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Lyr Req: Bring Back the Birch (Flanders & Swann)

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GUEST,keberoxu 01 Oct 15 - 01:50 PM
Snuffy 01 Oct 15 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 01 Oct 15 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 02 Oct 15 - 12:07 PM
Gurney 02 Oct 15 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Simunescu 19 Oct 15 - 07:53 AM
Charmion 19 Oct 15 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,keberoxu 21 Oct 15 - 10:31 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Flanders & Swann HatTrick: Bring Back
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 01 Oct 15 - 01:50 PM

I have the recording of this song and have almost deciphered the lyrics. I need some help though! A few words and phrases escape me even after multiple playbacks.
"Bring Back the Birch" is the title. It ends with "O Bring Back Our Cor-po-ral P!!" and much applause. Comes from "HatTrick," a four-CD compilation on EMI from Michael Flanders and Donald Swann. Within "HatTrick," the song is on the third CD, almost at the very end: you have to go clear past the "And Then We Wrote" which occupies most of the disc. This puts you at live performances in London in the 1960's, following an extended North American tour.
"Bring Back the Birch" has got three verses, each with its own chorus. Flanders and Swann sing the first verse and chorus in unison. Swann has the second verse to himself, and is joined by Flanders for the second verse's chorus. Flanders takes the third and final verse vocal, and when the chorus comes, Swann chimes in and they conclude the song together.
I have a couple of problems.
This song is not just about corporal punishment but about medieval methods of torture and execution; some of the terms used are unfamiliar. One sounds like it is in French and I can't make it out at all. God bless Flanders for his erudition and preparation, but I was ignorant of some of the stuff he listed.
And then, there is the brisk delivery and the English diction. I have more trouble comprehending Donald Swann singing the second verse than in following the words when Michael Flanders, with his actor's diction, enunciates them.
I am a guest and a total newbie at this site. Would you like me to post the "Bring Back the Birch" lyrics as far as I have deciphered them? I also cannot locate this particular song in any of the numerous Flanders & Swann printed songbooks out there. Thanks for listening everybody.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Flanders & Swann HatTrick: Bring Back
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Oct 15 - 04:31 PM

It might be very useful indeed if you let us see what you have already worked out, especially as neither lyrics nor recordings seem to be easily accessible on the net.

Good luck with your quest.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Flanders & Swann HatTrick: Bring Back
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 01 Oct 15 - 08:42 PM

So, "Bring Back the Birch." I am fairly confident of Verse/Chorus 1:

We're appalled at those soft-headed sissies who say
That the criminal class is just sick. (Ha!)
Society's stuck with a crime wave today
For renouncing the fear of the stick.
(Donald Swann whacks the piano cabinet with one hand)
The thugs and the perverts fight prison arrest,
The murderers mostly unhung;
The right way to treat them is six of the best
On the seat of the trouble when young.

Bring back the birch. Thrash 'em and cane 'em.
Teach these delinquents that violence don't pay.
Bring back the 'cat'. Useless to train 'em!
Floggings and hangings will show them the way.
When this is done, not until then,
England will be Merrie England again.

Donald Swann plays an eighteenth-century dance and sings:
A pox on this radical penal reform!
No man may sleep safe in his bed [His Be-e-e-ed].
???????          empty, now Tyburn's a stump,
And the peasants want cake and not bread.
("Bah!" puts in Flanders.)
Although witch-hunts ????   heresy's rife,
Free-thinkers ? ?    ??
The papist and the Jacobite sharpens his knife,
And the Luddites are banding as well.

(both Flanders and Swann)
Bring back ?????         Bring back the bridle.
Hang and draw traitors, and quarter them too.
Brand the low thieves, transport the idle,
Burn at the stake all the heretic crew.
Perish reforms. Evil they bring!
Back to the day when the landlord was king.

(I'm on a public computer and I have to log off now. Tomorrow I shall return, and tomorrow's post shall resume this song with Michael Flanders impersonating an English baron shortly after Magna Carta.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Flanders & Swann HatTrick: Bring Back
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 02 Oct 15 - 12:07 PM

While Donald Swann drops the minuet and switches the piano from major to minor, Michael Flanders starts off the third and final verse of "Bring Back the Birch", speaking for medieval English lords.

God's wounds!
how the commons we coddle today,
with the laws these new Parliaments pass.
No trial without jury, no work without pay --
the whole feudal system's a farce.
The freemen want charters, the serfs won't bear arms,
The towns claim exemption from tax.
Then there's "Habeas Carcass" and all that red tape:
I'd cut through the lot with me axe!

(Flanders and Swann together from now to the end)

Bring back the rack. Chop off their members.
Blind them and boil them and break on the wheel.
Bring back the knout. Bring back impaling,
"Jus Primae Noctis" and trial by ordeal.
A Lord is a Lord, ?   ?   ? ?
Make England safe for the barons again.

