LEON ROSSELSON SONG CATALOGUE
...is an independent website which aims to detail all known songs written by Leon Rosselson - which is to say, all those permanently placed in the public sphere on disc or printed page. Why did I put this site together? Because I believe Leon Rosselson is Britain's greatest individual songwriter and one of the true dedicated craftsmen in the field. His recorded work stretches back to the early 1960s and many of his recordings, particularly the early ones, are little documented. Moreover, there is no central archive where his compositions can be found and no definitive listing.
This site attempts to rectify that, by providing as complete a database as possible of his extraordinary songs, and details of where they may be found. We do not provide copies, but do point readers to sources where the songs exist, so that they might be tracked down. Of necessity, I treat Leon's career as if he is a recording artist first and foremost, despite the fact that his primary activity has been as a live performer.
Every one of Leon's surviving songs (to our knowledge) is detailed on this site, yet it is certain that Leon has written many more songs than are documented here. An exact tally is unknowable; in the notes to the 1990 CD, Rosselsongs for example, Leon mentioned "the 300 or so" songs he'd written to date; we have knowledge of only around half that number until 1990. Conversely, in an interview 26 years later Leon referred to a personal list of 317 to date, which adds much too few to his 1990 tally but still comfortably exceeds the number we know of.
What can we say of the songs which remain undocumented? Very little. In the booklet accompanying The World Turned Upside Down (2011) Leon mentioned in passing, the first song he ever wrote: "Grace Kelly Calypso". Does anything survive of it? Elsewhere he mentions a song written for the Father Xmas Union (circa 1970) which, he says, "I have no memory of now". Similarly, in the afore-mentioned 2016 interview Leon remarked, "There are early songs of which I have no memory. "When a Million Stars..." What was that? "Graduation Day?" No idea.
Whether any of his missing songs will ever surface is a matter we can only hope for, as we regret that many seem to be lost forever.
In detailing Leon's songs, I use his albums and songbooks as the sequence of works which delineate his output - which is true, so far as the non-gig-going audience is concerned. Structuring the site has proved tricky. Leon himself has divided his songs into decades on the career-spanning retrospective, The World Turned Upside Down, and although it might appear a lazy solution for us to follow suit, it does seem to be the best way to organise his output. As chance would dictate, the turn of each new decade has seemed to mark a change of some sort in his recording career, making for convenient breaks.
You can navigate through the songs by selecting a decade from the menu, then clicking on a record, CD or book cover, to explore its contents. Alternatively, to find particular songs, find them on the "Song list" page. You can also use the search box above to find mention of specific items, songs, people etc.
Please use the "Contact" page (see link above) if you wish to get in touch.
This site is not about Leon himself, so much as his songs. Readers will know that further details including biographical information is available on sites such as Wikipedia, and through Googling the internet. Books and directories on folk music often contain further information. The following sites may be of particular interest:
Leon Rosselson's own website is available here
Discographies of Leon and many of his collaborators are available here
Sleeve and label scans, plus technical details of LPs which Leon appears on can be seen here (and you can add any missing ones)