An Unhappy Wife

This week we once again left everything to the last minute…you’d have thought we’d learn by now but apparently not! We had decided earlier on a song to perform (I won’t say which as it’ll be done later in the project) but we never got as far as rehearsing so we decided to find another song, short enough to learn in 3 hours!

Luckily we have a rather excellent little book called Classic English Folk Songs which has a great selection of old tunes.  Flipping through the pages we came across this great little comedy tune called “When I Was Young”.  The song dates back to at least the 18th century but it’s longevity is credited to it’s inclusion in an 1850 publication called 120 Comedy Songs Sung by Sam Cowell.

The song is from the perspective of a woman who bemoans her marriage to a pauper and yearning for the days where she had family wealth and freedom from her husband and her baby.

“When I was young I used to sport and play, but now I’m married and the cradle’s in the way.

Oh what a life, what a weary weary life! You’d better be a maiden as a poor man’s wife.”

We played around with the rhythm of the song a little to make it sound a bit more upbeat but otherwise we stuck pretty close to what was collected in 1920 by W. G. Whittaker when he heard it sung by a Mrs Moore in County Durham.

The song seems to have fallen a little out of fashion in recent years but we love it and hope that it has a resurgence soon!  So here you go, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do 🙂


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