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52 Folk Songs: Yellow

by Phil Edwards

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    Includes album-only bonus tracks The crow on the cradle (Sydney Carter) and Whitsun Dance (Austin John Marshall), as well as PDF file containing full lyrics, notes and artwork.
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Son Davie 03:19
"What's that blood on your shirt sleeve? Son, come tell to me." "It is the blood of my old hawk And the truth I've told to thee." "The blood of a hawk was never so red. Son, come tell to me." "It is the blood of my greyhound, She would not hunt for me." "A greyhound's blood was never so red. Son, come tell to me." "It is the blood of my youngest brother We two could not agree." "What were you two quarrelling about? Son, come tell to me." "It was all about a little willow wand That never would have made a tree." "What will you do when your father comes to know? Son, come tell to me." "I'll set my foot in a little sailing boat And I'll sail beyond the sea." "What will you leave for your own poor wife? Son, come tell to me." "Grief and sorrow all her life, She'll get no more from me." "What will you leave for your own bonny babe? Son, come tell to me." "I'll leave him the wide world to wander up and down, He'll get no more from me." "When will you return again? Son, come tell to me." "When the sun and the moon dance in yonder tree, And that will never be."
Two pretty boys were going to school, Going to the very same school Then one to the other said "O can you throw a stone?" "Well, I can either throw a stone Or a little play at the maul But if you come with me to the merry green woods I will try you a wrestle and fall." So they went down to the merry green woods, To try a wrestle and fall. Then big brother John took his little penknife And stabbed William to the ground. "Do you take off my white linen shirt And tear it from gore to gore And wrap it round my bloody wound That the blood may flow no more." He took off his white linen shirt And he tore it from gore to gore And wrapped it round the bloody wound But the blood came ten times more. "What will I tell your father dear Tonight when I go home?" "Tell him I'm away to a London school And a good boy I'll return." "What will I tell your step-mother Tonight when I go home?" "Tell her the last prayer she prayed for me Was that I would never return."
Come all you wild young men And a warning take by me And see you go no more, my brave boys, Into some strange foreign country As I myself have done The very last day of May It was then that I parted from all my friends For I could no longer stay From Portsmouth Town I went To London t'was my intent But by the press masters I was pressed And to the sea I was sent We sailed all that long night And part of the very next day And the first ship we spied was a French man o' war And at length we were forced to draw nigh We bore her head upright And our bloody flag we let fly And then every man he was prepared But the Lord knows who should die Our captain was wounded full sore With seventy more of our men Our yards and mast and rigging they were all shot away And at length we were forced to give in Our decks were all covered with blood And so loudly the great guns they did roar And many is the thousand times I've wished myself on land All along with my Polly on the shore She's a tall and a slender girl With a black and a rolling eye And here I lie a-bleeding on the deck And it's all for her safety I shall die
The Dolphin 02:58
Our ship she lay in harbour In Liverpool Dock she lay Awaiting for fresh orders And our anchor for to weigh Bound down for the coast of Africa Our orders did run so O we're going to sink and destroy, me boys, No matter where we go. Well, we had not been sailing Scarce fifty leagues and more When we espied a tall lofty ship Come down on us she bore O she hailed us in French colours And she asked us from whence we came O we've just come down from Liverpool town And the Dolphin is our name. "Are you a man of war, sir? Pray tell me what you be." "I am no man of war, sir, But a pirate ship you see, Come heave up your fore and your main yards And let your ship come to For our tackle's overhauled and our boats are all lowered, Or else we will sink you." Our captain stood on the quarterdeck He was brave and fearless too. "It's three to one against us," he cried All to our jovial crew And if it had been my younger brother This battle would still have been tried, Let every man stand true to his guns And we'll give to them a broadside. Now broadside to broadside, Which caused us all to wonder For to see them lofty tall ship's masts Come rattling down like thunder We shot them from our quarterdeck Until they could no longer stay Our guns being smart and we played the best part And we showed them Liverpool play. Now that lofty tall ship was taken And in Liverpool Dock was moored We fired shots with our own sweethearts And them fancy girls on shore We lowered down the French colours And we hoisted the red, white and blue Now let's drink success to the Dolphin And all her jovial crew.
