Eight Lost Songs – Editor’s Preface

Iain Biggs

Editor’s Preface

The circumstances that led to the inception and realisation of this project require some comment. In 1999 I began work on a book with a scholar and artist who, for reasons of his own, wished to remain anonymous and, in the resulting text, was referred to only as A. The book we produced – Between Carterhaugh and Tamshiel Rig: a borderline episode – was designed by MakingSpace Publications, Isle of Wight and published by Wild Conversations Press, appeared in January 2004. In 2003 A had finally decided to retire from all forms of public life, a course of action he had been contemplating for some time. In the autumn of 2003, as part of his preparations for his retirement, he kindly sent me various papers and other material relating to a number of ongoing and unfinished projects in which he thought I might be interested. Of these the material that has become Eight Lost Songs immediately caught my attention.

The content of this publication has been taken from a number of sources. A undertook almost all the original research on which the publication is based, which I have written up in the form that appears here. The notes on the eight lost songs themselves are, apart from a few corrections, reproduced here exactly as Alison Oliver wrote them. My own part has been to edit and assemble the material for publication, to produce the images, to provide some additional contextual material in the form of footnotes, and to invite Gary Peters to respond musically to what we know of the lost material.

Editor’s note, 2008

Since the publication of our book and his retirement A’s identity has become, as a result of somewhat sensational circumstances entirely unrelated to our projects, what can only be described as an ‘open secret’ in certain artistic, academic and scholarly quarters. It would consequently be absurd to continue to try and maintain the anonymity of my collaborator. Adam D’Abbit-Rescar was, until his retirement, a respected if somewhat eccentric independent scholar of a reclusive disposition who had a particular interest in interdisciplinary work linked to landscape in the broadest sense. However, I will continue to refer to him here as A, in line with our original agreement about any publications we might undertake together.

Credits and acknowledgements:
All images are mine, based on material supplied by A, except the ‘Crow lady’ photograph, used by permission of Ruth Jones (photographer Phil Collins).

8 Lost Songs: The New Sowdun Songs

All titles performed and written by Gary Peters (except * lyrics Iain Biggs/ music Gary Peters). Produced by Gary Peters.
Additional musicians : Veryan Weston, piano, and Joshua Biggs, viola.

1 ‘Black-eyed Border Maid’
2 ‘Wandering Jamie’
3 ‘Bold Helen’
4 ‘The Death of the Rev Thomas Thomson’
5 ‘Margaret and Isobell’
6 ‘The Righteous Fugitive’ *
7 ‘By Katey’s Cross’
8 ‘The Crow Child’

9 Additional track

I would like to thank Veryan, Joshua, and Gary for their generous and enthusiastic participation in the project.

Web design and production
Ivan Eastwood

Original book design
Jonathan Ward, MakingSpace Publications

Eight Lost Songs (‘the Sowdun parish blues’)
For A, an impossible friend, and in memory of Alison Oliver.