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Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer

DigiTrad:
BARD OF ARMAGH
PILLS OF WHITE MERCURY
STREETS OF LAREDO (Cowboy's Lament)
THE DYING LUMBERMAN
THE LINEMAN'S HYMN
THE STREETS OF LOREDO
THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
UNFORTUNATE LASS


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Handful of Laurel (9)
Streets of Laredo - 'Live in the Nation'?? (57)
Streets of Stavanger aka The Seasick Norwegian (8)
Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury (26)
Lyr Req: Streets of Toledo (Paul Clayton) (18)
(origins) Origins: Pills of White Mercury (36) (closed)
Streets of Laredo (37)
Chords Req: Pills of White Mercury (Old Blind Dogs (16)
(origins) ...all wrapped in white linen. (63) (closed)
BUCK'S ELEGY -- A corrupt text? (65) (closed)
Lyr Add: Tom Sherman's Barroom (4)
Lyr Req: Pills of White Mercury (5)
Lyr Req: The Pills of White Mercury (2)


Lighter 19 May 16 - 06:40 PM
cnd 19 May 16 - 09:47 PM
GUEST 19 May 16 - 09:52 PM
Reinhard 20 May 16 - 12:11 AM
GUEST,threelegsoman 20 May 16 - 02:54 AM
Joe Offer 20 May 16 - 03:59 AM
cnd 20 May 16 - 06:30 AM
Lighter 20 May 16 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Reinhard 20 May 16 - 08:18 AM
Steve Gardham 20 May 16 - 02:17 PM
Lighter 20 May 16 - 03:29 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 16 - 04:00 PM
Lighter 20 May 16 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Bloke in Grouch mask 21 May 16 - 03:11 AM
Les in Chorlton 21 May 16 - 05:48 AM
Steve Gardham 21 May 16 - 04:19 PM
Steve Gardham 21 May 16 - 04:41 PM
Steve Gardham 21 May 16 - 04:47 PM
Joe Offer 21 May 16 - 05:49 PM
Steve Gardham 21 May 16 - 06:48 PM
Reinhard 22 May 16 - 01:23 AM
Steve Gardham 22 May 16 - 03:37 AM
Les in Chorlton 22 May 16 - 05:42 AM
Reinhard 22 May 16 - 05:52 AM
Reinhard 22 May 16 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 22 May 16 - 06:41 AM
Steve Gardham 22 May 16 - 09:39 AM
Reinhard 22 May 16 - 11:01 AM
Lighter 22 May 16 - 01:03 PM
MGM·Lion 22 May 16 - 02:36 PM
Lighter 22 May 16 - 03:03 PM
Lighter 22 May 16 - 07:54 PM
Joe Offer 28 May 16 - 05:27 PM
Lighter 31 May 16 - 08:19 AM
GUEST 05 Oct 17 - 06:42 AM
Lighter 05 Oct 17 - 09:13 AM
Lighter 05 Oct 17 - 09:34 AM
Tootler 05 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM
GUEST 06 Oct 17 - 06:27 PM
Reinhard 06 Oct 17 - 07:14 PM
Lighter 07 Oct 17 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,Some bloke in a Groucho mask 09 Oct 17 - 03:12 AM
GUEST 11 Oct 17 - 08:17 AM
Lighter 11 Oct 17 - 10:44 AM
Lighter 17 Oct 17 - 03:02 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 17 - 03:19 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 17 - 03:22 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 19 May 16 - 06:40 PM

Could someone post the lyrics of this song as printed in Roy Palmer's "Love is Pleasing"?

It was collected in 1892. If memory serves, it's the only version of the "Unfortunate Rake" family (besides MacColl's)that actually contains the phrase "young trooper."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: cnd
Date: 19 May 16 - 09:47 PM

It's apparently on pages 38-39 of the 1892 edition, but I can't find a copy of it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 16 - 09:52 PM

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Trooper_Cut_Down_in_His_Prime.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Reinhard
Date: 20 May 16 - 12:11 AM

Why use an external reference when it's rght here?

