Pretty Cock / As I Stood under my Love’s Window


Jon offers, “Another night visiting song. This one seems somehow lest about boasting of conquest than many others.” The motif of the lovers being roused prematurely by a cock that crows early is apparently common to other songs. He attributes Louis Killen again as his source for this, but I could find scant little extra information. Google with caution, but if you can add to the information it will be greatly appreciated.

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14 Responses to “Pretty Cock / As I Stood under my Love’s Window”

  1. Reinhard Zierke says:

    Louis Killen sang
    The Cock on his Topic LP Ballads and Broadside and later on his cassette The Rose in June. In the latter’s sleeve notes he stated that he learned the song from Brian Ballinger in Oxford.

  2. Jo Breeze says:

    The woken-by-the-cock-crow also reminds me of the lark that wakes Romeo and Juliet, that Juliet tries to deny – ‘It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear’ (I think?)

  3. Peter Walsh says:

    Waking up to birdsong is finding it’s way into contemporary music all the time; Laura Marling gaves us this on her first album: “morning was mocking us- my manic and I – and birds were singing to calm us down”. Different to a crow interrupting lovers, I suppose, but still no fairytale ending in Laura’s song, either – she’s obviously not glowing with love for her ‘manic’, hahaha!

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    Just as the pretty cock can be euphemistic/suggestive for other than a bird, so in this song the crow sounds less overtly alluding to just one part of the anatomy as more covertly to another possible lover or rival…or is the excuse on the part of his lady because she has a second lover to the side. Let’s hope it is just unfounded fear of losing her that makes the first think this! I like this short song because it encapsulates a range of feelings and a lot to think about. The story is ended, yet not ended. And very nicely rendered, Jon!

  5. Jon Boden says:

    Interest also to note the similarity between this type of song and the Old French ‘aubade’ form – a song of two lovers parting at dawn. The form was very popular throughout Europe in the high middle ages and certainly influenced Shakespeare’s R&J mentioned already. Interesing also that the ‘Lemany/Lemady’ song is also essentially an aubade, but with far more archaic language, and a corruption of the medieval term ‘leman’ a for the girls name – all of which perhaps suggests it is a direct descendant of a middle English aubade? I’ll be recording Lemady at some point. Also planning to learn Little Musgrave at some point which has a great aubade section ‘methinks I hear the thristlecock, methinks I hear the jay, methinks I hear Lord Barnard’s horn, I would I were away’

  6. John Burton says:

    There is a version (somewhat different words) entitled The Light of the Moon, on The Mellstock Bands, Songs of Thomas Hardys Wessex, Saydisc CD-SDL 410.
    Sung by Andy Turner, short clip here,

    Source Hammond,D248 from Robert Barratt, Puddletow, 1905.
    It clicked in my tiny mind whilst listening and a bit of searching found the clip.

  7. Piers Cawley says:

    I’m always struck by how very different this (and similar variants are) from The Grey Cock ( if you want to hear my attempt) while sharing so many verses.

    I can’t help but wonder which came first.

  8. John Heather says:

    You’ll find it about word for word in Marrowbones as “The Light of The Moon”

  9. Joe Offer says:

    We have a very short discussion of this song in this thread:

    -Joe Offer, The Mudcat Cafe-

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Piers: Thanks for posting your song link, which I think I missed the first time round. You have a fine voice, doesn’t sound bearded, but I think I detect a Yorkshire accent in there! Ha ha!

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

    ‘Just as the pretty cock can be euphemistic/suggestive for other than a bird’,

    Where did that come from!….
    no wonder the latest paperback ‘Several shades of grey’ is such a hit…
    you gals add a new depth of meaning to ‘reading between the lines.’

    Whereas…MOI…being a ‘bloke’
    innocently thought
    Two of the last three songs have included chickens…………Solution..
    Bump off the cockerel before the next visit to your truelove and stay the whole night.

  12. Diana says:

    There is a lot of repeated themes in some of these songs. Have you noticed how many are about a girl named Nancy. She certainly was a popiular girl and really got around. A pleasant enough song.

    Muzza trust you to think of your euphenism – only a man would go down that road.

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

    Diana not around to chastise me BUT…..with the onset todays Lgbt+ society…….some of these old folksongs could take on even stranger meanings…….sorry Diana …the devil made me say that…..I await your thunderbolt!

  14. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Jane Yorkshire….
    well me little ole, red hatted, caring, cat botherer…
    thee and me will chuckle when I think of an alternative aubade title……Perhaps,……Pretty Sock! (just me then!)

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