Lyrics from TIDE OF CHANGE CD by Tom & Barbara Brown. (WGS 332 CD)

© songs: Sound of Singing (Bogle), Bampton Fair (Wilson), and When Mother & Me Joined In (Coles) are not published here. All other songs are  © trad./arr. UmberMusic, or © writer.


Sound of Singing

The Little Gypsy Girl

Bampton Fair

The Cluster of Nuts

Barbara Allen

Bread and Cheese and Cider

Bridgwater Fair

Song of the Flail

When Mother and Me Joined In

Tide of Change

Exe, Barle and Bray

Lowlands of Holland

Rusty ‘Ol Knife

In Friendship’s Name







My father’s the King of the Gypsies, it is true,

My mother she learn-ed me some camping for to do;

With me pack all on me back, my friends all wished me well,

And I went up to London Town some fortunes for to tell,

            Some fortunes for to tell, some fortunes for to tell,

            And I went up to London Town some fortunes for to tell.


As I was a-walking through fair London’s streets,

A wealthy young squire the first I chanced to meet;

He view-ed my brown cheeks and he lik-ed them so well,

Says he, ‘Me little gypsy girl, can you my fortune tell?’


‘Oh yes,’ then said the gypsy girl, ‘Come, give to me your hand;

‘Tis you that have good riches, both houses and land;

Well, the fairer girls are dainty but you must pass them by,

For it is the little gypsy girl that is to be your bride.’


Well, he took me to his palace; there were carpets on the floor,

And servants there a-waiting for to open every door;

There were ladies there of honour and the music it did play,

And all were there to celebrate the gypsy’s wedding day.


So it’s farewell to the gypsy world and a-camping on the green;

No more with me brothers and me sisters I’ll be seen,

For I was a gypsy girl, but now I’m a squire’s bride

With servants for to wait on me and in me carriage ride.

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THE CLUSTER OF NUTS (trad. adapted Brown)


In Bristol lived a merchant, a wealthy merchant man,

Who had as fine and loving wife as ever the sun shone on.

            Fol-de-rol-ol-de-rol ler-i-o,

            Fol-de-rol-ol-de-rol ler-i-o.


He had a young apprentice was proper, tall and bright;

He said he could sleep with a pretty maid and kiss her twelve times a night.


Now the mistress standing by and hearing him say so,

She said, ‘Jack, I’ll lay a wager you cannot perform it so.


Five pounds shall be the wager, and twelve shall be the bet,

And I meself will be the judge when we are both in bed.’


Now, the master being from home, and everything being right,

He slipped into bed with his mist-er-ess and he kissed her twelve times that night,


But one of them being drowsy, there was no virtue in;

It caused the mistress for to say, ‘The wager I did win.’


‘Oh no,’ says Jack, ‘The bet is mine, and for to make it right,

I’ll leave it up to me master when he comes home tonight.’


‘Well, begone, you saucy fellow, would you have your master know?’

‘Indeed, upon me honour, I do intend it so.’


Now the master being at home and at his table sat,

Says Jack unto the master, ‘I’d have you decide a bet.


As your wife and I were riding down by the riverside,

High upon your mare’s back, a cluster of nuts I spied.


I said there was twelve, she said their was eleven,

So I shoved them into her ap-er-on and there was five and seven.


Now one of them nuts was fowsty and did not taste so sweet,

But still there was a dozen and so I win the bet.’


‘Now five and seven’s a dozen, as anyone will say,

So Jack, you win the wager and your mist-er-ess she must pay you.’


Now the mist-er-ess standing nigh and hearing him say so,

She laid down the money and was glad to be let off so.


Now when the master is from home, she takes no ifs nor buts,

But she grabs his riding tackle, and says, ‘Jack, remember the nuts!’

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BARBARA ALLEN (trad. collated Piggott)


‘Twas in the merry month of May when flowers they were a-springing,

Young William on his deathbed lay for the love of Barbara Allen.


He sent his man into the town, to the place where she was dwelling,

‘My master’s sick and he called for you, if your name is Barbara Allen.’


‘Rise up, rise up,’ her mother did say, ‘Rise up and go and see him.’

‘Oh mother, oh mother, d’you mind the day when you told me for to shun  him?’


‘Rise up, rise up,’ her father did say, ‘Rise up and go and see him.’

‘Oh father, oh father, d’you mind the day when you were going to shoot  him?’


Then slowly, so slowly she got up, and slowly went she nigh him,

But all she said as she passed his bed, ‘Young man, I think you’re dying.’


‘Oh, I am sick, I am very sick; one kiss from you would cure me!’

‘One kiss from me you shall never get while your heart is still a-beating.


‘Oh, do you mind the day,’ said she, ‘When in a tavern you were a-drinking?

You made the health to the ladies go round, but you slighted Barbara Allen.’


