Submitted by Denise and Stuart Savage

“Reynardine” was taken from the EFDSS publication “The Seeds of Love.” The words are from Such & Pitts broadside and the tune collected by W P Merrick from Henry Hills. This version makes the warning to young girls of “man as beast” quite obvious.

Listen to the Savages’ version of “Reynardine:”

Sheet music for "Reynardine"
Download the sheet music for “Reynardine.”

Lyrics

One night upon my rambles two miles below Fermoy
I met a farmer’s daughter all on the mountains high
I said, “My pretty fair maid, your beauty shines so clear
All on these lonesome mountains, I’m glad to meet you here.”

She said, “Kind sir be civil, my company forsake
For in my own opinion, I fear you are some rake
And if my parents they should know, my life they would destroy
For keeping of your company all on the mountains high.”

He said, “My dear, I am no rake brought up in Venus’ train
But I’m seeking for concealment all on the lonesome plain
Your beauty so enticed me I could not pass it by
So it’s with my gun I’ll guard you all on the mountains high.”

Her cherry cheek and ruby lips, they lost their former dye
She fainted in his arms there all on the mountain high
They hadn’t kissed but once or twice till she came to again
With that she kindly asked him, “Pray tell to me your name.”

“If by chance you look for me, perhaps you’ll not me find
For I’ll be in my castle – enquire for Reynardine.”
Sun and dark she followed him, his teeth did brightly shine
And he led her over the mountains, that sly bold Reynardine.

Denise and Stuart Savage became involved in the folk music revival in the 60s while living in West Sussex, England, and have performed in various group combinations, now as a duo. They visited the USA in 2002 and again in 2004, when they were lucky enough to perform in a number of house concerts from Washington, DC, to Vermont.

Submitted by Sue Burgess

This is a re-written version of a traditional Irish song called “Free and Easy to Jog Along,” sung by—among many others—Kevin Mitchell and Roisin White. 

A man goes on his rambles in Ireland and Scotland, having a good time meeting women, and perhaps breaking a few hearts along the way. In 2007, I was interested to hear well-known singer Peta Webb sing a version where the genders are reversed and the story told from a woman’s point of view. As I was very keen on the ‘equality’ idea for my own repertoire, Peta kindly gave me her revised text and a recording. 

After a while, I realized that the Irish tune just didn’t suit my singing style, but eventually found an English one which did. My choice grew out of listening to Sam Larner’s tune for “Bold Princess Royal,” which is very like that sung for “Yellow Handkerchief.” Unfortunately, it has a lot more notes in it, so I had to re-write the re-write with a few ideas of my own, and now very much enjoy singing the result. 

Listen to Sue singing “Free and Easy to Ramble Along:”

Sheet music for 'Free and Easy to Ramble Along'
Download the sheet music for “Free and Easy to Ramble Along”

Lyrics

(trad, arr Sue Burgess, after Peta Webb)

It’s a tale of my rambles that I surely will sing
Just like any small bird or thrush in the spring
When the sun she arises for to greet every morn
I am free and I am easy for to ramble along

Now the first one of my rambles, it was to Derry Quay
For to see all the lads there, and lasses so gay
And I sat me down among them for to sing them a song
I sang free and I sang easy for to ramble along

Well, the next one of my rambles, it was to Glasgow Green
Where the lads and the lasses were all to be seen
And I was the merriest all among that fine throng
For I was free and I was easy for to ramble along

Now I had not been there but a very short space
When a handsome young man he did smile in my face
He said: had I a husband or any such one?
No, I’m free and I am easy for to ramble along

I went along then with this young man all into some inn
Where we did drink brandy, strong ale and some gin
Then he asked it of me for to pledge heart and hand
And forget free and easy for to ramble along

Oh, no, my jolly young man, such things cannot be
For I’ve a fine notion to cross the stormy sea
When a girl she gets married, all her joys they are done
She’s no more free and easy for to ramble along

But if ever I return it will be in the spring
Once more of my rambles I surely will sing
I’ll drink a health to the lasses that will join me in song
That remain free and easy for to ramble along

Ever since her early years with the Songwainers at Cheltenham Folk Song Club in Gloucestershire, Sue Burgess has been a distinctive voice in several well-known harmony groups (notably Regal Slip) and duos; her love of traditional music has remained constant ever since.

