A Song of Faraway Wars

The wars were getting bigger, three hundred years ago.

War has great days, when a man can change his station in an hour. We think of the 'gentling' Shakespeare mentions, but it was well true through the Spanish wars of reconquest in the Middle Ages. If you wanted to be a knight, and weren't born to it, you could still yet become one on the frontier. If you wanted to be free, or to marry the beloved other your families refused, you could do it on the frontier. You just had to be ready to fight. So too at periods in England's history, and in our own. You could make your own way, on the frontier.

More famously, recently, this title "Over the Hills and Faraway" belongs to a Led Zeppelin song.

It's not quite the same idea at all. And yet...


Texan99 said...

There was a character who often sang that song a cappella in episodes of "Sharp's Rifles," a favorite show of ours. Great tune.

Of course, this is also a pretty big Led Z household, though more my husband than me. Completely different song, GREAT riff. LZ always did great riffs.

ColoComment said...

Yes, loved that in the Sharpe's Rifles series. (...also, Sean Bean.)

Wikipedia says the actor was John Tams (and we apparently were not his only fans in that Sharpe's series):

Tams had an early part in The Rainbow (1988), and may be best known for playing a regular supporting role in the ITV drama series Sharpe, as rifleman Daniel Hagman, one of the "Chosen Men" in the 95th Rifles – a whimsical, sober, former poacher always ready with a deadly eye behind a Baker rifle, a folk remedy for an ailment or a song for a weary heart. He also co-wrote the music for each film (18, as of November 2008) alongside Dominic Muldowney.

In 1996, Tams and Muldowney released the best-selling album Over the Hills & Far Away: The Music of Sharpe to accompany the series. This album has sold over 120,000 copies.

J Melcher said...

,,, and far away, Teletubbies come out to play."

You can tell when my kids were little.

Gringo said...

I first learned about the song in reading The Horse Boy and The Long Ride Home, books that Rupert Isaacson wrote about his autistic son. He often sang "Over the Hills and Far Away" with his son.

From The Horse Boy:

“Daddy to sing,” he said suddenly, rocking gently back and forth with Blackie’s rhythm as the little mare picked her way up the lower part of the long, rock-strewn slope.
“What shall we sing?”
“Overthehillsandfaraway.” He said it in one big rush, so that it sounded like one word. “Over the Hills and Far Away,” an old English or maybe Scottish folk song that I sometimes used to comfort him down to sleep. So I sang it now.
Oh Tommy was a piper’s son
He learned to play when he was young
But the only tune that he would play

“Over the hills and far away,” sang Rowan, in perfect pitch.
O’er the hills and o’er the main

“Flanders, Portugal, and Spain,” trilled Rowan.

King George commands, and we obey…

“Over the hills and far away,” he replied.
And I would love you all the day…

“Every night would kiss and play,” he responded, his diction clear, as it always was when singing.
If with me you’d gladly stray…

“Over the hills and far away.”
“Over the hills and fa-ar a-way,” we sang together.
And then it was impossible to sing, as the gradient of the slope began to steepen, to become more punishing. I started to sweat, pant, as Blackie picked her way delicately over the rocks and Kristin’s sorrel followed close behind.

From my horse-owning cousin in Montana, I learned that Rowan's attachment to horses was not the only example of autistic children connecting with horses.

Grim said...

I can’t sing the King George variation. I’m too American even to sing the words, “King George commands, and we obey.”

Queen Anne maybe. Chivalry and all that. But no George, not any of them, and especially not with George III in mind.

douglas said...

I think the idea of a frontier where you can go out with nothing and make your way is one we could use more of. But in today's America, unless you go to Alaska, it's almost impossible to find a place unclaimed, especially what with the Federal Government owning so much of the great expanses of the West.

Love both tunes.