I’m glad of everyone who comes to these pages, and the welcome visits of someone from Ireland reminded of this song which was written by Francis McPeake. I’m surprised I didn’t sing it more often in my professional days in the folk clubs.
We are about to move house so this is the last post, as it were, at least until we are settled in our new home, by which time the trees may be in full leaf, but I hope not to be away too long. Meanwhile I’ll try and perfect Carolan’s Welcome.
After singing at a Dorset folk club in the 1970s I was kindly invited back to a really old cottage for the night. The next day they took me to see an artist friend living right on the beach who gave me the painted pebble I’d admired so much. It was one of my most memorable times and I learned this song as well.
The original version of this witty product of the Music Halls era, to which I added several lines, a tune and a happy ending, was originally performed, and perhaps written, by Arthur Lloyd 1840 – 1904.
Written by Charles Horwitz & Frederick Bowers in 1896, Lucky Jim was a little-known song until the oft-repeated chorus was heard in the 1957 film of Kingsley Amis’s 1954 novel, though the song tells a completely different story.
The young man in our song has good reason to be sanguine if his life always runs as smoothly and carefree as this. Free lodgings and a kiss from the landlady! Incidentally, I laughed at one point in this song because I did an unrehearsed guitar ‘twiddle’ between verses, and it worked. It isn’t always like that. I sometimes ruin perfectly good recordings trying something I hadn’t practised.
On one of David Attenborough’s programmes there was film of a lark hovering high in the sky. A hawk repeatedly swooped to attack it, but at every dive the lark swerved and the hawk missed. And all the while the lark didn’t stop singing.
James Reeves, commenting on the words of this rather sad song, wrote that over the centuries various foods have been associated with aphrodisiac qualities, but “rhubarb is less well-known in this connection”.
Billy Cotton sang a song called ‘Sunday Afternoon Arter Dinner’ on his weekly radio programme in the 1950s. I’ve searched for a recording or any mention in print without success. All I remember is the title, so I built my song on that.
I imagined two young people in Edwardian times; he doing manual work, she in service at a big house, and both having little time to themselves. Perhaps at the back of my mind was a girl I once knew whose parents restricted our meetings to an hour a week so that she could continue her studies without distraction. Unlike the couple in the song our friendship only lasted two weeks or, as you might say, two hours.
This is another of the many gems brought in to me by children I taught. The song is, or was, best known in Scotland. The refrain ‘In mickle doule and pine’ means ‘with much doleful pining’. The drawing is by Randolph Caldecott.
It’s common knowledge that it isn’t what you’ve got that counts, but how much of it you have. Our song (which is about money, not how well you can dance!) was collected by Henry Hammond in 1906 from Jack Panley of Sherborne, Dorset.
In a 1946 BBC broadcast, repeated on Radio 4 on 24th July 1980, James Stephens said that his friend James Joyce told him he’d learned the song from his grandfather, that it was the world’s best loved song and that only he knew it. Stephens said that he and Joyce were outside a Paris café when Joyce sang it to him, and he learned it on one hearing – “A knack I have since lost.”
I did the same. It would be interesting to hear that broadcast again and see how close I got. The Nidderdale photograph was taken by Janina Holubecki.
I sang this Scottish song to my cycling companion when we were on our pleasant cycle ride from London to the Isle of Skye. Singing – and the frequent appearance of tramps and sundry odd folk – took our minds off the occasional shower.
Everyone in our song is eager for a wedding, in contrast to Victorian society where proper ladies should not be enthusiastic. The one in our picture clearly shows reluctance bordering on distaste for the whole unpleasant business.
For some reason barley is traditionally associated with ‘sport and play’ in folk song. The mother in this tale won’t hear of her daughter taking a walk over the fields with a local lad, but something changes her mind. That’s traditional too.
The beautiful and much courted bride, when she is named at all in the various versions of this ancient ballad, was Katherine Jaffrey. Her love is sometimes named Lochinvar. Whatever the identities and details of this story, from the early 13th century onwards there were many known abductions of brides on the wedding day – not always with their consent – and our tale is likely to be true.
I was a teacher at a village school and the children in my class brought me songs, rhymes and games from their parents and grandparents as part of a project – and because they knew I’d appreciate them. Billy Is A Jolly Sailor is one of several gems I’ve not found anywhere else.
This week two members of the present day King family posted comments about my recording of It’s A Rosebud In June which Farmer William King sang to Cecil Sharp at Castle of Comfort on 15th April 1904. William must have impressed the song collector because he came back on 25 August 1904 to note The Crystal Spring at East Harptree, Somerset.
There are many traditional songs on the theme of a woman dressing as a man and enlisting as a sailor, and it certainly did happen. Jackie not only follows her sweetheart, but saves his life too. Now that’s what I call love.
I have a large collection of songs and an even larger one of music, both are expanding almost daily. I can’t hope to record everything that takes my fancy, but here’s a favourite Irish tune on concertina, bodhran and guitar. May it set your toes tapping and banish the blues.