> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Foggy Dew
> Shirley Collins > Songs > The Foggy Dew
> Martin Carthy > Songs > The Foggy Dew

The Foggy Dew

[ Roud 558 ; Laws O3 ; G/D 7:1496 ; Ballad Index LO03 ; Bodleian Roud 558 ; trad.]

Douglas Morling sang The Foggy Dew in a recording made by A.L. Lloyd for the BBC at The Eel's Foot in 1938/39. In was included in 2000 on the Veteran CD of traditional singing & music from The Eel's Foot, Good Order! Ladies and Gentlemen Please.

Luther Hills with Mark Fuller sang The Foggy Dew in a recording made by Peter Kennedy in Luther's smithy at East Denn, Sussex, 2 December 1952. It was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology of songs by Southern English traditional singers, You Never Heard So Sweet (The Voice of the People Series Volume 21).

Phil Hammond of Holt, Norfolk, sang The Foggy Dew in a recording made by Peter Kennedy for the BBC on 3 November 1952. It was published on the anthology Songs of Seduction (The Folk Songs of Britain Vol. 2, Caedmon 1961; 12T158, 1968).

Harry Cox sang The Foggy Dew in a recording made by Peter Kennedy in Catfield, Norfolk in October 1953 on the 1955 HMV album Folk Song Today, in 1965 on Cox's eponymous EFDSS album Harry Cox, and in 2000 on his Rounder anthology What Will Become of England?. Another recording made by Peter Kennedy at The Windmill, Sutton, Norfolk was released in 1960 on the EMI/HMV EP The Barley Mow: Songs from the Village Inn.

Patrick Galvin sang The Foggy Dew in 1956 on his Topic 8" LP Irish Songs of Resistance Part 2.

A.L. Lloyd sang The Foggy Dew in 1956 on his Riverside album English Drinking Songs and on his Tradition album The Foggy Dew and Other Traditional English Love Songs, on the 1961 Topic reissue EP of English drinking songs, All for Me Grog, and on his Fellside anthology Classic A.L. Lloyd. He commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

This true-life story is known in many forms. Sometimes the girl is frightened by a ghost: the “bugaboo”. Sometimes she seems disturbed by the weather: the “foggy dew”. Some say the foggy dew is a virginity symbol; others say the words are there by accident or corruption, and all the girl was pretending to be frightened of was ghosts. Whatever the case, she creeps to the roving bachelor for comfort, and gets what she came for. The Irish have it as a sentimental piece of blarney, the Scots as a brief bawdy guffaw; students have coarsened the song, and Benjamin Britten has refined it. The East Anglian country-folk have it straightest, and sing it without a laugh or a tear or a nudge in the ribs, just as it happened. The Foggy Dew is known all over Britain, yet rarely seen in its full form in print, which is odd, for the song is eminently decent in its best traditional forms. It's not a drinking song, but it's often sung in drinking places.

Shirley Collins recorded The Foggy Dew twice in 1958/59. The first version was published in 1960 on False True Lovers and in 2004 on her anthology Classic Collection; the other is the title track of her 1959/60 Collector EP The Foggy Dew and was also included in 2002 on her anthology Within Sound. Alan Lomax commented in her original recording's sleeve notes:

From Cecil Sharp's English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, Volume II, [this] is one of the few of the frankly erotic songs so common in Southern England to survive more or less uncensored in American tradition. Its centre of dispersal seems to have been the Suffolk-Norfolk area, where it still can be heard being roared out in remote country pubs…

And ev-er-y time she cocks her leg,
I thinks of the fo–o–ggy de-ew.

This ribald variant has been frequently broadcast over the BBC, which in spite of its occasional stodginess, makes our American radio and television networks seem old-maidish. However, Miss Collins prefers the version that Sharp found in Calloway, Virginia. I quote her: “I think that this is the most beautiful version of the song to be found anywhere. To me, it's the only version that doesn't have a sneer behind it; it's truly tender and loving.” But James Reeves, the author of The Idiom of the People, says, “it has a rough coherence, but surely none of the subtlety or the emotional and psychological interest of English versions.”—and “it is an example of the hopeless confusion resulting from evident misunderstanding of traditional symbolism.” However, I'm sure for girls everywhere, the Virginian variant wins hands down…

Bob Roberts sang The Foggy Dew in yet another recording made by Peter Kennedy on his 1960 Collector EP Stormy Weather Boys! and in a recording made by Tony Engle at Ryde, Isle of Wight, in August 1977 on his Topic album Songs from the Sailing Barges.

Hedy West sang The Foggy Dew in 1967 on her Topic album Ballads. This album was reissued in 2011 as part of her Fellside anthology Ballads & Songs from the Appalachians.

