> Folk Music > Songs > Will the Weaver

Will/Bill the Weaver / Every Day Dirt

[ Roud 432 ; Master title: Will the Weaver ; Laws Q9 ; G/D 7:1461 ; Henry H682 ; Ballad Index LQ09 ; VWML GG/1/15/920 ; Bodleian Roud 432 ; GlosTrad Roud 432 ; Wiltshire 61 , 246 ; DT WILLWVR3 ; trad.]

Karl Dallas: One Hundred Songs of Toil Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People William Henry Long: A Dictionary of the Isle of Wight Dialect Roy Palmer: Everyman’s Book of British Ballads Frank Purslow: Marrow Bones Ken Stubbs: The Life of a Man

Charlie Parker and Mack Woolbright from North Carolina sang Will the Weaver in a a November 1927 recording that was included in 2015 on the Nehl anthology of British songs in the USA, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.

Ernest ‘Rabbity’ sang Will the Weaver in a 1962 recording made by Bill Leader that was included in 1975 on the Topic anthology of traditional songs from Sussex, Sussex Harvest. Mike Yates noted:

Will the Weaver has been knocking on other men’s doors since 1790 at least, when our song was printed in A New Garland by E. Sergent, a Preston printer. Further sets appeared in Scottish chapbooks and the song was later reprinted by James Catnach and Henry Parker Such of London, and William Armstrong of Liverpool. The song is well known in North America and Doc Watson’s version, Every Day Dirt, comes from a commercial recording made in 1930 by the Piedmont singer Dave McCarn who had originally learnt it from a friend’s wife in North Carolina.

Doc Watson sang Every Day Dirt in a recording made in ca. 1963 on the Doc Watson Family’s 1963 Folkways album The Watson Family. Jeff Place noted

Every Day Dirt is a ballad similar to a widely known ballad, Will the Weaver and represents a recurring theme in many humorous ballads concerning the battle between the sexes. Doc learned the song from a commercial recording of David McCarn (Victor 40274) and has adapted it into his own version.

Buster Mustoe sang Bill the Weaver to Mike Yates at Badsey, Worchestershire in ca. 1975. This track was included in ca 1979-85 on the Veteran Tapes cassette The Horkey Load Vol 2 (VT109) and in 2005 on the Veteran anthology of English traditional folk singers, It Was on a Market Day—One Mike Yates noted:

Bill, or Will, the Weaver seems to have been popping up and down ladies’s chimneys since the early part of the 18th century. There are quite a number of early 19th century broadsides—English, Scottish and American, and versions of the song have turned up all over the place, especially in America. Gavin Greig noted no fewer than eleven versions of the song in the north-east of Scotland and Sam Henry reported a single text from Ulster. In America the song is probably best known from the version recorded by Doc Watson of North Carolina (on Smithsonian-Folkways CD SF 40012) who had picked it up from a 1930s commercial recording by Dave McCarn.

Dan Quinn sang Will the Weaver in 2005 on Duck Soup’s eponymous Hebe Music album, Duck Soup.

Saul Rose sang Will the Weaver in 2008 on Faustus’ eponymous Navigator album Faustus. They noted:

Collected from Daniel Newman of Axford near Basingstoke, September 1907, by George Gardiner [VWML GG/1/15/920] , and contained in Purslow, Frank (ed.). Marrow Bones. The original tune was in 6/8 and had only one part, so we changed the time signature and wrote the B tune together.

This video shows Faustus at the Homegrown Festival at the Bury Met Theatre, Manchester, in October 2012:

Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People


Doc Watson sings Every Day Dirt

John come home all in a wonder.
He rattled at the door just like thunder.
“Who is that?” Mr. Henley cried.
“’Tis my husband! You must hide!”

Then John sat down by the fireside a weepin’
An’ up the chimney he got to peepin’.
There he saw that poor old soul
Settin’ up a straddle of the potrack pole.

Then John built on a rousing fire
Just to suit his own desire.
His wife got out with a free good will,
“Don’t do that, for the man you’ll kill!”

Then John reached up and down he fetched him
Like a coon when a dog had ketched him.
He blackened his eyes and then did better:
He kicked him out right on his setter.