The Trooper Cut Down In His Prime


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: GUEST,threelegsoman
Date: 20 May 16 - 02:54 AM

I uploaded a variant of this song a short time ago:
A Young Sailor Cut Down In His Prime:

Autoharp: A Young Sailor Cut Down In His Prime (Including lyrics and chords)

The tune is probably better known from its later use for "The Streets of Laredo"


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 May 16 - 03:59 AM

Gee, the Traditional Ballad Index doesn't have much on this song:

Trooper Cut Down in His Prime, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer sees a trooper "wrapped up in flannel yet colder than clay." He dies as "the bugles were playin'," and details of the burial are given. His gravestone warns, "Flash-girls of the city have quite ruined me."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1979
KEYWORDS: death disease whore burial funeral soldier
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Darling-NAS, p. 6, "The Trooper Cut Down In His Prime" (1 text)
Roud #2
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Streets of Laredo" [Laws B1] (tune & meter, plot) and references there
cf. "The Unfortunate Rake" (tune & meter, plot)
cf. "The Bad Girl's Lament (St. James' Hospital; The Young Girl Cut Down in her Prime)" [Laws Q26] (tune & meter, plot)
cf. "The Sailor Cut Down in His Prime" (tune & meter, plot)
NOTES: One of the large group of ballads ("The Bard of Armagh," "Saint James Hospital," "The Streets of Laredo") ultimately derived from "The Unfortunate Rake." All use the same or similar tunes and meter, and all involve a person dying as a result of a wild life, but the nature of the tragedy varies according to local circumstances. - RBW
File: DarNS006

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 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.



Here are the lyrics in the Digital Tradition. See any errors?

THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME

As I was a-walkin' down by the Royal Arsenal,
Early the morning though warm was the day,
When who should I see but one of my comrades,
All wrapped up in flannel and cold as the clay.

CHORUS: Then beat the drum slowly and play your fife slowly,
And sound the dead march as you carry me along;
And fire your bundooks* right over my coffin,
For I'm a young trooper cut down in my prime.

The bugles were playin'; his mates were a-prayin'.
The chaplain was kneelin' down by his bed.
His poor head was achin'; his poor heart was breakin',
This poor young trooper cut down in his prime. (CHORUS)

Get six of my comrades to carry my coffin,
Six of my comrades to carry me on high;
And six young maidens to carry white roses,
So they won't smell me as they pass me by. (CHORUS)

Outside of the barracks you will find two girls standin',
And one to the other she whispered and said:
"Here comes the young swaddy** whose money we squandered.
Here comes the young trooper cut down in his prime." (CHORUS)

On the cross by his grave you will find these words written:
"All you young troopers take warnin' by me.
Keep away from them flash-girls*** who walk in the city.
Flash-girls of the city have quite ruined me." (CHORUS)


*-bundooks - from the Hindustani banduk, a rifle or musket
**-swaddy - English slang for soldier
***-flash-girls - street girls (probably prostitutes)

(Sung by Ewan MacColl) Time: 4:26

This British soldier's variant of the "Rake" ballad is reported as "...probably the oldest of British barrack-room favorites." Old army regulars claim that the song originated in the first expeditionary force sent to France during World War I, but it was likewise known among soldiers during the Boer War, as evidenced by MacColl's having heard an almost identical version sung by a ninety-year old actor, Norman Partridge, dating from the South African campaigns.

The trooper's death results from his consorting 'with "flash-girls", an oblique reference to death from venereal disease, though such "disordering" is not itself mentioned.

This recording may also be heard as part of an album of British soldier's songs, entitled Bless 'Em, All (Riverside RLP 12-642), sung by Ewan MacColl, and is reproduced here with the permission of Riverside Records. Guitar accompaniment for this number is supplied by Peggy Seeger.

@death @soldier @sex @disease
DT #350
Laws B1
filename[ LAREDST7
AJS
oct99


Note above that the Traditional Ballad Index has only one citation, Darling-NAS (New American Songster), p. 6, "The Trooper Cut Down In His Prime" (1 text)

This text is almost identical to the lyrics in the Digital Tradition, and is apparently from Ewan MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: cnd
Date: 20 May 16 - 06:30 AM

I would like to point out that he was asking for the 1892 edition. I don't know how close or different they are, but all of you have shared (what I think is, at least) Ewan MacColl's version, which may or may not be different.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 20 May 16 - 07:47 AM

That's correct, cnd.

Thanks to everyone who replied, but it's Palmer's version or nothing!

Palmer's book "Love is Pleasing" was published in 1974.

The song was collected by Frank Kidson in 1892.

