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Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'

GUEST,fraser 10 Jul 01 - 08:15 AM
IanC 10 Jul 01 - 08:34 AM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Jul 01 - 08:54 AM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Jul 01 - 08:56 AM
IanC 10 Jul 01 - 09:03 AM
Snuffy 10 Jul 01 - 09:22 AM
IanC 10 Jul 01 - 09:31 AM
GUEST 22 Feb 12 - 05:53 AM
JohnInKansas 22 Feb 12 - 03:26 PM
Georgiansilver 23 Feb 12 - 05:34 AM
Lighter 23 Feb 12 - 09:22 AM
EBarnacle 23 Feb 12 - 09:51 PM
GUEST 20 Jul 13 - 03:31 PM
Jim Dixon 21 Jul 13 - 08:24 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Jul 13 - 08:57 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Jul 13 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,John 27 Jul 18 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 28 Jul 18 - 10:51 AM
EBarnacle 28 Jul 18 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,John C. Bunnell 29 Jul 18 - 10:18 PM
Tradsinger 31 Jul 18 - 08:06 AM
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Subject: help!
From: GUEST,fraser
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 08:15 AM

I am in Ireland and need help finding lyrics to a song. I begins " I know this old farmer, I know him so well, and he had a daughter and her name was Nell ".

Does anybody have the full lyrics please?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE THRASHING MACHINE
From: IanC
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 08:34 AM

It's Thrashing Machine. This version is from the Yetties (here).

Thrashing Machine

I knew a farmer, I knew him well,
he had a daughter, her name was Nell
Although she was only sweet sixteen,
I decided to show her my thrashing machine.

The barn door was open, so in we did go,
into the corn to have a good go.
She worked the throttle and I worked the steam,
as I showed her the works of my thrashing machine.

Six months later all was not well,
something was wrong with our little Nell.
And under her apron could clearly be seen,
the works of my dirty old thrashing machine.

Three months later all was not well,
a baby boy was born to our Nell.
And under his nappy could clearly be seen,
a brand new two cylinder thrashing machine.

There's another version in the forum here.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: help!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 08:54 AM

Ian C beat me to it on this one; I'd just add that it's still widely popular as a rugby song, and likely also in the armed forces.  It appears on broadsides from the mid 19th century, and there are several copies at  .  Here is one, with The Cuckoo's Nest on the same sheet:

Thrashing machine  Printed between 1846 and 1854 by E. Hodges, from Pitt's, Wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse, 31, [Dudley] street, Seven Dials, [London].

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: help!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 08:56 AM

Whoops.  The missing link should have been  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads


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Subject: RE: help!
From: IanC
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 09:03 AM

It's still popular outside Rugby Song circles too, Malcolm. One of those folk songs which can still be collected in pubs 'cos one of the locals has taken the trouble to know it and everyone else sings the chorus.

The one I posted here hasn't got a chorus, and I'm not actually sure it's from The Yetties. Their version, as also Adge Cutler's, seems to me to have had the usual chorus. I liked the directness of this one, without too much indelicacy.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: help!
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 09:22 AM

The chorus I know is:

I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er away
I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er away
I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er away
And I led that virginal creature astray

The tune is, of course, Villikins/Betsy from Pike


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Subject: RE: help!
From: IanC
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 09:31 AM

Isn't it funny how you perceive things differently depending where you are coming from. The tune is, of course "Villikins and His Dinah" but I knew "Threshing Machine" from a boy, so I think of "Villikins" as being to the tune of "The Threshing Machine"!

By the way, I wonder if some very helpful person might be inclined to change the thread's title to Lyr Req: Threshing Machine (or "I Know This Old Farmer" if you prefer). Thanks!!!

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 12 - 05:53 AM

I collected a version of this in Norfolk about 1975. The lyrics closely follow those written by Adge Cutler of Yetties fame, so I guess most of the song was filched from him. In Norfolk Threshing is 'Troshin' and the song was entitled: 'My Vertical Piston-Drive Troshin' Machine'.

Here yew ar then, bor:

Away down in Sheringham a young mawther did dwell,
Who loved engineering and steam-power as well.
With a college degree and uncommonly keen,
To examine the works of me troshin' machine.

Chorus after each verse.
Troshin' machine, troshin' machine,
A vertical piston-drive troshin' machine.

