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Dicky and Cart


We come from Somerlaton, my name it is Giles.

They tell me to Lowestoft its only six miles.

So I said to Sarah “If all that be,

We’ll take a trip to Lowestoft you and me.”


So early next morning, just for a lark,

We harnessed old Ned and we put to the cart.

When it fixed to old Neddy, he kicked up a fuss,

He landed in front of a united bus.


We picked ourselves up and we started once more.

A car came along and it started to roar.

Old Neddy he kicked and I thought I’d be killed,

But I landed quite safe in the sugar beet field.


We came out of that and we got on our path,

When Sarah she said “There’s St Margaret’s church“.

The rest of the journey we done very well,

We popped our head up at the Suffolk Hotel.


Now me and my Sarah came out in the street.

Some Scotchmen took Sarah quite clean off her feet.

She hung on to me and I hung on to her,

We landed right into old Woolworth’s bazaar.


Now the girl at the counter said “Hallo, old son.

Did  you come off the R101?”

I said “I’m sorry if I gave you a start,

For I come all the way in a dicky and cart.”


We came out of that and I said unto her

“Let’s have a look round Marks and Spencer’s bazaar.”

She looked at a lot, but nothing she’d buy,

She stuffed them all down in the old corduroys.


We went in a teashop to there have a rest,

When Sarah she said “There is a sparrow’s nest.”

I said unto Sarah “You savvy old dear,

The sparrows don’t build this time of the year.”


We went on the market to get a few fish.

A bloke on a drifter said “Take what you wish.”

We stepped on some herring that laid on the quay

And into the harbour slid Sarah and me.


When we hit the water poor Sarah yelled out,

The crowd gathered round and they started to shout,

Save the lady! Save the lady! catch hold of her dress.”

But I said “No, she’s insured in the Daily Express.”


They fished us both out on the end of a hose.

The Mission to Seamen give us some more clothes.

They took both our likeness so mild and so meek,

And our phizzogs appeared in the Journal that week


We started off home, we hadn’t got far,

A bloke came along with a troublesome car.

He said “I’ve engine trouble”, I said “Bless your heart,

For you never get that with a dicky and cart.”


We landed home about eleven that night,

The moon and the stars were a-shining so bright,

No petrol, no licence, no taxes to pay,

So a dicky and cart is the best any day.


A dicky was a Victorian /Edwardian word for a donkey which is still in use in East Anglia and this Music Hall song, which seems to be based on the song Farmer Giles (Roud 1744), probably dates from around the beginning of the 20th century. (Varmer Giles was first printed on sheet music by Francis Day & Hunter, of London, in 1902.) There are a number of local references to the area around Lowestoft in Ted's songs, which he said he learnt from a singer 'at the Hippodrome' (and there was a Hippodrome Theatre in Lowestoft, which is now a bingo hall), so it would seem likely that the song originates, in Ted's form, from the Lowestoft area.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates












































Johnson’s Hornpipe

Dolly Curtis also played this tune, which she learned from famed blind melodeon-player Walter Read. In fact it is a tune called Millicent's Favourite, which was recorded by Daniel Wyper in 1926, and by Jimmy Shand in 1936: the latter was hugely influential on melodeon and accordion players all over the country, and may well have been the source of this tune's popularity in Suffolk.

Tune notes: Katie Howson




























































Ratcliff Highway


As I was walking up London,

I strolled up Ratcliff Highway,

Got drinking, fell into an alehouse,

Stopped there all that night and next day.


With a buxom young lass sat beside me,

Asked me if I’d money to sport.

I called for a bottle of wine, changed a guinea,

She said “My brave boy, that’s your sort.”


Now the bottles were brought on the tables

And glasses for every one.

I asked for the change of my guinea,

She tipped me the verse of a song.


Young damsel she flew in a passion,

She placed her two hands on her hips,

Saying “Young man, you don’t know the fashion,

You’ll think you’re on board of your ship.”


Now I said “Miss, if this be your passion,

Your passion I will not abide,

So if you don’t give me the change of my guinea,

I’ll give you a dingie or broadside.”


Now the bottles that stood on the table,

So brisk and so nimble they flew,

This young damsel she flew on the floor,

Shruck “Murder, oh what shall I do?”


Now the gold watch that laid on the mantle,

The change of my guinea I see.

I put it into my pocket,

And to the door I flew.


Now the night it was dark in my favour,

To the water I gently did creep,

Got into a boat bound for Devon,

Got safely on board of my ship.


So come all you    ??????? young fellows,

A warning take by me,

If you should go strolling up London,

Just mind what money you pay.


For the girls they \are sure to interest you,

Your mind they will quickly disarrange.

If by chance you should tip them a guinea,

You may go to hell for your change.


Ratcliff Highway, in Stepney, was one of the most notorious thoroughfares of early 19th century London. It was an area of sailor's lodgings (and of the young, and not so young, ladies who preyed on the sailor's earnings) and today is lost beneath more modern buildings. According to the Victorian writer Henry Mayhew it was, 'A reservoir of dirt, drunkenness and drabs'. At least three London printers Pitts, Catnach and Edwards - issued broadsides of the song prior to 1830, under the title Rolling Down Wapping. Several English Edwardian collectors noted the song and Jimmy Knights had his version from Charlie 'Didles' Baldry, an uncle of Jim Baldry who recorded the song for the BBC in 1953.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates
















































































Polka Medley

Eely plays the first part only of the Heel and Toe Polka, a very well known tune in Suffolk and Norfolk, and which is easily recognised as the tune for the nursery rhyme which starts 'One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive'. He then goes into an unidentified tune which sounds like the air to a song, followed by part of a tune known locally as Harkie's Polka (and bearing a strong resemblance to the verse of Jingle Bells, written by an American church organist, James Pierpoint in 1857) before returning to Heel and Toe Polka to round off his medley with a flourish.