Am not sure that MacColl ever gave the source of the version he recorded.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: GUEST,Reinhard
Date: 20 May 16 - 08:18 AM

According to the sleeve notes of "Bundook Ballads", MacColl's source was Harry Cox:

THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
This ballad is probably the oldest of British barrack-room favourites. It exists in many variants, and is a standard song among all 'sweats'. Veterans of World War I claim that the song originated in the first expeditionary force in France, but, of course, it is very much older, tracing back to the eighteenth century street ballad, The Unfortunate Rake. I recently heard a ninety year old actor, Norman Patridge, sing a version which he said was current with troops in the Boer War, and which varied hardly at all from the version included in this album, which was learned from Harry Cox, traditional singer from Norfolk.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 16 - 02:17 PM

Jon,
The text is derived from a broadside in the Kidson Collection and these may be online in the Full English. I'll scan and email it anyway.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 20 May 16 - 03:29 PM

Thanks, Steve.

I searched FE and found nothing but the tune and perhaps one line.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 16 - 04:00 PM

I strongly suspect the Kidson broadside is just another standard 'Unfortunate Lad' and Roy has altered his version to be more like more recently recorded versions. The version in The Singing Island by MacColl & Seeger was recorded from Harry Sladen of Manchester in 1946, and this version appears to have influenced all of the anthology versions like Dallas, Sedley, Palmer.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 20 May 16 - 04:11 PM

Quite what I was thinking, Steve. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: GUEST,Bloke in Grouch mask
Date: 21 May 16 - 03:11 AM

The version I sing, citing the Royal Albion as opposed to St James or Arsenal is one I got via Tom Brown from Harry Cox. It is many years since I learned it and since then have seen other versions attributed to the collections of Mr Cox.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 21 May 16 - 05:48 AM

As I was a climbing on the grey slopes of Clogy
As I was a climbing on Clogy one day
I met a young climber clothed all in white linen
Clothed all in white linen and colder than clay


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 16 - 04:19 PM

I've checked my records and CD collection and can't find a Harry Cox version. It doesn't appear to be one of the 54 tracks on the 2CD album The Bonny Labouring Boy. Perhaps it's not one of his better-known songs. I'll keep looking.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 16 - 04:41 PM

The Roud index gives 4 recordings of Harry Cox, Peter Kennedy for the BBC, a Folktracks album and 2 Folkways albums, of which I have none. I'm surprised there don't appear to be any versions in Kennedy's mammoth work, 'Folk Songs of Britain and Ireland'. Looking at Harry's title and first line it suggests a pretty standard 'Unfortunate Lad' text.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 16 - 04:47 PM

Jon,
Karl Dallas gives 2 versions in his 'The Cruel Wars'. One was recorded by MacColl and the other is a 'Trooper cut down' version from the singing of Charlie Wills of Dorset. Both were issued on a Folkways album FS 3805. I can scan the Dorset version for you if you wish.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 May 16 - 05:49 PM

I finally found my skinny Roy Palmer books, and Love Is Pleasing is not one of them. I found a copy for cheap, and ordered it. I'll post the lyrics when the book arrives. Love Is Pleasing is also a skinny book, so I'll probably lose track of it, too.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 16 - 06:48 PM

Joe
See 20th 2.17. I already scanned and sent it to Jon.


    Hi, Steve - it's best to assume that a number of people may be interested in the requested song, and in various versions. Therefore, it's really nice if you can post the song in the Forum, and not just send it to the requester. And when we have a request for a specific version of a song, I think it's best if we study the song thoroughly and post and compare several versions, as well as posting background information. That's what makes Mudcat the valuable resource it can be. We don't get many requests that haven't been answered already, so it's good to jump on any request that asks for something we haven't covered already.
    -Joe-


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE YOUNG SAILOR CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
From: Reinhard
Date: 22 May 16 - 01:23 AM

Harry Cox sings The Young Sailor Cut Down in His Prime

THE YOUNG SAILOR CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME

As I was a-walking down by the Royal Albert,
Black was the night and cold was the day;
Who should I see there but one of my shipmates,
Wrapped in a blanket, far colder than clay.

He asked for a blanket to wrap 'round his head,
Likewise a candle to light him to bed;
His poor heart was breakin', his poor head was achin',
For he's a young sailor cut down in his prime.

