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Lyr Req: If It Wasn't for the Houses in Between

In Mudcat MIDIs:
If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between [Words by Edgar Bateman / Music by George Le Brunn]


Albie 19 Nov 97 - 03:45 PM
Wolfgang Hell 20 Nov 97 - 10:41 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 22 Nov 97 - 07:50 PM
Jerry Friedman 23 Nov 97 - 02:20 PM
Albie 26 Nov 97 - 10:59 AM
23 Jun 98 - 05:47 PM
AndyG 24 Jun 98 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,JAN T 20 Dec 07 - 09:00 AM
Peace 20 Dec 07 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,Ray 20 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 20 Dec 07 - 12:21 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Dec 07 - 02:26 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Dec 07 - 02:38 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Dec 07 - 03:12 PM
Geoff the Duck 21 Dec 07 - 03:38 AM
Geoff the Duck 21 Dec 07 - 03:39 AM
Billy Weeks 21 Dec 07 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Ray 21 Dec 07 - 10:52 AM
Charley Noble 21 Dec 07 - 01:43 PM
Herga Kitty 21 Dec 07 - 02:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Dec 07 - 07:40 PM
Canberra Chris 21 Dec 07 - 10:02 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 22 Dec 07 - 10:01 AM
Charley Noble 22 Dec 07 - 10:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Dec 07 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,Don Davison 01 May 08 - 05:49 PM
alanabit 02 May 08 - 12:44 PM
Charley Noble 02 May 08 - 09:17 PM
alanabit 03 May 08 - 03:20 AM
GUEST,Ian Le Brunn 08 May 08 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Guest, Norma 28 Jul 08 - 07:23 AM
pavane 28 Jul 08 - 11:21 AM
pavane 28 Jul 08 - 11:33 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jul 08 - 06:49 PM
pavane 29 Jul 08 - 04:54 AM
john f weldon 13 Aug 08 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,GUEST: Roger Lewis 03 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM
Joe_F 03 Mar 10 - 07:56 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 10 - 10:37 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 10 - 10:44 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 04 Mar 10 - 06:13 PM
GUEST 04 Mar 10 - 07:59 PM
GUEST 28 Apr 10 - 10:24 AM
Joe Offer 28 Apr 10 - 05:11 PM
GUEST,guest 11 Nov 10 - 12:50 AM
Geoff the Duck 11 Nov 10 - 11:57 AM
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Subject: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Albie
Date: 19 Nov 97 - 03:45 PM

Hi Does anyone know a London song with a chorus something like "With a ladder and some glasses You can see the Hackney marshes If it wasn't for the houses in between"

I would really like to know the words of this or other London humorous songs

Thanks


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 20 Nov 97 - 10:41 AM

There's a useful site with many Cockney songs including the song you are looking for.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 22 Nov 97 - 07:50 PM

I always liked The Gas Man Cometh, which is in the database I think under that title.


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 23 Nov 97 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for the pointer to a great site, Wolfgang!


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Albie
Date: 26 Nov 97 - 10:59 AM

Thanks Y'all. Yes great site!!

Tim - If you like that, searhc for the Flanders & Swann sites, many others by them


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From:
Date: 23 Jun 98 - 05:47 PM

the site seems to have gone any one got any new ideas? i would so like the words.

tony archer sompting village morris

england (west sussex to be exact)


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF IT WASN'T FOR THE 'OUSES IN BETWEEN
From: AndyG
Date: 24 Jun 98 - 05:16 AM

IF IT WASN'T FOR THE 'OUSES IN BETWEEN
(The Cockney Garden)

If you saw my little backyard, "Wot a pretty spot!" you'd cry
It's a picture on a sunny summer's day;
Wiv the turnip-tops and cabbages what people's doesn't buy
I makes it on a Sunday look all gay.
The neighbours finks I grow 'em and you'd fancy you're in Kent,
Or at Epsom if you gaze into the mews.
It's a wonder as the landlord doesn't want to raise the rent,
Because we've got such nobby distant views.

    Oh! it really is a wery pretty garden,
    And Chingford to the eastward could be seen;
    Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
    You could see to 'Ackney Marshes,
    If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

We're as countrified as can be wiv a clothes-prop for a tree,
The tub-stool makes a rustic little stile;
Every time the bloomin' clock strikes there's a cuckoo sings to me,
And I've painted up "To Leather Lane a mile."
Wiv tomatoes and wiv radishes wot 'adn't any sale,
The backyard looks a purfick mass o' bloom;
And I've made a little beehive wiv some beetles in a pail,
And a pitchfork wiv the handle of a broom.

