Good Old Way


Jon referes to his time with Eliza saying, “Another one we did with the Ratcatchers – we never recorded it but there may be some versions on YouTube.” So it’s no surprise to find this amongst the Watersons’ canon and therefore on Mainly Norfolk. I was just thinking as this played it had an obvious hymnal crossover in lyrics and structure and the I read Bert Lloyd’s notes on their recording of this. Apart from sealing the veracity of my thinking, it did make me wonder about other such songs that perhaps came through ‘the folk movement’ rather than the higher brow composers. It seems also that the religious fervor here didn’t necessarily sit well with the powers that be and thus when apparent order was restored, how many songs were cast adrift by the hymn book editing process. Then of course we get back to Monks Gate and A Blacksmith Courted Me from the end of July. And yes YouTube coughs up at least one version as Jon suggests, not the worst, but not the best… I’m inclined to play the quality trump card, but what the hell! Jon mentioned it so here it is.

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


26 Responses to “Good Old Way”

  1. otter says:


  2. SRD says:

    I think there are a number of reasons that religious songs fail to make it through ‘the process’. In the more recent past the revival was driven by left wingers who would not have been as interested in religious motifs as they were of those of the working people.

    I think also that in the past, as today, we Brits, unlike our American cousins, have suffered our religions rather than embracing them and therefore ‘the process’ has tended to set secular lyrics to hymn tunes (e.g. On Ilkley Moor) rather than singing the hymns themselves.

    Also I understand that the emphasis in religious singing was on ‘high’ music as sung by the great (and small) choirs based around non-conformist chapels who would regularly perfom Handel and his ilk and considered ‘folk singing’ to be the work of the devil (or the pub, not sure which was worse). This also happened in the C of E, look at the battle between priest and church band as illustrated by Thomas Hardy.

  3. John Wigley says:

    Doesn’t Eliza mix this tune into The Imagined Village’s ‘Tam Lyn Retold’?

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Folk & wereldmuziek, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: : Good Old Way […]

  5. John Phipps says:

    This one has always struck me as something the Levelers and Agitators of Cromwell’s New Model Army might have sung. I would think their music may have inspired it but I don’t know what they might have sung. Cromwell and the Grandees suppressed a lot of bottom up Christian zeal as it was against the moneyed interest and powers that be.

    Is there any collection of music of the English Civil War extant? My ancestors were caught up in the American side as the final skirmish of the English Civil war was the Battle of the Severn in 1655 and fought near Anne Arundel’s Towne which was renamed Annapolis which became the new capitol of the Maryland Colony. My Catholic ancestors were subjected to penal laws. The losing governor, William Stone had a descendant that signed the Declaration of Independence along with Charles Carroll, a Catholic whose election to the Continental Congress broke a ban against Catholics and help prevent the Protestant’s from establishing a state religion in the US.

  6. John Phipps says:

    Atheist Don’t have No Songs – Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

  7. Val bagnall says:


  8. Linda Hall says:

    Re English Civil War, you can’t do better than listen to Strawhead’s fantastic album “Songs of the Civil War”, complete with accompanying book with all the lyrics, both original and as sung by them, plus details of sources, tunes and anything else you might wish to know! Probably my all-time favourite album ever! Their album “Law Lies Bleeding” is also Civil War songs, and “Sedgemoor” is all about the Monmouth rebellion of 1685. There’s also Martin Wyndham-Read’s 1971 album “The Recoats” which is a brilliant selection of songs from the Civil War right through to the Boer War, taking in the American War of Independence, Napoleon and the Crimea along the way.

  9. Diana says:

    A rather unearthly folk song!

  10. Patrick Rose says:

    Happy birthday to me!

    This grew on me a lot – at first I didn’t like the Watersons and thus didn’t like that version but they’ve got in my heart a fair bit and this is a brilliant session song.

  11. JOHN KANEEN says:

    This song – as Bert Lloyd says in his notes – does come from Vol.30 of the JFSS, but the songs there, like those in Vols. 28 & 29, all come from th Isle of Man.
    When the Watetrsons LP came out I wrote to Tony Engle at Topic, but nothing changed.

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    Playing catch-up again today on account of cat-fettling* for winter and suffering the Chinese water torture! The washer has gone on my bathroom tap & the criminal waste of watter is driving me nuts with its shushing! Plumber can’t come ’til Monday! Being a plumber’s daughter, I could do it missen, if everything in this house weren’t so ancient. I know my limitations! *Sighs*

    Anyways, I digress yet again. I really like this song, and some ‘religiosity’ is particularly apt this year as it is the 400th anniversary of the King Jame’s Bible, the history of which is quite fascinating as per this Wiki link:

    I recently went to a musical play at St James’ Church in Silsden called ‘1611 The Word In The Beginning’ – music by Helen Hockenhull, and written by Nigel Schofield from Saltaire Heritage Village, who also wrote ‘Follow The Fleece’. More info on him here:

    The play is a wonderful meld of historical concurrences with the King James Bible, as well as its own history and facts, its social and cultural influence etc., and contains wonderful folky songs, including a snatch of my favourite Swan Arcade’s ‘Babylon Is Fallen!’ What is even more wonderful is that the finale of the mini-tour is taking place at Manningham Mills (Lister’s Mill as was) mentioned muchly in the following song, also a favourite of mine, ‘Doffin’ Mistress.’ So I’m going to see the play again. Thankee Jon, for doing these songs!

