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The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire

[ Roud 5323 ; Ballad Index DTolddun ; Harry Wincott]

The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire is a music hall song written by Harry Wincott in 1893. Harry Champion sang it in a 1911 recording (Regal G6403; starting in the video at 2:55):

The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire is also a song from the repertoire of the Copper Family. It can be found in Jim Copper's handwritten songbook from 1933 but it has not been included in the family's printed songbook. Bob Copper sang this song in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at Cecil Sharp House on the 1960 HMV album A Jug of Punch: Broadside Ballads Old and New.

Rod Bayton sang The Old Dun Cow live at the Stagfolk Folk Club at Shackleford Social Centre, near Godalming on March 26, 1972. This concert was published in the same year on the album Stagfolk Live.

Louis Killen sang The Blind Cow Caught Fire in 1973 on his album Sea Chanteys. A review by Stewart Mason commented:

The closing The Blind Cow Caught Fire is one of the funniest songs in Killen's repertoire, a shaggy-dog tale of sailors taking refuge in the basement of a pub that's burning to the ground so that they can drink the place dry before it's destroyed. The song, like much of the rest of the album, dispels the common myth that traditional British folk music is a wan and humourless music performed by people who take themselves far too seriously.

The Packmen sang The Dun Cow Fire in 1978 on their Fellside album The Packmen's Blue Record.

This video shows the Futureheads singing The Old Dun Dow in 2012:

Bellowhead sang Old Dun Cow in March 2012 on their album Broadside, and during their November 2015 tour which was recorded and released in April 2016 as the CD+DVD The Farewell Tour.

Lyrics

Harry Champion sings When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire

Some pals and I in a public house were playing dominoes last night,
When all of a sudden in the pot-man runs with a face just like a kite.
“What's up?” said Brown. “Why you silly old fool! Have you seen old Aunt Mariah?”
“Aunt be blowed,” then the pot-man cried. “The blooming pub's on fire!”
“On fire!” said Brown. “What a bit of luck! Come along with me,” shouts he.
“Down in the cellar, if the fire ain't there, we'll have a fair old spree.”
So we all goes down 'long with good old Brown. Booze we couldn't miss.
We hadn't been ten minutes there, when I was just like this.

Chorus (after each verse):
And there was Brown upside down mopping up the whisky off the floor.
“Booze, booze, booze!” then the firemen cried as they got banging in the door.
“Don't let 'em in till it's all mopped up!” someone said to McIntyre,
And we all got blue blind paralytic drunk when the Old Dun Cow caught fire.

Old Johnson flew at the port-wine tub and he gave it just a few hard knocks.
He then starts taking off his pantaloons, likewise his boots and socks.
“Hold hard,” said Snooks. “If you want to wash your feet, there's a barrel full of four ale here.
Don't put your trotters in the port wine, Jack, when there's some old stale beer.”
Just then there was such a dreadful crash, half the blooming roof gave way.
We got drowned with a fireman's hose, but still we were all gay.
We found some sacks and some old tin tacks, shoved ourselves inside.
We all got drinking good old Scotch till we were bleary-eyed.

We got so drunk we did not know the blooming cellar had caught fire.
Poor old Jones had the D.T.'s bad and wanted to retire.
“There's Old Nick,” said another poor chap, “and he's poking up the blooming fire.
“That's no bogey. It's a fireman, Tom, at least,” said McIntyre.
“Let's get out,” said a brown-eyed chap. “It's getting very dark down here.”
“Don't be a fool,” said a tipsy chap. “We haven't drank the beer!”
So we filled our hats and we drank like cats 'midst the flames and smoke.
I had to take my collar off. I thought that I should choke.

Bob Copper sings When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire

Some pals and I in a public house were playing dominoes last night,
When all of a sudden in the pot-man rush with a face just like a kite.
“What's up?” said Brown. “Have you seen your Aunt? Have you seen Aunt Mariah?”
“Oh, Aunt Mariah be blowed,” said he, “The blooming pub's on fire!”
“On fire!” said Brown. “What a bit of luck! Come along with me,” shouts he.
“Down in the cellar, if the fire ain't there, we'll have a rare old spree.”
So we all went down with good old Brown and beer we couldn't miss,
And we hadn't been ten minutes there, before we were like this.

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh there was Brown, upside down, mopping up the whisky off the floor.
“Booze, booze!” the firemen cried as they came a-knocking at the door.
“Don't let 'em in till it's all mopped up!”; someone shouted “McIntyre!”
And we all got blue blind paralytic drunk when the Old Dun Cow caught fire.

Old Johnson rushed to the port-wine tub and he gave it just a few hard knocks.
He started taking off his pantaloons, likewise his boots and socks.
“Hold on,” said Snooks. “If you want to wash your feet, there's a tub there full of ale.
Don't put your trotters in the port wine tub when they have got some old stale beer.”
Just then there was such a awful crash, half the blooming roof gave way.
We were drowned with a fireman's hose, but still we were all gay.
We got some snacks and some old tin tacks and we bunged ourselves inside.
We all got drinking good old Scotch till we were bleary-eyed.

Bellowhead sing The Old Dun Cow

Some mates and I in a public house were playing dominoes one night
When all of a sudden in the pot-man came with his face all chalky white.
“What's up?” says Brown, “Have you seen a ghost? Have you seen your Aunt Mariah?”
“My Aunt Mariah be blown,” says he, “The bloomin' pub's on fire!”

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh, there was Brown, upside down, knocking back the whisky on the floor.
“Booze! Booze!” the firemen cried as they come knocking at the door.
Oh don't let em in till it's all mopped up; somebody shouted, “McIntyre!”
And we all got blue-blind-paralytic drunk when the Old Dun Cow caught fire.

Old Johnson rushed to the port-wine tub and gave it just a few hard knocks.
He started taking off his pantaloons, likewise his shoes and socks.
“Hold on,” says Tibbs, “if you want to wash your feet there's a tub of old ale here.
Don't wash your feet in the port-wine tub when we've still got some old stale beer.”

Just then there came such an awful crash, half the bloomin' roof gave way.
We were doused by the fireman's hose but still we were all gay.
We got some sacks and some old tin tacks and we bunged ourselves inside,
And we all got drinking good old Scotch when the Old Dun Cow caught fire.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café threads Lyr Add: The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire (H Champion) and Origins: The Old Dun Cow (McIntyre!).