Folk Ballads


The Ballad of Deep Lock
I doubt if I will ever do anything better than this. I put my heart and soul into it.

The idea for a narrative song based on a repeating 5-bar sequence first came to me in the early 1990s, initially as an autobiography. I only ever wrote the first line ("It started in the Spring") and then abandoned it, but the musical idea stayed in my head. In 2015 a suggestion was made at artSBridge (the arts support group in Sowerby Bridge) to organise an artistic event to celebrate the fact that the town has the deepest canal lock in the country, and I wrote this song using the musical ideas I'd had 20 years earlier. In the end the event never took place but I felt the song was good enough to stand on its own.

Later in 2015, while making a film about Branwell Brontë and his time in the Calder Valley, it occurred to me that the music would make an ideal basis for a song to accompany the closing credits of the film, so I wrote new words and the result was Legacy. I still felt, however, that the Ballad of Deep Lock should eventually see the light of day in its own right, so here it is as originally conceived.

I would describe it as an electronic folk ballad with a prog rock style interlude in the middle. Because I hate under-complicating things, this interlude is in 11/4 time.

Click on the image below to hear the music accompanied by a slideshow of 145 photos of the Calder Valley. Click on the player below it for the music only.


Standing in the rain
At the corner of a parking lot,
Where the tarmac ends and the pigeons plot,
At the foot of Tuel Lane.

People scurry by,
Wrapped in stark oblivion
To the deepest lock in Albion
In the corner of their eye.

It's an ingenious solution:
A structure helping water climb,
From the finest minds of that distant time
Of industrial revolution.

We marvel at its scale,
Taking water from the Pennine hills
That distills and spills through a maze of mills
On its way to Calderdale.

Gongoozlers wear their grin;
They're waiting for the signal sound
Of the diesel throb and the sluice unwound,
As the water tumbles in.

Then from the bowels of hell,
Through the gated jaws of this behemoth
And mesmeric swirl of the foam and froth
An intruder breaks the spell.

We hear the excited cries
Of families or friends afloat
In a gaudy painted narrowboat,
As it slowly starts to rise.

There's a rebellion ripe for foment,
As anxious shouts from aft to bow
Make everyone a captain now,
All caught up in the moment.

The tourists have all gone;
Reflections in the upper pound
Show the passing clouds and the sky unbound,
As the evening watches on.

People scurry by,
Wrapped up in their comfort zone
Without a glance at the world unknown,
As the lock stands idly by.

And as bird gives way to midge
At the closing scene of an epic play
The curtain falls on another day
In the town of Sowerby Bridge.

© Alan Wrigley Jan 2018  


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