Monday, 7 January 2013

Kathleen Ferrier and Mary Hopkin

Kathleen Ferrier was a world-class singer who died in 1953, the year after I was born, at the height of her career. The Wikipedia article on her is at I had never heard of her until the early 1990s, when a friend played me two of her best-known songs, Blow the Wind Southerly and What is Life Without Thee, which had me entranced. I liked the second-mentioned particularly. Here is the YouTube version of her singing it:

Friends part, and I forgot that song for many years, rediscovering it only in the last day or so. It seems to speak more clearly to me now, but then mortality is so much closer than when I was merely forty.

Being young, with all one's life ahead, has also acquired a meaning not known to me in previous decades. You can be both young and old, and perhaps in the end the two states are fully reconciled in some close-to-death insight. At any rate, the mental nudging needed to recall and rediscover What is Life Without Thee came from digging out and listening to Mary Hopkin's Sparrow, a truly haunting song about a young girl's first steps into adulthood. Here are two YouTube versions. The first is the polished one that was recorded for the single, and has found its way now onto CDs and is available as an mp3 download: And this is a live version some years later than the recording, on stage, with a still-youthful looking Mary Hopkin doing her folk guitar presentation to a visible audience: Her voice seems so clear and beautiful, so suitable for the hymn-like quality of the song. I hope you like both versions.

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