Posts tagged ‘drunkenness’

August 28, 2015

Week 210 – So Was I

In which our hero – against the express wishes of his wife – goes on a drunken spree with a pal, spends the night in the cells, is landed with a fine by the magistrate… and is totally unrepentant. It would be worth learning just for the classic final line. But as an added bonus you also get to sing

Old Brown said “Go and boil your head!”

which is not a line I’ve encountered in any other songs.

The song is in Roy Palmer’s A Taste of Ale, and it’s one of the pieces included on the Magpie Lane CD brought out to accompany the book.

It was written by the British stage actor and silent film star Arthur Lennard (1867-1954) published in B. Mocatta & Co’s Second Comic Annual (exact date unknown – late 19th century).

The song has been collected a couple of times in oral tradition – by Fred Hamer in Cornwall, and by Sam Steele from Charlie Giddings in Cambridgshire. In fact you can hear Charlie Giddings singing the song on the Veteran CD Heel and Toe (although I have to confess that this is one item in the Veteran catalogue I don’t own, and have never heard).

I dare say that there were actually many more country entertainers who had this in their repertoires, but it’s not the sort of thing that folk song collectors would have been interested in at one time. Certainly those of Cecil Sharp’s generation would not have given it a second thought. And while I’m glad that collectors such as Mike Yates and John Howson have taken a much more open-minded  approach to their work, I can’t say I really blame Sharp et. al. for ignoring songs like this. After all, even at the time of Sharp’s death, this song was probably no more than 25 years old. So collecting it then would have been comparable to collecting, say, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ today. In Sharp’s pre-war heyday, it might have been more analogous to a modern day collector making a field recording of that X-factor wannabe’s ballad of choice ‘You Raise Me Up’!


So Was I

December 3, 2011

Week 15 – One Cold Morning in December / The Drunkard and the Pig

December is here, and before I launch into a slew of Christmas Carols, here’s a couple of comic songs set in December, and where the narrator ends up in the gutter.

‘One Cold Morning in December’ is from my favourite traditional singer, Walter Pardon of Knapton in Norfolk. I learned it from the Topic LP A Country Life, but you can now find it on Voice of the People Volume 15: As Me and My Love Sat Courting. The song has not been collected from any other traditional singer.

I first heard ‘The Drunkard and the Pig’ sung – many years ago – by Doug Hudson of Tundra. The final line (rather like the line “Someone called out: Daddy, don’t go down the mine!” from ‘Rawtenstall Annual Fair’) stayed with me, even though I couldn’t remember the rest of the song. So I was very glad to find it included in Roy Palmer’s A Taste of Ale, and even more pleased when Magpie Lane were asked to record a CD to go with the book, so that I got the chance to record the song. Roy doesn’t print a tune, but notes that it’s to be sung to the tune of ‘The Wonderful Crocodile’. I took my recollection of ‘The Wonderful Crocodile’ and bent it a bit to fit these words. It’s very satisfying to sing; if you only have 30 seconds to spare and are desperate to burst into song, this is a good one to have in your repertoire!

One Cold Morning in December

 The Drunkard and the Pig