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Courting Too Slow

[ Roud 1918 ; Laws P5 ; Ballad Index LP05 ; Bodleian Roud 1918 ; Mudcat 71024 ; words trad., music Peter Bellamy]

Courting Too Slow can be found on a broadside in the Madden Collection, Cambridge. Someone asked on Mudcat if it is related to the American song On Top of Old Smokey but I think the link is rather weak; they just share the phrase “courting too slow”.

Peter Bellamy recorded Courting Too Slow for both of his 1975 albums, Tell It Like It Was and Peter Bellamy. He noted on the latter album:

Another set of broadsheet verses which came to me without a tune. That which I have composed for it sounds a bit Irish, but I believe the song to be originally Scots.

John Spiers and Jon Boden recorded Courting Too Slow in 2003 for their duo album Bellow and with Bellowhead in 2006 for their CD Burlesque. They noted on the first CD:

This might have come from the GQ problems page. In fact traditional words with a tune by The Boss, Peter Bellamy.


Peter Bellamy sings Courting Too Slow

It was on one Monday morning and oh it was soon.
I bought my pretty Betty a pair of new shoen,
A pair of new shoen and slippers also.
But 𝄆 I lost my pretty Betty by courting too slow. 𝄇

Well I bought my pretty Betty a garland of green
With ribbons and jewels most rare to be seen;
And rings for her fingers of bright shining gold,
But 𝄆 I lost my pretty Betty by not being bold. 𝄇

And it was on one Tuesday evening and oh it was late,
Oh I fain would have kissed her but I was too straight
I was thinking how to gain her consent to be true
But 𝄆 I lost my pretty Betty by courting too slow. 𝄇

For in there come a sailor all in his tarry trews
And he went into the chamber where my true love was;
He kissed her, then he clapped her, he flattered her so,
And 𝄆 he fair won the day by my courting too slow. 𝄇

So it’s come all you young fellows and pray take my advice
And when you go courting now don’t you be too nice;
But kiss all them pretty girls and let them for to know
That 𝄆 you don’t mean to lose them by courting too slow. 𝄇