> The Watersons > Songs > T Stands for Thomas

P Stands for Paddy / T Stands for Thomas

[ Roud 419 ; Henry H593 ; Ballad Index FJ166 ; VWML HHA/31/1 , RVW2/2/174 ; GlosTrad Roud 419 ; Wiltshire 974 ; Mudcat 5037 , 63787 ; trad.]

The Irish Country Four sang P for Paddy in 1971 on their eponymous Topic album of songs, ballads and instrumental tunes from Ulster, The Irish Country Four. This track was also included in 1996 on the Topic budget anthology Irish Voices.

Planxty sang ‘P’ Stands for Paddy, I Suppose on their 1974 album Cold Blow and the Rainy Night. They noted:

We first heard ‘P’ Stands for Paddy a long time ago from Joe Heaney but we didn't get the words until recently. These came from a recording of Colm Keene of Glinsk Co. Galway. The verses are a strange mixture as if made up from different songs and it has a fine air.

Lal and Norma Waterson sang T Stands for Thomas on the Watersons' 1975 album, For Pence and Spicy Ale, Norma Waterson sang it on the Holme Valley Tradition cassette Will's Barn, and Waterson:Carthy sang it live at the Beverley Folk Club in June 1992. The latter recording was published in 2004 on the Watersons' 4CD anthology Mighty River of Song. A.L. Lloyd noted on the Watersons' original album:

These B for Barney, P for Paddy, J for Jack songs are usually Irish in origin though common enough in the English countryside. Often the verses are just a string of floaters drifting in from other lyrical songs. So it is with this piece, which derives partly from a version collected by Cecil Sharp from a Gloucestershire gipsy, Kathleen Williams [ VWML HHA/31/1 ] . Some of the verses are familiar from an As I Walked Out song sung to Vaughan Williams by an Essex woodcutter, Mr Broomfield (Folk Song Journal No. 8) [ VWML RVW2/2/174 ] . The verses about robbing the bird's nest recall The Verdant Braes of Skreen.

Terry Dean, Ray Hooker and Peter Desmond sang ‘P’ Stands for Paddy on the 1977 privately issued album Once a Week's Enough featuring residents of the Blagdon Arms Folk Club, Cramlington Village, Northumberland.

Five Hand Reel sang P Stands for Paddy on their 1977 album For A' That.

Sandra Kerr sang P Stands for Paddy in 1983 on her album Supermum.

Paul Sartin sang T Stands for Thomas on Dr Faustus' 2005 Fellside album Wager. They noted:

Paul's rendition of T Stands for Thomas is an amalgam of versions collected by Dr George Gardiner from Alfred Porter of Basingstoke in 1906, and Alfred Williams of Wiltshire. It was published in The Wanton Seed, a volume in the out-of print and sorely missed EFDS Marrowbones series [which happily both have been reissued by now].

Damien O'Kane sang P Stands for Paddy in 2006 on his and Shona Kipling's CD Box On.

Peter and Barbara Snape sang T Stands for Thomas on their 2008 CD Take to the Green Fields. Barbara Snape noted:

This particular version of the song is an Irish/English hybrid! I first heard it in Liverpool some time ago, sung by an Irish singer, Davy Brennan. Having never forgotten it, but never quite fully remembering it either, I have used the version published in The Wanton Seed (EFDSS) to supplement the bits I had lost.

Niamh Boadle sang P Stands for Paddy in 2010 on her CD Wild Rose. She commented on this Irish traditional song:

A conversation overheard and dwelt on to learn about love. Not a strictly orthodox method of teaching but there you go …

Jon Boden sang P Stands for Paddy as the 17 May 2011 entry of his project on A Folk Song a Day. He noted:

Possibly the first folk song I ever ‘performed’—in a campfire scene in a school play. Basically a version of Verdant Braes of Skreen and as before learnt from Planxty.

The Teacups sang T Stands for Thomas on their 2013 Haystack album One for the Pot. They noted:

After singing a version of the Irish song P Stands for Paddy as part of our degree course,we decided to do this English version, which we learned from a friend who is a big fan of The Watersons. The harmonies in the chorus are so satisfying to sing that sometimes we get carried away and forget to sing the verses. Now we know versions for T and P, we're considering writing other versions for the rest of the alphabet. A Stands for Alex, perhaps?