‘Oh, I remember that Saturday night when in a tavern we were a-drinking;

I made the health to the ladies go round, but my heart was for Barbara Allen.


‘Oh, look at me, a dying man, and ‘tis for you, Barbara Allen;

‘Twere better for me if you never had been, though your heart’s blood were a-spilling.


‘Look down, look down at my bedside, and there you’ll see it standing,

A golden basin so full of tears that were shed for Barbara Allen.


‘And look up, look up at my bedhead, and there you’ll see them hanging,

A gold watch and a silver chain bestowed to Barbara Allen.’


He turned his face unto the wall and death was with him dealing,

‘Farewell, farewell, my good friends all; be kind to Barbara Allen.’


Then slowly stepped she down the stair, and she heard the church bell a-tolling,

And every stroke she did swear it did toll, ‘Hard-hearted Barbara Allen.’


And as she walked out the very next day, she saw his corpse a-coming;

‘Oh, lay him down, oh, lay him down that I may look upon him.’


And the more she looked, the worse she felt, until she burst out a-crying;

‘Oh, I could have saved sweet William’s life, but I would not go about him.


Oh mother, oh mother, go make my bed, and make it long and narrow;

Sweet William died for me today, and I’ll die for him tomorrow.


Young William died on a Saturday, and Barbara on the morrow;

Young William died with the purest of love, and Barbara died for sorrow.


And on William’s grave they placed a turtle dove, and on Barbara’s grave a sparrow;

The turtle dove was the sign of true love, and the sparrow it was for sorrow.

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I went up to London town the first time in me life;

They said ‘twas the place to go to find a purty wife;

Well, I hadna bin there overlong before I thought I’d found her,

So just to keep me pecker up, I had bread and cheese and cider.


            Bread and cheese and cider, bread and cheese and cider,

            That’s the stuff to keep you fit, makes you strong and makes you fit;

            Since I left mother’s apron strings, I’ve never knowed naught else, sir,

            But  just a pickled onion with me bread and cheese and cider.


Her took me to the pictures and us had a fine old spree;

‘Twadn’t long afore I reckoned it was time us had some tea;

The old waiter he parlez-voused a bit as I sat down beside her,

‘What be I bring ‘ee, sir?’ he said.  I said, ‘Bread and cheese and cider.’


Now London streets I soon found out are not all paved wi’ gold;

When Mary Jane had seen me out, I knew I had bin sold,

And I only had a tanner left of me brand new fiver,

But still I spent it all right there on bread and cheese and cider.


So back I come to dear old Deb’n where the cider apples grow,

And folks are plain and simple there, and p’raps a trifle slow;

At Junction mother meets me and her brought the food in wi’her;

Her knowed I would be dying for me bread and cheese and cider.

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All you who roam, both young and old,

Come listen to me story bold;

From all around, from far and near

They come to see the rigs of the fair.


            Oh master Jan, do you beware,

            And don’t you go kissing the girls at Bridgwater Fair.


The jovial ploughboys all serene,

They dance the maids all over the green;

Says John to Mary, ‘Don’t you know

You’ll not go home till the morning, oh.


There’s Tom and Bob, they look so gay,

With Sal and Kit they haste away;

They laugh and shout and have a spree

And dance and sing right merrily.


The lads and lasses they come through

From Stowey, Stogursey and Cannington too;

That farmer from Fiddington, true as me life,

He’s come to the fair for to look for a wife.


There’s Carroty Kit, so jolly and fat

With her gurt flippety floppety hat,

A hole in her stocking so big as a crown

And the hoops of her skirt hangin down to the ground.


Then it’s up with the fiddle and off with the dance,

The lads and lassies gaily prance,

And when it’s time to go away,

They swear to meet again next day.

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SONG OF THE FLAIL (trad./tune Brown)


Rent, rent, with flail ever bent

I’ll thrash out the golden grain;

The pullets do fly to the roof up on high

Then down to the floor again.


Rent, rent, our Steward is sent

To pick up his lot and be gone,

And the Parson for tythe, as sure as he’s alive

Will come and be off wi’ some.


Rent, rent, the money be spent,

And the chillen’ll ask for their bread;

I’ll turn’n about and thrash it all out

For stones’ll not feed then instead.


And then there’s the poor who stand at the door;

‘’Gainst Christmas please give us a dole’,

And rates to provide and taxes beside;

‘Tis hard work to think of it all.


And then what is left, our farmer must seft,

For some he must sow for next year,

Then what he can find for the miller to grind,

Well, that he can call his own share.

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My husband died and left me here with three fine sons to raise,

And as I cared for them, I thought, ‘They’ll be here in my old age.’

But there’s no work for them round here, not even for farmers’ sons;

They’ve had to leave to find a life, yes, each and every one.


