Dead Man’s Pennies

A Dead Man's Penny
Dead man’s pennies or more accurately memorial plaques were issued to the families of those killed in world war 1.

“I once had a sweetheart, but now I have none,
Since he went for a solider to carry a gun,
What can you buy with dead man’s pennies?”

Robb Johnson, from the Gentle Men Song Suite


While looking through the lists of events at our local theatre I saw an advert for a concert called “Gentle Men” which will be on in November, I was intrigued by the concept, as it was a song cycle of Robb Johnson’s Grandfathers’ experience of the Great War.

A bit of googling found a book and cd, plus a You Tube video, the book and CD arrived last week and I can highly recommend both. I can only echo the review from the Guardian newspaper:

‘with vocals by Johnson, Roy Bailey and Barb Jungr, and the often upbeat, jaunty melodies are inspired by music hall, hymns or marching songs, and set to variously bleak, angry and poignant lyrics. A folk classic.’

Robin Denselow The Guardian ****

It really needs to be listened to,  it’s message is clear,  and a songs like “Dead Man’s Penny” and “An empty chair” seems to echo the tragic loss of life.  If you have the chance to also get the book,  it’s well worth having as it extends the story from the songs and contains many photographs and additional information.  For more information check out the Gentle Men Site

Listen here



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