This is one of my favourite traditional songs, and I actually recorded it in January this year, when the hazy heat of June seemed ever so far away. But now I write these words after it's been 29 degrees C and humid here in Derby, and I spent a little of today sitting in the park and drinking non-alcoholic real ale (a blessing for summer if ever there was one!), until the small biting things overcame their dislike of citronella and we hurried home before I got eaten alive. ;-)
There is a common misconception held by some folk fans, and it goes like this: if something's about agricultural labour, or in fact the countryside in any way, it's actually about sex. And there are many songs this does apply to, and obvious euphemisms from "ploughing" to, in at least one instance, "the barley and the rye". And they're great songs! But it makes me happy that sometimes the countryside is, well, just the countryside. And the work and the success of the harvest - or, in this case, the quality of the fleeces from shearing - are necessary parts of life, as are the celebrations when things go well. Which is partly why I'm so in love with this song. :-)
(The lads and the lasses out on the green grass may be doing rather more than dancing, mind. ;-) )
1. Here's the rosebud in June,
The sweet violet in full bloom
And the birds singing gailly on every green bough,
Here's the pink and the lily
And the daffy-down-dilly
To adorn and perfume
The sweet meadows in June.
Chorus. Whilst out the plough the fat oxen go slow
And the lads and the lasses a-sheep-shearing go.
2. Here's the cleanly milk pail
It is full of brown ale
Our table, our table, our table we'll set.
We'll sit and we'll drink
We'll laugh, joke and sing,
Each lad takes his lass
Out on the green grass.
3. Now the shepherds have sheared
All the jolly, jolly sheep,
What joy can be greater than to talk of the increase?
The ewes and the lambs,
The hogs and the rams,
The fat wethers too -
They'll make a fine show!
released June 21, 2017
Voice: Elly Hadaway
Recording, post-production and cover art: Somhairle Kelly