Archive for November, 2022

November 8, 2022

Week 307 – When Adam was first created

I must have been singing this song for very nearly 45 years. Always unaccompanied in harmony, of course, as is right and proper for a song from the Copper Family repertoire.

In the last year or so, I’d toyed with an arrangement in F on my C/G anglo. But this morning I decided to try it on the more sonorous Crabb F/C concertina which I found myself unable to resist at this summer’s Whitby Folk festival. It seemed to fit, and although my voice hasn’t been at its best of late, it didn’t seem too croaky. So I decided to slap it down on “tape” and post it here straightaway.

The song’s central point is – as James Brown would attest – that man is nothing without a woman. But, as with so many traditional songs, the words are written very much from the man’s perspective, and betray the fact that the song originated in a male-dominated society. I feel that the song’s heart is in the right place: it insists that Woman is not to be trampled upon by Man, but that she was created “his equal and partner to be”; but then blows it in the very next line by stating “when they’re united in one, sir, the man is the top of the tree”. Oh well.

Looking at broadside versions of the ballad on the Bodleian website, it’s clear that these lines weren’t inserted by the Coppers, but were there from the start.¬†They’ve been softened a little in the the rather nice version of ‘When Adam was created’ which Sharp collected in 1918 from Jasper Robertson at Burnsville in North Carolina – in fact the song has been explicitly turned into a wedding song.

In praise of dear women I sing - ballad from the Bodleian website

In praise of dear women I sing – ballad from the Bodleian website

 

When Adam was first created

Andy Turner – vocal, F/C anglo-concertina