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Origins: Back and Sides Go Bare

DigiTrad:
BACK AND SIDE GO BARE
LET YOUR BACK AND SIDES GO BARE


John J 11 Dec 01 - 12:42 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Dec 01 - 02:53 PM
Herga Kitty 11 Dec 01 - 07:17 PM
Anglo 11 Dec 01 - 08:11 PM
Joe Offer 10 Dec 10 - 01:20 AM
The Doctor 10 Dec 10 - 05:31 AM
Brian Peters 10 Dec 10 - 06:00 AM
Jim Dixon 10 Dec 10 - 05:23 PM
Jim Dixon 10 Dec 10 - 06:21 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Dec 10 - 10:29 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Dec 10 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,Jon Bennett of Moonrakers 16 Nov 22 - 12:16 PM
John MacKenzie 16 Nov 22 - 03:39 PM
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Subject: Back and sides
From: John J
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 12:42 PM

There is a version of 'Back and Sides' listed in the DT,but it isn't the one I've heard. Does anyone know of any other versions?

Also there are two versions of 'A-begging I will go' listed, but again these aren't the ones I've heard. Does anyone know of any other versions?

Thanks loads,

John


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 02:53 PM

There are two sets of Back and Sides Go Bare in the DT; one from literary sources, the other from oral tradition.

LET YOUR BACK AND SIDES GO BARE  With tune; Dick Greenhaus comments, "Popularized, as far as I know, by RAF pilots in WWII".  The text is virtually the same as that noted by Cecil Sharp from Robert Parish of Exford, Somerset, in 1907, which he called The Beggar.  It's not impossible that that may have been the original source of the set in the DT, though if it was, the tune has been changed a fair bit.

BACK AND SIDE GO BARE  A book is cited as source, but no other information is given.  There is a reference, however, to JOHN DORY,   which is the tune used; that file refers to Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1859), which places Back and Sides (as I cannot eat but little meat) in the play Gammer Gurton's Needle (1575), though Chappell considered it older.  He quotes only four of eight verses; the DT file has all eight, but apparantly in the wrong order.  Chappell wrote:

"I CANNOT EAT BUT LITTLE MEAT.  This song was sung "in a right pithy, pleasant, and merry comedy," called Gammer Gurton's Needle, which was printed in 1575, but the Rev. Alex Dyce has given a copy of double length from a manuscript in his possession, and "certainly of an earlier date than the play."  It may be seen in his account of Skelton and his writings, vol. i., p.7...  Warton calls it "the first drinking song of any merit in our language."

The tune is printed in Stafford Smith's Musica Antiqua, and in Ritson's English Songs.  Ritson says: "Set, four parts in one, by Mr. Walker, before the year 1600."  And Smith, not knowing, I suppose, who Mr. Walker was, seems to have guessed Weelkes; but it is the old tune of John Dory in common time."

Claude M. Simpson (The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966) adds:

"The famous drinking song in William Stevenson's Gammer Gurton's Needle, I can not eate but lytle meate, has been set as a four-part round to a common-time version of John Dory, but on what authority remains a mystery."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 07:17 PM

John J

There was a thread going on this last month - Pills to Purge Melancholy, Bedlam Boys, Mad Tom of Bedlam etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides
From: Anglo
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 08:11 PM

"I cannot eat but little meat" is sung by Robin Dransfield on the "Tale of Ale" CD.

