Just As The Tide Was Flowing


Jon acknowledges “Liza sings this on Anglicana and we used to do a string-tastic version with the Ratcatchers. This is fairly similar to Liza’s for pace (I think it’s more often done as a jaunty fast number but it works both ways.)”

Another cracker from Jon, but for me, working my way backwards through folk music, I first became aware of this song courtesy of Megson, a duo who I got to know pretty well and see on many occasions. Debs is due to give birth to their first child imminently, so here’s wishing them good luck and although that might curtail the gigging somewhat, catch them when you can, as they are ace. Anyway, Anglicana has come up before and I confessed to not owning it and that’s something that I’ve only just rectified, so that’ll be me playing catch up with that. Then it transpires that I’ve had a version for years without realising it and in truth without actually troubling my stylus with the vinyl of the 10,000 Maniacs version for a long time (far too long methinks – more catch up then!) There’s a also a version by the curiously trendy Bon Iver – not that I dislike him, but I could name half a dozen artists that would get the full page MOJO treatment before him, were it up to me. (It obviously isn’t, but I’m sure you get the point.) Most of those versions, the Maniacs aside, are slow but Eliza’s (Jon’s is a just little quicker and the phrasing different) is particularly stately. I think I like the melody being drawn out in that way as it makes it all the prettier for me. Interestingly this is another of the songs that possibly didn’t suit the collectors’ sensibilities. Mainly Norfolk has four versions transcribed and it’s the third that has the telling lines that seems to appear in the broadside versions,

“ Beneath a tree with the branches round, And what was done shall ne’er be found”

as opposed to “what was said would never be known,” which doesn’t rhyme nearly as well. Mind you if you follow this link there are even some versions where they head off to church at the end, rather than the sailor hitting the pub with some other floozy in tow!! It all smacks of efforts to clean up what is after all a fairly fruity tale – quite what he did to earn twenty quid…?!? As I said at the top another cracker.



47 Responses to “Just As The Tide Was Flowing”

  1. John says:

    Yes indeed, this is another cracker of a song. It will send me back to listen again to the Eliza Carthy version on Anglicana, and also to Harry Cox on Voice of the People. Which brings me to my point below…

    As we come towards the end of this project I’d just like to say a very big thank you to Jon Boden for everything he has done. I’ve really enjoyed waking up every morning and listening to each song (yes, I’m in Okinawa, so with the time difference I can do that). As well as introducing me to lots of songs I didn’t know, one really enjoyable aspect of this project has been that I’ve rediscovered many songs I’d almost forgotten about. It seems that almost every other day Jon does a song that I have tucked away somewhere on a CD by someone else, so it has encouraged me to listen to my CDs again and to learn more about the songs. Who knows, I might even start trying to sing one or two of them myself! Anyway, many thanks!

  2. John Bryson says:

    I thought the introduction to May was fantastic, but this is up there with it.
    I turned 56 last Saturday, and I’ve only been visiting folk clubs the last couple of years, so I am not a youngster coming to the folk scene. One of the biggest things to help my steep learning curve in this music genre has been Jon’s AFSAD project. It’s been a real pleasure to listening to the wealth of material performed by Jon with the various guests (I’m thinking of December).
    I’m not sure about other readers but I think you may be the same as me – with only just over three weeks to go to the completion of the year I am concerned that I will be having withdrawal symptoms! Mind you, my Wife Jane and I will be at Cecil Sharp House on June 23rd – see a few of you there?

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

    A lovely old song and a great version….
    as to the morals of blokes….
    ploughboys/sailors /soldiers/morris dancers/blokes with one sock…..they are all the same ladies…give them wide berth…the aristos are not much better…they cut your nips off at the slightest excuse!
    Twenty pounds eh!……..if I had taken her under the tree the verse would have ended:-
    “Beneath a tree with branches round, She laughed so much-not worth a pound!”