Tune notes: Katie Howson





























































Cunning Cobbler


And a story a story to you I will tell

Of a cobbler and butcher in London did dwell.

Now the butcher possessed of a beautiful wife

And the cobbler he loved her as he loved his life.



 Singing fiddle all the day, boys, fiddle all the day.


He goes to the butcher’s shop, the butcher’s wife know what he wants,

He said “Have you got a job for me?”

She said “You wait a minute; I’ll go upstairs and see.”


She’d been upstairs a minute or two and she give the snob a call.

“Oh, I’ve got some easy work if you have brought your awl.

And if you do your work, some cash to you I’ll pay.”

“Oh, thank you,” said the cobbler, and started to stitch away


All of a sudden there was such a knockin’ on the door,

The cobbler scrambled round the room and laid upon the floor.

She said “Oh, it is my husband and what will he say”

And then she let the policeman in along with her to play.


A-rap-a-tapping on the door it put them in a fight.

The old policeman scrambled down the stairs, he soon was out of sight.

And the butcher’s wife so nimbly, she locked the bedroom door

And in her fright forgot the little cobbler on the floor.


And when the butcher come to bed, he laid on something hard.

His wife said “That’s my rolling pin; you should hear the butcher laugh.

He said “Why do you have to roll your dough with a policeman’s staff?”


So he seizes the truncheon and he slings it under the bed.

There it broke the chamber pot and hit the cobbler’s head.

The cobbler, he cried “Murder!” the butcher said “Hallo,

He be the little cobbler come to mend the ladies’ shoes.”


So he locked him in the bullock’s pen, the bull began to roar

And the butcher laughed to see the bull, it knocked him o’er and o’er.


And the people they got frightened and soon the cobbler run,

His coat and britches were so torn, you saw his little bum.

He ran so fast, he hit his wife, he knocked her on the floor

And he swore he wouldn’t go out mending any more.

This forerunner of the Whitehall farces first appeared sometime around 1830 when a dozen or so broadside printers issued the song on their respective sheets. These included Birt, Catnach, Disley, Fortey, Hodge and Such, all of London; Walker and Ross, both of Newcastle; Forth of Hull; Wheeler of Manchester, Jackson of Birmingham; Harkness of Preston and Willey of Cheltenham. According to folklorist Gerald Porter there was more to the humble cobbler than might first have been suspected. 'A shoemaker's songs, like himself, can be simultaneously admired, copied and ridiculed and the significations of the occupation can be displaced, challenged or appropriated… Everyday order is challenged and opposites are mingled. (Folk Music Journal, 1995). Walter Pardon's version of the song can be heard on his Topic CD (TSCD 514) and George Spicer's spirited version is on Musical Traditions MTCD 309-10.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates































































The Old Bass Bottle


Just an old brass bottle was washed up by the sea,

Just an old brass bottle come drifting in to me,

And the paper in the bottle had this message written on:

“Whoever finds this bottle finds the beer all gone.”


I first heard this short piece when I was at school, where it was one of the songs that we sang to pass the time on coach trips. The song may be a parody on The Old Brass Bottle, a Music Hall song that was in the repertoire of Alfred Cruikshank (1875-1956).

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates

































































Harkie's Polkas

Fred plays two tunes he learned directly from Harkie Nesling, who lived a few miles away from him. His version of Harkie's Polka is fuller than Fred Went’s or Fred List’s. The first tune is well-known in Suffolk, and is sometimes named after another prominent musician in the area,melodeon player Alf Peachey. The first part of the second tune is well-known, but seems to crop up rather unpredictably along with halves of other polkas!

Tune notes: Katie Howson





































































Maria Marten


My name is William Corder, to you I do declare,

I courted Maria Marten so beautiful and fair.

I promised that I’d marry her upon a certain day,

Instead of that I was resolved to take her life away.


I went unto her father’s house on the eighteenth day of May,

Said “Come, my dear Maria, we’ll fix the wedding day.

If you’ll meet me at the red barn, as sure as I have life,

I’ll take you down to Ipswich Town and there make you my wife.”


Her mother’s mind was so disturbed, she dreamt three nights o’er

That her dear daughter lay murdered beneath that red barn floor.

She sent three men into the barn and under the floor they thrust

And there they found her daughter dear laying mingling with the dust.


Adieu adieu my loving friend, my race is almost run,

On Monday next will be the day when I am to be hung.

So all young friends that do pass by with pity look on me.

My sentence passed, I die at last, to be hung upon a tree.

Spoken: To be hung upon a tree, yeah?