Packie Manus Byrne sang The Foggy Dew in 1969 on his eponymous EFDSS album Packie Byrne.

Bob Hart sang The Foggy Dew in 1969 in a recording made at home by Bill Leader. It was included in 2007 on his Musical Traditions anthology A Broadside.

Marie Little sang The Foggy Dew in 1971 on her Argo album Factory Girl.

Tom Gilfellon sang The Foggy Foggy Dew in 1972 on his Trailer album Loving Mad Tom.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing The Foggy Dew in 1977 on their Folk-Legacy album of ballads of the supernatural, Dark Ships in the Forest.

Ewan MacColl sang The Foggy Dew in a live recording from St. Louis, Missouri in April 1986 on his Cooking Vinyl album Black and White.

Fred Jordan sang Foggy Foggy Dew in a recording made by Ian Russell on his 1991 EFDSS cassette In Course of Time. This track was also included in 2003 on his Veteran anthology A Shropshire Lad.

Graham Moore sang Foggy Dew on his 1995 album Tom Paine's Bones.

Martin Carthy sang a much longer version than Lloyd with a tragic end—and which only shares two verses with Lloyd—in in 2004 on his album Waiting for Angels and live in December 2004 at Ruskin Mill. He commented in the former album's sleeve notes:

Mike Waterson will occasionally sing The Foggy Dew to the tune which he learned from a recording of the stentorian Norfolk singer Phil Hammond. Mr Hammond was a country boy who had risen to the rank of Major in the British army and had learned this beautifully complete way of the song from an unnamed forestry worker and who, having forgotten the man's tune, had colonised the better known Britten/Pears version, and made it his own. It's not so much misunderstood as a song as utterly “not” understood—really because the standard version is so truncated. The tune here is from the incomparable Harry Fox who sang The Barley Straw to it. Harry Cox's singing in exquisite (always) but the sentiments of that song leave me not feeling too good, so I burgled its tune and this is the result.

Damien Barber recorded The Foggy Dew in 1995 for his album Boxed (which wasn't released before 2000).

Jim Moray sang The Foggy Dew on Concerto Caledonia's 2001 CD Revenge of the Folksingers and on his 2016 CD Upcetera. He noted:

The tune here is the same as used by Benjamin Britten in his book Folksong Arrangements Vol. 3. I see it as a far sadder and less comedic song than Britten and Peter Pears did though, and I've altered the tune to fit.

Magpie Lane sang Foggy Dew in 2002 on their Beautiful Jo album Six for Gold.

Both Bill Whaley & Dave Fletcher and Martyn Wyndham-Read sang The Foggy Dew in 2003 on the 2 CD anthology Song Links: A Celebration of English Traditional Songs and their Australian Variants. In both of these versions the girl gets pregnant too but they both have a happy ending.

Danny Spooner sang The Foggy Dew on his 2008 CD Brave Bold Boys. He noted:

This beautiful old English song was given the ‘nod, nod, wink, wink’ treatment by Peter Piers the counter tenor in the 1930s, which reduced a tender, loving folksong to the joyless bawdry of a late-night rugby club and it did the rounds of the Melbourne folk revival in the 1960s. Fortunately, the folk tradition also kept the song alive in this glorious version that I learned from the singing of Dave Fletcher and Bill Whaley, two fine English singers. Most areas of the British Isles boast a variant of this song.

James Findlay sang Foggy Dew in 2011 on his Fellside CD Sport and Play. He noted:

And this is the cheeriest ‘death by childbirth’ song on the album! The theories surrounding the title and its meaning are legion, but I’ll leave that to the academics. I first heard a version sung by a good friend of mine, Graham Moore. However this is his tune, with the words taken from the book The Seeds of Love.

Rob Williams sang Foggy Dew in 2012 on his CD of songs collected by Henry and Robert Hammond in 1905 from Jane Gulliford of Combe Florey, Outstanding Natural Beauty: Songs from around the Quantock Hills.

Ye Vagabonds sang The Foggy Dew in 2019 on their River Lea album The Hare's Lament. This recording won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019 in the category Best Traditional Track. They noted:

Brian [Mac Gloinn] learned this version of the song first from a recording of A.L. Lloyd, but over time the words changed a little, and a few lines were swapped out from the version sung by our friend Mick O’Grady. There are much more complete versions of the song, which tell a lot more of the story’s details in many more verses, but this one leaves more to the imagination and Brian preferred to keep it that way.

