German Musicianer


Jon simply introduces this as “A bit of music-hall sauce from Bellamy.”

Bellamy picked this one up from the great source singer Harry Cox, a native of Norfolk and it appeared on his first solo LP, which Reinhard’s site is named after, Mainly Norfolk, where you can read his original notes. Whilst it’s a bit ‘Ooo-er, missus,’ it raised a smile, so to speak, but then I also came across this link that adds some detail to the travelling musicians whose exploits are being parodied here. It’s rather sad to note the ‘foreigners coming over here and under cutting us and stealing our jobs,’ line of a news piece dated in the mid C19th, although I guess ‘twas ever thus. We’ve apparently learnt very little in 150 years, however, although we are also not alone in that regard. Anyway I guess it’s always been part of the mythos of the travelling, door to door jobber, milkmen, plumbers, window cleaners, even beggars to pander to the neglected, house-bound wife’s needs. Quite who’s fantasy this is, however, is moot.

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36 Responses to “German Musicianer”

  1. Tim Radford says:

    I am getting a little worried that Jon is recording too many of the songs I have been singing for over forty years!!
    With this song – over that time, I have NEVER heard anyone else ever sing it.

    Good Song!

  2. Reinhard says:

    There is a similar song The German Clockmender showing the same stereotype. It was sung e.g. by George Spicer on the 1975 Topic album Blackberry Fold.

  3. Gail Duff says:

    If you ever see Phil Bleazey on his wooden whistles stand, get him to sing it sometime – it was one of his specialities when he was down here in Kent.

  4. Jan says:

    There’s also an Irish song in a similar vein called The Jolly Tinker. It was hearing it sung by Terence Stamp in the film Far From The Madding Crowd back in the 60’s that first got me interested in folk – and I still like the saucy ones!

  5. Joanne Sheppard says:

    The lyrics to this made me laugh out loud. I love a good double entendre; must be because I was brought up on Carry On films. Also, my grandparents used to have a sherry at family gatherings and start singing dubious music hall numbers.

    @Jan As well as Terence Stamp in Far From The Madding Crowd, this also reminded me a little bit of another travelling tradesman song from a film – The Tinker of Rye, which Christopher Lee sings in The Wicker Man. (Although for all I know, that one might have been written especially for the film.)

  6. Maureen Musson says:

    Nice one, Jon!

    Simon, your link is not working for me – it’s picking up part of the previous word.

    As for resentment against foreigners, it certainly goes back more than 150 years. On May Day 1517, there were riots in London against foreigners living in the city, and many were killed. I don’t suppose that was the first time there had been such instances, either.

  7. Peter Little says:

    One of the songs that I been known to sing 😉

  8. Neil says:

    @Maureen, sadly, Fear Of The Other goes back a long, long way.

    First thing I thought of when I saw your post was the massacre of the Jews in York of 1190.

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

    Where’s Mary Whitehouse when you need her!

  10. Simon says:

    Sorry, broken link is fixed. It worked when I tried it, but I must have done something cack handed to it in the process of going back and forth.

  11. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Folk & wereldmuziek, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: German Musicianer […]

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! AbFab AFSAD! Wonderfully well-sung, Jon!

    Fear of the Other is natural – it’s what you do with it that’s important. In this case, the cuckold has to blame the Musicianer with something, rather than admit that his own performance (on the piano, of course!) is so poor that his wife’s is little used. When there is nothing else left to charge a person with that can be changed, then an improverished-thinking person moves to charge someone with what they can’t change – in this instant, being a German Musicianer. There may be later time undertones of ‘the Germans bombed our chip shop’ as well!

    For those that are interested, here is the Wiki link to the music of the Wicker Man, a personal favourite of mine:

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    And from another web site:

    The Tinker of Rye

    This song was allegedly recorded on the film’s set and features a vocal duet of Christopher Lee and Diane Calento. The pianist on the track is Gary Carpenter. The ballad is said to be based upon a traditional piece entitled ‘The Ram Of Derby’ although it bears very little resemblance to it. The full version of the song does not feature in any version of the film itself and can only be heard in its entirety on the ‘SilvaScreen’ issue of the soundtrack album.

    There was a tinker lived of late
    Who walked the streets of Rye
    He bore his pack upon his back
    Patches and plugs did cry
    O I have brass within my bag
    My hammer’s full of metal.
    And as to skill I well can clout
    And mend a broken kettle

    A maiden did this tinker meet
    And to him boldly say
    For sure, my kettle hath much need
    If you will pass my way
    She took the tinker by the hand
    And led him to her door
    Says she my kettle I will show
    And you can clout it sure

    For patching and plugging is his delight
    His work goes forward day and night

    Fair maid says he
    Your kettle’s cracked
    The cause is plainly told
    There hath so many nails been drove
    Mine own could not take hold
    Says she it hath endured some knocks
    and more it may I know
    I’m sure a large large nail will hold
    If it was struck in so

    For patching and plugging is his delight
    His work goes forward, day and night.

    More info on all songs at

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

    @Jane…….thanks for the lyric……….adds a whole new dimension to “tinkering” with the car.

  15. Diana says:

    At last a cheerful song, bawdy maybe, but let’s face it there really isn’t a word out of place. It is all left to the imagination isn’t it? You did a good job with that one Jon.

  16. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Cant see what all the fuss is about. Piano tuning is a perfectly respectable profession.
    As you say Diana, it is left to the listener’s imagination to read what they will into the lyrics.
    Just remember, when Aunty B.B.C. was so much stricter, the innuendos and ‘double ententes’ that used to slip past the censor on programmes like ‘Beyond Our Ken’.
    Today, when almost anything goes, it is far less entertaining.

