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Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam

DigiTrad:
BEDLAM BOYS


Related threads:
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Chords Req: Bedlam Boys (7)
Tune Req: Bedlam Boys (4)
Lyr Req: Boys of Bedlam (5)
Lyr Req: Bedlam Boys (Old Blind Dogs) (2)
Tune Req: Bedlam Boys (4)
Lyr Req: Tom of Bedlam (6) (closed)
Bedlam Boys Radio Interview (3)
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Info Req:Tom of Bedlam (5) (closed)


GUEST,DROOLER 13 Nov 01 - 12:41 PM
Clinton Hammond 13 Nov 01 - 12:44 PM
nutty 13 Nov 01 - 12:49 PM
wildlone 13 Nov 01 - 12:51 PM
wildlone 13 Nov 01 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,Leonard 13 Nov 01 - 01:45 PM
Joe Offer 13 Nov 01 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Steve (member with a lost Cookie) 13 Nov 01 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Leonard 13 Nov 01 - 02:05 PM
LR Mole 13 Nov 01 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,Steve Again 13 Nov 01 - 02:15 PM
Joe Offer 13 Nov 01 - 03:08 PM
nutty 13 Nov 01 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,Steve 14 Nov 01 - 02:32 AM
Herga Kitty 14 Nov 01 - 02:50 AM
GUEST,Boab 14 Nov 01 - 02:58 AM
GUEST,Steve 14 Nov 01 - 03:05 AM
GUEST,Leonard 14 Nov 01 - 04:55 AM
GUEST 14 Nov 01 - 05:23 AM
John P 14 Nov 01 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Steve (Winick) 14 Nov 01 - 02:58 PM
wildlone 14 Nov 01 - 03:01 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Nov 01 - 06:54 PM
SINSULL 15 Nov 01 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,DROOLER 16 Nov 01 - 01:09 PM
kendall 03 Jul 08 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,Dani 03 Jul 08 - 08:36 AM
curmudgeon 03 Jul 08 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 03 Jul 08 - 10:08 AM
pavane 03 Jul 08 - 10:10 AM
Anglo 03 Jul 08 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Lighter 03 Jul 08 - 11:08 AM
Barry Finn 03 Jul 08 - 11:09 AM
Llanfair 03 Jul 08 - 12:15 PM
kendall 03 Jul 08 - 02:38 PM
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kendall 04 Jul 08 - 07:50 AM
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The Borchester Echo 30 Mar 09 - 11:22 AM
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Subject: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,DROOLER
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 12:41 PM

What is the history of this song? Was there really a Mad Tom of Bedlam? The Chorus, "They all go bare and live by the air and they want no drink or money" are they pixies or elves? Forgive me, I do not have the words in a format that I can post so I am depending on the "experts" to assist me.

Click for lyrics in Digital Tradition


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 12:44 PM

I seem to recall reading on a Steeleye Span web site that it was based on an actual asylum somewhere... there are other threads about this subject that I'm sure a more resourceful catter could probably find for ya!

;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: nutty
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 12:49 PM

Its here in the DT

BEDLAM BOYS


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: wildlone
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 12:51 PM

The Hospital was the Bethlehem hospital in London.
It was a hospital or asylum for "lunatics".
I believe that the Maudsley? hospital stands on the site of bedlam.
Many years ago I was an enrolled nurse in a hospital for mental handicap.
dave


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: wildlone
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 12:55 PM

For info on Bedlam Click here
dave


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Leonard
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 01:45 PM

"Mad Tom's Song" appears in many anthologies of English poetry "The Rattle Bag," editors, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, being one, and the author is always listed as Anonymous. The version in the Rattle Bag is given as "a version by Robert Graves." "Tom O'Bedlams Song" is regarded as one of the greatest Elizabthan anoymous poems.That said, I believe this is a Broadside ballad from the 1700's. Bedlam was a lunatic asylum or more properly a prison, in London. Bedlam is a contraction of Bethelehem after the Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem outside Bishopgate founded in 1247. It began to receive lunatics in 1377. It was given to the city of London by Henry VIII in 1547. In 1676 it was transferred to Moorfields and became one of the sights of London where "for twopence anyone might gaze at the poor wretches and bait them" It was a place for (sexual) assignation and one of the disgraces of 17C London. "All that I can say of Bedlam is this: 'tis an almshouse for madness, a showing room for harlots, a sure market for lechers, a dry walk for loiterers" (The London Spy 1698)In 1815 Bedlam was moved to St Georges Fields, Lambeth, the present site of the Imperial War Museuem when in 1931 the occupants were moved to West Wickham. A "Tom 0'Bedlam" is a mendicant who levies charity opon the plea of insanity. In the 16c and 17c many harmless inmates of Bedlam were let out to beg and such a beggar was known as an Abram-Man. The content of the poem is concerned with the delusions of Mad Tom. Incidentally, Robert Graves is worth checking out for his restoration of a 17C fragmentary text sung by English North Country Witches at their Sabbaths, called "The Allansford Pursuit."


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 01:49 PM

I found somewhere else that "Bedlam" and "Bethlem" were common variants of "Bethlehem" in Middle English, and that the full name of the hospital was "St. Mary of Bethlehem" (later Bethlem Royal Hospital). I've known since I was a kid that "bedlam" meant any place or condition of noise and confusion - but I didn't find out until a few years ago that Bedlam had been a mental hospital.

