Regent's Park and Primrose Hill in Music
The Sweet Salutation on Primrose Hill: Or, I Know You Not. To the tune of Though Father Be Angry: Or, [I Am So] Deep in Love.
Reprinted in The Roxburghe Ballads. Ed. J.W. Ebsworth. Vol. VIII-IX. Stephen Austin & Sons, 1897 (pages IXXXVI to IXXXVII). The original broadside was from the Pepys Collection, 3.53, printed for W. Thackeray, T. Passenger and W. Whitwood, before 1685.
'In the pleasant month of May, a young man met a Maid
'"Good Sir excuse me now, I cannot stay" (quoth
"Fair Maid be not so coy! A lesson to thee I'll play,
(Not difficult to guess where this is heading, and as the ballad runs to 19 verses I'll summarize. Mother discovers the maid is pregnant, goes in pursuit of the seducer, finds him on Primrose Hill and confronts him. He denies it, of course.)
"Bold wh..e!" quoth he, "forbear! wilt
thou mine honour blot?
And when she had told him so, she told him 'twas his lot,
Yet she did not forget the sport at Primrose-Hill;
Fair Maidens, now be wise, for fear this be your lot:
An Excellent new Medley to the tune of
the Spanish Paulin.
The Maid of Primrose Hill from An Excellent Garland Containing Four Choice Songs. G. Swindells, Manchester, 1785?
'Twas under Primrose Hill there liv'd,
This fair one many suitors had,
Sweet maid of Primrose Hill he cry'd,
(The maid tells him he's got a cheek, she has plenty of rich suitors who...)
'Have offered me their bride to be,
(But she was only teasing.)
'Then with a smile she called him back,
Primrose Hill, a tidied up version of this song with additional verses at the end they get married and live happily ever after appears in Primrose Hill, and St. Patrick was a Gentleman, L. Deming, Boston and Middlebury, 1835 (?). The British Library attributes it to Henry Bennett and W. Toleken, although their names do not appear in this volume. An almost identical tidied up version, also called Primrose Hill, appears in an American songbook, The Jovial Songster, 1806, ed. Stephen Jenks. Words and tune are described as English, 18c.
The Lass Near Primrose Hill. J. Williams, Printer, 47 Queen Street, Portsea. From Sir Frederick Maddens Collection of Broadside Ballads, University of Cambridge Library.
'The morning smiled serenely gay,
Sweet sung the linnet and the thrush,
'...The 15th of January, that Tuesday afternoon,
But soon it gave way, more than 40 lost their lives
'Twas near four o'clock, how dreadful to relate,
They clung to the ice, until benumbed with cold,
A poor faithful dog, saw his master disappear,
Skating in the park was immensely popular and could attract as many 10,000 visitors in one day. Immersions were frequent, and people sometimes drowned, but there had been nothing on this scale. 500 were on the ice when it gave way: it had seemed firm, but 'it was ice which had not been formed in one thick coat, but by successive frosts and thaws, with here and there a light draping of snow. Its very substance was therefore deceptive.' And there was another factor: 'The Park-keepers, paying more regard to the necessities of the waterfowl than to the security of the skating public, broke the ice for some distance along the edges, thereby destroying the connexion of the central field with the shore' (The Times, 17th January 1867). The lake was 12 feet deep in some places; it was subsequently made more shallow, and the bed concreted over.
Everything Eventually (Natalie Appleton, Nicole Appleton, Alexis Smith, Marcus De Vries) from the album Everything Eventual, 2002.
'...Lets go fishing down the river
The Fool on the Hill (McCartney) from the album Magical Mystery Tour, 1967.
'Day after day, alone on a hill,
Alistair Taylor, in Yesterday: The Beatles Remembered (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1988), describes the genesis of this song. Ascending Primrose Hill at dawn with Paul McCartney and his Old English Sheepdog, Martha, they stood and admired the spectacular sunrise, then 'turned around to go and suddenly there he was standing behind us. He was a middle-aged gentleman, very respectably dressed in a belted raincoat...Paul and I were sure he hadn't been there only seconds before. Hadn't we been looking for Martha in that very direction?' Brief greetings are exchanged, the man walks away, and then vanishes as mysteriously as he had appeared. Shaken, 'we both felt that we had been through some mystical religious experience...'
