Week 194 – As I roved out

I learned this song from… actually, do I need to finish that sentence? I think anyone of my generation will probably take it for granted that I learned it from the singing of Andy Irvine, on the Planxty album The Well Below the Valley. And they would be absolutely right.

I was introduced to Planxty by my school friend Peter Carlton, who had (and I reckon these facts were often related) an older brother, and more advanced musical tastes than me. He wouldn’t lend me his copy of the record – it was too precious – but he made me a cassette copy. And of course, I thought it was absolutely marvellous. Among much else, I rather liked the fact that there were two, completely unrelated, songs with the same title: Christy Moore’s ‘As I roved out’ was a song from the Sixteen Come Sunday family, while Andy Irvine’s – this one – is sometime referred to as ‘The Deluded Lover’, and was learned from the great Paddy Tunney. While I liked both tracks, Andy’s was definitely my favourite; and it’s fair to say I’ve always been more of a fan of Andy Irvine than Christy Moore.

I recorded an unaccompanied take of this song back in March. And thus, a week or so later, when singing some songs in the kitchen with my friend Nick Passmore (see Week 188), this was fresh in my mind, and it seemed an obvious one to try together. So here you have both versions, one unaccompanied, and one with Nick’s bouzouki.


As I roved out

Andy Turner – vocal
Nick Passmore – bouzouki


As I roved out

Andy Turner – vocal

5 Responses to “Week 194 – As I roved out”

  1. Hi!
    Any chance you got a tab or just directions what you do on the bouzouki?
    Starting out and am struggling with this song..

    Beat regards
    Tommy Eklund
    Of swedenland

    • Hi Tommy
      It’s my mate Nick on the bouzouki. Definitely won’t have tabs, and he probably won’t remember what he played either, but I can ask him.

  2. Hi, Tommy! As Andy says, I don’t really do tabs, but I’m happy to give you a few pointers. It was a while ago that we recorded this, so I’m working from memory here. Firstly my bouzouki is tuned (from lowest strings to highest) ADAD, giving an open chord of D, which is the key that Andy’s singing this song in. The pairs of strings are all tuned in unison, though some instruments have the bottom A and sometimes D tuned in octaves. Also it sounds like I’m finger-picking the bouzouki here, rather than using a plectrum as I usually do. But there’s no reason why you couldn’t use a plectrum instead, or do a Richard Thompson and use a plectrum AND your middle and ring fingers to pick.
    In the introduction I’m playing the melody, using the 2nd and 3rd strings (A and D) against a G chord made by playing G with the little finger on the 3rd string, and an A chord made by playing the 4th string open. (Melody: open 2nd string, index finger on second fret of second string TWICE, little finger on fifth fret of second string (actually ring finger on fourth fret would definitely be better!), index finger on second fret of second string, open second string, ring finger on fourth fret of third string, open third string; index finger on second fret of third string TWICE, open third string, index finger on second fret of third string.) I think I can hear a low C# at the end there, which would be little finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string, to make the chord more interesting. PHEW! Maybe work on the actual tune first and work out the intro later!
    The first chord of the actual song is E minor. I play this by making a bar chord over the the second fret of the first, second and third strings with my index finger (not plucking the fourth string at all). That’s for 2 bars: “As I roved out one”. Then it’s an open D chord, so no fingers on left hand for the first half of the bar, and then ring finger on fourth fret of third string for the second: “bright may”. Then it’s an A chord for a bar, which I make by putting my index finger on the second fret of the third string and my middle finger on the second fret of the first string. (“mo-or”). Back to open D for “ning”; but I’ve added a G and F# at the end by putting my little finger on the 5th fret of the third string and then ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string. (If you don’t like using your little finger, you can use the ring finger for both and slide it from the fifth fret onto the fourth.)
    For the next line you’re going to start with a variant on the open D chord which involves putting your middle finger on the fourth fret of the first string and your ring finger on the fifth fret of the second string: “To view.” (But you can just play it as an open chord, if you like.) The next chord is G, which I play by putting the little finger on the fifth fret of the third string (you can use the ring finger instead, if you can manage the stretch) and the index finger on the second fret of the second string “(the) fields”. Back to open D for the next part “..and the..”; but I would add the ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string to make a descending sequence. Then E minor again (index finger barred across second fret of first second and third strings) “mead-ows”. And the A chord, as above, for “green”.
    It should get a bit easier now, as you have all the chords you’re going to use!
    “Well, who should I spy (but my) is the G chord again. “Own true love-” is the A chord again. And the last phrase “-ver” is the E minor chord.
    For the “as” you could put in an F# by using the ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string, as you did above for “To view”. Then it’s the G chord for ” she sat under” and the A chord for “yon willow tree”. Again there’s the C# on the bottom string, though in a slightly different place, but it’s not essential to put that in.
    The rest of it follows that pattern, with the odd extra note here and there to add interest, and an actual MISTAKE in the penultimate verse. See if you can spot it!
    Hope that helps, and apologies for the lack of proper tablature. I’m very much a “by ear” player, and I’d say that the most important thing is to try to enhance the drama of the song in as unobtrusive a way as possible. I don’t know whether you’ll be singing this as well or just accompanying someone else, but either way knowing the lyrics well is very important, even if, like me, you’re not much of a singer; and, if you’re accompanying someone else, knowing the singer well is pretty important too!
    Good luck!

    • Damn! Thats way more then I could have wished for. That’s fantastic!
      Now I got plans for the rest of the holiday..
      Thanks a lot guys!


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