We'll beat the big drums and we'll play the pipes merrily,
Play the dead march as we carry him along,
Take him to the churchyard and fire three volleys o'er him
For he's a young sailor cut down in his prime.

At the corner of the street you will see two girls standing,
One to the other did whisper and say:
"Here comes a young sailor whose money we've squandered,
Here comes a young sailor cut down in his prime."

His kind-hearted mother, his kind-hearted father,
Both of them wondered about his past life;
For along with the flash girls he would wander,
Along with the flash girls it was his delight.

From Folkways FS 3805 "The Unfortunate Rake - A Study in the Evolution of a Ballad". Notes and lyrics can be downloaded from Smithsonian Folkways. The same recording is on Folkways FW 8871 "Field Trip - England", edited by Jean Ritchie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 May 16 - 03:37 AM

Okay, Joe, I'll do my best.
Thanks for posting Harry's version, Reinhard. No mention of trooper, Jon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 May 16 - 05:42 AM

As I was a climbing on the grey slopes of Clogy
As I was a climbing on Clogy one day
I met a young climber clothed all in white linen
Clothed all in white linen and colder than clay


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Reinhard
Date: 22 May 16 - 05:52 AM

Steve, Folkways FS 3805 has four British versions, by A.L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Harry Cox and Willie Mathieson, but not by Charlie Wills.

Willie Mathieson learned "Noo I'm a Young Man Cut Down in My Prime" in the winter of 1933 from John Innes, farm servant and second horseman at the farm of Boghead, Dunlugas, Banffshire. He sang it in 1952 at the age of 72 to Hamish Henderson.

Noo I'm a Young Man Cut Down in My Prime

As I was a-walking one bright summer morning,
As I was a-walking one bright summer day,
It's who did I spy but one of my comrades,
Rolled up in white flannel and cauler than clay.

Chorus (repeated after every other verse):
O love, it is cruel, cruel to deceive me,
Why didn't you tell me your sorrows in time?
My head is an-aching, my heart is a-breaking,
Noo, I'm a young man cut down in my prime.

It's I have an aged father, likewise a mother,
Oft times they did tell me it would ruin me quick.
I never did believe them, I always did deceive them,
And still with the city girls I spent all my time.

Go send for my mother to wash and to dress me,
Go send for my sister to comb my black hair;
Go send for my brother to play the pipes slowly,
And play the dead march as they carry me along.

There's a bunch of roses to lay on my coffin,
There's a bunch of roses for my head and my feet;
There's a bunch of roses to lay in the churchyard
To perfume the way as they carry me along.

At the gate of the churchyard to girlies were standing,
The one to the other in a whisper did say:
"Here comes the young man whose money we have squandered,
And noo they have laid him down in his cauld grave."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Reinhard
Date: 22 May 16 - 05:57 AM

Here are the lyrics in the Digital Tradition. See any errors?

Ewan MacColl sings in the first line of the chorus "Then beat the drum lowly", not "Then beat the drum slowly".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 22 May 16 - 06:41 AM

Ewan probably heard Harry Cox singing his version of the song, but Ewan's words are different in many places to what Harry sang, and I suspect that Ewan added a few words himself. I have recorded the song from a number of traditional singers and none used the word "bundooks", for example. Mind you, you do have to admire Ewan's chutzpah. How he had the nerve to record albums of British soldier's songs is beyond me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 May 16 - 09:39 AM

Hi Mike,
I know exactly what you mean, but I don't think anyone this side of the pond would put any store on any of Ewan's songs or notes to albums, as with Bert. However, 'Travellers' Songs from E & S' is a different kettle of fish and I trust the songs in that, if not the notes so much. You would know more about that than me.

Quite often nowadays when we decide to include a song in our repertoires, we've already heard/seen dozens of versions and mostly our new version is a mixture of others, and even sometimes the odd new material will get included.

Only someone inexperienced would expect anything sung by Ewan or Bert to be a straight copy from tradition.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Reinhard
Date: 22 May 16 - 11:01 AM

The Young Trooper text Ewan MacColl sings seems to be the one printed in The Singing Island which he collected from Harry Sladen. So the comment in his album notes that it was learned from Harry Cox - whose Young Sailor version is quite different, even has a different title - looks like a red herring.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 22 May 16 - 01:03 PM

> red herring.

Or a simple error of memory or slip of the pen. (Note the two "Harrys.")


