> Waterson:Carthy > Songs > The Royal Forester / The Bald-Headed End of the Broom

The Bald-Headed End of the Broom

[ Roud 2129 ; Ballad Index FaE190 ; Harry Bennett (1877)]

The New Deal String Band sang The Bald-Headed End of the Broom on the 1973 Argo compilation The World of Folk 2.

Waterson:Carthy recorded The Bald-Headed End of the Broom in 1999 for their third album, Broken Ground. Eliza (fiddle) and Martin Carthy (guitar) and Saul Rose (melodeon) open the track with the Bampton Morris tune The Royal Forester and then are joined by Norma Waterson on triangle and the Phoenix New Orleans Parade Band on The Bald-Headed End of the Broom, sung by Martin Carthy. This track was also included in 2001 on The Carthy Chronicles.

Martin Carthy commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

The Bald-Headed End of the Broom is more widespread than I ever imagined. I had thought of it as piece of 1920s(ish) vaudeville, and remember Mike Seeger singing it with or without the New Lost City Ramblers, but lo and behold it turns up in Northern Ireland in the repertoire of a woman called Martha Gillen and recorded by Séamus Ennis and Sean O'Boyle [in 1954] with a totally different tune. We'd like to thank the Phoenix New Orleans Parade Band for their hard work on this. John Pashley sweated cobs when we asked his lot to do this and almost worried himself into a pile of old laundry about it. He needn't have worried as far as we're concerned. The song is prefaced by a morris tune from the Bampton tradition and called The Royal Forester. Thank them too (again).

This video shows Waterson:Carthy singing The Bald Headed End of the Broom and Raggle Taggle Gypsies at Loughborough Folk Festival 2008:

Jeff Warner sang Baldheaded End of the Broom on his 2005 album Jolly Tinker. He commented in his liner notes:

The song seems to have been written in 1977 by American songwriter Harry Bennett as Boys Keep Away from the Gals. It became widely popular and was often recorded as an early country music song (1920s-1950s). Not until I learned it did I remember that it was in the repertoire of Lee Monroe Presnell, one of the traditional singers from Beech Mountain, North Carolina, that my parents Anne and Frank befriended and recorded (1951).

Andy Turner learned The Bald-Headed End of the Broom from Peter Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain & Ireland. He sang it as the August 9, 2014 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Waterson:Carthy sing The Bald-Headed End of the Broom

Oh love it is a funny funny thing
It affects both young and old
Like a plate of burning ash
Many's the man that is sold
Make you feel like a fresh water eel
Cause your head to swell
You will lose your mind 'cause love is blind
You will empty your pocket as well

Chorus (after each verse):
Boys I say from the girls keep away
Give them lots of room
When you're wed they will hit you on the head
With the bald-headed end of the broom

When a man is in love with a pretty little girl
He will talk to her gentle as a dove
Give her all his money and he'll call her honey
And it's all for fun and love
When the money's all spent and you can't pay the rent
You'll find the story's true
That a mole in the arm's worth two in the leg
What's he going to do?

With a wife and fifteen half-starved kids
You will find that it is no fun
When the butcher comes around to collect his dues
With his dog and the double-barrelled gun
Screaming baby on each knee
Plaster on your nose
You'll find true love don't run very smooth
When you wear those pawnshop clothes

So now my boys take my advice
Don't be in any hurry to wed
You'll think you're in clover till the honeymoon is over
Then you'll wish you were dead
When the rents are high and the children cry
For want of hash to chaw
You'll find his son's gonna pick up his gun
And shoot his mother-in-law.

Oh love it is a funny funny thing
It affects both young and old
Like a plate of burning ash
Many's the man that is sold
Make you feel like a fresh water eel
Cause your head to swell
You will lose your mind 'cause love is blind
You will empty your pocket as well

Acknowledgements and Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origin: Bald-Headed End of a Broom.

Garry Gillard thanks Wolfgang Hell for a lot of help with the transcription.