Week 157 – Old John Braddalum / Leaning on a Lamp-post

Well here we go, Year 4 of the blog starts here… with two songs which are completely unrelated, except for the fact that I sing them both in C, with anglo-concertina accompaniment.

I believe ‘Old John Braddalum’ comes from the Sussex singer Bob Blake, although I never heard him singing it. I learned it from my friend Adrian Russell, who got to see Bob Blake, Bob Lewis, George Spicer and quite a number of Sussex singers at festivals and other events in the seventies, just slightly before I was interested in folk, or had the means to get to such happenings. At my request, Adrian sent me the words of the song so I could learn it to sing it to my eldest child Joe, when he was first born. I used to sing it to him unaccompanied, but very soon worked out an anglo accompaniment. It’s one of several accompaniments that I play on the C/G anglo where I contrive to insert an Eb chord, whether the song needs it or not.

The Roud Index lists Bob Blake’s song as one of only five versions listed under Roud number 1857. These include one collected from Bampton morris man Francis Shergold – although his (in common, I suspect, with the other versions listed) is a counting song. It has a chorus “With a rum tum taddle um, old John Braddleum, Jolly country folks we be”, but I think that’s where the similarity ends. It strikes me that the version I sing is in fact a version of Roud 469, ‘The Foolish Boy’ / ‘The Swapping Song’, a much more frequently collected song.

In live performance I tend to follow ‘Old John Braddalum’ with George Formby’s ‘Leaning on a Lamp-post’ (written by Noel Gay), and do so here. I worked out the accompaniment about thirty years ago, from the printed sheet music. As I had no idea at the time what sus and dim chords were, I worked them out from the ukulele tabs – once I’d discovered how a ukulele was tuned! I no longer have a copy of the sheet music, so I’ve no idea how far the chords I play now have strayed from the original. I do know, having actually heard George Formby singing it all the way through, that while I may have got the chords right, I’ve got the timing and the rhythm for the introduction completely wrong . I would say “oh well, that’s the oral tradition”, except of course I (mis)learned it from print. Still, I like it this way. Hope you do too.

Old John Braddalum / Leaning on a Lamp-post

Andy Turner – vocal, C/G anglo-concertina

http://magpielane.co.uk/andyturner/afsaw/Old_John_Braddalum-Leaning_on_a_Lamp_Post.mp3%5D

3 Comments to “Week 157 – Old John Braddalum / Leaning on a Lamp-post”

  1. I remember singing this with Adrian in the early 70s. It would have been no later than ’76 and probably ’74 or ’75 – Adrian was instrumental in getting me into traditional folk, and we used to get together in Wye to sing interesting, and occasionally rather odd songs with complex harmonies that were rather beyond my musical skills!

  2. Thought I had to leave a comment about Leaning on a Lamp-post Andy, (no mean feat on an instrument that isn’t fully chromatic !). Little did I expect to see another comment from Gary, on Old John Braddalum ! Just goes to show – you never know what’s going to happen next !

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