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Songs For May Day

Please find below to view and download the music and lyrics for each of the songs that will be sung at the Mayday Dawning Event on the 1st of May at 6 am.The longest-living author of this work died in 1961, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 61 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

“Mayday” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Cam for her second studio album Untamed (2015). The song was written with Tyler Johnson, who also produced the track with Jeff Bhasker and Zachary Werner. “Mayday” is a country pop song about a sinking relationship, built around a hook evoking a mayday call. It was released to country radio via Play MPE as the album’s third single on January 26, 2016 before officially impacting radio on February 15, 2016.
“Mayday” is a mid-tempo country pop ballad about an unhealthy relationship in which the deteriorating situation is compared the sensation of drowning. The song is built around a hook, “Mayday, mayday, this is an emergency,” which evokes a distress call. Each verse is sung in a syncopated manner, with the chorus sung straight, and the two are bridged by an “open-throated ‘aaah'” that Cam described to Billboard as a “lamenting sort of sigh” befitting the song’s tone of frustration.Co-writer and producer Tyler Johnson first conceived of the song after experiencing a similarly dead-end relationship and continued to work on the song with Cam after meeting her in 2010. The two continued making adjustments to the lyrics and arrangement over the next couple of years and eventually recorded the song after Cam signed to Arista Nashville in 2014. Instrumentalists contributing to the track include Tom Bukovac on electric guitar, Ian Fitchuk on drums, and Russ Pahl on pedal steel guitar. Positive-thinking lyrics were added toward the end of each verse to add some levity to an otherwise-dark concept, and the “swelling” pedal steel guitar at the start of the track served to balance out a “rhythmic heaviness” identified by Johnson. Critics have praised the song’s mid-tempo groove as a “sweet spot” for Cam’s vocals and the production for effectively framing the song’s narrative.

May Day is a sweet festival to welcome in the summertime. Traditions include making cone-shaped paper baskets to fill with flowers and leave secretly on neighbors’ doors, making flower crowns, and gathering to dance the maypole. Many Waldorf schools hold May Day festivals that are open to the public.
This is a digital product and you\u2019ll have access right away so there are no refunds! Please view our terms of service here and contact us with any questions. Thank you!I’ve recorded a few May Day songs to share with you….these are so much fun! My girls especially love to sing Hal An Tow. We bust it out really loudly, often while we’re cleaning up the kitchen together. 🙂

A relatively rare song in the Irish canon, with only 15 sightings in the wild, mainly down the West coast of the country. Many modern folk singers cite their source as the singing of Paddy Tunney, recorded in 1965. Paddy also said he’d heard it sung by Mandy Gallagher of Tullagh.I stumbled across it by accident in 2014 while exploring the newly digitised ‘Full English’ collection on the VWML site. I was actually searching for coal mining songs from Yorkshire when this song popped up from a Mr Hargreaves of Pontefract. Not just a Yorkshire May Song, but a really good one. If you share my fascination with local folk songs, you’ll appreciate the spine-tingling elation of finding such a song. There was no recording, but a quick hum through Frank Kidson’s hand-written dots revealed a beautiful tune that I’d never heard before (though I must admit to having made a few adjustments in my own arrangement). It glides through major and minor passages, climaxing with a glorious descending scale of over an octave. The lyrics are poetic but simple – just your average Johnny Ploughboy courting an initially dismissive milkmaid – but a subtle turn after the implicit love-making scene, changes the narrative from ‘I’ to ‘we’, and the two separate characters become united, leading to the archetypal next-day wedding. Not my usual kind of repertoire, but it’s romantically soppy without being too sickly.

2023 sees the 16th GTSF take place on the new site first moved to in 2021 – a beautiful parkland lakeside setting in rural Nottinghamshire. There\\’ll be over 50 roots and acoustic artists on 3 main stages, with on-site camping\u00a0and all you\\’d expect from a summer music festival. Among the headline acts already confirmed there\u2019s The Dog Show Sessions \u2013 an unmissable collaboration between British folk music legends Show Of Hands and the Madrid-based Irish-American roots quartet Track Dogs.\u00a0 Both […]Like lots of trad songs, this one starts with the classic “As I walked out one May morning…” line. I first came across it in a book called The Crystal Spring, a selection of songs collected by Cecil Sharp and edited by Maud Karpeles. John Fackrell, aged 75, sang it to Cecil Sharp in Bridgwater, Somerset on 5th April 1907. What particularly drew me in was the song’s lovely flowing 5/4 melody, and I was really taken by the succinct yet moving way the story is told.

