Greening The Dark

by Debra Cowan

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" Debra's finest work to date"- Nigel Schofield, Tykes News
Debra Cowan's second collaboration with Dave "DM" Mattacks contains six songs, five composed and one traditional. Composers include Emily Portman, Richard Thompson, John Tams, Lester Simpson and the late Lal Waterson. All songs arranged and produced by Dave Mattacks.

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releases September 3, 2019

Arranged and Produced by Dave Mattacks
Engineered and Recorded by Mike Barry
at Babyland Studios, Medford, MA
and by Sean Cahalin at Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA
Mixed by Huck Bennert
Mastered By Mark Donahue
at Sound Mirror, Jamaica Plain, MA
Artwork, Design, Cover Photo by Lisa Deupree
Back Cover Photo by Louie Tomás Velez

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Debra Cowan Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Singer Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of folk songs. Debra has two acclaimed solo recordings to her credit, and her third, “Fond Desire Farewell” was produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks. A former California resident, she now resides in Massachusetts and tours all over North America and the United Kingdom. ... more

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Track Name: Bones and Feathers (Emily Portman)
There's a woman down the back street
She leaves a trail of feathers
She's carrying a suitcase
Ivory and leather

She's rummaging the dustbins
She's looking but not finding

I see her at the bus stop
She holds a leather suitcase
Her eyes are like two street lights
They flicker in her furrowed face

She mutters and she murmers
There's a rattling, a rasping
She might be singing something
But it's lost in traffic roaring

She's weaving up the high street
Against a tide of faces
They’re looking but not seeing
People going places

She's searching for something
She's looking but not finding

I walk home through the back street
As night turns into morning
There's a little fire
To the eastward, burning

I turn round the corner
There's a rattling, a rasping
She's underneath the street light
Singing while she's working

Her suitcase is wide open
It's spilling out it's treasure
Yellow bones a-glowing
Ivory and leather
She's looking and she's finding
She's knitting them together

And the dawn is breaking
The ragged bones are mending
They're growing flesh and feathers
They're breathing and they're stirring
They're stirring and they're waking
They're rising and they're singing
They fly into the morning
The street lights are buzzing
And the sky is full of ringing

The woman down the back street
Has vanished with her suitcase
And all the birds are singing
All the birds are singing

All the birds are singing
Track Name: Hills of Greenmore (traditional)
One fine winter's morning me horn I did blow
To the green hills of Kielder for hours we did go
We gathered our dogs, we circled around
For who loves the sport more than the boys of the town.

And when we arrived they were all standing there
We set off for the fields in search of a hare
We didn't get far ‘til someone gave a cheer
Over high hills and valleys the sweet puss did steer

As we flew o'er the hills, 'twas a beautiful sight
There was dogs black and yeller, there were dogs black and white
She took the black bank to try them once more
Oh it was her last lank ‘round the hills of Greenmore.

In a field of wheat stubble this sweet puss did lie
And Rory and Charmer they did pass her by
And there where we stood at the foot of the brae
Oh, we heard the last words that this sweet puss did say:

“Oh, no more o'er the green hills of Kielder I'll roam
Nor skip through the fields in sport and in fun
Nor hear the loud horn your toner does play
I'll go back to me den by the clear light of day.”

You may blame MacMahon for killing the hare
He's been at his ol' capers this many's the year
Well, Saturdays, Sundays he'll never give o'er
With a pack of strange dogs round the hills of Greenmore.
Track Name: The Old Changing Way (Richard Thompson)
I'm Darby the tinker and my brother is Tam
We go where the work is, me boys, and we work where we can
With the mending and fixing, it's together we’d stay
Intending our fortunes to try on the old changing way

We come to your cities and we call on your wives
We'll fix up your kettles, please dear missus, we'll sharpen your knives
And we always agreed that together we'd stay
Intending our fortunes to try on the old changing way

Now times they grew scanty and the money grew thin
We worked for a song but the money it didn't come in
Now brothers are kindred but hard times betray
And so we stumbled apart on the old changing way

We never agreed to divide our tin
When you're out of love with your brother,
Then your hard times begin
For the spikes and the brothels,
They're shameful to see
But don't you travel alone, boys,
This warning you take from me
You must share with your nearest till the end of your days
Or else it's forever you'll roam on the old changing way
Track Name: Anna Dixie (Lal Waterson)
A yeoman farmer he loved me dearly
So did my father but not that clearly
Trying to spoil things for my man and me
He set a trap would break the back of any tree

Now my man and me went walking
My man did all of the talking
Down by Bosworth Park
Greening the dark
Taking the long way back
I fell in my father's trap
Causing the birds above to wake up

Over there and under him
The horse supporting Richard my king
Began galloping too fast for him
The horse's hooves came tumbling down
Close by my burying ground
Forever we are bound on Redmore plain

Oh my name is Anna Dixie
My father killed me
Resting peacefully Oh no not me
Lay me beyond Cheyney lest I come search for thee
Dress me up grandly lest I scare thee

A yeoman farmer he loved me dearly
So did my father but not that clearly
Track Name: Polly On the Shore (Lester Simpson)
She was used she was abused she never knew she was a victim
A father’s drunken pleasure before she was half grown
Her ma ignored and she endured until one night in anger
She broke the bottle on his head, struck out on her own

She headed down to sailor town began her education
For Polly knew the only way to win was fighting back
She learned the ropes, fleeced the dopes, dreamed above her station
And she kept half of everything she ever stole from jack

So you can think that she’s your Polly on the shore
She’ll be your mother or your sister or your whore
She’ll be waving till you’re safely out of view
Then she’s looking for another sailor gullible as you

When the crimp said her ma was dead she wished she could have cried
As rumours of a drunken murder spread to sailor town
But pa went free with drunken glee so Polly had him Shanghaied
He woke up on a hell ship Yokahama bound

Now Polly dines on finest wine and she is quite the lady
She owns almost everything in dirty sailor town
Polly hires and Polly fires and Polly says what maybe
Oh but maybe Polly can’t forget enough to settle down

So you can think that she’s your Polly on the shore
She’ll be your mother or your sister or your whore
She’ll be waving till you’re safely out of view
Then she’s looking for another sailor gullible as you

So you can think that she’s your Polly on the shore
She’ll be your mother or your sister or your whore
She’ll be waving till you’re safely out of view
Then she’s looking for another sailor
(Ghost or fisherman or whaler)
Looking for another sailor gullible as you
Track Name: Scarecrow (John Tams)
See the barley moving as the mowers find their pace
See the line advancing with a steady timeless grace
There's passion in their eyes and there's honour in their face
As they scythe down the castles and the courts

Smell the smoke of stubble when the harvest is brought down
See the fire burning as it purges all around
And the field is turned to ashes and the only living sound
Are the skylarks as they try to reach the sun

Blame it on the fathers, blame it on their sons
Blame it on the poppies and the pain
Blame it on the generals, blame it on their guns
Blame it on the scarecrow in the rain

See the barbed wire growing like a bramble on the land
See a farm turned to a fortress and a future turn to sand
See a meadow turn to mud and from it grows a hand
Like a scarecrow that is fallen in the rain

Blame it on the fathers, blame it on the sons
Blame it on the poppies and the pain
Blame it on the generals, blame it on their guns
Blame it on the scarecrow in the rain
Blame it on the scarecrow in the rain