A Farmer Has Got a Song For You

Lycée Hilaire de Chardonnet

Recent reminiscence with friends on Facebook led me to dig out an old CD. The music on it is older than the CD itself, which was burned after copying tapes over from old recording sessions.

The story of this song began some time in 94-95 in Chalon sur Saône, where I lived for a year as an English assistant in a French lycée (pictured). We did some busking there. I had a small room in an outbuilding of the school and we often jammed there, usually playing blues and making up words. The songs were full of private jokes and pointless – often lewd – lyrics, improvised on the spot and recorded onto an old CD/tape combo box I had at the time. One or two songs survived those sessions and were revived in a later session, back in Letchworth, UK, probably in the summer of 95. The lyrics for this one had, for some reason, stuck around in our heads.

The track was put together with a keyboard backing, with a nice kind of fairground / harmonium organ sound playing cheesy thirds up and down. Paul played a rhythm guitar stab overdub and on the last chorus a second clean guitar was added while I randomly added a manual chorus/vibrato in real time with the tremolo arm a.k.a. “whammy bar” – you can hear it’s way out of tune at the end. We then overdubbed the solo – Paul playing incongruous distorted electric guitar – then each took turns layering in animal sounds (ahem) in the “farmyard break” before coming back to the chorus at the end. I sing the verses and Paul the chorus.

It’s not exactly a musical masterpiece, but it still makes me laugh. Friends at the time found it quite funny too, but then they were easily amused. Click the play button / song title below to hear it.

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Well hello and I’m a farmer…
Well hello there and my name’s Fred, and I live on a farm
I love organic fertilisers, and all their country charm
And I’ve worked hard all my life, and now I’m 92
So listen here* ‘cos I’ve got a song for you

Chorus
Sheep and dogs and dogs and pigs
And pigs and cows and cows and pigs
And geese and goats, and goats and geese on a farm
BSE and a HGV and a HGV and a JBC** and a JBC and little old me on me farm

Now I’m a farmer and I’ve got a wife
She’s the farmer’s wife, her’s the farmer’s wife
And she loves to cook in the farmhouse kitchen (lovely jubly)
And now I’ve got me combine harvester, and I’ve given her a name
Me combine harvester’s called Nelly

Chorus

Incongruous Solo – Farmyard break – Chorus

*The tape suffered an accident – the erase protection tab hadn’t been snapped out of the tape, and someone accidentally hit record instead of play on the line marked with the first asterisk. I have added back the same part from the second verse to preserve continuity but you can see it’s a dodgy fix. No surviving mix of the full song is known to be extant.

**Yes, we realised very quickly it was JCB and not JBC.

4 Responses to “A Farmer Has Got a Song For You”

  1. Anji Says:

    Yes…

    Oh the days of being an assistant, all the fun and no responsabilities.

  2. fruey Says:

    Anji, yes it was a very good year :)

  3. Donald Urquhart Says:

    Well, composing and recording this is surely a better thing to do than slowly letting your brain leak out of your ears watching television. While it’s not exactly a musical masterpiece, as you said, but I’ve been subjected to much worse listening to folk singer friends who took their music far, far too seriously. Now, considering the images of Yorkshire your accent and the lyrics call up, it’s really funny considering that this was recorded in France. The farmyard break was a particularly nice touch, though I’m afraid I can tell there weren’t any actual animals used or abused in the recording of this song.

    Donald from Causes Of Down Syndrome

  4. fruey Says:

    Donald,

    It wasn’t actually recorded in France – it was composed there and recorded back in the UK in my father’s 8 track studio which we often used on summer breaks.

    Agree too that taking music too seriously is not a good thing. The adventure of composing and recording is great fun whether or not there’s an ultimate audience for the final product. If you do find an audience then that’s great too, of course.

    -Fruey

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