The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128093   Message #2867232
Posted By: GeoffLawes
18-Mar-10 - 07:15 PM
Thread Name: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War

Editorial Note added 31 July 2012
Below there is a letter from Trevor Peacock who wrote the song in 1962. He says that he does not recall that he wrote the song specifically about the Spanish Civil War but rather that it is about all freedom fighters.

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: mikesamwild - PM
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM

Fay Hield sings Yellow Roses, which is I think a Translation . The words are in Forest Schools songbook it will be on her forthcoming Topic CD.

.............and his suggestion that The words of Yellow Roses are from the Forest Schools songbook. I followed a Google trail and found this

Forest Schools Camps
which has a section called Glee where the words are printed.It doesn't tell us the background - but I know Fay Hield has posted on Mudcat before so perhaps she might come on and tell us what she knows?

Yellow Roses

I lay on my back with the sun in my eyes
Soon I shall know what no living man knows
All of my life's been a fight against lies
Death brings the truth, now it's my turn to know

Send my mother a lock of my hair
Send my father the watch that he gave me
Tell my brother to follow me if he dare
Tell them I'm lost now, and no-one can save me

Remember, remember, send my love little yellow roses

My father taught me that all men are equal
Whatever colour, religion or land
Told me to fight for the things I believed in
This I have done, with a gun in my hand

Send my mother a lock of my hair....

I met my love in a garden of roses
She pricked her finger - how sharp the thorn grows
We made a promise that till Death did part us
We'd never look on that wild yellow rose

Send my mother a lock of my hair
Send my father the watch that he gave me
Tell my brother to follow me if he dare
Tell them I'm lost now, and no-one can save me

Remember, remember, send my love little yellow roses

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: Folkiedave - PM
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 05:24 PM

"Little Yellow Roses" sung by the Fay Hield Trio on the EP Looking Glass - to be a Topic CD around September. And do catch them if you get chance they are good.

I haven't been able to recover where I first read this as a Spanish Civil song but I definitely did and Fay believes it dates from then. I have a vague memory about the words being passed through the bar of a cell by a dying man.

Fay got it from a camp fire song book.

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: Folkiedave - PM
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 08:46 PM

I couldn't remember the name of the outfit - but that is the one.

Interestingly if you type "Little Yellow Roses+Lyrics" into Google you get the Jackie DeShannon Song which seems to have some borrowings. If it is a Spanish Civil War song then she seems to have knicked her chorus.

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 10:20 AM
Thank you Folkiedave for the Jackie DeShannon information. I have googled and her song is here Jackie DeShannon's Little Yellow Roses Elsewhere I saw that it was recorded in 1963 and reached 110 in he US charts. If you compare the lyrics with the Yellow Roses lyrics above then clearly one is a re-written version of the other. I would guess that the Jackie DeShannon version had the harder edged references to death and war removed rather than these being added later. On this link to a Flickr photo of a Jackie DeShannonPromotional Disk we can see the name (Trevor Peacock or Penrock )?? under the title suggesting someone else's hand in the altered song.
I suggest that you look at the You Tube link fairly quickly because another You Tube video of the song has been removed for a 'violation' which suggests that Miss DeShannon's team are quite hot on copyright violation.

From: Fay - PM
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:14 PM
Hi all, I don't have much more info about Little Yellow Roses from the FSC songbook - only that Sam Lee (a fellow FSCer) told me it was writen as a poem by a man due to be hung the following day and passed through his cell bars to the guard. Jon asked a taxi driver about the tune when he was over there giging last year, and was told it was an old Spanish tune. I do appreciate though that these sources are not rigerously academic! If I hear anything from the process of publication re the DeShannon link I'll let you know... All best, Fay
From: mikesamwild - PM
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 07:43 AM
I just found this about Yellow Roses following a link from Jon Boden's Folk Song a Day project.
It says it was written before The SCW in English. Interesting

From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 11:16 AM
Hi Mike thank you for that information and link about Yellow Roses. I have changed the address which you gave into a clickable link now.

