Joy & Jealousy

by James Bell

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Way What a find - this is truly different, unique even and such fun to listen to - thank you James..
setecastronomy thumbnail
setecastronomy It went like this: James Bell got a little money, another subscriber to his feed and my attention. In return, I got hold of this unbelievable beautiful music and lyrics that make you dream while you try to simultaneously cry and laugh. And insights into the complicated relationship between larks and melodeons on top of that, kinda as a free give-in. The by far better part of this deal was mine. Favorite track: The Dawning Of The Day.
Will Tattersdill
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Will Tattersdill Mr. Bell takes classic folk tunes and does... weird... stuff to them. It's awesome! Favorite track: Robbing On The Highway.
Ben Walker
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Ben Walker I love James Bell. He takes very traditional folk songs and makes them work perfectly in a modern setting, staying true to the originals without being stuffy.

Also he sounds like Joey Tempest from Europe when he gets going, and that's never a bad thing. Favorite track: The Mermaid.
Grant Evan Nordine
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Grant Evan Nordine It takes a lot of skill to do what James Bell does. With a voice to rival a young Ian Anderson and a musical savvy to transport you back in time to an old English brothel, there is truly no artist out there who is doing what James is doing for music. And even if there was, they're probably not doing it nearly as well. Favorite track: William Grismond's Downfall.
Caitlin M
Caitlin M thumbnail
Caitlin M Really trad., well-researched folk that's unpretentious, joyful and not so traditional that it strangles the life out of the subject. Highly recommended (Also: Bad-arse Bandit Ladies. YES).
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released November 5, 2013



all rights reserved


James Bell Oxford, UK

Recording artist. Singer. Guitarist. Songwriter. Producer. Performer of traditional English music. Not interested in being famous. Very interested in making good music. Prone to stubbornly ignore the advice of friends in the pursuit of a singular and unique artistic vision, only to admit in a couple of years that, yeah, okay, that particular thing didn’t really work. ... more

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Track Name: Robbing On The Highway
Kind gentlemen all pray listen awhile,
(With a down a down, hey down hey down,)
I'll sing you a song shall make you smile,
(With a down)
It's of a young lady both valiant and gay,
Who went out a robbing upon the highway.
(With a down, derry derry derry down down.)

Dressed in man's apparel Miss Hughes she set out,
Well mounted on horseback without fear or doubt,
With two loaded pistols she then rode away,
As bold as a lion to seek for her prey.

She had not rode long ere she met with a prize,
Which caused her courage and valour to rise,
She loved to have money, although a bad plan
And presently met with a rich gentleman.

She rode up to Mr Witcomb and bid him to stand;
With a pistol presented in her right hand:
“Do get your money and without strife,
Or in but a moment I'll take your sweet life.”

He pulled out his pocket-book seeing her so bold,
With two hundred and twenty in bills, notes and gold
"Here take this all, my good fellow" says he,
"Only spare my life," "I will sir," said she.

She put into her pocket, a glorious sight
Then rode up with speed and bid him good night
Overjoyed with her prize and with a light heart,
It proved for her but an unlucky start.

She was quickly pursued and taken at last
When once more this lady in prison was cast
She was tried in Lent Assizes and pardoned from death
On account of her parents and her noble high birth.

Though her father's a gentleman each they do say
But his daughter like others has wandered astray,
Being cursed in love caused her to roam
And drove her to distress and dare not go home.

This last robbery committed just made up a score
She took from the rich and gave it to the poor
Left like to Nevison [famous highwayman] - she thought it a good deed,
By giving to those whom she found were in need.

We'll give her applause though she should not act so
It was a wrong attempt for a lady to show,
Upon the highway to seek her bread,
By frightening a gentleman almost to dead.
Track Name: The Mermaid
One Friday morn as we set sail,
Not very far from land,
We there did espy a fair pretty maid
With a comb and a glass in her hand, her hand, her hand,
With a comb and a glass in her hand.

