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     “Tracks In A Landscape”.

  1. Bad Tempered Man

  2. The Hitchhiker

  3. Black Crow

  4. Song For Leonard

  5. Hear You One More Time

  6. Ridin’ In My SUV

  7. Falling To Pieces

  8. Brain Tumour Blues

  9. I’m Your Friend

  10. You Remind Me Of You

  11. Back Country Woman

  12. What Is The Meaning Of It All

  13. Cry If You Wanna

  14. Angelina

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          "In The Frame."

  1. Gravy Train

  2. Let The Music Come To You

  3. Piano Man

  4. Smoky Mountain Hillbilly Blues

  5. Spider In De Banana Tree

  6. Srebrenica Will You Never Go Away

  7. Ballad Of Jethro Jameson Brown

  8. The Copper Knob Polisher

  9. Bible Stories

  10. Baby Left Me Blues

  11. Keep On Keeping On

  12. The Sphygmomanometer Song

  13. A Moment Can Last Forever

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LATEST NEWS:   I published a new book in December 2020. It's called "Holidays On The Farm".  It's about a small boy growing up in Harrogate, Yorkshire in the nineteen-fifties and sixties. It is written as if seen through the eyes of the boy, myself, and gives a view of the world in those days with humorous observations and recollections.  There are several pen and ink illustrations. It is a paperback book.  ISBN:  9 780954 419547

I wrote my first song when I was a teenager.  My guitar was a Kimbara with nylon strings. I kept that guitar for more than fifty years but bought a second-hand Fylde guitar in the 1980s. It's a lovely guitar, custom-built.  As the years went on I acquired a few more steel-string guitars. I admire the talented luthiers who are able to make a beautiful stringed instrument from selected wood originating from a tree in a forest.

 

As time went by my songs emerged. Sometimes they just came as if out of nowhere. Sometimes they needed a lot of work. Like a painting, a song can often need adjusting, embelishing or simplifying. Things change and so do the themes and the delivery.

After many years I decided I would make my first CD. That was in 2011. I called it "Tracks In A Landscape" and it had 14 songs.  It included 'Black Crow', one of my favourites, and 'Bad Tempered Man', and 'The Hitchhiker' for which I won the Keith Marsden Singer-Songwriter Prize at the Saltburn International Folk Music Festival in 2011. There's a long story behind that song: in fact there's a long story behind most of my songs!

I made my second CD in 2013. It had 13 songs including 'Bible Stories' - it was fun making that track! And 'The Copper Knob Polisher' - fun doing that one too! And 'Srebrenica Will You Never Go Away' which had its origins on a beach in Brittany....a long story that one! It was my wife Annie who had a chance encounter with a man on the beach. He was staring out to sea. Hours later Annie got back to the market square in the village where I'd been waiting, wondering what was taking her so long. When she explained to me about the man on the beach and the story he had told to her it set me thinking.  I always thought it was a good song, and so it turned out to be when this song won for me the First Prize in the Singer/Songwriter competition at the Great North Folk Festival, North Yorkshire, in 2019. Grim story, though.

Recording songs and making CDs can be costly so I started my own recording studio 'Sounds Grate'  and this produced my 3rd CD "Snakes and Ladders" with 11 tracks, one of which is 'Big Skies' which is a good song though I say it myself; a tale of courage and dedication deserving of a song.

In 2017 I made a 4th CD "Reflections" which has 11 tracks. Each of these has a long story behind it.  I owe two of the songs on this CD to the memory of Herbert and Mairi, my wife's parents: these are 'An Old Pair of Boots' and 'Camuscoille Farewell', Camuscoille being the tiny croft where Mairi had been born a few years after the 1st World War. And the boots, well, Herbert bought them when he was a lad and had a job in the Highlands as a postboy on his bicycle. He had them and used them till the day he died nearly 80 years later. They don't make 'em like that any more.

I find it interesting and challenging to write a song. It's not always a quick or easy process. A completed song, like a finished painting, can be appreciated by some people but ignored by others. It can have a powerful meaning and impact on some individuals but leave others untouched. For me, I derive satisfaction when a person comes up to me after I've sung a song and says "Who wrote that song?" or if they tell me they liked it. That's nice.

