3 out of 5 stars
The piece of music behind the title of the book was first played in 1921. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ evocative piece has filtered its way into the national consciousness to portray a gentle countryside of meadows, quiet country lanes and of course, skylarks. But this rose-tinted view of a past that probably didn’t even exist. Unless you were in the upper echelons of society, living on the land was hard and relentless. But that emotive connection we have to our landscape is the same one that connects us to music.
King meanders through the links that have existed between a variety of music genres and the countryside. Some of the connections are obvious, folk music has very strong ties to the landscape and the farming seasons, but there are chapters on political action, Greenham Common, hippies and druids and most recently the Acid house scene and rave parties that were the precursor to clubbing.
I thought that this was an interesting take for a subject on a book. People connect to the landscape in all sorts of ways, and I had never thought of it with regards to music. I was more interested in the more contemporary accounts to do with the travelling community and rave culture in the later chapters in the book. It was interesting how this bought all sorts of draconian laws to curb their excesses. It did feel for a couple of the chapters that connections between the music elements and landscapes were an afterthought. There is a playlist to go with the book here.