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Love Farewell was first arranged from its traditional format by celebrated folk singer John Tams for the Napoleonic war drama Sharpe starring Sean Bean. It was then re-released, still featuring Tams but this time accompanied by The Band and Bugles of The Rifles regiment, to raise money for servicemen and women injured in the conflicts of today.
The song fast became popular with servicemen and women in Afghanistan and at home, and has become a poignant part of many service funerals. Tams, who also starred in Sharpe as rifleman Daniel Hagman, said he was approached by The Rifles to produce a recording because of the reception the Band had every time they played for service personnel. “I’m a civilian – I hold no truck with war yet the young men and women returning in heartbreaking numbers, dead and wounded in service was an opportunity to put my voice where they had put their lives a small gesture for me an all too often life-losing, life changing sacrifice for them,” he said. “Its a lovesong, a leave-taking song without jingoism or sabre rattling and if it makes a difference to the care of those coming home and their families, my small contribution has been worthwhile.
The Rifles Director of Music, Captain Mark Purvey, said he rearranged Love Farewell after the Regiment’s Colonel Commandant, General Sir Nick Parker, challenged him to produce a piece of music that would be relevant to, and inspire todays soldiers. “The song was actually from Queen Anne’s reign but it really strikes a chord with the lads today too,” he said.
“When we played it for some of the troops who were deploying and some who had recently returned, the reception we got was pretty spectacular – they really loved it. It’s by soldiers and for soldiers. It’s about the horrors of war but it’s also about leaving the people you love behind, and looks at both sides. I think most people can relate to that.”