Since "Pills" was mentioned in this thread, I'll add the information that there's a recent reprint done by Higginson Books of Salem, MA. Not cheap, but it is at least available.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 01:20 AM

This is the song for December 10 in the Properganda Alternative Christmas Calendar. I see 12 entries in the Roud Index, and here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Jolly Good Ale and Old (Back and Sides Go Bare)

    DESCRIPTION: With chorus, "Back and sides go bare, go bare, Both hand and feet go cold...." The singer laments his sad state: "I cannot eat but little meat, My stomach is not good." He discusses his lack of clothing. But he, and his wife, revive for ale.
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1575 (Gammer Gurton's Needle)
    KEYWORDS: drink clothes hardtimes MiddleEnglish
    FOUND IN: Britain
    REFERENCES (14 citations):
    Sidgwick/Chambers-EarlyEnglishLyrics CXXXIII, pp, 229-231, "(no title)" (1 text)
    Shay-BarroomBallads/PiousFriendsDrunkenCompanions, pp. 43-44, "Back and Side Go Bare, Go Bare!" (1 text)
    HarvardClassics-EnglishPoetryChaucerToGray, pp. 190-192, "Jolly Good Ale and Old" (1 text)
    Chappell-PopularMusicOfTheOldenTime, pp. 72-73, "I Cannot Eat But Little Meat" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Chappell/Wooldridge-OldEnglishPopularMusic, p. 94, "(I cannot eat but lyttyl meat)" (1 tune, partial text, connected to "John Dory" [Child 284])
    Brown/Robbins-IndexOfMiddleEnglishVerse, #554.5
    DigitalIndexOfMiddleEnglishVerse #907
    DT BACK&SID*
    MANUSCRIPT: London, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Art Library Dyce 25.F.40 (MS Dyce 45),folios 23-25
    ADDITIONAL: (author unknown), edited by Charles Whitworth, _Gammer Gurton's Needle_, New Mermaids, 1984 (as part of _Three Sixteenth-Century Comedies_); second edition (separately published), W. W. Norton, 1997, pp. 17-18, "(no title)" (1 text)
    John Gassner, editor, _Medieval and Tudor Drama_, 1963, 1987 (references are to the undated Applause Books paperback), has Gammer Gurton's Needle on pp. 346-402; this song, which opens Act II, is on pp. 356-357.
    Norman Ault, _Elizabethan Lyrics From the Original Texts_, pp. 41-42, "Of Jolly Good Ale and Old" (1 text)
    Reginald Nettel, _Seven Centuries of Popular Song_, Phoenix House, 1956, pp. 49-50, "(no title)" (1 text)
    MANUSCRIPT: Source: London, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Art Library MS. Dyce 25.F.40 (Dyce 45), folio 23

