Volume 1: Come Let Us Buy the Licence - Songs of Courtship & Marriage (Topic TSCD 651)   Review

I Courted a Wee Girl sung by Sarah Makem, Keady, Co.Armagh, 1967.  Roud 154.

Seventeenth century versions exist of this song, (one of the earliest printed c.1685 - 88 by John White of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and it is also in the Euing and Pepys collections), which, for some reason has remained especially popular with singers in south-east England - see, for example the version sung by Harry Burgess (Sussex) on vol.  15 of this series.  English singers usually title it The False Brideor The Week Before Easter (although Victorian broadside printers, such as W Pratt of Birmingham, called it The False Hearted Lover).  Twenty versions from the north-east of Scotland are to be found in the Greig/Duncan collection (number 1198), and several Scottish Traveller singers also knew it, including Jeannie Robertson and Lucy Stewart.

Other recordings:  Duncan Williamson (Fife) - Kyloe CD 101.  George ‘Pop’ Maynard (Sussex) - Musical Traditions MTCD 309 -10.  Gordon Hall (Sussex) - Country Branch CBCD 095.  Maggie Murphy (Co Fermanagh) - Veteran VT134CD.

The Green Bushes sung by Geoff Ling, Blaxhall, Suffolk, 1974.  Roud 1040, Laws P2.

Similar, in style, to the old French Pastourelles that date from the Middle Ages.  There are broadsides of the song that date from the mid -18th century.  No doubt the songs present popularity is based on its inclusion in J W Buckstone 1845 play of the same name.

Other recordings:  Phoebe Smith (Suffolk) - Veteran VT136CD.  Cyril Poacher (Suffolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 303.  Walter Pardon (Norfolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 305-6.  Jane Turriff (Aberdeenshire) - Springthyme SPRCD 1038.

Lovely Johnny sung by Mary Ann Haynes, Brighton, Sussex, 1974.  Roud 5168.

Also known as The High Walls of Derry.  Paddy Tunney sings a longer version, titled Johnny, Lovely Johnny, on Vol 15(12).

The Colleen from Coolbaun sung by Tommy McGrath, Ross, Co Waterford, 1965.  Roud 9233.

Sung to the air The Star of the County Down, surely one of the most popular tunes used by country singers.  Seamus Ennis collected it for the BBC from Bobby Clancy in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, in 1960.

Our Captain Calls All Hands sung by Pop Maynard, Copthorne, Sussex, 1956.  Roud 602.

Sung to the tune A Blacksmith Courted Me - for which, see Vol 11(21).  Ralph Vaughan Williams collected a version of this from Mrs Verrall of Monksgate, near Horsham, Sussex, and used her tune for his setting of the Bunyan hymn To Be a Pilgrim.  Although it has been collected from a dozen singers in the south of England, Pop's version is the only one ever to have been preserved on a sound recording.

The Song of the Riddles sung by Willie Clancy, Carraroe, Co Galway, 1967.  Roud 36, Child 46

AKA Captain Wedderburn's Courtship, and like Riddles Wisely Expounded (Child 1) and The Elfin Knight (Child 2), Willie’s song concerns a would-be suitor who can only gain his love by performing certain tasks, in this case by answering riddles.  Professor Child noted that such ideas were ancient and once widespread across eastern Europe and the Middle Esat.  One such example, which he quotes, is the story of Prince Calaf who is given the task of answering the following three riddles:

"What is to be found in every land, is dear to all the world, and cannot endure a fellow?"  Calef answers, "The sun".  "What mother swallows the children she has given birth to, as soon as they have attained their growth?"  "The sea", says Calef, "for the rivers that flow into it all come from it".  "What is a tree that has all its leaves white on one side and black on the other?"  "This tree", Calef answers, "is the year, which is made up of day and nights".

Child mentions that the ballad was printed in an undated chapbook, Lord Roslin’s Daughter’s Garland which runs to some eighteen verses.