Then his wife she crawled under the bed
And he pulled her out by the hair of the head.
“And when I’m gone, remember then!”
He kicked where the chinches had been.

Now, the law went down and John went up,
He didn’t have the chance of a yaller pup.
They sent him down to old chain gang
For beatin’ his wife, the dear little thing.

Well John didn’t worry, John didn’t cry;
But when he got home he socked her in the eye.
They took him back to the old town jail
But his wife got lonesome and she paid his bail.

Then the judge sent back, made him work so hard,
He longed to be home in his own front yard.
They kept him there and wouldn’t turn him loose;
I could tell you more about him, but there ain’t no use.

Buster Mustoe sings Bill the Weaver

“Oh mother dear I’ve just got married
Better had I longer tarried,
For my wife she does declare
That the britches she will wear.”

“Come loving son no more discover
I’ll have thee go home and love her
And give thy wife just what’s her due
For I don’t want no more of you.”

Now the neighbours they did tell him,
For they all did want to please him,
“I’ll tell thee where and I’ll tell thee how
Who I saw with your wife just now.

We saw her with Bill the Weaver
They were very close together
On the footpath by thy door
In they went and we saw no more.”

Now he went home all in a wonder
Knocking on the door like thunder.
“Who is there?” the weaver cried,
“It is my husband, thee must hide.”

Up the chimney then he ventured,
She opened the door and her husband entered.
He searched the rooms and the chambers round,
But not a soul could there be found.

Up the chimney then he gazed,
He stood there like one amazed.
There he saw that wretched soul
Perched on the top of the chimney pole.

“Now, Bill the Weaver, I have got thee,
I shall neither hang nor drown thee.
I shall stifle thee with smoke.”
Thus he thought, but he never spoke.

So he built up a roaring fire
Just to please his own desire,
Which made poor Bill to cough and sneeze
Where he sat at little ease.

As he stacked on more fuel,
His wife said “As I am your jewel.
As long as I am thy lawful wife
Please take him out and spare his life.
As long as I am thy lawful wife
Please take him out and spare his life.”

There was never a black devil or a chimney sweeper
Half as black as Bill the Weaver.
Hands and face and clothes likewise,
He sent him home with two black eyes.

Faustus sing Will the Weaver

“O mother, mother, it’s now I’m married
I wish that I had longer tarried,
For the women do declare
That the trousers they will wear.”

“O loving son, what is the matter?
Does she frown or do she chatter?
Or does she out of season run?
What is it, my loving son?

“O you go home and you kindly love her
Then perhaps she may recover.
Give to thy wife her due,
Let me hear no more of you.”

Down the streets a neighbour met him,
Told him something for to vex him.
The neighbour cried, “I tell you true
Who was with your wife just now.

“O I saw her with Will the weaver
Very free and close together
At the step of your door;
They went in, I saw no more.”

He went home all in a wonder,
Knocking at the door like thunder.
“Who is that?” this weaver cried.
“’Tis my husband, you must hide.”

So she came down and she let him in,
She’s kissed her husband very prim.
Her husband he replied,
“Fetch some beer for I am dry.”

As she went to fetch the beer
It’s then he thought the house was clear,
Searched the house and rooms all round
But nobody could be found.

Up the chimney chanced to gazing
He stood there like one amazing,
He spied this wretched soul
Perched upon the cotterel pole.

“O you rogue, I’m glad I’ve found you!
I won’t hang and I won’t drown you.
But I’ll stifle you with smoke,”
This he thought but nothing spoke.

So he made up a rousing fire
Just to please his heart’s desire.
His wife cries out with free goodwill
“Husband! There’s a man you’ll kill.”

As he stood heaping on the fuel
Then she said, “My dearest jewel
Since I am your lawful wife,
Take him down and spare his life.”

Off the cotterel pole he took him
And so merrily he shook him.
With every shake gave a stroke,
“Come no more to stop my smoke.”

Running down the street the people met him
Running as if the Devil would catch him.
“Where have you been?” the people cried.
“In the bacon,” he replied.

Did you ever see a chimney sweeper
Half as black as Will the weaver?
A ragged coat and a hat likewise,
A bloody nose and two black eyes.