Jon says, “I learned this from the Steeleye version (sung by Martin Carthy). It occurs to me that traditional song doesn’t amount to much of an endorsement of married life.” A fair point. I wonder what the percentage of “and they all (both) lived happily ever after” songs is? It can’t be very high and I reckon two or three of what’s gone up here to date. This is a fairly daft tale of double, double crossing with a joke about marrow bones at its heart – as the marrow comes out of the bones when boiled it leaves a hollow centre, in which you can see nothing at all. A common enough tale it seems to be with Irish, English and American variants. Mainly Norfolk has Steeleye and more and Mudcat has this thread and this post, which refers to a quote in Mark Twain.

You can buy the October digital album now from all good download stores:


12 Responses to “Marrowbones”

  1. SRD says:

    I love these come-uppance songs.

    I suppose the reason why songs are always about the worse side of human relations is that “They met, fell in love, didn’t have any money worries and lived a comfortable, long, but not overlong, happy life.” doesn’t make much of a song.

  2. Nige Rivers says:

    Not a comment on this song but

    Have you all come across this site –
    from Wiltshire CC
    The words to over 1000 songs listed

  3. Jane Ramsden says:

    That’s a bit of fun… I always like a folk song with b*gger in it. Hahahahaha!

    Great site, Nige! I have added it to my favourites. Thanks.

  4. Maureen Musson says:

    For a folk song with a happy ending, try Captain Wedderburn (as recorded on Bellowhead’s latest CD Hedonism!)

  5. muzza says:

    Nige…….thanks for the very interesting link………..
    the words are there……….”but without the tune they are but poetry!”…very frustrating.

  6. SRD says:

    Well muzza, here’s your chance to add to the canon by taking a leaf out of Eddi Reader’s book, as she did with the songs of Rabbie Burns, and set them to any tune that might fit.

  7. Mark says:

    So a year on, and I now recognise this song from Jackie Oates’ excellent Saturnine album, which wasn’t out in October 2010. It’s a pretty different version to this one, though. Good though!

    AFSAD: it just keeps on giving.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Mark: “AFSAD: it just keeps on giving.” Couldn’t have put it better myself!

    Back into Steeleye country again. The last time I saw them at St George’s Hall in Bradford, Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle also played a wonderful set. This might have been when they were a trio, would have been without Bert Jansch and, sadly, we are without him now following his recent death on 5 October. The link below is to The Guardian’s nicely-detailed obituary:

    I have a fond tho’ rather misty memory of sitting at his feet at a fairly laid-back informal gig in the London University students’ union building opposite my hall of residence in the early 1970’s. But keeping the Marrowbones’ watery theme flowing, here’s a video of Bert Jansch (uploaded to YouTube on 5 October) with Johnny Marr and Bernard Butler on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ in London, 20 May 2000. Johnny Marr’s playing his Martin D-28 acoustic/vocals on ‘The River Bank’ with Bert Jansch on acoustic and Bernard Butler on electric guitar.

  9. Diana says:

    Love it – the old man wasn’t so daft as she thought. She got her just deserts.

  10. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Yup Daina, bless your little cotton socks…..probably the Sahara and the Kalahari!

  11. Linda says:

    See Diana comment 2012….. totally agree

  12. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Oh dear….too late to explain to Daina my pathetic little joke ref Desserts/deserts!
    She propbably just treated it with the contempt it deserves!

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