Gathering Primroses

by Ian Martyn

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1.
Skewball 03:28
You gallant sportsmen all, come listen to my story It's of the bold Skewball, that noble racing pony Arthur Marvel was the man that brought bold Skewball over He's the diamond of the land and he rolls about in clover The horses were bought out with saddle, whip, and bridle And the gentlemen did shout when they saw the noble riders And some did shout hooray, the air was thick with curses And on the grey Griselda the sportsmen laid their purses The trumpet it did sound, they shot off like an arrow, They scarcely touched the ground for the going it was narrow. Then Griselda passed him by and the gentlemen did holler, “The grey will win the day and Skewball he will follow.” Then halfway round the course up spoke the noble rider “I fear we must fall back for she's going like a tiger. Up spoke the noble horse, “Ride on, my noble master, For we're half way round the course and now we'll see who's faster.” And when they did discourse, bold Skewball flew like lightning They chased around the course and the grey mare she was taken “Ride on my noble lord, for the good two hundred guineas. The saddle shall be of gold when we pick up our winnings.” Past the winning post, bold Skewball proved quite handy And horse and rider both ordered sherry wine and brandy And then they drank a health unto Miss Griselda And all that lost their money on the sporting plains of Kildare
2.
A blacksmith courted me, nine months and better. He fairly won my heart, he wrote me a letter. With his hammer in his hand he looked so clever And if I were with my love I would live forever. Oh where has my love gone with his cheeks like roses? He's gone across the sea, gathering primroses. I'm afraid the shining sun might burn and scorch his beauty And if I were with my love I would do my duty. Strange news has come to town, strange news is carried. Strange news flies up and down that my love is married. Oh I wish them both much joy though they don't hear me And if I were with my love I would do my duty. Oh what did you promise me when you lay beside me? You said you'd marry me and not deny me. If I said I'd marry you it was only to try you So bring your witness love and I'll not deny you. Oh witness have I none save God Almighty. And may He reward you well for the slighting of me. Her lips grew pale and wan, it made her poor heart tremble, For to think she had loved one and he'd proved deceitful. A blacksmith courted me, nine months and better. He fairly won my heart, he wrote me a letter. With his hammer in his hand he looked so clever And if I were with my love I would live forever.
3.
As I roved out one evening fair, It bein' the summertime to take the air, I spied a sailor and a lady gay And I stood to listen, and I stood to listen to hear what they would say. He said “Fair lady, why do you roam, For the day is spent and the night is on.” She heaved a sigh while the tears did roll: For my dark-eyed sailor, for my dark-eyed sailor so young and stout and bold.” “'Tis seven long years since he left this land, A ring he took from off his lily-white hand. One half of the ring is still here with me, But the other's rollin', but the other's rollin' at the bottom of the sea.” He said, “You may drive him out of your mind, Some other young man you will surely find. Love turns aside and soon cold has grown Like a winter's morning, like a winter's morning the hills all white with snow.” She said, “I'll never forsake my dear, Although we're parted this many a year. Genteel he was and no rake like you, To induce a maiden, to induce a maiden to slight the jacket blue.” One half of the ring did young William show, She ran distracted, in grief and woe. Sayin': “William, Will, I have gold in store, For my dark-eyed sailor, for my dark-eyed sailor has proved his honour true.” And there is a cottage by yonder lea, This couple's married and does agree. So maids, be loyal when your love's at sea, For a cloudy morning, for a cloudy morning brings in a sunny day.
4.
Oh the trees they do grow high and the leaves they do grow green, And many's the cold winter's night my love and I have seen. On a cold winter's night my love you and I alone have been. Oh my bonny boy is young but he's growing, Growing, growing, My bonny boy is young but he's growing “Oh father, dear father, you've done to me much harm, For to go and get me married to one who is so young. For he is only sixteen years old and I am twenty-one, Oh my bonny boy is young but he's growing, Growing, growing, My bonny boy is young but he's growing.” “Oh daughter, dear daughter, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll send your love to college for another year or two. And all around his college cap I'll tie a ribbon blue, For to let the ladies know that he's married, Married, married, To let the ladies know that he's married.” Now at the age of sixteen he was a married man, And at the age of seventeen the father to a son, And at the age of eighteen the grass grew over him. Cruel death soon put an end to his growing, Growing, growing, Cruel death soon put an end to his growing. And now my love is dead and in his grave doth lie, The green grass grows over him so very very high. I'll sit here and mourn his death until the day I die And I'll watch all o'er his child while he's growing, Growing, growing, I'll watch all o'er his child while he's growing.
