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.

Submitted by Joel Mabus

“The Golden Willow Tree” is a ballad with many names – often called The Golden Vanity. Sometimes shelved as a “Child Ballad,” it has been around since the days of Sir Walter Raleigh, whose exploits the earliest versions expound. Aaron Copland once turned it into a fancy high-art piece, but in earthier editions it is still a favorite with traditional balladeers.

I crafted my own version from several I have heard, notably those from Arkansas. But I have stitched in a few verses of my own to expedite the narrative and let my own words tell the story. Another instance of nothing new under the sun, the duplicitous captain and his venal crew are the very picture of Wall Street scoundrels.

Here is a good website that has links to recordings of Arkansas source singers with four variants with various titles.

Listen to Joel singing “The Golden Willow Tree:”

Music and lyrics for "The Golden Willow Tree"
Download a PDF of the sheet music and lyrics for “The Golden Willow Tree.”

Lyrics

There was a little ship a-sailin’ on the sea
(O the low the lonesome low)
There was a little ship a-sailin’ on the sea
and the name of the ship was the Golden Willow Tree
(Sailin’ on the lonesome lonesome low,
sailin’ on the lonesome sea)

They hadn’t been to sea two weeks or three
When along come the pirate, the Turkish Sugaree

The captain turned to his able crew [as before]
Saying, oh brave boys what will I ever do?

Captain, oh captain, what will you pay
To the man who can sink the Turkish Sugaray

Why I’d give my daughter and a sack of my gold
To the brave boy who could prove so bold

Then the little cabin boy jumped in the sea
And he swum ’til he come to the Turkish Sugaree

And he had a little auger fitted for the use
He drilled nine holes and he let in the juice

Some with their hats and some with their caps
Tried to keep the water from a-comin’ through the gaps

But every man aboard the Turkish Sugaree
Met his doom in the bottom of the sea

Then the little cabin boy swum back to the fold
Said, haul me up aboard boys; I’m dyin’ of the cold

But the Captain said – you’ll not come aboard
You won’t have my daughter and you won’t have my gold

Oh captain, captain how can it be
You’d pay your man with such treachery

Oh my gold is my pride—my daughter is my joy
And I won’t give ’em up to a black cabin boy

Last Verse:
Now there’s a little cabin boy drownin’ in the sea
(O the low the lonesome low)
There’s a little cabin boy drownin’ in the sea
And he’s drillin’ little holes in the Golden Willow Tree
(And sink ’em in the lonesome lonesome low,
sink ’em in the lonesome sea)

Joel Mabus is a songwriter, folksinger, instrumentalist and music teacher living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Genealogical records show he is the scion of William Brewster of Scrooby, England and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Also the scion of a thousand anonymous potato farmers, barrel makers, and free thinkers from the German lowlands and Scottish highlands. His mom and dad toured the Midwest in the 1930s playing hillbilly music on fiddle & banjo. (That is how he got this way.) He has recorded 27 albums since 1978; his latest is titled Time & Truth.

Submitted by George Stephens

One of Rudyard Kipling’s “Barrack Room Ballads,” the poem, set to a tune by Peter Bellamy, describes a tragic night in March, 1879, when the British 10th Hussars attempted to cross Kabul River to occupy Kabul, Afghanistan. The river was high with water from melting snow, and 46 men and many horses were lost.


Afghanistan, at a strategic cross roads linking North, South, East, and West, has been unsuccessfully invaded multiple times through recorded history, most recently by the British, the Russians, and UN forces, led by the United States. It has gained the nickname “the place where empires come to die.” This song seems a fitting comment on the current military adventurism taking place in Ukraine. “Gawd ’elp ’em if they blunder.”


As sung by (the late!) Tony Barrand, accompanied by John Roberts:

Sheet music for "Ford o' Kabul River"

Lyrics

Words – Rudyard Kipling
Tune – Peter Bellamy

Kabul town’s by Kabul river—blow the trumpet, draw the sword—

There I lef’ my mate for ever, wet an’ drippin’ by the ford. 

Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river, ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!

There’s the river up and brimmin’, an’ there’s ’arf a squadron swimmin’

’Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.



Kabul town’s a blasted place—blow the trumpet, draw the sword—

’Strewth I sha’n’t forget ’is face wet an’ drippin’ by the ford!

Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river, ford o’ Kabul river in the dark! 

Keep the crossing-stakes beside you, an’ they will surely guide you 

’Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.



