Turtle Dove


Jon admits, “This is one of my favourite songs from James Fagan and Nancy Kerr’s repertoire. James and Nancy were the first professional musicians I ever met and I was somewhat in awe of them. I still am, truth be told.”

I’d count myself as a fan too although on the strength of the last CD in particular which is superb, so not with the same longevity as Jon. I’ve managed to track down their version, which is rather basic in the recording, but features James’ voice clear and strong and Nancy’s insistent fiddle, suggesting it might have been a bit of a live classic. I’ll refer to Mainly Norfolk for the fact that both Bellamy and Martin Carthy have recorded this, although I’d note that both are markedly different to this version, which seems to have the verses about shoes, gloves and cheeks floating in from elsewhere. You may want to dabble over at Mudcat where there’s a world of alternatives to take on board, indicating a wider family of songs that have at least passing acquaintance with this one. I suppose the theme of lovers parting is a fairly common one that never went out of fashion. That said I don’t imagine menfolk are much called upon in the foot shoeing department these days.


15 Responses to “Turtle Dove”

  1. Adam says:

    This shares the same Roud number–as well as many of the same verses–as A-Roving on a Winter’s Night, which Jon and Fay sang on December 10th. And both are related to the haunting Lord Gregory / Lass of Loch Royal that Shirley Collins, Maddy Prior, Martin Simpson and many others I’m sure have recorded. Beautiful in all its forms, and nicely sung here, Jon.

  2. Phil says:

    I’m writing this comment before I’ve even finished listening to the song. Beautiful stuff, and incidentally an answer to the age-old question “how do you sing Ten Thousand Miles without sounding like you wish you were Nic Jones?”

    The verse where he answered her questions reminded me of an ancient joke on the Backward Swain theme. A couple are out for an evening drive, which to the girl’s increasing dismay seems likely to turn into nothing more than a drive. She decides to make a move, saying, “I’m blue. Nobody loves me, and my hands are cold.” He replies, “Don’t be sad. God loves you, and your mother loves you – and you can sit on your hands.”

  3. Shelley says:

    Gorgeous, what more can I say.

    I’ve sung this as a rather lovely choral arrangement, but being a 2nd alto have never learnt the tune. No excuses now!

  4. the_otter says:

    Beautiful song, and new to me. I always mean to investigate Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, but never get round to it…time to buy their CDs, I think.

  5. Reinhard says:

    Yup, AFSAD is a great incentive to stock up one’s CD collection. I already had most of Jon’s records before this project started but have found lots of other gems here.

  6. the_otter says:

    Nic Jones, Tim Eriksen, now NK&JF – for a free project, AFSAD is beginning to take quite a toll on my purse!

  7. Mike New says:

    Turtle Dove released 25 March. I cannot find anywhere the lyrics to this song Jon sings. Can anyone out there help please. I have checked all the links (I think) but they have not taken me to the words he sings!



  8. Jon Boden says:

    This is what I noted down from James and Nancy’s version. Whether it’s what I sang is a different matter…

    As I walked out one winters night
    A drinking of sweet wine
    Conversing with a fair young maid
    Who stole this heart of mine

    Oh fair you well my own true love
    And fair well for a while
    For I must go but I’ll be back
    If I go ten thousand miles

    But who will shoe m feet my love
    And who will glove my hands
    And who will kiss m rosy cheeks
    While you’re in foreign lands

    Oh your father will shoe your feet my love
    And your mother will glove your hands
    Your sister will kiss your rosy cheeks
    While I’m in foreign lands

    But don’t you see yon turtle dove
    In yonder willow tree
    She’s weeping for her own true love
    As I shall weep for thee

    Oh hush my love don’t break my heart
    Don’t make me for to cry
    For the best of friends do have to part
    I’m sure that’s you and I

    Yes the best of friends do have to part
    And sure that’s you and me
    But the sun shall rise up in the west
    If I never return to thee

  9. Mike New says:

    Thanks Jon. Perfect. Sounds exactly what you sang. Keep ’em coming.

  10. Diana says:

    I write in fear and trepidation of this disappearing into the ether again as per yesterday.

    I enjoyed this very much and also enjoyed Nic Jones’ version on Mainly Norfolk. They both share the same roots but are dissimilar otherwise. Well here goes.

  11. Diana says:

    @ Muzza: You said that Shenandoah was a favourrite of yours too. I have found a new version with words that I don’t remember hearing before. The way to track the words is Roud Folk Song Index 324. The first version on the sheet is the one I have always known but the second version is different. It is possible that you are already familiar with this. It was sung by an American folk group called Cumberland Blues.

  12. Muzza(N.W.Surrey. UK) says:

    @Diana………….blimey gal……got totally lost and didn’t find it in the Roud/Vwml thingys…I’ll stick to my old “National school songbook version”

  13. Diana says:

    :Muzza ….Sorry you could not find it in Roud 324. There is quite a lot more to it than the accepted version which I have by others.

    By the way I have been reinstated so don’t know what caused the problem. Have a look and see what you think.

  14. Linda says:

    What a lovely song.

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