Aware that 'it sounds just like any acid tripper's fantasy', Taylor insists that 'Scotch and Coke was the only thing we'd touched all night...not enough to be really tanked up, just pleasantly relaxed' (p.167-168). Enough to be over the limit, presumably, when Paul drove them there in his Aston Martin DB6; but, as the Beatles's Mr. Fixit, Taylor must have felt he could handle any problems that might arise.
Hunter Davies, in The Beatles: the Authorized Biography
(Cassell Illustrated, 2004), says that the Lennon/McCartney song It's
Getting Better was inspired by another walk on Primrose Hill, 'on
the first afternoon of spring', 1967. 'Martha ran around and the sun came
out. Paul thought it really was spring at last. "It's getting better",
he said to himself...That day at two o'clock, when John came round to
write a new song, Paul suggested: "Let's do a song called It's Getting
Better"...' (p.308). It went into the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band album.
Yachting in Regent's Park.
Words by George Arthurs. Keith Prowse & Co. London, 1911.
'I've got a pretty little yacht,
(The third verse explains how it's done.)
'I'm mate and crew and the captain too,
For Tomorrow - Visit to Primrose Hill extended (Damon Albarn) from the album Modern Life is Rubbish, 1993.
'...Then Susan comes into the room,
Lori Latimer, in Ink Blot magazine, writes:
Upfield from the album William Bloke, 1996.
'I'm going upfield, way up on the hillside
In an article in The Observer, 22nd October 2000, the singer/songwriter said, 'My song Upfield was inspired partly by [William] Blake; I borrowed events from his life for the song's narrator, such as putting him on Primrose Hill seeing angels. It's about moving from an ideological argument for a better society to a more humanitarian vision; a socialism of the heart, the kind of compassion I find in Blake'.
The story of Blake as a child seeing 'a tree full of angels' on Peckham Rye common is well known, but as far as I know his only mystical experience on Primrose Hill was a vision of the 'spiritual Sun' (see the Blake entry).
On Primrose Hill from the album On Primrose Hill, 1994.
'Nice to be here, see the view,
One for sorrow, two for joy.
Can you see the view today
London's Brilliant Parade (Declan MacManus) from the album Brutal Youth, 1994:
The lions and the tigers in Regent's Park
According to email@example.com this was a reference to the Zoo losing its funding in the late 1980's due to cost-cutting zeal by the Conservative government.
Primrose Hill. Useful teaching pieces for piano
duets; no. 2. Leonard, Gould & Bolttler, London, c1938.
North West Three from the album Palookaville, 2004
'We went to go see the sun go down on
Nick Duerden, interviewing 'the world's most successful DJ' in the Independent on Sunday, 21-3-2005, says that in 'the blissfully sad "North West Three", a cover of a John Martyn song [not so - North West Three samples a song by Beverley Martyn, Primrose Hill, from the Martyn's 1970 album, The Road to Ruin]...Cook recollects watching the sun set over Primrose Hill with Ball before what happened happened. While he felt it necessary to address events in his personal life on record, he finds it difficult to talk about in person.' (During a trial separation his wife, Zoe Ball, had embarked on an affair with another DJ.)
The Promise (Miranda Cooper, Brian
Higgins, Jason Resch, Kieran Jones, Carla Marie Williams) from the album
Out of Control, 2008.
The British-Irish girl group was 'created' by a TV talent show in 2002 and has become one of the few reality television groups to achieve continued success. It has been suggested by some fans that 'walking Primrose' refers to a dog or cat rather than the Hill.
London Scenes for Pianoforte.
Warren and Phillips, 1929.
Primrose Hill. 1955. Words by Pat Kenny, music by Mirsad.
