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Folk Songs, Billy Boy

(29 Posts)
TriciaF Wed 14-Dec-16 16:42:40

This was one of the folk songs I knew in my childhood, but looking it up on Wiki etc, it's nothing like the version I knew. Which started:
Where have ye been aal the day, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Where have ye been aal the day ma Billy Boy?
Aa've been waalkin aal the day wiv me darlin' Nancy May
And me Nancy kittled me fancy
OOh... me charmin Billy Boy. etc (other verses).
Last verse:
Is she fit te be yer wife Billy Boy Billy Boy?
Is she fit te be yer wife me Billy Boy?
She's as fit to be me wife as a fork is to a knife
And me Nancy kittled me fancy
Ooh... me charmin Billy Boy.
Hoping someone remembers this version.

bellsisabelle Wed 14-Dec-16 16:55:38

Yep. Same version here. Still sing it.

janeainsworth Wed 14-Dec-16 17:24:09

Yes Tricia that's the version I know, except I think it's charming Nancy Gray, not darling Nancy May smile

yggdrasil Wed 14-Dec-16 17:50:02

The place to look for folk songs is the Mudcat cafe
They know all versions, and there are discussions about what comes from where. There seems to be agreement that your version comes from Northumbria.

TriciaF Wed 14-Dec-16 20:39:44

Well done all! Yes that's where I grew up.
The reason I ask is that our neighbour had a dog called Bill. He belonged to the husband, who died about 7 years ago. Bill was very fond of our dog, a border collie, and came round every morning to spend the day with her after his master died. We went for a walk in the afternoons. The widow was still working, but collected him in the evenings. She was fond of him too, he was a goodnatured dog.
I used to sing a doctored version of Billy Boy to him sometimes.
Then a few weeks ago he died, he was a good age. So I was thinking of printing out the song for my neighbour, she has a keyboard and likes folk songs.
I'll have to try to translate it into french!

Nandalot Wed 14-Dec-16 22:10:57

Same version I learnt as a child and that was down south.

hildajenniJ Wed 14-Dec-16 23:19:27

We used to sing, "And does Nancy tickle your fancy, oh me charming Billy boy". It is mostly the same though. I grew up in Cumberland, only recently moving to Northumberland.

Bellanonna Wed 14-Dec-16 23:24:34

I knew it as Charming Nancy Gray, and it was tickled, not kittled (London area)

merlotgran Wed 14-Dec-16 23:27:58

My gran used to sing it to me and it was always 'Me Nancy tickled me fancy'

I thought it was the southern version. tchgrin

Granny23 Thu 15-Dec-16 00:39:02

I knew it too in Central Scotland - always charming Nancy Grey and tickled me fancy.

BBbevan Thu 15-Dec-16 06:49:14

Yes .,Nancy Grey tickled his fancy 😊

rubysong Thu 15-Dec-16 13:11:58

Yes, I remember it from school. I don't think these minor alterations matter; it's just important that folk songs are remembered and passed on. Small changes happen over time, let's sing more folk songs in 2017! Three friends and I meet once a month for tea and cake and we sing from a folk song book,( the Lincolnshire poacher is a favourite.)

TriciaF Thu 15-Dec-16 13:26:58

The only version I can find on youtube is an american version, and the tune is different from the tune I know, which has a sort of skipping rhythm.

janeainsworth Thu 15-Dec-16 17:12:35

Tricia this gentleman's version will be more to your taste. smile

TriciaF Thu 15-Dec-16 21:09:42

Jane thanks for that - it looks like our version!
I can't play it for the moment as husband is watching the snooker and isn't at all musical.
The comments mention 'kittle' instead of 'tickle'.

PoshGran Sat 14-Jan-17 16:51:01

Hello TriciaF and BillyBoy posters.

As a newbie to GN I've only just spotted your thread & was delighted to see it.

I had a wonderful music teacher at my secondary school in the northeast called George Ryder, who started a silver band from scratch & was also keen to encourage singers (like me). At an after school club he introduced, from the piano, a new song to be sung as a duet. I was overjoyed to hear the tune & then words that I knew very well - Billy Boy.

Our family was in possession of a wonderful book The News Chronical Song Book (circa 1946) compiled & edited by T P Ratcliff which was "not merely intended for Community Singing purposes".It's divided up into sections: general, negro spirituals,children's, hymns & carols, and sea shanties (including BB), with words & simple piano accompaniment.

Billy Boy is listed as a Northumbrian Capstan Shanty & was collected & edited by one R R Terry. There are four verses;1 is Where hev ye been aal the day, 2 is Is she fit to be yor wife,3 is Can she cook a bit o' steak, and 4 is Can she myek an Irish stew. Do those verses match yours?

I vaguely recall Mr Ryder trying to explain to two giggly schoolgirls just what "kittl'd me fancy" meant - but I think we made our own minds up!! smile

TriciaF Sat 14-Jan-17 19:16:21

'1 is Where hev ye been aal the day, 2 is Is she fit to be yor wife,3 is Can she cook a bit o' steak, and 4 is Can she myek an Irish stew.' Do those verses match yours?
Yes, just the same smile
I have some books of NE songs too - got them from Windows in Newcastle Arcade years ago. Tyneside Songs vols. 1-4.
Sadly I can't play them on the piano at the moment, some of the main notes are dead because of mice.

Grandma70s Fri 29-Dec-17 19:23:41

At school,in the 1950s we sang lots of folk songs and national songs, including Billy Boy, from a book that may have been The National Song Book. I loved them, and I think it’s very sad that schoolchildren no longer learn these things which are part of our history.

Early One Morning, Barbara Allan, Cockles and Mussels, The Keys of Canterbury, Skye Boat Song, There is a Tavern in the Town, Tom Bowling. Anyone remember any more? No doubt some of them were cleaned up for us.

BBbevan Fri 29-Dec-17 19:30:47

Uncle Tom Cobbley, Green grow the Rushes O, are two I remember.

Grandma70s Fri 29-Dec-17 19:41:17

I remember those, too, BBbevan!

Nandalot Fri 29-Dec-17 19:55:54

I think we must have had the same book at our school. Was Greensleeves in it too?

Did anyone else do country dancing during wet lunchtimes at school? Dashing White Sargeant and the like.

Elegran Fri 29-Dec-17 19:56:23

Can she brew and can she bake? Billy boy, Billy boy
Can she brew and can she bake? My Billy boy
She can brew and she can bake, she can make a ???? cake,
And me Nancy tickled me fancy
OOh... me charmin Billy Boy. etc

Grandma70s Fri 29-Dec-17 20:39:18

Nandalot - yes, I think Greensleeevs probably was in the book.

Then there’s “Dashing away with the smoothing iron
She stole my heart away.”

The place of women was well and truly defined in these old songs!

margrete Sat 30-Dec-17 11:18:07

Yes, I remember the song. All old folk-songs have variations in the words when sung by different people down the generations.

Can I give a little 'plug' to a new CD out by a young man named Jack Rutter 'Hills'. Lovely folk singing. A different version of 'John Barleycorn' included.

Our English culture!

Ginny42 Sat 20-Jan-18 03:55:53

What are 'singin' hinnies' please? The singer in the link posted by JaneAinsworth mentions them. Thanks for the link. I remember being enchanted by The Gypsy Rover, although it's probably very non pc now. Greensleeves was another favourite from schooldays and still is. We were told it was written by Henry VIII and if it was, I wonder who he 'loved both well and long' but who cast him off 'discourteously'!

Memories of lovely folk songs are just what I need when I'm awake at silly o'clock.