            Old  ways, young folk, swept up by the tide

            Of change that’s come and torn the heart from out the countryside.


My cottage they will take from me - it’s always been our home;

It was tied to the land for the labouring man, it was never ours to own;

Our life bound up in these four walls through sad and happy days;

Now they’ll sell my home to city folk for country holidays.


Yes, the cottages have all been sold, and I’m the last to go,

But I’m damned if I will be torn out like any old hedgerow;

And all around by night and day machines tear at the earth,

And I long for the sight of a working horse or the sound of a farm boy’s laugh.


My friend has moved into the town to be close to her son,

And the new folks leave in winter time - they don’t seem to think it’s fun;

The chapel gone, Post Office closed, and I’m left high and dry by

The tide of change that’s torn the heart from out the countryside.

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EXE, BARLE & BRAY (Brown/Dove)


For centuries past they’ve ridden this moor,

From the East to the West: from Parrett to Taw,

But ignorance now is changing the laws,

And the old ways are taken away.


   Farewell to the brow, the bay and the trey;

   No more the sweet ride down the Exe, Barle & Bray,

   No more the long chase to the end of the day

   For the old  ways are taken away.


We’ve hunted this country from Porlock to Combe,

Through furze and through heather, by morn, night and noon,

But with MPs in parliament changing their tune

The old ways are taken away.


The paths they stand open, you can roam where you please,

But each year from the land ten thousand will leave,

And liberty fades like some wasting disease

When the old ways are taken away.


Our forefathers laboured and cared for this land;

Now farming’s not wanted and hunting is banned,

And they still criticize what they can’t understand

And the old ways are taken away.

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Last night I was a-marri-ed and on my marriage bed;

Up came a bold sea captain and stood at my bed-head,

Saying, ‘Arise, arise, you married-a man, and come along with me

To the low lowlands of Holland to fight your enemy.’


I held my love in my arms, still thinking he might stay,

When the captain gave another shout; he was forced to go away;

‘There’s manys a blithe young married-a man this night must go with me

To the low lowlands of Holland to fight the enemy.’


I built my love a gallant ship, a ship of noble fame,

With four and twenty seamen bold to steer her across the main,

Then the stormy winds began to blow and the seas began to spout;

‘Twas then my love and his gallant ship were sorely tossed about.


Now Holland is a wondrous place and in it grows much green;

It’s a wild inhabitation for my love to be in;

There the sugar cane grows plentiful and there’s fruit on every tree,

But the low lowlands of Holland are between my love and me.


No shoe nor stocking I’ll put on nor a comb go in my hair,

And neither coal nor candlelight shine in my bedroom fair,

Nor will I wed with any young man until the day I die,

Since the low lowlands of Holland parted my love and me.

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In the village of St. Issey where I was born, they called I the artful dodger;

They told I that when I growed up I’d have to become a soldier;

They told I that the name of me corps would be the St. Issey Grinders.


            Singing fol lol the day, fol lol the day,

            Fol lol the day ‘til I get home.


So I went down to the barracks and, by Christ, they was a size, sir;

They stowed I in a bloody great shed as big as a fisherman’s lugger;

They stood I under a girt high stick to measure me height and size, sir,

And they cut me hair so close to me head I could hardly wink an eye, sir.


Now they marched onto the square next morn to do me duty manual;

I was standing there as straight as a rod with another bloke called Daniel;

‘Eyes right!  Look to the fore!  Cor damn ‘ee, ‘old thee head up!’

And if you didn’t do as they bloody well said, they’d bugger ‘ee off to the lock-up.


Now they march I in at dinner time as hungry as a hunter,

But we couldn’t touch a goddam zip ‘til the officer had been round, sir;

They brought it in, they dished it out on a bloody great platter,

And all I had when it come to me turn was a bone and a bloody great tater.


Now don’t I wish I was home again a-milking our old cow, sir;

Don’t I wish I was home again following our old plough, sir;

Don’t I wish I was home again behind a leg o’ mutton;

With a rusty ol’ knife and a bloody great fork, cor bugger I, wouldn’t I cut ‘n?

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IN FRIENDSHIP’S NAME (trad. translated Brown)


Oh, here around the fireside blazing,

Who’s so happy and so free;

Though the western winds blow chilly,

Friendship warms both you and me.


            For happy we’ve been all together,

            Merry we’ve been, one and all;

            Time shall see us yet more mellow

            E’er we rise to leave the door.


See the miser o’er his treasure,

Glutton with a greedy eye,

Who can make his woes the pleasure

That around us here we see.


For friendship makes us all more happy,

Friendship brings us all delight,

Friendship consecrates the spirit,

Friendship brought us here tonight.


So then, let us all be supping,

Fill your glasses o’er again,

And as around the room we’re passing,

Raise a song in friendship’s name.

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