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Green Broom

[ Roud 379 ; G/D 5:950 ; Ballad Index ShH49 ; trad.]

Martin Carthy sang Green Broom, a song about a young man who has difficulties ever getting out of his bed, in 2004 on Waterson:Carthy's fifth album, Fishes & Fine Yellow Sand. He also sang it in December 2004 live at Ruskin Mill.

Martin Carthy commented in the former album's sleeve notes:

Green Broom comes from an early 1950s recording of the Connemara singer Sean MacDonagh. It is intriguing to hear English country songs which have found their way into the repertoire of a man such as Sean MacDonagh, who, I believe, spoke Irish as his day to day language and (apparently) hardly any English. Intriguing and a pleasant footnote to the generally noisome history of the British in Ireland. Such a cracking old fashioned tune too. The rest of the words come from Cecil Sharp who found the song several times in Somerset.


There was an old man and he lived in the west,
Traded with cutting of broom, green broom.
Had one son and his name it was John
And he'd lie in bed till 't was noonday, noon,
He'd lie in his bed till 't was noon.

His father arose and to his son goes,
Swore he would fire his room, gay room
If Jack would not rise and sharpen his knives
And go down to the woods to cut broom, green broom,
Go down to the woods to cut broom.

So John took a stroll which he knew very well.
He came to a castle of fame, great fame.
He stepped and he called and he loudly did bawl,
“Pretty maid, do you want any broom, green broom?
Pretty maid, do you want any broom?”

Oh, the lady was up in her window so high,
Spied this young man with his broom, green broom.
Called to her maid, “Get you down to the gate
And call in this man with his broom, green broom,
Call in this young man with his broom.”

It was all through the kitchen and all through the hall
Till he come to the lady's fine room, her room.
She gave him a chair and she bid him sit down,
Saying, “You're welcome, young man, with your broom, green broom,
You're welcome, young man, with your broom.”

Oh, she'd give him a chair and she bid him sit down,
“You're welcome, young man, to my room, my room.”
Now he's brandy and rum and he's wines in great sum
And he lies in bed till 'tis noonday, noon,
He lies in his bed till 'tis noon.

He has brandy and had rum and wine in great sum,
Lies in his bed till it's noonday, noon.
She vowed a protest, “Nothing is in the west,
Anything like cutting down broom, green broom,
Anything like cutting down broom.”


Transcription by Reinhard Zierke with help from Wolfgang Hell. Thank you!