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Upnor Hill

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This song came out of a summer occasion a number of years ago when I went down to a sand berth just down the River Medway across from Chatham to join a ship. The area is steeped in the history of the British Royal Navy, which used the area as one of its main bases for centuries, till falling into a steep decline in modern times, to the point where one or two museum exhibits and old place names are all that is left of the old usage. There used to be lines of Men Of War in medieval times anchored all down the river by Upnor Castle, which functioned as a gunpowder store for the fleet as well as a place of defence. The areas of Chatham and Rochester were teeming with seafarers and stores selling nautical paraphernalia of every type and description at one time, standing by ships, embarking, disembarking, bound for every corner of the little known globe. As i walked down the steep path by the castle (hence the idea of it feeling like a hill) to the water, i reflected on all the past activity that took place there, and how sad a legacy it was that i was the only excuse for a mariner left, walking alone down to step onto a dredger, hardly a seafarer worth the name in the old parlance!

In the instrumental sections, i tried to convey first, a military flavour, and then a more aspirational, ocean passage romanticism, a sort of sea freedom that is in the heart of every sailor.
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Upnor Hill

Down to the river at Rochester Town,
Down where the Men o’War below,
Under the Castle on Upnor Hill,
Lay dark to their chains long ago.

Down all alone, by the steep cobbled street,
That leads from the village to the tide,
Bright in the sunlight, voices and beer,
As the gulls wheeled around me and cried.

“See there’s a ship!” cried a farsighted child,
Pointing to Gillingham Reach,
From Upnor’s frowning castle ports,
By barrel and powder and breech.

No one but me where the Jack Tars walked,
To meet and make ready for sea,
A last poor remainder of seafaring men,
That long crowded tavern and quay.
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Uploaded: Aug 26, 2010 - 03:19:17 AM
Last Updated: Aug 26, 2010 - 03:19:17 AM Last Played: Mar 27, 2019 - 06:39:17 AM
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Hickling_Stan said 3246 days ago (August 31st, 2010)
Hi Marc. I enjoyed this and know the area you describe very well as my wife is from the locality.A great story that conveys well a bygone time. A simple but effective tune very much in the folk idiom. Welcome to MJ Cheers Mark
Check out my latest song called ASDA Dining
mrattue said 3246 days ago (September 1st, 2010)
Thank you
Thanks for the favourable comment. Not everyone's 'bag', i imagine, a rather obscure folk interest, but i was lucky that you have a connection to the place! Bit of a spare production from a pre-Mac, pre-Garageband era. Cheers! Marc.
Check out my latest song called Second Wind
kingbee said 3238 days ago (September 8th, 2010)
up the hill
This isn't the usual stuff I would listen to but this is a really nice piece of music.
Your voice has a faultless depth and melody that is a joy to listen to.
If this isn't a traditional folk song that's been passed down through the ages...then it should be.
just a coupe of points.
I would have maybe had the percussion panned to the centre just to give it a fuller sound and the background noise on the guitar is a tiny bit off putting but apart from that a lovely song
Check out my latest song called No expense spared
mrattue said 3238 days ago (September 8th, 2010)
Thank you
Thanks for listening and leaving your impressions. Take your point about the defects. The guitar was recorded straight to mike and the percussion was just my hand banging on the sound box. Things were a bit basic then! i wanted to have a natural sound for the percussion. If i had the talent i would have beaten out a military tattoo and then as you suggest, used it in a more central location, leaving the strummed guitar in the right channel, perhaps.

Even so, i am really pleased that you liked it so much, particularly as it is in a style that you do not normally listen to.

Thanks for the encouragement. Gold dust.

Check out my latest song called Second Wind
caroline said 3236 days ago (September 10th, 2010)
blimey - you do this very well!
you've taken me back to my folk roots, finger in ear and thumb in belt ;) thank you sooo much
Check out my latest song called i'm a reunion maid MJRF 2010
mrattue said 3236 days ago (September 10th, 2010)
Old Dances
Laughing after listening to your reunion song. Glad to have gotten your feet moving!
Check out my latest song called Second Wind
MarkHolbrook said 3154 days ago (December 1st, 2010)
I found
this using my iphone random MJ player... Glad I did... Very cool tune!
Check out my latest song called Corn Whiskey
mrattue said 3152 days ago (December 3rd, 2010)
Must be fate!
Always did like iphones!

Glad you liked it, and more than that, took the trouble to say so!

Cheers again

Check out my latest song called Second Wind
Char said 3118 days ago (January 6th, 2011)
Well, I fanned
you with the first song I listened to and now, after a few more, I'm assured I have great taste.
This has the cache of an old folk tune and a beloved one at that. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Bound, v2. w Music by Dirigent
mrattue said 3117 days ago (January 7th, 2011)
Thanks so much!
Not sure about what it says about you, but i am glad that you like my stuff!

Thanks for listening and owing up to it so gracefully!


Check out my latest song called Second Wind
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Name: Marc Rattue
Location: Warminster United Kingdom
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Fifty something, reclusive, seafaring latecomer, up until a year or so ago a writer of poetry, but more recently moved into music, having found that the production of songs was possible with a minimum of talent with the aid of modern technology! I... [see more]

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