Nick Dow sang The Foggy Dew on his 2020 album of love songs from the British Tradition, In a Garden Grove. He noted:

Collected by Nick Dow from Dick Corbett, Broadwindsor, Dorset. Dick was the landlord of the White Lion Pub. He called the song The Batchelor Song. The ‘Foggy Dew’ is a corruption of the ‘bugaboo’ or Bogie Man, hence the terrified and ill fated maiden. Dick considered The Foggy Dew to be a racy song. Burl Ives was thrown into jail for thirty days for singing a very close variant to the one included here. It did not stop him singing it, he included three verses in a Hollywood movie in 1946. Dick said he learned the song “somewhere down the way”. Interestingly the eighteenth century title for the song was The Batchelor Song the same as Mr Corbett's title. Dick Corbett's ashes were spread over Lewsdon Hill in Dorset, a carpet of bluebells in the summer and no doubt a bit of Foggy Dew in the winter.


A.L. Lloyd sings The Foggy Dew Martin Carthy sings The Foggy Dew

When I was a bachelor young and bold,
I followed the roving trade.
And all the harm that ever I done,
I courted a handsome maid.
I wooed her all the summertime,
And a part of the winter too.
And the only harm that ever I done
Was to keep off the foggy dew.

Oh, when I was a bachelor early and young
I followed the weaving trade.
All the harm that ever I done
Was in courtin' a fair young maid.
I courted her in the summertime
And all through the winter too.
And the only thing I ever did wrong
Was keep her from the foggy dew.

Well, I got that tired of living alone,
I says to her one day,
“I've a nice little cot in my old shack,
Where you could safely lay.
You'll be all right in the summertime
And all through the winter, too,
You'll be snug and warm and you'll take no harm,
All out of the foggy dew.”

“Well, I don't think much to your old shack
As I will lonely be,
With only your old Cyprus cat
For to keep me company.
With crickets chirping in the hearth
But whatever can they do,
When the night turns raw and the fire won't draw,
To keep me from the foggy dew?”

It was all on one night about twelve o'clock,
When I lay fast asleep.
There came this maid to my bedside
And bitterly she did weep.
She wept, she moaned, she tore her hair,
And she cried, “What shall I do?”
So all that night I held her tight
Just to keep off the foggy dew.

One night she come to my bedside,
When I lay fast asleep.
She laid her head down on my breast
And she started in to weep.
She wept, she sighed, she well near died,
She cries, “What shall I do?
For this night I'm resolved to stay with you
Without of the foggy dew.”

Well all the first part of that night
How we did sport and play,
And all the latter part of that night
Snug in my arms she lay.
And when the broad daylight appeared
She cried, “I am undone!”
“Oh, hold your tongue, you silly young girl,
For the foggy dew have gone.”

“Oh lie down there, you silly young girl,
And wipe away those tears.”
Then I hauled her shift up over her head
And I wrapped it round her ears.
We were all right in the summertime
And all through the winter, too,
But I held her tight that livelong night
To keep her from the foggy dew.

I never told nobody her name
And damned be if I do,
But many's the time I think of that night
When I kept off the foggy dew.

“Oh lie down there, you silly young girl,
And don't you be afraid.
If you want to stay with me
You have to learn your trade.”
She learned all through the summertime
And all through the winter, too,
And truth to tell she learned that well,
She saved us from the foggy dew.

One night I laid there, good as gold,
When she starts unto me,
Says, “I've got a pain in below my back
Where no pain ought to be.
I was all right in the summertime,
And all through the winter, too.
But I take some ill or a kind of a chill
On account of the foggy dew.”

That night she started to moan and cry.
Says I, “What's up with you?"
Says she, “I never should have been this way,
If it haven't been for you.”
I put my boots and my trousers on
And I ran for my neighbour, too.
Do what we could, we couldn't do no good
And she died in the foggy dew.

I'm a bachelor now, and I live with my son,
And we work at the weaving trade.
Each time I look in his eyes I see
The eyes of that fair young maid,
Reminding me of the summertime
And of the winter, too,
And of the many times I rolled in her arms
All over the foggy dew.

Shirley Collins sings The Foggy Dew

I courted her all of the winter,
Part of the summer too,
All the harm that I have done
Was to court a pretty fair maid.

One night she came to my bedside
As I lay fast asleep,
“Come to my arms, my pretty miss,
Get out of the foggy dew.”

She layed in my arms till broad daylight,
And the sun begin to shine.
I turn my back on my own true love,
“Goodbye, my love, I'm gone.”

Towards the first part of the year
She took pale in the face.
And along the latter part of the year
She grew bigger round the waist.

Along towards the end of the year,
She brought to me a son.
“Oh, now you see as well as I
What the foggy dew has done.”

I loved that girl with all my heart,
I loved her as my life.
Yet every time the baby cries,
I'd think on the foggy dew.


Martin Carthy's version was based on the text posted by Laura XX to the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: The Foggy Dew (from Martin Carthy) but changed quite a bit to the actual singing of Martin Carthy. Thank you!