  17. Diana says:

    You hit it on the head John. Perfectly respectable the art of piano tuning but this song is certainly couched for a double entendre all the way through.

    John do you listen to “Sorry I haven’t a clue” at all? it’s quite amusing some of the remarks that come out in it. Obviously Aunty Beeb must turn a deaf ear to it.

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    Great fun, & sung with much obvious enjoyment, Jon.

    No matter how explicit humour is allowed today, innuendo and double entendre still survive and thrive because of the clever use of words and analogies, as well as inflection. Far more a celebration of brain and voice than the obvious, so suitable to singing and family entertainment, ‘cos no offence to kids of all ages. It can still be enjoyed with everyone in the room. Balances the doom and gloom songs too, so an all-round winner in my book!

    @ Muzza: I am surprised you haven’t done this one on YouTube, complete with Lederhosen (apologies for the stereo-type!)

  19. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Innuendo…………that’s Spanish for ‘suppository’ isn’t it?

  20. Diana says:

    Linda you were going to let me know how Colin is after hospital visit. Is he back to work now?

    Muzza how could you?

  21. Jane Ramsden says:

    Italian, Muzza…. And oh, yes! He could! (I put it in ‘cos I knew he’d rise to the bait. Hahahahaha!)

  22. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Drat………….caught out yet again by the feral catmolester!…I’m so gullible.
    I had a friend that used to neuter tom cats using two house bricks. I said to him”Surely that hurts”..he said..”only if you should accidently catch your thumbs between the bricks.”

  23. Diana says:

    @Jane and Muzza: You are a right pair of stirrer-uppers and you sure get a rise out of each other. I don’t know who is the worst. I think Muzza wins by a short hair.

  24. Jane Ramsden says:

    Short hair? Don’t you mean a whisker, Daina?

    @ Muzza: I would have thought it would hurt more if you caught other than yer manly thumb with a brick…. that’s brick with a ‘b’…

  25. Daina says:

    I expect I did mean whisker Jane, but the right expression doesn’t always come to mind. I have changed my opinion. you win by a whisker now after reading the above comment. There I have beat Muzza to it – I am sure you will get some cheeky response to that.

    Snow thawing slowly here but thick fog – horrid. More expense then Jane ,these flipping cars are a drain on resources. Vets, cars and cat traps!

  26. Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Ref last line of this song……(this rude song….this very rude song!)…
    I’m a little dilatory in this field and I suspect my tuning fork is a trifle flat #.. ….
    lederhosen might help!

  27. Diana says:

    Muzza I see you have now latched onto my word dilatory now you know what it means. Rude song be blowed – it is all in your mind.

  28. Jane Ramsden says:

    Lederhosen? Not to rub you up the wrong way, Muzza, but wouldn’t they need ‘breaking in’? Hahahahaha! (PS I’m glad to see Old Muzza has gone back to his old youthful ways, but dropped the inappropriate name!)

    Because of the folk-music hall connection, I have finally bought a copy of John Major’s book My Old Man, the memoir of his father’s music hall days. As is my wont, I got it in audiobook form, not only because I like them, but because it is unabridged and read by talented Roy Hudd – perfick choice! I will review it at some later date, when we have another music hall song.

  29. old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    Janey……your poor old ‘early mornin’ brain not in gear….positively dilatory
    look closely and see my last comment was from a year ago…

    I know it’s confusin’ but I’m refusin’ to stop musin’.
    Must creak off now and wax the old lederhosen.
    Ref John M…………will never forget his wooden acting in the TV documentary when he tried to act surprised at seeing his old house…
    ‘It’s still there!” he exclaimed..”My word it’s still there!”….after 20 or so rehearsals!!!!and then there’s Edwina!

  30. Diana says:

    Great song even with the double entrendres. Muzza, Jane and Linda back. Wonder if Reynard is still with us.

  31. Jane Ramsden says:

    Young Muzza, I was that unobservant ref your elderly Lederhosen – must be broken in by now – so are you telling me that your tuning fork is no longer flat???

    I might not have bought the talking book if John M was reading his own work, tho he may have been more animated than he is visually. Now Edwina is animated. and we understand she had a high opinion of John M… in several respects…

    Pierre Walsh is back with us, though not posted a comment yet. I have told a couple of folk clubs on FB that AFSAD is running again. Will let a few more know later. Off to release neutered stir-crazy cat back out into his wilderness now!

  32. Jane Ramsden says:

    PS Look back at my last comment under Clyde Water yesterday for link to Veteran Mail Order of traditional English, Scottish & Irish folk cds, dvds & books, plus a little bit about Maggie Stewart who is credited with the song.

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  34. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    My dad used to tune dear old Les Dawson’s piano………….or so he said

  35. Jane (Maryland, US) says:

    Hi, Muzza! Just saw your reply re: Sheffield Apprentice. The song that plays on the site now is another song entirely, about a miller’s apprentice who takes his sweetheart for a chat about their wedding day and then chucks her in the river. Neither song involves shape shifting, but apparently the songs themselves decided to transmogrify!

  36. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Hi Jane (Maryland)……..The comments to the songs go right back to 2010 and are made by the chat group that evolved…….and the banter gets a bit ‘off subject’…..and can overflow from day to day….with no relationship to that day’s song…..completely confusing a newcomer!…..just go with the flow!

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