> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > I Wish My Love (The Pitman's Love Song)

I Wish My Love / The Pitman's Love Song

[ Roud 8738 ; Ballad Index RcIWML ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang I Wish My Love unaccompanied in 1966 on his Topic album First Person. The track was reissued in 1994 as I Wish, I Wish on the CD Classic A.L. Lloyd. A.L. Lloyd commented in the former album's sleeve notes:

A lost song re-found. It resides among the manuscript papers of eccentric old John Bell of Newcastle, a great pioneer collector of the folk songs of the English North-east, unjustly neglected. Many of his songs found their way, unacknowledged, into the celebrated Northumbrian Minstrelsy, but this one was not among them. The song is something of a masterpiece, but it seems to have dropped right out of tradition after Bell noted it, apparently in the opening years of the nineteenth century. In Bell's manuscript the piece is entitled A Pitman's Love Song. There's nothing in the text of the song that attaches to the miner's calling. Bell gives no tune for it, so I have fitted one. There's another verse to this piece, passionate and scatological. Rather to my own surprise I find myself too prudish to sing it, though I'm impressed by its intensity.

Faustus sang I Wish, I Wish in 2013 on their CD Broken Down Gentlemen. They noted:

This was adapted by A.L. (‘Bert’) Lloyd from a manuscript of John Bell of Newcastle and can be found on Classic A.L. Lloyd. For some reason Lloyd omitted to use Bell’s end verse, which Benji [Kirkpatrick] has reinstated.

Lisa Knapp sang I Wish My Love Was a Cherry in a video that she uploaded to YouTube in 2010:

Lisa Knapp also sang I Wish My Love Was a Cherry in 2019 on Topic's 80th year anthology, Vision & Revision. She noted:

A.L. Lloyd was a founder member of Topic Records. I was first introduced to this extraordinary man via a documentary The Singing Englishman: Bert—A Portrait of A. L. Lloyd which before the days of online access to anything, was shown to me by Malcolm Taylor in the Vaughan Williams Memorial library at Cecil Sharp House, many many moons ago. Journalist, broadcaster, singer, political activist and folklorist his life and achievements were somewhat monumental considering his humble origins and the times he lived through. I found out that he was born and lived his first four years in the road that ran parallel to where I grew up in South West London and where I delivered papers during my childhood which really struck me. But what strikes me most of all, watching this documentary and having read a little of the man, is his huge love for traditional song and for those who have cherished it, loved it and sung it and continue it. The song I sing here, I Wish My Love Was a Cherry, is one he sings in this documentary which is where I first heard it and fell in love with it.


A.L. Lloyd sings I Wish My Love

I wish my love she was a cherry
A-growing on yon cherry tree
And I myself a bonnie blackbird
How I would peck that sweet cherry

I wish my love she was a red rose
A-growing on yon garden wall
And I myself a drop of dew
How on that red rose I would fall

I wish my love was in a little box
And I myself to carry the key
I'd go in to her whenever I'd a mind
And I'd bear my love good company

I wish my love she was a grey ewe
A-grazing by yonder riverside
And I myself a fine black ram
Oh on that ewe how I would ride

My love she's bonnie, my love she's canny
And she's well favoured for to see
And the more I think on her my heart is set upon her
And under her apron I fain would be

I wish my love she was a bee-skip
And I myself a bumble-bee
That I might be a lodger within her
For she's sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb tea

(The verse A.L. Lloyd left out:)

I wish my love was a ripe turd
And smoking down in yon dykeside
And I myself was a shitten flea
I'd suck her up before she dried