Broadside printers always welcomed a popular theme to increase their sales and, as one Victorian pedlar put it, 'There's nothing beats a stunning good murder'. Maria Marten's death, in 1827, was a boon to the printers. Maria had left Polstead in Suffolk with William Corder, whom she intended to marry in order to avoid a bastardy charge. She was never seen alive again, and following a series of prophetic dreams by her mother, her body was found, buried in The Red Barn, Polstead. Corder was arrested, found guilty of Maria's murder, and hanged outside Bury St Edmunds gaol on August 11th, 1828. Maria Marten, the 'innocent nymph of her native village', became something of a cult figure on broadsides and in melodramas such as Murder in the Red Barn, so much so that her three illegitimate children - to different fathers - and her possible criminal activities with Corder became overshadowed by the myth that grew up around her death. Indeed, research now suggests that her mother's 'supernatural dreams' were motivated not so much by psychic phenomena as by her own criminal knowledge and probable association with Corder. Maria Marten was published as a 'dying speech' by the printer James Catnach of Seven Dials and versions of the song have turned up later throughout England and, on occasions, from singers in Australia and Tristan da Cunha. Unlike most singers, who use a tune related to the carol Dives and Lazarus (also known as The Star of the County Down), Billy sings his version of the song to the tune that is usually associated with the song The Banks of the Sweet Dundee.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates



























































Pigeon on the Gate

The ubiquitous stepdance tune in East Anglia, related to the Manchester Hornpipe, but not to the Irish tune Pigeon on the Gate! Any musician who played for stepping would have this tune in their repertoire. In Norfolk it was more commonly referred to as The Yarmouth Hornpipe, but so are at least two other distinct melodies. It's also known as Jack's the Lad. The tune is also known in Australia and in Quebec in Canada, which retains a strong stepping tradition. The tune has been recorded in East Anglia from large numbers of musicians on melodeon, mouthorgan, dulcimer and fiddle.

Tune notes: Katie Howson




























































Well, Spithead, the fleet, lay grim, dry and ready,

We thought not of war as we lay there at ease.

For we set ships set sails and set sails for the ocean

And show them that we’re still the Queen of the seas.


So we went to the war like true British sailors.

We went to the war with our squadrons of steel.

And we would have made hay of that old German navy,

If only they’d stopped when they came out of kill.


We had mines round the coast, we had mines in the battle,

We’d submarines scuttling from Shetland to Wight,

And the boys of the grand fleet wouldn’t budge from their station

Till they’d brought out the Germans and taught them to fight.


Won’t you come out and fight, won’t you come out and face us?

Don’t stay in your alleys, come out of your streets,

For our sweethearts in England for await to embrace us,

When we’ve battled, scattered and scuttled the fleet.


So here’s to the boys of the true British navy,

And here’s to the victories that waited them at sea.

And here’s to our chums in the locker of David,

And here’s to old England, the Queen of the Seas.


So we went to the war like true British sailors.

We went to the war with our squadrons of steel.

And we would have made hay of that old German navy,

If only they’d stopped when they came out of kill.

This parody of the song Spanish Ladies (Roud 687) sounds as though it may date from the end of the Great War (1914-18), especially if the passing reference to 'scuttling the fleet' refers to the event of 21 June, 1919, when the German fleet of 74 vessels was scuttled at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates





































































They Daren’t Do It Now


My father he sent me to school to learn my ABC,

But the naughty girls all in my class they wouldn’t let me be.

They’d stick pins in my britches causing me to make a row.

They would tickle me all over, but they daren’t do it now.


Oh, they daren’t do it now,

Oh, they daren’t do it now,

They would tickle me all over,

But they daren’t do it now.


A tune and a snippet of a song which are related but we can’t find their origins. Keith thought it would be a good idea to put the two together.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates

























































Eggs in her Basket


There once two sailors were a-walking

Their pockets they were lined with gold.

And as they were walking and kindly talking,

A pretty fair damsel they did behold.


Now this pretty damsel carried a basket,

She set it down to get some ease.

One of those sailors said “May I take it?”

“Oh, yes, kind sir, if you please.”


Now these two sailors walked on quite briskly,

At the halfway house they passed by.

Pretty Nancy stepped out so much lighter,

And on them she kept her eye.


Now these two sailors called at an alehouse,

They called for a quart of the very best,

Saying “Landlord, landlord, bring us some bacon,

For in that basket there is some eggs.”


The landlord turned unto that basket,

He turned away and with a smile,

Says “Sailor, sailor, you are mistaken,

For instead of eggs there is a child.”


One of those sailors let out a-swearing,

The other he says not worth the while.

Here’s fifty guineas to any woman

Who’ll take and nurse this lovely child.


Pretty Nancy standing at the window,

She heard what those two sailors said,

Crying “Sir, I’ll take it and kindly use it

If you will see the money down paid.”


“Are you that Nancy, that fairest Nancy

That I danced with last Easter day?”

“Oh, yes, kind sir and I pleased your fancy,

And now the fiddler you must pay.”


“So let us go to yonder chapel

Where the knot it shall be tied.

Where bells are ringing and sailors singing

And I’ll make you my lawful bride.”


English folklorist Roy Palmer has traced this song to The Man of War's Garland, a chapbook that was printed in 1796 (Bodleian Library, Harding Chapbooks, A15, no.19). The song was titled Eggs and Bacon and tells of two sailors who steal a woman's basket, thinking it to be full of eggs which they plan to have cooked in an alehouse. When a child is discovered in the basket they offer five hundred pounds to any woman who will foster the child. Of course, the whole thing is a set-up by the mother who, having recognised one of the sailors - the father of the child, takes the money before declaring who she is! Gavin Greig, the assiduous Scottish song collector found nine versions, which he titled The Foundling Baby, though singers throughout England and Scotland have preferred to use another broadside title The Basket of Eggs. In the late 1950s Ken Stubbs collected a version from a Gypsy called Frank Smith and a recording of the song, sung by Frank's wife - Minty Smith, can be heard on the CD ‘My Father's the King of the Gypsies’ (Topic TSCD 661). Des Herring also recorded the song from Stan Steggles in Rattlesden, Suffolk in 1958 and that can be heard on ‘Many a Good Horseman’ (VTVS01/02).

