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:”
(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.