    Oh! it really is a very pretty garden,
    And Rye 'Ouse from the cockloft could be seen;
    Where the chickweed man undresses,
    To bathe 'mong the watercresses,
    If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

There's the bunny shares the egg box wiv the cross-eyed cock and hen,
Though they 'ave got the pip and him the morf;
In a dog's 'ouse on the line-post there was pigeons nine or ten,
'Til someone took a brick and knocked it off.
The dustcart though it seldom comes is just like 'arvest 'ome
And we mean to rig a dairy up some'ow
Put the donkey in the wash-house wiv some imitation 'orns,
'Cause we're teachin' 'im to moo just like a kah (cow).

    Oh! it really is a wery pretty garden,
    And 'Endon to the westward could be seen;
    And by climbin' up the chimbley,
    You could see across to Wembley,
    If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

Though the gasworks isn't wilets, they improve the local scene
For mountains they would very nicely pass;
There's the mushrooms in the dust-hole, with the cowcumbers so green
It only wants a bit o' 'ot 'ouse glass.
I wears this milkman's nightshirt, and I sits outside all day,
Like the ploughboy cove what's mizzled o'er the lea;
And when I goes indoors at night they dunno what I say,
'Cause my language gets as yokel as can be.

    Oh! it really is a very pretty garden,
    And soapworks from the 'ouse-tops could be seen;
    If I got a rope and pulley,
    I'd enjoy the breeze more fully
    If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

Music Hall
Words by Edgar Bateman / Music by George Le Brunn

AndyG


Click to play


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: GUEST,JAN T
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 09:00 AM

I used to have this and others on a cassette of Gus Elen songs, which I cannot find now. The songs title was actually something like "A pretty little villa dahn in Barking"


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Peace
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 11:15 AM

Gus Elen CDs available here.


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 11:59 AM

Aren't we missing a last verse, AndyG? My recollection is that it had the lines "And if your eyesight doesn't fail'yer, you could see right to Australia"


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 12:21 PM

There doesn't appear to be any verse missing according to the copy I have. In fact There is more than that shown in the Illustrated Victorian Song Book. This is the first time I have ever seen any reference to Australia.


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 02:26 PM

You can see the sheet music cover here: If It Wasn't For The Houses In Between, (you can ignore cookies and ActiveX) where the alternative title is given as The Cockney's Garden

Mick


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 02:38 PM

I notices by the way that someone has posted the words on a blog Ellen Loudon blog - If It Wasn't For The 'Ouses In Between and she has:

  Though the gasworks is at Woolwich

Mick


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Dec 07 - 03:12 PM

While we're here, I have heard Ray's Australia lines sung in a folk-club, but I think it was just those two lines added at the end of the song. I suspect it's a recent addition.

Mick


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 03:38 AM

I suspect the "Australia" line was probably added by Cosmotheka (ave and Al Sealey), who did music hall songs round the English folk scene in the 70's/80's. They recorded it an LP named Wines and Spirits, which if I recall correctly was a performers term for the acts down near the bottom of the bill.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 03:39 AM

That should have read - Cosmotheka (Dave and Al Sealey),
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 08:38 AM

Guest Jan - the 'Pretty Little Villa' is a different song, but also sung by Gus Elen. Elen was a superb singer and many of his recordings, from the 1890s to the 1930s are available on CD. Go to Tony Barker's Music Hall site,or Windyridge or Music Hall Masters. Sorry no blue clicky, but Google will find them all easily.


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Subject: RE: If it wasn't for the houses in between
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 10:52 AM

Yes, it would have been Cosmotheka I heard singing it. Once spent an interesting weekend with them in the Channel Islands - Is it Dave of Al who is no longer with us?


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF IT WASN'T FOR THE 'OUSES IN BETWEEN
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 01:43 PM

Here's what I have from my draft anthology of housing songs:

IF IT WASN'T FOR THE 'OUSES IN BETWEEN


The combination of humor in this British music hall song with the realities of living in a working class neighborhood, is similar to what we find in many contemporary songs from the neighborhood organizing movement. The effectiveness of this song is discussed in some detail by music hall historian Peter Davison:

"If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses juxtaposes comedy and pathos to perfection. There is no false pity and no false pride. In addition to the juxtaposed emotional states, the song sets up a tension between daily life in the East End of London and an ideal garden state. What is so remarkable is that tension has the effect of making us laugh, and yet it never permits us to be unaware of the sordidness of the milieu – but it is not at the sordidness that we laugh. The singer does not make the mistake of abandoning himself to the ideal place he conjures up, but is able to return to reality stimulated by his imagination. The song implies the acceptance of the conditions imposed by such an environment, but with full awareness of its shortcomings and with an understanding of something better than this beyond."

