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52 Folk Songs: Indigo

by Phil Edwards

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That which is marred at birth Time shall not mend, Nor water out of bitter well make clean; All evil thing returneth at the end, Or elseway walketh in our blood unseen. Whereby the more is sorrow in certaine: Dayspring mishandled cometh not againe. To-bruized be that slender, sterting spray Out of the oake's rind that should betide A branch of girt and goodliness, straightway Her spring is turned on herself and wried And knotted like some gall or veiny wen: Dayspring mishandled cometh not againe. Noontide repayeth never morning-bliss Since noon to morn is incomparable; And, so it be our dawning goeth amiss, None other after-hour shall serve as well. Ah! Jesu-Moder, pitie my oe paine: Dayspring mishandled cometh not againe!
The King has written a letter so long And sealed it all in gold, And he has sent it to Lord Allenwater To read it if he could. The first two lines Lord Allenwater read They struck him with surprise, But the last two lines Lord Allenwater read Made tears fall from his eyes. He called out to his stable boy, "Saddle me well my steed, For to London I must go Of me there was never more need." His wife, she heard what he had said As she in child bed lay, She said, "Make your will now, Lord Allenwater, “Lest you should go astray.” “I'll leave unto my only son My houses and my land; And here is to my dear wedded wife Forty thousand pounds in hand.” He went out to his stable yard, He mounted his milk-white steed; Then the gay gold ring from his fingers burst, And his nose began to bleed. And as he was riding along the road His horse caught against a stone. “Here's signs and tokens," said Lord Allenwater, "That I shall never return.” And when he came to fair London town He rode up to Westminster Hall There the lords and the ladies, they stood looking hard, And a traitor he was called. “No traitor am I,” said Lord Allenwater, “Indeed I am no such thing, Faithfully, faithfully have I fought For James, our lawful King.” Then up spoke a grey-headed man, A broad axe in his hand, Saying, “Hold your tongue now, Lord Allenwater, Your life is at my command.” “My life, I do not value it at all, I give it unto thee, And the black velvet coat that I wear on my back, You can take that for your fee. "In one pocket you will find forty pounds Pray give it unto the poor, In the other one you'll find forty-five, Give that from door to door. "And all of you lords and you fair ladies too That stand here to see me die: I bid you lords of fair London town, Be kind to my lady." He laid his head all on the block, His eyes with weeping were sore, He laid his head on the fatal block And word he never spoke more.
Farewell to pleasant Dilston Hall, My father's ancient seat, A stranger now must call thee his, Which gars my heart to greet. Farewell each friendly well-known face. My heart has held so dear; My tenants now must leave their lands, Or hold their lives in fear. And fare thee well, George Collingwood, Since fate has put us down, If thou and I have lost our lives Or King has lost his crown. Farewell, farewell, my lady dear, O, ill thou counsell'dst me; I never more may see the babe That smiles upon your knee. And fare thee well, my bonny gray steed, That bore me aye so free; I wish I had been in my bed When last I mounted thee. The warning bell now bids me cease, My trouble's nearly o'er, The sun that rises from the sea Shall rise on me no more. And when the head that wears a crown Shall be laid low like mine, Some honest heart may then lament For Radcliffe's fallen line. Farewell to pleasant Dilston Hall, My father's ancient seat, A stranger now must call thee his, Which gars my heart to greet.