I’ve chosen ‘Mae’r Ddaear yn Glasu’ (The Earth is Greening) because it’s the first May Carol that I learnt. I also find a lot of resonance in the sentiment of the words, which, with the veneration of spring and the bursting forth of life, seem more relevant than ever. This is particularly the case in the last verse, which basically says that the bountiful earth and its treasure would be more than enough to feed us all if we all got along a bit better and loved each other a bit more.
The Anglo-French acoustic dance band Topette!! occupy a unique position in the current folk and traditional music landscape. A collaboration between five highly-regarded individuals, they\u2019re the kind of perfect idea that, if they didn\u2019t already exist, someone would have to invent. Yet Topette!! are no mere \u2018project\u2019 band. They\u2019re a fully-formed and functioning group of the kind that rarely comes around nowadays. Topette!! are a true collective – bonded as much by the joy found in each other\u2019s company as […]We’ve put together a playlist of these songs on Spotify, where possible. A few of them were either not available by the recommended performers, so we’ve offered alternative versions where necessary. Take a listen, though. You might find a few traditional May songs you’ve never heard before. The summer is icumen in and winter’s gone away, oh!

Ever the opportunist, I’m going to select as my offering the first track from my own recently released album, Ten English Folk Songs. I have used the title ‘May Song’ for it, but it goes by many others and might be more usefully referred to as ‘The Cambridgeshire May Carol’.The Choir of Outsiders presents the Northgate Folk Festival, an experimental and contemporary folk all-dayer set in the heart of Chester. Nestled within Chester\\’s ancient Roman City Walls, this new event aims to celebrate the peculiar and wonderful traditional talent of the British Isles. The headliner for the festival is Br\u00ecghde Chaimbeul, a leading purveyor of experimental Celtic music and a Scottish smallpipes player. Br\u00ecghde\\’s mesmerizing piping skills have earned her recognition, including a BBC Young Folk Award and a […]

London Youth Folk Ensemble and friends will take over Cecil Sharp House at our annual showcase featuring vibrant young folk bands from London and beyond.

The Anglo-French acoustic dance band\u00a0Topette!!\u00a0occupy a unique position in the current folk and traditional music landscape. A collaboration between five highly-regarded individuals – Tania Buisse, Andy Cutting, Julien Cartonnet, James Delarre, Barn Stradling – they\u2019re the kind of perfect idea that, if they didn\u2019t already exist, someone would have to invent. Jo Freya\u00a0will be giving an introduction to balfolk dance workshop before the bal. Jo is best known as a singer, saxophonist and clarinettist for some of the most groundbreaking […]
Frank Kidson collected the song from Mr Hargreaves on May 6th, 1908. Contrary to other collectors at the time, Frank was a stickler for notating the tunes, but as demonstrated in his hand-written notes from the visit, he didn’t always include all the verses and only wrote out the first verse, then “four more very pretty verses”. Thankfully, the rest were available in his Broadside collection, printed by Hodges of London who were active in the 1850s. It also appears in Kidson’s A Garland of English Folk-songs, printed in 1926, with piano arrangements by Alfred Moffat. Oddly, the tune has been ‘majorised’ and has lost much of its charm. I did wonder if I had misread the original tune, with its 6 flats in the key signature, but even if I had, I prefer it that way. I could ramble on all night, but there’s a load more information ​about the various versions on the always-trustworthy Mainly Norfolk website.

‘Lisbon’ is connected to May only by its first line: “It was on one Whitsun Wednesday, the fourteenth day of May”, but it follows the template for the standard “woman says she’ll dress as a sailor to follow her boyfriend on board a ship while he tries to dissuade her” plot. It was collected by both Cecil Sharp in Somerset, and Percy Grainger in Lincolnshire at roughly the same time.The song was written by Ioan ab Hywel (from Glangwili near Carmarthen) probably around the end of the 18th century. The rhythm is the ancient bardic measure of ‘tri thrawiad’ (three beats, although it’s in 4/4). The same rhythm can be heard in the Mari Lwyd tune around the old New Year and has a real processional feel to it – you can see how it works, particularly if you speed it up a bit. You can certainly imagine people strolling around the village, going door to door, singing it in their bonnets on May Day.May songs are, in the folk tradition, about as important as Christmas carols… if not more so. If you were to rove out one May morning and set your Google Maps for the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, home of English traditional songs, you’d find 4,799 entries referring to the subject. By comparison, you’d find only 3,752 referring to Christmas. Yes indeedy, folkies love their traditional May songs, and no mistake.

