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All Around My Hat

[ Roud 22518 ; Ballad Index K145 ; Full English FK/10/134/1 ; Bodleian Roud 22518 ; trad.]

Peter Bellamy accompanied himself on melodeon on All Around My Hat on his second solo album, Fair England's Shore (1969). He commented in the album liner notes:

All Around My Hat I have known for so long that I have forgotten where I originally acquired it. I found several versions in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House, many of which had a long and very confusing story line. I decided to stick with this clear and simple form.

Steeleye Span: All Around My Hat (Chrsyalis 6155 055, Germany)

All Around My Hat / Black Jack Davy
Steeleye Span

Chrysalis CHS 2078 (single, UK, November 1975)
Chrysalis 6155 055 (single, p/s, Germany, 1975)
Chrysalis 6155 055 (single, p/s, Netherlands, 1975)

Steeleye Span: All Around My Hat (Chrysalis 6155 055, Netherlands)
Steeleye Span: All Around My Hat (Chrysalis 6155 055, Belgium)

Chrysalis 6155 055 (single, p/s, Belgium, 1975)
Chrysalis/Festival K-6079 (single, Australia, 1975)

Steeleye Span: All Around My Hat (Festival K-6079, Australia)

Besides Gaudete, All Around My Hat is Steeleye Span's only hit single (originally with the B-side Black Jack Davy), which reached No. 3 in the British charts in December 1975. This contagious song became so popular that it was the subject of a lampoon in folk circles (“I'm going to drown my cat”, etc.). It was originally an English song, which years ago was borrowed by the IRA and turned into an Irish rebel song. Apart from the chorus, the verses were in fact taken from the song Farewell He.

Apart from the single release, this song appeared in a longer version (single 4.06, LP version 3.01) on the same-titled LP, All Around My Hat, and later on several single reissues and on lots of compilations.

This is an original Chrysalis Records promo video of All Around My Hat:

At least seven live recordings of All Around My Hat with several Steeleye Span line-ups are or were available:

  1. at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1981 on the CD The Best of the Cambridge Folk Festival
  2. from the Royal Opera Theatre in Adelaide, Australia in 1982 on the Australia-only LP On Tour and on the CD Gone to Australia,
  3. from the Beck Theatre on 16 September 1989 on the video A 20th Anniversary Celebration,
  4. from Steeleye's 1991 tour on the CD Tonight's the Night... Live,
  5. from St. David's Hall, Cardiff on December 6, 1994 on the video 25 Live: The Classic Twenty Fifth Anniversary Tour Concert,
  6. from 1994 on the CD Steeleye Span in Concert,
  7. from The Forum, London on 2 September 1995 on the CD The Journey.

In 1996, Status Quo recorded this song together with Maddy Prior for a single and for their album Don't Stop: The 30th Anniversary Album. This track with added mumblings by Peter Sellers from the final moments of the Commoners Crown album can be found on the Steeleye Span / Maddy Prior sampler A Rare Collection 1972-1996.

Cyril Tawney sang All Around My Hat live at the Holsteins folk club in Chicago on May 31, 1981. This concert was published in 2007 on his CD Live at Holsteins.

Brian Peters sang All Around My Hat in 2003 on his CD Different Tongues. He commented in his booklet notes:

The version of All Around My Hat that became a 1970s folk-rock hit consisted of the words to a different song, grafted on to the melody and chorus we all came to know rather too well. Being a bit of a misery myself, I decided to do it slow and mournful and, with the help of ballad supremo David Atkinson, married a tune collected by Baring-Gould (who had replaced the original lyrics with some dreadful doggerel of his own) to a set of words popular amongst street traders. I decided, controversially, to omit the spoken asides between verses, such as “Here's your fine cauliflowers!” which I felt didn't really contribute to the pathos of the story.

Lyrics

Peter Bellamy sings All Around My Hat

Chorus (after each verse):
All around my hat I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat, for a twelve-month and a day,
If anyone should ask me the reason why I wear it:
It's all because my own true love is far, far away

My true love she was fair, and my true love she was kind too,
Many's the happy hours were spent between my love and me;
I never could refuse her whatever she'd a mind to,
Now she's far away, far across the stormy sea.

Will my love be true and will my love be faithful?
Will my love remember me wherever she is gone?
The young men do run after her, so pretty and so graceful;
Me, I've been lamenting and crying all alone.

Final chorus
All around my hat I will wear the mournful willow,
All around my hat, … (as above)

Steeleye Span sing All Around My Hat

Chorus:
All around my hat I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat, for a twelve-month and a day.
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it:
It's all for my true love who's far, far away.

Fare thee well, cold winter and fare thee well, cold frost,
Nothing have I gained but my own true love I've lost.
I'll sing and I'll be merry when occasion I do see;
He's a false deluding young man, let him go farewell he.

The other night he brought me a fine diamond ring
But he thought to have deprived me of a far better thing.
But I being careful like lovers ought to be;
He's a false deluding young man, let him go farewell he

Chorus

Here's a quarter pound of reasons, and a half a pound of sense,
A small sprig of time and as much of prudence.
You mix them all together and you will plainly see.
He's a false deluding young man, let him go farewell he.

Chorus

Brian Peters sings All Around My Hat

My love she was fair, and my love she was handsome,
And cruel were the judges that sentenced her away.
For thieving was a thing that she never was inclined to;
They sent my love across the sea ten thousand miles away.

Chorus (after each verse):
All around my hat, I will wear a green willow,
And all around my hat, for a twelve-month and a day.
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it:
It's all for my true love who's far, far away.

Seven long, long years my love and I are parted,
Seven long, long years they've sentenced her away.
Seven long years I'll love my love and never be false-hearted
And never sigh or sorrow though she's far, far away.

Some young men are false amd they're full of all deceving,
Seeking for some young girl they mean to lead astray.
And when they have deceived them, so cruelly they leave them;
But I'll love my love forever though she's far, far away.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins? All Around My Hat.