Pic: Ray Hepner Collection
This blog has a new good friend, the collector Ray Hepner, who is very kindly allowing me to show some items from his archive over the next few weeks. The first of these is a copy of the sheet music for The Dam Busters March, autographed by its composer, Eric Coates. The item shown above is the vocal version with words by Carlene Mair.
The stirring words are not often performed, perhaps because they are not widely known. They read as follows:
Proudly, with high endeavour,
We, who are young forever,
Won the freedom of the sky;
We shall never die!
We, who have made our story
Part of our country’s glory
Know our hearts will live on
While Britons fly!
We know our hearts will still live on
While Britons fly!
While Britons fly!
Words by Carlene Mair, © Chappell 1954/1956
To my mind, these are rather better words than the rather dirge-like recent hymn, about which I posted last June.
Not much seems to be known about Carlene Mair, other than that she wrote a book about the history of Chappell, the music publishers, and also the words in English for Chappell’s collections of Bavarian and Welsh folk songs. She also wrote an English translation of Charles Trenet’s La Mer, but not the words to Beyond the Sea, which uses the same tune and later became a hit for Bobby Darin. Any further information would be gratefully received.
Calm down, film fans – this report refers to the news that the other Peter Jackson has lost his job with the Imps, also known as the mighty Lincoln City FC. After a poor start to the season – two wins out of seven games – he has been one of League Two’s earliest casualties. It doesn’t seem to have been much of a surprise to the long-suffering supporters, if contributions to the BBC chat pages are to be believed. Armchair supporters, particularly those who know the county’s connections with certain heavy bomber squadrons, will not be surprised at the club’s current state. It’s because the management have threatened to drop the playing of a certain tune when a goal is scored.
… but, this time, some one did ask me to play! Even better, it was at a Prom Concert.
It’s pick up a plectrum time at the Proms as the wonderful Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain invite you to join in their performance in the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 18 August. They will be performing loads of favourites including, of course, The Dam Busters theme, and you yourself can play along (if you have a ukulele) in an audience participation rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The whole thing will be live on Radio 3 if you aren’t able to get to the Albert Hall on the night.
You can see the Orchestra’s version of The Dam Busters here, in a Youtube video recorded at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. (It’s about 06.55 minutes in after Pinball Wizard and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.)
I met the late Sir Bill Cotton of the BBC once, many years ago – he was a lovely, funny man, much loved by all. This was evidenced by the huge turnout at his memorial service earlier this week, where there apparently was much mirth amongst the tributes. The report in The Times that some of the music was provided by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing, amongst other ditties, a version of the Dambusters March arranged by Bill Cotton’s namesake and father, set me off on a search on Youtube. Unfortunately this performance doesn’t seem yet to have been videoed (although I did find both Shaft and Teenage Kicks) so I ended up at the orchestra’s own website, where I was able to purchase the Eric Coates tune for a meagre one pound. A bargain! Altogether now – plink, plink…
UPDATE: Here’s a sample, about 20 seconds long, of the Dambusters March.