Now here’s a tune to put spring in your step and Jon says, “Mike Waterson’s greatest hit? Probably as far as social singing goes it is. You can’t beat the Watersons’ harmonies either – many have tried and all have failed.” You’ll find their version on the For Pence And Spicy Ale CD and again I concur with Jon, the harmonies are immaculate. A.L. Lloyds notes that the song predates the 18th C agricultural revolution, which makes sense as it’s such and open hearted celebration. The word laylum or laylan would seem likely to be a regional corruption of lay land as in fallow land. The idea that the birds are undisturbed and therefore happy and busy singing on it makes sense, to me at least. This link will take you straight to the Mainly Norfolk page for the song and you can follow a Mudcat thread from there, although I don’t think it offers any special illumination. I’m going to have to commit this one to memory for my rambling, although probably best (in my case) as an internal tape loop, lest I be accused of disturbing the peace. Any additional details of history and provenance will be appreciated here.
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