The fascinating site Wildlone linked to says the hospital was founded as a priory for monks in 1247. A page the site says the hospital hospital moved to a new site in Beckenham, Kent, in the late 1920s, and is still operating today. Is it still called Bedlam?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Steve (member with a lost Cookie)
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 01:59 PM

The song is a sixteenth century mendicant's song. There were many quite different versions of the song, only one of which is currently sung to my knowledge. This one is actually told from the point of view of Mad Maudlin, who is Mad Tom O'Bedlam's female counterpart and paramour--just as Bedlam came from the Bethlehem Hospital, Maudlin apparently came from the Mary Magdalene Hospital, a female asylum.

The most common versions were clearly asking for money, and "Mad Tom" was apparently just a stereotype of the harmless madman that beggars played to to gain sympathy. Much of what is described is supposed to be the visions of a lunatic--so, there are fairies and elves in the song. But the chorus seems to refer to the lunatics themselves, and to the fact that they go naked, live outdoors, and need neither liquor nor money--perhaps mentioned as a prelude to begging for food.

Your best reference source is probably the book "Loving Mad Tom" by Robert Graves, Jack Lindsay and Peter Warlock.

The tune usually used (by Steeleye Span and others) was put together by Nic Jones and Dave Moran in their band The Halliard, in the early 70s.


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Leonard
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 02:05 PM

Joe - no. it's not called Bedlam any more that would be consdered politically incorrect! Herewith more info on Tom O'Bedlam: from the Oxford Companion to English Literature - Tom O'Bedlan, a wandering beggar. After the dissolution of the religious houses (Henry VIII) where the poor used to be relieved, there was for long no settled provision for them. In consequence they wandered over the country many assuming disguises calculated to obtain them charity. Among other disguises, some affected madness and were called Bedlam beggars (see Edgar in Shakespeare's King Lear who adopts this disguise): "Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary". In Dekker's "Belman of London 1608" Tom of Bedlam's band of mad caps" are enumerated among these species of beggars. Some of these Bedlam beggars sang mad songs, examples of which are given in Percy's "Reliques". They were also called Abraham-men from the name, it is said, of one of the wards in Bedlam.


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: LR Mole
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 02:06 PM

I remember reading once that Bedlam=Bethlehem and Maudlin=Magdalene, both insane asylums. Good story, even if not true.


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Steve Again
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 02:15 PM

Leonard,

Can't be originally a broadside from the 1700s as it appears in manuscript by 1615. But it definitely was printed on many broadsides throughout the period when they were popular.


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 03:08 PM

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index. Apparently, the earliest known text of the song is in Pills to Purge Melancholy (1720) - is this the version we have in the Digital Tradition???
-Joe Offer-

Tom a Bedlam (Bedlam Boys)

DESCRIPTION: The singer is determined to find her Tom. She describes (his or her) visions. Chorus: "Still I sing bonny boys, bonny mad boys, Bedlam boys are bonny. For they all go bare, and they live by the air...."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1720 (Pills to Purge Melancholy)
KEYWORDS: madness love separation
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Logan, pp. 172-189, "Tom a Bedlam" (there are eight texts in this section; the one labelled "Mad Maudlin" on pp. 181-182 is this one)
Chappell/Wooldridge I, pp. 175-178, "Tom a Bedlam" (7 fragmentary texts, at least one of which is this one; 1 tune; the next piece, "Gray's Inn Masque, or Mad Tom, or New Mad Tom of Bedlam," (for which see also BBI, ZN910, "Forth from my sad and darksome cell") appears to be an unrelated literary song, found also in Percy, pp. 344-347, "Old Tom of Bedlam," the first of six "Mad Songs")
DT, BEDLMBOY*
ADDITIONAL: Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #310, "Tom O'Bedlam" (1 text)

ST Log172 (Full)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Nancy's Complaint in Bedlam" (theme)
NOTES: The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem (Bedlam), in London, was the first hospital for insane men in England. Magdalene Hospital (Maudlin), mentioned in some versions of the song, was the first hospital for insane women. - PJS
"Bedlam songs" seem to have been a phenomenon in the eighteenth century and after. To make matters worse, they all seem to mix and match. Many of Percy's texts, e.g., resemble Logan's, which resemble Chappell's. It's very hard to tell them apart.
Under the circumstances, I've listed the most traditional-seeming of the bunch ("Tom a Bedlam") here, and hope cross-references in the "References" field will suffice for the others.
Aldington's The Viking Book of Poetry of the English-Speaking World we find a Tom o' Bedlams Song starting
From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rages would rend ye,
And the spirit that stands
By the naked man
In the book of moons defend ye....
It's not this piece (the chorus is different), but there is undeniable dependence. Aldington attributes the piece to Giles Earle (dates unknown but early seventeenth century). Granger's Index to Poetry, however, lists the author of this as unknown -- and it has plenty of supporting evidence, since it cites 18 different references. Nor does Granger's list any other works by this alleged Earle. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
File: Log172

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:

BEDLAM BOYS

For to see Mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand miles I traveled
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
For to save her shoes from gravel.

Still I sing bonny boys, bonny mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink or money.

I now repent that ever
Poor Tom was so disdain-ed
My wits are lost since him I crossed
Which makes me thus go chained

I went down to Satan's kitchen
For to get me food one morning
And there I got souls piping hot
All on the spit a-turning

There I took up a caldron
Where boiled ten thousand harlots
Though full of flame I drank the same
To the health of all such varlets

My staff has murdered giants
My bag a long knife carries
For to cut mince pies from children's thighs
And feed them to the fairies

The spirits white as lightening
Would on me travels guide me
The stars would shake and the moon would quake
Whenever they espied me

No gypsy, slut or doxy
Shall win my mad Tom from me
I'll weep all night, with stars I'll fight
The fray shall well become me

And when that I'll be murdering
The Man in the Moon to the powder
His staff I'll break, his dog I'll shake
And there'll howl no demon louder

So drink to Tom of Bedlam
Go fill the seas in barrels
I'll drink it all, well brewed with gall
And maudlin drunk I'll quarrel

For to see Mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand years I have traveled
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
For to save her shoes from gravel.