She told us that she wor a much travelled gel,
Been places, seen faces orl over the worl,
But there was just one thing she hint never seen,
Tha's a vertical piston-drive troshin' machine.

I said if yew loikes yew can come to me barn,
A quick look inside won't do us no harm.
And there it stood shinin' all gleamin' and clean.
Now tha's what I call a real troshin' machine.

She stood there amazed and her eyes opened wide.
So I said, "If yew're good, I might give 'ee a ride.
For there ain't no contraption tha's driven by steam,
Can compare with the loikes of me troshin' machine.

When she asked I to show her just how the thing worked,
I let out the clutch, the machine went beserk.
You could see bugger all for the smoke and the steam,
As I started a-revving my troshing machine.

When her asked could she drive it for better or worse,
The whole damn contraption went into reverse.
The crankshaft seized up, well yew kno' what i mean.
And that wor the end of me troshin' machine.



Collected by Black Jake Two-Fingers.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Feb 12 - 03:26 PM

The thread title caught the eye due to the use of the archaic "thrashing" machine. In the US, in my lifetime at least, it was always spelled "threshing." (It made me wonder if the spelling was changed by our US Puritans because they knew of the song(?).)

Wiki clarifies the usages and the older name is certainly correct in the usage.

Surprisingly (for Wiki) the article linked makes references, near the bottom of the article, to a couple of musical usages. (There are a couple of live links in the Wiki comment.)

Musical references

Irish songwriter John Duggan[3] immortalized the threshing machine in a song The Old Thrashing Mill.[4] The song has been recorded by Foster and Allen and Brendan Shine.

On the Alan Lomax collection Songs of Seduction (Rounder Select, 2000), there's a bawdy Irish folk song called "The Thrashing Machine" sung by tinker Annie O'Neil, as recorded in the early 20th Century.

In his film score for "Of Mice and Men" (1939) and consequently in his collection "Music for the Movies" (1942), American composer Aaron Copland titled a section of the score "Threshing Machines," to suit a scene in the Lewis Milestone film where Curley is threatening Slim over giving May a puppy, when many of the itinerant worker men are standing around or working on threshers.

Northampton, MA-based indie rock band Winterpills have a song on their 2005 debut album Winterpills called Threshing Machine. It is not about agricultural machinery.


John


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 23 Feb 12 - 05:34 AM

The one we used to sing on the rugby coach was very similar :-

I knew an old farmer, I knew him well,
He had a young daughter and her name was Nell
Nell was so pretty but only sixteen,
When I showed her the works of my thrashing machine.

We found us a barn and we went us inside,
And there in the corner some straw we espied.
Nell worked the throttle and I worked the steam,
as I showed her the works of my thrashing machine.

Six months has gone past and all is not well,
For something has happened to our little Nell.
And under her apron can clearly be seen,
The dirty old works of my thrashing machine.

Nine months has gone past, and all is now well
A baby is born to our Nell.
And under his nappy can clearly be seen,
a brand new two cylinder thrashing machine.

And of course the chorus between each verse similar to that outlined above!
I 'ad 'er I 'ad 'er. I 'ad 'er I aye!
I 'ad 'er I 'ad 'er. I 'ad 'er I aye!
Then repeating the last two lines of each verse....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Feb 12 - 09:22 AM

IIRC, there's a 19th Century broadside in the Bodleian that's pretty much the same as Annie O'Neill's version and not massively different from the rugby version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: EBarnacle
Date: 23 Feb 12 - 09:51 PM

I've been singing a version of this song for more than 40 years:

Away down in Somerset, or so I hear tell,
There lived a young lassie, her name it was Nell;
Oh, high, wide and handsome, and just seventeen,
And she longed for a ride on my Threshing machine.

'Twas early one evening in the merry month of June,
When most courtin' couples were lookin' at the moon,
I said "Come to the barn, Nell, where us won't be seen
And I'll show you the works of my threshing machine.

All the flywheels and pistons were spinning around,
When out of the cylinder came a strange sound;
I reached down below, for to shut off the steam,
But the chaff had been blown from my threshing machine.

'Twas nine months late on a February morn,
The bpride of its nanny, a baby was born;
And under its nappy could plainly be seen,
A brand new, twin cylinder, threshing machine.

I usually introduce this as an early industrial ballad.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 03:31 PM

I knew a farmer, I knew him quite well,
'E 'ad a daughter and her name were Nell,
Nell were a virgin and only sixteen,
'Till I showed her the works of my threshing machine.

