Amarillis

from by James Bell

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about

This song is usually better known as ‘I Care Not For These Ladies’, and was written by the composer Thomas Campion (1567 - 1620). But as I’m changing it significantly by removing the intricate lute part (which was probably considered more important than the singing at the time) I feel it’s now basically a different song.

(I confess, I also changed the line 'we must give golden showers' to 'we must give gifts in showers' because, to me at least, 'golden showers' are associated with urolagnia, and I didn’t want to giggle every time I sang it.)

There was a brief period, around the time of Shakespeare, when English composers like John Dowland, Philip Rosseter and Thomas Campion produced these brilliant lute songs, usually about love and frequently melancholy, that remind me so much of the modern singer / songwriters. And this song particularly sounded to me like it would really fit a much more modern arrangement, and I’ve been waiting for a chance to record it.

Like all the best old songs, it’s extremely ambiguous. Underneath the romantic sheen, surely you have to question just how keen Amarillis really is about the author of this song, don’t you? When they court and kiss, she cries ‘let go’. But when they ‘come where comfort is’ (whatever *that* means) she never will say no.

Which, significantly, is not the same as actually saying yes.

lyrics

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,

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

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Who when we court and kiss, etc.
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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,

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Who when we court and kiss, etc.
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credits

from Joy & Jealousy, released November 5, 2013
Traditional arranged by James Bell.

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about

James Bell Oxford, UK

I'm a musician based in Oxford, UK. I play guitar and sing. I've been writing and recording songs since 1988 and adapting English traditional music since 2006. I perform solo and with the band James Bell & The Half Moon All Stars.

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