Other recordings:  Duncan Williamson (Fife) - Veteran cassette VT128.  Joe Rae (Dumfries) - Musical Traditions MTCD 313.  Thomas Moran (Ireland) - Rounder CD 1775.  Maggie Murphy (Ireland) - Veteran VT134CD.

The Bonnie Lass O’Fyvie sung by Jimmy McBeath, Scotland, 1971.  Roud 545, Greig/Duncan 84 (26 versions)

An extremely well-known piece, as the Greig/Duncan collection shows.  Cecil Sharp collected it in the Appalachians as Pretty Peggy O (Sharp 95) and Ford’s set (Bonny Barbara O) is set in the English town of Derby.  Fyvie lies to the south of Turriff.  The song's sightings have been almost exclusively in Scotland and the Appalachians, although it has been found once in Co Leitrim (Thomas Moran) and once in Inglesham, Wiltshire (Elijah Iles).

Other recordings:  John Strachan (Aberdeenshire) - Rounder CD 1835.  Joe Aitken (Aberdeenshire) - Sleepytown SLPY CD006.

The Old Man Rocking the Cradle sung by Paddy Tunney, Beleek, Co Fermanagh (rec. London), 1975. Roud 357.

This song was first recorded in these islands by Seamus Ennis of Co Dublin in 1949, although it had been recorded by Frank & Anne Warner from a Mrs Culpeper in Nag's Head, N Carolina, back in 1941.  John Doherty sang it for the BBC collection made by Sean O’Boyle and Peter Kennedy in 1952.  When he sang it then he was lacking the second line of the second verse.  It is quite clear that Paddy Tunney learnt the song from Johnny, for he too is missing that second line.  One has further proof of the source in Paddy’s use of the expression 'by the law Harry’ which John had used instead of 'by the Lord Harry’.  'Lord Harry’ is, of course, the Devil.  John Doherty was primarily known as a fiddler, and would frequently follow a song by a set of variations on the tune played on the fiddle.  Paddy follows this admirable tradition of refusing to abandon a good tune simply because the words have run out, and lilts another verse.

Versions from Australia (Sally Sloane), Canada (Mrs Wallace Kinslow) and Wales (Gwen Harris) have also been recorded.

Other currently available recordings:  Joe Heaney (Connemara) - Topic TSCD 518D.  Padraig O’Keefe (Munster) - Fiddle air on RTE CD 174.

The Bold Fisherman sung by Harry Cox, Catfield, Norfolk (rec. London), 1934.  Roud 291, Laws O24.

Lucy Broadwood has suggested that this song is based on Gnostic or early Christian allegory, Christ being the Fisher King - see Journal of the Folk Song Society vol.5 (1915) and vol.  7 (1923) - although Steve Roud has pointed out that the earliest known texts only date from the 1820s.  Later writers have, more prosaically, felt that the song is but a version of the 'disguised lover’ ballad, a theme that was popular with 19th century broadside printers.  Sharp and others collected it widely in southern England, but only one instance in the USA and three in Canada indicate its spread beyond this area.

Other recordings:  A later (1965) recording by Harry Cox may be heard on Topic TSCD 512D.  Walter Pardon (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD 514.

10  The Lonely Maid played on the fiddle by Rose Murphy, Maltby, Yorkshire, 1976.

Reg Hall says that this is one of Rose’s own compositions, although similar, in part, to another reel called The Green Gate.  She was born in Co Galway, although she lived in England for much of her life.

11  Who Are You, My Pretty Fair Maid? sung by Joe Heaney, Carna, Co Galway (rec. London), 1960.  Roud 277, Laws O17.

Also known as Seventeen Come Sunday and Flash Girls and Airy, Too among other things, this is a very well-known song (209 Roud entries, 43 of which are sound recordings) with a wide geographical spread.  Cecil Sharp collected 22 versions of the tune - there are 8 versions in his 2 volume collection (Sharp 108) - and there are numerous versions in American collections.