'...My mood changes if I hear the 'phone ring
And I feel the hours are slow these days
Green London. 1. Lake Scene (Regent's Park).
Hinrichsen Edition, London, 1955.
Musical Address to the Town. The Gentleman's Magazine, May 1763.
The once happy plain was Marylebone Gardens, reopened in 1763 under the management of Thomas Lowe, 'the favourite tenor of Vauxhall Gardens...Lowe opened in May with a "Musical Address to the Town", in which the singers...apologised for the absence of some of the attractions of Ranelagh and Vauxhall' (Warwick Wroth, The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century. Macmillan, 1896, p.101).
'A man opened his window and stared up Primrose Hill
Deliveries every day newspapers and food
Recorded in the 1980's when the North London ska/pop band was at its peak, the album had a photo of Primrose Hill on the cover. In an interview in Q Magazine, April 2001, singer and frontman Suggs (Graham McPherson) said, 'Primrose Hill was somewhere that had featured in most of the band's lives. We all came from the surrounding area so we'd always had good memories of the place. Primrose Hill was somewhere you could play football or, in the winter, go tobogganing, so it'd always been a place of fun and frolics.'
Interior Lulu (Steve Hogarth, John Helmer) from the album marillion.com, 1999.
'...Lately, I can stand to hear other people
Lately I can stand to stand on Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill from the album The Road to Ruin (John and Beverley Martyn), 1970.
'We went to see the sun go down on Primrose Hill
Folksinger Beverley Kutner was a longtime friend of Paul Simon, who had brought her over to sing at the Monterey Pop Festival. She married John Martyn in 1969, the year before this duo album was released. They parted in 1971 and she has since pursued a solo career.
The track was sampled by Fatboy Slim for North West Three.
Regent's Park in Blue from the album Hello I'm Dan Melchior AKA 'Singer-Songranter'. Shake It, 2005.
'Love to be with you in Regent's Park girl
Love to be with you where the smog's not hanging
David Balthazar at www.danmelchior.com
'To Regent's Park one day I took my love with me,
A 'stell' is a partial enclosure made by a wall or trees. Skating on the lake had been made safer following a tragedy ten years earlier, when the ice had given way and forty people had drowned. It was now more shallow, and the mud floor had been concreted over.
Walk to Regent's Park from the soundtrack of the film 28 Weeks Later, 2007.
The film was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and concerns
a 'rage virus' that has devastated the population of Great Britain. A
group of uninfected survivors make their way to Regent's Park, where they
hope to escape in a helicopter.
Regents Park from the album 15 Levels of Magnification. Ntone, 1996.
Sean Cooper at allmusic.com writes:
Slaughter at Primrose Hill from the album The Swinging Library Sounds of the Frank Popp Ensemble. Ace of Clubs/Universal Music, 2005.
Martin Drury, in funky info music webzine, writes:
Emit Remmus (Anthony Kiedis) from the album Californication, 1999.
'...Hesitate but don't refuse
Formed in California in 1988, the band has made several
tours of Europe. The theme of this song, from their best-selling album,
is 'London in the summer time' (the last two words spelt backwards form
the title): opinion amongst fans has ranged from 'superb' to 'should have
been left on the shelf.'
The Stones 65-67. Gered Mankowitz.
Vision On, 2002.
In the foreword to this collection of Mankowitz's photographs Andrew Loog Oldham, co-manager and producer of the Rolling Stones from 1963 to1967, recalls the 1966 photo session for the cover of the album Between the Buttons, then being recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes.
'Just down the hill from where we had parked we spied another morning visitor. A long-haired, bearded, overcoat-clad hippie stood on one foot, the other crossed ballet-style, sole pressed to the inside of his knee, playing his flute to welcome the new morning. He amazed and chuffed us all by being totally immune to our arrival at the top of his manor in the long black-windowed Rolls. He played away in the Baskerville-ish, smoky, near-morning light' (p.2-3).
'Goin' outside you can bag it in the bush
The connection with Primrose Hill seems rather tenuous,
but that's the title.
