Tuesday, June 8, 2010

all around my hat


One of my favorite wicked willowy songs is "All Around My Hat", from a 1975 album by the same name by Steeleye Span. The album was their eighth and highest charting, reaching number 7 on the UK charts, and staying on the charts for six months. It briefly made the band a household name in England. In the United States it became the band's first album to chart, reaching number 143.

The song "All Around my Hat" is of nineteenth century English origin. In an early version, dating from the 1820s, a Cockney costermonger* vowed to be true to his fiancee, who was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia for theft, and to mourn his loss by wearing green willow sprigs in his hatband for "a twelve-month and a day," as traditional symbol of mourning. In Ireland, Peadar Kearney adapted the song to relate to an Republican lass whose lover had died in the Easter Rising, and who swears to wear the Irish tricolour in her hat in remembrance.

*Costermonger (had to look it up; rare in these parts)
Function: noun
Etymology: costard + monger
Date: 1514
British : a hawker of fruit or vegetables

This song is dedicated to the charming Michael of Shouting at Westminster Streetlights, who sent it to me some time back. So, Mick, if you're out there, this one's for you. xx
It's impossible to listen to this one quietly, so turn your volume way up!



All Around My Hat, Steeleye Span version

all around my hat i will wear the green willow
and all around my hat for a twelve month and a day
and if any one should ask me the reason why i'm wearing it
it's all for my true love who's far, far away.

fare thee well cold winter and fare thee well cold frost
nothing have i gained but my own truelove i've lost
i'll sing and i'll be merry when occassion i do see
he's a false deluding young man let him go farewell he

other night he brought me a fine diamond ring
but he thought to have deprived me of a far better thing
but i being careful like lovers ought to be
he's a false deluding young man let him go farewell he and

all around my hat i will wear the green willow
and all around my hat for a twelve month and a day
and if any one should ask me the reason why i'm wearing it
it's all for my true love who's far, far away.

quarter pound of reasons and a half a pound of sense
a small sprig of time and as much of prudence
you mix them all together and you will plainly see
he's a much deluding young man let him go farewell he and

all around my hat i will wear the green willow
and all around my hat for a twelve month and a day
and if any one should ask me the reason why i'm wearing it
it's all for my true love who's far, far away.

all around my hat i will wear the green willow
and all around my hat for a twelve month and a day
and if any one should ask me the reason why i'm wearing it
it's all for my true love who's far, far away.

photo from Flickr

52 comments:

  1. I am so enjoying the crisp clean look in your blog. The colors too. Very nice. Because you take the time to explain the meaning in the song, it makes it more enjoyable to listen to it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Willow, What memories this posting has brought back. I fear the song is now all around my head bringing back times, happily long gone, when one was in one's slightly 'folky' phase!

    I do so love your header picture - capturing all that one would wish to be and not a hint of the 'folky'!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now THAT was fun. Reminds me of parties at my cousin's house in Ireland. Everyone was required to sing a song by evenings end and this one reminds me of many of the folk songs I heard there. Very happy memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So, Edith, you don't think the serene girl in my header is listening to Steeleye Span? Ah, but you don't know her very well!

    ReplyDelete
  5. nice. that was an enjoyable tune willow...even better with your explanation...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh I did love that. When researching my ancestry, I came across a female who had been sent to Australia due to a felony. When I found her she was on a ship to the US to join the rest of her family. I am so loving your references to Celtic things as I see where so many things fit now.
    Blessings
    QMM

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ahhhhhhh! I absolutely love Maddy Prior's voice! Not to mention Steeleye Span's arrangements of old songs. But then I've always been a fan of that '70s British folk-rock scene - Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, etc. Thsnks for the afternoon pick-up!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I remember discovering Steeleye Span in the 70s. It was the beginning of my love of folk music in all its forms. Theyre still touring I believe. &*(cant find apostrophes on this Portugese keyboard)

    ReplyDelete
  9. great song. I'm surprised by the number of songs with reference to Willow. And i must say, I missed this group although I did and still do love folk music. Of course, I've heard of them, just didnt listen.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great Willow song! Brings back the most fond of memories...love LOVE love!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great tune, & thanks for the background--I knew it was an old song, but knew none of those details. The Steeleye Span version is great fun!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't know why I like the song, but I do, and have been able to sing it straight through from about the first time I heard it (ie when it was first in the British charts).

    Costermonger lines from Noel Coward's brilliant "London Pride",

    London pride has been handed down to us,
    London pride is a flower that's free,
    London pride means our own dear town to us,
    and our pride it for ever will be.
    Whoa, Liza,
    see the coster barrows,
    vegetable marrows
    and the fruit piled high.
    Whoa, Liza,
    little London sparrows,
    Covent Garden market where the costers cry.
    Cockney feet
    mark the beat of history,
    every street
    pins a memory down.
    Nothing ever can quite replace
    the grace of London town.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love this, Titus, thank you! I feel so brilliantly coster savvy now.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am so enjoying these posts!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I had never heard of the song or the group - but I love it! Had to listen to it twice...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dang it... I was six in the UK in 1975 and it was hard to avoid this song.. now it's in my head and I'll be plagued by it for days! :) thanks for the memory!