Other recordings:  Walter Pardon (Norfolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 305-6.  Bob Hart (Suffolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 301-2.  Charlotte Renals (Cornwall) - Veteran VT 119.

12  The Gown of Green sung by Jack Norris, Whiteman’s Green, Sussex, 1957.  Roud 1085.

For some reason or other, The Gown of Green was titled The Answer to The Gown So Green on Victorian broadsides, so it may be that there was an earlier song with the first title.  Harry Brazil, a Gloucestershire Gypsy who sings elsewhere on the series, also sang this on Travellers - (Topic out-of-print LP.  12TS395).

13  The Bonnie Wee Lassie Fae Gouroch sung by Belle Stewart, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, 1976.  Roud 5212.

Belle learnt this from a broadsheet.  According to Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger, 'This small Renfrewshire seaside resort on the southern shore of the Firth of Clyde was once one of the famous holiday centres for Glasgow’s working-class population ...  In the 1920s ... Gourock and its neighbours, Rothsay and Dunoon, provided music-hall comedians and singers with the raw material for innumerable jokes and songs’.  Till Doomsday in the Afternoon (Manchester, 1986.  p.  262).

Belle's version is the sole instance of this song in Roud's Folk Song Index.

14  The Sweet Primroses sung by Phil Tanner, Llangennith, Glamorganshire (rec. London), 1936.  Roud 586.

The song is known all over England, though oddly enough it doesn’t seem to have crossed the ocean, except for a single collection in Nova Scotia.  Phil Tanner’s version is perhaps the best known, although all the collected sets of the song closely resemble the broadside version published by Barraclough of Nuneaton, and later by Henry Parker Such of London.

Other recordings:  Fred Jordan (Salop) - EFDSS CD02.  Bob Hart (Suffolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 301-2.  The Copper Family (Sussex) - Topic TSCD534.  Harry Green (Essex) - Veteran VT135.

15  David’s Flowery Vale sung by Eddie Butcher, Magilligan, Co Down, 1966.  Roud 2943, Henry H212.

Not to be confused with the similarly titled Dobbin’s Flowery Vale, which is also known as The Irish Girl’s Lament or Erin’s Flowery Vale (Laws O29).  Sam Henry calls our present song Drummond’s Land and it’s also appears as Young McCance in Roud's six entries.  Rather a rare song.

16  Abroad As I Was Walking sung by Turp Brown, Cheriton, Hampshire, 1957.  Roud 1198.

A fine set of lyrics that probably provided the basis for the American song On Top of Old Smokey.

17  The Blarney Stone sung by Margaret Barry, Cork (rec. London), 1955.  Roud 4800.

Harry Lauder made two recordings of a similarly titled song - Amberol 12361, recorded c.1910-11, and Zonophone 899, recorded 23 April 1912 - but I am unable to say if this is the same song as sung by Margaret Barry.

Tom Lenihan calls this song The Bandon Blarney Stone (there is a cassette recording with the book The Mount Callan Garland - 1994.  ISBD 0 906426 162 - and the notes state that the song was written by Seamas Kavanagh.  There is a recording by Shaun O’Nolan, 'The Wicklow Piper’, from 1926, and Walton’s Musical Galleries of Dublin printed it on a music sheet in 1936.

18  Peggy Benn sung by Walter Pardon, Knapton, Norfolk, 1978.  Roud 661.

The song Peggy Benn was probably first printed in a Belfast chapbook that bears the date 1764, although no printer’s imprint is shown.  In 1788 William Shield included it in his opera Marian.  The song later appeared in several Irish collections and Colm O’Lochlainn notes that it was 'once very popular in Northern Ireland and among the Irish in Scotland.’  Several English broadside printers also included the song among their wares - usually calling it Peggy Band.  Walter, on his hand-written song list, spelt the song Peggy Bawn. When I asked him why, he told me that he had once, during the war, queried the point, with a visiting Irishman who had spelt the name thus.