From Pills to Purge Melancholy Vol IV, D'Urfey (words and tune).
@madness
recorded by John and Tony on Dark Ships
filename[ BEDLMBOY
TUNE FILE: BEDLMBOY
CLICK TO PLAY
BR



Please note that the Digital Tradition lyrics are NOT the same as the version found in Pills to Purge Melancholy
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: nutty
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 04:39 PM

The broadside shown here is attributed to 1660 and states that it uses "An Old Tune - Tom of Bedlam .... so the tune , if not the song was in circulation long before 1720

click here


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Steve
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 02:32 AM

The earliest version of the Bedlam song is, in fact, from 1615, from a manuscript book called Giles Earle, His Book in the collection of the British Library. However, the relationship of this version to the broadside is fairly distant; they do not share any complete lines. The broadside version almost seems to be written in response to the other; in the Giles Earle version, Tom seems to go mad for thinking of Maudlin, while in the broadside version, Maudlin is madly trying to get to Tom. While the choruses are different, both songs have identical metrical structures and the chorus of both begins with the phrase "yet will I sing." So it's pretty clear that there's a tradition of some kind at work. Whether the broadside author was aware of an earlier version and wrote to the same tune, or whether there were still earlier, lost versions that both are descended from, is impossible to know for sure.

Robert Graves's belief (for anyone who might be interested) was that there were earlier versions that both the Giles Earle author and the broadside author drew from; he reconstructed a "lost original" that has lines from both. But he had really no good evidence for this.

If nothing else, the Giles Earle version offers a great protective blessing:

From the Hag and Hungry Goblin That into Rags would rend ye The Spirit that stands by the naked man in the book of moons defend ye


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 02:50 AM

The Songwainers, based in Cheltenham in the 1960s/70s used to sing quite a lot of material from Pills to Purge Melancholy, and the late Dave Stephenson sang a version of Bedlam (which my friend Tim Edwards still sings). It's not the DT Steeleye Span version, and the chorus goes

"Still I cry, any food any feeding Feeding,drink or clothing Come dame or maid be not afraid Poor Tom will injure nothing".

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 02:58 AM

The version of this song which I found to be the best ever was done by the wee lassie with the big voice--Marilyn Middleton-pollok. [ Just my opinion, of course---]


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Steve
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 03:05 AM

Yes, Kitty, that's the Giles Earle His Book version, a bit modernized to have "Still I cry" instead of "Yet will I sing". Or, Possibly, the Robert Graves reconstruction, which uses the same chorus. In some ways it's a more vivid and haunting song than the Steeleye Span/Halliard version.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Leonard
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 04:55 AM

Steve - Robert Graves dosn't have evidence for a lot of things and made all kinds of presumptions, more specious than logical, if you have read The White Goddess you will know this. but Hey ! I like Robert Graves and his works, a great deal. His notion that poets get their poetic gifts from the Muse through unreason and non-logic is fascinating. I think he is sometimes guilty of appropriating stuff that was once in popular currency and "improving" it by translating/rewriting ("reconstructing a lost original" - he probably wrote it himself!) but in doing so he made it accessible. We can all use a bit of mystery, mysticism and imagination and indeed poetry, and to be reminded that we are not necessarily rational creatures and are driven by all sorts of weird things. I also value his connection to the mysteries of place and of the landscape. What a fine chap.


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 05:23 AM

The former Bishopsgate site of the Bethlehem hospital is now Liverpool Street Station. Not much change there then!


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: John P
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 08:20 AM

Anyone who is interested in a recording of a non-Steeleye Span version that uses an older tune and the "while I do sing, any food . . ." etc. lyrics, should look at an album called "Bonnie Rantin' Lassie" by my friend Tania Opland.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,Steve (Winick)
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 02:58 PM

I agree 100% with Leonard that Robert Graves' reconstructed original is nothing more than a rewrite; as I said, he had really no good evidence for his assumptions. Graves didn't exactly write it himself--it's mostly made up of lines and stanzas from manuscript and broadside versions. But he decided which lines to include and what order the stanzas would go in, etc., based on nothing more than his beloived poet's intuiton.

My main point, though, was that the "any food any feeding" version of the song is just as interesting as the "Bedlam Boys are Bonny" version. I'd forgotten about Tania Opland's recording; thanks John!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: wildlone
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 03:01 PM

What a great thread.
This is what the mudcat is all about.
From a simple request comes so much information.
dave


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 06:54 PM

There is also information in these three earlier discussions (some of it repeated here):

Tom O'Bedlam's Song
Info Req:Tom of Bedlam
Lyr/Chords Req: Bedlam Boys

The institution is still called Bethlem Royal Hospital; or at least it was in the 1960s and early '70s, when I lived a mile or so from it; I don't recall anyone who didn't work there ever calling it Bedlam, or even, I think, making the connection.  It was just an ordinary psychiatric hospital by then, of course.  Most of the patients were voluntary, and some of them would turn up in the local pub from time to time; I only once recall any trouble, and that was mostly the fault of one of the locals.

I knew one of the administrators, and he used to regale us with stories about his regular late-night trips to the woods to dump all the embarrassing things that the kleptomaniacs (his word) had pinched from places unknown.  And there was the time when a patient held an entire ward at gunpoint for some while -until they realised that his gun was actually made out of soap.  It had apparantly been a very realistic model, though; the man had talent.

Tame stuff, compared to the old days, and just as well.


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Nov 01 - 06:45 PM

Somehow or other I seem to remember hearing InObu do this and prefacing it with a history...


