I wonder how Martin Carthy develops his repertoire, and how he decides what to sing when. What I mean is that he's been dealing with abundance for longer than most of us: the abundance of the tradition, both documented (Child, Cecil Sharp, Alan Lomax etc) and oral. Faced with all those songs that he could perform and/or record at any one time, how does he decide which he will record?
Last time I speculated that it was a question of when he felt he had to get some songs "off his chest", but what in particular led him to choose the set of songs on Shearwater 39 years ago and a quite different set in the performances I've seen him play over the last two or three years? Is he just foraging and improvising, like the rest of us?
I bought this on the strength of its inclusion of The Famous Flower of Serving Men (as played by John Peel) in the mid-eighties. £4.99 from Our Price. It was quite hard to find then, and isn't particularly easy to get even now. It's on the Mooncrest label, which I hadn't heard of before — maybe that explains its relative scarcity.
Famous Flower was my introduction to Carthy, as described here. Am I imagining it, or did he re-record the song more recently? Perhaps it was just the fact that he won an award for it in 2005 that made me think that— No, not imagining it: it's on 2004's Waiting for Angels. Damn, I wish I had time to listen to them back-to-back now, and note the differences…
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