    Roud #V7039
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Let the Back and Sides Go Bare" (chorus)
    NOTES [889 words]: The books which print this often give very confusing notes about its origins. The earlier Ballad Index notes followed this in error.
    The basic fact is this:
    The earliest surviving printing is in Gammer Gurton's Needle, which was printed by Thomas Colwell in 1575. There is a facsimile on p. 1 of GammerGurtonsNeedle/Whitworth. The play is attributed only to "Mr. S., Master of Arts."
    In Gammer Gurton's Needle, at least as we have it, the song appears at the very beginning of Act II, with the prefatory note, "First a Song." (GammerGurtonsNeedle/Whitworth, pp. 17-18). No singer is indicated; it's just dropped into the middle of the text. There are four stanzas and chorus, and the singer's wife is named "Tib" in the third verse -- significant, because Tib is a character in the play, being the maid to Gammer Gurton.
    Which would seem straightforward enough -- except that, in 1562/1563, Thomas Colwell was licensed to print a piece, "Dyccon of Bedlam" (GammerGurtonsNeedle/Whitworth:, pp. xi-xii). The main character in Gammer Gurton's Needle is "Diccon, the Bedlam." Thus it is almost certain that this 1562 entry is for an earlier version of Gammer Gurton's Needle. Whether it was never printed, or all copies have been lost, we do not know; all we can say is that no copy of an earlier edition survives. (Colwell doesn't seem to have been a very noteworthy printer; none of my histories of printing mention him. It is not a good piece of typesetting, and uses mostly very primitive typefaces; I would easily have believed it to be fifty or more years older than it was)
    The play Gammer Gurton's Needle has been attributed to William Stevenson, and hence he is sometimes listed as the author of the song. The STC, for instance (#23263, p. 541), attributes the play to him. But this is only a chain of inference. To repeat, the play is attributed only to "Mr. S." The title page also says that the drama was played "not longe ago in Christes College." So scholars went searching for a "Mr. S." who was at Christ's College, Cambridge at the appropriate time. Henry Bradley found that a "Sir Stevenson" was a producer of plays at the college in 1559/1560. He was a Bachelor of Arts in 1550-1553, and a Master of Arts in 1559/1560 (he was likely away from the college during Mary Tudor's reign, 1553-1558). He left the college in 1561 to take a prebend at Durham Cathedral, and died in 1575 (GammerGurtonsNeedle/Whitworth, pp. xii-xiii).
    Thus Stevenson is by far the best candidate for the person responsible for presenting the play (so, e.g., Garnett/Gosse, volume II, p. 163, though they also mention attributions to John Bridges, bishop of Oxford from 1603 (died 1618) and to John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1593 (died 1608); on p. 153 they quote two stanzas and declare the attribution to Still "not likely").
    But certain cautions are indicated even for the attribution to Stevenson. First, we have to assume that Gammer Gurton's Needle is indeed the same as Dyccon of Bedlam and that the statement that the play was recently presented goes back to the vanished printing of the latter play, because Stevenson couldn't have presented anything at Christ's College any time close to 1575! This is a reasonable but not certain assumption. Second, it assumes that Stevenson was author as well as presenter of the play, for which we have no evidence at all -- the STC shows no works by Stevenson except this. The bottom line is, Stevenson is the only reasonable candidate we have, but we cannot prove that he was the author. And even if he wrote Gammer Gurton's Needle, that's not proof that he wrote this song.
    That's particularly true because there are variant forms. The four verse version of Gammer Gurton's Needle is also that of Ault and Nettel. But the version in the Sidgwick/Chambers-EarlyEnglishLyrics and HarvardClassics-EnglishPoetryChaucerToGray has eight stanzas and gives the wife's name as Kit. It appears this is the version from the Dyce manuscript, which Alexander Dyce published in his 1843 volume The Poetical Works of John Skelton (died 1529). It does not appear that the poem itself is by Skelton. Its inclusion in the Dyce manuscript is rather odd, since most of the other material in the manuscript is religious. No one seems to have a date for the manuscript, but the fact that the Digital Index of Middle English Verse includes the song implies that they think it earlier than 1500. All of this is sufficiently speculative that I've stuck with 1575 as the "Earliest Date."
    At least the song is relatively relevant to Gammer Gurton's Needle; the plot of the play revolves the loss of the needle, which is needed to sew up the clothes of Gammer Gurton's servant Hodge; if the needle is not found, Hodge will soon find that his back and sides will be bare!
    Thomas, p. 9, says there are "numerous references to an early inclusion of certain" nursery rhymes in Gammer Gurton's Needle, nursery rhymes that she herself admits are not in the printed text. But she does not document the source that claims the rhymes were in Gammer Gurton's Needle.
    The "back and sides go bare" chorus seems to have been quite popular; in this index, see also "Let the Back and Sides Go Bare." Granger's Index to Poetry, if I read it right, cites six different poems with this first line. - RBW
    Bibliography
    • GammerGurtonsNeedle/Whitworth: (author unknown), edited by Charles Whitworth, Gammer Gurton's Needle, New Mermaids, 1984 (as part of Three Sixteenth-Century Comedies); second edition (separately published), W. W. Norton, 1997
    • Garnett/Gosse: Richard Garnett and Edmund Gosse, English Literature: An Illustrated Record four volumes, MacMillan, 1903-1904 (I used the 1935 edition published in two volumes)
    • STC: A. W. Pollard, G. R. Redgrave, et al, A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland & Ireland And of English Books Printed Abroad 1475-1640, The Bibliographical Society [of London], 1963
    • Thomas: Katherine Elwes Thomas, The Real Personages of Mother Goose, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1930
    Last updated in version 6.2
    File: DTbcksid

    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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Here's the first Digital Tradition version:

BACK AND SIDE GO BARE (DT Lyrics)
Early English Lyrics
(Chambers & Sedgewick; October House)

cho. Back and side go bare, go bare
Both hand and foot go cold,
But belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Whether it be new or old!

