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Go and Leave Me / Fond Affection

[ Roud 459 ; G/D 6:1145 ; Ballad Index R755 ; Bodleian Roud 459 ; DT GOLEAVME ; Mudcat 71063 , 128109 ; trad.]

Percy Webb sang Go and Leave Me in a mono recording at The King’s Head, Upper St. Islington in 1968. This was published in 1974 on the Topic album Flash Company: Traditional Singers From Suffolk and Essex. Mike Yates noted:

Go and Leave Me or Fond Affection, as it is often called, is well known throughout Britain and North America. Gavin Greig found that it was popular in Aberdeenshire at the turn of the century and Superintendent Ord of the Glasgow City Police included a set in his noted collection of Bothy Songs and Ballads. It is particularly widespread in America (Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina) and has been called by the distinguished Missouri folklorist H.M. Belden “a favourite among songs of disappointed love”.

Peta Webb (no relation) sang Go and Leave Me in a 1992 recording especially made for the Fellside anthology of English traditional songs, Voices. The album’s producer Paul Adams noted:

A love lament heard widely in Britain and Ireland. The chorus comes from Suffolk singer Percy Webb and the verses from many singers, mainly travellers. Peta says that she likes to bring out the woman’s scorn for the man who jilts her as well as her pain. Peta believes firmly in the importance of learning directly from traditional sources and wherever possible has gone to meet the singers from whom she learnt. She has been on many collecting trips adding considerable knowledge as well as enthusiasm for traditional music.

Arcady sang Once I Loved on their 1995 album Many Happy Returns.

Finest Kind sang Fond Affection on their 1999 album Heart’s Delight. They noted:

This traditional song has been sung under various titles across the southern U.S. Our version is based on one Shelley [Posen] learned 20 years ago from Norma Waterson, Go and Leave Me If You Wish To. We have since adopted the engaging title of a Missouri variant.

Norma Waterson sang Go and Leave Me in 2000 on her third solo album Bright Shiny Morning and on the Topic sampler A Woman’s Voice. Maria Gilhooley, Nadine Elliott and Eliza Carthy sang chorus vocals and Eliza Carthy accompanied on violin, too. Norma also sang it live at the Union Chapel in November 2010 on the DVD The Gift Band Live on Tour. She noted on her original album:

These words are from Sarah and Rita Keane but I started singing it after talking a lot with Walter Pardon. His mum used to sing it and I think that it’s a Victorian Parlour Ballad.

Margaret Bennett sang Go and Leave Me in 2001 on her Foot Stompin’ CD In the Sunny Long Ago…. She noted:

This song might sound as if it came from a Country and Western 78 disc, but it’s a 19th century ‘weepy’. Who knows where it started off, but it was popular in Scotland by the early 20th century. Mr Greig and the Rev. Duncan received requests for it via the newspaper. In 1906, after they’d collected a number of versions in the North-east, Greig remarked that “the song has been traditional [in Scotland] for a while” [G-D #1145]. My version comes from the singing of two friends, Cathal McConnell and Duncan Williamson.

John Spiers and Jon Boden recorded Go and Leave Me in 2003 for their duo CD Bellow and Jon Boden sang it as the 19 July 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. Their version is quite similar to Peta Webb’s but Jon sings it from a male point of view. The CD liner commented accordingly:

Another soppy one. This time a conflagration of Irish balladry and Victorian Music Hall learnt from the singing of Peta Webb.

Peta Webb commented in the AFSAD blog:

I first heard it in Suffolk in the early 1970s (where it was commonly song in pubs) sung by Percy Webb from around Framlingham (no relation, but a great character!). He sang it in straightforward style, verse and chorus the same tune.

I then heard Sarah & Rita Keane (Co. Galway) sing it, on their beautiful LP for Claddagh, Once I Loved (available on CD CC04CD). This is their title for it (in Ireland it is claimed as an Irish song). I gathered extra verses from them and use their more elaborate tune for the verse, retaining Percy Webb’s straight chorus tune as being easier to join in with. I changed the key line to “Go and leave me if you wish love” (instead of “to”) so she’s directly addressing the runaway lover. I also introduced a sense of scorn for him and pride in herself rather than keeping to the pathos of the Keanes’ delivery.

I heard a wonderful tune variant from traveller Anne O’ Neill, with a country & western twist, so I inserted that particular variant just once at the end of the “Here’s the ring love” verse. I didn’t consciously set out to do any of this, the song just evolved over five years or so as I sang it then heard other versions.

Hannah Rarity sang Go and Leave Me on the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2019.

Tommy Armstrong wrote his lament Trimdon Grange to the tune of Go and Leave Me If You Wish It.


Peta Webb sings Go and Leave Me

Once I loved with fond affection,
All his thoughts they were of me
Until a dark girl did persuade him;
Now he thinks no more of me.

One hour he’s happy with another
One that has great gold in store,
While I poor girl am left broken-hearted:
I’m left alone because I’m poor.

Chorus (after every other verse):
So go and leave me if you wish, love,
Never let me cross your mind.
For if you think I’m so unworthy
Go and leave me, I don’t mind.

Many’s the day, love, with you I’ve rambled,
Many was the night that with you I’ve spent;
For I always thought you were mine forever
But now I know you were only lent.

Here’s the ring, love, which first you gave me
When our hearts they were entwined.
Give it to that dark-haired lady;
She’ll never know that it once was mine.

Many’s the night, love, as you lie sleeping,
Dreaming in your sweet repose,
While I young girl lie broken-hearted,
Listening to the wind that blows.

Fare thee well friends and kind relations,
Farewell to you, you false young man;
’Tis you that has caused me pain and suffering.
Never to return again.

Norma Waterson sings Go and Leave Me

Now once I loved with fond affection
One whose heart was dear to me,
Till there came such a dreary parting;
Now he no longer speaks to me.

Chorus (after each verse):
So go and leave me if you wish to,
Never let me cross your mind.
If you think I have been unworthy
Go and leave me, I don’t mind.

Many’s the night in peaceful slumber
You have laid in sweet repose
While I, a young girl, lay broken-hearted
Listening to the wind that blows.

Here is the ring that once you gave me
When our lips they were entwined,
Give it to that fair-haired lady,
She’ll never know that it once was mine.

Links and Acknowledgements

Transcribed from the singing of Norma Waterson by Garry Gillard.

See also the related song Dear Companion (Roud 411).