19  The Little Drummer sung by Martin Gorman, Co Sligo (rec. London), 1966.  Roud 2749

There are only three instances of this song in Roud; the other two are from Willie Johnson of Magherafelt, Co Derry, and from Angelo Dornan, of Elgin, New Brunswick, Canada.

20  The Gypsy Girl sung by Joseph Taylor, Lincolnshire (rec. London), 1908.  Roud 229, Laws O4.

Jasper Smith (see Vol 11) also had this in his repertoire.  It appeared, as The Gypsy’s Wedding Day, on several 18th century broadsides, and was included in Such songers of the 1880s.  Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers recorded a version of the song on a 1920s 78rpm disc.

Other recordings:  Percy Webb (Butley, Suffolk) - Neil Lanham CD NLCD3.

21  Bound To Be a Row sung by Jimmy McBeath, Scotland, 1971.  Roud 1616.

Steve Roud notes that the song must have been written some time around 1870, the first datable printed text being from 1872.  Gavin Greig noted a version in Aberdeenshire in the early 20th century and the song was also sung on the Halls by Tom Melbourne.

Other recordings:  Harry Cox (Topic TSCD512D).  Willie Scott (Dumfries) - Border Traditions LTCD 4002.

22  Nora Daly sung by Micho Russell, Doolin, Co Clare, 1974.  Roud 8002.

Presumably a local song from Co Clare, it appears in Micho Russell's book Micho's Dozen pp.13-15, and Tomás Ó hAódha (c.1922) is cited as composer.

23  When A Man’s In Love He Feels No Cold sung by Paddy Tunney, Beleek, Co Fermanagh (rec. London), 1965.  Roud 990, Laws O20.

This is a fine example of the night-visit type of folksong.  The form dates back in history to the days of the Troubadors in Provence.  Two young people meet secretly at night because the girl’s parents disapprove of their love for each other.  The two eventually free themselves from 'courtship’s cares’ by eloping to far Columbia’s shore.  A version collected by Sam Henry is in his Songs of the People (1990, University of Georgia Press, p.479) and a version of the tune is printed in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903, no.164).  One may suppose it's a fairly recent song, since Roud has no broadside entries, and more sound recordings than book entries listed - though no others are currently available on CD.

24  An Old Man Come Courting Me sung by Jeannie Robertson, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, 1967.  Roud 210.

The Scots seem to have a number of songs like this one.  What Can a Lassie do wi an Auld Man?, Auld Rob Morris, Auld Robin Gray and Carle Cam o’er the Craft are but a few titles.  There is a version of Jeannie’s song in the 1791 editions of Herd’s Scottish Songs and other versions have been collecd by Frank Kidson and the Canadian collector Edith Fowke.  Although often thought of as a Scots song, there are actually more English versions in Roud's Index.

Other recordings:  Sheila Stewart (Perthshire) - Offspring OFFCD 00101.  Sam Larner (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD 511.  Ria Johnson (Suffolk) - Helions Bumpstead NLCD 5.  Toady Rudd (Norfolk) - Helions Bumpstead NLCD 6.

Volume 2: My Ship Shall Sail the Ocean - Songs of Tempest & Sea Battles, Sailor Lads & Fishermen(Topic TSCD 652)  Review

A Broadside sung by Cyril Poacher, Blaxhall, Suffolk, 1974.  Roud 492, Laws N4.

Frank Kidson noted a Yorkshire set of this song and comments that as it concerns a sea battle between the English and the Spanish, it must be of some considerable age.  (Traditional Tunes 1891, pp.99 - 100).  In Cyril’s version, set 'along the Spanish shore’, we find that the French have replaced the Spanish.  Kidson also notes the connection between the ship The Rainbow and one of the same name that is to be found in the ballad of Captain Ward - which Cyril also knew, albeit in a fragmenary form, (Musical Traditions MTCD 303).  Apart from Cyril and Bob Hart, only Harry Knight of Laughton, Sussex, have been recorded singing A Broadside.

Other recordings:  Bob Hart (Suffolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 301-2.