While the raging seas did roar,
And the stormy winds did blow,
While we jolly sailor-boys were up into the top,
And the land-lubbers lying down below, below, below,
And the land-lubbers lying down below.

Then up starts the captain of our gallant ship,
And a brave young man was he:
“I’ve a wife and a child in fair Bristol town,
But a widow I fear she will be.”

For the raging seas did roar...

Then up starts the mate of our gallant ship,
And a bold young man was he:
“Oh! I have a wife in fair Portsmouth town,
But a widow I fear she will be.”

For the raging seas did roar...

Then up starts the cook of our gallant ship,
And a gruff old bastard was he:
“Oh! I have a wife and a mistress and a dog,
Oh but widows I fear they will be.”

For the raging seas did roar...

And then up spoke the little cabin-boy,
And a pretty little boy was he;
“Oh! I am more griev’d for my daddy and my mummy
Than are you for your wives all three.”

For the raging seas did roar...

Then three times round went our gallant ship,
And three times round went she;
For the want of a life-boat we all went down,
And we sank to the bottom of the sea.

For the raging seas did roar...
Track Name: William Grismond's Downfall
O come you wilful young men,
     and hear what I shall tell,
My name is William Grismond,
     at Leintwardine did dwell;
O there I did a murder,
     as it is known full well;
And for my offence I shall die, I shall die.
And for my offence I shall die.

There was a neighbour’s daughter
     that lived me hard by,
Whom I had promised marriage,
     and with her I did lie
I did dissemble with her,
     my lust to satisfy;
And for my offence I shall die....

I had my pleasure on her,
     I had my lewd desire,
The using of her body
     was that I did require:
I was overcome and I was ensnared
     by Him that was a Liar;
And for my offence I shall die....

She claimed of me marriage,
     and said she was with child,
Saying “Marry me sweet William,
     now you have me defiled:
If you do now forsake me,
     I utterly am spoiled,
And for my offence I shall die....”

When she had used these speeches,
     my anger did arise,
And then to work her overthrow,
     I quickly did devise;
What though her words were honest,
     yet I did them despise;
And for my offence I shall die....

In flattering short I brought her,
     into the field of broom,
And when we both together
     into the field were come,
I had my pleasure with her,
     and then I was her doom;
And for my offence I shall die....

Then in the broom I killed her,
     with my accursed knife,
There hatefully I killed her,
     who loved me as her life;
I cut her throat, I killed her,
     who should have been my wife;
And for my offence I shall die....

But then my loving father,
     his gold he did not spare,
To save me from the gallows,
     he had of me great care;
But it would not be granted.
     the gallows was my share;
And for my offence I did die, I did die.
And for my offence I did die.
Track Name: The New Way To Make Love
Young lovers, for love I'd not have you despair,
But unto my frolicsome song lend an ear,
At Oxford there lived two lords of great fame,
One had a fair daughter, sweet Susan by name

The other lord he had a steward we hear,
Was deeply in love with this lady fair,
But yet for to court her he darest not pretend,
For fear of the anger of her noble friends

So great was his love he could not take rest
For love and fear struggling both in his breast :
At last in distraction a letter he writes,
And defiantly sends it to his lady bright.

Saying “Pardon fair lady, I humbly pray,
But pity a lover that long-wishing lay,
I am a lord's steward, so mean in degree,
I die for thy sake, charming creature," said he

The lady returned this scornful reply,
"You impudent fellow; I do not think that I,
Who am a lady, my father's own heir,
Would wed a lord's steward, I pray now forbear."

As soon as the steward her answer received,
His heart was oppressed, and his spirits were grieved,
So pensive he grew, that within a short time
His place to another was forced to resign

He being invited one day to a feast
A frolicsome doctor was one of the guests
He quickly perceived the steward was in love,
So he called him aside, and went to a grove.

