> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Husband With No Courage in Him
> Louis Killen > Songs > My Husband's Got No Courage in Him
> Silly Sisters > Songs > My Husband's Got No Courage in Him
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Oh Dear Oh

The Husband With No Courage in Him /
My Husband's Got No Courage in Him / Oh Dear Oh

[ Roud 870 ; G/D 7:1367 ; Ballad Index K213 ; Bodleian Roud 870 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang The Husband With No Courage in Him in 1956 on his Tradition album The Foggy Dew and Other Traditional English Love Songs. He commented in the liner notes:

Here is one of the hidden love songs of Britain, a song collected several times yet never considered fit to print. In it, a wife laments the sexual shortcomings of her husband. This kind of candour is not uncommon in Genro and Oriental song. On printed evidence it seems rare in West European musical folklore. Would manuscript collectors show something different? The song is unusual meter, considered by some to be Scottish, though in fact the song has been collected most often in the far south of England, in Somerset and Dorset.

Louis Killen sang My Husband's Got No Courage in Him in 1964 at the Edinburgh Folk Festival Vol. 2. Sally Killen sang No Courage with Louis Killen joining in on chorus in 1975 on their LP Bright Shining Morning. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

I learned this from Brian Ballinger in 1956 and passed it on to Sally. The sentiments in this song are not overly strong for a woman married to an impotent man in days when only the rich could afford the Act of Parliament necessary for a divorce.

Heather Wood sang Me Husband's Got No Courage in Him on November 17, 1968 at the Young Tradition concert at Oberlin College, Ohio, that was published in 2013 on their Fledg'ling CD Oberlin 1968. She commented in the album notes:

Learned from Bert Lloyd. When we started, several folk purists said that what we were doing was not traditional. Bert said to us, “Do whatever you like with a song, just be sure that you feel your are adding to it.” He certainly took his own advice.

Maddy Prior and June Tabor sang this tale of a sadly under-performing husband unaccompanied in 1976 on their album Silly Sisters. Another, live recording from the Maddy Prior, Family & Friends Christmas tour of 1999 was released on the CD and video Ballads and Candles. The latter album comments:

Of broadside origin, probably (19th century but possibly earlier), this sad tale is based on a version from Dorset. James Reeves in The Idiom of the People comments: “Oysters are a notorious aphrodisiac, but rhubarb is less well-known in this connection.” Tim Hart famously observed: “Oysters and rhubarb! The poor man can't have known if he was coming or going.”

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick recorded this songs under the title Oh Dear Oh live on February 23, 1990 at Focal Point, St. Louis, MO, USA for their album Life and Limb and sang in 1991 at Dave Swarbrick's 50th Birthday Concert. A live recording from the Tanz & Folkfest Rudolstadt, Germany, on July 3, 1992 was included in 2011 on their Fellside CD Walnut Creek. Martin Carthy commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

There are three songs on this album from the repertoire of the late great A.L. “Bert” Lloyd. […] The last of the three, Oh Dear Oh is possibly the one we've both known the longest as individuals, however, it's the one we never did as a duo until now.

Jon Boden learned My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him from the Silly Sisters; he sang it as the May 12, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

The Andover Museum Loft Singers directed by Bellowhead's Paul Sartin sang My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him at Sidmouth FolkWeek 2011:

The Norfolk Broads sang Husband on their 2017 CD In the Valley of the Flowers. This video shows them on the Cutty Sark as part of the Nest Collectives' Shanty Sessions:

Mawkin sang My Husband's Got No Courage in Him on their 2018 album Down Among the Dead Men. They noted:

An unlikely folk song about an unsatisfied woman wishing she was with a younger model. Dave [Delarre] loves Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick's version of this but the 7/8 time signature proved too hot to handle.

See also Norma Waterson sing Les Barker's adaption My Husband's Got No Porridge in Him on his album Gnus and Roses.

Lyrics

The Silly Sisters sing My Husband's Got No Courage in Him Martin Carthy sings Oh Dear Oh

As I walked out one May morning
To view the fields and the leaves a-springing
I saw two maidens standing by
And one of them her hands was wringing

As I went out one summer's day
To view the fields and the leaves were springing
I met two maids all on the way
One of them her hands was wringing
And all of her conversation was
My husband's got no courage in him

Chorus (after each verse):
O dear o, o dear o
My husband's got no courage in him
O dear o

Chorus:
Oh dear oh, oh dear oh
My husband's got no courage in him
Oh dear oh

All sort of vittles I did provide
All sorts of meats that's fitting for him
With oyster pie and rhubarb too
But nothing will put courage in him

All sorts of meats I do preserve
All sorts of drinks that's fitting for him
Oyster pie and rhubarb too
But that don't put no courage in him

Chorus:
Oh dear oh, oh dear oh
That don't put no courage in him
Oh dear oh

My husband can dance and caper and sing
And do anything that is fitting for him
But he cannot do the thing I want
Because he has no courage in him

My husband's admired wherever he goes
And everyone looks well upon him
With his handsome features and well-shaped leg
But still he's got no courage in him

Every night when I goes to bed
I lie and throw my leg right o'er him
And my hand I clap between his thighs
But I can't put any courage in him

Seven long years I've made his bed
And every night I've lain beside him
And this morning I rose with my maidenhead
For still he's got no courage in him

For seven long years I made his bed
And for six of them I laid agin him
This morning I rose with my maidenhead
Shows he's got no courage in him

Chorus:
Oh dear oh, oh dear oh
It shows he's got no courage in him
Oh dear oh

I wish my husband he was dead
And in the/his grave I'd quickly lay him
And then I'd try another one
That's got a little courage in him

I wish to God that he was dead
And in his grave I'd quickly lay him
Then I'd find a nice young man
That's got a bit of courage in him

Chorus:
Oh dear oh, oh dear oh
That's got a bit of courage in him
Oh dear oh

Come all you maids where'er you be
Don't you marry a man before you try him
Or else you'll sing your song like me
My husband's got no courage in him

Chorus:
Oh dear oh, oh dear oh
My husband's got no courage in him
Oh dear oh

Acknowledgements

Transcribed from Martin Carthy's singing by Garry Gillard.