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Shirley Collins - This Time Roses

Bloody hell!

Piff, paff, pouff. Although, you see, I come from a socialist family and my mum was a member of the Communist party. I was right on, alright, but we’ve always done it in our own way. I cannot be coerced by these people.

You mentioned Davy Graham. Some readers may know nothing about that partnership, and how it happened; it was quite remarkable really.

I say straight away that there was absolutely no romantic involvement between Davy and myself, just in case you though that was another of those lurches in one’s life…

No, no!

This was really masterminded by my then husband, John Marshall, and I sort of went along with it because obviously Davy was a wonderfully talented guitarist and I enjoyed a great deal of it… I didn’t think it was ever quite right, but I think in a way it was a brave experiment.

Do you think it stands up now? Have you heard it recently?

Some of it’s not bad, is it? It became very difficult working with Davy because he was talented but moody, and a late train-catcher. It was a really interesting episode in my life, I must say; but when John started to want to push it a bit further, into working with a jazz orchestra, I sort of opted out, because that wasn’t what I wanted. I was trying to edge away from American music. I’d discovered more and more that English music was what I loved most.

And were you also working solo at that time or with Dolly?

I was playing my own banjo accompaniments, and singing unaccompanied in the clubs. But that wasn’t enough for me either. I wanted better music than that, I thought the music warranted it. The banjo wasn’t bad; I sometimes tend to denigrate it and say it was me just plunking away on a banjo, but it worked for a few songs. It wasn’t a bad little background, but I wanted the music to sound better; I always thought it deserved it. The tunes were too good.

So when did Dolly come into it?

Must have been about 1966.

Shirley & Dolly Collins 1966
Shirley & Dolly Collins 1966 Photo: Brian Shuel

From Folk Roots 65, November 1988


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