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Subject: RE: Help: BEDLAM BOYS
From: GUEST,DROOLER
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 01:09 PM

Thanks to all who contributed. So much to learn so littel time.


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Subject: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: kendall
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:08 AM

Jeri, thanks for posting those lyrics.
Now, who can explain the lyrics?
I know what Bedlam was but the lyrics make no sense to me.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:36 AM

Hi Kendall.

It's just madness, my dear. It isn't going to make sense.

I'm sure one of our scholars, or someone with more google-time than I can say more, but I've always just figured it was pretty face-value, rooted in someone's observations (experiences?) of pure insanity. Here's one interesting link:

http://home.blarg.net/~efreeman/Basement/TOB.html

While we're on the subject, anyone know more about this?

"But I will find Bonny Maud, merry mad Maud
   And seek whate'er betides her
   Yet I will love beneath or above
   The dirty earth that hides her. "

Dani


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: curmudgeon
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:54 AM

Dani called this one correctly -- the ravings of a madman. Complete text with lots more verses can be found in Chappell's "Popular Music of the Olden Time." But not all of them scan to the relatively new tune.

There were, dating from the Middle Ages, two major insane asylums, St. Mary of Bethlehem (Bedlam) for men and St. Mary Magdalen (Maudlin) for women. At some point, if memory serves me, in the early 18th century, overcrowding resulted in the release of many unfortunates from these institutions. They had no choice but to beg in order to survive. After a while they began to fare better than the sane beggars, some of whom having noticed this, began to feign madness in order to increas e their own take.

The tune is pure Dorian, and Jeri's chords work quite well. I play it out of Am chording with capo on the fifth fret, but don't use the (C) F she gives in her setting -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 10:08 AM

It's how people in the 18th century pictured madmen. For a good visual, Goya has a painting of an insane asylum.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: pavane
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 10:10 AM

Tune as used by Steeleye Span is credited to Nic Jones


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Anglo
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 10:18 AM

At least for my reading of the tune, it's Dorian/Aeolian, with no 6th to define it as pure Dorian. Indeed, if I were to introduce a 6th (e.g. as a decorative triplet on the "go" of "they all go bare," I think I would flatten it, making the tune Aeolian minor.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:08 AM

Mudcat's Bruce Olson had "little doubt that the song is from a lost comic show, 'Tom of Bedlam', presented at court, Jan. 9, 1618."

However, there were several seventeenth century songs of the same kind, all titled "Tom of Bedlam," all with entirely different lyrics.

The earliest reference of all appears to be in Ben Jonson's play, "The Devil is an Ass" (1616) V, ii, 35: "Your best song's 'Tom o'Bethlem.'"

What song Jonson had in mind is unknown. Olson's version, from a manuscript of 1615-26 is the earliest known example of the "hag and hungry goblin" song. Unfortunately the original tune was not preserved.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Barry Finn
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:09 AM

"It was also the sport of the day to watch the loonies at play". Barry


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Llanfair
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:15 PM

Still is, but we call them MP's nowadays!!





Sorry, could't resist.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: kendall
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 02:38 PM

Thanks everyone. Now I know. So, I have to be mad to understand it?


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: jacqui.c
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 02:45 PM

Most likely my love - I still can't work out how you COULDN'T understand it.

jacqui.c, ducking and running for the cellar.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: MMario
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 02:57 PM

As I understand it; the song is a long social commentary:
an a number of sujects revolving around the madhouses.

on the custom of pimping out the inhabitants of the asylum;
Of the custom of charging to view the inhabitants as an entertainment

that many of those there were suffering from (or because of) STD's

that those with genuine madness are usually harmless, but those who fake it for gain far from harmless;

And then the verses at the end are a prayer to not fall into madness.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: kendall
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 07:50 AM

Many years ago someone made a film of the inmates in an asylum in Massachusetts called "Titticut Follies". It was banned so I never saw it.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 12:16 PM

Hi, Dani. You asked about this verse:

But I will find Bonny Maud, merry mad Maud
   And seek whate'er betides her
   Yet I will love beneath or above
   The dirty earth that hides her. "

It seems to me that this is a reference to a poem called "Maude" by Alfred Tennyson. I vaguely recall that Maude's grave wound up under a crossroads, and her spirit was troubled by the clattering traffic above her.


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Subject: Lyr Add: MAD MAUDLIN / BEDLAM BOYS (from Pills...)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:38 AM

From Songs Compleat, Pleasant and Divertive; Set to Musick—also known as Wit and Mirth, Or Pills to Purge Melancholy—which includes a tune:

[I have modernized the spelling and punctuation.]


MAD MAUDLIN,
To find out Tom of Bedlam.

1. To find my Tom of Bedlam, ten thousand years I'll travel.
Mad Maudlin goes with dirty toes to save her shoes from gravel.

CHORUS: Yet will I sing: bonny boys, bonny mad boys, Bedlam boys are bonny.
They still go bare and live by the air, and want no drink nor money.

2. I now repent that ever poor Tom was so disdained.
My wits are lost since him I crossed, which makes me go thus chained.

3. My staff hath murdered giants. My bag a long knife carries,
To cut mince-pies from children's thighs, with which I feast the fairies.

4. My horn is made of thunder. I stole it out of Heaven.
The rainbow there is this I wear, for which I thence was driven.

5. I went to Pluto's kitchen, to beg some food one morning,
And there I got souls piping hot, with which the spits were turning.

6. Then took I up a cauldron where boiled ten thousand harlots.
'Twas full of flame, yet I drank the same to the health of all such varlets.

7. A spirit as hot as lightning did in that journey guide me.
The sun did shake, and the pale moon quake, as soon as e'er they spied me.