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates












































Seventeen Come Sunday


Now as I was a-walking out one morning,

One May morning early

I met a damsel on my way

Oh just as the sun was a-rising



With your roo rum lah, laddie fol the dah

Why fol the lair, what shall I do.


“Oh, where are you going my pretty fair maid

Where are you a-going my honey?”

She answered me quite cheerfully

“On an errand for my mummy.”


“Oh, can you take a man my pretty fair maid

Can you take a man my honey?”

She answered me quite cheerfully

“Well I dare not for my mummy.


But if you come down to my mother’s house

When the moon shines bright and cheerful

I’ll come downstairs and I’ll let you in

And my mammy shall not know it.”


Now her shoes were bright and her stockings white

And her buckles shone like silver.

She’d a coal black and a rolling eye

And her hair hung down her shoulder.


I went down to her mother’s house

When the moon was a-shining brightly.

She come downstairs and she let me in

And I laid in her arms till the morning.


“Now young man you must marry me

Oh marry me now or never.

For if you do not marry me,

I am undone for ever.”


So I’m married now and I’m settled down

Though the guns of the war is alarming.

But the drum and the fife it is my delight

For the married woman in the morning.


When the poet James Reeves included a text of Seventeen Come Sunday in the book The Idiom of the People (1958) he added the note, 'The original of this song, whatever it was, shocked all other editors, from the eighteenth century onwards." Reeves' text came from Cecil Sharp's manuscript and includes a verse that Sharp omitted when he printed the song in his English Folk Songs, Selected Edition, 1921, Volume 1:
                I went unto her mammy's house, When the moon was shining clearly,
                She did come down and let me in, And I laid in her arms till morning.
Clearly, such goings on were not to be encouraged! As Reeves said, the song was first encountered in the eighteenth century when Robert Burns found a set being sung by a girl in Nithsdale. Burns forwarded a slightly rewritten text to James Johnson, who included it in his ‘The Scots Musical Museum’ (Edinburgh, 1787, 6 volumes) under the title A Waukrife Minnie (A Lightly-sleeping Mother). Broadside texts, from the 1820's, or earlier, were printed in London by Pitts and Jennings and dozens of versions of the song have been collected throughout the English-speaking world. Cecil Sharp alone collected 22 versions of the song in southern England and there are 14 Scottish versions in the Greig/ Duncan collection. Other recordings include those by Walter Pardon (Norfolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 305-6; Bob Hart (Suffolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 301-2; Fred Jordan (Shropshire) Veteran VTD148CD; Mary Delany (Ireland & London) Musical Traditions MTCD 325-6; Joe Heaney (Ireland) Topic TSCD651 & TSCD518D Charlotte Renals (Cornwall) - Veteran VT119CD and Jean Orchard (Devon) VT151CD.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates


























































A Group of Young Squaddies


A group of young Squaddies one night in a club,

They were boasting of sweethearts they had.

They all looked so happy excepting one lad

And he was downhearted and sad.

“Come, cheer up my laddie” says one of the boys,

“Surely there’s someone loves you”.

He hung down his head and softly he said

“Well, boys, I’m in love with two.


For one has hair of silvery grey,

The other has locks of gold.

One is young and beautiful,

The other is bent and old.

Both of their lives they are dear to me,

From neither will I part.

One is my mother, God bless her I love her

And the other is my sweetheart.


My sweetheart, you know, she’s a hard working girl

And her I’m determined to wed.

My father said ‘No, son, it cannot be so,

You must marry an heiress instead.’

I went to my mother, for she know how things are

For when she met dad he was poor.

She said ‘Son, don’t you fret, you’ll have your reward yet,

And your father’s consent, I am sure."

The English music hall singer Lester Barrett is reported to have sung this song in 1892. Barrett was employed by the music publishers Francis, Day & Hunter and their sheet music gave Barrett as the song's composer. However, when the song was printed in America in 1897, the composers were shown as E. P. Moran (words) and J. Fred Helf (music). Several American Old-Timey musicians recorded the song during the 1920s & '30s and recordings by The Carter Family and Roy Harvey are available today on JSPCD7701D (The Carter Family) and Document DOCD-8050 & Document DOCD-8053 (recordings by Roy Harvey). The song entered the English song tradition and both Walter Pardon and Johnny Doughty had their own versions. Another recording, by the Cornish singer Viv Legg, can be heard on the CD Romany Roots (Veteran VT153CD).

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates




























































Come and Be my Little Teddy Bear


Oh come and be my little teddy bear,

And I’ll fondle you all day.

Oh come and be my little teddy bear,

You’ve stolen my heart away.

I’ve got tired of all the other toys,

Of them I no longer care.

You’re the only one my heart is set upon,

So be my little teddy bear.


The term 'Teddy Bear' was first coined sometime around November, 1902, when American President Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt was hunting in Mississippi. He had failed to shoot
anything, so friends captured a bear, which they tethered to a tree, and invited him to shoot it. Roosevelt’s reply: 'Spare the bear. I will not shoot a tethered animal,’ soon became common knowledge and later that month Clifford & Rose Michtom of Brooklyn produced a soft bear which they called‘Teddy'. I would suspect that Harkie Nesling's tune and short text probably date from the period 1902 up to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, a time when Teddy Bears were very much in vogue and millions were sold in Europe and America. At least one other similar piece can be dated to 1907: this is Be My Little Teddy Bear by Vincent Bryan (best known for writing In the Sweet Bye and Bye) and Max Hoffman. Sadly, though, this is not the song that Harkie sings.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates





























































The Bonny Bunch of Roses


By the margin of the ocean,

One morning, was in the month of June,

How the feathered freckling songsters,

Their tunes did gaily sing.


