Yellow Roses

2014
07.14

“One of a few songs that Forest School Camps sings that nobody else really does,” says Jon.  “Its origins seem to be shrouded in the heady mists of the sixties revival.” Jon’s wife Fay Hield also sings this and some of you will have heard her do so at festivals recently. Fay’s album Looking Glass will be released by Topic Records on September 6th and her beautifully haunting rendition (I’m priviledged to have heard an advanced copy) is accompanied by Sam Sweeney on Nyckelharpa (a relative of the hurdy gurdy click here to see more.) There is a suggestion on this Mudcat link that the song relates to the Spanish Civil War. With numerous songs with yellow roses in the title, making any further Googling a bridge too far today, I’ll be grateful for any further additions that you can make regarding the origins of this song, beautifully sad though it is.

The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:

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30 Responses to “Yellow Roses”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Yancey Grantham, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: Yellow Roses http://www.afolksongaday.com/2010/07/14/yellow-roses/ […]

  2. Shelley says:

    An absolutely beautiful song, and lovely to hear Jon singing it. I’ve heard Fay sing it several times, and it made such an impression I had to learn it myself.

  3. Phil says:

    Thanks, Jon, that was lovely.

  4. Caroline Jefford says:

    my all time tip top favourite. the best. ever

  5. SRD says:

    Lovely song.

    A bit of googling the lyrics discovered this link http://members.madasafish.com/~cj_whitehound/Theatre_of_Cruelty/poems/background/Yellow_Roses.htm

    and the fact that Adam Faith recorded the song on one of his albums http://sylviaashton.tripod.com/rememberingadam/id2.html

  6. Andy says:

    Oh Jon. Now THAT was just beautiful.
    A perfect song, perfectly sung.
    Can’t wait to hear Fay’s version now.
    It will haunt me all week (in a good way).

  7. Susan Churchman says:

    Youtube has a 1963 recording – same tune but a variation on the lyrics – by Jackie De Shannon. According to the Catalogue to the National Library in Australia, Trevor Peacock wrote the words and music for her version. (Also listed as one of his songs was “Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”, recorded by Herman’s Hermits.) Youtube also has a 1962 recording of Adam Faith singing Jon’s version, so the song seems to have been quite popular in the 60s. Another site owner claims to have learned the song from a Sheila Lewis who set the poem to music – http://members.madasafish.com/~cj_whitehound/Theatre_of_Cruelty/poems/background/Yellow_Roses.htm. The wonderful world of folk music!
    Thank you for this project, Jon; it shows great generosity of spirit.

  8. Katie says:

    Beautiful. How about putting it on an album sometime?
    Will have to try Fay’s version too.

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    Now that was stunning, Jon! Will be sure to check out your wife’s version too later. This song is now up there with my 2 other favourites, Rose in June and Danny Deever. It’s all ships, sailors, soldiers and sadness! Thanks. You sang it beautifully.

  10. adrian matthews says:

    I love this song. It’s been sung on FSC for as long as I can remember which is about 45 years! The mythology I grew up with was that the ‘subject’ of the song was a member of the ‘International Brigades’ who fought on the side of the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War . Having been captured by Franco’s fascists, he was due to be summarily executed the following morning ( ‘I lay on my back with the sun in my eyes , soon I shall know what no living man knows…’ ) . Volunteers with the International Brigades were not recognised as ‘prisoners of war’ subject to the rules of the Geneva Convention and could therfore be shot at will by their captors. All very sad if true! As I say this was the mythology that I learned in FSC and seems to fit with the lyrics. Thanks John – lovely to hear you sing this again.

  11. Mzz.Beee says:

    Considering the flexibility of the project’s remit so far, I wonder whether Jon’s Mrs. would give is a song or two here as well? 🙂

  12. Shelley says:

    What a lovely idea – or even a duet? I’ve never heard them sing together.

  13. Peter Little says:

    Hauntingly beautiful, thank you Jon

  14. Phil says:

    Nice version by Shelley this evening!

    You could be starting something here, Jon. Now if fifty people a day

  15. Shelley says:

    (Thanks Phil)

  16. SRD says:

    I find it interesting that Jon ‘found’ these songs at FSC; our family’s sources included the ‘Singing Together’ and ‘Rhyme and Reason’ BBC Schools radio broadcasts which my mother used when she was a primary school teacher. I’ve still got some of the booklets knocking around somewhere. I recall that the lyrics are somewhat bowdlerised for primary school use.

  17. Great {article|post}…

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  18. Mike Wild says:

    On Mudcat there was a long thread on songs in English about the Spanish Civil War. The origins of this song are still unclear. It looks like Trevor Peacock of The Vicar of Dibley etc wrote it in the 60s for Adam Faith (John Barry did the music) quite a jaunty waltz time. maybe Jackie DeShannon did it around the first time but the words are different though the tune is the same ( a bit like Scarborough Fair)

    If the orignal poem was by J Hooker Hamersley, he was a very rich American of the Republican party. Maybe that was about the American Civil War with its mention of equality , race etc.

    Maybe the ‘Spanish’ link reflects the guitar and castnette accompaniment to DeShannon’s song?

    Only Mr peacock can clarify things.

  19. haha … the one who is posting the comments

  20. Mike Wild says:

    The 1896 J Hooker Hamersley poem was not this one . It was a trite little piece called Yellow Roses written by a very rich man who fancied himself as a poet too!.

    Still no link proved to Spanish Civil War.

    Adam Faith’s song seems the first recorded. No one has had a response yet from Trevor Peacock ( the actor and songwriter) who is credited with the song.

  21. Helen Scadding says:

    Hearing the melody and memories has helped me “remember”. A haunting and beautiful song that i have sung with the most lovely people- including Adrian- around FSC camp fires. I hope as I get older there will be many more.
    Thank you.
    Helen

  22. Kate Akers says:

    This is such a wonderfull song, and i would probably never have heard it if it wasn’t for Fay and Jon. Iv recorded my own attempt on you tube and thought id post it up here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UhFCVPnsLA
    Hope that works!
    Kate

  23. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @Kate……….it was from Kate’s link above that I now watch for her songs on Youtube…I wish my house was as tidy as hers!

  24. Clive Lake says:

    Ry Cooder recorded a song called ‘Yellow Roses’ (by Kenny Devine & Sam Nichols) on his ‘Chicken Skin Music’ in 1976. The final line of the lyric has: “Yellow Roses say goodbye”.
    See:http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/ry+cooder/yellow+roses_10245820.html

  25. Cherry says:

    I’m quite pleased with the ionframtoin in this one. TY!

  26. pianoman says:

    Piano music anyone??

  27. Diana says:

    A lovely sentimental song – well sung by Jon as well as Fay.

  28. Peter Walsh says:

    This sad lament of a dying soldier is made more chilling, I think, by Jon singing it unaccompanied. Stunning version!

  29. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey UK) says:

    Lovely rendition by Jon………………….
    the fellas that write these songs haven’t really thought about the logistics/cost/feasibility of actually finding the soldier’s relatives and performing all of the requested tasks. Especially if a few of your dying comrades made such requests……..
    boy….am I getting cynical in my dotage !!!!

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