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Died for Love

[ Roud 18828 ; Master title: Died for Love ; Ballad Index Gard028 ; Go Dig My Grave / Died for Love / The Butcher Boy at Fire Draw Near ; trad.]

Jasper Smith sang Died for Love to Mike Yates in Epsom, Surrey, in 1975. This recording was published two years later on the Topic anthology of Gypsy singers, The Travelling Songster. It was also included in 2000 on the Topic CD Hidden English. Mike Yates commented in the original album’s booklet:

Some songs and ballads are extremely difficult to identify with any degree of accuracy. Many are closely related with verses floating freely between whatever form the singer chooses to sing. It would seem that Jasper’s song comes initially from the 18th century ballad The Cruel Father, with additions from an early 19th century song The Squire’s Daughter. Other songs from this parentage are The Alehouse and There is a Tavern in the Town. Jasper’s version of this well-loved piece appears to be a relatively late form and, so he tells me, one that was popular with servicemen during World War II.

Geoff Ling sang this song as Change the Old Love for the New in a recording made by John Howson that was published on the Veteran Tapes cassette Songs Sung in Suffolk 4: Those Sentimental Songs. This track was also included in 1993 on the Veteran CD of traditional folk music, songs and dances from England, Stepping It Out.

Stephanie Hladowski learned Died for Love from Jasper Smith’s recording and sang it accompanied by Chris Joynes on their 2012 CD The Wild Wild Berry.


Jasper Smith sings Died for Love

A man came walking home one night,
He found his house without a light.
He walked upstairs to go to bed
Then the second thought came in his head.

He walked into his daughter’s room
And found her hanging by the beam.
He drawed a knife and cut her down
And on her breast this is what he found:

“My love is for a sailor boy
Who sails across the deep blue sea.
So all you maidens good and true
Never change the old love for the new.

“Oh Lord I wish my child was born
And all my troubles could be gone.
So all you maidens good and true
Never change the old love for the new.”