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Origins: Early, Early in the Spring

DigiTrad:
I WAS FORCED ON BOARD TO SERVE MY KING
THE TRAIL TO MEXICO


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Trail to Mexico (Jules Allen) (8)


harpgirl 18 Jul 03 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,Q 19 Jul 03 - 12:40 AM
Malcolm Douglas 19 Jul 03 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Guest 19 Jul 03 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Q 20 Jul 03 - 02:02 PM
Dave Ruch 18 Sep 05 - 02:07 AM
Dave Ruch 18 Sep 05 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 19 Sep 05 - 01:00 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jan 11 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,SteveG 12 Jan 11 - 03:07 PM
Joe Offer 13 Jan 11 - 12:59 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Jan 11 - 05:24 PM
JWB 13 Jan 11 - 09:20 PM
DebC 14 Jan 11 - 08:27 AM
Steve Gardham 14 Jan 11 - 03:00 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jan 11 - 08:40 PM
JWB 14 Jan 11 - 09:19 PM
critti 06 May 11 - 09:22 PM
critti 06 May 11 - 09:24 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Early in The Spring
From: harpgirl
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 10:31 PM

Early in The Spring
^^
Text secured by Miss Lois Womble, Water Valley, from Miss Mamie Poindexter, Pine Valley Calhoun County.

AP Hudson, 1936 Folksongs of Mississippi

EARLY IN THE SPRING

Early, early in the spring
I was cast on board to serve my king,
Leaving my dearest dear behind,
Who often told me that her heart was mine.

As I was sailing on the sea,
I had an opportunity
Of writings letters to my dear,
But not one word from her could I hear.

I rode till I came to her father's hall
And for my love began to call.
Her father made me this reply:
"Begone youn man, she has you denied.

"She has married at my command,
And to a very wealthy man.
She is married now on terms of life;
Therefore, young man, seek another wife."

"O, if I could not my love obtain,
I'd still keep sailing o'er the main;
I'd ride the waves until I die
I'd sweep the decks where the bullets fly."

"Come back, come back, young man," she cried;
"There's plenty of fairer girls than I.
There's plenty of gold and silver too.
Pray, Willie don't go where they'll shoot you".

"Curse all gold and silver too
And all false lovers who won't prove true.
The vows and promises they make,
Then break them all for another's sake."

"Oh, if you've wrote letters to this town,
I will declare I never got one!
If faults be great, tis none of mine;
So don't blame a poor woman kind."

As he was walking along the street,
A letter he found beneath his feet,
And on the bottom these words were wrote-
Love seldom seen is soon forgot."


I first heard this song sung in a different version by Judy Collins on 'Folksong 65.' I've always liked it and we don't seem to have a discussion of variants.


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Subject: Lyr Add: I WAS FORCED ON BOARD TO SERVE MY KING
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 12:40 AM

"One Fine Morning Early in Spring" was posted by Snuffy, with midi, 24 Sept 00, thread 25759: Early in Spring
There are comments by Malcolm Douglas.
A brief version is in the DT, "So Early in the Spring."

California Gold: Northern California Music From the Thirties, has the song by Ben Rice, Springfield, MO, with the title "I Was Forced On Board To Serve my King."

I WAS FORCED ON BOARD TO SERVE MY KING^^

Early, early in the spring,
I was forced on board to serve my king
A-leaving of my dear behind
Who loved and set her heart towards mine.

As she lay smiling in my arms
I thought she had ten thousand charms
[She welcomes a man] With compliments and kisses sweet
Saying: We'll get married next time we meet.

As I went sailing over the sea
I took an opportunity
I wrote a letter to the dearest dear
But nothing from her could I hear.

I went unto her father's hall
And for my dearest love did call,
He answered me in this reply,
"My daughter is married and you must be denied."

O then I asked him what did he mean,
He answered me all in her name,
"My daughter married for a richer life,
She's left you to choose another wife."

O now I've lost my golden crown,
I'll roam the sea all around and around,
I'll seek a deck where the bullets fly,
I'll roam the sea till the day I die.

"O Willie dear, do stay on shore,
Don't roam the raging sea any more,
There is girls in the town that is fair as I,
Don't go where the waves and the bullets fly.