Words by Edgar Bateman
Music by George Le Brunn
Circa 1890's
In Songs of the British Music Hall, pp. 192-196

If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between


If you saw my little backyard, "Wot a pretty spot!" you'd cry,
It's a picture on a sunny summer day;
Wiv the turnip tops and cabbages wot peoples doesn't buy
I make it on a Sunday look all gay.
The neighbors finks I grow 'em and you'd fancy you're in Kent,
Or at Epsom if you gaze into the mews.
It's a wonder as the landlord doesn't want to raise the rent,
Because we've got such nobby distant views.

Chorus:

Oh, it really is a wery pretty garden
And Chingford to the eastward could be seen;
Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
You could see to 'Ackney Marshes,
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

We're as countrified as can be wiv a clothes prop for a tree,
The tub-stool makes a rustic little stile;
Ev'ry time the bloomin' clock strikes there's a cuckoo sings to me,
And I've painted up "To Leather Lane a mile,"
Wiv tomatoes and wiv radishes wot 'adn't any sale,
The backyard looks a puffick mass of bloom;
And I've made a little beehive wiv some beetles in a pail,
And a pitchfork wiv a handle of a broom.

Oh, it really is a wery pretty garden,
And Rye 'ouse from the cock-loft could be seen;
Where the chickweed man undresses,
To bath 'mong the watercresses,
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

There's the bunny shares 'is egg box wiv the cross-eyed cock and hen
Though they 'as got the pip and him the morf;
In a dog's 'ouse on the line-post there was pigeons nine or ten,
Till someone took a brick and knocked it orf.
The dustcart through it seldom comes, is just like 'arvest 'ome
And we mean to rig a dairy up some 'ow;
Put the donkey in the washouse wiv some imitation 'orns,
For we're teaching 'im to moo just like a cah.

Oh, it really is a wery pretty garden,
And 'Endon to the Westward could be seen;
And by climbing to the chimbley,
You could see cross to Wembley,
If it was,t for the 'ouses in between.

Though the gas works isn't wilets, they improve the rural scene,
For mountains they would very nicely pass.
There's the mushrooms in the dust-hole with the cowcumbers so green,
It only wants a bit o' 'ot-'ouse glass.
I wears this milkman's nightshirt, and I sits outside all day,
Like the ploughboy cove what's mizzled o'er the Lea;
And when I goes indoors at night they dunno what I say,
'Cause my language gets as yokel as can be.

Oh, it really is a wery pretty garden
And soap works from the 'ouse tops could be seen;
If I got a rope and pulley,
I'd enjoy the breeze more fully,
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

Warm regards,
Landlady's Daughter

Click to play


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 02:42 PM

Guest Ray - Dave is still performing, but Al, sadly, is no longer with us. Dave does a brilliant one-man show about the life of Stanley Holloway.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 07:40 PM

John Foreman - "The Broadsheet King" - used to do a lovely renderrong of this.

It's a great song, and a subtle song - and Peter Davison brings that out well in that quote Charley Noble just gave us. "If you didn't laugh you'd cry..."


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Betwee
From: Canberra Chris
Date: 21 Dec 07 - 10:02 PM

Thanks Mick for finding the cover again for me, which is well worth a look for the illustration of all the 'Cockney Garden' detail!

My mother used to sing bits of it to me as a child, and said she got it as a child from her father singing while he was shaving.

Her mind is no longer what it was, and on a recent visit she told me all about her son Christopher (all true and complimentary). But when I found the cover before, I phoned her up to ask if they used to have the sheet music, and she sang it again, though she may not have been entirely sure to whom!

Chris(topher)


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 10:01 AM

Chris

Glad you enjoyed the cover - it is quite a nice one. (Which reminds me, while I have at least half-a-dozen digital sheet music collections in the States bookmarked, I don't know of any in the UK. I must investigate!).

Looking back over the posts, in my 02:38 post of the 20th I should have made it clear that is in Woolwich is a mondegreen. As my late friend Ron Barnett, one of whose favourite songs this was, would have told you isn't wilets (that's pronounced /wai:lets/, =violets) is correct, as given in both posted versions of the song.

Mick


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 10:08 AM

Mick-

I meant to thank you for posting a link to the sheet music cover illustration above. It's rare that I have access to such an appropriate illustration for one of the songs in my draft housing song anthology.

Warm regards,
Landlady's Daughter


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Betwee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 12:42 PM

I was pleased to see the notice on the front of the sheet music saying "This Song many be Sung in Public without fee or Licence. Except at Music Halls." That's how it should be with all songs. (Well, maybe today with "theatrical productions" in place of Music Halls, to allow for changes since then.)


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST,Don Davison
Date: 01 May 08 - 05:49 PM

There is a recording out there somewhere where this song was recorded live in a music hall with the final verse ending in
"On a clear day you could see Australia
If it wasn't for the houses in between."
Anybody know how I can get that recording?