I found this song on a recommendation from a friend, someone who shares the same passion for folk traditions and albums recorded for Witchseason Productions. Comedian Matt Berry also has a strong liking for Morris On, where I first heard this song, and you can see why. With an album cover featuring a cross-dressing Barry Dransfield, Ashley Hutchings clutching a Gibson Flying V, and Richard Thompson posing with a crossbow, dressed in tights, the whole package is an essential timepiece from the folk-rock heyday.
It has been collected many times in Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties and my recording is a hybrid of two similar versions. The melody and some of the words come from the village of Fowlmere in South Cambridgeshire, where they were collected from a Mr. ‘Hoppy’ Flack by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1907, with additional text coming from the Essex village of Debden, 15 miles to the south east. In both locations the song was used to accompany the charming old May Day tradition of delivering bunches of May (hawthorn) around the locality in expectation of some kind of reward.This is an immensely popular ballad but before delving into any contemporary arrangements of the song, we’d urge anyone to listen to Paddy Tunney, the man who made it a classic. As well as being a brilliant singer, Tunney was an exceptionally skilled storyteller; the sensitivity and understanding in his delivery without doubt places this recording among the finest performances of Irish traditional song. Welcome to the\u00a0Tradfolk events calendar, listing as many gigs, festivals, sessions, ceilidhs, traditions and rituals that we can cram on here. If you’d like to list your event, please check out our advertising page. Many of our readers choose to import this events calendar into their own personal calendars. You can add it to Google Cal, iCalendar, Outlook, or via your own exported file. Rest assured, you only get to see what we’re showing you, not the other way around. Your privacy is completely respected. The list below contains 10 songs, chosen by 10 different musicians, followed by a Spotify playlist. Each musician has gone into depth on why they love their chosen song, and any historical context they might be able to provide for it.

This is one of the songs Jon absorbed throughout his childhood from his dad’s Planxty collection. It was only recently that we’ve traced it back to its roots and began singing our own version of it. I was initially put off by the “As I roved out on a bright May morning”, introduction and wrote it off as a pastoral folksong cliché, but was then won round by the ambiguity of the last verse, which didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the song. Through exploring the song’s various meanings I started to connect with the feelings of unpredictability and regret in the story.
I’ve chosen the ‘Padstow May Song’ for many reasons. Being Scottish, we do May Day slightly differently, so the adventures of the Obby Oss all the way down at the end of the world in Cornwall have always seemed so exotic and magical to me. I’m fascinated by the part that’s sung as the Oss rests…I first heard this song sung by Kevin Conneff on The Chieftains album, Water From the Well, which is about as ‘Trad’ as you get from their later records. The Chieftains were famed for a lot of their collaboration albums but this one is about as pure as it can come and I love it. ‘May Morning Dew’ is one of those songs that, when you hear the first notes of the melody, encourages the listener to stop what they’re doing and pay attention. Some songs can do that straight away and I’ve always been drawn to those kinds of songs. I guess most songs about the ‘Month of May’ tend to lean towards rebirth as a theme but this is a song about loss, with a healthy tally of deaths. Perfect. Martin Carthy was perhaps the first (as ever) to bring this song into the 20 Century with a recording on his duo album Prince Heathen with Dave Swarbrick [1969]. He described the song’s resurrection as a collaboration between himself, Cyril Tawny, The Yetties and Frankie Armstrong. The definitive version however, as far as I’m concerned, comes from the aforementioned album, Morris On [1972], by the folk-rock super-group of the same name, featuring a lineup of Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Barry Dransfield, John Kirkpatrick and Dave Mattacks, plus Shirley Collins on guest vocals. Recorded for Joe Boyd at Island, the whole album, and in particular ‘Staines Morris’, is a white handkerchief meets valve amp stomp and dance through the English countryside. Put simply, this kind of rock-meets-trad-meets-misguided-pre-industrial-vision-of-Albion couldn’t be more up my street.The recording of ‘Lisbon’ by June Tabor on the album Ashes and Diamonds was an extremely important part of my folk journey in the mid-late 90s. Backed by a droning synth part – keyboard player Dave Bristow was actually a demonstrator for Yamaha and wrote the presets for the DX7, favourite of Brian Eno and possibly the best selling synth of the 80s – June’s highly ornamented early singing style is in full effect. It’s a great example of how to accompany what is effectively an a cappella performance without interfering with the timing or the tonality. But most of all, it’s a use of electronic instruments that avoids being gimmicky – the synth isn’t the focus. It sounds alternately like a hurdy gurdy, bagpipe drones, a harpsichord and a chapel organ but, somehow, better than any of those instruments. It reminds me of the sound on the theme tune to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of traditional music if it could sound like that?I’m normally one to shrink away from any mention of the pagan roots of our folk traditions, largely because of how hard it is to make solid claims about any of it. However, even if you do not believe these customs to be pre-Christian, they are certainly not a part of the liturgical calendar, so it is interesting to note how much stern Christian religiosity there is in the text. Is this an instance of religious syncretism? Is it a rather heavy-handed attempt to shoe-horn some religion into an otherwise secular tradition? We will never know of course, and that may be why I like it so much.It was a song I’d not heard before so I was really excited to take it off the page and sing it out. When I did, however, about three people came u
p to me afterwards and said, “ah yes people used to sing that one to death in the seventies. I’ve not heard it for a while but you’ve reminded me how much I hated it back then…”