As we were out sailing five cold frosty nights, Five cold frosty nights and four days, That's when we did spy a lofty tall ship, She come bearing down on us, brave boys. “Oh where are you going, you lofty tall ship? What makes you to venture so nigh?" "I am a rich merchant for fair England bound So I pray you allow me to pass by." "Oh no, oh no," cried Henry Martin, "Such a thing it never can be, For I am turned robbing all on the salt sea To maintain my two brothers and me.” “Then haul in your courses and let go your main sheets And bring yourself under my lee. And I will take from you your rich merchant's goods, And I'll point your bow guns to the sea.” “We'll not heave up my courses nor let go our main sheets Nor let her come under your lee. Nor you will take from me my rich merchant's goods, Nor you'll point my bow guns to the sea.” So broadside and broadside these vessels they went, They were fighting four hours or more. Till Henry Martin gave that ship the death shot And she sank and she never rose more. Bad news, Henry Martin, bad news I do say Bad news it is coming to town. Of a lofty tall ship and she's cast away And the whole of her merry men drowned.
Now the queen she wants sailors to sail on the sea Which made pretty Polly stood up for to plead, Sayin', “William, dearest William, don't you go off so sea; Please remember the vows that you made unto me.” But 'twas early next morning before it was day When he went to his Polly, these words he did say, Sayin', “Oh Polly, pretty Polly, you must come 'long with me, Before we are married my friends for to see.” So he led her through groves and through valleys so deep Which made pretty Polly to sigh and to weep, Sayin', “William, dearest William, you have led me astray On purpose my innocent life to betray.” “Oh yes, dearest Polly, 'tis true all you've said, For all this long night I've been digging your grave.” And the grave it being open and the spade standing by, Which made pretty Polly to weep and to cry. “Oh pardon, dear William, my innocent life. And I'll never regret for to be your dear wife. I'll travel old England over all to set you free, Please remember the vows that you made unto me.” “But no pardon, no pardon, no pardon I'll give.” And with that he drew out a long daggered knife. He stabbed her to the heart and the blood did down flow, And into a grave her fair body did throw. Now be buried her securely in Upwall quite sound He's not thinking the body would ever be found. Then he went on board for a sailor to go, Not thinking this murder would ever o'erthrow. But 'twas early one morning before it was day Then our captain came up and these words he did say, “Our ship she is in mourning and cannot sail on, There's a murder on board what has lately been done.” Then up jumped one sailor, “And indeed, that's not me”, Then up jumped another and likewise said he, Then up jumped bold William to sigh and to swear, Saying, “Indeed, that's not me, sir, I'll vow and declare.” Then he hastened to the forecastle with speed There he met pretty Polly which made his heart bleed. She ripped him, and she stripped him, and she tore him in three, Because he had murdered her baby and she.
William Taylor was a brisk young sailor He who courted a lady fair Bells were ringing, sailors were singing As to church they did repair. Thirty couples at the wedding; All were dress'd in rich array; But instead of being married He was press'd and sent away. She dress'd up in man's apparel Man's apparel she put on And she follow'd her true lover; For to find him she is gone. Then the Captain stepp'd up to her Asking her: What's brought you here? I am come to seek my true love Whom I lately loved so dear. If you've come to see your true love, Tell me what his name may be O, his name is William Taylor From the Irish ranks came he. You rise early tomorrow morning You rise at the break of day; There you'll see your true love William Walking with a lady gay. She rose early the very next morning; She rose up at break of day; There she saw her true love William Walking with a lady gay. Sword and pistol she then order'd To be brought at her command; And she shot her true love William With the bride on his right hand. If young folks in Wells or London Were served the same as she served he, Then young girls would all be undone Very scarce young men would be.
Lowlands 04:06
I dreamed a dream the other night - Lowlands, lowlands away, my John Dreamed a dream the other night - Lowlands away I dreamed I saw my own true love, He stood so still, he did not move, So pale his skin, so dim his eye, I knew he'd come to say goodbye. He stood so pale and damp and cold Around his form green weeds had hold. 'I'm drowned in the Lowland Seas,' he said, 'You and I will ne'er be wed.' 'I'll never kiss you more,' he said, 'Ne'er kiss you more, for I am dead.' I'll cut away my bonnie hair, No other man will think me fair. I'll bind the weeper round my head, That all will know my love is dead. My love is lost in the misty Lowlands, - Lowlands, lowlands away, my John My love is lost in the misty Lowlands. - Lowlands away
Now I came home downcast that day The bearer of bad news She smiled at me as I came in As I stood there in my muddy shoes I loved her so my poor heart cracked To tell her what I told, Her smile froze, her mouth went slack And my grief oppressed me doublefold I said “I’m not the master of my fate As I would wish to be I’m leaving now and I can’t be late They ship out tonight and they’re taking me “Our mission’s still a mystery I’m just one of many men Who must leave their homes and their families And might not pass this way again.” “Then I will join your company I’m not afraid nor weak, I'll bind my breasts and crop my hair And I’ll speak low just like a boy would speak.” “You cannot come with me, my love They don't take volunteers But there’s one thing I'll promise you Though I may be gone for many years “No shirt shall ever touch my back Nor comb go through my hair But I’ll think about the bed you’re in And wish that I was lying with you there.”