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: alanabit
Date: 02 May 08 - 12:44 PM

I think this is the song referred to in Richard Digance's "The Houses In Between", which is probably better known as "Working Class Millionaire":

"I don't want to be a clerk, a conductor or a spark
Life's too short for working who knows where
So I'll just sit back and dream - forget the houses in between
And be a working class millionaire."


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Betwee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 May 08 - 09:17 PM

Alanabit-

Is that song somewhere here on Mudcat?

Warm regards,
Landlady's Daughter


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: alanabit
Date: 03 May 08 - 03:20 AM

I have not been able to find the lyrics to it. If you are in the US, you should be able to hear it here. I would like to hear it again. I particularly liked the line about having a statue of Bobby Moore in his hall. Richard is a big West Ham fan. I have not seen him for thirty years, but he seems to have had a good career. If you put up a lyric request, there will almost certainly be a Mudcatter, who knows the song. Leadfingers might be a good bet to point you in the right direction.
Regards,
Alan.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST,Ian Le Brunn
Date: 08 May 08 - 12:59 PM

Great to read the comments. Recommend Tony Barker if George's music interests you. Strictly a music hall giant, but I'm biased.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST,Guest, Norma
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:23 AM

I used to hear the line:

You could see the Crystal Palace, if it wasn't for the ouses in between.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: pavane
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 11:21 AM

"isn't wilets (that's pronounced /wai:lets/, =violets) is correct"

What vintage is the song? The substitution of W for V (and vice versa)was an element of the cockney dialect in Dickens's time.

You only have to remember Villikens & Dinah (Wilkens), but there are plenty of other examples in the Bodleian collection.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: pavane
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 11:33 AM

The previous link doesn't work, but the cover can now be seen at the bottom of this page
which also gives the date as 1894.

There is a note elsewhere that Gus Elen "recorded the complete song in 1899 on a Berliner record - one of the first "flat" discs invented by Emile Berliner "


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 06:49 PM

V and W still get mixed up - typically in a combination which is sort of "vw" or "wv" with the two consonents run into each other.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: pavane
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 04:54 AM

Here is a good example, in a possibly recognisable song.

All around my hat

(You can enlarge the view)


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Betwee
From: john f weldon
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 09:09 AM

I don't think anyone's mentioned the wonderful parody by the (amazing) Kipper Family, with lines like:

With a proper pair of glasses
I could see just where your ass is
If it wasn't for the trousers in between.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST,GUEST: Roger Lewis
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM

John Foreman sings instead of 'rope and pulley':

And if yer eyesight doesn't fail yer
You could see right to Orstralia (pause)
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: Joe_F
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 07:56 PM

McGrath (if you are still around): Could the w+v sound you are describing be the bilabial spirant (made by putting your lips close enough together to get a buzz without involving your teeth), like the w sound in German? I believe that existed in (some dialects of?) Middle English.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 10:37 PM

John Foreman's version, to be heard on an LP I have called "The 'Ouses In Between", and which I have often heard him perform live, is indeed excellent. BUT it takes liberties with Le Brunn's original tune, & combines the first four lines of some verses as written with the last four of others [look back at the print-outs above & you will see it has the sort of structure which will make this a viable option]. And Gus Elen, the original singer,at least according to a Topic LP I have of his songs, would (sometimes at least) do likewise. And so do most of those who ever perform this song (including me); often in combinations according to taste.

I would argue that this sort of treatment has given the song a certain quasi-traditional status.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 10:44 PM

... I should add to above that most of these variants also shorten the original as printed down to about only 3 or 4 stanzas.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:13 PM

I suspect that the lines about Australia, together with:

"And if the weather was much finer,
You could see as far as China...   "

are either modern additions or possibly "extras" used on repeat last choruses.


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 07:59 PM

I first heard this song in Whitby a good few years ago, performed by Eddie Upton, what a great song and so well done by Eddie, What is Eddie doing now?


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 10:24 AM

Anyone know how I can get hold of the sheet music without buying a hefty book?


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 05:11 PM

Hi - will this (click) work for sheet music for you?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 12:50 AM

In the British Library Sound Archives there is a recording I made in 1979 of Cosmotheka in Redditch singing all the verses. The link is: http://sounds.bl.uk/View.aspx?item=025M-C1047X0024XX-0500V0.xml#


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Subject: RE: req/ADD: If It Wasn't For the Houses in Between
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 11:57 AM

In the Autumn of 1979 I was working at Waltham Cross and living directly across the Lee Navigation from Rye House sewage works. As one of the places mentioned in the song, it has always bemused me to try work out the location of the "wery pretty garden" based on map references and local landmarks.
It always seems to match somewhere near Enfield.
Can anybody locate a gas works which would have nicely passed for mountains and narrow me down towards a real location?
Quack!
GtD.


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