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 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.