I'll go where the drum and the fife does play
It never ceasing night nor day,
I'd rather be on the raging sea
Than to be in a false girl's company.

O cursed is gold and silver too,
And all fair maids who won't prove true,
For with* their own dear promises break,
And marry another for riches sake.
*(and that their own...)

Ben Rice, Springfield, MO, 1937, American Memory, California Gold: Northern California Folk Music From the Thirties. Compiled from two takes.
The collection contains many songs from migrants who moved west during the dirty thirties.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Early in The Spring
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 11:30 AM

Roud 152, Laws M1

Found most widely in the USA and Canada. Roy Palmer (Boxing the Compass, 2001, pp 106-7) prints a text from Logan's Pedlar's Pack of 1869, The Disappointed Sailor, in which the ship's destination is Cartagena (1741) and adds that this in turn was based on the late 17th century Seaman's Complaint for his Unkind Mistress, of Wapping. In America, the hero has sometimes become a cowboy instead, and The Trail To Mexico (Roud 152, Laws B13) seems to have been based upon this song. Overlaps with The Sailor's Life (as in the example referred to above, posted by Snuffy) seem not uncommon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Early in The Spring
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 06:59 PM

"The Sailor's Complaint for his Unkind Mistress of Wapping" is ZN2863 in the broadside ballad index at www.erols.com/olsonw. A sequel to the ballad, her answer, is ZN1423.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE TRAIL TO MEXICO
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 02:02 PM

"The Trail to Mexico" is a closely related descendant (a version in DT) as pointed out by Malcolm Douglas. Some versions are very close to "Early in the Spring," but this one is more in the western idiom.

THE TRAIL TO MEXICO

I made up my mind in the early day
To quit my crowd that was so gay,
To leave my native home for a while,
To travel west for many a mile.

'Twas in the year of '83
That A. J. Simpson hired me;
He said, "Young fellow, I want you to go
And follow my cattle into Mexico."

He gave me a horse and a pack sack too,
With an old tin can and a big bed roll.
We throwed them dogies out on the trail
And we headed them west into Mexico.

We rode the trail where the bullets flew,
Where Indians many and cowboys few.
We fought our way everywhere we'd go
As we pushed that herd into Mexico.

I wrote a letter to the girl I love,
I said, "I'm true as the stars above."
She said, "I've found me a richer love,
You can follow them cattle into Mexico."

I wrote a letter and this I said,
"You've got you a millionaire instead-
It's curse your gold and your silver too,
God pity a girl that van't prove true!

"I'll shoot my way to the western trail
Where the Indian bullets fall like hail,
I'll live my life where the dogies go
From old Fort Worth into Mexico."

The days were hot and the nights were cold,
As the dogies cried and the longhorns lowed,
'Twas a long and a lonesome go
From Abilene into Mexico.

I'll get me a girl at the end of the trail,
A cow girl's love will never fail,
You cannot buy her heart for gold
On the sun-baked prairies of Mexico.

Library Congress, Woody Guthrie Manuscripts, quoted in Fife and Fife, Cowboy and Western Songs, 1969 (1982), pp. 179-182, versions A-E with music. Text E, "Going to Leave Old Texas Now," has lyrics unrelated to the rest.
By 1883, the only human problems in this area were rustlers and a few thieves. The bullets reflect the shot and shell of older versions from UK. The western song first appeared in John A. Lomax, Cowboy Songs, 1910, with no notes.

Other versions preserve lines like "don't go where the bullets fly, curse all the gold and the silver too, married a richer life," etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Early in The Spring
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 02:07 AM

George Edwards, traditional singer from the Catskill Mts (NY) sang a version of this. I'll try to post it in the next few days.


