‘Twas in the merry month of May, I went to a folk club down m’way…’

When I first started writing songs, about ten years ago, I took them around to folk clubs. One, I discovered too late, took a hard-line, faintly Stalinist, approach to any music that did not belong to what is reverently described as ‘the Tradition’.

The song I sang was mildly rude and, apparently, not part of the tradition. Scarred by the experience, I wrote a song called Hearts of Oak which I have videoed for Songs from the van #8.

Here are the lyrics, followed by the video:

‘Twas in the merry month of May

I went to a folk club down me way

I’d written a song,  it was slightly rude,

I thought it couldn’t be misconstrued.

With just a touch of the ambigued.

Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay, foldy-ay-de-ay

 

The club they met in a village hall

The sign at the door said ‘Welcome all’

They asked me if I could sing

I said, ‘What the hell, I’ll give it a spin,’

So I paid me fiver, and went right in.

Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay, foldy-roldy-all.

            Pride of England, hearts of oak

           Just like long ago

            Never to bend to the tyrant’s yoke,

            No!   Tiddly-oh.

 

Inside the hall was a merry throng

With ladies of large proportion

Blokes who were hearty and were hale

Drinking pints of real ale

In T-shirts that read ‘Save the whale’

Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay, Bom-de-om-de-om.

First up  was a solicitor

Singing songs of slaves in Africa

Then a teacher of fifty-three

Told a tale of lost virginity

And we all sang the harmony

Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay, tum-ti-tum-t—ta.

Pride of England, hearts of oak

             Just like long ago

            Never bend to the tyrant’s yoke,

            No!   Tiddly-oh.

 

One by one they took to the stage

Singings tales of love and rage

There were ballad songs, and working songs

Of rich and poor and weak and strong

Of maidens who were woebegone

And the arrant knaves  who’d done ‘em wrong

And each of them were very long

And went on and on and on

And on and on and on and on

And every one had a singalong

(It went) Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay, tiddly-up-di-aye.

 

Then someone played an Irish jig

Called The Curly Tale of Paddy MacGinty’s Pig

Soon every was joining in

With ukuleles and mandolins

I’ve never heard such a terrible din before

I couldn’t believe when Paddy MacGinty’s  bloody pig

Was given  a rousing encore

 

But when I came to sing mysong

Everything went horribly wrong

In the room was a sudden chill

They looked at me like I was ill

Bloody hell, if it looks could kill

Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay

Someone started a slow hand

Another  shouted I should be banned

They started walking out to the bar

Muttering I’d gone too far

They told me where to stick my guitar

I went tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay

I’m a-gettin’ outta here.

 

So if you write a little song

And you want a folk club to sing along

Be careful that you don’t provoke

These bonny ladies and decent blokes

By playing them the wrong kind of folk

(Just go) Tarum-de-um-de-tiddley-ay, tiddly-up-di-aye..

 

              Pride of England, hearts of oak

            Just like long ago

            Never to bend to the tyrant’s yoke,

            No!  

          Pride of England, hearts of oak

          Just like long ago

           Never to bend to the tyrant’s yoke,

            No!   Tiddly-oh.

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