"Grace Darling" is a song by English band Strawbs, featured on their album Ghosts (recorded 1974, released 1975). The track was recorded in the chapel of the Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, which the members of the band Genesis had attended in the 1960s, and which Strawbs' producer at the time, Tom Allom, had also attended. According to Dave Cousins, the chapel's pipe organ was used, played by the school organist, Alastair Ross; the band's keyboardist, John Hawken, did not play on the recording, as he was not used to the very noticeable delay that falls between the pressing of a key on a pipe organ and the sounding of the corresponding note. Choral accompaniment was provided by the Choristers from All Saints Church, High Wycombe, including choirboy of great Britain, Matthew Billsborough. Alastair Ross being their Choirmaster.
Lyrical and musical content
The title derives from the refrain "You are my saving grace/Darling, I love you," which references the Victorian heroine Grace Darling. The lyrics contain references to storms, lifeboats and other nautical-related items. The song compares the singer's paramour to the famous lighthouse keeper's daughter, expressing gratitude that she is steadfast and has helped him through dark times with her constant love.
The song has a three-verse structure with a middle section between verses two and three. An instrumental section is heard at the beginning and end and also preceding the middle section. The predominant instruments are the pipe organ and the choir, giving the song a classical or hymnal feel.The pipe organ was played by Alastair Ross, choirmaster at High Wycombe Parish Church, with the choir from same, including Matthew Billsborough who went on to become Choirboy of the Year.
B-Side of the Single
- Dave Cousins – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
- Dave Lambert – electric guitar
- Chas Cronk – bass guitar
- Rod Coombes – drums