This is more of a field recording as Jon is joined by brother Tom. Jon introduces it thus, “Tom and I have been singing this for years. This is a nice two-parter, although it does work better if the harmony is below the tune (as in the Hart/Prior version). Tom and I recorded this in our Mum’s garage near Newhaven hence background bird noise, and I persuaded Tom to record another whilst we were at it.” Yes we have another bonus track for you, so as well as Oats And Beans And Barley Grow, you also get (High) Barbaree.
The former is of course a play song, where actions are performed and Tim & Maddy (Jon’s credited source here) recorded it for Folk Songs of Old(e) England. Their sleeve notes (read them here on Mainly Norfolk) make somewhat more of this than I was allowing, suggesting the ritual elements contained in the rhyme. You can read more at Mudcat here or Wiki here. I’m curious about this. As a nursery rhyme it’s probably very old, but I can’t find any reference to date except for Gomme 1898. There’s certainly a lyric with what looks like old style spelling given in this thread. Any thoughts please. Beautifully sung it is though and I think this harmony works very well.
As for the bonus, it’s actually the more substantial of the two songs here and seems to be an American update of Child Ballad #285 The George Aloe And The Sweepstake . Reference is made to the tune of this as early as 1595 and there is a ship of 1545 called The Swepstacke according to this link here. It’s likely that the American update refers to the Barbary Wars (read more on Wiki) and certainly has something of the shanty about it. I’ve also picked this up…
Child notes there is an entry for July 31, 1590 of a ditty that was based upon a fight on “the fourth of June last” in the straits of Gibraltar between the George and the Thomas Bonaventure and eight galleys and three frigates. The correlation of the incident to the ballad cannot be confirmed as there were probably several ships named George.
The ballad was given new words and experienced a resurgence of popularity in America between the years of 1795 and 1815 – when Barbary pirates were attacking American ships. America (and most other nations) paid tribute to the pirates until the government took action in 1801. The pirates were not completely defeated until 1815.
Another great performance with Tom leading and on one-row concertina and Jon on fiddle and harmony. It is of course the lead off track on Both Sides Then, which means that there’s a Mainly Norfolk entry for it too.