> Folk Music > Songs > The Sound of the Drum

The Sound of the Drum / Follow the Drum

[ Roud 1076 ; Bodleian Roud 1076 ; Wiltshire Roud 1076 ; trad.]

Fred Hamer's book Garners Gay (1967) includes a version of The Sound of the Drum (The Month of May) that he collected from David Parrott in June 1959.

The Yetties sang The Sound of the Drum in 1974 on the Argo anthology The World of the Countryside.

John Roberts, Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig and Steve Woodruff sang The Sound of the Drum on their 1980 album To Welcome In the Spring.

Steve Turner sang Follow the Drum in 2012 on his Tradition Bearers album Rim of the Wheel. He noted:

This song again goes back to my teenage years when l ran a folk club (not my idea!) in Salford which used to regularly book a duo from Essex—Dave Hislop and Dave Trenow—who took the North West folk scene by storm on their tours in the late 60s. Follow the Drum was their trade mark song and I've never heard it before or since. It's one of those songs that lay at the bottom of the pile for so many years waiting for me to figure out what to do with the version that I later discovered in a book but which didn't quite tally with their version and which I ended up altering the words to fit with what I thought might have been their tune. I recently became more curious about its origins and contacted Dave Hislop who remembered that they had found it in a EFDSS Dance and Song Magazine from the period. A version of the song is also to be found in an unpublished collection from Gloucestershire by Alfred Williams.

Lyrics

Roberts & Barrand sings The Sound of the Drum Steve Turner sings Follow the Drum

In the merry month of May
When bees from flower to flower did hum,
Soldiers through the town marched gay
And the villagers danced to the sound of the drum.
The cobbler he's got off his awl
With last and apron he has done,
Left wax and thread for powder and ball.
Gone with the rest to follow the drum.

In the merry month of May
When bees from flower to flower did hum,
And the soldiers through the town marched gay
And villagers ran to the sound of the drum.
From windows lassies looked ascore
And the neighbours stood at every door.
The sergeant he unfurled his sash
And he told them all to follow the drum.

The cobbler he threw by his awl
And he vowed he'd wallop the foes, good lord!
And quick to attend the glory's call,
And he'd leave it all and follow the drum.
No more at home he'd be afraid,
But he'd take his seat amid the brave.
In the battle's heat he'd make em run
And he'd leave it all and follow the drum.

The tailor he's got off his board
And swore he'd wallop his foes, good Lord!
He's changed his bodkin for a sword,
Gone with the rest to follow the drum.
Robin he got off his plough,
His team and furrow just begun.
Of country life he'd had enough,
He'd go with the rest to follow the drum.

The tailor he got off his knees
And to the ranks did boldly come.
And said he'd no more sit at ease
But he'd leave it all and follow the drum.
How he'd wallop the foes, good lord!
When for a bodkin he'd a sword
And the foes he cried, he'd wallop them all,
And he'd leave it all and follow the drum.

Three old dames, and one was lame,
And another deaf, and a third nigh dumb,
They said it was a terrible shame
That they couldn't go and follow the drum.
In the merry month of May
When bees from flower to flower did hum,
Soldiers through the town marched gay
And the villagers danced to the sound of the drum.

Three ancient women, the first was lame,
The second blind, the third nigh dumb.
And to stay at home was burning shame,
So they'd leave it all and follow the drum.
“Our wills are good, but lackaday
Where there's a will there is a way.
To catch the soldiers we will try
And we'll follow the men and we'll follow the drum.”

In the merry month of May
When bees from flower to flower did hums,.
And the soldiers through the town marched gay,
And the villagers ran to the sound of the drum.
Robin swore he'd leave his plough,
His team his furrow just begun.
Of the country life he'd had enough,
And he'd leave it all and follow the drum.