Books and Music at the Heart of Independent Publishing

Napoleon Crossing the Rhine

April 19, 2013 | by Faber Social

Tags: Folk, Jarvis Cocker, Singing from the Floor

Earlier this week, Faber announced that Jarvis Cocker, our Editor-at-Large, had acquired a history of British folk clubs from the 1950s to the present day, Singing from the Floor by JP Bean. It’s a seriously good account, containing interviews with pretty much everyone you’d hope for, from Shirley Collins to Richard Thompson, along with some you hadn’t imagined. In their voices, there’s a vital impression of recent history coming to life, and of a renewed interest in folk as history to come.

If there were a defining feature of the folk revival of the 1950s and ’60s, it would be that everyone was welcome to give it a go. Race, age, sex – none of these were necessarily barriers for the performers, in the way that they often were – are – in that other popular form of the post-war years, rock ’n’ roll. This was a grassroots thing.

In this spirit, in the run-up to the publication of Singing from the Floor next year, we’ll be encouraging your takes on folk tunes, online and hopefully elsewhere.

To kick it off, here’s my version of a tune of Irish origin called ‘Napoleon Crossing the Rhine’.

I learnt this from the fantastic British banjoist Pete Stanley, who features in Singing from the Floor. For the musos among you, it’s frailed on a five-string banjo tuned to gCGBD and capoed on the second fret.

There’s tab here, albeit in a slightly different tuning (gCGCD). And there are lots of versions on YouTube (some under the title ‘Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine’).

So why not it a go! Email social@faber.co.uk with your YouTube or Soundcloud links with ‘Singing from the Floor’ in the subject header along with some information about yourself, and we’ll aim to post as many as possible.