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Crow in the Gutter

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Alternative title: Limbo

Performer: Merriman, Philip
Place Collected: Chipping Campden
Date collected: 1909 (13 Jan)
Collector: Sharp, Cecil
Roud Number: 969

The song can be traced back to the early 19th century, when it was published as “A Rake’s Complaint in Limbo”. In fact the song is rare in tradition, having only been collected a handful of times. Mr Merriman’s version is incomplete and does not tell the whole story of a man who spends all his money on drink and prostitutes before being thrown into debtor’s prison, for which the slang term was Limbo. It seems that the song was a warning to young men not to fall into the same dissolute ways, as the original broadside ends:

“So take care boys and keep out of Limbo”.

 Notes by Gwilym Davies 8 July 2015