Danny Deever 03:48
"What are the bugles blowin' for? " said Files-on-Parade. "To turn you out, to turn you out," the Colour-Sergeant said. "What makes you look so white, so white? " said Files-on-Parade. "I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch," the Colour-Sergeant said. For they're hangin' Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play The regiment's in 'ollow square - they're hangin' him to-day; They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away, An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'. "What makes the rear-rank breathe so 'ard? " said Files-on-Parade. "It's bitter cold, it's bitter cold," the Colour-Sergeant said. "What makes that front-rank man fall down? " said Files-on-Parade. "A touch o' sun, a touch o' sun," the Colour-Sergeant said. They are hangin' Danny Deever, they are marchin' of 'im round, They 'ave 'alted Danny Deever by 'is coffin on the ground; An' e'll swing in 'arf a minute for a sneakin' shootin' hound 0 they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'! " 'Is cot was right-'and cot to mine," said Files-on-Parade. " 'E's sleepin' out an' far to-night," the Colour-Sergeant said. "I've drunk 'is beer a score o' times," said Files-on-Parade. " 'E's drinkin' bitter beer alone," the Colour-Sergeant said. They are hangin' Danny Deever, you must mark 'im to 'is place, For 'e shot a comrade sleepin' - you must look 'im in the face; Nine 'undred of 'is county an' the Regiment's disgrace, While they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'. "What's that so black agin the sun? " said Files-on-Parade. "It's Danny fightin' 'ard for life," the Colour-Sergeant said. "What's that that whimpers over'ead? " said Files-on-Parade. "It's Danny's soul that's passin' now," the Colour-Sergeant said. For they're done with Danny Deever, you can 'ear the quickstep play The regiment's in column, an' they're marchin' us away; Ho! the young recruits are shakin', an' they'll want their beer to-day, After hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
The Earl of Hume to the hunt has gone Hunting of the fallow deer And he has taken Hughie the Graeme For stealing of the Bishop's mear. Tay ammarey, O the linden derry Tay ammarey, O the linden dee. They have taken Hughie the Grame Taken him into Carlisle town, Fifteen of them cried out at once, "O Hughie the Graeme, you must go down!" Then up and spoke the Lady Black, And a sorry woman was she "I'll give a hundred milk-white steeds If Hughie the Graeme today goes free." "Hold your tongue now, Lady Black All your pleading, let it be! There was ne'er a Graeme before this court That all your pleading could set free." Then up spoke the Lady Hume And of her will she was right free, "I'll give one thousand pounds in gold If Hughie the Grame is freed to me." "Hold your tongue now, Lady Hume All your pleading, set it by Though you should give me thousands ten It's for my honour he shall die." They've taken him to the gallows knoll, He's looked all on the gallows high, Yet ne'er did colour leave his cheek, Nor ever a tear fall from his eye. Hughie the Graeme, he's looked all round, All to see what he could see, And he saw his father standing by, Weeping for him piteously. "Hold your tongue, my father dear All your grieving, let it be! Though they bereave me of my life They cannot take the heavens from me. "Give my brother James the sword That's pointed with the metal brown And bid him come at eight in the morn To see his own brother being cut down. "Give my brother John the sword That's pointed with the metal clear, And bid him come at eight in the morn To see me pay the Bishop's mare. "Give this word to Maggie my wife Next time you go o'er the moor Tell her she stole the Bishop's mare Tell her she was the Bishop's whore. "And you may tell my kith and kin I never did disgrace my blood And when they meet the Bishop's cloak Leave it shorter by the hood."
Serenity 00:46
Take my love, take my land Take me where I cannot stand I don't care, I'm still free You can't take the sky from me Take me out to the black Tell me I'm not coming back Burn the land, boil the sea You can't take the sky from me There's no place I can be Since I found Serenity You can't take the sky from me
It was over that wild beaten track 'twas said a friend of Bonaparte's Did pace the sands and the lofty rocks of St Helena's shore, And the wind it blew a hurricane, the lightning all around did dart, The seagulls were a-shrieking and the waves around did roar. Ah hush, rude winds, the stranger cried, while I range the spot Where last our noble hero did his weary eyelids close. And though at peace his limbs do rest, his name shall never be forgot. This grand conversation on Napoleon arose. Oh alas, he cried, why England did you persecute that hero bold? Far better had you slain him on the plains of Waterloo. For Napoleon he was a friend to heroes all, both young and old, He caused the money for to fly wherever he did go. When plans were forming night and day, the bold commander to betray, He said, I'll go to Moscow and there I'll ease my woes. And if fortune smile on me that day, then all the world shall me obey, This grand conversation on Napoleon arose. So his men in thousands did arise to conquer Moscow by surprise, He led his men across the Alps oppressed by frost and snow, And being near the Russian land, he then began to open his eyes, For Moscow was a-blazing and the men drove to and fro. Napoleon dauntless viewed the plain and then in anguish at the same, He cried, "Retreat, my gallant men, for time so swiftly goes!" Ah what thousands died in that retreat, some forced their horses for to eat. This grand conversation on Napoleon arose. Now at Waterloo they bravely fought, commanded by this Bonaparte, Field Marshall Ney did him betray, for he was bribed by gold. And when Blucher led the Prussians, it nearly broke Napoleon's heart. He cried, "My thirty thousand men are lost, and I am sold!" He viewed the plain and cried, "All's lost," and then his favourite charger crossed, The plain was in confusion with blood and dying woes. And the bunch of roses did advance and boldly entered into France. This grand conversation on Napoleon arose. Now this Bonaparte was sent to be a prisoner across the sea, The rocks of St Helena, oh, they were his final spot. And as a prisoner there to be till death did end his misery. His son soon followed after him: it was an awful blot. And long enough have they been dead, the blast of war around has spread, And may our shipping float again to face the daring foes. And now my boys when honour calls we'll boldly mount those wooden walls. This grand conversation on Napoleon arose.
