> Martin Carthy > Songs > The Barley and the Rye
> The Watersons > Songs > The Barley and the Rye
> Peter Bellamy > Songs > The Barley and the Rye

The Barley and the Rye

[ Roud 23268 ; trad.]

E.J. Moeran collected The Barley and the Rye in 1927 from the singing of Harry Cox of Norfolk. I don't know of a published version of him singing it, though.

Martin Carthy sang Harry Cox's song in 1965 on his first album Martin Carthy, and Lal and Norma Waterson sang it in the same year in the BBC documentary Travelling for a Living. Another recording by them, intended for their unreleased Topic LP Folk Union One, was released in 2004 on the Watersons' anthology Mighty River of Song.

Peter Bellamy sang The Barley and the Rye on his third solo LP, The Fox Jumps Over the Parson's Gate. Barry Dransfield accompanied him on the fiddle. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Curious how rare some good songs are. This excellent little genre scene, sketched vividly in a few lines, of a silly old cuckold, a rampaging wife, and a young rake, has been recovered from only one singer, ant it had to be Harry Cox. E.J. Moeran collected it from him more than forty years ago. The tune is a handsome member of the vast Dives and Lazarus family; the well-known sailor song Rounding the Horn or The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite is its cousin.

Robin Dransfield sang The Barley and the Rye on his album Tidewave. This track was also included on the Topic anthology The Folk Collection.

And compare The Barley and the Rye to the related The Barley Straw on Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick's album Byker Hill. Both songs have nearly the same first two lines.

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings The Barley and the Rye

It's of an old country farmer who lived in the West Country,
And he had the prettiest little wife that ever you did see,
And the young man came a-courting her when the old man he wasn't nigh,
And ofttimes they would take a tumble amongst the barley and the rye.

Now when the old man woke in the morning, and he found himself all alone
Well he look'd out of the window, and he spied his wife in the corn,
And the young man lay beside her, and it caused the old man to cry
He says, “Wife, wife, I wonder at you, for spoiling of my rye!”

“Oh husband,” she says, “Oh husband, it's the like I've ne'er done before
But if you have got one friend, I have another one in store
He's a friend, love, that will not deceive you, if you will him employ,
He's got money enough, love, for to pay you for our barley and our rye.”

Lal & Norma Waterson sing The Barley and the Rye

It's of an old country farmer living in the West Country,
And he had the prettiest little wife that you ever did see,
Well, the young fellow came a-courting her when the old man he wasn't nigh,
And it's ofttimes they take a tumble amongst the barley and the rye.

When the old man woke in the morning, and he found himself all alone
He looked out of the window, and saw his wife in the corn,
And the young fellow lay beside her, it caused the man to cry
He cried, “Wife, wife, I wonder at you, for the spoiling of the rye!”

She cried, “Husband,” she cried, “Oh husband, it's the like I've ne'er done before
And if you've got one friend, love, I've another one in store.
He's a friend, love, that will not deceive you, if you will him employ,
He's got money enough, love, to pay for both the barley and the rye.”

Peter Bellamy sings The Barley and the Rye

It is of an old country farmer living in the West Country,
And he had the prettiest little wife that ever you did see,
And the young man he came a-courting her when the old man he wasn't nigh,
And it's often times they take a tumble among the barley and the rye.

Oh, when the old man he woke all in the morning, and he found himself alone
Then he looked out of the window, and he saw his wife in the corn.
And the young man he lay beside her which caused the old man to cry,
Saying, “Wife, wife, I wonder at you, you're a-spoiling of my rye!”

“Oh husband,” she cried, “Oh husband, it's the like I've ne'er done before
And if you have lost one good friend, love, I've another one in store.
He's a friend, love, that will not deceive you, and if you will him employ,
He'll get money enough, love, to pay you for your barley and your rye.”

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Garry Gillard.