Released 10 November 2015
The genesis of this recording came after watching Common – the BBC’s 2014 drama about England’s common purpose (also known as joint enterprise) legal doctrine. At a couple of points in the film, this song was sung (by Robert Wyatt). I was taken by the beauty of it and so I searched for it on Apple music, Spotify and the internet etc.. It eventually became apparent that the song had never been released.
So, to some extent, this cover is so I can listen to this beautiful music – written by the composer Adrian Johnston. It isn’t quite the same as in the film in several ways. For one thing, it is a full song – in the film you hear parts of what could be a whole song. Also, my version has an extra verse. The words for the song are taken from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem The Debt. Only, in the film, it’s just the first and third/final verse. I include the middle verse, which I think brings in some amazing words. Another difference is that I have (unconsciously) changed the timing of some of the notes in the melody. This probably reflects the differences between mine and Robert Wyatt’s natural singing style. And of course, I have structured the song from beginning to end and arranged it for acoustic guitar and voice.
Behind this song – and another reason for recording it – is a brilliant and gripping documentary/film, Common, by Jimmy McGovern. The film looks at England’s joint enterprise doctrine. It was inspired by the real life case of 16-year-old Jordan Cunliffe who was sentenced under this law for a minimum term of 12 years for the murder of Garry Newlove, despite Cunliffe not actively taking part in the attack. Common purpose / joint enterprise is controversial in many ways and you read more about it here.