Rough Diamonds

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  The Old Horse Died
  composed by George John Whyte-Melville
  Alan Scott collection - TRC 2277/7 side A - uncertain of performer
  John Meredith collection - TRC 4/18b Side B - as above

The field recordings of Meredith and Scott are copies, one is a copy of the other.
The collectors sometimes made copies for each other - perhaps by way of sharing information or perhaps to ensure preservation of the items in their collections at that time.

The recording had no information regarding authorship of the song and despite believing at first that the song was possibly sung only by the performer on the field recording, I was to discover the song listed for performance at a number of church recitals in the 1950s and is also mentioned in various literary works including a novel by Rudyard Kipling. It seems likely the song had been enjoying such attention for many decades previous.

I subsequently discovered the author of the song, George John Whyte-Melville, a British novelist born in Strathkinnes, Fife on June 19, 1821 who graduated from Eton in 1939. Whyte-Melville was a captain in the Coldstream Guards who published twenty two novels and wrote quite a number of notable songs. He was a Major of the Turkish irregular cavalry in the Crimean War and died while hunting on December 5, 1878. The song was written in 1850 and appears to have been a favourite among cavalry and horse brigades and sometimes sung at formal and informal ceremonies at the demise of a favourite horse.

I assume at this stage the song gradually gained popularity during the latter part of the nineteenth century spreading via the military and various hunt clubs, and seems to have waned in popularity under the weight of 1960s popular culture, at which time music styles changed over a short period more drastically than previously experienced.

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