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The January Man

[Dave Goulder]

Dave Goulder's song is the unaccompanied title track of his and Liz Dyer' 1970 Argo LP January Man and of his 1986 solo CD The January Man.

Martin Carthy sang The January Man unaccompanied on his 1971 album Landfall; this track was re-released in 2001 on the 4CD anthology The Carthy Chronicles. He sang The January Man live in the Sunflower Folk Club, Belfast, on October 20, 1978; a recording of this concert was published in 2011 on the CD The January Man. He commented in his original recording's sleeve notes:

The three modern songs here, His Name Is Andrew, The January Man, and Dust to Dust, were written by David Ackles, Dave Goulder and John Kirkpatrick. David Ackles is an American who writes songs sounding very like the French chansonniers. Dave Goulder runs a sort of doss-house-cum-mountain rescue service up in Ross-Shire, when he's not writing songs and poetry or singing in clubs. John Kirkpatrick used to (and, I think, still does) play piano accordion for the Hammersmith Morris Men, as well as doing solo folk club gigs singing.

Christy Moore sang January Man on his 1975 album Whatever Tickles Your Fancy.

Tony Rose recorded The January Man in 1999 for his CD Bare Bones; and Rachel Unthank & The Winterset in 2005 for their first CD, Cruel Sister.

Karine Polwart and Lau sang The January Man in 2010 on their EP Evergreen.

Jon Boden sang The January Man as the January 1, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Damien O'Kane sang January Man on his 2017 CD Avenging & Bright. He noted:

This song, about the passage of time, was brought to me by Kate and Steve Rusby. They suggested it would be a good one for me to tackle and after a short bit of research I came across a few interpretations of this song, most notably for me Christy Moore's wonderful version. Here's my take on it! Such ha thought provoking song by Dave Goulder, not only a superb songwriter but a master dry stone waller, it has become some of my favourite lyrics ever!

Will Finn and Rosie Calvert sang January Man in 2018 on their Haystack album Beneath This Place. They noted:

We've loved this song for many years, since we first heard Rachel Unthank singing it. For us, the linking of months to individuals is a perfect metaphor for our ties to the land, ad the continuing reliance that people have on the earth and its changing seasons.

Compare to this June Tabor's theme song The January June which she sang in 1994 on the Mrs Ackroyd Band's album Gnus and Roses. Les Barker wrote it for her and published it in his book Spaniel in the Lion's Den.

Lyrics

Dave Goulder sings The January Man

The January man, he walks the road in woollen coat and boots of leather.
The February man still wipes the snow from off his hair and blows his hands.
The man of March he sees the Spring and wonders what the year will bring
And hopes for better weather.

Through April rain the man goes down to watch the birds come in to share the summer.
The man of May stands very still watching the children dance away the day.
In June the man inside the man is young and wants to lend a hand
And grins at each newcomer.

And in July the man in cotton shirt, he sits and thinks on being idle.
The August man in thousands takes the road to watch the sea and find the sun.
September man is standing near to saddle up and lead the year
And Autumn is his bridle.

And the man of new October takes the reins and early frost is on his shoulder.
The poor November man sees fire and wind and mist and rain and Winter air.
December man looks through the snow to let eleven brothers know
They're all a little older.

And the January man comes round again in woollen coat and boots of leather
To take another turn and walk along the icy road he knows so well.
The January man is here for starting each and every year
Along the way for ever.

Martin Carthy sings The January Man

Oh, the January man, he walks the road in woollen coat and boots of leather.
The February man still shakes the snow from off his hair and blows his hands.
Oh, the man of March he sees the Spring and wonders what the year will bring
And hopes for better weather.

Through April rain the man goes down to watch the birds come in to share the summer.
The man of May stands very still watching the children dance away the day.
In June the man inside the man is young and wants to lend a hand
And grins at each newcomer.

And in July the man in cotton shirt, he sits and thinks on being idle.
The August man in thousands takes the road to watch the sea and find the sun.
September man is standing near to saddle up and lead the year
And Autumn is his bridle.

And the man of new October takes the reins and early frost is on his shoulder.
The poor November man sees fire and rain and snow and mist and Winter gale.
December man looks through the snow to let eleven brothers know
They're all a little older.

And the January man comes round again in woollen coat and boots of leather
To take another turn and walk along the icy road he knows so well.
For the January man is here for starting each and every year
Along the road for ever.

June Tabor in sombre mood and boots of leather June Tabor sings The January June

The January June she walks abroad in sombre mood and boots of leather.
The February June she sings a song about a pigeon getting lost.
The June of March may briefly smile, but only for a little while;
It's good to get it over.

In April, it's the Easter Tree; this June's degree's in misery; a master's.
In May the June of May may say the June of June is due this afternoon.
Too soon the June of June's come true to do as June Junes used to to;
Les Barker, you're a bastard!

In July, the July June she hums a tune of being poor and getting thinner.
The June of August takes the road to watch the sea for sinking ships.
September June, she may be poor but not so hungry any more;
It's pigeon pie for dinner.

The June of new October's wearing black and takes a sad song from her folder.
With glee, November June sings fire and mist and wind and rain and Winter gale.
December June walks through the snow to let a lot of dachshunds know
It can't get any colder.

And the January June comes round again in sombre mood and boots of leather.
And inwardly, she fears maybe the year will reappear for evermore.
The January June suggests that if you want to make requests
Don't ask for this one, ever.

Acknowledgements

Lyrics shown here by kind permission of Dave Goulder.