This is probably my favourite of all the songs I’m doing this month, not least because of the sense of achievement at actually being able to sing all 4+ minutes of it!
It is another Rudyard Kipling/Peter Bellamy song (more info) which I got from Jon Boden. It is a fantastic poem/song which I suppose it is a sort of satire/social commentary on the issue of land ownership, telling the story of one particular field and the family that have farmed it through successive generations of ‘owners’.
Each section follows a similar pattern, with the landowner asking:
Hob, what about that River bit?
With the ‘Aged Hobden’ responding:
Have it just as you’ve a mind to but…
so that the landowner does exactly what Hobden wants!
The last section, where King George is the landowner, reveals the extent of this role-reversal with the king acknowledging that he and his ‘assigns, executors and heirs’ are guaranteed
All sorts of powers and profits which are neither mine nor theirs.
He then goes on to sanction Hobden’s flagrant poaching on the grounds that
his dead are in the churchyard, 40 generations laid
And his name was old in history when domesday book was made
And the passion and the piety and prowess of his line
Have seeded, rooted, fruited in this land the law calls mine
Finally he joins the long line of landowners in his dependence on Hobden’s wisdom:
“Hob, what about that River bit”, I turn to him again
With Fabricius and Ogier and William of Warenne
“Have it just as you’ve a mind to but…” And here he takes command
For whoever pays the taxes old mus’ Hobden owns the land.”
Lyrics: From memory
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