8. And now that I have gotten a lease, than Doomsday longer,
To live on earth with some in mirth, ten whales shall feed my hunger.

9. No Gypsy, slut, or doxy, shall win my mad Tom from me.
We'll weep all night, and with stars fight. The fray will well become me.

10. And when that I have beaten the Man i' th' Moon to powder,
His dog I'll take, and him I'll make as could no demon louder.

11. A health to Tom of Bedlam! Go fill the seas in barrels.
I'll drink it all, well brewed with gall, and maudlin-drunk, I'll quarrel.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:22 AM

Though the text of Boys Of Bedlam is culled from d'Urfey's Pills (as noted), the tune almost universally used today was written as a joint effort by Nic Jones and Dave Moran for their 1968 recording as The Halliard.

This was re-released on an augmented and re-mastered CD a few years ago with an accompanying songbook. Broadside Songs is available from Nic Jones' own company Mollie Music


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: nutty
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:24 AM

The tune most used was created by Nic Jones as explained on his website

HERE


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:35 AM

Far be it for me to seek to limit the cash-starved Mr Jones' royalties by 50% on this particular song, but the credits for Boys Of Bedlam clearly state Words: Trad / Music: Jones/Moran.


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Subject: "Titticut Follies"
From: Abby Sale
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:38 AM

This interested me.

From IMBd:
Titicut Follies (1967)

    * The only American film banned from release for reasons other than obscenity or national security, Titicut Follies was filmed inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Bridgewater, a prison hospital for the criminally insane. After the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sued the filmmakers, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the film constituted was an invasion of inmate privacy and ordered the withdrawal of the film from circulation.


AllMovie Guide:

Plot Synopsis         by Bhob Stewart

Frederick Wiseman made his documentary debut with this controversial 84-minute survey of conditions that existed during the mid-'60s at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Made in 1967, the film was subjected to a worldwide ban until 1992 because the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it was an invasion of inmate privacy. The film goes behind the walls to show stark and graphic images exposing the treatment of inmates by guards, social workers, and psychiatrists. The title refers to a musical revue staged by inmates and guards. Richard Schickel, writing in Life, stated, "The repulsive reality revealed in Titicut Follies forces us to contemplate our capacity for callousness." The documentary was cited as the "Best Film Dealing with the Human Condition" at the 1967 Festival Dei Popoli (Florence) and also honored as the "Best Film" at the 1967 Mannheim International Filmweek. Robert Coles (The New Republic) wrote, "After a showing of Titicut Follies the mind does not dwell on the hospital's ancient and even laughable physical plant, or its pitiable social atmosphere. What sticks, what really hurts is the sight of human life made cheap and betrayed." The story behind the complicated legal issues raised by this film and the attempts to suppress it are detailed by Carolyn Anderson and Thomas W. Benson in their book, Documentary Dilemmas: Frederick Wiseman's \"Titicut Follies\" (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991).
Similar Works
        Bedlam (1945, Mark Robson)
        Chattahoochee (1989, Mick Jackson)
        One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975, Milos Forman)
        Shock Corridor (1963, Samuel Fuller)
        The Snake Pit (1948, Anatole Litvak)
        High School (1968, Frederick Wiseman)
        Hospital (1970, Frederick Wiseman)
        Canal Zone (1977, Frederick Wiseman)
        Meat (1976, Frederick Wiseman)
        Poselyeniye (2001, Sergei Loznitsa)


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 12:45 PM

You can see "Titticut Follies" now, Kendall--and it is worth seeing, not because of the show, but because it exposes the way that mental patients were treated.

The film Marat/Sade, though fictional, recreates a performance in a mental institution from about the time that such performances were common at Bedlam(and, though it is set in France, the actors are all British)--also, given the fact that Judy Collins recorded a medley of tunes from the show, it is of interest to "folk" folk--


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Reinhard
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:04 PM

.. and that Elmer P. Bleaty and the Wood non-siblings lent backing vocals to Judy Collins' Marat / Sade recording.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM

...and that it helped to obscure, confuse, and generally screw up the idea of what folk music was forever after.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: michaelr
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 01:09 AM

Where can one find this film?


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:37 PM

And there's me thinking that bedlam was english for karaoke...oh, bugger.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:17 PM

Titticut Follies is available through Amazon--it's only been available for a couple years--if you meant Marat/Sade, it's also available at Amazon, but a couple of other online DVD places offer for $6-$9--this is all in the US--TF isn't available in the UK, and Marat/Sade is ungodly expensive--


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Clive Pownceby
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 03:40 AM

Erm, I may be missing something but how did that last post get in here?! I guess Internet gambling can be likened to some sort of madness, still.....................
    Not to worry. It's just Spam, and has been deleted.
    -Joe Offer, Moderator-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:55 AM

Looks like pure Bedlam to me, Clive! Meanwhile, here's Catharine Bott singing the original from Pills To Purge Melacholy with a tune, quite possibly, by Henry Purcell...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5saIajZ-jg


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:42 AM

Why are the two above links to the DT 'Tom O Bedlam ' both for
' The Bedmaking ' ? just curious or is it just bedlam here.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys
From: Joe_F
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 09:10 PM

Oddly, the tune of Tom O Bedlam has gotten tacked onto "The Bedmaking" at that address.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:43 AM

Mental Asylum to war museum.....two kinds of madness.


The building which accommodates the Imperial War Museum London was formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam, as it was commonly known. Designed by James Lewis, it was completed in 1815. Sidney Smith's dome was added in 1846 and contained the chapel. The east and west wings were demolished in the early 1930s to make room for the park which now surrounds the Museum.

