> The Watersons > Songs > Fare Thee Well, Cold Winter
> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Farewell She

Fare Thee Well, Cold Winter / Farewell He/She

[ Roud 1034 , 803 ; Henry H504 ; Ballad Index FSC41 ; VWML FK/20/4/2 ; Bodleian Roud 1034 ; trad.]

Cecilia Costello sang Fare Ye Well Cold Winter to Peter Kennedy on August 8, 1951. This recording was included in 2014 on her Musical Traditions anthology Old Fashioned Songs. Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:

This song is usually known as Farewell He in England, and none of the other versions come from as far north as Birmingham. Of Roud's 40 instances, most are from England, with a few from Scotland and the USA—and Sam Henry's only entry is (textually, at least) almost identical with many English versions. Sarah Makem’s splendid Now That the Winter Is Over is textually rather different—although it uses the same Inniskilling Dragoon tune as Cecilia—and is the only other version available on CD.

Sarah Makem sang Winter is Over in 1962 to Diane Hamilton. This recording was included in 2012 on her Musical Traditions anthology As I Roved Out. Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:

What a wonderful song! By far the best version of this I've ever heard, with its great chorus and stunning final line. It may be seen as a localised variant of Farewell He / Fare Thee Well Cold Winter, but perhaps it merely uses a similar central theme and text phrases, and is sufficiently different to be considered a separate song.

Like some of the other songs on these CDs, this version seems to be heavily influenced by American versions. Only verses 1 and 3 are found regularly in English or Irish versions; the chorus, and verses 2 and 4 are all stanzas which have crystallised in America. This may, in part, be due to the fact that Sarah's siblings (along with many other Keady linen weavers) had gone to the USA to work in Dover, NH, and elsewhere—so there was a continual round of transatlantic visits within the community, in both directions, over many years. And where people go, their songs go with them.

Archie Fisher sang Farewell She in 1968 on his eponymous Transatlantic album Archie Fisher.

Cyril Tawney sang the Dorset song Farewell She in 1973 on his Argo album of traditional love songs from South West England I Will Give My Love. This track was also included a year later on the Argo anthology The World of the Countryside.

Steeleye Span used three verses of this song in 1975 and mixed them together with the chorus of their hit single All Around My Hat.

Lal and Norma Waterson sang Fare Thee Well, Cold Winter on the Watersons' 1981 album Green Fields, and Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy sang it in 1999 on the Waterson:Carthy CD Broken Ground. The Lal and Norma recording was reissued in 2003 on the Watersons' The Definitive Collection. A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Sometimes called Farewell He in various forms this was once spread all over England. Baring-Gould noted it in Devon, and Frank Kidson found a fairly long version near Leeds (he called it Let Him Go). Usually, a girl is the 'victim' of the song. Mike Yates recorded this set [in 1972] from a 90 year old singer, George ‘Tom’ Newman, who lived [in Clanfield] near Bampton [, Oxfordshire], and sometimes accompanied the morris men with his “one-man band”.

Brenda Wootton sang Farewell She in 1981 on her Cornish album Pasties and Cream.

Cath and Phil Tyler sang Dewdrop in 2008 on their CD Dumb Supper, and Lucy Farrell sang it in 2013 on Carthy Hardy Farrell Young's album Laylam. Lucy commented:

I heard Cath and Phil Tyler sing this at the Cluny once. These are the verses I remember—There are more.

This video shows Carthy Hardy Farrell Young with Lucy Farrell and Bella Hardy singing at a Songs from the Shed session from February 2013:

Tim Laycock sang Farewell She on his 2010 CD of folk songs and tunes from Dorset, Sea Strands. He noted:

This well-loved song comes from Marina Russell of Upwey near Weymouth. Mrs Russell must have had a hard life, raising eleven children and living on a labourer’s wages for much of the time; yet she gave the Hammmonds 102 songs, many of them with distinctive and beautiful melodies. It seems appropriate that the last song on this recording should come from such an inspiring singer.