The Lowlands of Holland sung by Paddy Tunney, Beleek, Co Fermanagh (rec. London), 1965.  Roud 484, Greig/Duncan 1116.

The Lowlands of Holland can be found in several early Scottish collections (it’s in The Scots Musical Museum of 1799, for example).  Cecil Sharp and other Edwardian collectors considered this to be a secondary version of the ballad Bonny Bee Hom (Child 92), although, as Maud Karpeles noted, 'the connection ... is perhaps somewhat tenuous’.  Sharp collected six versions (from Somerset, Oxfordshire and Herefordshire) and also noted a short version from a Virginian singer in 1918.

Riding Down to Portsmouth sung by Tom Willett, Ashford, Middlesex, 1962.  Roud 1534.

Sharp, Grainger and Vaughan Williams all collected versions of this song.  I also had a set from Mary Ann Haynes of Sussex.  At least one Victorian broadside is known, in the Harris Library, Preston, though the sheet is without imprint.

Come My Own One, Come My Fond One sung by Johnny Doughty, Camber Sands, Kent, 1976.  Roud 531, Laws K38.

According to William Alexander Barrett, The Saucy Sailor has been in print since at least 1781.  He cites it as being highly popular with East London factory girls and, judging by the efforts of other song collectors - Cecil Sharp alone noted it eleven times - it must indeed have been widespread at one time, yet has travelled little from its native land.  Johnny learnt the song from his grandmother.

Other recordings: Walter Pardon (Musical Traditions CD 305-6).

The Sailor On the Rope / The Bonnie Bunch of Roses played on the hammered dulcimer by John Rae, Glenarm, Co Antrim, 1977.

For notes on the song, The Bonny Bunch of Roses (Roud 664), please see Vol 8(21).

In Scarborough Town sung by Sam Larner, Winterton, Norfolk, 1958 or '59.  Roud 185, Laws K18.

A fine song, very widely collected in England and Scotland, with a few versions found in North America.  It was printed by Pitts c.1800 - 30.

Other recordings:  Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD 512D.  Gordon Hall (Sussex) - Country Branch CBCD 095.  Frank Verrill (Yorkshire) - Topic TSCD 662.  Harold Smy (Suffolk) - Veteran VT 105.

Sandy’s a Sailor sung by Lizzie Higgins, Aberdeen, 1973.  Roud 12924.

Presumably a children’s song from Aberdeenshire.  Stanley Roberton, Lizzie’s cousin, sings other similar pieces on Kyloe CD 101.  This is the only instance of the song in Roud.

The Streams of Lovely Nancy sung by Victor 'Turp' Brown, Cheriton, Hampshire, 1957.  Roud 688.

In yonder's high mountain there’s an high castle stands.
Builded up with ivory all near the black sand.
Builded up with ivory and the diamonds so bright.
It's a pilot for the sailor on a dark winter’s night.
What to make of this?  The early members of the Folk Song Society tried to read all sorts of things into these words (without actually mentioning Freud!) but, really, reached no conclusion.  Broadside texts are almost identical to the versions collected from singers like Turp Brown, and the meaning of the song remains unclear.  It has been found widely in the south of England, less so in the north of Ireland and North America.

Other recordings:  Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Rounder CD 1839 (a fragment under the title On Yon Lofty Mountain).

On Board the Leicester Castle sung by George Ling, Blaxhall, Suffolk (rec. Croydon), 1975.  Roud 653.

Also known as Paddy Lay Back or Mains'l Haul, Johnny Doughty sang a fragment on his, now deleted, album Round Rye Bay for More (Topic 12TS324).

10  In London So Fair sung by Mary Ann Carolan, Hill o’ Rath, Co Louth, 1978.

A 'broken token/female sailor’ ballad in which the token is a familiar phrase rather than an object.  Other Irish versions have been recorded from Wexford (P J McCall Collection, National Library, Dublin) and from Antrim (Sam Henry Collection, song H203), whilst Scottish versions were collected by Gavin Greig under the title The Ship that I Command.  It probably owes its distribution to the ballad sheet trade but it is remarkable that a version collected by Peter Kennedy in the Orkneys (Captain on the Sea sung by Ethel and John Findlater) has almost exactly the same air as Mrs Carolan’s song.  The tune, with the fourth line repeated, is used in Galway for a more recent emigration song, Home Boys, at Home.

