> Joseph Taylor > Songs > Died for Love
> Shirley Collins > Songs > Died for Love
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Died for Love

Died for Love / There Is a Tavern / A Brisk Young Sailor

[ Roud 60 ; Laws P25 ; G/D 6:1170 ; Ballad Index LP25 ; Full English LEB/2/65/3 ; trad.]

Joseph Taylor sang Died for Love on a wax cylinder recording made by Percy Grainger in 1908; this was published in 1972 on the LP Unto Brigg Fair. It was also sung unaccompanied and with an additional verse by Martin Carthy on his 1969 album with Dave Swarbrick, Prince Heathen. Martin Carthy commented in their record's sleeve notes:

It has been suggested that this is a fragment of a much longer ballad but this is really immaterial when what you have stands perfectly well on its own. Taken from the Grainger collection of Lincolnshire songs, from the singing of Joseph Taylor.

Isla Cameron's version of Died for Love on the Alan Lomax Collection album of 1955, World Library of Folk and Primitive Music: England, and Martin Carthy's version both have one verse the other is missing and a different verse order.

Emily Sparks sang Died for Love in a recording made in Rattlesden 1958/59 that was included on the Veteran CD Many a Good Horseman: Traditional Music Making from Mid-Suffolk.

Shirley Collins sang Died for Love on her 1960 album False True Lovers. Strangely, she left out the Died for Love stanza. Alan Lomax commented in the album's sleeve notes:

From Traditional Tunes by Frank Kidson. Died for Love is perhaps the most beautiful of the many variants of the important British folk song, most familiar to us as The Butcher's Boy or There Is a Tavern in the Town, or in Woody Guthrie's Hard, Ain't It Hard. This Northern English variant points to one of the most important differences between British and American love-songs. Typically in the English love song there is an amorous encounter between a young man and the young woman, and though the girl is often betrayed, she expresses in her song a trace of the real pleasure that she experienced. Even more importantly, she has a baby; and, through her melancholy, there lingers note of procreative joy. Very frequently in these songs the boy returns to marry her when he discovers that she is about to bear him a child. American singers were more prudish; they censored out the pregnancy theme; and the betrayed girl was left to brood over the transiency of love and sigh for death to heal her heartbreak.

A recording of Elizabeth Cronin of Macroom, Co. Cork, singing this song as The Alehouse was included on the anthology Sailormen and Servingmaids (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 6; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1970).

Tom Willett sang Died for Love in 1962 at the age of 84 on the Willett Family's album The Roving Journeymen. The album's notes commented:

This favourite lyrical song has been often collected and is still sung in many parts of the countryside. The flower symbolism is sexual and may be compared with that found in such songs as The Seeds of Love; for instance, ‘rose’ in verse one or Mr Willett's song clearly refers to virginity.

The country poet John Clare re-made the text of this song into his handsome poem A Faithless Shepherd. A student re-make is There Is a Tavern in the Town.

The tune used by Mr Willett—one of many tunes attached to this song—is related to the melody used by (perhaps adapted by) the mid-19th century stage comedian Sam Cowell in his burlesque version of the ballad of Lord Lovel. Several of Cowell's tunes gained enormous currency in the towns and villages (e.g. Villikins and His Dinah).

Emma Vickers sang this song as There Is a Tavern in a recording made by Fred Hamer in Autumn 1963. This recording was included in 1989 on the EFDSS cassette The Leaves of Life: The Field Recordings of Fred Hamer and in 1998 on the EFDSS anthology A Century of Song.

A recording of Queen Caroline Hughes singing Died for Love made by Peter Kennedy in her caravan near Blandford, Dorset, on April 19, 1968 was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology of Southern English gypsy traditional singers, I'm a Romany Rai (The Voice of the People Volume 22).

Geoff Ling sang Died for Love in a recording made by Keith Summers in 1974-5. This was published in 1977 on the Ling Family's Topic album Singing Traditions of a Suffolk Family. It was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology Who's That at My Bed Window? (The Voice of the People Volume 10).

Amy Birch sang this song as Up the Green Meadows in a recording made by Sam Richards, Paul Wilson and Tish Stubbs in her trailer at Exebridge, Devon, November 1976. This was published in 1979 on the Topic album Devon Tradition: An Anthology from Traditional Singers. It was also included with the title Over Yonder's Hill in 1998 on the Topic anthology of English and Welsh travellers and gypsies, My Father's the King of the Gypsies (The Voice of the People Volume 11).

John Roberts & Tony Barrand sang Died for Love in 1998 on their CD Heartoutbursts: English Folksongs collected by Percy Grainger.