Bethlem Royal Hospital dates back to 1247, when Simon Fitz-Mary, a wealthy alderman and sheriff of London, founded the Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem on the site which is now part of Liverpool Street Station. In the fourteenth century the priory began to specialise in the care of the insane. In 1547 Henry VIII granted the hospital to the City of London.

Corridor of Bethlem Royal Hospital (neg. BED10)
Corridor of Bethlem Royal Hospital
Bethlem was moved to a new building in Moorfields in 1676. Until 1770 there were no restrictions on visitors, and the patients, who were often manacled or chained to the walls, were a public attraction.

The hospital was housed in the present building from 1815 to 1930, when it was transferred to Eden Park near Beckenham, Kent.

Patients included Mary Nicholson who tried to assassinate George III in 1786; Jonathan Martin, committed in 1829 after setting fire to York Minster; the painters Richard Dadd and Louis Wain, famous for his cartoons of cats; Antonia White, author of Frost in May and Beyond the Glass; and the architect A W N Pugin who designed the Houses of Parliament and St George's Roman Catholic Cathedral opposite the Museum.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 10:14 AM

···From Songs Compleat, Pleasant and Divertive; Set to Musick—also known as Wit and Mirth, Or Pills to Purge Melancholy—which includes a tune:-
Jim Dixon 30 Mar 09···

Anyone know where that D'Urfey tune may be easily located? Would make an interesting comparison with the Halliard/Steeleye one we all know.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Reinhard
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 10:36 AM

Amazon offers several reprints (print on demand versions?) of this book.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 11:39 AM

The original (& best!) tune (possibly by Henry Purcell) can be heard here:

Jesus at the Zoo (track #10)

There was a nice one on YouTube sung by Catharine Bott, but I can't find it...


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 11:41 AM

Not track 10 - it's all randomised...


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 11:44 AM

Mad Maudlin AKA Bedlam Boys


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 12:25 PM

Look no further than the Digitrad for the 'proper' tune...

http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=570


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 03:04 PM

D'Urfey available at archive.org for free unless they've gone in the last few years.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 06:33 PM

Thanks, all. Authentic: but must say I prefer the Jones/Moran tune.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 11:11 PM

Can't see why George Formby is racist and un-PC, and this monstrosity seized upon and performed and celebrated by the great and the good. It always reminds me of those horrid asylum scenes in Amadeus, The Music Lovers and Hogarth prints.

Chilling.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: CapriUni
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 11:26 PM

It always reminds me of those horrid asylum scenes in Amadeus, The Music Lovers and Hogarth prints.

Chilling.


Indeed, Al. But sometimes there is honor in remembering past cruelties and prejudices, so that we can recognize it for what it is in the present...

No?

Maybe it's time to write some new verses, to turn this one around...


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 02:29 AM

Come, Al. Are we to abandon all execution ballads? Surely one of the functions of folk is to give us a historical perspective, reminding us that some things used to be nastier ~~ +, for balance, others used perhaps to be nicer?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 04:38 AM

Surely one of the functions of folk is to give us a historical perspective

I wouldn't call Mad Maudlin 'folk' at all. It is, as Big Al suggests, a chilling piece of exploitative voyuerism which views psychosis as some sort of 'entertainment'. It only becomes folk (a Steamfolk classic indeed) with the new tune, which effectively santises it into something else entirely, whereby it operates at a yet further cultural remove for the benefit of a more genteel sort of 'Horrible Histories' sort-of hindsight. But the original text (and far superior melody) is part of a once-fashionable genre of 'mad songs' that went along with the once-fashionable recreation of popping in at the local asylum for a bit of a laugh.

As a poem it exists as a surreal and romantic fantasy of mental illness; the old tune gives it a quite sort of dignity absent from the 'macrame beat' histrionics of the new one, which, as I suggest, is what brings this song into the Folk Sphere. Otherwise it belongs with the other body of Mad Songs which are very much the reserve of Early Music - see Catharine Bott's wonderful album of same: Mad Songs which includes Tom of Bedlam. As BAW says: chilling indeed. Not the song, but the attitudes to Mental Health issues over the years.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 04:52 AM

From an on-line review of Mad Songs:

A delightful collection of songs from 17th century British composers, reflecting that period's fascination with insanity. The mad song became a favoured genre amongst Restoration composers, who delighted in setting their imaginations free to write inventive and impassioned music for the eloquently rambling flights of fancy of men smitten by madness, most usually caused by the bitter darts of love. This disc brings us some of the best of these songs and ranges from Purcell to Blow. Most of these works would have reached audiences as part of plays, although Blow's Lysander, for example, stands free of theatrical ties. The disc opens with Purcell's Mad Bess, the forerunner and model for mad songs of this period, yet, one could argue, a culmination in the genre – a song that was never bettered.

What a hoot, eh? For more:

Mad Songs


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GRex
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 04:59 AM

These are the notes I was given with the lyrics of Bedlam Boys:-

    'Bedlam boys.(Tom of Bedlam) 1618,. Bedlam = St. Mary Bethlehem Hospital in London (now Bethlem Royal Hospital) which housed the insane. During C18th it was a popular diversion to visit the hospital to watch the antics of the poor inmates. Admission was one penny, made £400 a year income.'

    If this is true, then £400 at 240 pennies to the pound was 96,000 visitors per year.

               GRex


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 05:05 AM

Well then, Sean ~~ isn't the function of wotever·the·hell·it·all·is to give us that perspective, as I suggested? It's the perspective I was urging, not the genre.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 05:51 AM

It just seems a bit of a discrepancy. In an age when we are rightfully appalled by someone referring to the mentally ill as a 'loony' - every bit as much as we are horrified in someone using the term 'nigger' - here we have nice middle class folks - Steeleye Span fans no less, singing this item - joyfully unconcernedly.

