> Ashley Hutchings and The Albion Band > Songs > The Albion Dance Band: Old Sir Simon the King

Old Sir Simon the King

[ Roud 19776 ; trad.]

Words anon. from Thomas d'Urfey's Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy 1719-1720. Tune anon. from The Division Violin 1685 and Humphry Salter's The Genteel Companion 1683

This was performed by the Albion Dance Band (Shirley Collins, Eddie Upton, vocals; John Rodd, concertina; John Sothcott, recorder; Philip Pickett, curtal; Simon Nicol, guitar; Ashley Hutchings, bass guitar; Michael Gregory, drums) in a BBC radio session recorded on 22 July 1976. It was published in 1998 on the CD The BBC Sessions. Another 1976 live recording of unknown origin is on The Guv'nor Vol. 2. It has a nice introduction by Shirley and is sung a bit slower than the BBC version.

Compare to this the two verses longer version of Old Simon the King sung by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band on their 1996 album Hang Up Sorrow and Care.


Shirley Collins sings Old Sir Simon the King

In a humour I was of late,
As many good fellows may be;
To think of no matters of state,
But to seek for good company.
My hostess was sick of the mumps,
The maid was ill at her ease,
The tapster drunk in his dumps;
They're all of one disease,
That e'er should suit my mind
So I travelled up and down
No company could I find;
Till I came to the sight of The Crown.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
𝄆 Says Old Sir Simon the King 𝄇
With his ale-drop't hose and his malmsey nose
Sing hey-ding-ding

If a Puritan skinker do cry,
“Dear Brother it is a sin,
To drink if you be dry.”
Then straight this tale I begin.
A Puritan lay down his can
And took up a foaming jug
And there he played the man
As long as he could tug.
And when that he was spied
Did ever he swear or rail?
“No truly, dear brother,” he cried,
“Indeed all flesh is frail.”

If a man should be drunk tonight
And laid in his grave tomorrow
Would you or any man say
That he died of care or sorrow?
Hang up all sorrow and care
'Tis able to kill a cat
And he that will drink all night
Is never afraid of that!
For drinking will make a man quaff,
And quaffing will make a man sing;
Singing will make a man laugh,
And laughter long life doth bring.


The lyrics were copied from the Ashley Hutchings songbook A Little Music.