Now living in Yorkshire, these days Sue appears regularly as a solo performer, recognised for her interpretation of a unique repertoire which has often been re-arranged to give a fairer representation of female characterization in traditional folk song. 

Most recently, Sue has also become part of The Gilchrist Collective—together with Peter & Barbara Snape and Brian Peters—in a project celebrating the work of Lancashire collector Anne Geddes Gilchrist, with a CD entitled Most Truly Yours.

Submitted by William Pint

This moving song came to me forty years ago by way of Louisa Jo Killen. It demonstrates the amazing power locked within a ballad when delivered by a brilliant singer.

The story is that of a fishing vessel capsizing in a storm off the coast of Scotland in the late 1800s, the fate of the captain and first mate, and the power of faith to give strength and comfort in terrifying circumstances. I am not a religious person by any means, but this song has a profound effect on me every time I hear it. Listen to it and marvel at how it conveys such tremendous emotional content. 

Listen to Louisa singing “The Rose in June:”

Sheet music for "The Rose in June"
Download the sheet music for “The Rose in June.”

Lyrics

On the rocky coast of Scotland, in a little village there,

There dwelt a righteous man, serving God without a care
He was not a man of honour, but a humble fisherman,

Working hard to earn his living, his name was Andrew Davidson.

He was the master of a vessel, and he claimed her as his own.

She was fitted with all was needed; she was called The Rose in June.

And with eager expectation he was waiting for the day

When the time would come for fishing and the boats would sail away.

Now, Andrew had been lately married, and before he left his home,

Andrew and his wife together knelt in prayer before the Throne,

Asking God for His protection on his wife while he was gone,

Praying nothing would befall her, not of danger nor of harm.

And his wife was kneeling by him, and she heard his fervent prayer

Asking God for her protection, not a word for his was there,

And her heart did sink within her as she rose from her bended knee,

Thinking on those terrible dangers and those perils of the sea!

Now when the Summer winds blew softly, herrin’ fishing season came.

Andrew Davidson preparing, herrin’ fishing was his game.

Andrew Davidson preparing with his crew to go to sea,

Not thinking this would be his last time ever with his friends to be.

Many vessels now are sailing and The Rose in June is one

Swiftly gliding out the harbour at the setting of the sun

Many fishing vessels sailing out that fateful afternoon

Out of sight of friends and loved ones swiftly glides The Rose in June.

In that night a storm came raging and the angry billows roared,

Many a vessel was tossed and driven all along that rocky shore.

Their crews were clinging to them, all seamen strong and brave,

Praying the Lord would save them from a seaman’s watery grave.

And all along the coast next morning, anxious eyes did watch and wait,

The children of those absent seamen, those returning ships did sight.

And one by one, those vessels sailed in, through morning until noon,

Till all were safely anchored, all but one, The Rose in June.

Whom the seas turned bottom upwards, dashed against that rocky shore.

Her crew was clinging to her, thinking the storm would soon be o’er.

Andrew Davidson, their captain, in that time of sudden fear,

Called on Jesu, Christ the Savior, and he bowed his head in prayer.
Saying, “Come on and sing God’s praises,” and at last they all begun:

Dearest Jesus, I am dying, what a comfort divine,
What a comfort to know that the Savior is mine.

Hallelujah, send the Glory, Hallelujah, amen,

Hallelujah, send the Glory to revive us again.

But these words were scarcely ended when the out-wave struck her side.

Tore their captain from his holdings, and he sank beneath the tide,
Gone to join those friends and shipmates on that heavenly shore,

Welcomed by his lovin’ Savior singing praise forevermore.

And John Allen was the young mate, and he knew he was forgiven.

“Let us keep on with our singing, our captain is in Heaven.”

And they sang so loud and trialled, till they came to this last verse:

Slowly onward we haste to the heavenly place,

For this is the glory and this is the grace.

Hallelujah, send the Glory, Hallelujah, amen,

Hallelujah, send the Glory to revive us again.

