The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40546 Message #1065544
Posted By: Joe Offer
04-Dec-03 - 12:42 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Bushes and Briars
Subject: ADD Version: Bushes and Briars
The notes in the Digital Tradition certainly are misleading. I wonder where they came from. for that matter, where did the text and tune come from? The first tune Mick posted above is the one found in Bushes and Briars, Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Roy Palmer, 1983). Jim Dixon's text above is the one Palmer used in the book - although it appears that it was Vaughan-Williams himself who mated the text to the tune.
Note that in the Palmer book, The verses are split differently, and the last line of the verse is repeated. Here are the notes from Palmer:
In the late autumn of 1903, after giving a lecture on folk song at Brentwood (Essex), Vaughan Williams was approached by two middle-aged ladies. They explained that their father, the Vicar of Ingrave, was about to give a tea-party for some old people in the village, who might conceivably know some songs. Vaughan Williams accepted an invitation to attend, met various singers, and returned the following day, 4 December, 1903, to note 26 songs. Up to that time, he wrote: 'I knew and loved the few English folk songs which were then available in printed collections, but I only believed in them vaguely, just as the layman believes in the facts of astronomy; my faith was not yet active.'
When Vaughan Williams heard 'Bushes and Briars' he 'felt it was something he had known all his life'. It was the first folk song he noted, only three months after Cecil Sharp's first, 'The Seeds of Love'. The singer was a seventy-year-old labourer, Charles Pottipher, who, when asked about this and other of his songs, said: 'If you can get the words the Almighty will send you the tune.' Vaughan Williams took down the melody, commenting: 'It is impossible to reproduce the free rhythm and subtle portamento effects of this beautiful tune in ordinary notation. 'He noted the words of the first verse only, later completing the text from a Broadside issued by Fortey of Seven Dials.