Kabul town is sun and dust—blow the trumpet, draw the sword—

I’d ha’ sooner drownded fust ’stead of ’im beside the ford.

Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river, ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!

You can ’ear the ’orses threshin’, you can ’ear the men a-splashin’,

’Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.



Kabul town was ours to take—blow the trumpet, draw the sword—

I’d ha’ left it for ’is sake—’im that left me by the ford.

Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river, ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!

It’s none so bloomin’ dry there; ain’t you never comin’ nigh there,

’Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark?

Kabul town’ll go to hell—blow the trumpet, draw the sword—

’Fore I see him ’live an’ well—’im the best beside the ford.

Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river, ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
Gawd ‘elp ’em if they blunder, for their boots’ll pull ’em under,
By the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

Turn your ‘orse from Kabul town—blow the trumpet, draw the sword—
‘Im an’ ‘arf my troop is down, down an’ drownded by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river, ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
There’s the river low an’ fallin’, but it ain’t no use o’ callin’
‘Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

George Stephens writes: I’ve always had a somewhat latent, but strong, interest in music. Minor childhood prodigy on clarinet, then immersion in ’50’s Philadelphia pop and soul, early exposure to the Weavers from older brothers’ records, Kingston Trio, Peter Paul & Mary; most importantly, discovery of Folk-Legacy Records. And the rest, as they say… I’ve sung with the cowboy/civil servant band Sidekicks, my late wife, Mary LaMarca, and my wife Kathy Westra Stephens, at festivals, house concerts, benefit concerts ,and where ever they’ll have us. Kathy and I have released a CD, Birds of Passage, on Folk-Legacy, now available (as are all F-L releases) from Smithsonian-Folkways.


Submitted by Ian Robb

This well-known sailor’s farewell, in its many versions, seems to have become a favourite memorial song in recent years. There are several versions of the chorus going around, and I always find myself trying to guess, usually wrongly, which one to sing, so I’ve used the simplest version I know, and also kept the song fairly short.

The term “white stocking day” refers to the happy day on which the wives, sweethearts or mothers collected an advance on their absent sailor’s pay. The last verse I’ve added from the text of the Georgian Sea Islands song, “Good-bye My Riley-O.”

Bold Riley sheet music
Download a PDF of the sheet music for “Bold Riley.”

Lyrics

Oh the rain it rains all day long
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
And the northern wind, it blows so strong
Bold Riley-o has gone away

Goodbye my darling, goodbye my dear-o
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
Goodbye my darling, goodbye my dear-o
Bold Riley-o has gone away

We’re outward bound for the Bengal Bay
Crack on my lads, it’s a hell of a way

Now Mary, Mary, don’t look so glum
Come white stocking day you’ll be drinkin’ rum

Oh Riley, Riley, where are you?
Oh Riley’s gone, and I’m going too.

Self-described “singer and writer of old songs” and concertina player, Ian Robb started singing English folk songs during the 1960s British folk scare. He emigrated to Ontario in 1970, gravitated to Toronto’s Fiddler’s Green coffeehouse and was an original member of The Friends of Fiddler’s Green. He moved to the Ottawa area in 1973, co-founded that city’s Old Sod Folk Music Society, and sang for 25 years with the celebrated harmony trio Finest Kind. More recent projects include a transatlantic collaboration with the Arrowsmith:Robb Trio, and a 2021 recording project with James Stephens, “Declining with Thanks,” which includes “Bold Riley.”

Submitted by Nick Dow

Early in this century, Nick Dow and his wife visited The White Lion at Broadwindsor. Nick writes, “The landlord was Dick Corbett, a prolific singer. The button accordion was played by ‘Flash’ Phelps, and the numerous locals were entertained by two brothers, Doug and Sam Phillips.

“I was able to record the whole evening. The repertoire consisted of a catholic selection of songs, from the hit parade to the music hall, from country music to folk song proper. Dick Corbett, an ex-military man sporting a large handlebar moustache, regaled us with old favorites from his service days. ‘Widdicombe Fair’ was followed by ‘I Am the Music Man.’ Then, with no warning, Dick produced three verses of ‘The Foggy Dew,’ and as if by prior arrangement, Doug and Sam Phillips, singing in unison, gave voice to ‘The Ball of Yarn,’ with Flash Phelps playing for all he was worth.

