Here’s another song I learned from Charlie Bridger of Stone-in-Oxney in Kent. According to the Roud Index, it has not often been collected in England (as opposed to North America), but I can’t help feeling that is more a reflection on the prejudices of the early twentieth century collectors than of the song’s popularity. This seems just the sort of melodramatic little number that would have been hugely popular with country singers.
We know that the song was in the vast repertoire of Henry Burstow; more recently it has been recorded from Bob Hart and Fred Jordan. Indeed this was possibly the first song Fred Jordan ever sang in public: he sang it, aged six, in a competition held in Ludlow Town Hall, and won a prize of £1 (a considerable sum in the late 1920s). Fred learned the song, like many others in his repertoire, from his mother. You can hear Fred singing the song (as a man, not a six-year old) on the Veteran CD A Shropshire Lad.
You’ll find copies of the words on broadsides from the Bodleian’s collection, while you can see an example of the song published as sheet music on the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection site. That example was published in Brooklyn in 1864. However the song must have been published by 1860 at the latest, if we are to believe the 1860 publication date of ‘Do Not Heed Her Warning. Reply to the Gipsies Warning’. I’d like to think that song sank without trace – like most answer songs it’s not a patch on the original (the exception to this rule is of course ‘It wasn’t God who made Honky Tonk angels’).
The Gipsy’s Warning