Linda and Susan Adams sang this song as A Brisk Young Sailor on the 2001 Fellside anthology Voices in Harmony. The sleeve notes commented:

A very widespread song with a number of titles: I Wish I Wish; Died for Love; The Alehouse in the Town. There is a school of thought which believes that this is a fragment of another song. It is worth noting, but loses importance at it makes a good song on its own. This version was collected by Ann Gilchrist from a 70 year old carpenter, Mr James Bayliff of Bardon, Westmorland in 1909. It possesses a fine Dorian Mode tune.

Rachel Unthank & The Winterset recorded this song as I Wish in 2007 for their second CD, The Bairns.

Hannah James and Sam Sweeney recorded Died for Love in 1009 for their first duo CD, Catches & Glees.

Grace Notes sang A Brisk Young Sailor in 2012 on their anniversary album 20. Helen Hockenhull commented in their liner notes:

I found the song A Brisk Young Sailor in a collection of folk songs compiled by Cecil Sharp entitled One Hundred English Folk Songs. In his notes Sharp explains that there are many variants of this song and he has compiled this version from several texts.

Lyrics

Joseph Taylor sings Died for Love Martin Carthy sings Died for Love

I wish my baby it-e-was born
Lying smiling on its father's knee
And I was dead and in my grave
And green grass growing all over me

I wish my baby it was born
And smiling on his daddy's knee
And I poor girl was in my grave
With the long green grass a-growing all over me

O grief, o grief and I'll tell you why
Because she has more gold than I
He takes this young girl on his knee
And he tells her tales that he won't tell me

I wish, I wish, but it's all in vain
I wish I was a maid again
But a maid again that never can be
Since that-e-young farmer sat wooing me

I wish, I wish, but it's all in vain
I wish I was a sweet maid again
But a maid again I never shall be
Till apples grow on an orange tree

Dig me my grave long wide and deep
Put a marble stone at my head and feet
But a turtle dove put over above
For to let the world know that I died for love

Dig me my grave long wide and deep
Put a marble stone at my head and feet
And at my breast place a white snow dove
For to let the world know that I died for love

Isla Cameron sings Died for Love Shirley Collins sings Died for Love

A bold young farmer courted me
He gained my heart and my liberty.
He's gained my heart with a free good will
And I must confess that I love him still.

Oh, once my true love courted me
And stole away my liberty.
He gained my heart with a free good will
And I'll confess I love him still.

Oh, there's an ale-house in this town,
Where my love goes and sits him down;
He takes this strange girl on his knee
And isn't that a grief to me.

Oh, there's a bird in yon churchyard,
They say he's blind and cannot see;
I wish it had been the same with me
Before I kept my love's company.

I wish, I wish, but it's all in vain,
I wish I was a maid again.
But a maid again, that never can be
Since that young farmer lay still with me.

I wish, I wish, but it's all in vain,
I wish I was but free again.
But free again I'll never be
Since I have kept my love's company.

I wish my baby little was born
And smiling on his father's knee;
And I was dead and in my grave
And the green grass growing all over me.

Dig me my grave long wide and deep,
Put a marble stone at my head and feet.
But a turtle white dove put over above
For to let the world know that I died for love.

Linda & Susan Adams sing A Brisk Young Sailor Tom Willett sings Died for Love

It's down the green meadow where the poor girls they roam
A-gathering flowers just as they grow
She gathered her flowers and way she came
But she left the sweetest rose behind

A brisk young sailor courted me,
He robbed me of my liberty,
My liberty and my right good will
I must confess I love him still.

There is a flower that I've heard say
That never dies nor fades away
But if that flower I could only find
I'd ease my heart and torment his mind

There's an ale-house in the town,
Where my love goes and sits him down;
And he pulls a strange girl all on his knee
And isn't that a grief to me.

There is an alehouse where my love goes
Where my love goes and sits himself down
He takes a strange girl on his knee
Now don't you think that's a grief to me

A grief to me, and I'll tell you why:
Because she has more gold than I,
But the gold it will waste and the beauty blast
And he'll come to a poor girl like me at last.

A grief and a grief, I'll tell you for why
Because she's got more gold than I
But her gold will glitter, her silver will fly
And in a short time she'll be as poor as I

I wish my baby it was born
Sat smiling on its nurse's knee;
And I myself was in my grave
With the green grass growing over me.

My love he is tall and handsome too
My love he is tall and slender too
But carries two hearts in the room of one
Won't he be a rogue when I'm dead and gone

I wish, I wish, but it's all in vain,
I wish I was a maid again.
But a maid again I never will be
Till an apple grows on an orange tree.

Now dig my grave both long and deep
A marble stone, both head and feet
And in the middle a turtle dove
To show the wide world I died for love

Acknowledgements

The verses sung by Joseph Taylor and Martin Carthy were transcribed by Garry Gillard, Isla Cameron's and Shirley Collins' version by Reinhard Zierke.