Other recordings:  Maggie Murphy (Co Fermanagh) - Veteran VT 134 CD.

11  A Ship to Old England Came sung by Walter Pardon, Knapton, Norfolk, 1974.  Roud 1424.

Not a well-known song - Walter's is the only version in Roud.  John Pitts printed the words on a broadside sometime during the first quarter of the 19th century.

12  Jesus at Thy Command sung by Frank Verrill, Staithes, Yorkshire, 1988.  Roud 12925.

John Howson has traced this to the Primitive Methodist Hymnal of 1889.  It was written by Augustustas Montigue Toplady and the tune is known as Hollingsworth.

Other recordings:  The full Staithes Fishermen’s Choir sing this on Veteran VTC5CD.

13  The Royal Albion sung by Harry Upton, Balcombe, Sussex, c.1974.  Roud 2, Laws Q26 / B1.

Please refer to the notes on Volume 12 (24) for details of this song.

14  The Pretty Ploughboy sung by Harry Cox, Catfield, Norfolk (rec. London), 1934.  Roud 186, Laws M24.

Some singers call this The Simple Ploughboy and it was extremely popular in both England and Scotland, though less so elsewhere.  Sharp noted at least 12 English versions, including one, rather surprisingly, from a lady in central London, as well as a single set from a singer in Virginia.

Other recordings:  Walter Pardon (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD514.  Bob Lewis (Sussex) - Veteran VT 120.

15  The Poor Little Fisherboy sung by Micho Russell, Doolin, Co Clare, 1974.  Roud 912, Laws Q29.

Laws mentions that this was popular on broadsides and in songbooks.  Indeed, Roud's 59 instances range across much of the Anglophone world, with Scots examples being the most numerous.  There is also a parody, The Fisherman’s Girl, that can be found in Hubbard’s Ballads and Songs from Utah (1961), p.189, and Anne & Frank Warner’s Traditional American Folk Songs (1984) pp.333-34.  However, Micho's and Mikeen McCarthy's (Co Kerry) versions are the only ones to have been recorded.

16  Cod Banging sung by Bob Hart, Snape, Suffolk, 1972.  Roud 1747.

A song which appears to be unique to Bob - seven of the nine instances in Roud refer to his singing; the other two cite a song of the same name by Harold Smy, a bargeman from Ipswich.  Although his shares Bob’s third verse, it’s actually a version of the well-known Stormy Weather Boys.  In his notes to Bob’s 1973 LP, A L Lloyd confirms its rarity, adding that Sam Larner (Norfolk) knew a bit of it as The Smacksman, and pointing out that, compared to the huge number of songs about naval and merchant seamen, the English fishermen’s repertory is rather small and mostly limited to the East Anglian coast.

17  Round Rye Bay for More sung by Johnny Doughty, Camber Sands, Sussex, 1976).  Roud 8095.

Similar in sentiment to the better known Go To Sea Once More, this is a local song that was used to end an evening’s singing around Rye Harbour.  'Old Crusty’, who makes a fleeting appearance in verse 2, was Henry Daniels Crampton, a local skipper who died, aged 84, in the early 1960s.

18  Young Henry Martin sung by Phil Tanner, Llangennith, Glamorganshire (rec. London), 1936.  Roud 104, Child 250

Versions of this sea ballad have surfaced all over the place, including Yorkshire (Kidson), the West Country (Baring-Gould) and Hampshire (Davies).  It has also turned up in widely separated locations in the USA, and was most popular on the Maritime Coast of North America.

Other recordings:  Sam Larner (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD511.