But if that I may have truly
Good Ale my belly full,
I shall look like one, by sweet Saint John,
Were shorn against the wool.
Though I go bare, take ye no care
I am nothing cold;
I stuff my skin so full within
Of jolly good ale and old.

I cannot eat but little meat,
My stomach is not good;
But sure I think that I could drink
With him that weareth an hood.
Drink is my life; Although my wife
Some time do chide and scold.
Yet spare I not to ply the pot
Of jolly etc.

I love no roast but a brown toast,
Or a crab in the fire.
A little bread will do me stead,
Much bread I never desire.
Nor frost, nor snow nor wind, I trow
Can hurt me if it wold,
When I am wrapped within and lapped
With jolly etc.

I care right nought, I take no thought
For clothes to keep me warm;
Have I good drink, I surely think
Nothing can do me harm.
For truly than I fear no man,
Be he never so bold,
When I am armed and thoroughly warmed
With jolly etc.

But now and then I curse and ban
They make their ale so small.
God give them care and evil to fare
They stry the malt and all. (stry=destroy)
Such peevish pew, I tell you true
Not for a crown of gold
There cometh one sip within my lip
Whether it be new or old.

Good ale and strong maketh me among
Full jocund and full light,
That oft I sleep and take no keep
From morning until night.
Then start I up and flee to the cup
The right way on I hold;
My thirst to staunch, I fill my paunch
With jolly etc.

And Kit, my wife, that as her life
Loveth well good ale to seek,
Full oft drinketh she, that ye may see
The tears run down her cheek.
Than doth she troll to me the bowl
As a good malt-worm should
And say:"Sweetheart, I have take my part
Of jolly etc."

They that do drink till they nod and wink
Even as good fellows should do,
They shall not miss to have the bliss
That good ale hath brought them to.
And all poor souls that scour black bowls
And them hath lustily trolled
God save the lives of them and their wives
Whether they be young or old!

filename[ BACK&SID
TUNE FILE: JOHNDORY
CLICK TO PLAY
(see note on ÿJOHNDORY)
@drink
RG

Popup Midi Player




And the second:

LET YOUR BACK AND SIDES GO BARE (DT Lyrics)

I would sooner be a beggar as a king
I'll tell you the reason why:
A king cannot swagger or walk like a beggar
Or be half so happy as I.

cho: Let your back and sides go bare, me boys
Hands and feet grow cold.
But give to your belly, boys, ale enough
Whether it be new or old.

I've sixpence in me pocket and I worked hard for that
Landlord, here it is.
There isn't any Turk going to make me work
While the beggin' is as good as it is.

Sometimes we call at a nobleman's hall
Beg for bread and beer.
Sometimes we are lame, sometimes we are blind
Sometimes too deaf too hear.

Sometimes we lie like hogs in a sty,
Frost and snow on the ground.
Sometimes eat a crust that's rolled in the dust
And be thankful if that can be found.

Recorded by David Jones- Cruisin' Round Yarmouth
Popularized, as far as I know, by RAF pilots in WWII-RG
See also BACK&SID
@drink @beggar
filename[ BCK&SID2
TUNE FILE: BCK&SID2
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

Popup Midi Player





See the comments by Malcolm Douglas above for information about the sources of these DT lyrics. https://mudcat.org/detail.cfm?messages__Message_ID=607907


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides go bare
From: The Doctor
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 05:31 AM

There is a fine version of this song, under the title 'The Beggar', on Dave Burland's first LP 'The Dalesman's Litany'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides go bare
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 06:00 AM

Roy Harris did a great version of the Sharp 'Beggars Song' on the 'Champions of Folly' LP. A. L. Lloyd's sleeve notes state that additional verses were added from a version collected in Devon by Baring-Gould. And Harry Boardman used to sing 'Jolly Good Ale and Old'.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BACK AND SIDES GO BARE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 05:23 PM

From Wit Restor'd (London: R. Pollard, N. Brooks, and T. Dring, 1658), page 277.