As I roved out one fine summer's morning Down by the shady banks of a clear purling stream I spied a fair maiden making sad lamentation I drew myself in ambush to hear her sad strain Through the woods she marched alone, caused the valleys to ring oh The fine feathered songsters around her they flew Saying, "War it is all over and peace is restored again But my Willie's not returning from the plains of Waterloo." Well, I stepped up to this fair maid and said, "My fond creature Pray, may I make so bold as to ask your true love's name? For it's I have been in battle where the cannons loud did rattle And by some strange fortune I might have known the same." "Willie Smith's my true love's name, he's a hero of great fame, He's gone and left me in sorrow 'tis true. No one shall me enjoy but my own darling boy, But still he's not returning from the plains of Waterloo." "If Willie Smith's your true love's name, he's a hero of great fame He and I have been in battle through many's the long campaign, Through Italy and Russia, through Germany and Prussia He was my loyal comrade through France and through Spain Until oh, at length by the French we were surrounded And like heroes of old we did them subdue We fought for three days until we defeated him That bold Napoleon Boney on the plains of Waterloo." "Now the eighteenth of June it has ended the battle Leaving many's the gallant hero to sigh and complain The war drums they did beat and the cannons loud did rattle, It was by a French soldier your Willie he was slain And as I passed by him where he lay bleeding I barely had time for to bid him adieu In a faltering voice, these words he was repeating: 'Fare thee well, my lovely Annie, you are far from Waterloo.'" Now when this fair maid heard this sad declaration Her two rosy cheeks turned to pale and to wan And when I saw this fair maid in sad lamentation I said, "My lovely Annie, why I am that very one. And here is the ring that was broken between us In the midst of all danger, love, to remind me of you." And when she saw the token she fell into my arms, crying "You are welcome, dearest Willie, from the plains of Waterloo."
By the margin of the ocean, One pleasant evening in the month of June, All the feathered songsters Their notes did sweetly tune. 'Twas there I spied a woman Seemingly in grief and woe, Conversing with young Napoleon Concerning the bonny bunch of roses-O And then up and spoke the young Napoleon And he took hold of his mother's hand, “Oh mother dear, be patient And soon I will take command. I'll raise a terrible army And through great dangers go. And in spite of all of the universe I'll conquer the bonny bunch of roses-O.” “O when first you saw the Great Napoleon, You fell down on your bended knee. You asked your father's life of him He's granted it most manfully. 'Twas then he took an army And through the frozen realms did go; He said, “I'll conquer Moscow And return for the bonny bunch of roses-O.” “And so he's took three hundred thousand fighting men And kings likewise for to join his throng. He was as well provided for Enough to sweep the whole world alone. But when he came to Moscow All o'erpowered by driving snow And Moscow was a-blazing, Then he lost his bonny bunch of roses-O.“ “Oh my son, don't you speak so venturesome, For England she has a heart of oak, And England, Ireland and Scotland, Their unity has never been broke. And son, think on your father On St Helena, he lies so low, And you will follow after, If you covet the bonny bunch of roses-O.” “It's adieu to my mother forever, For I am on my dying bed. Had I lived I might have been clever, But now I bow my youthful head. But when our bodies moulder And weeping willows over us do grow, The deeds of brave Napoleon Shall sting the bonny bunch of roses-O.”
Attend, ye sons of high renown To these few words which I pen down: I was born to wear a stately crown And to rule a wealthy nation. I am the man that beat Beaulieu, And Wurmer's will did then subdue; That great Archduke I overthrew, On every plain my men were slain. Grand traverse, too, I did obtain And I got capitulation. We chased them o'er the Egyptian shore Where the Algerians lay all in their gore. The rights of France for to restore That had long been confiscated. We chased them all through mud and mire Till in despair my men did retire, And Moscow town was set on fire. My men were lost 'mid sleet and frost; I never did take such a blast Since the hour I was created. To Leipzig Town my soldiers fled, Mount Mark was strewn with the Prussian dead. We marched them forth in inveterate streams For to stop a bold invasion. So faretheewell, my royal whore, And offspring great whom I adore, And may you reinstate that throne That's torn away this very day. These kings of me have made their prey And that's caused my lamentation.
