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Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)

Related threads:
Chord Req: Adieu Adieu (5)
Lyr Req: Adieu, adieu (The Flash Lad) (12)
Lyr Req: Adieu, Adieu (3)

Dave Wynn 01 Oct 04 - 03:27 PM
MMario 01 Oct 04 - 03:52 PM
Dave Wynn 01 Oct 04 - 04:04 PM
MMario 01 Oct 04 - 04:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Oct 04 - 05:57 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Oct 04 - 08:52 AM
Dave Wynn 05 Oct 04 - 07:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Oct 04 - 08:31 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 May 05 - 03:26 PM
Pete_Standing 03 Jul 06 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,David Usher 21 Mar 21 - 01:42 AM
Gordon Jackson 21 Mar 21 - 06:48 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Mar 21 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Vic at home 21 Mar 21 - 08:00 PM
rich-joy 24 Mar 21 - 08:02 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 03:27 PM

I am trying to find a full and definitive version of a song that I know as Adieu Adieu. Fist lines are "Adieu adieu hard was my fate. I was brought up in a tender state. Bad company did me entice. I left off work and took bad advice" The refrain is just "willow day willow day".

I have used up my skills searching the digitrad and can't find it any pointers to a source or would be appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: MMario
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 03:52 PM

Flash lad?

several versions in the thread - including one whose chorus includes "well-a-day"

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 04:04 PM

Thanks MMario. Just what I needed. One question though , I searched for adieu , willow etc but got no hits....Why not when I searhed for adieu it should have found me the song I thought....

Thanks again


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: MMario
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 04:14 PM

well - the versions that you're looking for don't appear to be in the DT - and searching on 'adieu' brings up so MANY threads it's easy to overlook.

I searched on 'bad company did me entice'

I try to search using a phrase that:

a) has few if any alternate spellings

b) is as unique as possible (never search on "in my opnion" *grin*)

I tried searching on welladay - as I suspected that your "willow day" was actually the former. But since it is "well-a-day" in the thread that didn't bring it up either.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 05:57 PM

Those transcriptions in the other thread aren't very accurate, and neither credit traditional sources. The Watersons recorded an arrangement of the version published by W A Barrett in his English Folk Songs (1891); that's the "Welladay" one. They gave the details in the sleevenotes for their For Pence and Spicy Ale (original issue, 1975).

There are a couple of broadside editions featuring that refrain at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The flash lad ("Adieu, adieu, it was my fate ...")

Interestingly, from my point of view, the broadsides name a Jack Douglas as one of the narrator's accomplices.

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE FLASH LAD (from Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Oct 04 - 08:52 AM

From Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, Harding B 11(1226):


Adieu, adieu, it was my fate,
I was brought up in a tender state,
Until bad counsel did me entice,
To leave off work and follow vice.

CHORUS: Which makes me now to lament and say:
Pity the fall of young fellows all.
Well-a-day! Well-a-day!

At cups and cards I took great delight,
Singing in alehouses day and night.
A pretty girl was my chiefest joy.
I took delight as a roving boy.

At seventeen, I took a wife.
I loved her dearly as my life;
And to maintain her fine and gay,
I went to rob on the King's highway.

My father and my mother too
Told me such things would never do;
But I never minded what they did say,
But took my horse and rode away.

There's you and I and Jack Douglas both.
We were all sworn by a solemn oath
To go and rob on the King's highway.
The first we met was to be our prey.

When mounted on a milk-white steed,
I thought myself a flash lad indeed.
With my cock'd pistol and broad sword,
"Stand and deliver" was the word.

The first we met was a gentleman.
We rode up to him and bade him stand;
But in spite of all he could say or do,
We robbed him first and killed him too.

Before Judge Hale then I was brought.
Before Judge Hale then I was brought.
Says Henry Jones, "That will not do.
My iron chest you have broken through."

I never rob for any clothes.
I hate such trifling things as those.
I rob for gold and silver bright
For to maintain my heart's delight.

It's when you hear my death bell toll,
Pray God for mercy on my sinful soul;
And when they carry me to the grave,
A decent funeral let me have.

Let six young women bear up my pall.
Give them white gowns and ribbons all,
That they may say and speak the truth:
"There goes a wild and abandoned youth."

