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A Whole Article About Scrumpy and Western

Posted Jun 29th 2011, 11:52 by Penguin Pete

Meet The Wurzels. They take some explaining.

You might want to strap on a helmet, so you don't make a mess when this post blows your mind. Start with a popular holiday, "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," typically observed on September 19th (red circles on the calendar, please). Now, you know how you've been thinking of "the way pirates talk" all this time? Well, you're wrong. It's actually a West Country, England accent.

Saying "me" instead of "my", going "Aaaargh!", all of that "pieces of eight" jazz, that all comes from West Country, England, and specifically from Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Wiltshire. The British see the West Country kind of like Americans see the American Southwest, as the rural "hick" area (what we'd call "rednecks"). And West Country, in the truest Jeff Foxworthy spirit, sees themselves with a sense of humor, too.

And one of the bands to come out of that area, The Wurzels (hailing from Somerset), is a typical example. Their songs range from "I Am A Cider Drinker" to "Combine Harvester" and all of their themes are goofy, funny parodies of country life with all its hay, cider, cows, manure, pitchforks, and farmer's daughters. And the style of this music is called "scrumpy and western", a play on the US's "country and western" only scrumpy is actually a potent form of apple cider. Furthermore, all of their songs are Weird-Al-Yankovic-type parodies of other songs as well; "Combine Harvester" is actually Melanie's "Brand New Key", "I Am a Cider Drinker" is based on "Una Paloma Blanca". The collective effect, if you listen to their songs cold, is as if Popeye became a farmer and joined a skiffle band with Olive Oyl on fiddle and and Bluto on accordion.

And they really did found a genre. They've been at this for about four decades now, and the bands following their lead to expand on this genre include The Yetties, The Golden Lion Light Orchestra, Fred Wedlock, Who's Afear'd (now the Skimmity Hitchers), Surfin Turnips, and Shag Connors and the Carrot Crunchers. Crazy, isn't it?

OK, so how in the blazes did the British interpretation of country bumpkins become associated with pirates? Why, it's elementary, dear Watson! First, Gilbert and Sullivan set The Pirates of Penzance in Cornwall (part of the West Country area). Second, Robert Louis Stevenson started off Treasure Island off in South-West England in a seaside village. And then again, two notorious pirates came from the West Country area as well; Blackbeard from Bristol and Sir Francis Drake from Devon. Which fits, because West Country is also the seat of England's sea-faring trade. Farms inland, piers and ports and harbors along the shoreline.

So yeah, it's not a pirate accent, it's an English West Country accent. Boy, are you set up to be the life of the party next September 19th!


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