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Compliments Returned

[ Roud 1602 ; G/D 3:673 ; Ballad Index GrD3673 ; Bodleian Roud 1602 ; trad.]

Tony Rose sang Compliments Returned on the 1970 BBC record Folk on Friday. An earlier live recording made in Cheltenham in 1967 was included in his posthumous CD Exe. The former album’s sleeve notes comment:

Collected by Dr George Gardiner from Thomas Bennet of South Petherwim, Cornwall.

This is a personal type of song which would probably have “belonged” to one singer and would not have been sung by anyone else. One of the best ways to command an audience’s attention is to involve the audience itself in the performance. This the singer does here—provoking, teasing, even gently insulting them, but never over-reaching himself.


Tony Rose sings Compliments Returned

Well now you’ve called on me to sing and I’ll see what I can do,
But I don’t know what to sing about unless it be one of you.
You’ve often said nice things of me, and I know very well it’s true,
So I’ll just return the compliment and say what I think of you.

Chorus (twice after each verse):
Folerol le riddle ol, folerol le ray

With this young men I will begin ’cause he is the first in sight,
Pray, sir, where did you get the tin you’re spending here tonight?
Your conscience pricks you, I’ve no doubt, you know very well it’s true.
You’ve been and put something up the spout, so I don’t think much of you.

Now there’s a young man sitting there and I know he’s in disgrace,
Before your coming here tonight you should have washed your face.
But soap, he says, is very dear, to buy it, it won’t do.
You think a great deal of yourself, but I don’t think much of you.

And there’s a young girl sitting there, I know she thinks it right,
She never goes out with her young man but she stays out half the night.
Now you may laugh and wink at me, but I know very well it’s true,
Well, your mother, Miss, she told me this, so I don’t think much of you.

Now there’s a couple sitting there, they make it a regular plan,
He kisses her and tells to her that he’s a single man.
But I tell you he’s a married man and children has got two,
And his wife says he can’t keep himself so I’m sure he can’t keep you.

But now I think I’ll shut my trap and not say any more,
But there’s a young girl sitting there that I’ve seen somewhere before.
She says she wants to speak to me and what she wants I know,
But I tell you I’m a married man and I can’t come home with you.

But now I’ll not say any more in case I make too free,
And if I’ve tried to make you laugh, don’t think the worse of me.
For all I’ve said has been in jest and not a word is true,
And I hope you’ll think as much of me as I do think of you.