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Jolly Joe, the Collier's Son

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Place Collected: Winchcombe
Date collected: 1908 (5 Apr)
Collector: Grainger, Percy
Roud Number: 1129

Sharp named this song “Joe the Pen Collier” when he collected it from Mr Shepherd, but it hard to see why as the singer, and all other versions of it have the title “Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son”. Versions usually include placenames much further north than Winchcombe and so Mr Shepherd was not familiar with them. “Hillborough” is possible “Oldbury”, and other placenames have been similarly misheard. Other versions give an extra verse (verse 2) viz:

Come all you colliers in this row who delight in a bonny lass,
Who loves to drink good ale that’s brown and sparkles in the glass.
My parents they do frown on me and say that I am to blame
For keeping Rachel’s company, who liveth in Mash Lane.

For a song with such northern connotations, it is interesting that it was taken up by several southern English source singers, presumably on the appeal of the gentle love story.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 14 May 2015