    I am delighted to be going inside the Mill which has dominated my skyline all my life, where my grandmother worked and, almost unbelievably, my cousin now runs the community café which will be providing food for the 1611 performance! Here’s a link to the Manningham Mills Community Centre site:

    *PS ‘Fettling’ is a word we use in Yorkshire for sorting, straightening, neatening, tidying stuff up, mending etc. We also use the expression ‘in fine fettle’ ref health/spirits. I learnt what it actually means when I went round a teapot-making factory! Fettling is trimming the rough clay off the seams of the moulded bare teapots before they are patterned/glazed. See:

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    And year-old thanks to Linda for the reference to Strawhead and their albums ‘Songs of the English Civil War’ and ‘Sedgemoor’ – both rather difficult to obtain now, but I have found a seller with one of each. Just to decide which is the perfect Xmas gift for someone in the Civil War Society!

    Here’s an interesting Wiki entry re: Strawhead, which mentions ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and their song, ‘The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant,’ born of ‘The Bold Fusilier.’

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Just found the website for Strawhead and you can buy their albums directly through there:

  15. muzza(S.E.England) says:

    @Jane….sorry-can’t resist:-

    She was only a plumber’s daughter
    And wore Mother Riley’s red hat
    When her bathroom was shushing with water
    She blocked off the flood with a cat.

    Sorry folks………..I’m noted for dragging the site down

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza:

    How very double dare ye!
    The hat is a cardinal’s hat.
    Dad was a master builder, see
    And I’d nivver do that to a cat!

    PS The bathroom is still shushing though…

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  18. Diana says:

    Very nicely sung Jon. Still more hymnlike than folky.

    Love the poetry Jane and MUzza.

  19. Diana says:

    Thanks Phil – followed your link from yesterday with success this time. The story related is the same, but with different words and a different tune. Very nicely done.

  20. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    I hope that Jane’s shushing has ceased now
    and the cats are all safe and sound
    does she know how I care for her welfare
    for to help her I’d leap with one bound

    One problem is I’m old and crabbit
    All my friends will soon tell you that
    Perhaps I could be much more friendly
    If I pranced round in Jane’s big red hat!

  21. Jane Ramsden says:

    Thanks you for more verse immortalisation, Muzza! (Though I am sure it is really the hat you like – I do not have it anymore!) I cannot believe the shushing coincidence! T’was the sink washer then, and I have just had to have my toilet overflow fixed. I know you would have helped if not ‘old & crabbit,’ Muzzy. Tell me about it! You are still young Muzza to me… though I note you are still missing a bracket… hahahahaha! Apart from the shushing, nothing changes as I am still cat-fettling as well. It is National Cat Day as I write (29th Oct) & I have excelled missen today by getting 2 mogs neutered. Still following ‘The Good Ol’ Way.’

  22. Linda says:

    Like this. followed the link to YouTube enjoyed Eliza and The Ratcatchers shame the film is not at its best. Muzza hope this helps

  23. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Having re-read the latest comments….I have amended the poem…the old cat botherer will never read it!

    I hope that Jane’s shushing has ceased now
    and the cats are all safe and sound
    does she know how I care for her welfare
    for to help her I’d leap with one bound

    One problem, I’m so young and sexy
    All my friends will soon tell you that
    But I daren’t risk getting more friendly
    She’d remove my crown jewels-like her cat!

  24. Jane Ramsden says:

    Aha! How wrong you are, Young Muzza, ‘cos I have seen your amended poetical offering above! Hahahahaha! Thankee very glad for kind sentiments! Pity you are not nearer as I could do with less cats and some help, so you would be safe from the medical ministrations of the old cat-botherer! Lol. I can’t believe how many interesting folky things I found out during our AFSAD heyday. In fact, I can’t remember reading up/posting most of them! Happy days. Wish I had time and energy to do it all again.

  25. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Oh what a jolly bantering bunch we were…..
    dear old Jane is still caring for every cat in the land
    I’m still clinging to the wreckage (just) and getting my daily dose of AFSAD helps.
    and now we are having unseasonal warm days 20C (70F) and a string of new Prime ministers…….and Russia still threatening……..what’s it all about!

  26. Jane Ramsden says:

    Waddya mean, Young Muzza? Thee & me are bantering still on a daily basis! Sadly, dear Daina (RIP 4 years) is not able to join us.
    I am indeed still caring for a bunch of moggies, both outside & in, though the latter are now ‘down’ to 5. I had 12 at the start of AFSAD! Hence, I am not so much clinging to the wreckage as being the wreckage!
    Nothing wrong with unseasonably warm days given the rocketing price of fuel. Be thankful for small mercies. We’ll get precious few from any Prime Minister of the moment! But these are the rigs of the times, n’est ce pas?

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