Brisk Young Widow


Back to Bellamy again and Jon says, “The first song I ever heard Bellamy sing (on the Voices album). He started singing it as a tribute to Royston Wood after his untimely death.” Mainly Norfolk puts the flesh on those bones as you’ve come to expect and I can only add Davy Graham and one Benjamin Britten to the list of versions offered there (that latter is curious – does anyone know it?) I also found this link that adds a little detail. Jolly enough it’s left me with a lingering nag as to what the collier had that the farmer didn’t!!

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21 Responses to “Brisk Young Widow”

  1. Jane Ramsden says:

    “Jolly enough it’s left me with a lingering nag as to what the collier had that the farmer didn’t!!”

    Well, the one had his hat up and t’other had his hat down – so it was just the cut of his jib! Or pheromones…

    …but briskly sung, Jon! Must also check out Kerfuffle’s version mentioned on Mudcat.

    Couldn’t get the 2nd link to link, but it is 1.30am & perhaps it’s asleep!

  2. Brian Leach says:

    Sorry to be pedantic but I think you mean Benjamin Britten. He’s not a favourite of mine but he did a number of folk song arrangements. See here

  3. Jan says:

    As to what the collier had that the farmer didn’t, well, they do say there’s no accounting for taste!
    I’m told the second link is temporarily shut down due to hacking , but due to reopen 5th Oct or thereabouts.
    I do like this song, and Jon’s rendition of it.

  4. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I ‘ve had a look around but I can’t find a link to anyone singing the Britten arrangement. Inevitably, it was 1st sung by Peter Pears (in 1951), so I expect it won’t include much bellowing.

    it’s from vol 5 of the folk song arrangements which include

    1 The Brisk Young Widow (traditional) 2 Sally in our Alley (words and music by Henry Carey) 3 The Lincolnshire Poacher (traditional) 4 Early one morning (traditional) 5 Ca’ the yowes (words by Robert Burns)

    So, not the only song that Jon’s sung recently that has a Britten arrangement (tho’ I presume that the change to Ca’ the yowes is because it’s a Black Country variant.

    Apparently there are 8 volumes so Jon might be going to have a quick once over of them once he gets close to the dread 240.

  5. OxfordClareB says:

    Probably my favourite Bellamy rendition, and I like how Jon has made it his own.

    I am (un)lucky enough to own an album called ‘The World of English Folk Song’ (somewhat of a non sequitur…) on which Peter Pears ‘performs’ this song, with the most horrifically bizarre and discordant piano accompaniment I have ever heard. It’s so bad it’s utterly brilliant, and I do recommend it! You can find it to listen to for free on Spotify, for those who have it.

    There’s also a brilliant version by Brass Monkey.

  6. Simon says:

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious Britten faux pas (corrected), another example of fingers and brain not linking as they should. I think I need to up the B vitamins or something…

    And Jane that make you wonder about hats and what might be under them!

    I also wonder about the folk info link, as it’s suspiciously coincidental with me scheduling this post. I hope it’s just coincidental and nothing more sinister.

  7. Nick says:

    “the most horrifically bizarre and discordant piano accompaniment I have ever heard.”

    You are not wrong! That piano is so disconnected it’s almost genius!

  8. Simon says:

    Crikey! I’ve just listened too. That’s jazz!!

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    The ‘hat up’ part of the song might be a reference to the ‘brisk widow’ feeling the wealthy first suitor was ‘high-hatting’ her, i.e. being snooty, snobbish, condescending or patronising. Or maybe he was too full of himself, as per the expression ‘wearing his hat on the side of his head,’ at a cocky or jaunty angle. The phrase seems to have a pedigree:

    Danville Girl, No 2: Lyrics
    As performed by Cisco Houston
    Appears on: CD Original Folkways Recordings

    I went down to the railroad yard
    To watch that train roll by
    I knew the train would roll that day
    But I did not know what time

    I did not know what time, boys
    I did not know what time
    I knew the train would roll that day
    But I did not know what time

    Good morning Mister Railroad Man
    What time does your train roll by
    Nine-sixteen and two-forty-four
    Twenty-five minutes ’til five

    At nine-sixteen, two-twenty-four
    Twenty-five minutes ’til five
    Thank you Mister Railroad Man
    I wanna watch your train roll by

    Standing on a platform
    Smoking a cheap cigar
    Waitin’ for some old freight train
    Carries an empty car

    I set my hat on the side of my head
    And I walked across the track
    Caught the end of a streamline train
    I never did come back

    I rode her down to Danville Town
    I got stuck on a Danville girl
    Bet your life she was a pearl
    She wore that Danville curl

    She wore her hat on the side of her head
    Like high-tone people all do
    The very next train come down that track
    I bid that gal adieu

    I bid that gal adieu, boys
    I bid that gal adieu
    And the very next train come down that track
    I bid that gal adieu

  10. Erika Jones says:

    I thought I might add that Britten started setting English folk songs to help combat home sickness whilst living in Brooklyn with Peter Pears and W.H. Auden (he moved to the States to escape WW2 and being conscripted into the forces).

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

    “She was proper, stout and tall, her fingers long and small”……………..
    I am thinking to myself…….would I want to court such a monster/mishapen lady?

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Well, you pull what you are able… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Remember, she’s a ‘widder’ woman. She’s done her time, so now wants to do the choosing! I think the words mean she’s upright (as in straight-backed), shapely (as in well-stacked!) and tall, with long and slender fingers – all signs of healthy & refined attraction back in her day!

    By-the-way, you were in faster-paced good voice for yesterday’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’ on your YouTube vid. I was in mid-flow of saying so, when the old BT BB connection went. I hope you’ve got a permit for that rifle?! Your domicile must be stuffed with props!

    I see Eric Bogle sings it more slowly, accompanied by John Munro, as per this SIMMO7TS YouTube link from The Gate To Southwell Folk Festival 2009:

    But this more youthful rendition contains some truly moving film footage that fits the words perfectly:

    Eric Bogle wrote these words 40 years ago in 1971. I’m an absolute convert to this song now.

  13. Jan says:

    Crikey, Jane, I just noticed the time on your 2010 posts – did you have insomnia?

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Jan: I’m a bit of a night owl… OK, I’m a lot of a night owl! Not much respite with all the rescue cats. Plus, it’s the only time that doesn’t really belong to anyone.

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

    @Jane….yep…….I have just revisited my version
    (usually only go there 25April ANZAC day)……………in the write up in the video..I do point out that it is a “Raucous version” and is a world away from Eric’s version.
    If you scroll down I also list all the horrifying facts of the Gallipoli campaign (ala Jane Ramsden school of folk knowledge).

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: I missed your comments as the old BB went in the middle of exploring your version (oh-er, Matron!) Also the ‘Show More’ button (2x oh-er, Matron!!) only reads ‘scroll down for lyrics,’ when ye have more comments of the edifying/sobering kind than just the song words. T’was another mean old scene, Muzzy…

  17. Diana says:

    Well there is no accounting for taste. The collier was more attractive in some way than the farmer. Nice enough song.

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

    Not struck on my revisit of the brisk young Widow …THe song is very bland and minimal tune…..BUT…. comments lead me to revisit the Eric Bogle/John Munro…’Band played Waltzing Matilda’………bliss

  19. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Just covered mesen in coal dust……put on raggy clothes…and sat outside the house smokin’ a clay pipe for hours………and not one sniff of an offer from any lady….let alone a brisk young widder woman!

  20. Covered with guitar accompaniment by Dave Burland quite nicely and away from PB influences also appears in Cheshire songs as collected by Roy Clinging


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