Sweep Chimney Sweep


I’m amused by Jon’s  Spiers and Boden derived confession here, “From the Copper family come this strange and lyrically somewhat questionable number, but one hell of a tune. John and I keep trying to do it as a two-parter but we can never remember what order the verses go in (not an issue if you’re singing solo fortunately.)” The first port of call is therefore the Coppers’ site here for the song as they have it. Mainly Norfolk also cover Steeleye’s version. After yesterday, Mudcat thankfully avoids controversy, although there is a quest for the sense of a couple of the lines and a little Micky taking in that regard.



20 Responses to “Sweep Chimney Sweep”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by folkandroots, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: : Sweep Chimney Sweep http://www.afolksongaday.com/2010/11/27/sweep-chimney-sweep/ […]

  2. muzza says:

    Good little song………….made even more memorable by the harmonies that evolve from line five in each verse.I just heard a song about a bloke who was his own man but was a bit chippy about it and methinks doth protest too much!

  3. muzza says:

    Spooky……………..have all you regular posters been abducted by aliens or are you all out gigging on a saturday night leaving sad old gits like me to surf the site!

  4. Shelley says:

    Some of us have been out singing!

    Another new one to me – this project is a such a useful resource (as well as being very enjoyable of course)

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    New song to me, but most are, and I can make no claim to have been out singing, but wish I could! Builders next door are rendering in a different way and their constant banging, braying, hammering, drilling and sawing make listening to music a tadge difficult! Thankfully snowed off now!

    Nicely sung, Jon. And Muzza, you are not a sad old git!

  6. Diana says:

    To be honest I don’t care for this song at all. Probably I’ll to be hung, drawn and quartered for heresy now.

  7. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Not at all Diana. It is a song about a period in history when those who climbed up the chimneys to brush down the accumulated soot were, due to the restricted size, more often than not, small children. Rather than highlight the horrors of the job, the filth, fumes and burns, (because often the fires were only allowed to go out until just before the arrival of the sweep, in order that the occupants did not get cold, or in the case of industrial sites, so that production was not interfered with too much.) it sets out to make it sound like a laudable profession. (‘like a soldier on sentry duty’) It is indeed an unpleasant song, highlighting exploitation at it’s worst, but it does have a wonderful tune
    Should we sing songs like this ? Yes we should because they are fragments of history. Unpleasant they may be, but these things went on, and still do in many countries, and should not be forgotten.
    On a lighter note , Show of Hands were superb last night, and so was Richard Shindell, a singer /songwriter that I have long admired and have now enjoyed in concert.

  8. Diana says:

    I did realise that small children were often allocated this work and I agree it was a dreadful job for them but I just didn’t like the song. No other explanation why.

    Glad you enjoyed your show last night John.

  9. silv says:

    I didnt enjoy it ether, last year or this year

  10. Diana says:

    Thanks Silv glad of your support.

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

    Jane……………..”Oh yes I am!”

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: No evidenced of SoG-ness from my end, if you see what I mean! Hahahaha! Far from it. Or maybe I’m just a Sad Old Girl?

    Anyway, I see what Di is saying. I think it is more the tune than the sad historical context which ‘doesn’t do it’ with this song. Perhaps Jon could pen a new tune?

    But I think it should be sung, so that part of social history is not lost. I have always been much struck by Charles Kingsley’s ‘Water Babies’ ref child chimney sweeps, containing the best motto for living a human being could adopt:

    “Do as you would be done by.”

    Simple, empathetic & effectively action-based. If you want a customer service or public service mission statement, there it is in a nutshell as well! Definitely one for the season of giving and goodwill.

  13. Muzza+392days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    And I still like this , like this, like this, and like this old song…..especiaaaaally this bit of the chorus.
    Ref@Jane……Sadly…modern motto ‘Do unto them before they do unto you!’

  14. Diana says:

    Same opinion as before – I do not like this song.

  15. silv says:

    Still no better – not my type of song

  16. Linda says:

    I have to agree with Muzza I like this one but can,t say why .
    As a side line to Jon and everybody connected with Bellowhead and Mama Rosa [sorry if I have spelt that wrong] THANK YOU all for a brilliant night at Derby !!!!!!!! Am now looking forward to Sheffield [birthday pressie]

  17. Diana says:

    @silv: Third time for you and still not better. It does not grow on you does it?

  18. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    This is not Diana’s or Silv’s type of song

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

    Diana/Silv…still not softened?

  20. Linda says:

    Diana really didn’t like this………I still like this one as Muzza commented 2012 I think its the chorus

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