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Lyr Req/Add: Riding Down to Portsmouth

Cordwangler 21 Sep 03 - 03:19 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Sep 03 - 04:15 PM
Les from Hull 21 Sep 03 - 07:23 PM
GUEST,David J 22 Sep 03 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Craig 15 Jun 09 - 05:58 AM
Reinhard 15 Jun 09 - 03:03 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Jun 09 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,craig 16 Jun 09 - 05:38 AM
Lighter 16 Jun 09 - 10:37 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Jun 09 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,John Egan 09 Dec 12 - 06:30 AM
alex s 09 Dec 12 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,Zelda 13 Sep 14 - 06:04 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Riding Down to Portsmouth
From: Cordwangler
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 03:19 PM

Does anyone know the last verse of the song 'Riding Down to Portsmouth'? It's on June Tabor's album 'A Cut Above' but I can't work it out! Any information about the song would also be gratefully received. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riding Down to Portsmouth
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 04:15 PM

Riding Down to Portsmouth is number 1534 in the Roud Folk Song Index. It hasn't been found particularly often in tradition; Sharp, Vaughan Williams and Grainger noted versions, and sets have been recorded from Tom Willett (by Bill Leader and Paul Carter in 1962) and from Mary Ann Haynes (by Mike Yates in the 1970s). That's about it. I don't remember anything about June Tabor's recording, but it will be an arrangement of one of those. June's singing is rather mannered, and it can be hard to understand sometimes. Does she credit her source in the sleeve notes?

There are two broadside editions at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. The final verse won't be very different, I'd think, from whatever she sang.

Riding down to Portsmouth


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Subject: Lyr Add: RIDING DOWN TO PORTSMOUTH
From: Les from Hull
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 07:23 PM

The Tom Willet version that Malcolm mentions is available on Volume 2 of Topic's 'Voice of the People' series.

I believe that June Tabor's version is based on John Kirkpatrick's version which certainly comes from Tom Willett. JK did an excellent workshop explaining the process of turning this unaccompanied version into his accompanied version. He also performed it with Brass Monkey and that's my favourite version.

JK also explained how the time signature works (it's in 7/4 as Tom Willet sings it), although the bar divides 2:2:3 instead of 3:4 or 4:3.

Here are sleeve notes from the Topic CD (TSCD652)

TOM WILLETT, voice; Riding Down To Portsmouth. Recorded by Bill Leader 6 Paul Carter in the singer's home on a caravan site near Ashford, Middlesex, 1966; Topic 12T84.

RIDING DOWN TO PORTSMOUTH

Now, as I was a-riding along in the height of my glory.
As I was a-riding along, you shall hear of my story.
Then I fell in love with a fair pretty maid,
And I asked her if she'd go along with me,
Some pleasure and some pastimes to see.
We're a-riding down to Portsmouth.

"Now, sailor, if I go along with you, then it's I must be carried.
Now, sailor, if I go along with you, then it's I must be married."
Then she slept all in my arms all that night,
And she gave me what was ten times worse.
She left me all the reckonings to pay.
We're a-riding down to Portsmouth.

"Oh, landlord, tell me what there is to pay, oh, for I might be missing.
Oh, landlord, tell me what there is to pay, oh, for I might be a-jogging,
For she's robbed me of my gold watch and purse,
And she's gave me what was ten times worse.
Now, landlord, don't you think I'm under a curse."
We're a-riding down to Portsmouth.

Saying, "Damn me," to myself, "now I've paid for my kissing."
Saying, "Damn me," to myself, "now I've paid for my learning.'
"Now, my horse I shall leave you in pawn,
And I'll beg you through the wars I return,
And all gallus (callous?) girls I will shun,
And I'll ride no more to Portsmouth."

Verse 2 is how he sang it. I'm sure broadside versions would rhyme better. Callus is more common in Scotland, perhaps 'flash' (confident but flighty) might be more easily understood.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riding Down to Portsmouth
From: GUEST,David J
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 07:51 AM

Thanks for you help everyone - much appreciated!


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Subject: Lyr Req: June Tabor: Riding Down To Portsmouth
From: GUEST,Craig
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 05:58 AM

I'm missing one line from the last verse of June Tabor's version of 'Riding Down To Portsmouth'(from the 'A Cut Above' album with Martin Simpson).