  4. Shelley says:

    I’ve loved that song for such a long time, and it’s yet another on the to learn list. Having sung it in a choir (where I was 2nd alto) I didn’t get the tune (twas ever thus).

    Wish I could get to C# House on 23rd – but the sensible head – as well as the bank balance – have said “No” (sob!)

  5. Gail Duff says:

    For a good, jaunty version, check out Magpie Lane on’ Jack-in-the-Green’.

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    I am absolutely behind what the two Johns have written above – you’ve encapsulated my thoughts and feelings about the project exactly. I have even tried singing a folk song into my swishy new Toshiba laptop! Now, it is not as easy as it looks, tho’ one is somewhat at a disadvantage learning the words and tune of a song when one neither reads music nor plays other than a descant recorder from one’s schooldays! It is hard not to be derivative too, as one then tends towards ‘proper’ singers’ recorded versions. Add to that not being techie whizz enough to fathom how to get it in yer pc and it is a difficult task! I have managed, but the result could do with ‘tidying’ to put it politely! So I am filled with admiration for you, Jon, doing a song a day on top of everything else you do and a young family. True, you have certain advantages to the achievement, but I’ve only tried with one song and that’s hard enough!

    This song was new to me. I know Megson, but only have the other two albums from the one this song is on. I thought their latest album, The Longshot, was just brilliant.

    I would love to come to Cecil Sharp House, but it represents a bit more expense than the ticket when ye are coming from up North! Add to that a recently sprained ankle, on which I have had to hobble to the vets for the demise of my 2 eldest cats, and now Dinky – born with no upper eyelids – has got an ulcer in one eye. Funds and energy are a bit low, but ne’er the spirit! I have such a jolly and educative time through AFSAD.

    @ Muzza: the laughter comes from the sight of a man in socks and nowt else… cast off your remaining sock to the wind… sock… Hahahahaha!

  7. Jane Ramsden says:

    10,000 Maniacs’ version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oofwhE5JuSE

    Shirley & Dolly Collins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccPIO_DWwGM

    Megson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqhDU_UBJTk&feature=related

    And of course, on the saw, by someone who appears to be called Nimble Mily!


    The comments on the latter version made me laugh:

    “This gave me a headache.”

    “okk you are so singing
    the bow isn’t even touching the saw
    nice try
    you’re good at sounding like a saw”

    “either you’re a musical genius or a good ability in cr*p… not sure yet”

    “this is so weird is that a bow your scraping on a saw?????”

    ponchoyo 3 years ago

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

    Hey Jane…..thanks again for doing the spadework. Shirley & Dolly with that lovely pipe organ is the first and lasting version I hold dear. I also loved the 10,0000 maniacs version. As for NimbleMilly..a good try by her..the cruel comments were uneccessary…a refined silence would have been better…oooer…that’s probably why I have no comments on my Youtube efforts.

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    Hey, Muzza! You are welcome. I thought Shirley and Dolly had it spot-on with learning songs from their aunt. She knew loads of songs, but only about 2 verses, i.e. lots of bits of lots of songs. When I think about it, that is probably true of a lot of the songs I think I know.

    Ref YouTube comments, well, I thought Nimble Mily played the saw pretty expertly to my ears. I can see how saw-playing might create a headache though, as it reverberates on one’s ear-drum. The thing that struck me was that the commentators were at least looking into something clearly not their usual taste, so that was good.

    I have seen you on YouTube! I do not know how to comment on there, but let me say ref your Yorkshire Couple, no-one can hold a candle to you – hahahahahaha! And what about all those birds? Clearly having one sock is no disadvantage, tho’ I suppose you might have taken it off since you were Little Musgrave… then again, I couldn’t see your feet on the video…

  10. Nick Passmore says:

    Shirley Collins’ more electric version on “No Roses” is good too – and I believe it was this version that first gave 10,000 Maniacs the idea of “covering” it…

  11. Muzza says:

    June is here….summer is here……tinged with sadness…only a little time to go.
    This lovely song/tune/performance…making me feel melancholy….
    but by golly..we’ll drink and be jolly and we’ll drown melancholy and make the most of what we have left…Huzzah!
    and Ushant to Scilllly is only 35 leagues…ooer got carried away there..
    must put my ‘Farewell Spanish ladies’ onto Youtube while I think of it.
    Pinch punch first day of the month everyone…white rabbits to you to!