Is it really such a gem of English folksong that we should be clinging to it.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 06:10 AM

From the pov I am urging, Al ~~ the learning from historical perspective ~ aren't they all, arguably, "gems"?

Your 'nigger' analogy is significant ~~ we have had many threads, & much argument, as to how one should sing e.g. the first verse of 'Johnny Go Down To Hilo' these days, haven't we? (We despise the amatory bowdlerisations of such as Sharp in his published versions, but would in our turn similarly censor racial, or, in this case you are urging, mental-health, references). I don't think much consensus has emerged, or is likely.

As to your "joyfully unconcernedly", how is one to judge how much empathy or sympathy exist in the singer's mind at the point of performance?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 06:36 AM

I think we can drive a wedge in here between racism and the innate terror of mental illness which underlies many of the attitudes we find large enough today. Those attitudes come with a grim fascination regarding the perils of the human condition, and with those who have plumbed those depths of such malady, like George the Third, whose psychosis inspired a film (The Madness of...) and a chamber oratorio which used some of his recorded utterances by way of libretto (the truly stunning Eight Songs for A Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies). The old Mad Songs are a vivid expression of that fear - a glimpse into the darkness of the maludjusted mind: there but for the grace of God etc.

Racism, however, is based on a very different fear indeed... enough said, eh?

I think any performance of Mad Maudlin should consider those fears as well as as the context of the Mad Songs (and our dark fascinations with The Asylum) that come down to our own era, though in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest the real horror is The System that can define any one of us as being 'mad' simply by dint of our natural born humanity. As a song it's a fantasy piece that romanticises mental illness into a series of Grand Guignol images whilst granting the status of visionary to the maladjusted. It's not a piece of mockery as such, but as complex as it is trivial. As I say though, it's the new tune that brings it santized into the Horrible Histories realm of Folk. In its original form it's a piece of social history that might tell us a lot about attitudes to Mental Health down the years, even unto our own time...

With respect of the new tune (which I generally dislike) I love the wonky flakeyness of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Og-D0J2a1g


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Subject: RE: Origin of Bedlam Boys
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 07:40 AM

I just remember my mother despising anyone who talked of a sufferer from mental illness in such terms. Writing up to the BBC when anyone broadcast using language of that sort. And she's been dead these thirty odd years

I don't think there was much fantasy involved - just take a look at the facts - they beat Grand Guignol into second place as a horror tableau.

perhaps I am doin SS fans a disservice - there never seems too much gravity attached to the performance. Obviously sing what you want, doesn't appeal much to me though. Maybe Sylvia plath was singing it as she turned on the gas, and I'm not sensitive enough to get it.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 17 - 10:59 PM

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing an abridged version of the lyrics from Pills to Purge Melancholy. It's on their album titled Dark Ships in the Forest. Here are the lyrics from their Website: http://www.goldenhindmusic.com/lyrics/TOMBEDLA.html


Tom of Bedlam

More properly titled "Mad Maudlin's Search for her Tom of Bedlam," this song does not seem to have had much currency in the tradition. It has been dug up from print and was popularized by Tom Gilfellon of the High Level Ranters.


To find my Tom of Bedlam ten thousand years I'll travel,
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes to save her shoes from gravel.

     Still I sing: Bonny boys, bonny mad boys,
     Bedlam boys are bonny,
     For they all go bare and they live by the air,
     And they want no drink nor money.

I now repent that ever poor Tom was so disdained,
My wits are lost since him I crossed, which makes me thus go chained.

I went to Pluto's kitchen to beg some food one morning,
And there I got souls piping hot, all on the spit a-turning.

There I took up a cauldron, where boiled ten thousand harlots,
Though full of flame I drank the same, to the health of all such varlets.

My staff has murdered giants, my bag a long knife carries,
For to cut mince pies from children's thighs, with which to feed the fairies.

A spirit hot as lightning did on that journey guide me,
The sun did shake and the pale moon quake, as soon as e'er they spied me.

No gypsy, slut, or doxy shall win my Mad Tom from me,
I'll weep all night, with stars I'll fight, the fray shall well become me.

So drink to Tom of Bedlam, go fill the seas in barrels,
I'll drink it all, well brewed with gall, and Maudlin drunk I'll quarrel.


© Golden Hind Music



Roberts/Barrand recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKwnFWs3Pm4

But that doesn't answer my question about the source of the lyrics in the Digital Tradition. If they're not from Pills and they're not from Roberts/Barrand, where are they from?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 29 Jul 17 - 10:28 AM

According to Dave Moran on the goldilox website; http://www.goldilox.co.uk/engfolk/frames/nicjones4.htm

"Nic [Jones] and I and mandolin/guitar player Nigel Patterson made up the Halliard. We were looking to develop some new music and we took the advice of song-writer Leslie Shepard.

We decided to add tunes to Broadsides that we discovered, uncovered or collected – we checked out the Harkness Collection at Preston and the collections in Manchester etc.

We also used Ashton's Street Ballads and Victorian Street Ballads (Henderson) and on a couple of occasions we dipped into Thomas D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy; that is where we found Mad Maudlin (Tom of Bedlam or the Boys of Bedlam).

Nic and I wrote all the tunes together, usually sitting in the front of the Mini and singing and working out tunes as we drove – as the mandolin was the smallest instrument and Nigel [Patterson] was in the back, he always played the tunes.

'Jones and Moran' wrote a heap of songs like this including Lancashire Lads, Going for a Soldier Jenny, Miles Weatherhill, Calico Printer's Clerk etc.

