Monday, February 02, 2015

Music Monday ~ Eva, Sting, Jimmy, Fragile Fields and Shipyards

Today would have been the birthday of Eva Cassidy, who left us way too soon in 1996. Here she sings Fields of Gold written by Sting (aka Gordon Sumner).

Another of Sting's best, sung by himself: Fragile

I was sorry, but not surprised, when Sting's new stage show, The Last Ship , didn't do well on Broadway. It's a musical based on a story of North-East England's famous shipbuilding area on the River Tyne, and its decline. People in the USA will be mostly unaware of such calamities, though there are probably US equivalents. The flavour of England's Tyneside is unique though, and understood best by those who call that area home. Most of Britain is aware of its story and holds the region in affection, even though the local Geordie accent often confuses us.

When The Last Ship opened, Jimmy Nail played the leading role; I understand that Sting took over the lead later, in order to boost ticket sales, and provide name recognition.

Jimmy Nail has long been a favourite of mine. He wrote a song in 1995 on a similar theme to The Last Ship's story. I have always loved his song, Big River, and his own rendition of it. I'm not a Tynesider, I was born some 150 miles straight south of the River Tyne, in a city on the Humber estuary. Even so, this song never fails to bring a lump to my throat.


mike said...

Things British are fuzzy for me...I tend to lump it all together. It's peculiar to me that there are so many dialects and regions, as you often indicate. I'm only familiar with Tyne in relation to Newcastle Brown Ale...LOL. Newcastle is an expensive, trendy beer here in the states, but (was) the opposite in UK.

I'm surprised that the Geordie accent throws the non-Tyne citizenry, even those of you 150 miles distant. I have much trouble listening to some of the British accents on many of the tube programs I watch, without thinking that they are regional dialects.

I'm currently hooked on "The Great British Baking Show". I'm not at all familiar with British savory and dessert baked goods, so this has been fun learning. I've had few problems understanding their British speech (dialect). British baking seems much more elaborate than here in the USA, or at least the baking challenges presented to these bakers has complex recipes that are beautifully executed and appear scrumptious.

Here in the USA, actors often have to lose their accents and-or acquire regional accents for their TV or movie roles. Is it the same for British actors?

Twilight said...

mike ~ Regional accents/dialects are a seemingly indestructible, and yes, somewhat peculiar given the nation's size, feature of Britishness. They survive in spite of modern easy movement between areas, ubiquitous TV and radio etc.

As far as I know regional accents haven't faded much among those who have lived their lives in the same general area - and even among many of those who haven't! A few decades ago, in the Tyneside area especially, they say it was possible to tell even which street a person came from by their accent/dialect!

Husband can't differentiate Brit accents, other than that they are British rather than American. I can usually recognise within a few words from whence the accent originates (I've enjoyed learning to do this ever since someone once said to me - "from the way you say "summer" I'll guess you come from Hull" - Dang, but he was right!)

Re actors - British actors, like US actors have to learn to acquire whatever accent is necessary for their current role. Most seem to slip fairly easily into a "standard" US accent, but some slip up when trying for a "deep south" American sound.

Brits from the south of England often mess up Yorkshire and Lancashire accents, and few even try for Geordie unless it is or was their own.

If you haven't already seen this, you might find it interesting:

She's not bad - but nowhere near perfect on the accents she attempts.

I've never watched a baking show. Dad was a baker, my time helping him in his bakery was enough info for me to absorb and forget for ever! I loved his baking though, especially the bread, his pride and joy.

mike (again) said...

Your youtube link is fascinating! I did a LOL on the "Received Pronunciation" (aka "BBC") or "Heightened Received Pronunciation"! Which British dialect group do you speak or are you a "Hull" dialect subgroup?

Another LOL about the actress canned for her Geordie dialect that no one understood. I noticed that her youtube map had "Geordie" with a much larger "Newcastle" notation. You said you lived 150 miles from Tyne, so does that mean you lived in the Newcastle region?

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I think my accent has, over the years, turned into a general mix of northern English accents, occasional bits of East Yorkshire/Hull surviving, odd bits from West Yorkshire and Lancashire here and there.

I lived at various times in various regions of England N/S/E&W, but longest periods were in East and West Yorkshire. The Newcastle region, which is Northumberland by county, doesn't spread as far south as Yorkshire, there's County Durham in between. Co. Durham borders North Yorkshire, which is very different from East and West Yorkshire (but that's another story) ;-)

mike (again) said...

In the USA, we obviously have racial discrimination, but we also have a lesser discrimination. Not dialect, but on use of the English language. Double negatives, improper verb tense, "ain't", etc. Bad English usage infers a low educational level or socioeconomic standing. Does the UK experience discrimination based on dialect alone? I've heard that Cockney isn't desirable. The Beatles made statements in their early days regarding their Liverpool accents as a potential show-stopper.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Hmmmm - well, in the UK, once upon a time, someone's accent/dialect could instantly label them "lower class", irrespective of their abilities and talents. Those whose accents were regional could, in years past, easily find themselves discriminated against when job-hunting in certain spheres. But that time has passed - unless one was unlucky enough to happen upon a particularly snotty upper-class twit of a prospective employer. ;-)

Proper use of grammar and good spelling are a much better yardstick than accent, these days, to gauge a person's..erm...calibre.

The easing took place around the 1950/60s, thanks in large part to a genre of movies known as "kitchen sink dramas", and later regional soap operas (Coronation Street [Lancashire], Eastenders [East London]).

I'm out of touch with how things are in 2015, but from what I remember, Cockney/East London/Liverpool accents wouldn't necessarily be undesirable, as long as what was being said in those accents was seen to be intelligently stated, grammatical, free of slang, and spoken with a reasonable level of courtesy.

R J Adams said...

Thanks, I'd forgotten it was Eva's birthday today. I'm glad now I had her album, "Wonderful World" playing on the hi-fi this morning while I was working.

Great fan of Jimmy Nail, too, though his voice more than his acting (which is not to say he isn't a good actor!)

As for Mark Knopfler, I class him as one of the finest guitarists and song writers ever.

Unlike you, I'm no film buff, nor TV fan. The video side doesn't grab me, especially now when all the computer graphics and fancy stuff make it all just too real. I like my music and my sound system, and I'll stick with that until deafness overtakes (which my not be long, according to my wife, given the decibels it blows out) :-)

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Jimmy Nail, in the old TV series "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" and "Spender" did a good job acting-wise. I love his voice best too. He popped up in the film version of "Evita" also, very surprisingly I thought.

Agree on Mark Knopfler - he's one of the 2 guitar players I can recognise within a bar or two (t'other is Willie Nelson).

We like "just the music" sometimes too - anyjazz playing some of his vast collection of LPs in the converted bedroom we call our "music room", with me picking out random records to sample, and be educated upon their content by himself. ;-)