> Martin Carthy > Songs > The False Lover Won Back
> Frankie Armstrong > Songs > The False Lover Won Back
> Shirley Collins > Songs > Young John

The False Lover Won Back / Honey for the Bee / Young John

[ Roud 201 ; Child 218 ; G/D 5:974 ; Ballad Index C218 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger sang the ballad The False Lover Won Back in 1956 on their Tradition album Classic Scots Ballads. He noted:

Outside of Scotland, this ballad is rarely found. Child knew it in only two versions, both from the North of Scotland. The ballad appears to be unknown in England and has been reported in America in but a few variants. In Scotland, however, the ballad seems to have retained it popularity, for it is still sung widely by Aberdeenshire ballad singers. This version was learned from Gavin Greig's Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs (Aberdeen, 1925).

Martin Carthy sang The False Lover Won Back in a John Peel BBC Radio session that was recorded on May 22, 1972 and broadcast on May 30. This recording was included as bonus track on the 2005 CD reissue of his album Shearwater. He also sang this song at the Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1979, a recording of which was released in 2013 on his digital download album Live in Sidmouth 1979.

Pat Ryan sang False Lover Won Back in 1977 on her Folk Heritage album Leaboy's Lassie.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sang The False Lover Won Back in 1978 on their album Four Foul Day and Fair. They commented in their liner notes:

Cilla started singing this song after hearing one of our favourite singers, Jimmy Hutchison, performing it. The song exists in many forms, and this version is one that Ewan MacColl sings.

Frankie Armstrong sang The False Lover Won Back in 2000 on her Fellside album The Garden of Love. She commented:

This song is a softer and more romantic reworking of the old ballad of Child Waters. The heroine is threatened with abandonment because she is not rich and high-born enough to be a suitable marriage partner, but true love triumphs in the end. The tune is so gorgeous you could eat it.

Jimmy Hutchison sang False Lover Won Back in 2000 on his Tradition Bearers CD Corachree.

Malinky sang The False Lover Won Back in 2002 on their second CD, 3 Ravens. They noted:

Karine set the lyrics to the pipe march Mary's Dream, which she learned from ace-piper Mike Katz. The lyrics she found in the Greig-Duncan collection (which inspired our first album Last Leaves). And when she finally checked out Cilla and Artie's version of Billy Taylor (thanks to Steve being at Mark's house, seeing Mark's fiancĂ©e Islay's Mum's bloke Dave's record collection—follow?) she found this song on the same album (learned from Jimmy Hutchison of South Uist). Spooky! Thanks to them for singing good songs in the first place. Thanks also to Harry F from Sparks, Nevada.

The Witches of Elswick sang this as Honey for the Bee in 2003 on their first album, Out of Bed. They commented in their liner notes:

Gillian learnt this from the Scottish band Malinky who fused traditional words with a Highland pipe tune called Mairi's Dream.

Shirley Collins sang a variant of this Child Ballad with the title Young John during the sessions for her and her sister Dolly's album Love, Death & the Lady. But, as three other ones, this track was left out and only found its way onto the album's 1994 and 2003 CD reissues. She commented in the CD notes:

Another ballad from The Oxford Book of Ballads [no.  74, The False Lover]. I wondered why several of the tracks on this album came from this source—until I spotted the inscription in the front of the book. It had been a birthday present from Dolly in the year the album was recorded—so I'd obviously made good use of it. The tune is my own.

Siobhan Miller sang The Sun Shines High, taking the title from the song's first line, on her 2017 album Strata. This video shows her at The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, in February 2017:

Kim Carnie, Ella Munro and Iona Fyfe sang alternate verses of The False Lover Won Back with the “honey for the bee” chorus on the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2017 CD.

Rachel Newton sang False Lover Won Back on the Furrow Collective's 2018 album Fathoms. They noted:

Rachel based this version on a recording by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl on their 1956 album Classic Scots Ballads. In the sleeve notes they say their version was learned from Gavin Greig's Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs (1925).

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings The False Lover Won BackThe Witches of Elswick sing Honey for the Bee

Oh, the sun shines high on yonder hill,
And low in yonder town;
In the place where my love nifty dwell,
The sun goes never down.

