The Trees They Do Grow High


Referring to Barry Dransfield again, Jon Simply says of this, “Another one from the brilliant Be Your Own Man.” And there’s a special bonus here as those bright young people at Bright Young Folk have recorded Jon and Fay performing this, followed by a goodly interview with the man himself. I urge you to follow the link through to that site if you haven’t already bookmarked it as a favourite, as there’s some cracking content to be had. I should also add my thanks as this video is well worth watching. Bright Young Folk is update daily, so you can add to your folk fix with a simple click of the mouse. As far as this particular song goes, Wiki has the goods here and what this lacks, Mainly Norfolk, in inimitable fashion, offers sleeve notes and lyrical variations aplenty. So a further debt of gratitude is due to Reinhard.


You can buy the September digital album now from all good download stores:


38 Responses to “The Trees They Do Grow High”

  1. Reinhard says:

    Beautifully sung. I’m bewitched!

  2. muzza says:

    An excellent video………….good to hear Jon’s views on songs and singing.

  3. Jane Ramsden says:

    I really like this song, as much for the notion that the young husband dies before his older wife (whilst both still young, but leaves a son) as for your combined singing of it. I like your melding of 2 different tunes, and a couple singing about a couple has rightness about it, in contrast to the overturning of life’s natural order contained in the song. Except so far back as this song was written, natural order was by no means certain, which makes it fit well with being incorporated into the opening of Steve Knightley’s IEG. Lovely, harmonious, complex simplicity! A real contender now for my September vote! And I don’t think I am being swayed by the video format or interview – well, maybe just a little bit!

    Already had Bright Young Folk bookmarked to my Favourites. By George, she’s got it! Well, getting there!

  4. John says:

    As ever, this was beautifully sung. The interview was really interestilng too….and now I’m looking forward to the first Tom Waits song by Jon.

  5. Simon Dewsbury says:

    John, Spiers and Boden do a lovely version of ‘Innocent when you dream’ on ‘Songs’, the sleeve notes say ‘…we prefer to think of it as a great Victorian parlour ballad that got mislaid’.
    i think Fay and Jon’s voices meld together so well, and the interview was very interesting, not least for some clues about future repertoire.
    there look to be a lot of other interesting videos on the pop up at the bottom, including a couple of Fay Hield songs – I hadn’t heard ‘Mad family’ before, then links to Bellowhead videos…..but I should be getting ready to go to work.

  6. Phil says:

    I’ve done three different versions of this song over the years; at one singaround I was just running through the first few notes to myself when somebody else launched into yet another version of it. (I did Blackwaterside instead).

    You can hear me doing this song (and Blackwaterside) here. Comparisons would be invidious, but let’s just say that I think Jon’s versions are also quite good.

  7. Shelley says:

    Absolutely stunning – many thanks Jon and Fay. Wonderful tingly harmonies, and so nice to hear those two voices together.

    I used to sing this in my late teens, same words, but slightly different tune. I think I’ll have to dust off my memory banks and start singing it again (my late teens were a long time ago).

  8. SRD says:

    Nice version, and I enjoyed the interview, shame about the pillock using their mobile during it.

    I wait with bated breath; come on John, confound the sceptics – bring on the ABBA 😀

  9. LadyD says:

    Great interview.
    I want to hear the Britney Spears song. (yes I have her debut album in my collection *ducks for cover*)

  10. Phil says:

    The stuff about style is really interesting. An awful lot of what singers do, for me, is trying to copy other singers and failing.

    As for What Is And Isn’t Folk… naah, let’s not go there. I started out thinking that if it wasn’t Traditional it wasn’t Folk, full stop – no Pete Coe songs for me! It would be ridiculous to say that everything a folkie sings (or writes) is therefore folk music, but I’ve had to concede that there are some authored songs which it’s impossible not to call folk; could anyone seriously say that Shoals of Herring isn’t a folk song, or Green Fields of England, or the Scarecrow? (I mean, you could, but so much the worse for folk.)

    What complicates the situation is that for every Ewan or Peter Bellamy there are half a dozen Jez Lowes and Harvey Andrewses, whose stuff is excellent in its own way but isn’t quite in the same area – and for every Jez Lowe there’s a dozen wannabe Jez Lowes. (Not that many wannabe MacColls or Bellamys, on the other hand.) There’s lots of what I think of as Folk Revival Song out there – some of which, ironically, now sounds more dated than a lot of traditional songs do.

  11. Stephen W says:

    Can we have more of Fay and Jon singing together please? Their voices blend together so well.

    The interview was interesting as well. I’d love for Jon to do some Tom Waites. I love Waites’ more ‘sentimental’ material especially Tom Traubert’s Blues which was massacred by Rod Stewart a few years back.

  12. Simon says:

    Having some advanced knowledge there wil be more of Jon & Fay, but not immediately and I think Tom Waits will be up sooner.

  13. Marilyn m says:

    This is a real oldie for me – The very first folk record I bought was Martin Carthy – by Martin Carthy and this song was on it – a really different sound, but both really poignant. Love it, thank you!

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    I would like to hear Jon covering Tom Waits, esp Tom’s Traubert’s Blues which, coincidentally, a friend sent to me only a few days ago. I had never heard it before. Here is the YouTube link, if anyone else hasn’t heard it, or wants a ‘refresher’ and yet another treat for today.

    And repeat thanks to another person on here, Brian, for pointing me in the direction of a book by Ronald Hutton called ‘The Stations of The Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain,’ which fits in well for me with what Jon was saying in the interview about tying his AFSAD songs into dates and occasions.

    Also happy to hear there will be more Fay and Jon singing together. You both looked like you were enjoying it, and we here certainly did.

