Category Archives: Traditional folk song

Sir John Barleycorn

Traditions associated with life, death and rebirth must be among the oldest in the world. Versions of John Barleycorn, collected by Cecil Sharp and many others, tell of the need to die in order to live, a concept familiar to … Continue reading

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The Bedmaking

Things might have gone better for the heroine of this lively tale if she’d used a bit of discretion. It was collected by Hammond & Gardiner in Dorset, in 1906. The apt tune is part of the Sherborne Morris version … Continue reading

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On A Tuesday Morning

On A Tuesday Morning (The Sign Of The Bonny Blue Bell) came from sisters Mrs Louie Hooper and Mrs Lucy White in Hambridge, Somerset, September 1903. Collected by Cecil Sharp. Louie is with the concertina given to her by Cecil … Continue reading

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The Frog & The Mouse

First appearing in the 16th century; a great many variants have been collected from all over the English-speaking world. The present version was one of three I sang as a boy at various schools. The illustrations by Randolph Caldecott tell … Continue reading

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The Funny Family

Children delight in nonsense rhymes (me too) and my collection of street rhymes and games has plenty of them. Alison McMorland’s book and album ‘The Funny Family’ has this song which includes words and phrases found in many skipping, clapping … Continue reading

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The Pleasant Ohio

Printed song sheets of such songs as The Pleasant Ohio were hawked about the countryside and towns for centuries. The sellers would sing their songs for prospective buyers to hear and the ‘latest’ news was carried from one community to … Continue reading

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The Milk Maid

It’s a great pity I didn’t take a single photograph of children playing traditional games when I was visiting schools as a young man in the sixties or later when I was teaching. I took it for granted that the … Continue reading

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How I’m Longing To Marry

Being ‘left on the shelf’ as we used to say, was no laughing matter in the old days. There were few decent ways for a single woman to support herself safely, in towns particularly, and as time went on they … Continue reading

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The Month Of Liverpool

The Month Of Liverpool was assembled from rhymes given to me by several children I taught and are of the ‘I went to the pictures tomorrow’ school of poetry. The photos are all of Liverpool, even the morris sides.

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The Gablory Man

A gablory or gaberlunzie man was a strolling, some say licensed, beggar. Why anyone should want to follow one is a mystery, but each to their own. The word is all but unknown south of the border, except among the … Continue reading

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