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Life of a Man, The

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Source: Gwilym Davies Collection
Performer: Parsons, Dick
Place Collected: Shurdington
Date collected: 1975 (27 Sep)
Collector: Davies, Gwilym
Roud Number: 848

Definitely not the song to song at gatherings of senior citizens. This sombre song has been known since the early 19th century and most contemporary folk song collectors will have come across it. It was known as “The Fall of the Leaf” in earlier verses with many more versions but the oral tradition has cut it down to 2. It is still a favourite in the folksong revival as a chorus song. Sharp only noted the song twice, which is surprising. Apart from a couple of versions in Canada, its spread is confined to England.

Mr Parsons’ version has a distinctive tune and he considered the song complete at 2 verses. It was also collected in Gloucestershire from Archer Goode and in incomplete form from William Ballinger of Hardwick and ‘Pooch’ Gail of Stonehouse.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 2 April 2015