My googling for the lyrics only throws up other versions of the song. The lyrics of these other versions are so different that they're really of no help to me.


The line I'm looking for is here:
"I says Damn, oh damn it to myself, and I paid for my learnin'.
I says Damn, oh damn it to myself, and I paid for my teachin'.
Now [incomprehensible line]
And it's back unto the sea I must return.
Oh, don't you think I laid all underneath a curse
As I was on my way up to Portsmouth."

Any help would be hugely appreciated! This is one of those frustrating cases where I've spent the whole morning googling for this one line...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: June Tabor: Riding Down To Portsmouth
From: Reinhard
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 03:03 PM

I hear in this line "Now my old (...) I put him right in pawn."
But I can't decipher the fourth word either.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: June Tabor: Riding Down To Portsmouth
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 03:56 PM

In the original on folk info shows this


For my horse I will leave it in pawn
Until from the seas I do return.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: June Tabor: Riding Down To Portsmouth
From: GUEST,craig
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 05:38 AM

Aha! I think you're right, Reinhard... And maybe the missing word is 'horse'... Maybe...

Thanks for the help. Any other guesses..?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: June Tabor: Riding Down To Portsmouth
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:37 AM

Bodleian broadside Harding B20(41), from mid 19th C., has

"And my horse I will leave here in pawn"


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Subject: Lyr Add: RIDING DOWN TO PORTSMOUTH (from Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 12:06 PM

From the Bodleian Library broadside ballad collection, Harding B 11(1453):
Harding B 20(41) is practically identical.
Note the mystery word is "gallows".


RIDING DOWN TO PORTSMOUTH

1. As a sailor was riding along
All in the height of his glory,
As a sailor was riding down,
As you shall hear my story,
He met with a charming young lass,
And he asked her to go along with him,
Some pleasure and pastimes to see,
All in riding down to Portsmouth.

2. She says, "Kind sir, if I go along with you,
I am sure I must be married."
She says, "Kind sir, if I go along with you,
I'm sure I must be carried."
So she went with him straightway,
And slept in his arms till next day,
And she left him all the reckoning to pay,
Riding down to Portsmouth.

3. It was early in the morning
She awoke and found him snoring.
Thus to herself she did say,
"He shall pay for his whoring.
For the money he ain't spent in wine,
The rest of it shall be mine,
And his gold watch too I'll have besides,
In riding down to Portsmouth."

4. Early in the morning he awoke
And found his lady missing.
These words to himself he did say:
"I have paid for my kissing,
For she's robbed me of my gold watch and purse,
And singed me, which is ten times worse.
Sure I must have lain under a curse
In riding down to Portsmouth.

5. "O landlord, tell me what I have to pay
That I may reward you.
"O landlord, tell me what I have to pay
That I may regard you;
And my horse I will leave here in pawn
Till back from sea I do return,
And all such gallows ones I'll shun
In riding down to Portsmouth."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req/Add: Riding Down to Portsmouth
From: GUEST,John Egan
Date: 09 Dec 12 - 06:30 AM

Robin Williamson (on his CD "A job of journeywork" puts a brave face on the sailor's situation -
2. She said Young man if I should go along with you, I must be married
She said Young man if I should go along with you, I must be carried.
We slept all night in an old farmer's barn
She robbed me of my watch and purse
But she gave me ten times what it was worth
Riding down to Portsmouth
3. I said oh damn oh damn oh damn oh to myself, I've paid for my learning
I said oh damn oh damn oh damn oh to myself, I've paid for my teaching
My poor old horse you must go back in the barn
Unto the sea I must return again
With many a cause for remembering
Riding down to Portsmouth


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req/Add: Riding Down to Portsmouth
From: alex s
Date: 09 Dec 12 - 06:44 AM

Nick Dow does a great version of this. He'll be on at Burnley Folk Club on January 18th. Come and listen.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req/Add: Riding Down to Portsmouth
From: GUEST,Zelda
Date: 13 Sep 14 - 06:04 PM

"Now, me horse I must put him right in pawn now
and it's back unto the sea I must return.
Don't you think I lays all underneath a curse
as I was on me way out to Portsmouth?"


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