> A.L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl > Songs > Card Playing Song
> Eliza Carthy > Songs > Tom Brown

Card Playing Song / Tom Brown

[ Roud 884 ; G/D 3:571 ; Ballad Index FSWB232 ; Bodleian Roud 884 ; trad.]

Frank Kidson printed An Old Card Playing Song in his book Traditional Tunes (Oxford: Cha. Taphouse & Son, 1891). He noted:

I don't suppose the following to be very old, but it is quaint, has a good air, and appears to be an inedited song.

It has been obtained from Mr Washington Teasdale, who learned it some twenty-five or thirty years ago in India. The song gives on the idea of being an extemporaneous drinking song, each member of the company contributing a rhyme as he drains off his glass,the chorus being sung by the whole party. […]

A parody of the song is found in an early number of Punch.

It has been before printed, in the Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement, in an article on “Old Tunes,” contributed by myself.

Ewan MacColl included The Card Song in Peggy Seeger's and his book The Singing Island (London: Mills Music, 1960): He sang it as The Card Playing Song in 1958 on the Topic 10" LP Bold Sportsmen All and on the American Riverside reissue Champions and Sporting Blades. This was also included in 1998 on their Topic CD reissue Bold Sportsmen All: Gamblers and Sporting Blades. The album sleeve noted commented:

Folksong collector Frank Kidson obtained this song from a soldier who learned it in India in the 1850s. Originally, each verse was sung by a different member of the company, who drained his glass midway through the stanza, to give himself inspiration. Other less decorous versions have come to light. This example is offered to would-be singers as a model on which they may make their own improvisations.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sang The Card Song with very similar words as the final track of their album New Impressions. Ian Campbell commented:

An army song collected by Kidson and popularised some years ago in this form by Ewan MacColl. We find it a good song with which to end an evening, so why not a record?

Fairport Convention sang The Card Song on their 1996 album The Five Seasons. This track was also included in 1997 on the Castle anthology New Electric Muse II.

Eliza Carthy and the Ratcatchers sang Tom Brown in 2005 on her CD Rough Music. She commented in the CD booklet:

A song about beer and gambling, learned from Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. Never play John Spiers at a game he claims never to have played before.

Katherine Campbell printed Tam Broon, as collected from Isaac Troup in June 1908 by James B. Duncan, in her book of songs from the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, Songs from North-East Scotland (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2009).

Lyrics

An Old Card Playing Song in Traditional Tunes

Oh! the king will take the queen; but the queen will take the knave:
And since we're all together, boys, we'll have a merry stave.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Here's to you Tom Brown,
Here's to you, with all my heart!
We'll have another glass, my boys,
At least, before we part:
Here's to you Tom Brown,
Here's to you Tom Brown

The queen will take the knave, but the knave will take the ten;
And since we're all together, boys, we'll keep it up like men.

The knave will take the ten, but the ten will take the nine;
And since we're all together, boys, we'll drink the best of wine.

As the verse-making is entirely dependent upon the singer,
the reader will be able to readily support the missing links. It concludes—

The four will take the trey, but the trey will take the deuce;
And since we're all together, boys, we'll never cry a truce.

The tray will take the deuce, but the ace will take them all;
And since we're all together, boys, we won't go home at all.

Ewan MacColl sings Card Playing Song

The king will take the queen but the queen will take the knave
And since we're in good company more liquor let us have.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Here's to you Tom Brown,
And to you me jolly soul,
And to you with all my heart,
And with you I'll take a quart.
With you I'll drink a drop or two
Before that we do part.
Here's to you Tom Brown,
Here's to you Tom Brown

The knave will take the ten but the ten will take the nine
And since we're in good company come let us have more wine.

The nine will take the eight, the eight will take the seven
And since we're in good company we'll drink till past eleven.

The seven will take the six, the six will take the five
And since we're in good company as sure as I'm alive.

The five will take the four, the four will take the trey
And since we're in good company we'll drink till break of day.

the trey will take the deuce, the ace will take them all
And since we're in good company we won't go home at all.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sings The Card Song

The king can take the queen but the queen can take the knave
And since we're in good company more liquor let us have.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Here's to you Tom Brown,
And to you me jolly soul,
And to you with all my heart,
And with you I'll take a quart.
With you I'll drink a drop or two
Before that we do part.
Here's to you Tom Brown,
Here's to you Tom Brown

The knave can take the ten but the ten can take the nine
And since we're in good company come let us have more wine.

The nine can take the eight but the eight can take the seven
And since we're in good company we'll drink till past eleven.

The seven can take the six but the six can take the five
And since we're in good company as long as I'm alive.

The five can take the four but the four can take the trey
And since we're in good company we'll drink till break of day.

The trey can take the deuce but the ace can take 'em all
And since we're in good company we won't go home at all.

Eliza Carthy sings Tom Brown

Well the king will take the queen and the queen will take the knave
And since we're in good company more liquor let us have.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And to you with all my soul,
And to you with all my heart,
And with you I'll take a quart.
With you I'll drink a drop or two
Before that we do part.
Here's to you Tom Brown,
Here's to you Tom Brown

Well the knave will take the ten and the ten will take the nine
And since we're in good company come let us have more wine.

Well the nine will take the eight and the eight will take the seven
And since we're in good company we'll drink till past eleven.

Well the seven will take the six and the six will take the five
And since we're in good company as sure as I'm alive.

Well the five will take the four but the four will take the three
And since we're in good company you'll sit besides of me.

Now the three will take the two but the ace will take them all
And since we're in good company we won't go home at all.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins/Tune: Here's to you Tom Brown (Card Song).