For several years I played piano accordeon in Jim Maguire's Irish Ceilidh Band in Windermere, Cumbria, England. Jim was a great fiddle player. He generally ended his shows with 'Orange Blossom Special', accelerating furiously towards the end. It was all I could do to squeeze out the right chords as fast as I could, usually getting further and further behind him!​

The accordeon rather lapsed into oblivion (Annie breathed a sigh of relief, I'm sure) as I felt more drawn towards song-writing, and one by one the songs kept popping out. Sometimes a chance remark might trigger a new song. Sometimes it was something I'd read. Sometimes a small section of a film. It was an obituary that triggered my song "Ballad of Herman Wallace" because I'd not heard of Herman Wallace and when I saw his obituary in a magazine saying "Forty-two years in solitary confinement in the Louisiana State Penitentiary" I thought that must be a mis-print, but after spending some time looking into the story (the computer is a useful aid for song-writing) I learned of the tale of injustice  surrounding Herman Wallace's trial and imprisonment and it was scarcely longer than 24 hours later when my ballad emerged.

Writing one's own songs, and singing them in a busy pub with people chattering, can be rather a daunting and solitary pursuit because it's often the case that the surrounding folk just want to hear popular well-known songs to which they can sing along, so when a chap starts singing a song they've never heard before it is often the case that they show no interest - but occasionally one individual does, if they've been listening, and that can be very nice especially if they make an appreciative comment.

I once sang 'Srebrenica Will You Never Go Away' (a sinister and disturbing song, as its title suggests) and a man walked over to me and slapped a pint of beer down in front of me and just said "Great song". The same song, when I sang it on the stage at one folk festival, resulted in a woman with tears in her eyes coming up to talk to me. Mind you, the story behind that song is a tear-jerker.

My CDs are available to buy if you send me an email to jphawson@gmail.com along with your name and address and I will post them after asking you to pay.

In my late fifties I thought I would try my hand at writing some stories. I had one in mind.  It was to do with a day spent in the Highlands of Scotland with two friends a few years ago (more like forty years ago actually!). We were young and adventuresome and it was one of those days that stick in the mind, still vivid despite the years. The joys of rock-climbing in Scotland!  A short story came to life and I called it "When We Were Eagles". Once I had the bit between my teeth I wrote more short stories thinking that they might be fun for grandchildren to read (we had no grandchildren at that time) but nonetheless I persevered with writing and a book of short stories emerged. I called it "When We Were Eagles and Other Stories". Here's a picture of the book.  It was published in 2002 with the ISBN number 0-9544195-0-2. In 2016 I added some extra details to the book along with a few more pictures and re-printed it with the ISBN number 0-9544195-3-7.

 

Several years ago I came across a book entitled "Bold Beyond Belief". It had been written by a New Zealander, Paul Maxim, and it told the life story of Bill Denz. I found it to be an enthralling book, the more so because I had once climbed in New Zealand with Bill Denz and the four days I'd spent with him have stuck in my mind. I decided to write a story about the adventure I'd had with this remarkable man. The story formed the start of my second book of short stories entitled "A Cabbage On Mount Cook and Other Stories". There are some laughs in it, I hope!  It was published in 2016, ISBN 0-9544195-2-9.

These books are available on the Amazon website, or write to me by email if you would like to buy one.

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           “Snakes and Ladders”  

  1. Snakes And Ladders

  2. Big Skies

  3. Strings

  4. I Got The Wheels

  5. Ballad Of Herman Wallace

  6. Dancing In Paris

  7. Miracles

  8. A Poor Workhouse Boy

  9. In Aberdeen’s Harbour

  10. Ballad Of Jimmy Johnson

  11. Jim Maguire’s Farewell To Belfast

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                  “Reflections”

  1. A Farmhand From Melmerby

  2. Banjo Girl

  3. Everybody Got A Past

  4. Camuscoille Farewell

  5. Herbert White Reminisces

  6. An Old Pair Of Boots

  7. Don’t Leave Me Lonely

  8. In Tombstone

  9. Christmas Is Not Just Another Day

  10. Granpa’s Pancakes

  11. Some Things

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Holidays On The Farm