Note: Wit Restor'd seems to be one of three reprinted works bound together in one volume. The title page for Wit Restor'd is on page 102 of this volume.

The volume as a whole seems to be called Facetiae and the 3 parts of it are called Musarum Delicae, Wit Restor'd, and Wit's Recreations. The publication date on the title page for Facetiae is 1817.


AN OLD SONG.

Back and sides go bare, go bare,
And feet and hands go cold,
But let my belly have ale enough
Whether it be new or old,
    Whether it be new or old,
    Boyes, whether it be new or old :
But let my belly have ale enough,
Whether it be new or old.


A beggar's a thing as good as a king,
If you aske me the reason why
For a king cannot swagger
And drink like a beggar
No king so happy as I:

Some call me knave and rascall slave,
But I know, how to collogue
Come upon um, and upon 'um;
Will your worships and honour um,
Then I am an honest rogue, then I
Come upon um, and upon 'um will your worships:

If a fart flye away where he makes his stay,
Can any man think or suppose?
For a fart cannot tell, when its out where to dwell,
    Unlesse it be in your nose,
    Unlesse it be in your nose boyes,
    Unlesse it be in your nose.

For a fart cannot tell, when its out where to dwell,
    Unlesse it be in your nose.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BACK AND SIDE GO BARE (Gammer Gurton's...
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 06:21 PM

From Gammer Gurton's Needle (Forgotten Books), page 14:

[The original was produced as a play around 1553 and first printed in 1575. This edition from 1906 seems to have had its spelling modernized.]


CHORUS: Back and side go bare,
Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Whether it be new or old.

1. I cannot eat but little meat.
My stomach is not good;
But sure I think that I can drink
With him that wear a hood.
Though I go bare, take ye no care;
I am nothing a-cold;
I stuff my skin so full within
Of jolly good ale and old.

2. I love no roast but a nut-brown toast
And a crab laid in the fire.
A little bread shall do me stead;
Much bread I not desire.
No frost or snow, no wind, I trow,
Can hurt me if I would;
I am so wrapt, and thoroughly lapt
Of jolly good ale and old.

3. And Tib, my wife, that as her life
Loveth well good ale to seek,
Full oft drinks she till ye may see
The tears run down her cheek;
Then doth she trowl to me the bowl,
Even as a malt-worm should;
And saith, sweet heart, I took my part
Of this jolly good ale and old.

4. Now let them drink till they nod and wink,
Even as good fellows should do;
They shall not miss to have the bliss
Good ale doth bring men to;
And all poor souls that have scoured bowls,
Or have them lustily troll'd,
God save the lives of them and their wives,
Whether they be young or old.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BACK AND SIDE GO BARE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 10:29 PM

This version is of interest because it has the original spelling, as well as more verses than the last version.

From The Poetical Works of John Skelton, Volume 1 edited by Alexander Dyce (London: Thomas Rodd, 1843), page vii:

I [Alexander Dyce] take the present opportunity of giving from a MS. in my possession a much fuller copy than has hitherto appeared of the celebrated song which opens the second act of Gammer Gurtons Nedle, and which Warton calls "the first chanson à boire or drinking-ballad, of any merit, in our language." Hist. of E. P. iii. 206. ed. 4to. The comedy was first printed in 1575: the manuscript copy of the song, as follows, is certainly of an earlier date:

[CHORUS] backe & syde goo bare goo bare
bothe hande & fote goo colde
but belly god sende the good ale inowghe
whether hyt be newe or olde.