Let six highwaymen follow my pall.
Give them cocked pistols powder and ball
That they may fire over my grave,
And say, "Take warning, young fellows all."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 05 Oct 04 - 07:14 PM

Superb.Many thanks to all. I had a sneaking suspicion only that there were more verses than the versions I had got hold of (one from the Watersons , one (suprise) from Eliza Carthy and one from Martin Hall ex Jolly Jack). It "felt" like a longer song shortened for modern recording , rather like some of the versions of "Londons Ordinary" (another song that MMario found for me).

I am in your debt. Does anyone agree that dropping some verses from a long ballad should be very carefully thought about before doing. In some cases the shortened version becomes the definitive version because it's on popular distribution. While the original is still on manuscript it would be very easy to overlook. Indeed in this case I had nothing more than a suspicion more verses existed.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Oct 04 - 08:31 PM

The question there is how much of the song Barrett printed, really. He wasn't too specific about his sources (19th century editors rarely were) and, though it seems that his tunes came from oral currency, the words didn't necessarily always come from the same place. I only have photocopies of a few pages from the book, and not this particular song; but I'm going to guess that the Watersons didn't drop much, if any, of it.

The broadside text is longer, but benefits in some respects from the paring down that it seems to have had by the time it got to Barrett. The text Jim has transcribed is not the better of the two.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 May 05 - 03:26 PM

The subject came up on recently, and on looking into it more closely I rather think that the sleevenotes Bert Lloyd wrote for For Pence and Spicy Ale were wrong or misleading as to the Watersons' source for this song. It actually seems to have come from the Journal of the Folk-Song Society (vol VIII, issue 34, 1930, 190-1). Adieu! Adieu! Hard was my Fate was noted by the Hammond Brothers from Mrs Webb of King's Norton in 1906. Her words are almost exactly the same, and her tune has the same alternating 5/4 3/2 rhythm. The tune is only similar, but the Watersons often changed melodies considerably (they may have got the tune from Barrett, of course). The clincher would probably be the refrain, which the Hammonds wrote down as "Willow day".

The broadside song quoted above turns out to have been based on an earlier one, Devol's Last Farewell, which was issued by Bates of London in the late 17th or early 18th century. Much of the (basically, true) story and wording is retained, but the "hero" is no longer named, and elements of the more familiar Flash Lad songs have been introduced. Here it is, quoted from The Euing Collection of Broadside Ballads, University of Glasgow, 1971.

DEVOL's last Farewel : Containing an Account of many frolicksom Intreigues and notorious Robberies, which he committed : Concluding with his mournful Lamentation, on the Day of his Death.

To the Tune of, VPON THE CHANGE. Licens'd according to Order.

You bold undaunted Souls attend
To me, who did the Laws offend;
For now I come to let you know
What prov'd my fatal overthrow,
And brought my Glory to decay;
it was my Gang, for whom I hang,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

Unto a Duke I was a Page,
And succour'd in my tender Age,
Until the Devil did me intice,
To leave of Vertue, and follow Vice;
No sooner was I led astray,
but Wickedness, did me possess,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

If I my Crimes to mind shou'd call,
And lay them down before you all,
They would amount to such a Sum,
That there is few in Christendom,
So many wanton Pranks did play;
but now too late, I mourn my fate,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

Upon the Road, I do declare,
I caus'd some Lords and Ladies fair,
To quit their Coach, and dance with us;
This being done, the Case was thus,
They for their Musick needs must pay;
but now at last, those Joaks are past,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

Another time, I and my Gang,
We fell upon a Noble-man;
In spite of all that he could do,
We took his gold and silver too
And with the same we rid away;
but being took, for death I look,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

When I was mounted on my Steed,
I thought myself a Man indeed;
With Pistol cock'd and glittering Sword,
Stand and deliver, was the word,
Which makes me now to lament and say,
pity the Fall of great Devol,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

I did belong unto a Crew,
Of as swaggering Blades as ever drew,
Stout Witherington and Dowglis both,
We were all three engag'd by Oath,
Upon the Road to take our way;
but now Devol, must pay for all,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

Because I was a Frenchman born,
Some Persons treated me with scorn;
But being of a daring Soul,
Although my Deeds was something foul,
My gaudy Plumes I did display,
but now my Pride, is laid aside,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

I reign'd with an undaunted mind
Some years, but now at last I find,
The Pitcher that so often goes
Unto the Well, as Proverb shows,
Comes broken home at last we say;
for now I see, my Destiny,
Well-a-day, well-a-day.