“Kind sir,” says the doctor, “take it not amiss,
For I perceive your distemper is this,
That you are in love with a young lady fair,
I'd have you discover it now if you are.

I have a medicine will quickly cure that disease,”
The steward smiled and seemed very well pleased,
Saying “That's my distemper, if you can me cure,
I fifty bright guineas for you will procure.”

“But she is so much, sir, beyond my degree,
For such a noble lord's daughter is she.”
“Never heed,” says the doctor, “my wife does her know,
If you'll be ruled by me we'll order it so.”

“I know of a chambermaid she is need,
She sent to my wife to help her with speed :
You shall dress yourself in female attire,
My wife for a chambermaid soon shall you hire,”

“But what must I do, sir,” the steward he said,
“I don't understand, sir, the work of a maid.”
“Your work will be little”, the doctor did say,
“It's only to dress this young lady gay.”

“My wife shall not know but you are a maid,
So you shall be dressed e'er she sees you,” he said.
He liked of the frolic, all things did prepare.
And he did appear like a female so fair,

The doctor he goes to his wife, then he said,
“My dear, such a lady asked you for a maid ;
Where I dined today, a brisk maid I did see
Take her to your lady, my dear, instantly.”

“Come, I will go with you,” the woman did say,
“The lady will like you, because you are gay.”
The steward did strut with an air and a grace,
And goes with the woman to see his new place.

The lady the chambermaid liked I declare,
So she gave her earnest, and hired she were;
“I love a neat maid,” the lady did cry,
“For I with my chambermaid always do lie.”

The steward a-curtsy he drop to the ground,
For joy of that word he was ready to swoon ;
Being hired, he back to the doctor did he
Overjoyed that he was with his lady to be

The doctor cried, “Steward how will you forbear,
Don't for fear that discovered you are ;
It is a temptation I needs must confess,
But you must forbear it, sir, nevertheless.”

The steward he goes to his place for to find,
The lady she liked of his service so well
He was her bedfellow, he knew all her mind,
Each night they would talk of their sweethearts kind.

“Here was a lord's steward,” the lady did say,
“Not long since he wrote a letter to me,
And really I liked his person,” said she,
“But only he is so mean in degree.”

One night as they both were laid down in their bed
The chambermaid unto the lady she said:
“Madam, this day I the steward did see
Of which you did speak t'other night unto me.”

“Well, how did you like him?” the lady did say
“Why madam, I think he is proper and gay;
His courteous behaviour, his carriage and mean,
His person I think it is fit for a queen.”

So then with a smile the young lady replied,
“I wish that he lying here was by my side ;
But unto the match you may very well think
My parents by any means will not consent.”

They talk of love stories till they fall asleep,
Then close to her side the steward did creep;
Her charms he admired, as by her he lay.
But remembered still what the doctor did say,

One day he to the young doctor did go,
Saying, “Doctor, I very impatient do grow,
Do strive to finish the frolic,” he said,
“Or else I discovered shall be I'm afraid.”

The doctor he gave him a medicine to take,
Saying, “This will lay you in a sound sleep;
T’will stop any motion,” the doctor he said,
“That all which do see you will think you are dead.”

“Then they'll soon discover that you are a man,
And when from sleep you recover again,
For fear that the lady exposed should be,
Her parents will instantly give her to thee.”

Then home to his lady he instantly goes,
And first took the medicine and fell in a doze,
The lady awakening in the dead of the night,
Began to be in a desperate fight.

She pulled him and hauled him, but thinking him dead
Like one in distraction she jumped out of bed
And unto her mother she runs in a fright,
Saying “Mother, the chambermaid's dead by my side.”

The servants they ran up the stairs with all speed
Some ran for the doctor the maid for to bleed
“It is but a folly to bleed her,” he said
“For really to tell you the truth she is dead.”

The lady sat down, and she bitterly wept
“I'm sure I am grieved that she died by my side,
She was a good servant,” the young lady said,
“I'm sure I am sorry poor Betty is dead.”