"How far is St. Helena from a little child at play?" What makes you want to wander there with all the world between? Mother, call your son again or else he'll run away. (No one thinks of winter when the grass is green!) "How far is St. Helena from a fight in Paris street?" I haven't time to answer now – the men are falling fast. The guns begin to thunder and the drums begin to beat. (If you take the first step, you will take the last!) "How far is St. Helena from the field of Austerlitz?" You couldn't hear me if I told – so loud the cannons roar. But not so far for people who are living by their wits. ("Gay go up" means "Gay go down" the wide world o'er!) "How far is St. Helena from the Emperor of France." I cannot see – I cannot tell – the Crowns they dazzle so. The Kings sit down to banquet and the Queens stand up to dance. (After open weather you may look for snow!) "How far is St. Helena from the Capes of Trafalgar?" A longish way – a longish way, with ten years more to run. It's South across the water underneath a setting star. (What you cannot finish you must leave undone!) "How fair is St. Helena from the Beresina ice?" An ill way – a chill way – the ice begins to crack. But not so far for gentlemen who never took advice. (If you can't go forward you must e'en go back!) "How far is St. Helena from the plains of Waterloo?" A near way – a clear way – the ship will take you soon. A pleasant place for gentlemen with little left to do. (Morning never tries you till the afternoon!) "How far from St. Helena to the gates of Heaven's grace?" That no one knows – that no one knows and no one ever will. So fold your hands across your heart and cover up your face, And after all your traipsings, child, lie still!
On the twenty-first of October, before the rising sun, We formed the line for action me boys, and at twelve o'clock begun Brave Nelson to his men did say: "The Lord will prosper us this day. Give then the broadside, fire away". On board a man of war. So broadside to broadside our cannon balls did fly Like hailstones their small shot all round our deck did lie Our mast and rigging they were shot away Beside some thousand on that day Were killed and wounded in the fray On board a man of war. But then our brave commander in grief he shook his head: "There is no reprieve, there is no relief: great Nelson, he is dead. It was a fatal musket ball That caused our hero for to fall Let him lie in peace. God bless you all On board a man of war." Now our soldiers and sailors many noble deeds have done While fighting in foreign many battles they have won. If the Nile it could witness bear Or the Capes of Trafalgar declare There is none with Nelson could compare On board a man of war.
Byron as an embryo: Behold the unborn Byron grow. His budding brain sprouts ears and eyes. Soon he swells to twice his size. He drinks in with his mother's blood A subtle philosophic food, Distils from that good woman's sense A strong poetic influence. She calls him and he answers back From the amniotic sac. He says: "Spread the word, tomorrow morn A future poet shall be born. From my mother I shall fall Into the womb that holds us all. My life shall be a meteor That generations shall adore, For my unbuttoned liberty The unborn will remember me."
Two sisters 04:58
A lady, she lived by the Northern sea, - Bow down A lady, she lived by the Northern sea, - Bow, balance to me, A lady, she lived by the Northern sea, She had daughters one two and three. - I'll be true to my love if my love will be true to me. A young man, he came a-courting there, He made the choice of the youngest fair. He bought the youngest a beaver hat, The older sister, she didn't like that. 'Sister, oh sister, come walk with me To see the boats sail in from the sea.' As they walked down by the water's brim, The oldest, she pushed the youngest in. 'Sister, oh sister lend me your hand, And you may have my houses and land.' 'Sister, oh sister, you'll not get my hand, But I'll have your love and your houses and land.' She floated on down to the miller's dam, The miller he pulled her up onto the land. Off of her hand he took five gold rings, Then into the water he plunged her again.
'Twas early one morning in the month May - Oh the wind and the rain Two lovers went walking on a hot summer's day - Crying in the dreadful wind and rain He said, 'My dear, will you marry me? And my sweet wife you will always be.' But she said, 'O no, that can never be For you are much too poor for the support of me.' So he spun her around and he struck her to the ground Threw her in deep water and he left her to drown She floated on down to the miller's mill-pond (repeat) And the miller fished her out with a long fishing-line (repeat) He's made fiddle-strings out of her long yellow hair He's made fiddle-pegs out of her long finger-bones But the only tune that fiddle could play Was Oh the wind and the rain The only tune that fiddle could play Was Crying in the dreadful wind and rain.