“The Phillips brothers then launched into a selection of music hall songs. Some were reasonably well known. ‘Fireworks,’ written by T.W. Connor, was followed by ‘Slap Bab’ and the less common ‘Nobody Noticed Me!,’ sung originally by Jack Pleasance, the shy comedian, famous for his song ‘I’m Shy, Mary Ellen.’”

Sheet music for The Foggy Dew
Download a PDF of the sheet music for “The Foggy Dew.”

Lyrics

I am a bachelor, I lives by myself, and I work at the weaver’s trade
The only thing I ever did wrong was to woo a fair young maid
I wooed her in the summertime
And part of the winter too
And the only thing I ever did wrong was to save her from the foggy foggy dew.

One night as I lay on my bed as I was fast asleep
She came that night to my bedside and bitter did she weep
She wept, she cried
She damn near died
Says I, “What can I do?”
So I took her into bed and covered up her head
Just to save her from the foggy dew.

In the first part of that night, how we did sport and play
In the second part of that night, she in my arms did lay
When broad daylight did appear
She cried, “I am undone!”
“Hold your tongue, you silly young fool
The foggy dew, he’s gone.”

“When will you come on, my love? When will the child come on?”
“When the winter leaves they turn to green and the summer ones come on.”
When nine long months were gone and past,
I cried, “What can I do?”
For as she begun to bear my son
She died from the foggy dew.

Now still a bachelor, I lives with my son
We work at the weavers trade
Every time I look into his eyes, he reminds me of that fair young maid
He reminds me in the summer time
and part of the winter too
Of the many times I held her in my arms
To save her from the foggy, foggy dew.

Nick Dow has been singing and collecting Traditional Folk Songs for over forty years. Nick has gleaned songs from the West Country, and been given songs by the Travelling people with whom he has lived and worked.

Submitted by Ken Willson and Kim McKee

Written in 1840 by Sandy Glendening with music by Fowke, this song relates the loneliness felt by immigrating Scots after the battle of Culloden and then the Highland Clearances. The Highland chieftains were compelled by the victors in the struggle (British government) to increase income from their land, and so began to clear off the crofters by the thousands. Many of these people wound up in Canada and America.

My own family (MacDonald) wound up in Greenfield, Canada and from there to North Dakota, which gives me a deep appreciation for the sentiments within. Scarborough is located by Toronto.

"Scarborough Settler's Lament" sheet music
Download a PDF of the sheet music for “Scarborough Settler’s Lament.”

Lyrics

Away with Canada’s muddy creeks and Canada’s fields of pine
Your land of wheat is a goodly land, but oh, it is not mine
The heathy hill, the grassy dale, the daisy-spangled lea,
The purling burn and craggy linn; auld Scotland’s glens give me.

Oh, I would like to hear again the lark on Tinny’s Hill
And see the wee bit gowany that blooms beside the rill
Like banished Swiss who views afar his Alps with longing e’e
I gaze upon the morning star that shines on my country.

No more I’ll win by Eskdale glen or Pentland’s craggy comb
The days can ne’er come back again of thirty years that’s gone
But fancy oft at midnight hour will steal across the sea
And yestereve, in a pleasant dream I saw the old country.

Each well-known scene that met my view brought childhood’s joys to mind
The blackbird sang on Tushey linn; the song he sang, ‘lang syne’
But like a dream time flies away. Again, the morning came
And I awoke in Canada three thousand miles from hame.

Willson & McKee have been touring and playing Celtic and original music since 1990. The Covid pandemic assured us that we were retiring, and we now do occasional concerts and educational programs for libraries. See us at jigheads.com (our rarely edited site) or on Facebook. We live in southern Colorado.

Submitted by Tim Edwards

The lyrics come from the early 17th century, and it has been described as the finest anonymous poem in the English language (though there is a theory that Shakespeare might have contributed to it). Tom in the song is a licensed beggar discharged from the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London (“Bedlam”).

I first heard it sung by Dave “Steve” Stephenson of the wonderful Songwainers of Cheltenham in the early 70’s, and loved it at first hearing. I learnt it shortly afterwards after finding the words in a poetry book of my father’s (Other Men’s Flowers, collected by A.P. Wavell—full of gems) and have been singing it ever since. Dave found the tune as a virginal arrangement in a Drexel manuscript—now in the New York Public Library.

It’s always been one of my very favorites, and for me, the last verse in particular is sublime.

"Tom o'Bedlam" sheet music
Download a PDF of the sheet music for “Tom o’Bedlam.”

