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> Tony Rose > Songs > The Game of All Fours
> Norma Waterson > Songs > Game of All Fours

The Game of Cards / The Game of All Fours

[ Roud 232 ; Ballad Index K175 ; Bodleian Roud 232 ; trad.]

Wally Fuller sang The Game of Cards in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at Laughton near Lewes, Sussex, on November 11, 1952. He also recorded Queen Caroline Hughes singing this song in her caravan near Blandford, Dorset, on April 19, 1968. Both recordings were included in 2012 on the Topic anthology I'm a Romany Rai (The Voice of the People Series Volume 22).

Sam Larner sang All Fours in a Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger recording made in 1958-60 on his 1961 Folkways album Now Is the Time for Fishing.

Tom Willett sang The Game of Cards at home on a caravan site near Ashford, Middlesex in 1962. This recording by Bill Leader and Paul Carter was released on the Willett Family album The Roving Journeyman.

Sarah Porter sang The Game of All Fours at The Three Cups in Punnets Town in 1965. This recording by Brian Matthews was published in 2001 on the Musical Traditions anthology Just Another Saturday Night: Sussex 1960: Songs from Country Pubs.

Charlie Wills sang Game of Cards on his eponymous 1972 Leader album, Charlie Wills.

Phoebe Smith sang Game of All Fours on January 8, 1969 at the King's Head. This recording was included in 2012 on the Musical Traditions anthology King's Head Folk Club: Traditional performers at this London Folk Club 1968-1970.

Levi Smith sang The Game of Cards in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1972-75 on the 1975 Topic album Songs of the Open Road: Gypsies, Travellers & Country Singers. This was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology My Father's the King of the Gypsies (The Voice of the People Series Volume 11).

George Dunn sang All Fours on his eponymous 1975 Leader album, George Dunn Another recording by Roy Palmer from July 14, 1971 was included in 2000 on his Musical Traditions anthology Chainmaker. The accompanying booklet noted:

On the surface we are dealing with card play, and Hoyle's Rules of Games (1955) indeed lists All Fours. In her edition of Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs (1974), Maud Karpeles places in the section devoted to sports and pastimes The Game of Cards, a version of the song he noted in 1908. Yet this is a transparently erotic piece which had to wait until 1960 to appear in respectable print, in James Reeves's anthology of English traditional verse, The Everlasting Circle. That it was well known a century earlier is attested by the broadside issued by Henry Disley of London, a political adaptation or parody dealing with Garibaldi's struggle for Italian unity under the title of The Game of All Fours (British Library, 11621 h 11, Crampton Ballads, vol. 7, fol. 263). At much the same time, the catalogue of the Manchester ballad printer, T Pearson, included the original Game of All Fours, twinned with The Steam Loom Weaver.

George Dunn's mention of Leominster is merely a localisation: other versions have Leicester, Glasgow, Croydon and Windsor. His two-verse coda is not found elsewhere; he has to vary his languorous tune to accommodate it, and the moralising is at odds with the erotic tone of the rest of the song, in which the apparently naive woman proves the sexual superior of the man.

Maddy Prior and June Tabor sang The Game of Cards in 1976 on their album Silly Sisters. They were accompanied by Nic Jones, guitar; Andy Irvine, mandolin; Johnny Moynihan, whistle; and Danny Thompson, bass.

John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris sang The Game of All Fours in 1977 on their Topic album Shreds and Patches. Her returned to this song in 2004 on Brass Monkey's fifth album, Flame of Fire, where he commented in the record's sleeve notes:

The Game of All Fours is the name of an old card game, also called Seven Up, whose very title cries out for a saucy song. Enormously popular, you find versions of it everywhere. This tune is the one recorded by Mike Yates from the Surrey gypsy Levi Smith, first published on the Topic LP Songs of the Open Road in 1975.

Pete and Chris Coe sang The Game of All Fours as the title track of their 1979 album Game of All Fours. Pete also recorded Betsy Renals in 1978 singing Game of All Fours; this was published in 2003 on the Veteran/Backshift anthology Catch Me If You Can: Songs from Cornish Travellers.

