Boy From Bethlehem: the sequel to Little Donkey
In 1970, a decade or so post-Donkey, Eric wrote a duet 'Boy From Bethlehem' in which the eponymous youngster relates the events of 24 December to an unknown enquirer, perhaps from the next town. The song was duly printed as sheet music by Edwin Ashdown Limited who were by then publishing his songs, and indeed this has remained available ever since, though in the absence of a passing Gracie Fields to make a recording has remained largely unknown, although London's Finchley Children's Choir receive an honourable mention for including it in their repertoire over the years. There's never, however, been a commercial release... until now.
So here are Hay Dayz, featuring the prolific Serbian soprano Jovana Djordjevic, with the first release of Boy From Bethlehem, a mere 48 years after Eric wrote what is in effect a sequel to Little Donkey. Here are videos with lyrics of Boy From Bethlehem and Little Donkey, which Hay Dayz also covered.
Links to buy digital downloads at CD Baby:
The songs are also available on Spotify and other major streaming and download stores.
A very merry Christmas to all of our visitors.
2018 Memorial PrizeThis year's competition is now open. Here are the details.
Six unheard songs by Eric
With the caveat that these recordings have come to DMLD via a very roundabout route with the expected audio degradation of three and a half decades (the distortion is definitely not your soundcard!) here are some of the tracks Eric originally demoed for TyneWear Theatre Company for their 1983 musical Katie Mulholland with the help of legendary local soprano Marian Aitchison.
These formed a score for the show which was lyrically dark and musically complex - and which was subsequently almost entirely rewritten at the insistence of Catherine Cookson's agents, quite ironically as the novel being adapted is anything but light or simple. However a lot was being invested in the Newcastle Festival production and producing a crowd-pleasing spectacle was seen as more important than a work that was thought-provoking or even authentic to Cookson's novel.
Eric's take on the rewrite might be summed up by his having scrawled "Rubbish!" (one of his favourite words) onto his tape copy of the revised work. This was undoubtedly rather harsh, while the rewrite is not as musically interesting the audiences lapped it up, indeed the show sold out the Newcastle Playhouse for the whole of the scheduled five weeks.
So this is a taste of what might have been instead. These demos were made in Eric's music room in Sunderland on his Ferrograph reel to reel recorder, probably in early 1983, and have been cleaned up as best possible (which unfortunately isn't very much) from what is probably a third generation cassette copy. Nevertheless DMLD's humble view is that songs in particular the original Act I finale I've Arrived (and possibly some of the rest) shouldn't be entirely lost to the world, even if they do survive only in this tiny corner of the internet. Marian Aitchison sings Katie's parts and Eric himself is 'Chorus of Miners' (could this number have been cut because of sensitive contemporary parallels in the pit closures which were about to lead to the 1984 Miners' Strike?) and the various supporting roles.
I GOT NOTHING
THE DAYS ARE COMING
SOMEONE'S IN LOVE WITH ME
All of the songs from the musical as it was finally performed (and the story of how the show came together) can be found on the Katie page.
Sweet Waters Of Tyne & I've Got A Little WhippetFriend of DMLD Isolde Roxby presents a super new rendition of Sweet Waters...
The River Tyne (by way of disclaimer in case Newcastle Tourist Information are reading) has become a lot less polluted since Eric wrote this in the 1970s. But still don't go swimming in it or anything.
Meanwhile, don't mention Little Whippet...
Thanks to Isolde for sending us these and look out for her performing around the region.
About EricEric Boswell wrote many well known folk songs about the North East of England including 'There's More To Life Than Women and Beer', 'I've Got A Little Whippet', 'But It's Mine' and 'Tyneside's Where I Come From'. He wrote for comedian Bobby Thompson (a.k.a. The Little Waster), the Geordierama variety shows at Newcastle City Hall, Frank Wappat, Tyne Tees Television and even Northern Stage in the form of a musical based on one of Catherine Cookson's novels. Most of this was during the 1970s and 1980s but he continued to write humorous regional songs till not long before his death in 2009, particularly for local operatic bass Graeme Danby's outdoor concerts around Northumberland.
But before all that Eric had been a pop songwriter for Chappell Music Publishing in London, writing some (rather saccharine) minor pop hits some of which appeared in the BBC's 'A Song For Europe' competition and, in particular, the children's Christmas song 'Little Donkey' which was a big hit at Christmas 1959 and has been a nativity show perennial ever since. This diminutive equine cast a long shadow over subsequent more serious work, much to his chagrin, especially when being interviewed or meeting new people. And so this website's name.
These pages seek to collate links to recordings and videos of Eric's songs, local and otherwise, and to CDs etc still available in 2017, as well as provide biographical and anecdotal information about the reclusive Wearsider. It's funded by a Trust from Eric's Estate which also runs an annual prize competition for a new local folk song. The site is indebted to past collaborators and members of Eric's family for material and is always interested to hear about new recordings, YouTube videos and gigs - you can still hear songs like 'Whippet' in the region's folk clubs. Talking of which...
An earlier project of DMLD made available the songs from the stage musical of this Catherine Cookson story, staged by Newcastle Playhouse/Northern Stage in 1983. The full score is on Soundcloud, and we've put together slide show videos of a couple of the songs.
KATIE WAS THERE and WAIT FOR ME
ACT I AUDIO
ACT II AUDIO
The full story of the musical.
Other pages on DMLD
Various recent videos of Eric's songs, a brief biography of Eric, the Memorial Prize competition (open Sep-Dec), information about Eric's pop and folk writing periods, a discography including links to buy CDs and downloads, short biographies of some of Eric's contemporaries in what was undoubtedly a thriving time for Geordie culture and finally some links to related websites which we're always very happy to add to (contact details on that page).