Bird In The Bush



Bonus track: Bird In The Bush (After show session live at Kirkgate Arts, Cockermouth, 18th Feb 2011 with The Remnant Kings + audience)


Jon acknowledges Steeleye’s version of this and says, “This is a great atmospheric seduction song and I’ve always loved the ‘drink down the moon’ line.”

Oddly, Mainly Norfolk suggests, correctly I believe, that Steeleye’s version from Now We Are Six adds some extra verses from The Cuckoo. There are plenty of alternate versions, however, from Anne Briggs and Shirley Collins, Norma & Lal Waterson and Frankie Armstrong, all of which follow the same sequence of events. It’s another of those coded songs, although the meaning is fairly apparent, which makes me wonder why it was necessary to be so coy. Whose sensibilities were being protected here? I note the song as we know it might well have been through the censorship mincer as well, being considered a little too racy by the collectors. This Mudcat thread is quite amusing with someone getting a bit carried away with the pagan Goddess stuff. Nice theory though it is, it’s probably a layer of ‘meaning’ too far and gets fairly shrift from the cognoscenti, even a handy, passing pagan doesn’t buy it. Whatever the symbolism, I like this song and Jon’s guitar works a treat.

You can buy the February digital album now from all good download stores.


24 Responses to “Bird In The Bush”

  1. Sarah says:

    Beautifully sung.

  2. SarahM says:

    Really lovely. Only found this website a couple of days ago and I have had a few lovely hours catching up. It is a wonderful project.

  3. Jan says:

    One of my favourites, this, although I have to say I prefer the live unaccompanied version.
    It was interesting to follow the links. It seems to me the attempt to bring in the link to pagan goddess stuff is somewhat far-fetched, but Simon, isn’t it fun to be able to sing a song so full of innuendo with an air of complete innocence?
    I often wonder whether the other two maidens got their share.

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    Well, I like the accompaniment, as difference in a much-sung song breathes new life into it.

    I also liked the Mudcat discussion and do not find the pagan explanation so far-fetched, whether it’s true or not. The 3-in-1 goddess suggestion might at least soothe Jan’s worry that the other two maidens got their share! And the veiled references might be less protecting sensitivities than people practising pagan rites as suggested.

    I’m not wholly sold on the village morals allowing young people tacit leeway, not given how many folk songs there are about fallen women who were murdered when pregnant as a cover-up for the illicit liaison! Still, a dual standard of morality is nothing new.

    Nice version though, Jon.

  5. Simon says:

    Jan I was quite taken with it too, but am wary of repeating ‘facts’ from the internet, having been taken to task for it before. As always we’ll never actually know, as we weren’t there, but it is fun to speculate and yes, also fun to something so superficially innocent being anything but. Some aspects of humour are surprisingly constant.

  6. Lenora Rose says:

    Very lovely; I may be getting to this all of a month late, but I felt it worth commenting simply for the hope of noting that, as much as things like Donkey Riding and Over the Hills and Far Away seem to be popular, this deserves a note. That guitar was a splendid touch.

  7. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Here I am….an innocent old fella…enjoying a song about bird watching and then I read Mainly Norfolk sleeve notes from A. L. Lloyd…and it’s utter filth……
    those old folk song writers….I ask yer- what are they like!

  8. Diana says:

    @Muzza: Just typed a response which has just disappeared so will try to recall what I wrote.
    These titles are very misleading aren’t they Muzza? Just like your first few words above. This song was fraught with innuendo just like so many others but clever nevertheless – it’s all in the mind isn’t it? Jon did his usual good job singing it and the guitar accompaniment was just right.

  9. Pale Corbie says:

    Wow that’s dirty.

  10. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Were these songs written, or did they just evolve and adjust to suit the surrounding company? In an all male (or all female) environment made up of like minded people, i.e the barrack room, the factory floor, the rugby club, the songs can be utter filth, and if anyone is offended, hard luck.
    However, when the songs are reaching a wider public, the subject matter remains the same, but the lyrics will involve more subtlety and symbolism so that they do not cause offence to the more sensitive. (Including innocent bird watchers, Muzza !)
    It is such fun, seeing what you can get away with, and it can be a matter of fine judgement. It is the same in a folk club or pub singing session today, as I am sure it was in an ale house or tavern hundreds of years ago.

  11. Diana says:

    Well put John, you put your thoughts extremely well, one hears far more explicit remarks on television and sees things that would never been allowed not too long ago. Human nature doesn’t really change does it? Would we really want another Mary Whitehouse – I don’t think so. Perhaps I haven’t put my thoughts too clearly but I expect you get the drift.

    As for that innocent bird watcher Muzza – do you really believe that?

  12. Kibitz says:

    No, Diana, Muzza said he was an innocent old fella. An inncocent bird watcher would be someone who watches innocent birds, preferably of the long-legged persuasion.

  13. Diana says:

    Very funny! You must mean herons and storks etc. By the way you have now joined a very exclusive mis-spelling club as well. The more the merrier.

  14. Diana says:

    @ Kibitz: Should have asked last night. Have you changed your name as I have a feeling we have crossed swords before.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Particularly lovely on second hearing.

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    And just as lovely on the third hearing!

  17. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    This is a lovely song and performance Jon + guitar…despite the innuendo (snarf,snarf).
    and on a lighter note…it goes someway to explaining the inspiration for that well known anthem- “Aunie Mary had a canary up the leg of her drawers’

  18. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    Diana………..spellin’- I mean’t ‘Auntie’………………
    just did it to lure you down from the hills

  19. Jane Ramsden says:

    A canary up the leg of your drawers is not a great lure, Muzza! But ‘that well-known anthem’ is a great leg puller… I doubt you’ll pull any bird other than a canary though… unless it’s that woolly owl of yours! Hahahahaha!

  20. Diana says:

    Nice to see the old faces (not old people) just the faces. Am catching up at last. I know it was just a slip of the finger with the spelling Muzza, and Jane who puts a canary up the leg of their drawers? Not a lot of people know that.

    Still a tongue in cheek song.

  21. Little old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    How come I never got the offer of a threesome when I was of an age to appreciate it!!!
    Nowadays I’d rather have a talking frog.

  22. Diana says:

    Still a tongue in cheek song.

    Kermit would suit you then Muzza.

  23. Jane Ramsden says:

    Don’t forget the Folk Awards tonight, with Bellowhead doing a live opener – 8pm kick off, press the red button on any BBC channel to access – yeh!

  24. Linda says:

    Re Folk Awards . Congratulations to The Full English well deserved. Enjoyed the interval piece showing the new comers and their weekend plus the Bellowhead music in the back ground. A lot better show than last years.
    Once again Jon beautifully sung.

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