Chorus

Now 3 months have passed, and all is not well,
under her pinny Nell's starting to swell,
Nell were a virgin and only sixteen,
'Till I showed her the works of my threshing machine

Chorus

Now 6 months have passed and all is not well
Forced by a shotgun to hear that church bell
Nell were a virgin, and only sixteen,
'Till I showed her the works of my threshing machine

Chorus

Now 9 months have passed, and all is reet well
A child has been born to my little Nell
And under its nappy can clearly be seen
A brand new two cylinder threshing machine

Chorus


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Subject: Lyr Add: THRASHING MACHINE (Joe Davies)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 08:24 AM

My transcription from the recording on Spotify. I have not attempted to render the dialect, which is not very strong in this recording, but evident in a couple of places.


THRASHING MACHINE
As sung by Joe Davies on the various-artists album "Devon Tradition"

1. I worked up near Taunton when I was a boy,
And courtin' young Rosie was my pride and joy.
Now Rosie was pretty and just seventeen
When I showed her the works of me thrashing machine,
    Thrashing machine, thrashing machine,
    When I showed her the works of me thrashing machine.

2. Now Rosie they said was a much travelled gal,
Been places, seen faces all over the world,
But there was a sight that her eyes never seen:
My vertical piston-drive thrashing machine,
    Thrashing machine, thrashing machine,
    My vertical piston-drive thrashing machine.

[With similar refrain:]

3. So us went to the barn and I took her inside,
And I said, "If you're good, I might give ye a ride,"
For there it stood standing so lovely and clean,
And that's what I calls a thrashing machine.

4. Then her asked me to demonstrate how the thing worked,
So I pushed in the clutch and the thing went berserk.
You couldn't see nowt for smoke and the steam
When I started rubbin' my thrashing machine.

5. Then I let her drive for better or worse,
And the whole damn contraption got into reverse,
And the crankshaft seized up, if you know what I mean,
And that is the end of me thrashing machine.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THRASHING MACHINE (from Warren Fahey)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 08:57 AM

An Australian version:

THRASHING MACHINE
As sung by Warren Fahey on "Currency Lads and Lasses: Songs of Australian Colonial Romance"

1. There was a young farmer in Maitland, it's said,
And he kept a servant, a blooming young maid.
Her name it was Molly; though scarcely sixteen,
She could work very well at the thrashin' machine.

2. Her master said, "Molly, the times are so hard.
If you will come with me down to the farmyard,
I will harness yon Dobbin, if you know what I mean.
I think we can manage the thrashing machine."

3. She said to the farmer, "What will mistress say?"
He said, "Never fear; she is making the hay,
And while she spreading the grass that is green,
Why, we can be workin' the thrashin' machine."

4. The barn door was open and Dobbin stood outside.
The farmer soon got the machine for to ride.
She said, "I think, master, we thrash very clean.
I see you can manage your thrashing machine."

5. When Dobbin was tired of going around,
He hung in the trenches and bowed to the ground.
Though once in good order, he got quite thin and lean
By workin' so long at the thrashin' machine.

6. The farmer jumps off and around him he feels.
Says he, "I must rest," so he blocked up the wheels.
Molly left Dobbin and backward she did lean,
And he pushed her 'gainst the old thrashin' machine.

7. Now Molly said, smiling, "You've had quite a loss.
I think it requires a much stronger horse.
If Dobbin was strong, like before he has been,
Why, we could keep workin' the thrashin' machine."

8. When six months were over—remember it well—
Molly's front parlour it began for to swell,
And very soon after she'd a baby to wean,
The fruits of her labour at yon thrashin' machine.


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Subject: Lyt Add: THE THRASHING MACHINE (from Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Jul 13 - 11:02 AM

From the Bodleian collection. These lyrics are mostly from Harding B 15(330a), but I have borrowed a few phrases from other broadside versions where they improve the meter. I have also modernized the spelling and punctuation.


THE THRASHING MACHINE

1. It's of a young farmer near ----, 'tis said,
And he had a servant, a blooming young maid.
Her name it was Molly; though scarcely sixteen,
She could work very well at the thrashing machine.

2. Her master said, "Molly, the times they are hard,
And if you will go with me into the farm yard,
I will harness young Dobbin--you know what I mean--
I think we can manage the thrashing machine."