But these words were scarcely ended when the out-wave burst around.

Tore the young mate from his holdings and his body too was drowned.

Going to join those friends and shipmates on that heavenly shore,

Welcomed by his lovin’ Savior singing praise forevermore.

And the rest of the crew was rescued, but they’ll ne’er forget the scene,

In that hour and that moment when that song they tried to sing,

Oh! Were no sermons ever preached or experience ever known,

Like the power in that moment, that hour of sudden doom!

So sinners, give your souls to Jesus, it can never be too soon.

If in heaven you meet the captain, meet the mate of The Rose in June.
Oh, sinners, give your souls to Jesus, it can never be too soon.

If in heaven you meet the captain, meet the mate of The Rose in June.

William Pints heart was captured by traditional music at the impressionable age of seventeen, and sea shanties and maritime songs by his twenty-fifth birthday. He and his partner, Felicia Dale, have released numerous recordings of mostly traditional material with innovative and highly energetic arrangements.

Submitted by Judy Cook

“Bed is Too Small” is an anonymous American song that I learned at Girl Scout Camp May Flather, in Virginia in the early 1960s. I like that, as a lullaby, it speaks not only to the one going to sleep, but also to the singer who would like to be going to sleep.

Sheet music for "Bed Is Too Small"
Download the sheet music for “Bed Is Too Small.”

Lyrics

Bed is too small for my tiredness;
Give me a hill topped with trees.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please.

Rock me to sleep in a cradle of dreams,
Sing me a lullaby of leaves.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please.

Judy Cook is an author, entertainer, and folk-singer. She has been living in Oberlin, Ohio, with her husband Dennis since 2013. Since 1998 she has been touring throughout both Britain and the US. She is known for her repertoire and storytelling ability in song. Judy has one book and several CDs. You can reach her through her website.

Submitted by Matthew Byrne

Written by Keith Marsden, who founded the West Yorkshire folk singing group Cockersdale. Keith was from Morley, near Leeds, and although he died at the young age of 52, he left an impressive repertoire of brilliantly crafted and cleverly written songs.

This song tells of a captivating storyteller who held a crucial role for children looking to indulge their imaginations and escape the dreary day-to-day of a dull factory town in postwar England. Some great language in this one: a “pierrot” is a mime street performer, and a “corky” refers to a cricket ball.

Listen to Matthew singing “Jack Ashton:”

Listen to another version by Finest Kind:

Sheet music for "Jack Ashton"
Download the sheet music for “Jack Ashton”

Lyrics

Oh the times were hard and mean and our childhood days were lean,
In the land they said was fit for Flanders heroes
It was all a seaside show where poor folk couldn’t go,
We just stood outside while others watched the pierrots.

And we only had to spend what our friend Jack Clegg would lend,
There was little of Lloyd George’s promised glories,
But each evening down the street by the gaslamp we would meet.
And we’d listen while Jack Ashton told his stories.

Chorus:
And we sat there and listened with our mouths open wide,
Though we knew in our hearts that the old devil lied.
But we needed to believe in the magic he would weave,
And we took a glass for old times’ sake the day Jack died.

Now our all-wise parents said that he’d a screw loose in the head,
And that we were daft to listen to his lies.
But we saw their daily grind and heard the magic in his mind,
And we all knew who was daft and who was wise.

Though he nearly broke our necks playing soccer on the Rec.,
And his bowling with a corky could be gory,
As the evening sun went down, by the lamp we’d gather round,
And we’d listen while Jack Ashton told a story.

Chorus

Now that Jack’s been laid to rest, if there’s any justice left,
He’ll be spinning yarns now to the Holy Ghost.
And gathered round his knee, open-mouthed as we would be,
Sit saints and angels, all the heavenly host.

And he’ll tell them how he saved old Moses from the waves,
And slew Goliath with one mighty blow.
While an all-forgiving Lord listens smiling at his words,
As we did by the gas lamp long ago.

Chorus

Storytelling through song is a fundamental duty of traditional music, and Matthew Byrne does this brilliantly. With a repertoire shaped by his musical upbringing, Byrne supports the tradition with powerful vocals, polished guitar work, engaging storytelling, and a presence that fills the room.

