> Lal & Norma Waterson > Songs > Meeting Is a Pleasure
> Nic Jones > Songs > Courting Is a Pleasure

Meeting Is a Pleasure / Courting Is a Pleasure / Handsome Molly

[ Roud 454 ; G/D 6:1192 ; Henry H615 , H625 ; Ballad Index R749 , FSWB148 ; Bodleian Roud 454 ; trad.]

Frank Proffitt of Reese, North Carolina, sang Handsome Molly on his 1962 Folk-Legacy album Traditional Songs and Ballads of Appalachia (released in the UK in 1966 as the Topic album North Carolina Songs and Ballads).

Lal and Norma Waterson sang Meeting Is a Pleasure in 1977 on their album A True Hearted Girl. A live recording from the Knaresborough Folk Club in 1982 was released in 2004 on the Watersons' 4CD anthology Mighty River of Song. It was also sung by Norma, Lal and Eliza Carthy on the Waterson:Carthy CD Common Tongue (There is no credit for Lal on this track on the CD insert, but I am sure she is singing). Martin Carthy commented in the latter album's sleeve notes:

One of the locations which yielded rich pickings for the turn-of-the-century collector was the town workhouse, and Cecil Sharp met Mr Thomas Downey in the Marylebone Workhouse (where he met several wonderful singers) and learned, among other songs, Meeting Is a Pleasure, a most Irish sounding piece. Hard to believe that the workhouse system survived until the 1950s and looks like making a comeback, sooner rather than later.

Nic Jones sang a version called Courting Is a Pleasure on his last LP, Penguin Eggs. This recording was also included in the Topic anthology The Folk Collection. And Kate Rusby sang Courting Is a Pleasure in 1995 on her and Kathryn Roberts' eponymous CD, Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts.

John Bowden sang Handsome Molly on his and Vic Shepherd's 1982 album A Motty Down. They noted:

This song comes from the singing of Frank Proffitt of North Carolina, another of our favourite singers. Frank Proffitt was the source singer for Tom Dooley, which he taught to Frank and Anne Warner in 1938, and which, twenty years later, became a massive worldwide hit for the Kingston Trio. We particularly like the rolling tune of this song, which carries the words beautifully.

Martin Simpson sang Handsome Molly on his 1983 Topic album Grinning in Your Face.

Bob Webb sang Handsome Molly in 2000 on his CD Bank Trollers.

Roy Bailey sang Handsome Molly on his 2009 CD Below the Radar, referring in his sleeve notes to Martin Simpson's version.

Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin learned Courting Is a Pleasure from the singing of Nic Jones and recorded it in 2011 for their CD Singing the Bones.

Steve Tilston sang Courting Is a Pleasure in 2013 on the Steve Tilston Trio's CD Happenstance. He commented in the liner notes:

A lovely traditional Irish song that, quite rightly, has many fine versions. Despite the song's title, the narrator does not appear to derive much pleasure from the situation.

Lucy Farrell of The Furrow Collective sang Handsome Molly on their 2014 album At Our Next Meeting. She commented in their sleeve notes:

I first hear Cath and Phil Taylor sing Handsome Molly at the Cluny in Newcastle and their source was Frank Proffitt. Then Emily [Portman] and I were singing sad songs to each other in our kitchen and thought that Handsome Molly and Our Captain Calls were kind of the same story but from different sides. It took us a long time before we could sing them without bawling.


Lal and Norma Waterson sing Meeting Is a PleasureNic Jones sings Courting Is a Pleasure

Meeting is a pleasure
Between you, my love, and I;
And it's down in yonder valley
I'll meet you by and by.

Courting is a pleasure
Between my love and I;
And it's down in yon green valley
I'll meet her by and by.

It was down in yon green valley
She is my heart's delight:
“Molly, lovely Molly,
I will stay till broad daylight.”

As I roved out last Sunday
My love he passed me by,
And I knew his love was altered
By the roving of his eye.

Going to church last Sunday,
My true love she passed me by.
I knew her mind was altered
By the roving of her eye.

Yes I knew his love was altered
To a girl of high degree,
Saying, “Johnny, lovely Johnny
Your looks have a-wounded me.”

Well I knew her mind was altered
To a lad of high degree:
“Molly, lovely Molly,
Your looks have wounded me.”

I will send my love a bottle
And I'll fill it to the brim
Saying, “Drink my love as a token,
There's a wager lies between.”

Up came her love Willy
With a bottle in his hand,
Saying, “Drink this, lovely Molly,
For our love will never stand.”

Saying, “Drink my love to the bottom;
Let the bottom be for me.
One guinea lies in a wager
That married we ne'er will be.

Saying, “Drink this, lovely Molly,
Let the bottle flask go free.
Ten guineas I'll wager,
That married we ne'er shall be.”

For whenever you meet with a pretty girl
With a dark and a roving eye,
You must kiss her and embrace her
Till she tells you the reason why.

Never marry a fair young maid
With a dark and a roving eye.
Just you kiss her and you embrace her,
Never tell her the reason why.

You must kiss her and embrace her
Till she causes your heart to yield;
For there's never a faint-hearted soldier
Can win on a battlefield.”

Just you kiss her and you embrace her
Till you cause her heart to yield;
For a faint-hearted soldier
Will never gain the field.

Farewell, Ballymonie,
Likewise the sweet Bann shore.
Farewell unto McCusky[?] braes,
Will I never see more.

America lies far away,
That land I will go see;
And may all bad luck attend the one
Who parted my love and me.

Lucy Farrell sings Handsome Molly

I wish I was in London
Or some other seaport town,
I would set my foot on a sailboat
And sail the ocean round.

While sailing on the ocean,
While sailing on the sea,
I think of handsome Molly
Wherever she might be.

Oh don't you remember, Molly,
You gave me your right hand,
And you said that if you marry
That I would be the man?

But you have broke your promise,
So go home with who you please
And while my heart is breaking
You're lying at your ease.

I went to church last Sunday
And Molly passed me by.
I could tell her mind was changing
By the roving of her eye.

By the roving of her eye,
By the roving of her eye,
I could tell her mind was changing
By the roving of her eye.


Thanks to Greer Gilman for the transcription from Lal & Norma Waterson's singing.