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December 25, 2010

Bagpuss: The Songs and Music - Madeleine (Sandra Kerr) and Gabriel (John Faulkner)


Hey, it's December 25.

Join Madeleine and Gabriel, a chorus of mice, Professor Yaffle and his helpful interjections, and not forgetting a certain saggy old cloth cat.

If further encouragement needed, check Rob Young's (Electric Eden) comments:

"It's a series that's deeply saturated in ghostly echoes of the folk revival – full of songs, nursery rhymes and lyrics that are set to ballads and rustic old tunes. Each episode, in fact, turns on a story about an old item or fragmentary relic brought into Emily’s shop, at first unidentified, then gradually unravelled or mended by singing its history and identity into being – almost a metaphor for the whole process of folk revival itself.

What I notice and marvel at now, re-watching the series with a critical eye, is how subtly subversive it is, and how truly it adheres to the spirit of folk as an alternative people's history and mildly anarchic force, upsetting the normal orders of power and reversing stereotypical tales...And of course being an Oliver Postgate production it has an endearingly homemade, craft-y feel – the hand-drawn illustrations for the songs, for instance, are kind of rubbish in some ways, swashed-out watercolours and scribbles. But what a world away from kids' TV today, with its garish colour schemes and its sense – pervasive across all TV broadcasting these days, not just for children – that it has to clamour to keep its audience’s attention span before it wanders off somewhere else. The thought of anything aimed at today’s children with similarly encoded mild subversion is a distant dream.

Bagpuss’s sepia-toned bookend sequences are bang in tune with the retroactive mood of those times, the power-cut years in the immediate pre-punk era. Emily’s chant, to wake the sleeping cat – wise, sleepy demiurge of the old curiosity shop – recalls enchantments of other children’s fables, such as "Oak and Ash and Thorn" from Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill – a song arranged by that folky fan of all things Rudyard, Peter Bellamy. Bagpuss’s hermetic world of lost and unhoused objects speaks directly to that profoundly British obsession with the past and how to reconstruct it."

Peace, hope and blessings to all.

Oddi wrth y brawd
row row row your boat

5 comments:

Pastaman Vibration (ye-ah!) said...

Ah, yes, warm nostalgic glow spreading as I type. Good call.

I bought meself the much vaunted "Electric Eden" for Christmas and I look forward to getting to grips with it in the next couple of days. Ditto, "Seasons They Change - The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk" by Shindig! columnist Jeanette Leech (foreword by Greg Weeks of Espers).

Y Brawd said...

Enjoy. Have a great New Year. there will be a 3 day WB hiatus while a break takes a break from it all.

Pagan Dad said...

To my eternal regret I was unable to get along to see Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner performing The Songs Of Bagpuss at this year's Sidmouth Folk Festival. But, my three year old daughter is obsessed with the series, as was I when a child. We love to sing along with the songs, and now we can sing the songs in the car as well... Thanks y brawd!

Jason said...

I'd love a songbook of these songs.

Sage said...

Great post and top blog, thanks for talikg the time to share these gems.