To lay out the corpse the maids did prepare,
Had you seen how they at one another did stare;
“If I am not mistaken,” then said pretty Nan,
“I think our chambermaid's turned to a man.”

“A man!” says the lady, “I'm sure you are all wild,
I hope that the rogue has not got me with child.”
“With child,” says the mother, “You impudent quean! [immoral woman / prostitute]
What is it by all this juggling you mean?”

“Dear mother, I hope you will not me blame,
I'm sure that I nothing did know of the same;
Twas the doctor's wife that brought him to me,
Therefore let us send for her hastily.”

When to the woman they had told their tale,
She cried, "In your judgement, girls, do you not fail"
She goes to the corpse and she pulls down the sheet
She cries, "He's a man! I plainly see it."

But as they were in the midst of their fright
He waked from his sleep, and started upright:
They took to their heels, and downstairs they did fly
The old lord he arose when he heard the outcry.

The steward he dressed himself, and down he did come
The old lord he said, "What is this you have done?
Come tell me the truth or I solemnly swear
I surely will punish you very severe."

He down'd on his knees, and the truth did relate,
The lord he did laugh till his sides they did ache,
He liked of the frolic so well, as we hear,
He willingly gave him his daughter so dear.

But is that the truth? I now declare,
I really believe that he did it for fear :
The lady his daughter by him was trepanned [i.e. tricked]
For it was plainly proved she had lain with a man.
Track Name: John Peel
Do you know John Peel with his coat so grey?
Do you know John Peel at the break of day?
Do you know John Peel when he's far far away.
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed,
And the cry of his hounds which he oftime led,
Peel's "View, Halloo!" could awaken the dead,
Or the fox from his lair in the morning.

Do you know that bitch whose tongue was death?
Do you know her sons of peerless faith?
Do you know that fox, with his last breath
Cursed 'em all as he died in the morning?

For the sound of his horn, etc.

Yes I know John Peel and Ruby too
And Ranter and Royal and Bellman as true,
From the drag to the chase, from the chase to the view
From a view to a kill in the morning

For the sound of his horn, etc.

And I’ve followed John Peel both often and far,
Over rasper fence and the gate and the bar,
From low Denton Holme up to Scratchmere Scar,
Where we vie for the brush in the morning

For the sound of his horn, etc.

Then here's to John Peel with my heart and soul
Come fill to him another strong bowl,
And we'll follow John Peel through fair and through foul
While we’re waked by his horn in the morning.

For the sound of his horn, etc.
Track Name: Allen & Sally
It was in the evening of a wintry day,
Then just returning from a long campaign,
Allen, over tired and weary with the way,
Came home to see his Sally once again.

His tattered arms he carelessly threw down,
And viewed his Sally with enraptured eyes ;
But she received him with a modest frown,
She knew not Allen in his rough disguise.

His hair was knotted and his beard unshorn,
His tattered 'coutrements about him hung ;
A tear of pleasure did his cheeks adorn,
And blessings fell in torrents from his tongue.

“Am I so altered by war's cruel trade,
That you your faithful Allen have forgot ;
Or has your heart upon some other strayed?
Ah! why escaped I from the murdering shot?”

When thus he spoke, her wonted colour fled,
She ran and sunk upon her Allen's breast,
All pale awhile, she looks like one that's dead
He kissed, she breathed, and all her love confessed.

“Yes, my delight, though altered as thou art,
Reduced by war's dread carnage to this state,
Thou art the golden treasure of my heart,
My long lost husband, and my wished-for mate.”
Track Name: Can You Wonder At Crime?
I've been thinking, of late I've been thinking
And my thoughts I can scarcely divine,
I've been thinking why people should wonder,
At London's great increase in crime.
Cries good old John Bull, “It's a poser,
There's something I can't understand,
And I'd fork out a trifle to know, sir,
Why crime should increase in our land ;
We've peace, we have plenty of gold, sir,
Our banks are as full as can hold, sir,
We can buy up the world, so I'm told, sir,
Yet still there's an increase of crime.”

