• “Darling Annie” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to Various Artists – Topic.
“Classic Folk from the USA”
From their LP “Folkways Record Of Contemporary Songs” (Folkways Records FW-8736) released in 1973.
As the title suggests, the housing album is contemporaneous, reflected in the lyrics and in the musical style, but the killer cut, “Darling Annie”, written by Peggy, recalls the old Carter Family vibe, musically at least. The album closer, it features the wholly beautiful combination of Ewan and Peggy’s harmonizing with the latter’s AutoHarp – I’m a sucker for it everytime, and this one is top drawer, finishing the LP in a swell of positivity. It’s a conversation song, where we quickly learn that Annie doesn’t need a wedding ring to prove a point – it’s quite possibly the cutest declination of a marriage proposal ever!
HE: If you’ll marry me, I’ll give you everything I have,
You won’t ever need to earn a penny,
I will be your man, and the ring upon your hand,
Will show the world that you’re my darling Annie.
SHE: Thank you love, I’ll be glad to add your wages on to mine,
I can work and keep myself so handy,
You can be my man without a golden wedding-band,
And I’ll tell the world that I’m your Annie.
CHORUS (after each of her verses):
For it’s love, love will hold us, love is everything,
Who could dream of anything that’s better?
Not the vow, not the string, not the golden wedding-ring,
Just you, love, you and me together.
HE: If you’ll marry me, I will give to you my name,
It will shield you from idle talk and envy,
For when you play the game you’re secure from any blame,
Not ashamed to be my darling Annie.
SHE: Thank you love, I’m grateful for the offer of your name,
But my own will do as well as any,
I don’t like the game and the rules would make me tame,
Not the same girl you married, not your Annie.
HE: If you’ll marry me, we’ll get a house and settle down,
A place to call our own, so neat and canny,
With a family and a home, love, you’ll never feel alone,
Left on the shelf, a spinster, darling Annie.
SHE: Dearest love, we could surely find a place to call our own,
All we need is some influence and money,
But I don’t need a ring, or a house or anything,
To become a mother or a granny.
HE: If you’ll marry me, I will be faithful unto death,
You will have all my love and my attention,
We will care, we will share life in sickness and in health,
And when I die you can draw the widow’s pension.
SHE: I will live with you, and I’ll be faithful unto death,
We will share all the burdens we must carry,
We’ll always be free, me for you and you for me,
But when we’re old, love, maybe we should marry!
According to Rebel sensibilities, this is the finest Ewan MacColl album of the lot; you can read my full review here.
Ewan MacColl is known to most people as a songwriter and singer, but he was also of significant influence in the worlds of theatre and radio broadcasting. He was a committed socialist all his life and his political sensibilities underpinned all his creative activities. His art reached huge numbers through the folk clubs, greater numbers through his recordings and untold millions through the radio. Although The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Dirty Old Town remain his biggest ‘hits’, MacColl wrote songs for many different contexts: incidental songs for theatrical productions, commissioned pieces for labour unions or political causes, songs stitched together from vernacular speech recorded for the radio documentary series The Radio Ballads, songs for rallying, striking, marching… and, of course, songs for singing in folk clubs.
For sixty years he was at the cultural forefront of numerous political struggles, producing plays, songs and scripts on the subjects of apartheid, fascism, industrial strife and human rights. It has been said that he was an enormous fish in a small pond – but the ocean of traditional song and speech upon which he navigated and hunted owes him a great debt for the treasures that he returned to it.