A week after Armistice Day, I am still suffused in remembrance - if only because, on the streets of so many western cities, what had been dimly discerned as a portent of a far distant future suddenly accelerated and steamrollered over the present.
As you know, the demographic thesis of my long-ago bestseller is that much - most - of the western world will not survive this century in any recognisable form. Most citizens of developed nations cannot wrap their heads around that - because permanence is the illusion of every age. But this is not just about what lies ahead - because, when you lose your future, you also lose your past, as a certain "niche Canadian" has said innumerable times. Me half-a-decade back:
And which men in a new Britain will still say 'This was their finest hour'? For when you lose your future, you also lose your past.
The United Kingdom got the answer to that question last weekend. We cover old songs and old poems and old history at this shingle - because the grim future now barrelling through the express check-in will obliterate them all, absent a course correction even apparently sane persons lack the will to address. (Listen to my old comrade Toby Young at the end of this podcast, demonstrating a complacency that renders any of his insights in the previous two hours entirely absurd.)
So, in the interests of historical preservation, I hope you'll indulge me in a sentimental postscript to our Remembrance Day observances, with my very favourite parlour ballad from the Great War and a reprise of a special audio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week first broadcast twelve years ago on Armistice Day 2011.
Along the way, we'll also nod to other songs of the First World War and tell the story of Fred Weatherly's other enduring hit, "Danny Boy". And we'll hear "Roses of Picardy" in various styles from English barrack-room ballad to Vegas swinger, hot jazz to pop synth, amid recordings by Jo Stafford, the Platters, Yves Montand, and Harry Connick Jr. The climax of this audio presentation is, when my friend Monique Fauteux joins me for a live summation of the song's century-old history - which I sing partially in French, because singing in French is something to which I'm partial. Monique has sung with everyone from Quebec's legendary progressive rock band Harmonium to the great Charles Trenet, so dueting with me is quite a comedown for her, but she's awfully sporting about it.
To listen to this show, simply click above.
~This audio edition includes material from Mark's essay on "Roses Of Picardy" in his book A Song For The Season, personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the Steyn store. If you like Mark and Monique's take on the song, it's available on his CD Goldfinger. And don't forget, if you're a Mark Steyn Club member, you can enjoy special member pricing on those and over 40 other books, CD and other products at the Steyn Store just by entering your special promo code at checkout.
If you enjoy our Sunday Song of the Week, we now have an audio companion, on Serenade Radio in the UK. You can listen to the show from anywhere on the planet by clicking the button in the top right corner here. It airs thrice a week:
5.30pm London Sunday (12.30pm New York)
5.30am London Monday (2.30pm Sydney)
9pm London Thursday (1pm Vancouver)
As we always say, membership in the Steyn Club isn't for everybody, and it doesn't affect access to Song of the Week and our other regular content, but one thing it does give you is the right to wage a war to end all wars on Mark all over our comments section. So, if you're a Club member and feel strongly that your roads should be far apart, then feel free to open fire in the comments. For more on The Mark Steyn Club, see here.