The sun shines on yon high, high hill
And the sun shines on yon derry, derry dell.
The sun, it never goes down no more
On the place where me and my love dwell.

“Go and saddle to me the black and the blank,
Go and saddle to me the brown,
That I may ride around here, girl,
That I may ride around.”

“Oh, but when will you come back again?
And when will you be home?”
“When the heather hills are nine times burnt
And all grow green again.”

And it's, “When will you be back, bonnie laddie?”
And it's, “When will you be back again?”
“When the heather has been nine times burnt
And the grass is growing green again.”

“Oh, but that's too long to stay away,
That's too long from your home.
And the babe that lies in my true side
Will be too long want his name.”

“For it's over long to bide away
And it's over long away for thee,
When the baby that is yet unborn
Will be round wantin' a name.”

Chorus:
Comfort for the comfortless
And honey for the bee,
Comfort for the comfortless
But there's none but you for me

But he turned his high horse all about
And fast away rode he,
And she's kilted up her gay clothing
And fast, fast followed she.

He's mounted up his good black steed
And he's saddled up to ride.
She's kilted up her petticoat green
And she ran swiftly by his side.

Crying, “Love for love that I do want
And love for love again.
Oh it's hard that I like you so well
And you not me again.”

And the very first town that they come to,
Oh, he's bought her a broach and a ring.
And he's bid her rue and get along now,
No more follow him.

And the first town that they came to
He's bought her the bonniest hose and shoes,
And bade her rue and turn back now
And never follow him again.

“But it's love for love that I do want
And love for love again.
It's hard that I like you so well
And you not me again.”

(Chorus)

But the very next town that they come to,
Oh, he's bought her hose and shoen.
And he's bid her rue and get along now,
No more follow him.

And the second town that they came to
He's bought her the bonniest silken gown,
And bade her rue and turn back now
And never follow him again.

“But it's love for love that I do want
And love for love again.
Oh, it's hard that I like you so well
And you not me again.”

(Chorus)

And the very next town that they come to,
Oh, he's bought her a wedding ring.
And he's bid her dry up her rosy cheeks
And she should follow him.

And the third town that they came to
He's bought her the bonniest wedding ring,
And bade her dry her rosy cheeks
And up and ride along with him.

“For it's love for love that I do want
And love for love again.
And there's none for you but me, dear girl,
None for you but me.

“There's comfort for the comfortless,
There's honey for the bee;
And there's none for me but you, dear girl,
None for you but me.

(2× Chorus)

“And it's love for love that I have got
And love for love again.
So turn your high horse head about
And we will head for home.”

 
Shirley Collins sings Young John

A fair made stood in her bower door,
A-wringing her lily hands;
And by there came a sprightly youth
Fast tripping over the strands.

“Oh, where are you going, young John,” she says,
“So early in the day?
It makes me think by your fast step
Your journey's far away.”

He turned around with a dreadful look
And said, “What's that to you?
I'm off to see a lovely girl
I love far better than you.”

“Now since you've played me thus false, love,
In summer mid the flowers,
So I will pay you back again
In winter mid the showers.”

“But again, dear love, and again, dear love,
Will you not turn again?
For as you look to other women
So shall I to other men.”

“Go make your choice of whom you please
Or I my choice will have.”
“I've chosen a maid more fair than you,
I never will deceive.”

She's gathered up her gay clothing
And after him rode she.
But still he bade her turn again,
No farther go with him.

And the first town that they came into,
He bought her a muff and gloves.
But still he bade her turn again
And choose some other loves.

“But again, dear love, and again, dear love,
Will you not turn again?
Alas for loving you so well
And you not me again.”

The next town that they came into,
He bought her a blazing ring;
But still he bade her turn again,
No further ride with him.

“But again, dear love, and again, dear love,
Will you not turn again?
Alas for loving you so well
And you not me again.”

The next town that they came into,
His heart it grew more warm,
And he was as deep in love with her
As she was over again.

And the last town that they came into,
He bought her a wedding gown
And so she was as happy a lady
As ever the sun shone on.