Andy Turner first Fare Thee Well Cold Winter sung by Lal and Norma Waterson on their LP, and then learned it from Mike Yates's 1972 recording of George ‘Tom’ Newman of Clanfield, near Bampton, in Oxfordshire; which was transcribed in Roy Palmer's Everyman's Book of English Country Songs. He sang it as the January 31, 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Iona Fyfe sang Let Him Sink on her 2019 EP Dark Turn of Mind. She noted:

I found this song in the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, an archive of almost 1600 Ozark Mountain folk songs, recorded between 1956 and 1976. The collection is a joint project between the Missouri State University Department of Music and the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield, Missouri, where the permanent collection is housed. Materials on this website were transcribed and digitised from Max Hunter’s original reel-to-reel tapes and handwritten lyrics. Alternative titles for the song, #1034 in the Roud Index, include Adieu to Cold Weather, My Love is on the Ocean, My Love is Like a Dewdrop, Cold Winter, Fare Thee Well and Farewell He.

I collated verses from two texts found in the Max Hunter Folk Song collection and wrote the melody. Rest for The Weary (1484) was collected by Max Hunter from a singer named Reba Jenkins from Wheatland, Missouri on January 27th, 1973. The chorus that I’ve used for the song was taken from a two-verse text, Adieu to Cold Winter (0023) which was collected from Mr. Frank Pool in Fayetteville, Arkansas on January 6, 1958.

The song is “considered to belong to the group of songs found in tradition as Farewell He, Fare Thee Well Cold Winter and so on; examples of which are known from Ireland, England and Scotland; and of course, America and Canada (Mudcat). A Scots version titled Let Him Gang can be found in Volume 2 of David Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc.. This dates from 1776, which suggests that the floating verses which feature in both variants of the song, may have originated in Scotland. Another version of the song features in Frank Kidson’s 1929 English Peasant Songs collection. The text also appears in Gardiner and Chickering’s 1939 collection, Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan. The song is featured in the Bodleian Library, with four variants dating between 1813 and 1850.

The first verse is a floating verse which also features in the Aberdeenshire love song, Bonnie Udny,

It was on a Sunday, my love and I did meet,
Which caused me on Monday, to sigh and to weep
O to weep is a folly, is a folly to me.
Sen he’ll be mine nae langer, let him gang, farewell he

There are versions of the song from a male perspective titled Farewell She as well as a variant collected in Searsport, Maine which has similarities to the Scottish song, The Sands on the Shore. Vance Randolph collected the song in the Ozarks and it subsequently became popular amongst singers in the 50’s and 60’s. This song is another which perfectly exemplifies the universalism and similitude of songs and ballads which have been collected on both sides of the Atlantic.

I’ve renamed the song Let Him Sink, owing to the text of the chorus:

If he’s gone, let him go, let him sink or let him swim
He don’t care for me and I don’t care for him

Lyrics

Cecilia Costello sings Fare Ye Well, Cold Winter

Oh it’s fare you well cold winter and fare you well white frost
Nothing I have gained but a fortune I have lost.
If he can get another one better than me
I’ll deny that lad forever he may go, farewell he.

Oh he sent to me a letter to say that he was bad
I sent him back an answer for to say that I was glad.
Let him keep his paper and I will keep my time
I think no more of his false heart than he than he first thought of mine.

It’s seven long years and better since he first ruined my heart.
He is no better, nor I am no worse
May the very ground he walks upon refuse the grass to grow
For he was the first beginning of my sorrow grief and woe.

Sarah Makem sings Winter Is Over

Winter it is over, aye, and summer's coming on
I'll sing and I'll be merry since my true love he is gone
I'll sing and I'll be merry like a small bird on a tree
I can get my choice of twenty; let him go, farewell he.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Let him go home and keep his mother's mind at ease
For I'm told she is an old woman very hard to please
And that for talking ill of me I hear she's never done
And it's all for keeping company a wee while with her son.

Some of his friends they have a very good kind wish for me
Other of his friends they could hang me on a tree
But soon I'll let them see my love and soon I'll let them know
That I can get a new sweetheart on any ground I go.