And was there I spied a female,

Standing there in grief and woe,

Conversing with young Boneyparte

Concerning the bonny bunch of roses – o.


Then up stepped bold Napoleon

And he took his mother by the hand,

Saying “Mother, dear, have patience

Until I am able to take command.”


So he got five hundred thousand men

And likewise kings to take the strain,

And he was so well provided for

That could sweep the world and gain.


But when he came to Moscow,

He was overpowered by the frost and snow,

And Moscow was a-blazing,

So he lost the bonny bunch of roses-o.


Now, son, locate your father,

In St Helena his body lay low.

And you must follow after,

But beware of the bonny bunch of roses-o.


And as our bones lay smouldering,

And weeping willows over us grow.

For the deeds of bold Napoleon

That sting the bonny bunch of roses-o.

Terry Moylan author of The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition 1776 to 1815 (Dublin. 2000) calls this 'the quintessential Irish ballad of Napoleon', adding that; 'it supposedly consists of a dialogue between Napoleon's son, Napoleon II, and his mother, the Empress Marie Louise. Although very widespread, it is always found associated with the same Irish air, that of An Beinnsín Luachra. The words likewise have an Irish origin. In the 1860s in Tipperary it was reportedly a treasonable offence to be heard singing the song.' The song was collected frequently in England and Scotland by Edwardian collectors such as Sharp, Grainger, Gardiner, Greig and others. Harry Cox (Topic TSCD512D) and Walter Pardon (Musical Traditions MTCD 305-6), both of Norfolk, knew the song, as did Cyril Poacher of Suffolk (Topic TSCD 658). Several Canadian versions have surfaced, though there are only one or two sets from the USA. Most, if not all, of the major broadside printers listed the song in their respective catalogues, the earliest being Pitts and Catnach, which dates it to before 1830. For an overview on a number of songs concerning Napoleon, see 'The Grand Conversation: Napoleon and British Popular Balladry', by Vic Gammon, RSA Journal (September, 1989).

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates
































































Red River Valley /Pigeon on the Gate

Red River Valley is usually thought of as an American cowboy song, originating in the southern Great Plains area. It has suggested by Canadian folklorist Edith Fowke that it was in fact brought over from England to the northern edge of the Great Plains by soldiers in the 1860s, and was originally a 'soldier's sweetheart' type of song. It is likely to have become popular amongst country musicians in England more recently through a cross-fertilisation process of listening to twentieth century commercial recordings of the song from Gene Autrey or Roy Rogers!

Tune notes: Katie Howson






































































Boston Burglar


I was bred and born in Boston, a place you all know well,

Brought up by honest parents and the truth to you I’ll tell.

Brought up by honest parents and the truth I’ll not deny

But I became a roving young lad at the age of twenty three.


My character got broken and I got lodged in jail.

My father tried all he could in vain to get me out on bail.

But the jury found me guilty and the sentence then was passed.

I was bound for seven long weary years in a place called Charlie’s Town.


I saw my dear old mother a-tearing of her hair,

The tearing of those old grey locks, so the tears come rolling down.

The tearing of those old grey locks, so the tears come rolling down,

“My son, my son, what have you done to be bound for Charlie’s Town?”


I stepped on board an east going train on a cold September’s morn

And every station we passed by, you could hear the old bells call

“Here comes that Boston Burglar, away away he’s bound,

He’s bound for seven long weary years in a place called Charlie’s Town.”

The Boston Burglar would seem to be an Americanised version of the British song Botany Bay. "The Boston Burglar. Sung by Dan MacCarthy" was copyrighted in 1881 by H. J. Wehman (New York) and published by him as both a broadside (no. 480) and in The Vocalists's Favorite Songster of 1885. Gavin Greig noted three versions of the song in Scotland, and commented that, 'the song has got quite naturalised in this country'. The Irish collector Sam Henry also noted the song from a singer in Coleraine and it may be that Charlie Whiting's version comes from the recording made in 1940 by the Irish singer Delia Murphy, a recording that was once played frequently on the radio in England. (Delia's recording can now be heard on the CD ‘From Galway to Dublin’ Rounder CD1087.)

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates































































I Can’t Change It


Now you talk about a lazy man you meet ‘em when they may

They’ve never got a shilling in their pocket, so they say.

With me, it’s just the other way for I’m a man of biz

Who’s always got a shilling in my pocket, here it is.


But I can’t change it, I can’t change it,

The reason why I’ll let you know.

It’s one I made myself

And so I can’t change it, no matter how I try,

But I hope to cheat a blind man in the sweet bye and bye.


Now I thought that I’d get married like a lot of foolish men.

I found the girl, I bought the ring, got married there and then.

But when the job was over I was taken down a peg

For her hair, her eyes, her teeth were false

And she’d a wooden leg.


But I can’t change it, I can’t change it,

It was a great surprise to me, ‘twas half a woman and half a tree,

For I can’t change it, no matter how I try,

But I’ll chop her up for firewood in the sweet bye and bye.


Now when I came home this afternoon, the nurse stood at the door

She says “You’ve got another one, which makes it just the score.

It’s such a pretty little girl, I’ll know you’ll wish it joy.

I wish it to Old Nick for what I wanted was a boy.


But I can’t change it, I can’t change it,

I ask a lot who ought to know. I asked the nurse and she said “No”.

I can’t change it, no matter how I try,

But I hope you’ll have a dozen more in the sweet bye and bye.”