It's quite true what you say, Mr. Bull, sir,
We have riches in heaps stowed away,
Mouldy with age and mildew, sir,
Guarded by night and by day,
But like the ill-natured dog in the manger,
Your gold to yourself to confine,
Where a little would make a great change, sir,
In our terrible increase in crime.
For expenses you don't care a jot, sir,
You feed German princes the lot, sir,
While the poor man with hunger may rot, sir,
Mr. Bull, can you wonder at crime?

Can you wonder at crime any longer,
When you see the police on their beat
Preventing the poor costermongers
From earning their bread in the street ;
While the rogue on the stool he stands grinning
At the broad open face of the day,
Your pocket he will pick for a shilling,
And the law cannot touch him, he'll say.
He defies all the East End Division,
He laughs with contempt and derision,
While you send the poor coster to prison -
Mr. Bull, can you wonder at crime?

I am sure you will own, Mr. Bull, sir,
Temptation is hard to resist ;
Look at our poor needle girls, sir,
Trying their best to exist ;
Can you wonder at their prostitution,
When blood-sucking forms barely give
Enough to ward off destitution ;
A girl, though she's poor, she must live.
The poor needle girl, God defend her
With feelings as keen and as tender
As your proud city ladies remember -
Mr. Bull, can you wonder at crime?

Just think when you're drinking your wine, sir,
How the poor of England are fed,
While you with your rich friends can dine, sir,
It's a godsend for them to get bread ;
Just visit the house of the poor, sir,
Such a sight you will rarely behold,
The fever dens go and explore, sir,
And scatter your hoarded up gold ;
For a little would soon break asunder
The chain that the poor suffer under,
Go listen to the great pang of hunger,
And never more wonder at crime.
Track Name: Amarillis
I care not for these ladies
That must be wooed and prayed,
Give me kind Amarillis
The wanton country maid,
Nature art disdaineth,
Her beauty is her own,

For when we court and kiss,
She cries forsooth let go
But when we come where comfort is
She never will say no.

If I love Amarillis,
She gives me fruit and flowers,
But if we love these ladies,
We must give gifts in showers,
Give them gold that sell love,
Give me the nutbrown lass,

Who when we court and kiss, etc.

These ladies must have pillows,
And beds by strangers wrought,
Give me a bower of willows,
Of moss and leaves unbought.
And fresh Amarillis
With milk and honey fed,

Who when we court and kiss, etc.
Track Name: The Dawning Of The Day
It was pleasant and delightful
On a bright summer's morn
When the fields and the meadows
They were covered with corn
And the blackbirds and thrushes
On every green spray
And the larks they sang melodious
At the dawning of the day
And the larks, they sang melodious...
At the dawning of the day.

And we'd burned through every morning
And we sighed through each night
And we'd sang of larks' melodeons
And laughed till we cried
And I begged let me go with her
If she would not stay (she said)
"It was love and now it's over,
And there's nothing more to say."
It was love and now it's over...
And there's nothing more to say.

Oh the night it went on forever
As we argued and cried
As we laughed and held each other,
As I tried and I tried
But the night slipped away from me,
I could not keep hold
For she's leaving for another life
On the other side of the world
For she's leaving for another life...
On the other side of the world.

Oh it rained like the sky was angry
As I made my way home
And it seemed I was being beaten
By waves and by foam
And I fell into thick rain clouds
Of black and of grey
And I felt like I was drowning
As the rain it died away
And it felt like I was drowning...
As the rain it died away.

And then it was pleasant and delightful
On a bright summer's morn
When the fields and the meadows
Were covered with corn
And the blackbirds and thrushes
On every green spray
And the larks they sang melodious
At the dawning of the day
And the larks, they sang melodious...
At the dawning of the day.