Byrne’s parents were both singers and song collectors and he grew up with a strong family focus on sharing songs. He has inherited a unique repertoire, as well as a fascination with unearthing and reimagining traditional music.

Submitted by Jennifer Armstrong

My parents (George and Gerry Armstrong) learned this song from Sandy and Carolyn Paton of Folk Legacy fame, who learned it from the McPeake family.

“Wild Mountain Thyme” (also known as “Purple Heather” and “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?”) is a Scottish/Irish folk song. The lyrics and melody are a variant of the song “The Braes of Balquhither” by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810) and Scottish composer Robert Archibald Smith (1780–1829), but were adapted by Belfast musician Francis McPeake (1885–1971) into “Wild Mountain Thyme,” and first recorded by his family in the 1950s.

My mother loved this song as one of the few romantic folk songs, and sang it, “If my true love won’t go, I will surely find no other.” My father, on the other hand, sang it, “If my true love she won’t go, I will surely find another,” claiming it was more a love song to the wild mountain thyme and purple heather than it was to a person. The melody I sing is what my mother sang, and sometimes I sing “no other” and sometimes “another!”

Listen to Jennifer singing “Wild Mountain Thyme:”

Sheet music for 'Wild Mountain Thyme'
Download the sheet music for “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

Lyrics

Oh, the summer time is coming,
And the leaves are sweetly blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
Blooms around the purple heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

Chorus:
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower
By yon clear crystal fountain,
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain.
Will you go, lassie, go? …

Chorus

If my true love won’t go,
I will surely find another (no other)
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?…

Chorus

Oh, the summertime is coming
And the leaves are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
Blooms around the purple heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?…

Chorus

Jennifer Armstrong writes: I am a musician, singer and storyteller with deep roots in and great love for the folk tradition. I have many recordings, books and websites and invite you to take a deeper look at my many offerings at my website and Patreon.

Submitted by Margaret Walters

“I’ve Lived In Service” was collected in 1904 from Mrs Harriett Verrall of Monxgate near Horsham, Sussex by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

I learned it around 1980 from the singing of Vic Gammon, who recorded it with the Pump and Pluck Band on a cassette called “What a Beau My Granny Was.”

Vic wrote: “Yes, that is an interesting song, and pretty unique—I have never seen another version of it. (Roud number 1483.) Yet it speaks to a very real situation in pre- and early-industrial England, where youngsters would go into domestic service and apprenticeships in their early teenage years.”

Listen to Vic singing “I’ve Lived In Service:”

Listen to Margaret singing her version:

Sheet music for "I've Lived in Service"
Download the sheet music for “I’ve Lived in Service.”
Handwritten lyrics for "I've Lived in Service"
Handwritten lyrics to “I’ve Lived in Service,” courtesy of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

Lyrics

I’ve lived in service seven long years
And it’s fancy I took to a maid, sir
I called her my jewel but I was afraid
Because she was delicate fair, sir

I loved this maid as I loved my life
And it’s fair I would make her my bride, sir
But as I was going upstairs one night
I saw the young master lie with her

When Sunday morn comes, to his master Jack goes
Saying “Master, I must have some money.”
“Some money, John boy, are you going to be wed
For I fear you’ll pay dear for your honey.”

“How much money, John boy?” “Ten guineas” Jack says
“Ten guineas all in bright money?

When you are married, I will lay down
A thousand bright guineas for your honey.”

Then upstairs Jack goes, his clothes to tie up
And he’s tied them all up in a wallet
And out of the window he’s flung it so high
But the deuce* of a bet could he follow.
* deuce = devil

And when he’s got down, he’s gazed all around
And his wallet flung over his shoulder
And he is away to fair Norwich Town
And he’s left the young maid to his master.

Margaret Walters lives in Sydney, Australia and has a passion for unaccompanied traditional or trad-style songs, especially those absorbed during many visits to England between 1976 and 2013. She also sings Australian songs, including those by songwriter John Warner. Her albums are available on Bandcamp.

