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Bushes and Briars

[ Roud 1027 ; Ballad Index FSOE026 ; VWML HAM/2/9/9 , RVW2/4/3 ; Bodleian Roud 1027 ; trad.]

The Everlasting Circle The Seeds of Love The Foggy Dew Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams

A phonograph recording of probably Mrs Humphreys of Ingrave, Essex, made in 1904 by Lucy Broadwood and Ralph Vaughan Williams, was included in 1998 on the EFDSS anthology A Century of Song.

Isla Cameron sang Bushes and Briars in 1966 on her self-titled album Isla Cameron. She also sang it in the soundtrack of the 1967 film Far from the Madding Crowd. The latter recording was included in 1987 on the BBC album Through Bushes and Briar.

Toni Arthur sang Bushes and Briars in 1970 on the B-side of Dave Arthur's and her Trailer single Lazlo Feher.

June Tabor sang Bushes and Briars on of her first recordings, the 1974 charity anthology The First Folk Review Record. Folk Review editor Fred Woods noted:

The words are those printed in The Seeds of Love, and the tune—used in the film Far from the Madding Crowd—was collected by Cecil Sharp.

Barry Dransfield played Bushes and Briars together with a Swedish tune on his 1978 Topic album, Bowin' and Scrapin'. He noted:

The remarkable similarity of the Swedish Air included here and Bushes and Briars prompted me to relate them. Similarities like this often occur in folk tunes throughout Europe.

Barry Skinner recorded Bushes and Briars in 1978 as the title track of his Fellside album Bushes & Briars.

The Aire Valley Singers sang Bushes and Briars in 1979 on their Hill & Dale album Out of the Aire.

Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr sang Bushes and Briars in 1993 on their eponymous album Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr, and this track was also included on their compilation CD On Reflection. Eliza commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

Bushes and Briars is a traditional song. I got it in two versions from my mother and father. This is my dad's version, not as long as some more popular versions. On the wax cylinder it is sung by a woman who sounds like a trained singer but is was collected from a Mr Pottipher in Essex by Vaughan Williams [VWML RVW2/4/3] .

Magpie Lane sang Bushes and Briars in 1994 on their Beautiful Jo album Speed the Plough, which was also included in the same year on their compilation English Country Songs and Dances. They noted:

When Vaughan Williams heard this in 1903, he “felt it was something he had known all his life”. It was sung to him by a 70 year-old Essex labourer, and was to be the first of many folk songs which the composer collected.

George Deacon sang Bushes and Briars in 2002 on his CD of songs collected and written by John Clare, Dream Not of Love.

Coope Boyes & Simpson recorded Bushes and Briars in 2005 for their CD Triple Echo of songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth and Percy Grainger.

Nick Dow sang Through Bushes and Briars on his 2013 CD Old England's Ground. He noted:

Old George Dowden sang this and a bunch of other equally good songs to Henry Hammond in 1907 [VWML HAM/2/9/9] . His repertoire included The Sheepstealer and The Streams of Lovely Nancy. I met his great grandson who remembered The Sheepstealer. Not much is known about George Dowden, however I have discovered that he was a merchant seaman, and away from home fairly regularly, hence there is no record on the census forms. Hammond does not give any biographical details. I reckon he was a good singer though looking at his repertoire.

Paul James sang Bushes and Briars in 2018 on Blowzabella's album Two Score.

Belinda Kempster and Fran Foote sang Bushes and Briars on their 2019 album On Clay Hill.

Sandy Denny's Bushes and Briars on her album Sandy is a completely different song.

Lyrics

Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr sing Bushes and Briars

Through bushes and through briars
I've lately made my way
All for to hear the small birds sing
And the lambs to skip and play
All for to hear the small birds sing
And the lambs to skip and play

I overhead a female
Her voice it rang so clear
Long time have I been waiting for
The coming of my dear
Long time have I been waiting for
The coming of my dear

Sometimes I am uneasy
And troubled in my mind
Sometimes I think I'll go to my love
And tell to him my mind

But if I should go to my love my love
He would say “nay”
If I show to him my boldness
He'd ne'er love me again
If I show to him my boldness
He'd never love me again

Through bushes and through briars
I've lately made my way
All for to hear the small birds sing
And the lambs to skip and play
All for to hear the small birds sing
And the lambs to skip and to play

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by both Kira White and Garry Gillard. Thank you!