3. Young Molly said, "Master, what will mistress say?"
Said he, "Never mind; she is making of hay,
And while she is tossing the grass that is green,
Why, we can be working the thrashing machine."

4. The barn door being opened, young Dobbin stood outside.
The farmer got in the machine for to ride.
Young Molly said, "Master, you thrash very clean.
I see you can manage the thrashing machine."

5. Now Dobbin being tired of going around,
He hung in the traces and bowed to the ground.
Though once in good order, he's now thin and lean
Through working so hard at the thrashing machine.

6. The farmer got out and around him he feels.
Says he, "I must rest," so he blocked up the wheels.
Young Molly led Dobbin so sprightly and keen,
And he pushed again at the thrashing machine.

7. Young Molly said, "Master, you've had a great loss.
I think you require a much stronger horse.
If Dobbin was strong, as before he has been,
We then could keep working the thrashing machine."

8. When six months was over, mark what befell:
Young Molly's front parlour it began for to swell,
And very soon after she had, to be seen,
For the fruits of her toil, a young thrashing machine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: GUEST,John
Date: 27 Jul 18 - 06:43 PM

Away down in Somerset, or so I hear tell,
There lived a young lassie, her name it was Nell;
Oh, high, wide and handsome, and just seventeen,
And she longed for a ride on my Threshing machine.

I can't remember where I learnt this version, but it is similar to the Rugby derivatives already quoted.

Were way down in Dorset or so I heard tell,
There live an old farmer with a daughter called Nell,
Her were wide fair and handsome and only seventeen,
And her long for a ride on my Threshing machine.


Well one summer evening in the merry month of June,
When most of the farmers were a looking at the moon,
I said "Come to the barn, Nell, where us won't be seen
And I'll show you the works of my threshing machine."

She opened the barn doors and there stood here dream,
She worked the throttle whilst I worked up steam,
'twer wond'rous to see both the thrust and the drive
And when her come out twas more dead than alive.

Well the flywheels and pistons were going around,
When out of the steam whistle cone an 'orrible sound;
I reached down me hand for to cut off the steam,
But the chaff had been blown from my threshing machine.

Well three months have passed and all is not well,
For something has happened to my little Nell
Under her apron can plainly be seen,
The results of her riding my threshing machine.

Well nine months has passed and all is now well,
A son has been born to my little Nell
And under his apron can plainly be seen
A brand new two cylinder threshing machine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 28 Jul 18 - 10:51 AM

Did I miss the correction of Adge Cutlers membership of the Yetties?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: EBarnacle
Date: 28 Jul 18 - 12:34 PM

That last looks like a merger of several variants.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: GUEST,John C. Bunnell
Date: 29 Jul 18 - 10:18 PM

This version come from Midwestern folk musician Michael "Moonwulf" Longcor, and can be found on any of several of his recordings for Firebird Arts & Music. Per Snuffy, above, the music is essentially "Sweet Betsy from Pike" (though the Longcor refrain differs slightly), whereas Longcor's lyrics are similar but not identical to those from EBarnacle above.

There is one thing I find curious about the EBarnacle/Longcor lyrics: the narrator evidently can't count to nine. June to February is *eight* months...unless you count from the very beginning of June to the very end of February, which seems a bit of a stretch, especially since one needs a June moon worth looking at to make the rendezvous work.

It was way down in Somerset, or so I hear tell,
There lived a young lassie, her name it were Nell;
She was high, wide and handsome, and just seventeen,
And she longed for a ride in me threshing machine.

REFRAIN
I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I-ay
I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I-ay
Oh, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I 'ad 'er, I-ay
I upped and I showed her the way.

It was early one evening in the merry month of June,
When all the young couples were out lookin' at the moon,
I says, "Come to the barn, love, where we won't be seen,
And I'll give you a ride in me threshing machine."

The pistons and the flywheels were all going 'round,
When out of the cylinder there came a great sound;
I put down my hand for to shut off the steam,
But the chaff had been blown from me threshing machine.

It was just nine months later, on a February morn,
That the pride of our Nelly, a baby was born;
And under his blanket could plainly be seen
A brand-new twin cylinder threshing machine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Thrashing Machine: 'I knew a farmer...'
From: Tradsinger
Date: 31 Jul 18 - 08:06 AM

I collected a nice version from a Gloucestershire gypsy. Faustus recorded it.

Tradsinger


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