Submitted by Ed Miller

I know this is an Irish song, but I’ve always had a fascination with emigrant songs, whether to 
America or to England and Scotland.

At the Swannanoa Gathering a few years ago, John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary came on stage and said they’d like to introduce a friend who had never sung here before….on came Kevin Burke! Now Kevin is a world famous fiddler; but singing a song he had written? I was very moved by the song and immediately sought out a recording of the show.

By a lovely coincidence, Kevin was playing in Austin when Rich Brotherton and I were recording this CD, and we were delighted he agreed to play on the instrumental breaks.



In search of work, the Irish have moved to Britain for centuries; but after World War II, many thousands came over to work in construction, rebuilding London and other cities badly damaged in the war. Kevin’s parents came to London from Sligo when he was young, and he grew up in the London Irish community (hence his unique accent!); so this song is partly autobiographical and partly an homage to the many characters/musicians he grew up among at London sessions in the 1950s.



Listen to Ed singing “London Town:”

Sheet music for "London Town"
Download the sheet music for “London Town.”

Lyrics
London Town (Kevin Burke)

A bus leavin’ Sligo a long time ago took Michael away from his home;
He’d heard there was work o’er in England, to the Dublin docks he did roam.
On the Holyhead boat there were others like him, from Leitrim and Kerry and Down,
Sons and Daughters from all over Ireland, bound for London town.

He rambled the city in search of the start or even a room for the night,
In his left hand a suitcase of leather and wood, his grandfather’s fiddle in his right;
Through the streets of the bombed-out buildings, past the rubble that Hitler blew down,
This strayaway child from the west of Ireland, alone in London town.

He signed on with a ganger from Dublin the cruelest little tyrant that ever ye met,
Had him sweatin’ in trenches for 12 hours a day, ’twas hard work but all he could get;
He’d take out his fiddle when the work was all done, when the shovels and picks were laid down,
A tune for the broad-backed sons of Ireland come to rebuild London town.

There were 7 day weeks with nary a break, Sligo was left far behind;
Till one of the boys says “pick yerself up, come down the road for a pint.”
When he opened the door, Michael thought he was home, Oh what a glorious sound!
Sons and daughters from all over Ireland playin’ music in London town.

There was Mairtin Byrne from Galway, McCarthy and Casey from Clare,
McGlinchey, the Roger, Roland and Farrell, seemed half of all Ireland was there.
They bid him take out his fiddle and they played till the lights went down,
Raise a glass to the 33rd county boys, right here in London town.

Now many’s the year has passed and gone; but it seems just a fortnight ago,
Those sessions in the White Hart and the Favourite, Fulham Broadway and Holloway Road.
It’s the music that carried the heart and the soul, it’s the same way the whole world round
Whether ye’re livin’ in New York or Donegal, or here in London town

It’s the music that carries the heart and the soul, it’s the same the whole world round,
Whether ye’re livin’ in New York or Donegal, or here in London Town.

Ed Miller, Scottish singer, folklorist, radio host (KDRP.org Sundays 4-5pm CST), tour guide and soccer player, has lived in Austin, Texas for several decades and performs everywhere from house concerts to Highland Games all over the U.S. In summer, he leads folk music-based tours to his homeland.

Submitted by Bob Bovee

I learned this humorous ditty from my uncle, Herman Lienemann, in Nebraska more than forty years ago. Herman couldn’t remember where he learned it, but thought it was back in the 1920s. I have never found a Yuba Dam anywhere or any other reference to this song.

Bob adds: I found a link to the 1893 sheet music for “Yuba Dam” at the New York Public Library. It has the same words (with three additional verses), but a completely different tune. I think it’s a great example of how songs move into the oral tradition and are passed along from there.