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 May 16 - 02:36 PM

Just to remind that Streets Of Laredo is not the only cowboy version on record. Hedy West used to sing a variant called Lee Tharin's Bar-Room to a different tune. It's on her 'Pretty Saro' Topic record. It's shown on Youtube, but unavailable when clicked on, as too often happens.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 22 May 16 - 03:03 PM

Cowboy versions are/were sung to at least four different tunes, though that of "The Bard of Armagh" has become standard.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 22 May 16 - 07:54 PM

Which is also essentially MacColl's tune.

I believe the "Tom Sherman's Bar-Room" tune is also Irish, but I can't recall the title. (The same tune was later used for the pastiche "My Home's in Montana.")

Can anyone supply the name?


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Subject: ADD Version: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime- Palmer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 May 16 - 05:27 PM

This is #18 from Love Is Pleasing: songs of courtship and marriage, selected and edited by Roy Palmer (Cambridge University Press, 1974)

THE YOUNG TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME

As I was a-walking down by the infirm'ry
As I was a-walking one morning of late,
Who should I spy but my own dear comrade.
Bitterly weeping, so hard was his fate.

I boldly stepped up to him and I did ask him,
'Oh why are you wrapped up in flannel so white?'
'My body is injured and sadly disordered,
All by a young woman, my own heart's delight.

'Now had she but told me when she did disorder me,
Had she but told me the truth in good time,
I might have got pills and some salts of white mercury
Now I'm cut down in the height of my prime.

'Get six jolly fellows to carry my coffin,
And six pretty maidens to carry my pall;
Give to each of them fine bunches of roses,
That they may not smell me as they go along.

'And over my coffin put handfuls of lavender,
Handfuls of lavender on every side;
Bunches of roses all over my coffin ?
For there's a young trooper cut down in his prime.

'Then beat the drums slowly and play the pipes merrily,
Play the dead march as you carry me along;
Fire off your guns right over my coffin ?
There goes a young trooper cut down in his prime.'


The theme of a young man dying from syphilis would not appear at first sight to be an ideal subject for song. Yet this lament, which probably originated in the eighteenth century, has been found all over the British Isles and America. The hero is a soldier or a sailor in Britain, but a cowboy or a gambler in America. There are even versions in which the hero becomes a heroine, and the song deals with a young girl cut down in her prime. It is not usual for the tertiary and fatal stage of syphilis to be reached by a young person, but this can happen. The disease was treated with mercury until as recently as 1909. Antibiotics are now used, but there has been growing concern at the increased incidence of venereal diseases among the young in recent years.

The last verse is sometimes sung as a chorus.


Text adapted from John Masefield, A Sailor's Garland, 1906, page 348. Melody learned by Palmer in English folk clubs.


Click to play (joeweb)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Trooper Cut Down in His Prime' - Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 31 May 16 - 08:19 AM

Joe, Steve Gardham observes that Palmer's text - after the first stanza, which was collected by Kidson - is taken from a broadside, with "trooper" replacing "lad" under the influence of MacColl.

The attribution to Masefield, 1906, is in error.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:42 AM

Hello

I was interested in the use of the word 'trooper', as it didn't sound like English to me. It sounded more North American. I got interested after, like others on this thread, coming across 'Rake' variety songs without any clear provenance.

In case anybody would like to consider the 'linguistic' evidence, this is what I have found out about the word 'trooper'.

In English, it referred to a member of the cavalry ie a person who rode a horse into battle. In the USA and Canada it is used, I believe, to refer to mounted policemen, or sometimes to police in general.

Maybe MacColl used Trooper to appeal to the US market?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 09:13 AM

> Maybe MacColl used Trooper to appeal to the US market?

Not likely. He first recorded the song on "Barrack Room Ballads" for Topic, a small English folk label, in 1958.

A "trooper" in the U.S. may be a cavalryman, a state police officer, or a paratrooper. (A local, municipal police officer would never be called a "trooper." Mounted officers are either "mounted police" or "mounted officers." "State trooper" is the usual term for the state police and highway patrol.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 09:34 AM

MacColl's jacket note from "British Army Songs" (1965), the American issue of "Bundook Ballads" (1965):

"This ballad is probably the oldest of British barrack-room favorites. It exists in many variants and is a standard song among 'old sweats' (regular soldiers). Veterans of World War I claim that the song originated in the first expeditionary force in France, but, of course, it is very much older, tracing back to the 18th century street ballad, The Unfortunate Rake. I recently heard a ninety year old actor, Norman Partridge, sing a version which he said was current among troops in the Boer War, and which varied hardly at all from the version sung on this album, which was learned from Harry Cox, traditional singer from Dorset."