  12. Diana says:

    Another great song and performance by Jon.

    Everybody is getting a little depressed now that June is upon us and nearly at the end of AFSAD. What will we do then?

    Muzza like your short rhyme. As asked before did you enjoy your holiday. It was very quiet during your absence. I have never come across the expression “pinch punch first day of the month” before, where did that one come from? Although know the white rabbits one.

  13. Muzza(NW Surrey, UK) says:

    @Diana….lovely holiday (did put my foot in it 1st day….you knew I would…I’m a bloke ain’t I!)…but sorted out and great after that….so pleased that the weather was temperate rather than the scorchers we had the week after. Found a place called Fiddlers Green(as in the song) will put pic on FB….and despite being knackered after morris dancing in London on the saturday before the hol…..no probs with the old hips with all the Cornish hills…even the ‘killer steps’on St.Michael’s Mount…
    thank you, thank you to the wonderful surgeons in the NHS!
    Ref pinch punch………..I thought this was part of English folk law and everybody did it. My family vie to be the first by text or phone call..on the first of each month.(oh..Just US then!)…my work mates used to cringe when I jumped on them…will I ever grow up!

  14. Diana says:

    @Muzza: I am glad you had a good hol and the weather suited you – it seemed that as soon as you went off to Cornwall the weather got hotter up here in the north. Was St Michael’s Mount as lovely as it always looks on the television? Pleased that your hips stood up to all the hills. Surrounded by hills here being so close to the Pennines, the Pennine Way is within a few miles from here. I like your little family saying, must make a note of it for future reference. Don’t grow up, if you do you might get boring and I would not like that! Please tell what you put your foot in, it sounds intriguing and please don’t say a cow pat or worse.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Oh, wind me up and set me off like a clockwork rabbit!

    I’m with Diana on this one, as “up ‘ere int’North,” we don’t seem to do the pinching and the punching – far too nice for that! I grew up with the lore that ‘White Rabbits’ should be the first thing said on the first of the month to ensure good luck throughout that month. (But one month more importantly than the others might have been April, on account of April Fool’s Day? My memory fails me yet again!)

    Anyway, I had to Wiki, with this result:

    The exact origin of the superstition is unknown, though it was recorded in Notes and Queries as being said by children in 1909 [Roud, S. – ‘Dictionary of English Folklore’]:

    “My two daughters are in the habit of saying ‘Rabbits!’ on the first day of each month. The word must be spoken aloud, and be the first word said in the month. It brings luck for that month. Other children, I find, use the same formula.”

    In response to this note, another contributor said that his daughter believed that the outcome would be a present, and that the word must be spoken up the chimney to be most effective; another pointed out that the word ‘rabbit’ was often used in expletives, and suggested that the superstition may be a survival of the ancient belief in swearing as a means of avoiding evil. ( I KNEW there was a reason I swear a lot! But rabbits don’t feature much in that, save my childhood nickname of Jer Bugs is short for Jane B*ggerlugs!)

    It appeared in a work of fiction in 1922:

    “Why,” the man in the brown hat laughed at him, “I thought everybody knew ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.’ If you say ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit’—three times, just like that—first thing in the morning on the first of the month, even before you say your prayers, you’ll get a present before the end of the month.”

    The superstition may be related to the broader belief in the rabbit or hare being a “lucky” animal, as exhibited in the practice of carrying a rabbit’s foot for luck. (And I’ve always been drawn to those moon-gazing hare ornaments!)