Well, the first place I met my love was in a shady grove
He smiled in my face and he handed me a rose.
I told him for to keep his rose and that's to let him see
I deny him, I defy him; let him go, farewell he.

Well, since it's no better, thank God 'tis no worse
I have money in my pocket, I have silver in my purse
I can walk as shy by my true love as he does by me
And thank God that my mind is a kingdom to me.

Steeleye Span sing All Around My Hat

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
All around my hat I will wear the green willow,
All around my hat, for a twelve-month and a day.
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it:
It's all for my true love who's far, far away.

Fare thee well, cold winter and fare thee well, cold frost,
Nothing have I gained but my own true love I've lost.
I'll sing and I'll be merry when occasion I do see;
He's a false deluding young man, let him go farewell he.

The other night he brought me a fine diamond ring
But he thought to have deprived me of a far better thing.
But I being careful like lovers ought to be;
He's a false deluding young man, let him go farewell he

Chorus

Here's a quarter pound of reasons, and a half a pound of sense,
A small sprig of thyme and as much of prudence.
You mix them all together and you will plainly see.
He's a false deluding young man, let him go farewell he.

Lal and Norma Waterson sing Fare Thee Well, Cold Winter

Fare thee well, cold winter and fare thee well, cold frost;
Nothing have I gained by thee but a false young girl at last.
But if she's got another one and they both can't agree,
She's welcome to stay with him and think no more of me.

She wrote to me a letter to say that she was sad;
I quickly wrote the answer back to say that I were glad.
She may keep her paper and I will keep my time,
For what I'd have a true young girl I'd search the world around.

One day that I was walking all through the shady grove,
'Twas there I met my own true love, she handed me a rose.
Thinking I should keep it to never pass her by,
For what I'd have a true young girl I'd lay me down and die.

False deceitful young girls are easy to be found,
For what I'd have a true young girl I'd search this world around.
And if she's got another one and they can't both agree,
She's welcome to stay with him and think no more of me.

I'll be all smiles tonight, boys, I'll be all smiles tonight
If my heart should break tomorrow I'll be all smiles tonight.

Lucy Farrell sings Dewdrop

My love is like a dewdrop setting out upon a thorn,
Puts love on on a Sunday night, and off on Monday morn.
He carries love in his pockets but little in his heart,
He's a lad who loves a good many, gives every girl her part.

The first time that I saw my love was in a shady grove,
He met me with a smile and he gave to me a rose;
He thought I would accept of it, but I did pass him by:
Before I would accept of it, I'd lay me down and die.

There's many a winter's evening we sat down to have a chat,
But little did I like him any better for all that;
His tongue, it rang too nimble, and his watch, it ran too slow,
There's many a night I gave him his hat and told him where to go.

Take half a pound of reason and a quarter pound of sense,
A small sprig of thyme and so much impudence.
Mix them all together and you will plainly see:
He's a false-hearted lover, let him go farewell he.

Iona Fyfe sings Let Him Sink

My love’s on the ocean, he can sink or he can swim.
He don’t care for me an’ I’m sure I don’t for him.
There’s plenty more without him as nice young men as he,
An’ I can find another since he’s gone back on me.

Chorus (after each verse):
If he’s gone, let him go, let him sink or let him swim.
If he don’t care for me then I don’t care for him

And away with cold winter, adieu to cold frost,
I’ll laugh and be happy as the dear lad I lost.
I’ll sing and be merry as the whistling bird in June
For I can catch another before tomorrow noon.

The last time I saw him t'was in the shady grove,
He tipped his hat so gently an' offered me a rose.
He thought that I'd accept it but he could plainly see
I had grown cold since he went back on me.

But men they are deceiving, they think they know it all.
They think we girls are stuck on them, think we look at them at all.
But they are quite mistaken as you can plainly see,
They don’t know the meaning of the world left.

His love was like a dew drop that falls upon the ground,
It came on Sunday evening and left on Monday morn.
His love was in his pocket, his love was in his heart,
To me he gave a little to the other girls part.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Greer Gilman for the transcription of Lal and Norma Waterson's version.