A song popularised by the Music Hall singer George Beauchamp (1863-1901). Beauchamp specialised in singing parodies of popular songs: his version of Phew! Dem Golden Kippers
being especially well-received. I Can't Change It must once have been quite well known, a version having recently turned up in South Australia from a trio of elderly singing brothers Arthur, Les (Digger) and Lloyd Baulch, who first started entertaining their friends and family as far back as 1925. The words were also printed in Volume 18 of a part-work, 'Music Hall Memories', which appeared in the 1930s.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates

































































Silver Threads

The air for a sentimental song, Silver Threads Among the Gold, written in 1873, words by Eben E. Rexford, music by H. P. Danks. It is claimed that, by 1900, two million copies of the sheet music had been sold. The song was particularly popular in America in the early years of the twentieth century, with two recordings made by countertenor Richard J. Jose for Victor Records, who also performed the song at showings of the silent film by the same name, made in 1915. It's not known how Fred Went came to pick up the tune, but any musician who played regularly in pubs had to be ready to supply a few well known song tunes, either for the clientele to sing along with, in which case perhaps just the choruses would suffice, or else songs that might prompt a more confident singer to take up the whole song and perform to the company. Fred finishes it by taking the tune into a different timing and playing it with an exuberant swing.

Tune notes: Katie Howson
































































Trawler Song


Now once I was a schoolboy and I lived at home at ease,

And now I am a trawler lad and plough the raging sea.

I thought I’d like seafaring life, but very soon I found

It was not all plain sailing when we got to the fishing ground.



So, heave away, grind away, heave away the trawl.

When we get the fish on board, we’ll have another haul.

So, heave away, grind away, heave away the trawl,

That’s the cry in the middle of the night, avast ye trawlboys trawl.


Now, my boys, on a wintry night as regular as a clock,

We all don boots, sou’wester likewise our oilskin frock,

And straightway to the capstan we merrily heave away.

It’s just the same in the middle of the night as it is in the middle of the day.


Now, my boys, the fish on board and have them for to gut,

And put them in their boxes

We pack them in the ice well all tied with ice as well

And there they lay all fresh all day like an oyster in a shell.


Now, my boys, I’ve sung my song and pleased you for a while,

Al though I have not sung it in a regular tip top style.

And if the company be pleased and very well satisfied,

Let’s trawl, boys, trawl and haul, boys, haul and let’s heave up the trawl.

Sam Larner, the great Norfolk singer, called this The Smacksman, while Johnny Doughty of Sussex knew it as Heave on the Trawl (Topic TSCD 511 and Veteran VTC5CD, respectively).
Almost all the known versions of the song are from the southeast corner of England, a fact which suggests that it could be a local composition, although, just to confuse matters, there is a 1943 BBC recording of the song that was made in Devon.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates




























































Earl Soham Slog

Fred's tune is related to The Four Hand Reel, a very widely known tune in the area, rarely named by its players, popular for stepdancing, and also for a dance for four people which
involved stepping and reeling. As so often with Fred, his version is quite distinct and unlike recordings from other local musicians.

Tune notes: Katie Howson





























































The Light Dragoon


Now the light dragoon ran over the hill,

The moon was shining brightly.

There was a fair maiden for she knew him by his horse,

Because she loved him dearly.



Dearly, oh dearly.

There was a fair maiden and she knew him by his horse,

Because she loved him dearly.

She took him by the milk white rein,


She led him to the stable.

“Here’s hay and corn for your horse, my man,

Let him eat while he is able.”


Chorus: Able, oh able etc


She took him by the lily white hand,

She led him to the table.

“Here’s cakes and wine for you, my dear,

Eat and drink while you are able.”


She went upstairs to make the bed,

To make it soft and easy.

How nimbly she jumped into bed,

For to see if it were easy.


The light dragoon ran up the stairs,

Pulled off his army trousers.

How nimbly he jumped into bed

For to do what he was able.


Now they laid a-bed till the clock struck one,

The trumpets they were a-sounding.

And her spirit’s high and her belly’s low

And she ran home to her mummy.


“Where have you been all this long night?”

Enquired her anxious parents.

“Oh, I’ve been along with a light dragoon,

Because I loved him dearly.”

This is a version of the ballad that Professor Child titled Trooper and Maid (Child 299). Although Child's versions are all from Scotland he does mention an English broadside version, The Soldier and Peggy, which dates from the first half of the seventeenth century. Fred List learnt the song from his uncle Harry, who was recorded singing it by the BBC in 1951 (which is now available on the CD ‘Songs of Seduction’ - Rounder 1778). A splendid Scottish version, sung by Bella Higgins of Blairgowrie, Perthshire, can be heard on the CD Hamish Henderson Collects (Kyloe 107).

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates
































































She Took Off Her Nightie


It was neither for love nor for beauty,

It was only to lead her astray.

One night as I crept into her bedroom

Just as she was loosening her stays.


I’d give all the gold in this world, dear,

For one night to lay by your side.

But, oh dearest darling, you are so unkind,

You took off your nightie and pulled down the blind.

This anonymous set is sung to the tune of Where There's a Will There's a Way, a music hall song written in 1881 by Edward Marshall & Carlo Minasi and popularised by Harry Clifton
(1832-72), although just who wrote Charlie's set of words in anybody's guess!

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates















































Untitled Tunes

Two unidentified tunes, which may well have been popular songs. Font played a large number of song tunes from the first half of the twentieth century.

