Mudcat Café message #1091548 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65990   Message #1091548
Posted By: Joe Offer
12-Jan-04 - 08:13 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Billy Boy
Subject: ADD Version: My Boy Willie
Well, I guess this is English.
-Joe Offer-

MY BOY WILLIE

O where have you been all the day
My boy Willie?
O where have you been all the day?
Willie won't you tell me now?
I've been all the day courting of a lady gay
But she is too young to be taken from her mammy.

O can she brew and can she bake
My boy Willie?
O can she brew and can she bake?
Willie won't you tell me now?
She can brew and she can bake
And she can make a wedding cake
But she is too young to be taken from her mammy.

O can she knit and can she spin
My boy Willie?
O can she knit and can she spin
Willie won't you tell me now?
She can knit and she can spin
She can do most anything
But she is too young to be taken from her mammy.

O how old is she now
My boy Willie
O how old is she now?
Willie won't you tell me now?
Twice six, twice seven
Twice twenty and eleven
But she is too young to be taken from her mammy.

Source: One Hundred English Folk Songs, edited by Cecil J. Sharp, 1916 (Dover edition)

Notes: A Yorkshire version of the words given by Halliwell in his Popular Rhymes (p. 328); and a Scottish variant in Herd's Scottish Songs (volume ii, p. 1). See also Baring-Gould's A book of Nursery Songs and Rhymes (No. 24).
The song, I imagine, is a comic derivative, or burlesque, of "Lord Rendel."

Click to play



There's a very similar version at The Contemplator.


The First Digital Tradition Version also follows this pattern - it's from the Burl Ives Songbook.The Burl Ives tune is very similar to that in Sharp, but I don't think it's as interesting.

Click to Play Burl Ives Tune


The Second DT Version is a parody:
The Third DT Version is from American Ballads and Folk Songs (Lomax): I guess the DT does not have the version I grew up with, which is very close to the broadside/sheet music Q posted above. Guess I'd better harvest Q's version. -Joe Offer-