click to play

All round my hat, I will wear the green willow,
All round my hat for a twelvemonth and a day:
If anybody asks me the reason why I wear it,
Its all because my true love is far, far away.

My love she was fair, and my love she was kind, too,
And many were the happy hours between my love and me;
I never could refuse her whatever she'd a mind to,
But now she's far away, far across the stormy sea.

O will my love be true, and will my love be faithful?
Or will she find another swain to court her where she's gone?
The men will all run after her, so pretty and so graceful,
And perhaps she may forget me, lamenting all alone.

So all round my hat I will wear a green willow,
All round my hat for a twelvemonth and a day:
And if anybody asks me the reason why I wear it.
Its all because my true love is far, far away.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Baring-Gould, S, and Fleetwood Sheppard, H,A Garland of Country Song,London,1895

Fleetwood Sheppard wrote:

This song is given from my own recollection of it sixty years ago [c 1830 - DMG] when it was more popular; it was the delight - the ecstasy of the London street-boy. I doubt if it ever pentrated far into the country, its vulgarity was too essentially metropolitan. The hero was the costermonger, his fair-love was a female pick-pocket, transported for theft. I have modified two or three of the original verses. There was no real humour in them, and the London dialect of that day is a thing of the past. It was the charming air which gave popularity to the song. Chappell supplies the original form and says it is a Somerset tune. No doubt he is right, but he has no name for it other than "The orginal of All round my hat." I think there is no doubt it was a dance-tune, but the first strain is omitted from the song. The tune does not seem known in Devonshire, although we have met with two that were evidently intended for it, but they could hardly be called variants. When a certain form of a tune is well-known - say, in the North, and the same tune with certain marked differences is well-known in the South (Green Besoms,for instance), that is a case of a variant. But differences met with in a limited district can hardly be considered . and should rather be attributed to "natural causes." So again, tunes, wherever found, which have no relation beyond the similarity of a phrase, or even a passage, cannot be regarded as variants, and I cannot quite agree with Mr Baring Gould that the fragmetary air sung by the Humber boatman has any relation at all to the tender West-country melody given above. It reminds one more of than anything else of the commencement of Auber's overture to the Bayadere, and that is probably a chance resemblance.

An old lady found fault with me for having "altered the character" of this All round my hat. "I remember it," she said, "in my childhood, it was a low song to a vulgar tune and you have treated it as a refined and delicate melody!" It is not altogether a question of "treatment." Treatment brings out the innate character, but it can hardly impart it. When a tune like the above, accompanied only by a few plain chords, is found to be "refined and delicate," it is because of its own intrinsic beauty and this example is by no means a solitary one.

The song Baring-Gould collected from the "boatman on the Humber" was a variant of "I Saw three Ships Come Sailing By"

Roud: 567 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron (melodic) Spencer the Rover (melodic)

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z