Tune notes: Katie Howson



























































The Lakes of Coolfin


It was early one morning young William arose

And away to his comrade’s bedchamber did go

Saying “Arise, oh my comrade and let no-one know,

For it’s a bright summer morning and a-bathing we’ll go.”


To the Lakes of Coolfin the companions then came

And the first one they met was a keeper of game.

“Oh, return, Billy Leonard, return once again,

There is deep and false waters in the Lakes of Coolfin.”


Young William plunged in and he swam the lake round

And he swam to an island of soft mossy ground,

Saying “Comrade, oh, comrade, don’t you venture in,

There is deep and false waters in the Lakes of Coolfin.”


Then early next morning, his mother came there.

She was rubbing her hands and tearing her hair.

Saying “Where was he drownded, where did he fall in,

In the deep and false waters in the Lakes of Coolfin.”

Some American folklorists ('Child-twitchers') have attempted to link this broadside ballad with ballads such as Clerk Colville (Roud 147, Child 42) and Lady Alice (also Roud 147, Child 85), which tells of a man slain by a malicious fairy woman. However, this seems unlikely. P. W. Joyce noted it in several Irish counties in the 1850s and said that, 'It appears obvious that it relates to a real event - the accidental drowning of poor young Willie Leonard.' Irish folklorist Tom Munnelly has identified a number of Irish locations that could be the geographical location of the lake, but sides with Sam Henry who suggested that it could be Loughinsholin near Garvagh in Ulster (’The Mount Callan Garland’: songs from the repertoire of Tom Lenihan. Collected and edited by Tom Munnelly. Two cassettes and book. Dublin, 1994). The song has turned up many times, not only in Ireland, but in England, Scotland and North America, and appeared on London broadsides by Such, Disley and Fortey in the 1850s. Other recordings include those by Pop Maynard (Sussex) - Musical Traditions MTCD 309-10; Tom Lenihan (Co Clare) - on cassette accompanying ‘The Mount Callan Garland’ (1994. ISBN 0 906 426 162) and Scan Tester (Sussex) Veteran VTVS03/04.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates



























































Do Your Best


In this world, I’ve gained my knowledge

And for it I’ve had to pay.

Though I never went to college,

Yet I’ve heard the poet say

“Life is like a mighty river,

Rolling on from day to day.

Men are vessels launched upon it

Sometimes wrecked and cast away.”



So do your best for one each other,

Making life a pleasant dream.

Help the worn and weary brother

Pulling hard against the stream.

Many a bright, good-hearted fellow,

Many an noble minded man,

Finds himself in watery shallow,

Then assist him if you can.

Some succeed at every turning,

Others fortune every shen

Others too though more deserving

Have to pull against the stream.



So don’t give way to foolish sorrow,

Let this keep you in good cheer.

Brighter days may come tomorrow,

If you only persevere.

Darkest lands will have their morning,

Though the sky be overcast.

Darkest lanes will have their turning,

Then the tide will turn at last.


Repeat first four lines of chorus

Better known as Pulling Hard Against the Stream, this music hall piece was originally sung by Harry Clifton (1832-72), who specialised in such motto songs. It is said that these were as
popular in the drawing-room as in the music halls. Other similar songs that Clifton sang include Paddle Your Own Canoe, Work Boys Work and be Contented, A Motto for Every Man and Up With the Lark in the Morning. Clifton wrote most of his songs himself and is perhaps best remembered for Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington Green.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates
























































Jack the Drover


Now my name is Jack the Drover, you might meet me any day.

I travel the country far and wide, and never lose my way.

I’ll drive your sheep or cattle anywhere, so long as I get my pay.

For my name it is Jack the Drover, with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


Now I was droving sheep to town and it was a market day

And a pretty young girl I chanced to meet a-travelling on my way.

I asked her if she’d walk with me and she said “Tell me your name, pray”,

I said “My name is Jack the Drover” with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


Now when we’d walked a mile or so, my eye it had espied

By chance this pretty girl’s garter had somehow come untied.

Her stocking was slipping down of her leg and I saw her dismay.

I said “Let me tie your garter up” with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


She said “You may tie my garter up under yon shady tree,

But mind what you get after and don’t try no tricks on me”.

So I knelt and tied her garter up and I thought what she did say,

And we both jogged on together then with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


But when I knelt and tied her garter up with her skirts above her knee,

Well the prettiest sights they met my eye as ever I did see.

And I vowed if ever I used that road again and she should cross my way,

I would get to know her better with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


Now I was droving cattle on that road another day,

When by lucky chance I met this girl a-travelling on my way.

I asked her if she’d marry me and stopped to hear what she did say.

She said “I would marry Jack the Drover” with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


Well I courted her for seven months and then one Saturday

Took her to the church and married her and I never was so gay.

We’ve been married now for thirty years and I never did rue the day,

For we both jog on together now with a fol de rol diddle dol day.


And I still am Jack the Drover, you might meet me any day.

I travel the country far and wide and never lose my way.

I’ll drive your sheep or cattle anywhere so long as I get my pay,

For my name it is Jack the Drover with a fol de rol diddle dol day.

(Repeat last line)

Fred Whiting was one of the most interesting East Anglian singers to have been recorded. In 1978 he sent me a wad of songs that he had learnt, as a fifteen year old, from a tramp called Darkie Crickmore. Fred said, "I never sang them for Keith Summers as they were not Suffolk songs." Interestingly, all of these songs were new to me and I must say that, having got to know Fred, I did begin to wonder whether or not these songs, as well as some of his other apparently unique songs, were actually from Fred himself. Clearly Jack the Drover is based on the song The Aylesbury Girl (Roud 364), but many of the verses are previously unknown and, again, I wonder if these were added to the song by Fred. Or, alternatively, did Fred pass on songs to us that only he had learnt from other, older, singers and which would otherwise have vanished without trace?