[1] but yf that I
maye have trwly
goode ale my belly full
I shall looke lyke one
by swete sainte Johnn
were shoron agaynste the woole
thowthe I goo bare
take yow no care
I am nothynge colde
I stuffe my skynne
so full within
of joly goode ale & olde.

[2] I cannot eate
but lytyll meate
my stomacke ys not goode
but sure I thyncke
that I cowde dryncke
with hym that werythe an hoode
dryncke ys my lyfe
althowgthe my wyfe
some tyme do chyde & scolde
yete spare I not
to plye the potte
of joly goode ale & olde.

[3] I love noo roste
but a browne toste
or a crabbe in the fyer
a lytyll breade
shall do me steade
mooche breade I neuer desyer
Nor froste nor snowe
Nor wynde I trow
Canne hurte me yf hyt wolde
I am so wrapped
within & lapped
with joly goode ale & olde.

[4] I care ryte nowghte
I take no thowte
for clothes to kepe me warme
have I goode dryncke
I surely thyncke
nothynge canne do me harme
for trwly than
I feare noman
be he neuer so bolde
when I am armed
& throwly warmed
with joly good ale & olde.

[5] but nowe & than
I curse & banne
they make ther ale so small
god geve them care
& evill to faare
they strye the malte & all
sooche pevisshe pewe
I tell yowe trwe
not for a c[r]ovne of golde
ther commethe one syppe
within my lyppe
whether hyt be newe or olde.

[6] good ale & stronge
makethe me amonge
full joconde & full lyte
that ofte I slepe
& take no kepe
frome mornynge vntyll nyte
then starte I vppe
& fle to the cuppe
the ryte waye on I holde
my thurste to staunche
I fyll my paynche
with joly goode ale & olde.

[7] and kytte my wyfe
that as her lyfe
lovethe well good ale to seke
fall ofte drynkythe she
that ye maye se
the tears ronne downe her cheke
then dothe she troule
to me the bolle
as a goode malte worme sholde
& saye swete harte
I have take my parte
of joly goode ale & olde.

[8] They that do dryncke
tyll they nodde & wyncke
even as good fellowes shulde do
they shall notte mysse
to have the blysse
that good ale hathe browghte them to
& all poore soules
that skowre blacke bolles
& them hathe lustely trowlde
god save the lyves
Of them & ther wyves
wether they be yonge or olde.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Back and sides go bare
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 10:31 PM

Musical notation for one voice and piano for BACK AND SIDES GO BARE (but here titled I CANNOT EATE BUT LYTYLL MEATE) can be seen in The McGill University Song Book, Volume 1 by Students' Council, (Montreal: McGill University, 1921), page 150. It has the notation "Arr. by W. H. M."


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Subject: ADD Version: Back and Sides Go Bare
From: GUEST,Jon Bennett of Moonrakers
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 12:16 PM

The version we sing may be a hybrid, though it has the merit of being in more modern English that most will understand. We tend to sing this outside during the Winter Wassail since begging songs and ale are par for the course.

BACK AND SIDES GO BARE

I would sooner be a beggar than a king
I’ll tell you the reason why:
A king cannot swagger or walk like a beggar
Or be half so happy as I.
   Let your back and sides go bare, me boys
   Your hands and your feet grow cold.
   But give to your belly, boys, (*!) beer enough
   Whether it be new or old.
   Whether it be new or old
I’ve sixpence sitting in me pocket,
And I begged very hard for that
There isn’t anybody who can offer me work
While I hold out my begging hat.

Now there’s a nobleman’s hall
We can beg for bread and beer.
We’ll pretend to be lame, or pretend to be blind
Or much too deaf too hear.

We can lie like hogs in a sty
Frost and snow on the ground
We’ll eat a crust that’s rolled in the dust
And be thankful for what we found.


I added the title. I hope it's right. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Back and Sides Go Bare
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 03:39 PM

My britches they are no but holes but my heart is free of care
As long as I've my belly full my backside can go bare
And a-beggin' I will go
And a-beggin' I will go


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