Jordon is a hard road to travel I believe…

Here is a piece of folk music played on all sorts of different instruments- including some virtuoso frying pan bashing…

I love the fact that eclectic eccentric music like this can find airtime- thanks to the Jules Holland programme on the good old BBC.

Folk music gets some bad press with some. But good music is good no matter what genre it anchors itself within. And for me- folk songs are our connection with where we came from- the music of working people of preceding generations.

This song has a strange beginning- it was thought to be written by a man called Dan Emmett, who performed it in 1850’s New York, where despite the controversy around slavery, white performers who blacked their faces as negro minstrels were very popular.

But like many folk songs, it was adapted and changed to speak to the times. It was sung by soldiers fighting and dying in the American Civil war, and by others since asking questions about the nature of life and suffering, and hoping for a better future- this side of Jordan, and the next.

I like this version of the words- not quite the same as those sung by Bellowhead on the clip below.

I looked in the East, I looked in the West,
For Fortune a chance to me accordin’,
But Fortune is a blind god flyin’ in the clouds,
Forgettin’ me on this side of Jordan.
Pull off your old coat, and roll up your sleeves,
Jordon is a hard road to travel I believes.

Thunder in the clouds, and lightening in the trees,
Shelter to my head no leaf affordin’,
Battered by the hailstones, beaten by the breeze;
Th’s my lot on this side o’ Jordan.
Pull off your old coat, etc.

Silver spoons to some mouths, golden spoons to others,
Providence unequally awardin’,
Dash it! – tho’ they tells us all of us be brothers;
Don’t see it clearly, this side of Jordan.
Pull off your old coat, etc.

Like a ragged owlet, with its wings expanded,
Nailed against a garden door or hoardin’,
That am I, by good folk, as a rascal branded;
Never hurted none o’ this side Jordan.
Pull off your old coat, etc.

Aloft a pretty cherub, patchin’ up o’ blunders,
My troubles and distresses is recordin’,
Will there come a whirlabout? better times I wonders,
E’en to me, on t’other side o’ Jordan?
Pull off your old coat, etc.