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Through Lonesome Woods

[ Roud 3461 ; VWML GG/1/20/1304 ; trad.]

Andy Turner sang Through Lonesome Woods, accompanied by Chris Wood on guitar, in 1990 on his cassette Love, Death and the Cossack. He later uses this track—on July 20, 2013—as the 100th entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He commented in his original liner notes:

Up in the North is from the singing of Mrs Freda Palmer, of Witney in Oxfordshire. Through Lonesome Woods was collected by George Gardiner—presumably in the West Country—from a Mr Henry Perkes. I learned it from Andy Cheyne, who is also currently a resident of Witney.

Chris Wood recorded the song in 1999 with The Two Duo Quartet for their CD Half As Happy As We. He noted:

This comes from the remarkable collection of English folk songs in 5/4. It was taught to me by Andy Turner with whom I had a lovely duo many years ago.

The Askew Sisters recorded Through Lonesome Woods as the title track of their 2010 WildGoose CD, Through Lonesome Woods. They commented in their liner notes:

This set begins with a morris dance tune called Saturday Night from the Longborough tradition, which we use to set the scene for the song. Through Lonesome Woods was very rare as only one version was ever found, so we are very lucky to have it! It was collected by George Gardiner from Henry Perkes in Cadnam, New Forest in 1908, and mentions ‘Dibden town’ which is a small village in the New Forest. The song is in 5/4 time which was not as unusual as you would think, as it naturally fits the iambic nature of English speech. We love the beautiful imagery of the dark forests and the way that they change along with the mood of the narrative.

Bella Hardy sang Through Lonesome Woods in 2013 on her CD Battleplan. She commented:

This was one of the first songs I learned to fiddle-sing. I performed it at the finals of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2004.

Lyrics

Andy Turner sings Through Lonesome Woods Bella Hardy sings Through Lonesome Woods

Through lonesome woods I took my way,
So dark, so dark, as dark can be.
Where leaves were shivering on every tree
Which don’t you think ’twas a grief to me.

Through lonesome woods I took my way,
So dark so dark as dark can be.
The leaves were shivering on every tree,
Which don't you think was grief to me,
Don't you think was grief to me.

As I was going up Dibden town
I saw my true love a-sitting down.
I saw her sitting on another man's knee,
Which don’t you think ’twas a grief to me.

As I was going through Dibden town,
I saw my true love sitting down.
Saw another girl sitting on my man's knee,
Which don't you think was grief to me,
Don't you think was grief to me.

I called my true love by her name,
Then up she rose and to me came.
I gave her kisses by one, two, three
But none so sweet as she gave me.

I called my true love by his name
And up he rose and to me came.
I gave him kisses by one two three
But none so sweet as he gave me,
None so sweet as he gave to me.

Oh winter's gone and summer's come,
The small birds from their nest has flown.
I'll tell you plainly unto your face,
“You're not the young man that I love best.”

Now winter's gone, the summer's come
The small birds from their nest is flown.
He's told me plainly unto my face
“You're not the young girl I love best
Not the young girl I love the best”.

Oh winter's gone and summer's come,
The small birds from their nest has flown.
I'll neither borrow nor will I lend
But I'll keep my heart for a better friend.

Through lonesome woods then I'll make my way,
So dark so dark as dark can be.
I'll never love if not loved by thee,
Which don't you think is grief to me,
Don't you think it's grief to me.