Primrose Hill from the album
Travel Edition (1990-2005).
London Belongs To Me from the album Foxbase Alpha, 1992.
'Took a tube to Camden Town,
Close my eyes,
To the sound of the World of Twist
Regent's Park is not identified, but walking 'down' Parkway
from Camden Town (it's uphill) will take you there.
Primrose Hill (Peggy Seeger with Irene Scott) from the album Almost Commercially Viable, 1998.
'...Come and walk in Richmond Park,
Tomorrow's sky is overhead,
The singer/songwriter was born in Washington, D.C. She came to England in the 1950's and lived there for many years.
Marybone Fair. Written and Composed for the Representation of the Boulevards. 1776.
'...For the Ladies we've Ribbands, and Muslin, and Lace,
We've something to see, and we've something to hear,
Marylebone Gardens was on its last legs when this song was written, and there were various unsuccessful attempts to revive it. 'A representation of the Boulevards of Paris was prettily contrived, the boxes fronting the ball-room being converted into the shops of Newfangle, the milliner; Trinket, the toyman; and Crotchet, the music-seller' (Warwick Wroth, The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century, 1896. Macmillan, 1979, p.108-109). The Gardens finally closed two years later.
Regent's Park. 2008.
'The weather seemed so mild
I watch from my window...
I remember you smiling
You can hear this at http://www.macjams.com/song/39091,
where it is described as 'a little ditty the three of us came up with,
starting with Mystified's piano improvisation, then stevel's vox, and
lastly bibanova's instrumental touches and final production magic. A 'Sonic
Day-For-Night Magpie' fest, it's a combination of genres.'
Camden Town from the album The Lone Ranger, 1995.
'...Tramps stare in the window
In Primrose Hill an angry man
Of his imaginary friend...'
Unemployed in summertime from the album Love in the Time of Science, 2000.
'Let's get drunk on Saturday
Unemployed in summertime
The singer/songwriter has described herself as 'a happy little freckled woman'. Of Italian/Icelandic parentage, she was born in Iceland but now lives in London.
Primrose Hill from the soundtrack of the film Breaking and Entering, 2006. V2 Records, 2006.
Anthony Minghella's film is described by Rafael Ruiz at
SoundtrackNet as 'a moody introverted character drama of relationships,
confusion and alienation, sort of like a Milan Kundera novel. So as to
be expected, there's plenty of dreamy background ambient tones accompanied
[by] piano [and] strings...[and] a series of atonal, melancholy tracks
charting the sadness of the movie's multiple relationships ("Not
Talking," Primrose Hill," "Broken Entered").'
Primrose Hill from the album Little Ship, 1997.
'Living on the side
The singer/songwriter was born in North Carolina. He came to England in 1985 and lived for a time near Primrose Hill. He is now based in New York.
The War of the Worlds - Musical Version.
Columbia Records, 1978.
Abruptly, the sound ceased. Suddenly the desolation, the solitude, became unendurable. While that voice sounded London still seemed alive. Now suddenly there was a change, the passing of something, and all that remained was this gaunt quiet...I scrambled up to the crest of Primrose Hill, the Martian's camp was below me. A mighty space it was, and scattered about it, in their overturned machines, were the Martians, slain after all man's devices had failed by the humblest creatures on the earth: bacteria' (Dead London, side 4).
Regent's Park is not mentioned in this adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, judging by the transcript posted by skyeyes. Richard Burton is the narrator (called The Journalist here); the Martian is not credited. Sadly, neither of them get to sing in this scene (unless you count the Ulla - not having heard the album, I can't be sure). The music was composed and conducted by Jeff Wayne.
Ed Sander at dprp.net/proghistory says: 'The whole composition is built around several recurring musical themes and consists of long instrumental sections, songs with lyrics and spoken narratives. Add a powerful (string) orchestra, spooky sound effects and lots of keyboard and guitar noises. The whole forms a perfect combination...'
A Child's London: Six Pieces for Piano.
1984. Peermusic Classical.