Norma Waterson sang Game of All Fours in 2000 on her third solo album Bright Shiny Morning. She commented in the record's sleeve notes:

From Queen Caroline Hughes. My very favourite first line in a song.

Tony Rose recorded The Game of All Fours in 1999 for his CD Bare Bones.

Patterson Jordan Dipper sang The Game of All Fours in 2002 on their WildGoose album Flat Earth.

Kate Rusby sang The Game of All Fours in 2005 on her CD The Girl Who Couldn't Fly.

Jim Causley sang The Game of Cards in 2011 on his WildGoose album of Devon songs, Dumnonia. His sleeve notes commented:

The Game of Cards is a well known song throughout the British Isles and is definitely one of the instantly recognisable titles on this album. I have exercised my 21st century liberty here and combined the text from Charlie Wills of Somerset with the tune from Queen Caroline Hughes of Dorset. But before you call me a dissenter I would just like to present that the lyrics do feature Devon place names and the Marshwood Vale area which covers the three counties is well known for having its own sense of identity regardless of the county borders.

Andy Turner learned The Game of All Fours from the singing of Tom Willett and sang it as the November 1, 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Sam Larner sings All Fours

As I walked out on one midsummer's morning
It happened to be on a sunshiny day
'Twas them I espied a pretty fair damsel
As she was got walking all on the highway.

I stepped up to her and I bid her good morning
Saying, “Where are you going so early this morn?”
She said, “Kind Sir, I'm going to Lisbon
In that little town wherein I was born.”

Said I, “Pretty fair maid, and may I go with you?
And may I accept of your sweet company?”
She said, “Kind Sir, you're heartily welcome
You're heartily welcome to walk with me.”

Now, we had not been walking scarcely half an hour,
Before acquainted, acquainted came we
She said, “Kind Sir, come sit down beside me
And there I will play you a sweet civil game.

Said I, “Pretty fair maid, I'm not given to gaming,
But still for all that, I am willing to learn”
“Now the game that we play shall be as all fours
And that I can beat you three to your one.”

Now, she cut the cards, it was my turn to deal them
I dealt her all trumps, I alone had poor Jack
And she had the ace and the deuce for to follow.
Which are the very best cards in the pack.

Now, she led of her ace and she stole poor Jack from me
Which made her both high, low, Jack and game
She said “Kind sir, I freely beat you
Unless you can play the game over again.”

Now, I put on my hat and I bid her good morning
Although she was high, low, Jack and the game
She said “Kind Sir, call this way tomorrow
And we'll play me game over and over again.”

The Silly Sisters sing The Game of Cards

As I was a-walking one midsummer's morning
I heard the birds whistle and the nightingales play.
And there did I spy a beautiful maiden
As I was a-walking all on the highway.

“O where are you going, my fair pretty lady?
O where are you going so early this morn?”
She said: “I'm going down to visit my neighbours;
I'm going down to Warwick, the place I was born.”

It's “May I come with you, my sweet pretty darling?
May I go along in your sweet company?”
Then she turned her head and smiling all at me
Saying: “You may come with me, kind sir, if you please.”

We hadn't been walking but a few miles together
Before this young damsel began to show free.
She sat herself down, saying: “Sit down beside me,
And the games we shall play shall be one, two and three.”

I said: “My dear lady, if you're fond of the gaming
There's one game I know I would like you to learn.
The game it is called: The Game of All Fours.”
So I took out my pack and began the first turn.

She cut the cards first and I fell a-dealing.
I dealt her a trump and myself the poor jack.
She led off her ace and stole my jack from me,
Saying: “Jack is the card I like best in your pack.”

“Since I dealt them last time, it's your turn to shuffle
And my turn to show the best card in the pack.”
Once more she'd the ace and the deuce for to beat me,
Once again I had lost when I laid down poor jack.

So I took up my hat and I bid her: “Good morning,”
I said: “You're the best that I know at this game.”
She answered: “Young man, if you'll come back to-morrow
We'll play the game over and over again.”

Norma Waterson sings Game of All Fours

As I was a-walking from Broadway to Glasgow,
As I was a-walking one fine summer's day,
Who should I meet but a fair pretty damsel
As we were walking all on the highway.