We wrote the tunes to fit the words and sometimes added or altered words, as in The Workhouse Boy. So Nic and I wrote the tune to D'Urfeys words of Mad Maudlin – audiences were confused and stunned – it was very surreal...

We did a booking in the Midlands and an unaccompanied foursome called the Farriers loved the song and asked if they could sing it unaccompanied. We said, Sure – they were very good, a bit like the Young Tradition. I believe that is how it got into the mainstream.

From Mainly Norfolk; http://mainlynorfolk.info/nic.jones/songs/boysofbedlam.html

Boys of Bedlam; This song is originally from Thomas D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, published 1720.

There it had the title Mad Maudlin's Search for Her Tom of Bedlam. Steeleye Span learned Boys of Bedlam from the Halliard via the Farriers and Tom Gilfellon.

They recorded it then for their album Please to See the King. This track was later released on the Martin Carthy anthology, The Carthy Chronicles.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: Joe_F
Date: 29 Jul 17 - 06:00 PM

Here, FWIW, is a review I wrote in 1991 of Robert Graves's edition:

_Loving Mad Tom: Bedlamite Verses of the XVI and XVII Centuries_,
edited with notes by Jack Lindsay, foreword by Robert Graves
(Franfolico, 1927; Seven Dials, 1969). Found in the bibliography of
Gershon Legman's massive collection of dirty limericks, and then in
the Widener at Harvard. A scholarly extravaganza centered on the
well-known song "Tom o' Bedlam", purporting to be sung by one of the
roving madmen deinstitutionalized when Henry VIII shut down the
monasteries:

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye
And the spirit that stands by the naked man
In the Book of Moons defend ye!
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken
Nor travel from yourselves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon.
Nor never sing "Any food, any feeding,
    Money, drink or clothing":
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Some of them were taken care of, after a fashion, at the Hospital of
St Mary of Bedlam (= Bethlehem) in London:

Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enragèd,
And of forty been three times fifteen
In durance soundly cagèd
In the lordly lofts of Bedlam
On stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding dong,
With wholesome hunger plenty.
    And now I sing...

This book contains original texts of this and related songs,
emendations, literary revisions, burlesques, explanations,
contemporary quotations about life on the road in those days, etc.

Robert Graves, in the preface, thinks that the earthier parts of
this song, such as the ones quoted above, were actual folk poetry, but
that a professional poet later added some of the fancier fantasies,
which contain classical allusions:

I know more than Apollo,
                   [the sun]
For oft when he lies sleeping
I behold the stars at mortal wars
And the wounded welkin weeping;
                 [sky]
The moon embrace her shepherd
                       [who's that?]
And the queen of love her warrior,
         [Venus]          [Mars]
While the first doth horn the star of the morn
                       [cuckold][Venus]
And the next the heavenly farrier.
                            [Jupiter?]
    While I do sing...

I have never stayed awake all night outdoors and seen the stars go by.
It is a remembrance that bums share with soldiers:

The sky slowly changes its huge guard of stars.

And there's the young lieutenant, sword buckled over his heart and
his soul on his smooth face:

    Soon it's to be life or death...either one means someone's harvest
    or old age shall ripen. Live, die, I'm not afraid. Father,
    fatherland...life-giving earth...be safe.

The night marches on, armored in burning stars.

                   -- Ennius, "The Night Watch"

And the solemn firmament marches
    And the hosts of heaven rise
Framed through the iron arches --
    Banded and barred by the ties,

Till we feel the far track humming,
    And we see her headlight plain,
And we gather and wait her coming --
    The wonderful north-bound train.

        -- Kipling, "Bridge-Guard in the Karoo"

I am skeptical of Graves as a scholar, tho. At about the same time
as this book was published, he wrote, with Laura Riding (who I think
was his wife), a preposterous essay arguing that in interpreting
Shakespeare's sonnets one ought to take the spelling & punctuation
seriously. A Yaley named Stephen Booth makes a monkey out of Graves
in a note to his edition of the sonnets (Yale U.P., 1977). Similar
perversity seems likely in Graves's handling of one couplet in "Tom o'
Bedlam":

In an oken Inne I pound my skin
as a suite of guilt apparrell.

Auden, in the _Oxford Book of Light Verse_, following other sources &
common sense, makes this

In an oaken inn do I pawn my skin
As a suit of gilt apparel,

which is both intelligible and funny. Graves makes it

At an oaken in I 'pound my skin
    In a suit of gilt apparel,

changing "as" to "in" & putting an apostrophe on "pound" as if it were
short for something, without saying what. I have tried the _OED_ s.v.
"appound", "depound", "suppound", and "impound", all in vain; only the
last is there, and it has no plausible sense.

However, I did enjoy Graves's moving reminiscence of combat in
W.W. I (_Goodbye to All That_) & his pleasant essay on taboo language
("Lars Porsena"). He also wrote a famous book on the Greek myths that
I hope to get around to someday.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: Joe_F
Date: 29 Jul 17 - 06:03 PM

I note a serious error in the above: Graves was not the editor.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 29 Jul 17 - 06:24 PM

So, goodbye to all that then!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: Nigel Paterson
Date: 30 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM

A sideways shift from the academic to the modestly commercial, The Halliard's version of 'Boys of Bedlam' can be found in: 'The Halliard, Broadside Songs' (book) & recorded on CD MMCD/04. Both are available from www.nicjones.net where he & Julia would be pleased to hear from you.
       In the spirit of 'serious errors', my surname is misspelt in the goldilox article...one 't' please!
                                                       Greetings to All,
                                                                               Nigel Paterson (Mandolin, The Halliard)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bedlam Boys / Tom of Bedlam
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 31 Jul 17 - 04:27 AM

Gratuitous filk cross-reference:
Bedlam Cats


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