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Subject: Lyr Add: EARLY EARLY IN THE SPRING
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 01:32 PM

Here is George Edwards' version, sung in 1940 near Curry NY:

EARLY EARLY IN THE SPRING

'Twas early early in the spring
I went on board to serve my king
I left my dear O dear behind
Who often times told me her heart was mine

A writing letters to my dear
But not one word from her could hear
Till I arrived at her fathers hall
So loud, so loud for her did call

Her father took me all in surprise
Telling me what I thought was lies
He filled my heart with grief and shame
Says "Go back young man from whence you came"

"My daughter's married oh don't you know
My daughter's married long time ago
My daughter is married in the prime of life
Go back young man seek you another wife"

Curse be all gold and silver too
Curse be the girl that won't prove true
I want no more of the female kind
Since the heart proved false that I thought was mine

"If you brought letters in this town
If you brought letters I got none
Don't prove so cruel to the female kind
It was father's fault it was none of mine"

"I love my father, I love my mother
I love my sister likewise my brother
I love my friends and relations too
But I'll leave them all and go with you"

Oh no, Miss Mary, such a thing can't be
If you are married think no more of me
I want no more of the female kind
Since the heart's proved false that I thought was mine

Now since I've lost the golden crown
I will sail the seas all round and round
I will sail the seas till the day I die
And split the waves where the bullets fly


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Early in The Spring
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 01:00 PM

I always sang:

I'll go out west where the bullets fly,
Trap the Rocky Mountains 'til the day I die.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Early in the Spring
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jan 11 - 04:05 PM

Looks like we need to do some work to sort out which songs are which. Is The True Lovers' Departure a version of this song? How about The Trail To Mexico? I Was Forced on Board to Serve the King is surely a version of this song...or is it?

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Early, Early in the Spring [Laws M1]

    DESCRIPTION: The singer is (pressed and) sent to sea. (He writes to his true love, but her father withholds the letters.) When he returns, her father tells him she has wed another. He accuses her of unfaithfulness and swears to spend the rest of his life at sea
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1869 (Logan; broadside version appears to date to the seventeenth century)
    KEYWORDS: separation courting love poverty sailor pressgang
    FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So) Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) Canada (Mar,Newf) Ireland
    REFERENCES (24 citations):
    Laws M1, "Early, Early in the Spring"
    Logan, pp. 28-30, "The Disappointed Sailor" (1 text)
    Greig #128, p. 1, "Early in the Spring" (1 text)
    GreigDuncan1 51, "The Sailor Deceived" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
    Belden, pp. 163-164, "Early, Early in the Spring" (2 texts)
    Randolph 81, "Early, Early in the Spring" (4 texts plus an excerpt, 2 tunes)
    Randolph/Cohen, pp. 77-80, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 81D)
    McNeil-SFB1, pp. 144-145, "The Disappointed Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
    BrownII 87, "Early, Early in the Spring" (2 texts plus 1 excerpt)
    Hudson 41, pp. 155-156, "Early in the Spring" (1 text)
    MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 144-146, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text)
    Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 328-331, "Early, Early in the Spring" (3 texts, the third very short; 2 texts on p. 444)
    SharpAp 125, "Early, Early in the Spring" (5 texts, 5 tunes)
    Creighton/Senior, pp. 154-155, "Early Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Creighton-Maritime, p. 98, "Early Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Peacock, pp. 549-550, "The Letters of Love" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Karpeles-Newfoundland 63, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Fife-Cowboy/West 66, "The Trail to Mexico" (5 texts, 1 tune, of which only the "C" and "D" texts go here; "A" and "B" are "The Trail to Mexico" and "E" is "Going to Leave Old Texas")
    JHCox 111, "Early in the Spring" (3 texts plus mention of 1 more)
    JHCoxIIA, #18, pp. 79-80, "'Twas Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Cambiaire, pp. 55-56, "Early, Early in the Spring (The Girl I Left Behind)" (1 text)
    BBI, ZN2863, "When I went early in the Spring"; cf. ZN1423, "In e'ery street I hear 'em sing"
    DT 429, EARLYSPR*
    ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 22, #5 (1973), p, 19, "Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune, ending with a suicide; the version was collected in Pennsylvania by Sam Bayard though the informant's name was not recorded)

    Roud #152
    RECORDINGS:
    Robert Cinnamond, "Early, Early, All In the Spring" (on Voice15, IRRCinnamond03)
    Margaret Dirrane, "'Twas Early, Early in the Spring" (on Aran1)
    Sam Hazel, "Early, Early in the Spring" (AFS 3095 A2, 3095 B1, 1939)

    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Trail to Mexico" [Laws B13] (plot)
    NOTES: Several texts of this song, including Belden's "B" and one found by Lomax, convert the sailor to a cowboy. It is quite likely that this is a deliberate recension, and so perhaps worthy of separate listing. But Laws does not distinguish the versions, so we don't either. But cf. "The Trail to Mexico" [Laws B13]. - RBW
    Last updated in version 2.4
    File: LM01