Then being brought to Justice-hall,
Try'd and condemn'd before them all;
Where many noble Lords did come,
And Ladies for to hear my Doom,
Then Sentence pass'd, without delay,
the Halter fast, and Tybourn last,
In one Day, in one Day.

London: Printed for C. Bates, in Pye-c[orner].

The publisher's name and location place the broadside probably between 1685 and 1714, though Ebsworth (Bagford Ballads, 1878) goes for 1670; and it seems likely enough that the song was originally printed in that year.

The highwayman (Claud) Du Vall is historical, and had quite a reputation in his day. He was executed in January 1670. Since typing out the Euing text, I find the Bagford Ballads text transcribed at Gillian Spraggs' Outlaws and Highwaymen site, together with other material relating to Du Vall; including a Pindaric Ode written by Samuel Butler.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 03 Jul 06 - 10:15 AM

I've found the version which has similarities to that of the Watersons and Martin Simpson (as on his Kind Letters album) collected by the Hammond brothers from Mrs Webb of King's Norton in 1906.

Webbs Wonders

The tune is interesting and not the easiest to learn. No doubt someone will be able to say what mode or modes it encompasses.

The broadside versions mentioned above make interesting reading and fill in some details that makes the story a little more complete, but I undestand what Malcolm says when he says that it "benefitted from the paring down" - I guess that is what makes it an evolving tradition. From my part of view, as I would like to learn the song, I am tempted to take from any of these versions what I think makes a rounded song.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)
From: GUEST,David Usher
Date: 21 Mar 21 - 01:42 AM

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the name of this song. I recorded it at a barn concert at the Sidmouth festival in 1974. It was introduced as "Wild and Wicked Youth" or "Willow Day" with no reference to "The Flash Lad" All the performers at this small concert were top flight including some from Albion Morris.

My recording of this tune at the concert is on my shared server Here

Youtube has totally different melodies and lyrics for "The Flash Lad" and "Wild and Wicked Youth". None of those come remotely close to the lyrics of Willow Day as I know it. I suspect we have modern tunes of the same names drowning out the old names. I hate it when that happens.

As of 1974, the name of this tune was "Wild and Wicked Youth" or "Willow Day".   anything other than that is apparently wrong. That is what I am sticking with.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 21 Mar 21 - 06:48 AM

At the risk of stating the obvious, that is what the folk process is all about: change, evolution, call it what you will. It is to be embraced and celebrated. Otherwise, our living tradition of folksong will become like the rather more dead early music tradition, in which the songs and tunes are treated more like museum pieces (as interesting as this may be).

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Newlyn Town, recorded inter alia by Martin Carthy and myself, or the Irish Newry Town.

All of these various versions evolved from an original (perhaps The Flash Lad). However, the original version of a traditional song does not mean it's inherently better, just older.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Mar 21 - 03:51 PM

You have the confusing union of 2 ballads here, which is why we are left with the confusion overall. At some point c1800 some bright spark of a ballad writer decided to take 2 highwayman ballads, Devol and Wild and Wicked Youth and splice them together which is why we end up with some hybrids in oral tradition, generally using 2 separate tunes. The Flash Lad/Devol ballad is usually characterised by the 'well-a-day' chorus and the 'Wild and Wicked Youth' usually involves Fielding's Gang and Lord somebody or other which places it mid 18th century, whereas Devol is obviously much earlier.

This by the way is presumably the same 'Claude Duval', highwayman of our comics in the 50s.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)
From: GUEST,Vic at home
Date: 21 Mar 21 - 08:00 PM

Another thought to throw in to this discussion, we (Burdett, Simpson & Young - no longer singing together) always sang "Young fellons all, it seemed to make more sense. I loved that song!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willow day (Adieu Adieu)(Flash Lad)
From: rich-joy
Date: 24 Mar 21 - 08:02 PM

Years ago, I received a recording from Nic Caffrey, of "Flash Lad" by Th'Antiques Roadshow - which I loved!

Anyone know if they still perform??

Cheers, R-J

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