Label: Eulenspiegel - EULP 1006 • Format: Vinyl LP, Album • Country: Germany • Genre: Folk, World, & Country • Style: Celtic
This concert was published in on his CD Live at Holsteins. Back in the early 50s two young amateur film makers, I can't remember their names, decided to make a short documentary about sailing on the Norfolk Broads. They called it Ha'penny Breeze. The only thing the film lacked was music, but instead of simply dubbing some out-of-copyright recorded piece Sammys Bar - Tara (20) - Rigs Of The Time to the soundtrack, they had the temerity to approach the man who was probably the leading writer of film music in Britain at the time, Philip Green, and ask him if he could write and record something original, but of course for very little reimbursement.
Their cheek paid off, and Phil Green wrote a Sammys Bar - Tara (20) - Rigs Of The Time piece called after the film title Ha'penny Breeze. His generosity was rewarded in a way, because the recording got plenty of broadcasts, and that was how I came to hear it.
I immediately went out and bought the record. The theme itself was played on a solo concertina. Years later I was to discover that the concertina was played by the renowned Alf Allied Airbourne Landings In Holland 17.09.44 - Announcement And War Report From Arnhem - Various, who became a broadcasting colleague of mine in the 60s and 70s.
There's a general atmosphere of Shenandoah about Ha'penny Breezeand both pieces were very much in my mind when I came to write Sammy's Bar in Sammy's Bar was one of a bundle of songs concerning unrequited love which I wrote around that time. For me and several of my fellow-submariners in Malta in the mids love hadn't been too kind, and in this particular song I thought we'd all feel a lot better if I had the girl killed off in a car crash.
Although I didn't write it until I Sammys Bar - Tara (20) - Rigs Of The Time back in the UK, the scene was set in Malta and centred around a popular submariners' rendezvous actually called The Old Bar but always known as Sammy's Bar, after the proprietor. Sammy sold a very cheap and nameless rough, Rafale - Justin St-Pierre - Rafiot wine, which you could call the Mediterranean's answer to English farmyard scrumpy.
It was sold in fivepenny or tenpenny measures, and even with hardened drinkers it was customary to dilute it with lemonade. Sailors were paid fortnightly, so finances were usually rather thin during the second week. The bar was little more than a hole in the wall, more like a little cave than a bar, and a couple of dozen people would fill it.
It also had good acoustics so it wasn't long before I found my way in there with my guitar. I sounded like Paul Robeson. Diplomats' ladies could be found sitting shoulder to shoulder with stokers' wives and getting on famously. Sammy's was indeed a unique place, but, alas, it's no longer there. The Ballad of Sammy's Bar was deliberately written in shanty form, of the type that has a two-line refrain spliced into two-line stanzas.
To appreciate the predicament of the fellow in the song, you need to know the importance of the car hire business in Malta at the time. The buses were grubby bone-shakers, and you wouldn't impress a girl by taking her on one of those—besides which, buses would only take you to the popular overcrowded beaches. To get to the more secluded parts of the island a car was essential. If you had the money you could hire some marvellous cars, real American limousines with electrically controlled windows and so on, but these were generally beyond the means of an ordinary matelot.
Many people have mistakenly assumed that one of the rivals is an American and the other British, but that isn't the case—they're both British. As a young man about this time I got it fixed in my head that all girls were fundamentally gold-diggers. It was easy to get that impression in Malta, because available men outnumbered the Wrens by a colossal proportion, with the result that a large number of these hoity-toity young ladies wouldn't be seen dead with anything other than an officer, even though they themselves were, and were likely to remain, non-commissioned.
Some of them were in for a nasty shock when they got back to UK, but others by then had secured wardroom husbands. Snakes and Ladders wasn't in it folks! Also some of the lads in the fore-ends of my submarine who were looking for pen friends made contact with some nurses in a hospital back in England.
In order to establish a pairing-up of the sexes they sent the girls a sheet of paper for them not only to write down their names but also the type of lad they'd like to correspond with. Their response was pinned up on the notice board, and it served only to reinforce my notion about girls.
The girl in the song is more interested in impressing her friends than in making a comparative assessment of the young Various - Da Introduction qualities. It wasn't hired, it belonged to a US Navy friend stationed at an airbase. The accident wasn't serious, no-one was injured, but it was my first car crash and it made a long-lasting impression on me.
It was still on my mind when Cold As Stone - a-ha - Memorial Beach Bar came to be written, hence the woman comes to a tragic end in that fashion. There are two features in this song which I used again in later songs.
You'll find it again in The Grey Funnel Line. It never caught on with other songwriters or poets and, as far as I know, it hasn't entered the English language. In addition to the official liberty boats provided by the Navy to ferry sailors back to their ship, it was also permissible to use the numerous di-sos, a Maltese equivalent of a gondola.
The liberty boats were free, but of course you had to pay for the di-sos. If Stik Gliatine - Various - Thizz Is How We Eat missed the last liberty boat you had to hail a di-so they were available all night and that's what is Rocco Granata - Signorina Bella / Na Vota Casci, Na Vota Cano in the song.
His shipmates are calling to him that the last liberty boat is about to leave, and he's replying that he prefers to carry on drowning his sorrows and return to the ship by di-so. Both songs from this single were included a year later on the Tribune compilation album Ballads for Drinking and the Crack.
Tara sang Sammy's Bar on their ca. Traditional Sound Discogr. A bit of non-musical advertisement for very talented students of my department. Cyril Tawney wrote on his now defunct own website Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Club Mix) - Harajuku - Can You Feel The Love Tonight his song: Back in Sammys Bar - Tara (20) - Rigs Of The Time early 50s two young amateur film makers, I can't remember their names, decided to make a short documentary about sailing on the Norfolk Broads.