God Speed the Plough

(First verse off a mug at my grandmother's house)
(aka "the farmer's arms" the first verse is part of a song farmers in England apparently used to sing on Ploughman's Monday as a way to embarrass people who hadn't yet paid for their services... it was like trick-or-treat for farmers)
(It is also a Morris Dancing song...)

(Verses 2,3,4 by Bennett Konesni) 

Let the wealthy and great, roll in splendor and state, I envy them not I declare it
I eat my own lamb My own chickens and ham I shear my own fleece and I wear it
I have lawns I have bowers I have fruits I have flowers The lark is my early alarmer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Well I wake every morn To the dew on the corn when light hasn't quite touched the sky-o
To the lowing of cows And the grunting of sows And the mare with a glint in her eye-o
There are deals to be made, There are debts to be paid, To feed madame credit, the charmer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Well I think every day of my girl far away of the riches she'll find on her travels
of the sharp foreign smells and the barbaric yells and the fine silty loams and the gravels
But they can't be as fine As just spending some time in the field in the dusk in the summer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Well of all that I love Under heaven above these things are the best of them all-o
It's the smell of the land and the touch of your hand how it grips soft and warm close to mine-o
and your voice like a bell well it casts quite a spell an arrow to pierce through the armor
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Martin Said To His Man

Martin said to his man, fie, man, fie
Martin said to his man, who’s the fool, now
Martin said to his man, Fill thou the cup and I the can
Thou hast well drunken man, who’s the fool now

I saw the man in the moon, fie, man, fie
I saw the man in the moon, who’s the fool, now
I saw the man in the moon, I heard a banjo play in tune
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool, now

I saw the goose ring the hog, fie, man, fie
I saw the goose ring the hog, who’s the fool, now
I saw the goose ring the hog, saw the tail chase the dog
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool, now

I saw the mouse chase the cat, fie, man, fie
I saw the mouse chase the cat, who’s the fool now
I saw the mouse chase the cat, Saw the cheese eat the rat
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool now

I saw the hare chase the hound, fie, man, fie
I saw the hare chase the hound, who’s the fool, now
I saw the hare chase the hound, Twenty miles above the ground
Thou hast well drunken, mn, who’s the fool, now

I saw a flea heave a tree, fie, man, fie
I saw a flea heave a tree, who’s the fool now
I saw a flea heave a tree, twenty miles out to sea
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool now

Martin said to his man, fie, man, fie
Martin said to his man, who’s the fool, now
Martin said to his man, Fill thou the cup and I the can
Thou hast well drunken man, who’s the fool now

YWW 001 - Stewball

Hi Worksonger! Your Weekly Worksong is... Stewball

"Stewball was an irish racehorse who fame has survived on both sides of the Atlantic.  Laws notes several versions of the song from Kentucky and quote D.K. Wilgus on "Ten Broeck and Mollie,: the American counterpart of the Irish horserace: "The July 4, 1878, march race in which the Kentucky thoroughbred Ten Broeck deeated the mare Miss Millie McCarthur, went into the record books as the last four-mile heat race in American turf history" (Laws, p 243).  But it is the Irish horse and hisrace that have survived in American Negro folksong."

- Bruce Jackson, "Wake Up Dead Man" p 102

"The facts are that sometime around 1790 a race took place on the curragh of Kildare (near Dublin) between a skewbald horse owned by Sir Arthur Marvel and "Miss Portly", a gray mare owned by Sir Ralph Gore. The race seemed to take the balladmakers' fancies, and must have been widely sung; an early printed version appeared in an American song book dated 1829." - mudcat.org  lyrics page

It wasn't the American Negro folksong or an American Songbook introducedStewball to me, though- it was Andy Irvine, who sing a completely different version on the iconic album Andy Irvine / Paul Brady.  Theirs, which is called "Plains of Kildaire" details the story extensively and so when I heard the more mysterious version as sung by Leadbelly (and introduced to me by Max Godfrey) I thought- hey- I know about Stewball!

But of course I was only just getting to know the driving rhythm, the rippling, dissonant harmonies, and the overlapping call and response of Max's version.  This song became an instant favorite.  Here's why:

1) It is easy to teach.  The response lyrics repeat and you can be half-numb and still remember them.

2) It drives.  Whatever frustration you've got going, whatever hard work you're chopping or hoeing at, you can channel that right into the song.

3) It's positive.  Everybody's singing uh-huh and oh yeah.  Nice way to turn around an ugly mood out in the field.

4) It's old-timey and hairy.  Racehorses?  Gambling?  Girls?  Does it get any better?

