Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch and the golden years of British folk

I regret to say that I was unaware of either Sandy Denny — former singer with the Fairport Convention — or Anne Briggs, or finger-style folk guitarist Bert Jansch, but I have rectified that thanks to Max Read and his excellent newsletter:

I started getting into this stuff a few years ago, after hearing Sandy Denny’s incredibly beautiful “False Bride,” from 1967, and falling in love with her voice. Denny, a former nurse, started singing on England’s folk-club circuit in the mid-1960s; she rose to become the leading vocalist of English folk-rock music — no mean feat in a staggering generation of talent that also included Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins, June Tabor, and Maddy Prior. She died in 1978, apparently from a fall, after struggling with alcohol addiction.

I tend to associate Denny with fall, maybe because her favorite themes as a songwriter were passing time, changing seasons, and growing darkness. Though the seasonally appropriate original here is “Late November,” my favorite Sandy song is the gorgeous, bitter “Blackwaterside” she recorded live at the Paris Theatre for the BBC in 1972, which can be listened to at 16:25 below. It’s the story of a woman seduced and discarded by an man she meets on the banks of the River Blackwater

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