The Gardener


Jon says, “Such a beautiful tune this. Steeleye borrowed it for a chorus for Wife Of Usher’s Well, and who can blame them? Lovely lyric as well. I’ve decided to drop the last verse though because I’m less keen on it.”

Another from the Child collection (#219) and a rather strange, poetic song. This Mudcat thread immediately makes the point that seems a more natural Scottish rhyming scheme to this. That’s probably true, but if you follow the thread down, it’s not quite as straightforward as you might think. It’s interesting to see Bert once again associated with ‘adapting’ songs, in this case to fill in what he regarded as the lapsed gaps in the English tradition. I think in truth that having tried to research this year’s worth of material, that notions of national ownership aren’t especially useful. For every song that has a definite regional identity there are several others that have moved with ease being ‘adopted’ and ‘adapted’ to suit the singer’s location long before Bert intervened. Still, you may also like to see the versions as collected by Child here, which also links into this that gives you a run through his collection. I must say I rather like that last part, although it carries with it the sense that the lady has firmly rejected the Gardner’s overtures and is perhaps as cold hearted as she is haughty in her stance. You can also compare the modern versions of Maddy Prior and Tim Hart, June Tabor and more recently, Rachel McShane at Mainly Norfolk. Another cracker.



20 Responses to “The Gardener”

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

    Well……………Margaret would have been kinder to say:-
    “I am flattered by your attention kind sir…….
    but you look like riff raff to me-so no chance! ”
    We fellas have feelings you know!

  2. Jerry Simon says:

    End of the 6os, Yeovil Folk Club: teenage Chris Foster used to sing it – I’d never heard anything so beautiful, and Chris singing that still ranks with me as a standard for beauty in song. If anything I hear is as good as that was then it is indeed exceptional.
    The tune also used by Mr Bellamy for Earl Richard’s Song (?) – whatever it’s called it’s the one that goes “… and now England has taken me”. Beautifully sung by James Fagan once upon a time, don’t know if he still does it.

  3. John Biggs says:

    Half way through May and every song a winner ! Like Jerry I would also take you back to the mid 60s, and, to the references above add Shirley Collins version with Davy Graham, although the haughty lady in her version is called Proud Maisrie.
    Beautifully sung Jon

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    Here I am, wanting to play catch-up, and there’s no facility to play the song at the moment! I can ‘like it’, and I’m sure I will, but I’d like to hear it first! May’s been such a cracking month so far! Waaaah!

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    It is alright, Skyman, I have sorted the problem with a system restore! Yeh!

  6. Simon says:

    Jane as per my e-mail it will be to do with the Flash Player although I can’t say why yours has been disabled. I’d keep hold of the link I sent you just in case it happens again.

  7. the_otter says:

    Another great song. Though as someone who *is* keen on the last verse, I’m a little disappointed that wasn’t included:

    The horse that you shall ride upon,
    Will be of the wintry grey,
    And every time that you pass by,
    I’ll wish you were away, away,
    I’ll wish you were away.

  8. Peter Walsh says:

    Lovely Jon. My red roses aren’t out yet, so I will be sticking to more mundane gardening practices! I’m just about recovering from hand-clipping my privet yesterday…

    I half expected The Bonny Black Hare today though, with its first line of “On the 14th of May…”. My iPod surprised me with the Fairport version of that this morning – you couldn’t make it up! Even better, check out A.L. Lloyd on Youtube:

  9. Pewter says:

    Oh that naughty Mr Lloyd, hahaha!

  10. Diana says:

    No red roses here either though there should be. Veyr nicely sung.

    @Pewter it is not described on YouTube as an “Erotic folk song” for nothing. I have just been reading the words on Reynard’s site under A.L.Lloyd’s songs. Whew!

  11. Peter Walsh says:

    He may have been an exponent of the turkey rhubarb Diana!

  12. Diana says:

    Pewter – he must have over-dosed on it, that’s all I can say.

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Pierre & Diana: Only common or garden rhubarb. If it had been turkey rhubarb, he’d have been going, not coming! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  14. Diana says:

    Jane if it is as good as it is purported to be, I wonder why no budding entrepreneur hasn’t taken up growing it, as surely it would be profitable. There would probably be a demand for it don’t you think?

  15. Reynard says:

    For all rhubarb fanciers who also like German word conglomerates: Rhabarberbarbara.

  16. Diana says:

    What a delightful word and easy to remember to boot! Rha barber barbara though I suspect it is not pronounced like we would say.

  17. Diana says:

    Followed your link Reynard – das ist sehr gut and funny. You found my meanderings soporific the other evening then? Probably my stab at remembered German is incorrect. What should I have written?

  18. Sarah says:

    How did I miss this one first time round?????

  19. Val Burns says:

    Haven’t visited in over a year – still can’t sing, I hear.

  20. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Ref comment above…….I wonder if Val is still having trouble singing!

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