Week 151 – Fathom the Bowl

I learned this from The Watersons’  1966 LP The Watersons. A.L.Lloyd’s sleevenotes to the album mention “the collection of English songs made by William Alexander Barrett and published in 1891” without specifically saying that’s where the Watersons got their version from. But actually, thanks to the Internet Archive, we can see that what they sing is very close to what Barrett printed in his English Folk Songs.

The versions collected from oral tradition all seem to come from Southern England, with examples from Sussex, Hampshire, Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset and Oxfordshire. Unsurprisingly, numerous printed versions can be found via the Full English or Ballads Online.

The punch ladle - late nineteenth century broadside from the Bodleian collection.

The punch ladle – late nineteenth century broadside from the Bodleian collection.

I have heard Jackie Oates sing one of the versions in Sabine Baring-Gould’s collection, which seemed to be less bumptious and rather more reflective. I couldn’t be sure if those qualities were inherent in the song itself, or just the way she sang it; either way, it was very pleasant to hear.

Fathom the Bowl

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