net
Special acknowledgment to and remembrance of Harry Remmers for his vision and support of this project.
All arrangements © 2007 Bob Zentz, except track 15, by William Pint. Tunes are traditional, except tracks 1, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17, © 2003, 2007 Bob Zentz.

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