Bruce Jackson recorded this one four separate times in 1964 and 1965 at Ramsey and Wynne prisons in Texas.  Maybe that's where Leadbelly learned it, in prison, and incorporated it into his performance repertoire.

Any case, enjoy Leadbelly's version of it on worksongs.org, and let me know what other versions of Stewball (Irish, Kentucky, Texas or otherwise) you like.   And memorize it, for god's sake!  It's one of the best!

Holler back... -Bennett

Check it out: - More Bruce Jackson on Stewball in "Wake Up Dead Man" - Paul Brady and Andy Irvine's Stewball, "The Plains of Kildaire" - Leadbelly's versionMassive amounts of discussion on Mudcat.org

Hal an Tow

And here is what it sounds like when you get 70 young farmers together singing it, led by Nate Kraus-Mallet and Mia Bertelli:

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more

 

CHORUS

Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumble-o,
We were up long before the day-o,
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-o –
For summer is a-coming,
And the winter’s gone away-o! 

Since man was first created
His works have been debated
And we have celebrated
The coming of the spring

Take no scorn to wear the horns,
It was the crest when you were born;
Your father’s father wore it,
And your father wore it too.

CHORUS

Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair-o,
And we shall to the merry green wood,
To hunt the buck and hare-o!

CHORUS

What happened to the Spaniards
That made so great a boast, oh?
They shall eat the feathered goose,
And we shall eat the roast, oh!

CHORUS

And as for that good knight, St. George
St. George he was a knight o
Of all the knights of Christendom
St. George is the right o

CHORUS

God bless Aunt Mary Moses
With all her power and might-o;
Send us peace in England,
Send us peace by day and night-o!

CHORUS

More info:
Quite a long Mudcat Discussion
An MP3 of how the Watersons sang it.

Bold Riley

 

Click here for a sensational version led by Mia Bertelli at the NOFA-NY Worksong Workshop 2013 

 

BOLD RILEY

Verse
Oh the rain it rains all day long, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, And the northern wind, it blows so strong, Bold Riley-o has gone away.

CHORUS
Goodbye my sweetheart,goodbye my dear-o Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Goodbye my darlin',goodbye my dear-o, Bold Riley-o has gone away.

Well come on, Mary, don't look glum, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Come White-stocking Day you'll be drinkin' rum Bold Riley-o has gone away.

CHORUS

We're outward bound for the Bengal Bay, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Get bending, me lads,it's a hell-of-a-way, Bold Riley-o has gone away

CHORUS

More Info:

A different set of Lyrics, courtesy of Mudcat
A Mudcat Discussion
Amazon MP3

I learned this song from Mia Bertelli and Mia Friedman at Maine Fiddle Camp

Haul Away Joe

Malcom Ward:

 

Lead Belly:

When I was a little boy my mother always told me
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe
That if I did not kiss the girls my lips would all grow moldy
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

Once in my life I married a wife but she was fat and lazy…
Then I met an Irish girl, she damn near drove me crazy…

’Way, haul away, we’ll haul and sing together
’Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

Once I was in Ireland, a-digging turf and taters
But now I’m on a Limey ship, a-hauling on the braces

St. Patrick drove away the snakes, then drank up all the whiskey
This made him dance and sing a jig, he felt so fine and frisky

’Way, haul away, we’re bound for better weather
’Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

You call yourself a second mate but you can’t tie a bowline
You cannot even stand up straight when the ship it is a-rolling

The cook is in the galley making duff so handy
The captain’s in his cabin drinking wine and brandy

’Way, haul away, the good ship now is rolling
’Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

Thousands or More

The time passes over more cheerful and gay,
Since we’ve learnt a new act to drive sorrows away.
Sorrows away, sorrows away, sorrows away,
Since we’ve learnt a new act to drive sorrows away.

Bright Phoebe awakes so high up in the sky
With her red, rosy cheeks and her sparkaling eye,
Sparkaling eye, sparkaling eye, sparkaling eye,
With her red, rosy cheeks and her sparkaling eye.

If you ask for my credit you’ll find I have none,
With my bottle and friend you will find me at home.
Find me at home, find me at home, find me at home,
With my bottle and friend you will find me at home.

Although I’m not rich and although I’m not poor
I’m as happy as those that’s got thousands or more,
Thousands or more, thousands or more, thousands or more,
I’m as happy as those that’s got thousands or more.

The Copper Family:

This is a slightly newer recording. The thing to do though, is to find the oldest recordings. They were reissued recently on a release called "Come Write Ye Down."