Week 62 – Creeping Jane

I first heard this sung by Martin Carthy on the LP But Two Came By. It’s a fine version, but I’m sure Martin would be the first to agree that the definitive recording of the song is that made of a seventy five year old Lincolnshire farm bailiff in 1908.

Joseph Taylor - photo from Musical Traditions

Joseph Taylor – photo from Musical Traditions

That singer of course was Joseph Taylor of Saxby All Saints, from whom the Australian composer Percy Grainger recorded a number of fine, beautifully-sung pieces on an Edison cylinder machine – although in this case the recording was made at a specially-arranged London session for the Gramophone Company.

Grainger’s recordings were made available in the 1970s on Unto Brigg Fair, a lavishly-produced Leader LP. Long unavailable of course, but several recordings of Joseph Taylor were included on Topic’s Voice of the People series. ‘Creeping Jane’ can be found on Volume 8 A Story I’m Just About to Tell, and if you’ve never heard Joseph Taylor’s singing, I really can’t recommend it too highly.

Rod Stradling, in reviewing that particular CD, wrote

Beyond the technological miracle which allows us to hear Joseph Taylor with such clarity some ninety years after he was recorded, is the joy of being able to hear such a consummate performer at all.  He’s just breathtaking

Creeping Jane

4 Comments to “Week 62 – Creeping Jane”

  1. For any that don’t know, it might be worth mentioning that Percy Grainger first encountered Taylor at the first Folk Song Competition in Brigg in 1905 – the year in which Grainger had first set out to collect his own folk songs. Taylor actually won the competition that year, and this was the song that he won with.

    Grainger described Taylor as ““…Neither illiterate nor socially backward…He was the perfect type of an English yeoman: sturdy and robust, yet the soul of sweetness, gentleness, courteousness and geniality. At the age of 75 (in 1908) his looks were those of middle age and his ringing voice- one of the loveliest I ever heard- was as fresh as a young man’s.” It’s fortunate that Grainger set out to record him, as Taylor died in May 1910 as a result of an accident in which he was thrown out of the horse drawn trap he was driving in.

    By the way, unless I’m much mistaken, that photo is actually the one that was used in the publicity material that the Gramophone Company used to advertise their recording.

  2. Thank you for that info Irene

  3. Like it but was hoping that Creeping Jane would be running in the Grand National next year. Hopes dashed!

  4. Yes, thankyou Irene, for another example of your fabulously comprehensive folky knowledge. You will be impressed to know that I have come a long way for 2+ years of AFSAD and I had actually heard and heard of Joseph Taylor’s wonderful voice ref this song, and his discovery & recording by Percy Grainger, but you have added flesh to the bones of bare knowledge yet again. Wonderful rendition of this song, Andy! I always have a bit of an affinity to songs with my name in! Sad, I know!

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