The Wilderness Yet sang T Stands for Thomas on their 2022 album What Holds the World Together. They noted:

From the same family as P Stands for Paddy, Rosie [Hodgson] first heard this tune from Jane Conquer of her Morris side, Knockhundred Shuttles. She then sifted through several versions to collate her favourite verses. In no version does anyone get closer to spelling “William”! It's paired with No Matter the Wreckage, a tune by Rowan [Piggott].

Lyrics

Lal and Norma Waterson sing T Stands for Thomas

Oh, as I was a-walking on a May morning
And sat down by an old lofty tree,
All for to hear two lovers talk, to hear what they'd got to say
And to find out something more about courting.

Chorus (after each verse):
And it's T stands for Thomas, I suppose,
J O N stands for John.
W E and M stand for my sweet William
Because he is a clever young man.

“Come and sit down with me together on the grass,
Sit down on the grass so very green.
T'is a long three quarters of the year, darling dear,
Since together you and I have been seen.”

“No, I won't sit with you together on the grass
Not now nor at any other time.
For I heard you were in love with another pretty girl
And your heart wasn't any longer mine.”

“Oh, then I'll go and climb a lofty, lofty tree
And I'll rob a poor bird of his nest.
And if ever I should then come down without having a fall
I'll get married to the lass I love best.”

“Oh, then I'll go and climb a higher tree than that
And I'll harry a far richer nest.
And if ever I should then come down without having a fall
I'll get married to the lad I love best.”

Jon Boden sings P Stands for Paddy

As I walked out one mid-May morning
To take a pleasant walk,
I sat myself down upon an old stone wall
For to hear two lovers talk.
    To hear what they might say, my dear,
    To hear what they might say
    That I might know a little more about love
    Before I go away.

P stands for Paddy, I suppose
J for my love John,
And W stands for false Willy O
But Johnny is the fairest man,
    Johnny is the fairest man, my love,
    Johnny is the fairest man.
    And I don't care what anybody says
    For Johnny is the fairest man.

“Oh sit you down beside myself,
Together on the green,
For it's a long three quarters of a year and more
Since together we have been.”

“Oh, I'll not sit by you,” she says,
“Now nor at any other time!
For I hear you love another little girl,
And your heart's no longer mine.
    Your heart's no longer mine,” she says,
    “Your heart's no longer mine,
    It's just three quarters of a year and no more
    And your heart's no longer mine.”

P stands for Paddy, I suppose
J for my love John,
And W stands for false Willam
But Johnny is the fairest man.

Oh, I'll go climb a tall, tall tree
And I'll rob the wild bird's nest.
And when I'll come down I'll go straight home
To the girl that I love best.
    The girl that I love best, my dear,
    The girl that I love best.
    And down I'll come and I'll go straight home
    To the girl that I love best.

P stands for Paddy, I suppose
J for my love John,
And W stands for false Willam
But Johnny is the fairest man.

The Wilderness Yet sing T Stands for Thomas

As I walked out one bright morning
So early in the Spring
I leaned my back on an old garden gate
Just to hear two lovers sing.
To hear two lovers sing, my boys,
And hear what they might say,
In case I'd learn just a little of love
Before I go away.

T stands for Thomas I suppose,
J O N stands for John.
W E and M stands for my sweet William
Because he is a clever young man.

He said, “My love, come sit by me
Where the grass is growing green,
For it's been three quarters of a long year
Since together you and I have been seen.”
“Oh I'll not come and sit by you
Or be a lover of thine,
For I hear you've been courting some other fair girl
And your heart's no longer mine.”

“"Oh I'll not believe what the old man says
For his days be nigh well done,
And I'll not believe what the young man says
For he's sweet on many's the one.
I'll not believe any man anymore,
Be his hair yellow, white or brown,
Unless he's high on the old gallows tree
And he's swearing that he'd like to come down.”

Oh slowly passed the winter's night
And slowly dawns the day,
It's many's the time I've wished you hear
Now I wish you were away.