    Rabbits have not always been thought of as lucky, however. In the 19th century, for example, fishermen would not say the word while at sea, and in South Devon to see a white rabbit in one’s village when a person was very ill was regarded as a sure sign that the person would die. (Cornish/Devonshire comment here would be appreciated! Also ref: “…it must be ‘White Rabbit’ … but you must also say ‘Brown Rabbit’ at night and walk downstairs backwards” reported a small survey that took place in Exeter, Devon in 1972.)

    Now Muzza’s ‘pinch and a punch’ part allegedly originates from Olde England times when people thought that witches existed. They also thought that salt would make a witch weak, so the pinch part is a pinch of salt, and the punch part was to banish the witch. The witch would be weak from the salt, so the punch would banish her. To safeguard yersen against getting black and blue all over, you’re supposed to say: ‘A pinch and a punch – and no returns!’

    The expression to take something with a pinch or grain of salt however, has different origins:

    This phrase comes from Pliny the Elder’s ‘Naturalis Historia,’ regarding the discovery of a recipe for an antidote to a poison. In the antidote, one of the ingredients was a grain of salt. Threats involving the poison were thus to be taken “with a grain of salt,” and therefore less seriously. An alternative account says that the Roman general Pompey believed he could make himself immune to poison by ingesting small amounts of various poisons, and he took this treatment with a grain of salt to help him swallow the poison. In this version, the salt is not the antidote. It was taken merely to assist in swallowing the poison.

    The Latin word ‘salis’ means both “salt” and “wit,” so that the Latin phrase “cum grano salis” could be translated as both “with a grain of salt” and “with a grain (small amount) of wit.”

    All that’s just to prove, tho’ we are nearing the end of AFSAD (*sob,sob,sob,sob,sob*) I have not lost my enthusiastic touch. Oh-er, Matron!

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    PS Just given missen another load of old guff to cut and paste into my archive of ‘wot I have learned through AFSAD’ archive!

    Sooo glad you had a lovely holiday, Muzza!

  17. Diana says:

    @Jane: Well done lass! Tha’s done a blindin job today, but like you say it is more to re-write for the archives. Found all that very interesting and entertaining and glad of a definition of the pinch and punch bit – completely new to me. You really are the fount of knowledge!. But don’t let it distract you from the work in progress will you?

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    Nah! Already copied and pasted into archive… I am into July now… Nearly there, gal! Lol!

  19. Muzza(NW Surrey, UK) says:

    @Jane/Diana……Phew..glad that Jane intimates that I’m not weird!
    Sadly rabbit has taken on a new modern image(as has ‘gay’)and little cuddly things are not the first things to spring to mind.(oh-Just me then!)
    Ref the rabbit’s foot for luck….not lucky for the rabbit donor was it!
    Yes the full saying was ‘and no returns’………’white rabbits’ was the antidote.
    Ref the Roman general taking little sips of poison to make himself immune……..
    I had a similar experience……..I was training a donkey to exist on less and less food and just when I thought the little devil had cracked it…he went and died on me!
    Ref putting foot in it on holiday (Bear with me dear reader)…got to park and ride..train arrived so in a panic…put coat on in a rush and reaching into car to grab bags when….delicate female fingers adjusting my collar!!!!!!……my delicate response….’stop fussing!’ …I gave it no further thought. Being a bloke it took me 2 hours to realise that something was amiss, but I got there in the end. On eggshells for the rest of the day but delightful from then on….I had learned a valuable lesson…
    We fellas need a woman…otherwise we would not know where we were going wrong!

  20. Muzza(NW Surrey, UK) says:

    She’s too modest to do this herself but as we are nearing the end of our little social gathering …..I’ll have to ‘out’ one of our number as a folk singer-she’ll forgive me!

  21. Reynard says:

    Well, the tide is flowing quite fast these days. Yesterday up to London and today back to Hamburg… Fay’s Orfeo launch party was lovely and I enjoyed getting to know Fay and friendly Admin Simon a bit. She even allowed me a peek at her review copy of the forthcoming New English Book of Penguin Folk Songs (or some permutation of that, anyway).

