My favorite Kate Rusby song at the moment: “Only Hope” from her album Make the Light. Simply beautiful.
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Anglophile or not, anyone who appreciates a little bit of the old-fashioned will love the music of Kate Rusby. With a sweet calming voice, Kate Rusby has spurred on a renewal of British folk music with the tender melodies and heartfelt lyrics of her many songs. Whether I’m in the mountains of Colorado or floating on the mellow waters of the Bahamas, Kate’s music has always been there to bring me to the green and glorious English fields. Most of her music is made up of story songs, transporting the listener to the land of castles and salty sailors and tragic romance.
Here’s my list of the Top Ten Kate Rusby Songs:
10) William and Davy ~ A story about two brothers who do everything together, even falling in love with the same woman. (from the album Little Lights)
9) Elfin Knight ~ This song is based on a traditional Scottish ballad. (from the album The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly)
8) Radio Sweethearts ~ The melody of this song was written by John McCusker, fiddler extraordinaire. It’s the story of two lifelong lovers who take time to dance to the radio. (from the album Hourglass)
7) Polly ~ What could be more romantic? Polly falls in love with a sailor, who goes away to sea for more than seven years. When he comes back, she doesn’t recognize him until he reminds her of his promise to take her dancing on their wedding day. (from the album Underneath the Stars)
6) Botany Bay ~ This is an old song about the transportation days when English convicts were sent to Australia, thousands of miles away from their families. (from the album Sleepless)
5) The Wild Goose ~ I love the accordion accompaniment on this one. Always reminds me of the sea at night with the moon casting a silver path across the midnight waves. (from the album Sleepless)
4) Sweet Bride ~ This is a beautiful story, with a great mix of fantasy, legend, and romance. (from the album Sleepless)
3) Withered & Died ~ Rather sad, yet beautiful and poetic. (from the album Little Lights)
2) Falling ~ Another sad song: “I’m endlessly knowing that you’ll never know, what I might want you to say.” (from the album Underneath the Stars)
1) The Sleepless Sailor ~ Listen to this as a lullaby, and even if you are miles from sea, the waves will lull you to sleep. (from the album Sleepless)
There are so many Kate Rusby songs, all of them gorgeous and worth a recommendation, and these are just ten of my favorites.
For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form: I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.
~ John Keats
I’ve been reading through the love letters of John Keats to Fanny Brawne, his Bright Star. We live in an age when letter writing (much less love-letter writing) is practically obsolete. E-mails, text messages, and chat conversations have become our main sources of communication. Perhaps this is why reading the love letters of Keats, which have survived the centuries, are so beautiful and touching to read. But beyond our desire for the old-fashioned romance of hand-written sentiment, the letters of John to Fanny hold a virtue all their own. They resonate of poetry, of unbounded love, of thoughtful (and thoughtless) tenderness.
I confess it almost feels wrong to read these love letters, as if I am invading the privacy of a lover who was writing to his beloved and to her only. We are, after all, given his legacy of poetry, those beautiful verses that we memorize and repeat to ourselves in the quiet of the lonely hillsides. But are we given his private letters? Is it wrong to read the delicate heart-thoughts of a man to a woman, people we have never met? Though John and Fanny have been gone two hundred years, the words of the letters are still so fresh, as if they have just been written, as if the tears dotting the pages are still wet.
The quote above is from the first letter of John Keats to Fanny Brawne. Though they never married and though John was taken before he reached his twenty-sixth birthday, they loved each other very much and filled what little time they had together with whatever happiness they could scavenge. To live three summer days as butterflies… It reminds me of a Kate Rusby song, “Withered and Died”, which goes:
If I were a butterfly, I’d live for a day. I would be free, just floating away.
When we are with the one we love, even a day, short as it is, can be filled with decades of joy and delight.