19  A Sailor and His True Love sung by Cyril Poacher, Blaxhall, Suffolk, 1974.  Roud 660.

Also known as Pleasant and Delightful, Roy Palmer has traced this back to c.1809 - 1815 when it was issued as The Sailor and His Truelove by Jennings of Water Lane, off Fleet Street in London.  A later version of the song saw the sailor changed into a soldier.  The song has been found only in England and Scotland, and seems to have survived best in East Anglia.

Other recordings:  Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Rounder CD 1839.  Velvet Brightwell (Suffolk) - Veteran VT140CD.  Sam Larner (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD511.  George Townshend (Sussex) - Musical Traditions MTCD 304.  Edgar Button (Suffolk) - Veteran VT 140 CD.  Geoff Ling (Suffolk) - Veteran VTC2CD.  Charlie Pitman & Tommy Morrissey (Cornwall) - Veteran cassette VT122.

20  The Fish and Chip Ship sung by Bob Roberts, Ryde, Isle of Wight, 1977.  Roud 1854.

Again, known as a fragment by Johnny Doughty.  Peter Kennedy collected a version of the song from a Suffolk-born docker in the Port of London.  Other titles include The Capital Ship on an Ocean Trip and The Walloping Window Blind.

Other recordings:  Albert Bromley (Suffolk) - Helions Bumpstead NLCD 6.

21  The Oak and the Ash sung by Jumbo Brightwell, Leiston, Suffolk, 1975.  Roud 269, Laws K43.

The Oak and the Ash (more popularly known as Rosemary Lane) may be considered as almost the archetypal seduction ballad, and is found throughout the Anglophone world - with the exception of Ireland.  The oldest known text is a black-letter broadside in the Roxburghe collection, which is also titled The Oak and the Ash and sung to an old tune Quodling’s Delight, that was included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (c.1609 - 1619).  A version printed slightly later, c.1660, was titled The Lancashire Lovers.  Chris Willett sings a slightly later version of the song on Vol 11(24).

Other recordings:  Jack Arnoll (Sussex) - Musical Traditions MTCD 309-10.  Ted Chaplin (Suffolk) - Veteran VTC2CD.

22  The Banks of Newfoundland sung by Willie Scott, Dumfries (rec. Yorkshire), 1976.  Roud 1812, Laws K25.

Helen Creighton prints two songs under this title in her Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933) and Willie’s song is listed first.  A further song, which incorporates a few lines from Willie’s song, appears in Joseph Ranson’s Songs of the Wexford Coast (1948), though in this latter song, the ship sinks.  Unsurprisingly, the song is found far more widely in North America than in these islands.

23  The Dark-Eyed Sailor sung by Fred Jordan, Aston Munslow, Shropshire (rec. Cheshire), 1966.  Roud 265, Laws N35.

Very widely sung, this is one of a number of modern ballads on the theme of Hind Horn, with parted lovers, broken token, the man’s return in disguise, the woman’s fidelity tested, ending in a gentle Victorian triumph.  Catnach published the song on a brodside c.1830 and every example that has since turned up relates to that printed set.  The tune is slightly older - Vaughan William’s includes it in one of his Folk Song Suites - and its sophisticated doubletting of the first half of the final phrase shows the influence of the stage, the kind of thing that the folk might adopt, but wouldn’t invent.  Fred learnt this from his mother.

Other recordings:  Bob Hart (Suffolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 301-2.  Walter Pardon (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD 514.  Jack Clark (Suffolk) - Veteran VT 140 CD.  Charlotte Renalls (Cornwall) - Veteran VT 119.

24  Jack Tar Ashore sung by Walter Pardon, Knapton, Norfolk, 1974.  Roud 919, Laws K39.

A song seldom encountered by collectors.  Sharp found it once in London and Vaughan Williams had a single set from Suffolk.  Add to that a couple of sightings in Canada and two from Norfolk and that’s about it.  According to Steve Roud there are no known broadsides of the song.

Other recordings:  Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Topic TSCD 521D.

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