Maria Sandle @ HEART

Those of us involved in the Save Tetley Field Campaign have been very grateful to Maria Sandle for writing and sharing her wonderful song “The Golden Field” last year. Maria has been playing in the local folk/acoustic scene for a number of years, but yesterday made her “solo debut” at the HEART Centre in Headingley – I was very pleased to go along.

Maria played around 20 songs in total – divided into 3 mini sets – combining her own songs with those of others including Leonard Cohen, Annie Lennox, Nancy Griffiths and Steve Earle. Two songs particularly stood out for me, which neatly sum up her performing style and choice of material – one well-known, the other less so.

“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” is a classic song by Fairport Convention, originally sung by Sandy Denny, with the virtuoso Richard Thompson on guitar. Maria tackled following in these illustrious footsteps admirably – as a non-musician I’m pretty impressed by anyone who can sing or play; those that can do both even more so. Maria’s was a worthy cover, and rather fitting in what is Fairport’s 50th year.

Less well-known, but matching the environmental theme of Maria’s Tetley Field song, was her version of Maggie Holland’s “A Place Called England”. The lyrics are both striking and amusing and worthy of a further look. Anything about allotments and compost is alright by me, but this one digs a little deeper still, eg:

I saw town and I saw country, motorway and sink estate;
Rich man in his rolling acres, poor man still outside the gate;
Retail park and burger kingdom, prairie field and factory farm,
Run by men who think that England’s only a place to park their car.


For England is not flag or Empire, it is not money, it is not blood.
It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud

Full lyrics here alongside a youtube performance by the writer. June Tabor’s version on youtube is also well worth a look.

So overall, a well-performed and engaging debut, in a relaxed and comfortable venue. Keep an eye out for future gigs by Maria!

DSC03464“Come spring a golden field bursting forth with buttercups, surrounded by majestic trees…”

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Song Lyric Sunday: The Band – “Ophelia”

I just wanted to use this week’s theme as an opportunity to share my new-found enthusiasm for The Band. There I go, finger on the pulse as usual – just discovering a group that split up over 40 years ago….

The group started life as The Hawks, before being spotted by Bob Dylan in the mid ’60s and becoming his backing band. Dylan casually referred to them as “the band” and when he moved on to solo projects, they rechristened themselves as The Band.

I’d describe their style as understated, quirky and playful. This contrasts with the rather serious tones of rock music in the late 60s/early 70s, and they were able to find their niche. At first listen they sound a bit “southern rock”, but in fact only 1 of the group was from the Deep South; the other 4 were Canadians – perhaps this crossover is part of their appeal.

The first songs that caught my ear were “Up on Cripple Creek”, “The Shape I’m In”, “Life is a Carnival” and – perhaps their best-known song – “The Weight”, but as I listen more this is beginning to feel like scratching the tip of quite an iceberg. Lots of messing about on Spotify and You Tube to come I think.

After achieving both critical and commercial success between 1968-76, they rather unusually decided to split whilst still at their peak. This at least saved them from going fat and useless I guess, although it seems they hadn’t missed out on some of the more decadent aspects of the rock star lifestyle, and sadly only 2 of the original 5 members are still with us.

The signed off in 1976 with a concert in San Francisco christened “The Last Waltz”, which featured a dazzling list of fellow rock legends as guests and was made into a film by Martin Scorsese. From the film, here’s “Ophelia”:

Boards on the window
Mail by the door
What would anybody leave so quickly for?
Where have you gone?

The old neighborhood just ain’t the same
Nobody knows just what became of
Tell me, what went wrong

Was it something that somebody said?
Mama, I know we broke the rules
Was somebody up against the law?
Honey, you know I’d die for you

Ashes of laughter
The ghost is clear
Why do the best things always disappear
Like Ophelia
Please darken my door

Was it something that somebody said?
Mama, I know we broke the rules
Was somebody up against the law?
Honey, you know I’d die for you

They got your number
Scared and running
But I’m still waiting for the second coming
Of Ophelia
Come back home

(Written by Robbie Robertson)