Lyrics

From the hag and hungry goblin, that into rags would rend ye,
From the spirit that stands by the naked man, in the book of moons defend ye,
That of thy five sound senses ye never be forsaken
Nor wander from yourselves with Tom abroad to beg your bacon
So I cry any food, any feeding, feeding, drink or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid, poor Tom will injure nothing.

With a thought I took for Maudlin, and a cruse of cockle pottage,
With a thing thus tall, sky bless you all I fell into this dotage:
I slept not since the conquest, till then I never waked,
Till the roguish boy of love, where I lay, me found and stripped me naked
While I cry…

When I short have shorn my sour face, and swigged my horny barrel
In an oaken inn I pound my skin, as a suit of gilt apparel;
The moon’s my constant mistress, the lowly owl my marrow;
The flaming drake and night-crow make me music for my sorrow
And I cry…

I know more than Apollo, for oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at bloody wars, in the wounded welkin weeping;
The moon embrace her shepherd, the Queen of Love her warrior,
The first doth horn the Star of Morn, the next the Heavenly Farrier
And I cry…

With an host of furious fancies, whereof I am commander
With a burning spear and a horse of air, to the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows I summoned am to journey,
Ten leagues beyond the wild world’s end; methinks it is no journey
Yet I cry…

Tim Edwards writes: Born and brought up in Hertfordshire, my first experience of something close to folk was my parents’ 78’s of Peter Pears and Owen Brannigan. At school, some friends started a folk club and I started singing (and dancing) at my local club—Herga in Wealdstone (still going after nearly 60 years)—and I was a resident there for a number of years before moving north to Cheshire, where I live now.

I’ve been singing regularly at both clubs and festivals, and have run many sessions over the years, especially at Sidmouth Festival. My main interest is unaccompanied traditional song, although I sing a good number of contemporary pieces, including the occasional self-penned one. In particular, I love traditional ballads and lyrical songs. During lockdown, I’ve ‘travelled’ widely, including visiting festivals in the US as well as many British clubs and festivals.

Introduced by Gwilym Davies

There are many songs in the English tradition praising the virtues of farming life, such as “All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough,” “Jim the Carter’s Lad,” and the song presented here. It is particularly popular in the English South and Midlands, where sheep farming was dominant. It is no older than the 19th century in this form, but is based on an older song praising sailing life.

Richard Chidlaw learned this version from singer William Chappell in Tresham, Gloucestershire, hence the reference to Tresham Hill. Other versions place the action elsewhere. Gwilym Davies recorded Richard singing it in on October 4, 2003 in Dursley, Gloucestershire. You still hear the song fairly regularly in local sing arounds.

Just out of interest, here is a different version of it, collected by Sharp in Gloucestershire and sung by Jon Doran, who is making a name for himself on the circuit. I hope you enjoy it.

"We Shepherds Are the Best of Men" sheet music
Download a PDF of the sheet music for “We Shepherds Are the Best of Men.”

Lyrics

1. We shepherds be the best of men that e’er trod English ground,
When we come to an alehouse, we value not a crown
We spends our money freely and pays before we go
With no ale in the vale where the cold wintry winds do blow.
(Repeat last two lines)

2. A man that is a shepherd doth need a valiant heart,
He must not be faint-hearted but boldly do his part,
He must not be faint-hearted be it rain or frost or snow,
With no ale in the vale where the cold wintry winds do blow.
(Repeat last two lines)

3. When I kept sheep on Tresham Hill it made me heart to ache
To see the ewes hang out their tongues and hear the lambs to bleat,
Then I set out with courage and o’er the hills did go
And penned them there in the fold while the cold wintry winds do blow.
(Repeat last two lines)

4. As soon as I had penned them there I turned me back in haste
Unto some jovial company some liquor for to taste,
For drink and jovial company they are me heart’s delight
While me sheep lie asleep all the forepart of the night.
(Repeat last two lines)

Gwilym Davies hails from southern England but also has Welsh ancestry. He is an experienced singer of traditional songs, both accompanied and unaccompanied. For more than 40 years, he has been tracking down and recording traditional singers, and more than half his repertoire is based on songs from those singers. He has learned a large number of songs first-hand from the English Traveller community. He is a tireless researcher of folk song and has given many presentations on the subject. He recently had a book published, Catch it, Bottle it and Paint it Green, which recounts some of his experiences of meeting and recording source singers on both sides of the Atlantic.