Do we know if Cox had the word "trooper"? If not, then presumably Partridge did.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM

I have an early version in a book of 18th cent. Broadsides. From what I've been able to glean, it's probably the earliest version dating from the late 1780s and is called "The Buck's Elegy"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 06:27 PM

Hello Tootler

Yes I agree with you, though maybe this should be in another thread?

It says in the Bishop and Roud New Penguin Book of English Folk songs that Buck's Elegy is the oldest written version, and they say between 1790 and 1810. Does your book give a printer or place of printing?

I am guessing that the word 'Buck' - meaning fashionable Dandy - may help them to date the song?

Also, for me, the word 'elegy'is interesting. It strikes me as a word, perhaps, likely to be used by somebody educated, possibly familiar with poetry.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Reinhard
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 07:14 PM

Lighter, you can find Harry Cox's version earlier in this thread, posted on May 22, 2016.

And the sleeve notes from MacColl's "Bundooks Ballads", while nearly identical to those of "British Army Songs", properly declare Harry Cox to be from Norfolk.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Oct 17 - 10:46 AM

Not what MacColl sings, is it?

Damned sleeve notes. The switch from Norfolk to Dorset is bizarre.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: GUEST,Some bloke in a Groucho mask
Date: 09 Oct 17 - 03:12 AM

Living tradition eh?

I first mentioned the Harry Cox angle and said I learned it from Tom Brown as a Harry Cox version mentioning Royal Albion. Presumably that line was where Tom filled in his own gaps.

For what it?s worth I sing the first line as St James?s if for no other reason as during a set I might wish to mix it a bit and the segue from folk to blues is usually that followed by the c20 American descendent of the song, St James?s Infirmary Blues.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 17 - 08:17 AM

Hello Lighter

Even if Partridge is 90 at present, he would not have been in the Boer War personally, so for me, his singing it isn't necessarily a guide to wording used in that war.

It isn't, I don't think, surprising that variations of the Buck's Elegy should be sung in military circles: it was concern about the health of the armed forces that resulted in the passing of the public health acts under which women found to have venereal disease could be in effect arrested and locked up. These concerns came to a head after the Crimean War.

Previously, venereal diseases had been viewed as a problem a) in London, where types like the 'Buck' often used prostitutes and b) places with army bases, and the act was initially I think aimed at these places.

My thinking is that the rash of broadside ballads on this theme in the later 19th century with their exaggerated messages suggesting that death follows swiftly upon infection (which was rare by this time) probably reflected official policy and current public concern.

So this is probably why it changes from being a 'Buck' ie a fashionable young man about town, to something more obviously military.

And the army did and presumably continues to warn about the dangers of catching such diseases.

Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Oct 17 - 10:44 AM

Acc. to MacColl, Partridge was 90 around 1964, not now, so he certainly could have served in the Boer War.

Otherwise I tend to agree (except for the part about infection being rarer in the late 19th C. than in the 18th; why?).

It wouldn't be especially remarkable for the word "trooper" to have been sung in the Boer War (or earlier). If it meant only "cavalryman" in British English, so be it. All that would have been needed is for one singer along the line to make the change, whether before 1901 or after 1960.

As with most other traditional songs, we don't have enough contemporaneous texts to make a determination one way or the other.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 03:02 PM

A disused brain cell has fired up and reminded me that MacColl's "Trooper" appeared in 1960 in The Singing Island, edited with Peggy Seeger.

P. 112 reveals that MacColl learned his version from "the singing of Harry Sladen of Openshaw, Manchester, 1946."

P. 70 avers that "The text printed here is similar to that published on
a broadside by Such of London in the 1850s."

Does anyone know of this broadside?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 03:19 PM

Have a look at Belden p392.

Such's stock number 509 The Unfortunate Lad. FL 'As I was a walking down by the Lock Hospital' 6 verses with chorus.

There's a copy in the Lucy Broadwood Collection so it's probably on the VWML website.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 03:22 PM

Just checked
there's a copy on the Bodl.


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