John Peel

from by James Bell

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A very popular song about a real life figure - a famous huntsman who lived in Cumberland (now Cumbria) around 1800 - that gave its name both to the BBC Radio 1 DJ (whose real name was John Ravenscroft) and to a James Bond short story by Ian Fleming called ‘From A View To A Kill’.

Written in the Cumberland dialect, it’s usually sung as ‘D'ye ken John Peel...’, but that dialect didn’t feel right for me to sing in, so I Artistic Licensed it.

This also features a tune called ‘Alexandra Park’ (which I got from Nick Barber’s bumper book of English tunes) and another called ‘Red House’, which seems to think it’s ‘Greensleeves’ but clearly isn’t.


Do you know John Peel with his coat so grey?
Do you know John Peel at the break of day?
Do you know John Peel when he's far far away.
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed,
And the cry of his hounds which he oftime led,
Peel's "View, Halloo!" could awaken the dead,
Or the fox from his lair in the morning.

Do you know that bitch whose tongue was death?
Do you know her sons of peerless faith?
Do you know that fox, with his last breath
Cursed 'em all as he died in the morning?

For the sound of his horn, etc.

Yes I know John Peel and Ruby too
And Ranter and Royal and Bellman as true,
From the drag to the chase, from the chase to the view
From a view to a kill in the morning

For the sound of his horn, etc.

And I’ve followed John Peel both often and far,
Over rasper fence and the gate and the bar,
From low Denton Holme up to Scratchmere Scar,
Where we vie for the brush in the morning

For the sound of his horn, etc.

Then here's to John Peel with my heart and soul
Come fill to him another strong bowl,
And we'll follow John Peel through fair and through foul
While we’re waked by his horn in the morning.

For the sound of his horn, etc.


from Joy & Jealousy, released November 5, 2013
Traditional arranged by James Bell.



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James Bell Oxford, UK

I'm a musician based in Oxford, UK. I play guitar and sing. I've been writing and recording songs since 1988 and adapting English traditional music since 2006. I perform solo and with the band James Bell & The Half Moon All Stars.

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