5.
All things are quite silent, each mortal at rest, When me and my true love lay snug in one nest, When a bold set of ruffians broke into our cave, And they forced my dear jewel to plough the salt wave. I begged hard for my darling as I would for my life. But they'd not listen to me although a fond wife, Saying, “The king must have sailors, to the seas he must go.” And they've left me lamenting in sorrow and woe. Through green fields and meadows we oft times have walked, And the fond recollections together have talked, Where the lark and the blackbird so sweetly did sing, And the lovely thrushes' voices made the valleys to ring. Now although I'm forsaken, I won't be cast down. Who knows but my true love some day may return And will make me amends for my trouble and strife, And me and my true love might live happy for life.
6.
7.
One fine winter's morning my horn I did blow To the green fields of Keady for hours we did go We gathered our dogs and we circled around For none loves the sport better than the boys in the dell. And when we arrived they were all standing there We set off for the fields, boys, in search of a hare We didn't get far till someone gave the cheer Over high hills and valleys the sweet puss did steer As we flew o'er the hills, 'twas a beautiful sight There was dogs black and yellow, there was dogs black and white As she took the black bank for to try them once more Oh it was her last look o'er the hills of Greenmore. In a field of wheat stubble this pussy did lie And Rory and Charmer they did pass her by And there where we stood at the top of the brae We heard the last words that this sweet puss did say: “No more o'er the green fields of Keady I'll roam Nor trip through the fields, boys, in sport and in fun Or hear the long horn that your toner does play I'll go home to my den by the clear light of day.” You may blame ol' MacMahon for killing the hare For he's at his ol' capers this many's a year On Saturday and Sunday he never gives o'er With a pack of strange dogs round the hills of Greenmore.
8.
9.
Lovely Joan 04:06
A fine young man it was indeed, Mounted on his milk-white steed. He rode, he rode, and he rode all alone Until he came to lovely Joan. “Good morning to you, my pretty maid.” And “Twice good morning, sir,” she said. He tipped her the wink, and she rolled her dark eye. Says he to himself, “I'll be there by and by.” “Oh, don't you think these pooks of hay A pretty place for us to play? So come with me, me sweet young thing, And I'll give you my golden ring.” So he took off his ring of gold, Says, “Me pretty fair miss, do this behold. Freely I'll give it for your maidenhead.” And her cheeks they blushed like the roses red. “Come give that ring into my hand And I will neither stay nor stand. For your ring is worth much more to me Than twenty maidenheads,” said she. And as he made for the pooks of hay, She leapt on his horse and tore away. He called, he called, but he called in vain, For Joan she ne'er looked back again. Nor did she she think herself quite safe Until she came to her true love's gate. She'd robbed him of his horse and ring And she left him to rage in the meadows green.
10.

about

I decided to use the cool weather this June to record some folk songs on the bouzouki. I picked some of my favorite folk songs to sing that I've been listening to over the ages, most of which I've learned from the recordings of singers like Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Norma Waterson, Maddy Prior, Gay Woods, Tim Hart, and Ruth Notman. I haven't had much time for personal music lately, and I'm glad that I was able to record these songs which have always been a strong part of my life.

credits

released July 3, 2020

Ian Martyn - Vocals, Bouzouki, Concertina

Photo taken near the Albion River Inn in Albion, CA.

Special thanks to my parents who always supported me getting records and encouraging me to explore music. I first heard English folk music from going to Record Surplus in Santa Monica with my father when I was a kid. They were playing Steeleye Span's fourth album, Below the Salt, and it made a huge impression on me as a pre-teen. He let me get that record that day, and my collection of folk music continued to grow throughout middle and high school as we visited record stores like Record Surplus, Amoeba Music, and Tower Records.

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