The suggestion on the site that the song originated as a prize winning poem BEFORE the Spanish Civil War is very interesting. It is contained in a post on that site by SRD which can be seen directly.


but the whole thread on Jon Boden's site is worth looking at not least because Jon gives a very good rendition of the song.

I have tried to follow that up on the net and have found a poet of the suggested authorial name, J. Hooker Hamersley, in a search list which has Yellow Roses and other poems listed next to his name – but that is all far too inconclusive to be enlightening. I have emailed SRD in case he/she has a source for the original information.

I think that if Adam Faith was singing that set of words to the same tune that Jon Boden uses then he also probably got it from the Forest School Camps.

Regards, Geoff

From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 07:59 PM
Adam Faith's words to Yellow Roses are the same as Jon Boden's but not the same as the lyrics Jackie de Shannon sang as Little Yellow Roses,whose words are credited on the recrd to Trevor Peacock. As I said above, this Jackie de Shannon version was probably a re-written version for the pop market. It also possibly has the other lyric as its original. I have been given the email address of the theatrical agents for Trevor Peacock and have sent them a message asking them to pass on my request that Trevor Peacock help us to sort out the provenance of the song(s).

From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 11:29 AM
There was a suggestion culled from Jon Boden's Folksong A Day site ( link above)that the origin of the song Yellow Roses was in a competition winning poem published prior to the Spanish Civil War.I contacted the person who suggested this and she said she got this idea from a book in the Glasgow Reference library which refered to a poem called Yellow Roses by J. Hooker Hamersley which had won a competition although no words to the poem were given. I tried to contact Glasgow Reference library unsuccesfully but in the process was referred to the Ask a Librarian Service.

The ASK A LIBRARIAN web service found me the following link to a volume of poems called Seven Voices by J. Hooker Hamersley, published in 1898 and published now on the web by Google Books. On page 3 is a poem called Yellow Roses but its words bear no relationship to the lyrics of the song we are discussing in either of its two recorded versions. If you want to see for yourself click the link and then click the PRINT option on the left side of the page and then the pdf download option which appears.
HAMERSLEY'S Yellow Roses

The same informant gave me the link to Trevor Peacock's agent and I am still awaiting a response to my enquiry in that direction.

Regards, Geoff

From: mikesamwild - PM
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 01:47 PM
On another post on Little Yellow Roses (HERE) I put some of the words of Hamersley's Yellow Roses poem 1896 which I got off Google Books..

Very corny and not related to this one at all.

I hope Trevor Peacock comes up trumps!

From: mikesamwild - PM
Date: 30 Jul 10 - 07:15 AM
Has anyone traced Sheila Lewis who is said to have set a poem to music.

I've asked on a separate thread by her name

From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 06:33 PM


From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 06:40 PM
Fay Hield can be heard singing Little Yellow Roses on YouTubeHERE

From: GeoffLawes Date: 24 Dec 10
Details from where a library copy of the sheet music is lodged

From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 31 July 12

I have just received a reply to the letter which I wrote to Trevor Peacock enquiring about the origin of the song Little Yellow Roses I reproduce the letter below, in full .

Dear Geoff, Re-“Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War” What a wonderful subject! I hope your searching will lead to a book, or part of a book. I don’t think I can help much, but here goes… Around 56 years ago I was involved writing scripts, and then some songs for BBC TV. The pop world was in its infancy, and I wrote for, amongst others, Joe Brown, The Vernon Girls, Jess Conrad, and Adam Faith. I seem to remember writing Little Yellow Roses for a B side for Adam in about 1962. I wrote the tune and the lyrics, and John Barry did that particular arrangement, as I worked with him a lot. I hadn’t heard the song for half a century until your letter arrived. I don’t remember writing it for the Spanish Civil War specifically – it was a song for ALL freedom fighters really. So I’m afraid Fay Hield has made the wrong assumption. I’m now wondering if it’s registered with PRS, so I’d better check. I hope this clarifies the situation.

Yours, Trevor Peacock

There was a PS written on the back of the envelope which saidYes, fully documented with P.R.S.”Little Yellow Roses”

Thank you for giving us the provenance of your song Trevor.