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2010 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early in the Spring
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 03:07 PM

Joe, I'm sure you'll be aware of the Roud indexes. If they all have the same Roud number it's a pretty good bet they all ought to be counted as the same song. We're just working on all the 'Unfortunate Rake'/'Streets of Laredo'/'St James Infirmary' family at the moment to see if any of them need separate Roud numbers. If you feel there is a problem with this song we can have a look at it if you wish.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early in the Spring
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 12:59 AM

Hi, Steve-
Yes, the Roud Index has 154 entries for this song, Roud Number 152. That's a lot of songs to study. It will be interesting to see what we can come up with.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 05:24 PM

Okay, Joe, I've had time to check my indexes. I had already done an in-depth study some years ago before working on the Roud Index and it was obvious then that despite the appearance of a few stanzas of 'Early Early' in 'Trail to Mexico' the latter had enough autonomy of its own to be considered a separate song. There are plenty of American versions of 'Early Early' and some of these have developed their own stanzas, but none of these new stanzas coincide with 'Trail' versions. I have recommended to Steve we give 'Trail' a new number, and if he agrees I will let you know the outcome.


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Subject: ADD Version: Early in the Spring
From: JWB
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 09:20 PM

In hopes that this thread attains comprehensiveness, here is the version Judy Collins recorded (referenced in message above dated 18 Jul 03 - 10:31 PM). This is from memory, not from the LP itself.

EARLY IN THE SPRING

So early early in the Spring
I shipped on board to serve my king.
I left my dearest dear behind;
She ofttimes swore her love was mine.

And all the time that I sailed the seas
I could not find a moment's ease
In thinking of my dearest dear,
And never a word from her did I hear.

At last we sailed into Glasgow town.
I strode the streets both up and down
Inquiring of my dearest dear,
But never a word of her did I hear.

I went straightway to her father's hall
And loudly for my love did call.
"My daughter's married, she's a rich man's wife,
She's wed to another much better, for life."

Since the girl is married that I adore
I'm sure I'll stay on land no more.
I'll sail the seas 'til the day I die;
I'll break the waves rolling mountains high.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: DebC
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 08:27 AM

Jerry-this is also the version that Jacqui McShee sings on the Pentangle album "Sweet Child". Verbatim. And John Renbourn sings this version as well on one of the later CDs post-Pentangle (I am too lazy to look it

And thanks for providing the last line of the song. I could never make it out from the recording :-).

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 03:00 PM

What I should perhaps have mentioned earlier is that there are broadside versions going back to c1680 'The Seaman's Complaint' with 14 stanzas is in Roxburghe and Pepys. Then there's the 10 stanza version in Ashton's Real Sailor Songs 'The Sailor Deceived' printed by Bloomer of Birmingham in the early 19thc. Logan's 'Pedlar's Pack' has an 11 stanza version c1745 titled 'The Disappointed Sailor'.
The Madden Collection has a broadside without imprint containing the first and fifth stanzas of the general stock followed by 5 new stanzas, titled 'The True-hearted Sailor'.

English oral versions tend to be somewhat fragmentary in comparison with these. Scots and American versions have fared a little better averaging out at about 9 stanzas.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 08:40 PM

Hi, Steve-
I think that's what's makes me uneasy, the connection between "Early, Early in the Spring" and "The Trail to Mexico." Yes, they're related, but can you really say they're the same song? I think that's a flaw in both Roud and the Traditional Ballad Index - there's no accommodation for songs that are somewhat related, but that need to be classed as a separate song. Both indexes seem to have an "all or nothing at all" policy.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: JWB
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 09:19 PM

So, Deb, did Pentangle pinch the song off Judy's album, or did they both use the same source?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: critti
Date: 06 May 11 - 09:22 PM

I think you're missing the second verse:

My love she takes me by the hand
If ever I marry, you'll be the man
A thousand vows, so long and sweet
Saying, "We'll be married when next we meet."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Early, Early in the Spring
From: critti
Date: 06 May 11 - 09:24 PM

Sorry - I failed to say this second verse is from the Judy Collins version.


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