Percy's song 05:59
Bad news, bad news come to me where I sleep - Turn, turn, turn again 'One of your friends is in trouble deep' - Turn, turn to the rain and the wind O what is the trouble, tell it to my ear. 'It's Joliet prison and ninety-nine years.' What is the charge, how did this come to be? 'Manslaughter in the highest degree.' I sat down and wrote the best words I could write, Explaining to the judge I'd be there on Wednesday night. Without a reply, I left by the moon, And was in his chambers by the next afternoon. O what are the facts? I asked without fear, That a friend of mine would get ninety-nine years. 'A crash on the highway flew a car to a field. There was four persons killed and your friend was at the wheel. But I know that man like I know myself, And he wouldn't harm a life that belonged to someone else. The judge then he spoke out of the side of his mouth, Sayin', 'The witness who saw, he left little doubt.' That may be true, he's got a sentence to serve, But ninety-nine years he just don't deserve. 'Too late, too late, for his case it is sealed. His sentence is passed and it can't be repealed.' But he is no criminal, his crime it is none. What happened to him could happen to anyone. Then the judge jerked forward and his face it did freeze, Sayin', 'Could you kindly leave my office now, please.' Well his face looked funny and I stood up so slow, With no other choice except for to go. I walked down the hallway and I heard his door slam, I walked down the courthouse stairs and I did not understand. And I played my guitar through the night to the day, - Turn, turn, turn again. And the only tune my guitar could play Was, "Oh the Cruel Rain And the Wind."
Sam Hall 02:52
Oh my name it is Sam Hall, chimney sweep, chimney sweep Oh my name it is Sam Hall chimney sweep Oh my name it is Sam Hall and I've robbed great and small And my neck will pay for all when I die, when I die And my neck will pay for all when I die. I have twenty cows in store, that's the truth... I have twenty cows in store and I'll rob twenty more For as the rich must pay the poor, so must I... Oh they took me to Coote Hill in a cart... Oh they took me to Coote Hill where I stopped to make my will For as the best of friends must part, so must I... I saw Molly in the crowd, that's no lie... I saw Molly in the crowd and I called her name out loud I said, Molly, ain't you proud? Damn your eyes!... Up the ladder I did grope, that's no joke... Up the ladder I did grope and the hangman pulled the rope And ne'er a word I spoke, coming down... Oh my name it is Sam Hall, chimney sweep, chimney sweep Oh my name it is Sam Hall chimney sweep Oh my name it is Sam Hall and I've robbed great and small And my neck will pay for all when I die, when I die And my neck will pay for all when I die.
Young Waters 04:24
About the Yule, when the wind blew cool, And the round tables began, Then there is come to our king’s court Many's the well-favoured man. The queen looked over the castle-wall, And beheld both dale and down, And then she saw Young Waters Come riding into town. His footmen they ran on before, His horsemen rode behind; A mantle of the burning gold Did keep him from the wind. Gold-harnessed was his horse before, And silver-shod behind; The horse Young Waters rode upon Was swifter than any wind. Then up spoke a wily lord, And to the queen did say ‘Pray tell me who’s the fairest face Rides in the company?’ ‘I’ve seen lords and I’ve seen lairds And knights of all degree, But Young Waters, he has the fairest face That ever my two eyes did see.' Then up spoke the jealous king, And an angry man was he: ‘O if he had been twice as fair, You might have excepted me.’ 'You’re neither lord nor laird,’ she says, ‘But the king that wears the crown; There is not a knight in all of Scotland But to you would bow down.’ But for all that she could do or say, He would not appeased be And for the words that the Queen had spoke Young Waters he must die. They have taken Young Waters out And put fetters on his feet They have taken Young Waters out And thrown him in a dungeon deep. 'Oft have I ridden through Stirling town In the wind both and the wet But I never rode through Stirling town With fetters on my feet. Oft have I ridden through Stirling town In the wind both and the rain But I never rode through Stirling town Never to return again.' They have taken to the heading hill His horse both and his saddle They have taken to the heading hill His young son in his cradle They have taken to the heading hill His lady fair to see. All for the words that the Queen had spoke Young Waters, he must die.


The 'Indigo' album is now available for download. As well as lyrics and comments on the songs, the album includes two extra 'hidden' tracks, "The House of the Rising Sun" parts 1 and 2. (Part 1: with thanks to Dave Van Ronk. Part 2: with thanks to John Otway.)

52 Folk Songs is at www.52folksongs.com.


released November 1, 2011

Phil Edwards: vocals, D and G whistles, flute, recorder, Bontempi reed organ, melodica, B/C melodeon, drumming, programming, sound recording and processing.




Phil Edwards Manchester, UK

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