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates














































Impudence Scottishe /Sultan’s Polka

Harkie plays one part of a schottische which was published in the 1880s, with the description: "solo, played by 2nd Battalion 92th Highlanders". Sultan's Polka was the official title for the Heel and Toe Polka, and in printed versions had a third part in a minor key. Harkie plays the more commonly known first and second parts. The dance, as danced in living memory in East Anglia, requires two parts to the tune.

Tune notes: Katie Howson





























































Botany Bay


Come all you young fellows take warning by me

And never go midnight walking and shun bad company.

And never go midnight walking or else you will rue the day

While you will get transported and sent to Botany Bay.


My character was taken and I was taken too,

My parents tried to clear me but nothing could they do.

It was at the Old Bailey sessions where the judge unto me did say,

“Why the jury have found you guilty, young man, you must go to Botany Bay.”


To see my aged father as he stood at the bar,

Likewise my poor old mother a-tearing of her hair.

A-tearing of her old grey locks, why she unto me did say

“Why, oh son, oh son, what have you done to be sent to Botany Bay?”


A-sailing down the river on the fourteenth day of May,

There goes the ship of clever young men, they’re sorry, so they say.

There goes the ship of clever young men, they are sorry I heard them say.

It is for some crime that they’ve done in their time and they’re sent to Botany Bay.


Now there is a girl in London, a girl I love so well,

And if ever I gain my liberty, along with her I’ll dwell.

If ever I gain my liberty, it’s along with her I’ll dwell,

And I will shun bad company and be true to my love as well.


When Botany Bay was 'discovered' in 1770 by Captain James Cook (not forgetting that the local Aboriginals had been there long before Cook arrived!) it was a shallow inlet some five miles to the south of Sydney, New South Wales. Cook named it after the abundance of new plants that were discovered there and in 1787 it was chosen as the site of a penal settlement. In fact, it proved unsatisfactory and the settlement moved to Sydney Cove, although the name, Botany Bay, soon became synonymous with all the Australian convict settlements. Early Victorian broadside printers (such as Pitts and Batchelor, both of London) called the piece The Transport, which begins with the line, 'Come all young men of learning, a warning take by me'. It has been suggested by Roy Palmer that such songs were designed to warn people about the severe punishments that then existed for the crime of poaching. Later printers (Such of London and Forth of Hull, for example) called the song Botany Bay and many collectors have found the song, not only in England, but in America and Canada as well. Cecil Sharp collected six versions. Jumbo Brightwell's lusty performance is sung to a widely known tune which is related to the one employed by the late Sam Larner, of Winterton in Norfolk, for his song The Dolphin.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates
























































Shoot Them All


A young country maiden did leave her home one day,

And many miles she had to walk to where she meant to stay.

She met a roving gentleman who tried to force his will.

She struck him with her box, but she never meant to kill.


Then with the box upon her head she carried it along.

The next man who stopped her was a hunting gentleman.

“Your master or your mistress you have done something ill.”

“No, the one thing I fear is a man that I did kill.”


He took her on his horse and they rode back to the place.

The two of them sat looking down upon the gruesome face.

“Cast fear aside, my bonny girl, there’s nothing I will do,

For the moment we met I have been in love with you.”


He got from off his horse for to see what he had got.

He got three loaded pistols, some powder and some shot.

He got three loaded pistols, some powder and some ball,

A knife and a whistle, the robbers for to call.


He put the whistle to his lips and blew it loud and shrill

Four ruffian fellows came running down the hill.

He shot one of them and she, most speedily,

This beautiful damsel, she shot the other three.

The earliest known version of this popular song can be found in the Andrew Crawfurd Collection (Edinburgh. The Scottish Text Society. 1975. Volume 1. pp. 143- 44), where it is titled A Yarmouth Story. Crawfurd had collected the song in 1827 from Meg Walker (Mrs Caldwell), a widow living at Bridgend in Lochwinnoch, Ayrshire, and may have been aware that the song was then being produced by numerous broadside printers throughout England and Scotland. Most printers called the song The Undaunted Female, although Stephenson, a Gateshead printer, titled his sheet The Fair Maid and the Robber. Just about every Edwardian English collector found a version or two of the song and some noted quite a few versions, although, as Cecil Sharp observed, most were sung to the tune used for The Banks of the Sweet Dundee (Roud 148), another highly popular broadside ballad. Alec probably learnt his version of the song from Bud Burrows, who sang it in Bruisyard Butcher's Arms.

Song transcribed by Dan Quinn

Song notes: Mike Yates












































Polka Medley

Fred's medley seamlessly blends parts of Harkie's Polkas, Dennington Polka, Oh Joe the Boat is Going Over and Seamo's Polka. Both Dennington Polka and Seamo's Polka are, confusingly, often called Oscar's Polka. Oscar Woods also played Oh Joe the Boat is Going Over, as did nearly every musician in Suffolk and Norfolk. It originated as a music hall song, as did Seamo's Polka, which is an adaptation of the song Not for Joe, a big hit for Arthur Lloyd in 1867. The tune was popularised in Suffolk by the Seaman brothers from Darsham, near the coast. Dennington Polka was also played by Dolly Curtis and Fred Pearce, the regular musician in the Blaxhall Ship for many years until about 1960.

Tune notes: Katie Howson









































































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