• The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
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As mentioned in the lyric section this is one I just had to do being a Sheffield lad.

Just voice and guitar, but sometimes that's all you need to tell the story

https://soundcloud.com/mrbouzouki/the_sheffield_grinder

Background

This is my take on an old traditional song. The earliest reference I've discovered is around 1847. It supposedly had other titles 'The Grinders' and 'The Saddle on the Right Horse'

It is a vivid description of the lot of Sheffield Grinders, working and often dying early in life due to their trade. The 'Grinding Hull's' mentioned in the lyrics were grim places, full of particles of metal and dust from the grinding wheels. Historical evidence suggests boys were often apprenticed from nine to twelve years of age.

Through my working career I was employed in the Steel Industry engaged in scientistic work and environmental research, quite a bit of it related to occupational health problems, So it is no surprise to me and very fitting that I wanted to get this song recorded. As a Sheffield lad born and bred it connects for me I guess.

Apparently a version of this traditional song was recorded by 'The Ian Campbell Group' in 1972 and the band 'Afterhours' from their eponymous cassette only album from 1988. After hearing the 'Afterhours' 1988 version, I decided to work up a DADGAD guitar arrangement of my own. Here is the result.
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Instrumentation and Arrangement

I wanted a simple arrangement for this song as really it's all about the lyrics and overall message. I used a DADGAD guitar tuning and aimed for a strum pattern that hopefully reflects the cyclical rhythmic quality of the grindstones in use.

After the main vocals was recorded I decided a bit of backing vocals would add a bit of extra spice to the overall song. Sometimes voice and guitar is all you really need. :-)
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The Sheffield Grinder (Lyrics around 1847)
**( with small revisions for this version)
(Photograph taken from the Illustrated London News 1866)

The Sheffield grinder's a terrible blade.
Tally ho, the grinder!
'Fore he sets his little 'uns down to trade.
Tally ho, the grinder!
He sets ‘em all down to grind in the hull,
Till their bodies are stunted and their eyes are dull,
And their brains are all dizzy and dazed in their skulls.
Tally ho, the grinder!

He shortens his life and he hastens his death.
Tally ho, the grinder!
And he’ll drink steel dust with every breath.
Tally ho, the grinder!
And he won't wash his hands ‘ere he eats a meal
And he won’t wear a mask as he grinds at his wheel
And he’ll die as he’s lived, as hard as cold steel.
Tally ho, the grinder!

(Instrumental)

The Sheffield grinders of whom we do speak.
Tally ho, the grinder!
Well they’re men who’ll earn just one pound a week.
Tally ho, the grinder!
But of Sheffield grinders another sort
Methinks ought to be called to court,
Aye, and that’s the grinding Government Board.
Tally ho, the grinder!

At whose door lies the blacker blame?
Tally ho, the grinder!
Oh where lies the heavier weight of shame?
Tally ho, the grinder!
Is it the famine-price contractor's head,
Or on the workman who’s under-fed,
And who grinds his own bones and his children’s for bread?
Tally ho, the grinder!
"Love and Life is all about connections"


Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 16:35:43
It is a really pleasant song. I think I will get back to it soon :)

There is only one thing I would have consider. When you go high with your voice, I think you are reaching tones, with which you are not as comfortable and you voice sounds better and fuller in when you are singing lower tones I would suggest to maybe add a backing vocal  or to transpose the song  little bit down, 05-1,5 tones maybe?


Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #2 on: January 14, 2021, 14:34:40
Nice song, good song, love the guitars and the story, something that is fruit of always.
I hope you are resisting well everything that is happening.

Stay safe and have a good 2021

Mora
I did not know that to live I had to die so many times
https://vimeo.com/onacarom


Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #3 on: January 15, 2021, 18:25:52
@MrBouzouki Very Great Antique Song !!


Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #4 on: January 17, 2021, 06:29:09
Caught this on SC as you know @MrBouzouki ... you really nailed the style and hard edge of this song.


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Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #5 on: January 17, 2021, 12:58:26
Please shake up my memory @MrBouzouki
I think you posted this one before (or a version of this song)?
And, like then, there was a woman urging you to have a look at her being naked, in spite of the snowy weather. Which was quickly chased away by the SC management.
Pure jealousy if you ask me.
This is the siren call in reverse.

I agree with @hondz1k that you have to reach for the highest notes, but I personally think that it adds to the urgency of the song.

I’ll keep my clothes on, but I like this tradition of story telling a lot. Eat you heart out Zimmerman!
Lovely piece of music!
Kind regards, Gus


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Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #6 on: January 17, 2021, 13:56:42
Thanks all.

No I've never posted a version before Gus @LePlongeur ... I posted back a few years ago about doing a version but I had to wait for the DADGAD inspiration to appear to make the words work for me.  A very quick record and post for me you would be proud Gus, second take I think and one small pickup for a bit with some unclear words. I almost said 'cobbled some words', but that is a localism related to the steel industry and probably Sheffield. To 'cobble things up' is to 'mess things up'

This is a cobble :-)



To be fair to me going up to the F# ... I can easily sing that when I'm standing up due to my tenor choir singing  .. I can easily do long G's and get up to about an A now but it's a bit harder hunched over a guitar. This was much more about feeling than perfection and yes a real urgency in the voice, it's a proper folk song in that respect so glad you picked up on that @1roomstudio :-)

Anyway, it's done and under my belt so it's back to Orchestration for a bit now.





Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #7 on: January 18, 2021, 02:16:33


This is an important song.  Nice remake. I hope you have a hit with it.

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Re: The Sheffield Grinder ... A traditional folk song
Reply #8 on: January 18, 2021, 18:09:56
More folk songs please @MrBouzouki . Nice job.  ::thumb::
Today I'm only one day older. Do you think my hair's turned grey?


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Lovely song mate! That “tally ho the grinder” is a lovely, folky hook innit? The guitar playing is lovely and recorded very well I thought. I think you sing it well and I have no issue with u going up high as it is definitely in your range ....BUT...In a couple of those high places I would just tighten the vocals up a little touch with Melodyne or something.

Great job man!



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