Link to Living Tradition Homepage





CYRIL TAWNEY - Nautical Tawney

Nautical Tawney

When Cyril Tawney died in April 2005 the folk revival lost one of its founding fathers and finest performers. Not only was he a singer and songwriter, he excelled as a collector, researcher, author, organiser, and proselytiser for folk music. Folk people at home and abroad held him in affection and respect right through to the end of his life. He is greatly missed.

In the late 1950s when I was trying to change from a skiffle repertoire to something more English I would scour the pages of the Radio Times for notice of programmes by Cyril Tawney knowing that he would be singing the things I was looking for. Aside from his own beautifully written songs it was obvious that he had a vast knowledge of the English collections, from which he chose lovely examples to put on the air, manna from heaven for a searcher like me. Not only did he choose fine songs but he sang them beautifully, with an easy-on -the-ear voice, crystal clear diction, and a pleasing accent that I mistakenly took for West-Country but was actually his natural Hampshire burr. Later on, when I came to meet him I was to find that he sang exactly as he spoke, another valuable lesson for me.

On this CD, re-mastered from his Neptune Tapes series, and subtitled 'Songs of the Old Seafarers' Cyril sings ballads of the sailors life with familiar titles like 'Rounding the Horn', 'Rambling Sailor', and 'Yarmouth Town', every one coming up fresh as a daisy by way of his superb voice, and his way of getting every ounce of meaning out of a song. The Tawney version of New York Girls is so superior to mine I'm going to steal it straightaway, 'Maid on the Shore' likewise. 'Waiting For The Day' with it's Royal Navy words, shows that Cyril could rollick with the best, but for me his way with a gentle song was where his singing gifts showed to the full. For proof just listen to the closing track 'Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear'. It is outstandingly good. The whole album is full of superb singing, showing Cyril at his best, a fitting memorial to a great man of song.

I was proud to be able to call Cyril a friend, and I cherish memories of gigs we did together. I am delighted to see that a Cyril Tawney tribute event is to be held at Cecil Sharp House, London, in the spring of 2007. See you there!

Roy Harris

This CD comprises of traditional songs sung by Cyril

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.