SWANN: Bring back the birch.
FLANDERS: Bring back the thumbscrew.
SWANN: Bring back the treadmill.
FLANDERS: Bring back ? ? ?
SWANN: Emasculate them, and flay them alive.

(to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)
Bring back,
Bring back,
O bring back the flogging for you
FLANDERS, on a growl: NOT me.
Bring back,
Bring back,
O bring back our cor- po- ral P!!

the end


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Flanders & Swann HatTrick: Bring Back
From: Gurney
Date: 02 Oct 15 - 02:48 PM

There are several sites that purport to have the lyrics or the song that a Google search finds, but the page doesn't develop, and one site states it is suffering attack.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bring Back the Birch (Flanders & Swann)
From: GUEST,Simunescu
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 07:53 AM

I've just got this box set. I still can't work out what free thinkers are luring maidens to (it sounds like henge, but I can't think what that could be), but I've filled in all of the other bits I think.

We're appalled by those soft-headed sissies who say
That the criminal class is just sick. (Flanders: Pah!)
Society's stuck with a crime wave today
For renouncing the fear of the stick.
(Donald Swann whacks the piano cabinet with one hand)
The thug and the pervert finds prison a rest,
The murderers mostly unhung;
The right way to treat them is six of the best
On the seat of the trouble when young.

Bring back the birch. Thrash 'em and cane 'em.
Teach these delinquents that violence don't pay.
Bring back the 'cat'. Useless to train 'em!
Floggings and hangings will show them the way.
When this is done, not until then,
England will be Merrie England again.

Donald Swann plays an eighteenth-century dance and sings:
A pox on this radical penal reform!
No man may sleep safe in his bed [His Be-e-e-ed].
Now Newgate's half empty, now Tyburn's a stump,
And the peasants want cake and not bread.
("Bah!" puts in Flanders.)
There are no witch-hunts all winter, heresy's rife,
Free-thinkers lure maidens to ??
The papist and the Jacobite sharpens his knife,
And the Luddites are banding as well.

(both Flanders and Swann)
Bring back the stocks, bring back the bridle.
Hang and draw traitors, and quarter them too.
Brand the lone (low?) thieves, transport the idle,
Burn at the stake all the heretic crew.
Perish reforms. Evil they bring!
Back to the day when the landlord was king.

God's wounds!
how the commons we coddle today,
with the laws these new Parliaments pass.
No trial without jury, no work without pay --
the whole feudal system's a farce.
The freemen want charters, the serfs won't bear arms,
The towns claim exemption from tax.
Then there's "Habeas Carcass" and all that red tape:
I'd cut through the lot with me axe!

(Flanders and Swann together from now to the end)

Bring back the rack. Chop off their members.
Blind them and boil them and break on the wheel.
Bring back the knout. Bring back impaling,
"Jus Primae Noctis" and trial by ordeal.
A Lord is a Lord, a serf's a villein
Make England safe for the barons again.

SWANN: Bring back the birch.
FLANDERS: Bring back the thumbscrew.
SWANN: Bring back the treadmill.
FLANDERS: Bring back keelhauling
SWANN: Emasculate them, and flay them alive.
FLANDERS: Teach them that violence don't pay

(to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)
Bring back,
Bring back the cat,
O bring back the flogging for you
FLANDERS, on a growl: NOT me.
Bring back,
Bring back,
O bring back our cor- po- ral P!!

the end


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bring Back the Birch (Flanders & Swann)
From: Charmion
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 09:06 AM

Wow. Just wow.

Thanks for posting this. I consider myself a bit of a F&S scholar, and I have never heard it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bring Back the Birch (Flanders & Swann)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 10:31 PM

Well, if whatever "free-thinkers" in Verse Two lure maidens to, rhymes with "as well," then it may as well be "to he - ell!"

Villein! It is a long time since I learned and forgot that word. Naturally that is the word...no wonder I was stumped on Chorus Three.

And I never would have known keel-hauling.

Bring back the stocks? Fair enough. For some reason I thought that word, on the recording, had a French nasal vowel in it, so it might not even be English....fanciful of me. Your suggestion is better.


So, Charmion, now you know where to find this song....on the "Hat-Trick" set. Must personally admit that although "Bring Back the Birch" is a find, I love, amongst the set's four discs, the fourth "bonus" disc which has lousy sound quality but is like an aural version of home-movies, with home-made recordings done by the song-writing team themselves. But then I am delighted to hear an actual live performance of Max Adrian et al. in "Guide to Britten" from "Airs on a Shoestring."

This is Flanders without Swann, but have you come across "Foie Gras," also referred to as "Gluttony"? When it was set to music, it was by Joseph Horowitz, he of "Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo." I can't find the song. Comments have it that this lyric is "savage."


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