  15. Sorry this is the first time I have dipped into this. Lovely to hear Jon and Fay both singing and talking, interestingly and intelligently, about the songs and the whole part that folk song and music has to play in your community. The whole debate about whether contemporary writers’ material is okay to put into the folk repertoire is marvellous and ongoing. My partner Jim Woodland and I both believe that the folk repertoire is built on popular songs which get absorbed into a timeless core of songs which keep on being sung by people in pubs and at all sorts of gatherings. We would include all sorts of pop songs (which get altered by the people who sing them until they reach a sort of rememberable core) and tunes which stick with people, not necessarily written as folk tunes. I know this view is not shared by everyone! However, I think any memorable, singable songs, especially with refrain lines or choruses, will get absorbed into the canon of what we now call folk song, as long as people get together and sing. Folk song is not definable because it is whatever people remember to sing.
    Ho ho. Discuss!

  16. Stephen W says:

    Apologies to Mr. Waits for adding an ‘e’ to his surname.

  17. Judith Parker says:

    Liked this version. Nice video. Check out Bob Fox’s brilliant version too – a more melancholic interpretation.

  18. Phil says:

    And always remember, Tom Waits for no man…

  19. admin says:

    I think its great to hear Jon and Fay singing together in this video. It’s also really nice to hear Jon’s thoughts on the project and on some of the discussions that have happened in the comments. Good stuff… Looking forward to the Bellowhead album launch in a few weeks too.

  20. Nick Passmore says:

    Amen to Janet Russell’s comment!

  21. This is one of those songs that I love but never learnt, as I thought it was basically a female song. The first verses are from the wife’s perspective – but on closer listening the narrative passes to others. Jon and Fay singing it together so skilfully, obscures the ambiguity, though I am still not sure a bloke on his own feels right. Seeing people sing does add an extra dimension (guess it is a performance not just a sound) so thanks for the video. The interview is a great bonus; Jon’s distinction between the traditional folk process and the professional drive for novelty is very reassuring to someone who apes their source singer.

  22. OxfordClareB says:

    Thanks to Jon and Fay for a lovely treat. It would be great to hear a joint album from you one of these days 😉 I haven’t heard this version before (catching up on the Dransfields’ back catalogue is high on my list of priorities), but can also highly recommend Bellamy’s version, which blows me away every time.

    Well said Phil, as always. I think there is an important distinction to be drawn. That said, I enjoyed Jon’s own distinction between emulating an admired singer as opposed to striving desperately to be different. It’s important to make whatever song you sing feel like your ‘own’, but there can be too much emphasis placed on deliberately sounding different – often at the expense of both singer and song.

  23. Phil says:

    Never really understood the gender thing. (In this specific context, I mean!) When I did When I Was In My Prime, I used to introduce it by saying that I wouldn’t be singing songs from the point of view of a young girl, but I hadn’t been able to find any traditional songs written from the point of view of a middle-aged bloke with an office job…

  24. Linda Hall says:

    Really enjoyed this, and great to hear Jon’s tribute to Barry Dransfield – one of the all-time greats for me. Re the relative ages of the couple in the song, I’ve found doing family history that it was extremely common for the wife to be older than the husband, often by several years, so in this sense the song is perfectly realistic. Less common for the man to die first though.

  25. Jane Ramsden says:

    “Nick Passmore says: Amen to Janet Russell’s comment!”

    I’m with you on this, Nick!

    (Janet, I think you are a Silsden Singer, like my friend Janine? I gave the choir an hon mention in comments for an earlier song (about No 57 in Jon’s repertoire here) called Abroad For Pleasure, because it includes the phrase ‘pratty flowers’. I have heard the choir sing a song about ‘all the pratty, pratty flowers’. I understand you do occasional folk singing in a local pub, so I may come along with Janine.)

  26. Val bagnall says:

    This is a really beautiful song. Thank you.

  27. That is some inspiring stuff. By no means realized that viewpoints might be this varied.

  28. viv says:

    I enjoyed this very much. I learnt the version Phil sang on his website when I was at senior school and have never heard it sung since.

  29. Diana says:

    A really lovely duet but such a sad ending to the song.

  30. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    I note that Fay wins the ‘outstare each other’ contest……and those lights are still on around the mirror…3years..the electricity bill must be horrendous!

  31. Diana says:

    @Muzza: Aha there you are you reprobate (in the nicest meaning of the word) – glad to see you are bushy tailed etc. Cannot quite remember the rest of the expression.

  32. Phil says:

    All right, here it is (again) and it’s called

    The Trees They Do Grow High (52 Folk Songs)

    Recorded in the open air, in one take (with editing).

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

    Loved being reunited with the video yet again………..
    Watching Jon’s head…..gave me a money-making idea…..little model nodding ‘Jons’ that you put in your car rear window………….(what am I like -eh….old blokes….I ask yer….rude or what!)

  34. Diana says:

    Instead 0f a nodding dog you think Muzza?

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

    Hi Diana………….
    did you know that Linda had a photo taken with Jon a few days ago…what a gal.

  36. Linda says:

    Nice to re watch the interview with Jon…..would never have dreamed of going to a folkie night at the pub until I came across Jon’s site but have really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and listening to people just singing including some talented youngsters….

  37. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Linda…….need to see photo of you with Jon

  38. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Ha….can’t see the video anymore from the Bright young folk link as it is labelled ‘private’
    However, I did spend hours listening to many of the videos that were available. pays not to name a site as ‘young’ anything…. when unfortunately, the performers get older!

Your Reply

Warning: Undefined variable $user_ID in /customers/a/0/f/ on line 121