Leon Rosselson (British)

In the early days of the folk revival, Leon Rosselson was a member of the Galliards with whom he made numerous radio and TV broadcasts and concert appearances. He started writing songs seriously (and humorously) in the early 1960s. His early songs were topical-satirical (some of them were featured on TV's satire show That Was The Week That Was) but he broadened out from there, absorbing different influences, from Music Hall to French Realist Song, and experimenting with different song forms. 

He has performed in every conceivable venue around the Britain and toured North America, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia. He has written songs and scripts for Inter-Action's Dogg's Troupe and the Fun Art Bus, songs for a stage production at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, of They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and shows for performance with Roy Bailey and Frankie Armstrong, including the anti-nuclear No Cause for Alarm.

His song The World Turned Upside Down has been recorded and popularized by, amongst others, Dick Gaughan and Billy Bragg (who took it into the pop charts in 1985) and has been sung on numerous demonstrations in Britain and the USA. His Ballad of a Spycatcher, ridiculing the ban on Peter Wright's book, went into the Indie Singles charts in 1987 in a version backed by Billy Bragg and the Oyster Band.

In addition to writing songs for children and giving children's concerts in both Britain and the USA, he has had 17 children's books published. His first book, 'Rosa's Singing Grandfather' published by Puffin, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 1991. The latest books are 'Pumpkin's Downfall', HarperCollins, published in 2000 and 'Home Is A Place Called Nowhere', published by Oxford University Press in December 2002. A stage show based on his children's story 'The Greatest Drummer In The World' was premiered at the Drill Hall, London, in December 2002 with Elizabeth Mansfield and Anna Mudeka and toured the country from mid-February to the end of April 2004.

Source: www.leonrosselson.co.uk

 

The World Turned Upside Down--Song by Billy Bragg

 

In 1649
To St. George's Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down


Talking Democracy Blues

Leon wrote this piece for the 2010 UK election.