    I haven’t been in the UK for decades and I didn’t remember London being so small 🙂 A tourist can reach virtually everything by walking: from Victoria Station through Hyde Park to my hotel near Paddington Station, on through Regent’s Park to Cecil Sharp House where I even found a copy of an old Cyril Tawney commemorative programme for my collection of Tawneyisms, then to Fay’s party in Foley Street, back to my hotel, and the next day (with a few side trips) to St. Pancras where I took my train to the airport.

  22. Diana says:

    Glad you had a wonderful time and managed a peek at Fay’s book as well as meeting Simon. I think you have got your tongue in cheek when saying London is small. Cheeky you! You managed to do a fair bit of walking and got to Cyril Sharp House biut if you had had a lot more time you might have enjoyed walking under the River Thames to the Isle of Dogs – I really found that fascinating when I did it. I did leave a couple or so messages on the 25th which might or might not interest you. I expect you are glad to be home – a bit traumatic getting so much into so short a time. 😎

  23. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Reynard: I am sooo jealous, but good on you coming over here after so long and so glad you enjoyed the whole experience. By way of compensation, my signed copy of ‘Orfeo’ has arrived in record time! Yeh!

  24. Jane Ramsden says:

    PS @ Muzza: You are so naughty… hope you don’t get another couple of hours sent to Coventry for this ‘outing’ as well!

  25. Diana says:

    That was quick Jane getting Orfeo so soon. Got the reference to “record” time, pity it is a CD. Hope you enjoy listening to it when you geta break from all your other commitments – the cats, the house work and the “piece de resistance” which has taken up so much of your time. As for Muzza trust him to put his foot in it – like he said he’s a bloke ain’t he? Typical! 🙂

  26. Jan says:

    No, I won’t send Muzza to Coventry for letting the cat out of the bag – I hereby forgive him, and thanks for all the advice!

  27. Jane Ramsden says:

    Hello, Jan! Great song you were singing, and one I’d never heard before. Well done you, as I’ve still not harnessed missen to sing a note on AFSAD after nearly 2 years! And I like that the colour of your top matched the backdrop of the curtains! Careful, or Muzza will have you dressing up as daft as he does sometimes! I love the full-scale musical performances he puts on YouTube.

    Here’s what Appalachian blogger Henry Queen (v. appropriate for the Diamond Jubilee!) has to say about your song:

    “A classic among traditional mountain folk songs of the southern Appalachians. Text for this song varies considerably as does the refrain lines. It appears in most all the many collections & books written on the music of the southern mountains. Variants of the song was collected by the great folksong collectors like Cecil Sharp, Frank Brown, Bascomb Lunsford and other folklorists in the early 1900s across North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia & Missouri. Commonly it is classed as dance music or with play-party songs, or may be just a singing song unaccompanied by music. Some folks tend to think the variation in the refrain lines is due to the individual singers attempt to imitate the banjo sound.

    Chickens a crowin’ in the Sourwood Mountains
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    So many pretty girls you can’t count em
    Hi-ho diddle-um a-day

    Say old man I want your daughter
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    Bake some bread carry in the water
    Hi-ho diddle-um a-day

    Big dog bark, little dog bite you
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    Big girl courts, little ones spite you
    Hi-ho diddle-um a-day

    My true love lives up the hollow
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    She won’t come and I won’t follow
    Hi-ho diddle-um a-day

    My true love lives up on the river
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    A few more miles and I’ll be with her
    Hi-ho diddle-um a-day

    Ducks in the mill pond, geese in the clover
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    Tell them pretty girls, I’am comin over
    Hi-ho diddle-all day

  28. Muzza(NW Surrey, UK) says:

    Caught a pretty Gal, rolled in the clover
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    Lost me sock and old pullover
    Hi-ho diddle-all day