I said, “Where are you going, my fair pretty damsel,
Where are you going all on the highway?”
She said, “I'm a-going away up to Glasgow.
Can I walk with you along the highway?”

Well, we walked and we talked on together
Till we came to an old elder tree.
There we sat down and I sat down beside her
And that's how I come now Jack I love the game.

I said, “My young lady, are you fond of gaming?
For I know a game I am sure you could learn?
The game it is called, well, the game of all fours now.”
I took out my pack and I played the first turn.

Well, she cut the cards and she dealt out the pack then.
I threw the deuce and then she threw the queen.
She led off her ace and she stole me jack from me
And that's how she come now Jack I love the game.

She says, “Will you play a bit longer?
Oh no, I am weary and tired as well.”
But I said, “Young lady, well I'll let you beat me
If we can play that game over again.”

“Oh will you be this way tomorrow?
Oh will you be here, love, all on the highway?”
“I promise you that I will be here tomorrow
And so we can play the game over again.”

As I was a-walking from Broadway to Glasgow,
As I was a-walking one fine summer's day,
'Twas there that I met with a fair pretty damsel
As we were walking all on the highway.

Brass Monkey sing The Game of All Fours

Oh, as I was out walking one fine summer's morning,
Oh, as I was out walking all on the highway,
Who should I meet but a fair pretty creature
And unto her then I quickly did say:

“Oh, it's where are you going to, my pretty fair maid,
Oh, where are you going so soon in the morn?”
“Well I'm going to Windsor, kind sir,” the maid answered,
“A sweet little town, it's where I was born.”

Well I says, “My fair maiden, and shall I go with you
All for to bear your sweet company?”
And she turned herself round and smiling so sweetly,
“Kind sir,” she says, “You may do just as you please.”

So we both walked, we both talked a few miles together.
By a shady beech tree we sat down.
“Oh, if I sit down first, won't you sit down here beside me?
Then I will show you a sweet pleasant game.”

“Oh sir,” she said, “sir, I'm not given to gaming,
But nevertheless I'm willing to learn.
But if I do play you it must be all fours
For then I shall hold you three to one.”

So as she cut the cards, it was my turn to deal them.
I dealt me one trump, it was only poor jack.
And she had the ace and the deuce for to beat me
And they are the very best cards in the pack.

So, and she played her ace and she stole my jack from me
That made a high low jack in the game
And she says, “My kind sir, well I fairly beat you,
Or else shall we play the game over again?”

Well I picked up my tip for I wished a good morning
I left her high low jack and the game.
But I says, “My fair girl, if you're this way tomorrow,
We'll play the game over and over again.”

Tony Rose sings The Game of All Fours

Now as I was a-walking one fine summer's morning,
Oh the fields and the meadows were pleasant and gay.
Who should I spy but a handsome young fair maid
As she was a-walking along the highway.

Oh, I stepped up to her and wished her a good morning,
“Where are you going so soon in the morn?”
She answered, “Kind sir, I'm a-going to Windsor,
“To that pleasant place where I was born.”

“Well said, my fair maiden, and shall I go with you
For to keep your sweet company?”
She turned herself round and a-smiling so sweetly,
Said “Sir, you may do just as you please.”

Oh we hadn't been walking past one mile together
Before that we better acquainted became,
And I said, “My fair maid, come and sit you down by me
And I will show to you a sweet pleasant game.”

She said, “My kind sir, I'm not given to gaming,
But nevertheless so I'm willing to learn.
But the game that we play it must be all fours
And then I will hold you three to one.”

So she cut the cards, but 't was my turn to deal them,
And I dealt myself one trump, it was only poor jack.
She had the ace and the deuce for to beat me
And they are the very best cards in the pack.

So she played off her ace and she took the jack from me,
't left her the high low jack in the game.
She said, “My kind sir, well I fairly beat you,
Or else we will play the game over again?”

Well I picked up my hat and I wished a good morning
And I left her high low jack and the game.
Then I said, “My fair maid, I'll be back in the morning,
And then we will play the game over again.”