I first heard Bill Caddick live when I was 22, in a folk club in the Midlands. I had by that point already heard some of his songs. Later, when I was running said folk club, I went on to book him several times, and kicking around the Midlands, I’ve seen him at a fair few festivals. I never got through a set of his without crying.
It was of course the songs that had most reliably made me cry that were playing on continuous loop in my head after finding out that he’s died. Bill had been ill for a while, and it had seemed likely that he would not survive this. Still, no matter how forewarned or prepared you think you are, you’re never really prepared, and dealing with the loss of people who matter to you does not get easier with practice.
I hesitate to claim him as a friend – I was very fond of the man and I greatly admired his song writing. I haven’t the faintest idea what, if anything, he thought of me, and I’m untroubled by that. He was a remarkable person, the world was a better place for having him in it, and we are all that bit poorer for his passing. The reason I’ve never got through a set dry-eyed is that there’s something in his words that always pulls at my heart. An understanding of what it means to feel too keenly and love more than might be deemed reasonable, to be able to weep over dreams of unicorns.
I do consider his wife, Katherine Soutar to be a very good friend. I reviewed her collection of folk tale art here on the blog a while ago – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/painting-the-tales-a-review/ while Tam Caddick – also a friend – has contributed to The Hopeless Vendetta https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/the-burn/ I’ve been thinking of both of them a great deal.
At times like this, there’s not much to be said that can help. Grief is something that does not always respond well to comfort.
So, here are the two songs of Bill’s that I used to sing. It will be a while before I can sing them again, because it won’t be easy to get through them without crying. I did manage to tell him once about how his work affected me, and he responded as though it was a put-down, but he had an odd sense of humour, and I think it was deflection, and I think he knew what I meant. I hope he did.
Here’s Bill singing John O’ Dreams
And here’s June Tabor singing Cloud Factory
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