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I have been noodling with this track for a few years.
Franklin is an 18th Lament about an doomed expedition by two royal navy ships HMS Erebus & HMS Terror to find & navigate the North West passage.
Led by John Franklin both ships and crew were lost without a trace. Since then certain facts have arisen about the expedition. As well as enduring some of the coldest winters in the Arctic and being frozen into the ice, the expedition was one of the first to rely on large stocks of canned food. A new invention back in the 1800s. The solder on the Goldners cans of tinned food had a very high lead content and this was suspected of poisoning the crew. Brain sickness as it used to be called can cause Hallucinations and dreadful problems within the human body. No doubt the lead in their diet didn’t help but it was probably just one of many reasons why the crew and ships were lost. I won’t go into the grisly details of scurvy & reports of cannibalism.
Myself & good friend Nic Jones were playing about with a strange guitar tuning while I was visiting him whilst I was on tour in the west country UK.
He played a short section of the old song in this tuning prompting me to ask “what was that”? Franklin he replied. I said to him well thats very different to the old version you used to play! Yeah I suppose so he replied. “I tell you what” he said laughing, “piss off & finish it in that tuning” which of course I had to do!
In this last year I have spoken to Nic, Nigel Glockner Drummer from the Heavy Metal band “SAXON” Franck Bedez, Dominique Metz & Fab Tranzer. As well as playing with my band the Smouldering Sons Franck, Dom & Fab also play with such artists like ‘Charles Aznavour, Shirley Bassey, Imelda May, Glen Miller Orchestra etc etc Nigel from Saxon has asked to put keys on the track and Nic has already put his backing vocals on the track.
It will take some time to get everyone available to put their parts down but Im sure the final result will sound very different and will have given us all a lot of fun. Remember, songs like this are ‘Archetypes’ The best example of what they are! The blueprints of modern music and should be used and learnt from. Sometimes you shouldn’t play them but you should know them! Even Bob Dylan nicked this old tune and turned it into “Dylans Dream”
Keeping with tradition, like Bob I have made certain changes to the song by including a guitar instrumental break instead of the “eskimo in in his skin canoe” verse, which Ive always hated! and I’ve also put in some unexpected minor chords to finish off certain verses.
This track at the moment is live with just myself on guitar & vocal & Franck Bedez on the upright double bass. More to follow (:
PS they are also making a film and a TV series on the fact & fictional book the ‘TERROR’ by Dan Simmonds. (a very good read)