Listen to Bob singing “Yuba Dam:”

'Yuba Dam' sheet music
Download the sheet music for “Yuba Dam”

Lyrics

Out west they have some funny towns and funny names as well
There is a town called Yuba Dam ten miles from where I dwell
I rode with a conductor once who was a substitute
He didn’t know the stations and this led to a dispute
“Where do you want to go?” said he, “Yuba Dam,” said I
“I’ll not,” said he, and grabbing me, to choke me he did try
Jabs in the jaw and punches galore, he really made things hum
And when I got to Yuba Dam, I was both deaf and dumb    

That evening when I reached my home, my wife began to scold
For the supper that she had prepared had stood till it was cold
I offered explanations but they didn’t pacify
And when she looked upon me, I could see blood in her eye
“Where did you get that load?” said she, “Yuba Dam,” said I
And with a grab she let me have a chair that stood nearby
I left the room at the end of a broom and jumped the backyard fence 
She misconstrued the meaning and I took the consequence

Next morning with me darling wife, myself I tried to square
Not knowing that upon my coat there was a long blonde hair
She took it in her fingers and compared it with her own
And, as it was much lighter, I decided to leave home

Divorce proceedings followed, I was taken into court
And forced to pay so much each week towards my wife’s support
She gave her testimony, which was everything but true
Which caused the judge upon the bench to look me through and through
“What brought this all about?” said he, “Yuba Dam,” said I
“Profanity in court,” said he, “will land you high and dry”
I stood no show, I went below, it was a sad mishap
And I think the town of Yuba Dam has no right on the map

Bob Bovee is a Nebraska native whose family sang and played the old-time songs. Many of the western and railroad songs he does were learned from his grandmother and uncle. Since 1971, he has been a full-time touring musician, plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and autoharp, sings and yodels. He now resides in rural Minnesota.

Submitted by Kim Wallach

I chose “Bibble A La Do” as the Song of the Month for a number of reasons. I grew up singing along with the mournful “Johnny’s Gone for a Soldier” as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. Also known as “Buttermilk Hill” and “Shule Aroon,” “Shule a Ghra” and “Siúil a Rún” (and many other names as well), all these songs lament a lad gone for a soldier, sometimes one for whom the singer has sold everything to supply with the tools of war, only for them to die anyway.

While I still love a sad song, there’s something about the jauntiness of the rhythm and the change of modality from minor to major just at the end of “Bibble A La Do” that I love. There are tons of recorded versions of “Johnny’s Gone for a Soldier,” but only two I know of for “Bibble A La Do”—Art Thieme on Thieme04, and Deborah Robins on Home Fires (.99 to buy, but buy the whole CD, it’s worth it!).

Listen to Kim singing “Bibble A La Do:”

Sheet music for "Bibble A La Do"
Click to download the sheet music for “Bibble A La Do.”

Lyrics

Come and listen to my song
Awful pretty and it won’t take long
Sang it all the way from here to Hong Kong
Come a bibble a la do shy dorrie

Chorus:
Shoe rye shoe rye shoe rye roo
suga raka suga raka shoe rye roo
When I saw my little bobolink 
Come a bibble a la do shy dorrie

Gonna buy me an old grey hoss
The Alleghenies I will cross
Gonna find the true love that I lost
Come a bibble a la do shy dorrie

Chorus

I was staying on a South Sea isle
Folk down there all greet you with a smile
I wrote back home, well, I think I’ll stay awhile
Come a bibble a la do shy dorrie

Chorus

My true love has gone to France 
There his fortune to advance
When he comes home gonna have a little dance
Come a bibble a la do shy dorrie

Chorus

Here I sit on Buttermilk Hill
Here I sit and cry my fill
Every tear could turn a mill
Come a bibble a la do shy dorrie

Repeat first verse

Siúil, siúil, siúil a rún
Siúil go socair agus siúil go ciuin
Siúil go doras agus ealaigh lio
Is go dte tu mo mhuirnin slan
Walk, walk, walk, O love, 
Walk quickly to me, softly move; 
Walk to the door, and away we’ll flee, 
And safe may my darling be.

Kim Wallach is a singer of original, traditional and wonderful songs dwelling in southwest New Hampshire. Thankfully retired as a public school music teacher just prior to the pandemic, she is enjoying playing music for Firebird, a molly and border team, going to Monadnock area outdoor “pub” sings, caring for her adopted “malted” dog and even doing the occasional gig for grownups or children. You can still contact her through her website, and order all her CDs including the latest, Chatter of the Finches, through CDBaby and other online sources.