    Gettin’ too old for all this singin’
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    Off to heaven I’ll soon be wingin’
    Hi-ho diddle-all day

    Jane, Diana and Jan’ll be waitin’
    Hi-ho doodle-um a-day
    They’ll cure me of this fornicatin’
    Hi-ho diddle-all day

  29. Muzza(NW Surrey, UK) says:

    @Jane comment 1:05am above …Priceless…you girls…I ask yer!!!!
    “And I like that the colour of your top matched the backdrop of the curtains”

  30. Diana says:

    Muzza Muzza Muzza you really do write the most surprising little odes. I sincerely hope that you do not put this on YouTube. What makes you think that heaven awaits you? As the old joke goes “if you go to heaven you sit around all day and polish your harp or trumpet but go down below there are so many of you that you finish by dinner time” – not easy to write, it comes over better if you can speak it, bur expect you get the drift.

    Nice to put a face to Jan now – it seems that you are forgiven. Jane was right Jan had the perfect backdrop.

  31. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Priceless? Says the man with one sock, a naval uniform, a full size flagpole (oh-er, Missus!) & a blow-up polar bear! I rest my case yet again…

    Ye’ll get to heaven… already bin to Fiddlers Green… mind, they did let you back again, didn’t they? And I’m not so sure we gals will be ‘waiting’ for you… I’m hoping the laws of nature will prevail and we might get a while longer in this green and pleasant land!

  32. Diana says:

    @Jane I am with you on this one. Not ready for the Grim Reaper yet. But I am still awaiting the Fiddlers Green photo on FB as promised by our friend. Gee him up woin’t you?

  33. Jane Ramsden says:

    It’s on FB already, Diana. I’ll share it on my wall so ye can see. Think I had to hunt for it!

  34. Diana says:

    @Jane: I have been on FB and looked under your name but no Fiddlers Green can I find. I expect you will be able to locate it though.

  35. Linda says:

    Went to see Eliza and Jim Moray, Wayward tour at Buxton .Eliza was brilliant ( so was Sam Sweeney and Saul Rose] Well worth going to see if you get chance.

  36. Jan says:

    I second that – saw them in Peterborough last night and I’m still buzzing!

  37. Jane Ramsden says:

    Going to see Eliza and Jim tomorrow night… first time live for both of them, so can’t wait!

  38. OldMuzza (N.W Surrey-UK) says:

    Still love that Shirley and Dolly version

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

    I gave Nimblemilly another go…………..and she did manage to saw out a recognisable version of just as tide flowing….well done Milly says I!

  40. Old Muzza (NW Surrey) says:

    Three scorching hot days in Devon and back to rainy, chilly Surrey……..gave Nimblemilly yet another try and Young Jan on her Sourwood Mountain…..she’s not commented for some time

  41. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey UK) says:

    Ooooer….re reading all the old comments every day really brings back the old memories.
    I’ll bet Lindy Lou is still keeping up despite being in Cornwall

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

    Love it love it!….and love singing it!

  43. John Bryson says:

    I’ve just looked at what I wrote eight years ago and I wouldn’t change a word. It’s always a pleasure to pop onto this website from time to time and hear some great songs well sung by Jon

  44. John Bryson says:

    On this lovely June morning here in Leicestershire I have just been singing along to this.

    I’ve seen what I wrote back in 2019. Ten years on from this project I still wouldn’t change a word that I wrote at that time. Great stuff

  45. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Blimey…..I tune in to AFSAD every couple of days and re read and enjoy the comments of old acquaintances…..some departed……..then I look at the dates of the comments and realise how life flies by!

  46. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    I wonder just “what they said” just as the tide was flowing…….
    and they ‘shook hands’ when they parted…..I dunno….where’s the romance gone!…Doh!

  47. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    As I have said before……AFSAD is just like reaching up and having the day’s play selected for you from your whole collection and a chance to replay Jan/Shirley&Dolly and nimble Millie

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