> Steeleye Span > Songs > Who Told the Butcher?

Who Told the Butcher?

[Peter Knight]

This song about fly fishing was sung by Peter Knight and Gay Woods on Steeleye Span's CD Bedlam Born. “Old Brownie” is a brown trout and the “characters” mentioned in the song are standard fishing flies: Butcher, Wickham's Fancy, Teal and Black, Humpy Black, Kate McLaren and Damsel flies. Peter Knight commented in the album's sleeve notes:

I put down my fiddle when forming this riddle
Intending to please you and tease you besides
For the butcher will seek every pool, every creek
Till he finds the dark places where old Brownie hides.

Lyrics

Steeleye Span sing Who Told the Butcher?

Who told the butcher all about the Grey Goose?
Oh it could have been the Poacher
Nobody knows.
Or it could have been the Royal Coachman
Or Connemara Black.
Just listen well to what the ladies say
And bring old “Brownie” back.

And who told the butcher about the Lady of the Lake?
It could have been The Queen of the Water
Nobody knows.
Or it could have been old Soldier Palmer
Or Teal and Black.
Just listen well to what the ladies say
And bring old “Brownie” back.

Chorus:
Come on tie the Damsels two to the droppers
Tie old Kate McClaren to the point.
There's none so wise to the rise of a river
The Butcher's out there tonight.

Come on tie the Damsels two to the droppers
Tie old Kate McClaren to the point.
There's none so wise to the rise of a river
The Butcher's out there tonight.
The Butcher's out there tonight.

Oh who told the Butcher all about the Grenadier?
It could have been the Teal and Green
Nobody knows.
Or it could have been old Wickham's Fancy
Or Humpy Black.
Ah just listen well to what the ladies say
And bring old “Brownie” back.

Chorus

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Kathy Moore for telling me about the song's background. As I don't know anything about fishing, it was a complete mystery to me.