    ReplyDelete
  17. McGillicutty, my apologies...heehee...for the quirky earworm!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Just back from another "Fanciulla" rehearsal...opening day tomorrow....so, it was quite a segue (sp?) from Puccini to Steeleye Span.... they were just a tad before my time....BUT.....being the half-Irish lass that I am, I knew the melody - how odd is that!
    Willow, I must echo so many here....you have a wonderful, delightful blog - and I am so happy we have "met"! A big thank you to Suki who told me about you!

    Love,

    ♥ Robin ♥

    p.s. I also love you because I have already borrowed five receipes of yours! Wish we lived closer!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wonderful! I've heard that before, and it's great. Big smiles. I do like that header painting. Tres elegante and serene.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Costermonger...apple seller from Mayhews study of the poor in London.
    Costard, a type of apple.
    I loved steeleye span - great to hear them again.

    Scots among your readersmight like 'Such a parcel of rogues in a nation'.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Fly, "Such a Parcel" certainly makes my DNA tingle, but, alas, it doesn't feature any willows, so I can't include it in my willowy songs series.

    ReplyDelete
  22. very lively, nice harmonizing...bet that would be a fun band to see in concert

    ReplyDelete
  23. And then there's this, sung to the same tune--

    Around her neck
    She wore a yellow ribbon,
    She wore it in the springtime
    And in the month of May.
    And if you asked her
    Why the hell she wore it,
    She'd say "It's for my lover
    Who is far, far away".

    Refrain:
    Far away!
    Far away!
    She wore it for her lover far away.
    Around her neck she wore a yellow ribbon.
    She wore it for her lover who is far, far away.

    Around the block she pushed a baby carriage. . .

    Around her thigh she wore a yellow garter. . .

    Behind the door her daddy kept his shotgun. . .

    And in the church the preacher kept a license. . .

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh, Vickie, this is great! This must be the American variation of the song. Fun!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I love this song! I used to be in a pseudo-Celtic band called "Free Whiskey" and that was one of my favorite songs to sing.

    Neat little bit of history you gave us. Thanks!
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. very interesting song- sounds very Irish for sure-- and fun too.

    ReplyDelete
  27. When I first heard it, I thought it was Peter,Paul amd Mary..
    Very nice, I liked it..

    You changed the header that's nice too.

    yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  28. Gosh, I haven't heard that for yonks, It really brings back memories. I'm not usually very keen on 'folksy' music, but they give it plenty of punch. Cro.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am sure that I don't need to say this - and by now you must expect it - but this has always been one of my favourite songs as well.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I remember this from 'Top of the Pops' - 35 years ago??!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Excellent song. Love SteelEye Span. They do a magical version of Thomas the Rhymer that always sends me straightaway to Fairyland.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Beautiful; song and header both.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I remember Steeleye Span! I think Maddy Prior went on to join Renaissance, who sort of combined Brit folk-rock with a jam band sensibility. They had some pretty drawn out numbers, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks for stirring my lil' English-Irish-German pot this morn...old folksy tales of love lost really rock my boat!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sorry for being absent from your blog - lots going on and I'm a bit weary.

    I do love the painting at the top of your blog!

    I've heard the name, "Steeley Span", but have never heard them. One of the things most enjoyable in this life, I find, is to discover something new and delightful that's been around for a long time. This is bound to be one of those things. Thanks.

    Kat

    P.S. I've just posted a new, fun little haiku on "Kigo". Pop round if you get the chance.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Dearest Willow, I absolutely adore that song! I've saved it and will listen to it countless times. I feel like kicking up my heels and dancing now.

    ReplyDelete
  37. You have cleared up one of the band name for me. Hearing the name and never reading it before, I had concluded it was the Steel Ice Band.

    ReplyDelete
  38. MLou, Steel Ice Band makes a heck-of-a lot more sense! ;^)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Loving, really loving the new banner.
    love from les Gang

    ReplyDelete
  40. I don't know how I missed such a great Irish folk song...but this is new to me...love it!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I saw Steeleye three times during the 70s. Maddy Prior is still doing the 'business' and is in fine voice.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I love a rollicking 'pub song' and this one is so neat!

    I'm back Willow and sharing stories and photos of my amazing African safari. All I can say is that it was the most incredible trip of my entire life.....and I want to go back again as soon as possible.

    Do stop by when you can......today's post shows my favorite big cat and was he ever gorgeous!!

    Mary - A Breath of Fresh Air

    ReplyDelete
  43. You might like this post at a good blog maybe you already know:
    http://magiclanternshowen.blogspot.com/2010/06/simple-twist-of-fate.html

    This post mentions a fountain in Paris and I think you would like it.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Costermonger is a new one for me. Love the title of the song, too.
    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks, Techno! I'll pop over and take a look...

    ReplyDelete
  46. http://itistimetothinkformyself.blogspot.com/2010/06/jingles-june-follower-awards-week-1.html

    awards 4 u,
    enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  47. rich, wonderful song.

    how i love steeleye span

    for a while maddy prior joined up june tabor (whose voice totally sends me) and they cut two albums - perhaps you are familiar with them!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Kimy, no I'm not familiar with the Prior/Tabor duo. Gotta check them out! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  49. http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/thursday-poets-rally-week-22-poetry-awards-more/

    two poetry awards,
    4 general blogging awards for you.
    Thank you for the contributions on poetry and blogging friendship.

    ReplyDelete

Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)