“Oh Polly, dearest Polly, the rout it has begun, And I must go a-marching to the beating of the drum. Come dress yourself all in your best and come along with me; I'll take you to the war, my love, in High Germanie.” “Oh Willy, dearest Willy, come list what I do say, My feet they are so tender, love, I cannot march away. Besides, my dearest Willy, I am with child by thee, Not fitted for the war, my love, in High Germanie.” “I'll buy Polly a pony, and on it you shall ride And all my delight shall be a-riding by your side. We'll stop at every alehouse and drink when we are dry, We'll be true to one another, and get married by and by. "And when we get to Plymouth town, I'll make for youa bed, It shall be covered in roses and the roses shall be red. And when your babe is born, my love, and smiling on your knee, Then you'll think about your own true love in High Germanie." Oh, cursed be the cruel wars that ever they should rise And out of Merry England press many a man likewise. They took my true love from me, likewise my brethren three, And they sent them to the cruel wars in High Germanie. My friends I do not value nor my foes I do not fear, Now my love has left me I do wander far and near. And when my babe is born and sits a-smiling on my knee Then I'll think about my own true love in High Germanie.
Oh, the weary cutters and oh, the weary sea, Oh, the weary cutters have stolen my laddie from me. They've pressed him far away foreign With Nelson beyond the salt sea. Oh, the lousy cutters and oh, the weary sea, Oh, the lousy cutters have taken my laddie from me. They always come in the night, They never come in the day, They come at night and steal the laddies away. Oh, the weary cutters and oh, the weary sea, Oh, the weary cutters have taken my laddie from me. I'll give the cutter a guinea, I'll give the cutter no more, I'll give him a guinea to steal my laddie ashore.
In the meadow one morning when pearly in dew A fair pretty maiden plucked violets blue. She sang as she walked, made the woods all to ring: "O my love is in Flanders to fight for the king, And I would that the wars were well over I would that the wars were all done." "I'll pluck the red robin so jaunty and gay; I have my Robin, but he's far away. His jacket is red - and his cheeks like the rose; He sings of his love as to battle he goes. And I would that the wars were well over I would that the wars were all done." "Now thousands of bluebells do welcome the spring; O when will the church bells for victory ring? Then the men will come home and all England rejoice And then I'll be wed to the lad of my choice. And I would that the wars were well over I would that the wars were all done."
It's of a comely young lady fair Was walking out for to take the air. She met a sailor all on her way; So I paid attention to hear what they did say. Said William, “Why do you walk alone, For the day is done and the night is come?” Said she as tears from her eyes did fall, “'Tis the dark-eyed sailor has provèd my downfall.” “It's seven long years since he's left the land When he took the gold ring from off his hand. He broke the token in half with me, Now the other's rolling at the bottom of the sea.” Said William, “Chase him from your mind, Far better sailors than him you'll find. Love turns aside and soon cold has grown Like a winter's morning when the land is white with snow.” These words did Phoebe's fond heart inflame, She said, “On me you shall play no game.” She drew a dagger and then did cry, “For my dark-eyed sailor a maid I'll live and die.” "O his coal-black eyes and his curly hair, His 'mazing tongue did my heart ensnare. Upright he was, not a rogue like you To entice a maiden to slight the jacket blue.” So William then did the token show, She seemed distracted midst joy and woe. “Welcome William, for I've land and gold And a store of silver For my dark-eyed sailor so manly true and bold.”
One morn for recreation I walked by the seaside, Oh the sun was a gently rising bedecked in his pride, I beheld a lovely fair maid standing by her cottage door, Oh her cheeks were like roses, was sweet Jenny of the moor. I said, “My pretty fair maid, why so early do you rise?” “To take the sweet air whilst the lark soars in the sky. And it's here I love to wander where the breakers do roar, A-gathering of seaweed,” said sweet Jenny of the moor. So we both sat down together by some pleasant shady side, I said, “With your consent I will make you my bride, For of wealth I have plenty brought from a foreign shore, I'd be proud to win the heart of sweet Jenny of the moor.” “I've a true love of my own, though long he's been from me, It is true I'll be to him while he is on the sea, For his vows were fondly spoken as he parted from my door, And I'll wait till his return,” said sweet Jenny of the moor. “If your true love was a sailor pray tell to me his name.” “Oh his name was Dennis Riley and from Newry town he came. And with laurels I'll entwine him when he returns to shore And we'll join our hands in wedlock,” said sweet Jenny of the moor. “If Dennis was your true love I knew him right well, Whilst fighting in battle by an angry ball he fell; So behold your true love's token, which upon his hand he wore.” And she fell into my arms, did sweet Jenny of the moor. “Oh since you've proved so faithful, my true love,” I cried, “Now behold it is your Dennis, he is standing at your side. So come let us be united and live happy on the shore, And the bells shall ring merry and I'll go to sea no more.”


Seventeen songs about conscription, warfare and senseless violence. Includes album-only bonus tracks The Crow on the Cradle and Whitsun Dance (a.k.a. Dancing at Whitsun).


released April 22, 2012

Phil Edwards: vocals, English concertina, melodica, zither, drums, recorder, D and C whistles, flute (on Whitsun Dance)




Phil Edwards Manchester, UK

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