I first heard this about 35 years ago, on the LP Songs of Seduction in the Topic / Caedmon series The Folk Songs of Britain, where it is sung in a beautifully easy, lyrical style by Belfast tinker Jimmy Gilhaney (although the song was in fact recorded by Peter Kennedy in 1955, not in Belfast but in the Orkney Isles). When I bought the expanded CD reissue of Songs of Seduction, I was really struck by Gilhaney’s performance of this song, and wondered why I hadn’t ever thought of learning it. That omission was soon rectified.
Initially I planned to incorporate additional verses, either from a broadside or from the somewhat fuller version collected in Suffolk from Jumbo Brightwell. But I soon decided that Jimmy Gilhaney’s five verses stood perfectly well on their own.
It occurs to me that now Topic own the rights to the Kennedy archive, they have the makings of a really good addition to the Voice of the People series, in the shape of Kennedy’s recordings of Irish travellers – Jimmy Gilhaney, Mary Doran, Lal Smith, Thomas Moran et al.
Blow the candle out