This song of happy seduction followed by revelation can be traced back to a late 17th Century broadside entitled The Nightingale’s Songor The Soldier’s Rare Musick and is a warning to young maids to beware soldiers. The erotic metaphor is very typical of English folklore and the song is still sung regularly today in the folk scene, probably because of an Oxfordshire version made popular in the 1960s by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.
The song is widely spread throughout the English-speaking world, yet this is the only version to surface in Gloucestershire.
Mr Lane’s version is incomplete and mixed up with a totally different song, yet the erotic metaphor is clear. I wonder if Miss Wedgwood understood it. It is a pity that when she took Percy Grainger to meet Mr Lane, they did not ask him to sing the song, so Mr Lane’s tune is lost. Notes by Gwilym Davies 20 June 2016