Shot Like a Bird on a Tree

Shot Like a Bird on a Tree
Her father he came for to hear it,
Straight away to his daughter did go,
“Dear daughter I hear you’ve been courting,
To a man that is low your degree.”
As sung by Lemmy Brazil, Gloucester 20 Apr 1966 (Springthyme 66.4.1). Also from Danny Brazil, Gloucester (66.5.5). In: Shepheard, Peter. Folk Songs and Ballads of the Brazil Family of Gloucester (1967).

Her father he came for to hear it,
Straight away to his daughter did go,
“Dear daughter I hear you’ve been courting,
To a man that is low your degree.”

“Who’s been telling these false tales dear father,
Whose been telling these false tales on me?
My retention’s to never get married,
To a man that is low my degree.”

“We’ll send for young Jimmie to revide it.”
To revide it young Jimmie he came,
He creepèd upstairs in his stockings,
For to hear what they was saying.

“Dear daughter I’ll give you two chooses,
Two chooses I’ll give unto thee,
You can either send Jimmie a-sailing,
Or to see him shot like a bird on the tree.”

“Oh father you’ll give me two chooses,
Two chooses you’ll give unto me,
I’d rather send Jimmie a-sailing,
Or to see him shot like a bird on the tree.”

This was recorded just once from Lemmy Brazil (66.5.5). Additional verses could be added from other versions: Maud Karpeles Folk Songs from Newfoundland (1971) recorded in 1930 under the title ‘On Board the Gallee’, Edith Fowke’s Traditional Singers and Songs of Ontario under the title ‘In Bristol there lived a Fair Maiden (#51) and Helen Creighton’s Maritime Folksongs (1962) recorded in New Brunswick in 1954. Helen Creighton’s singer Angelo Dornan of Irish extraction suggests that there is more to the song at the end referring to Jimmy being wize and witty. Danny Brazil later recorded (in 1978) essentially the same verses - perhaps with the assistance of the Brazil Song Book, and these are in Mike Yates Traveller’s Joy (2006). However, the recorded versions of the song vary considerably suggesting the song is of considerable age and that it had not often been subjected to the broadside press.

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