A legendary singer, folklorist, and music historian, Shirley Collins has been an integral part of the folk-music revival for more than sixty years. In her new memoir, All in the Downs, Collins tells the story of that lifelong relationship with English folksong—a dedication to artistic integrity that has guided her through the triumphs and tragedies of her life.
All in the Downs combines elements of memoir—from her working-class origins in wartime Hastings to the bright lights of the 1950s folk revival in London—alongside reflections on the role traditional music and the English landscape have played in shaping her vision. From formative field recordings made with Alan Lomax in the United States to the “crowning glories” recorded with her sister Dolly on the Sussex Downs, she writes of the obstacles that led to her withdrawal from the spotlight and the redemption of a new artistic flourishing that continues today with her unexpected return to recording in 2016.
Through it all, Shirley Collins has been guided and supported by three vital and inseparable loves: traditional English song, the people and landscape of her native Sussex, and an unwavering sense of artistic integrity. All in the Downs pays tribute to these passions, and in doing so, illustrates a way of life as old as England, that has all but vanished from this land.
Generously illustrated with rare archival material.
About the Author
Stewart Graham Lee is an English stand-up comedian, writer and director.
Table of Contents
Introduction Stewart Lee vii
1 It's Hard To Hold Them That Will Not Stay 1
2 Little Dorothy, Little Shirley 27
3 Good Old Sussex By The Sea 43
4 The False Young Man 63
5 Bogie's Bonnie Belle 83
6 And Thank God I Was Back In Sweet England Again 105
7 The Whitsun Dance 123
8 All In The Downs 143
9 All Music Is Folk Music 171
10 Whenever You Look Up There I Shall Be 181
11 The Sea Glass Years 203
12 By The Mark On Her Hand 221
13 Given Time It Will Rise Again 233
Photo Credits and Acknowledgements 260