Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Missing song - found!

Last night I wrote here about a song my father used to sing. I mentioned that I'd never heard anyone else sing it, and that I hadn't been able to find the lyrics or anything else about it. Then I packed up and went to bed.

While I slept peacefully, halfway round the world in Canada, Liz got to work.(Liz is one of my earliest and very favourite blogging buddies - check her out here - http://backwardleonard.blogspot.com/ )

And I woke up this morning to a comment from her which took me to a whole debate on the web about my song! The song I've always known as Three Lonely Prisoners, has been known as Two Convicts and The Prisoner. In the discussion, its origins were attributed to either Mississippi, Ireland or the London Music Hall.

My Dad had always sung about three prisoners, and I think he must have invented and inserted his own lyrics in a few places, but the lyrics printed below are definitely the basis of our song. Underneath I've tried to capture the words we knew and grew up with - I've tried and tried but I can't remember the last verse as he sang it - I'm hoping my sisters will jump in here and help me.

I cannot say how grateful I am to Liz for finding this and telling me about it. It means my new grandson Eddie, who will never get to meet his Great -Grandad, will at least get to grow up knowing something about him, his songs and some of our shared history.


Two convicts one day were seated, in a lonely prison cell -
The story of their past lives to each other did tell.
"I was once young and happy," said the elder of the two,
"I had a loving wife and a little baby too."

"One night as I went home, after working hard all day,
I found the fire had gone out and my wife had run away.
It was then I started drinking - for what else could I do?
I mixed with bad companions and became a burglar too."

"One night as I went out, to rob a mansion grand,
The tools were in my pocket, a revolver in my hand.
As I climbed through that window a gentle voice I heard.
I fired a shot, then cried a lot. By God I've shot my child."

Without a friend in all this wide world, not a friend to speak my name,
Praying to God that I might die, praying all in vain,
For after all that I have suffered, no man could ever tell,
With no place to shelter, but this lonely prison cell.


Three lonely prisoners, in a lonely prison cell -
The story of their lifetimes to each other they did tell.
Now the youngest of the three he said, 
"my tale I'll tell to you,
"I had a wife, a loving wife and a bonny baby too."

"As I came home, from working, after working hard all day,
I found my house without a light, my wife had run away.
So I took up to drinking - what else was I to do?
I mixed with bad companions and became a robber too."

"One night 'twas my intention, to rob a mansion grand,
My tools were in my pocket, my revolver in my hand.
As I climbed through the window I heard a voice cry out.
I turned around and fired a shot "Good God I'd shot my child."

"Not a friend in all this wide wide world, 
not a friend to call my own,
With no place to shelter, but this lonely prison cell".


Pat said...

Good old internet. So useful for jogging one's memories.

Liz said...

Yea!! I love a happy ending.

firespark said...

New here to your world, and am very happy to have found it! I've read a few of your past posts, and really love the short stories you've posted! Keep up the good work. :)

Also, fell in love with your friend Liz's blog up there - Hi Liz! - who you mentioned in this post... had to see who you were so lovingly referring to. I'm such a sucker for loyalty and old ties.

Sharon Longworth said...

Pat, so true - I don't know how we ever managed without it.

Liz, you are a complete star and I owe you big time.

Firespark, hello and welcome! thank you for stopping by and taking the time and trouble to write such a friendly and positive comment. I'm glad you liked it at Backward Leonard as well - I sometimes think Liz is living my ideal life (until I remember I'm living it...)!

Baglady said...

Wonderful! I love a happy ending :)

Maybe you can sing it for us a yuleblog?

Sharon Longworth said...

Baglady - now there's a challenge. There has been the odd occasion when an alcoholic over-indulgence has led to some full-on cockney renditions (think Chas & Dave as a female duet with one missing...) I can picture Philip and MLS cringing in the corner as I write this.

Caroline said...

The missing words are: 'how I have suffered, no man can tell' I loved this song and all my children know it now too! I must sing it to Gabby. Incidentally, you forgot Oh Clementina or Carolina as dad used to say - used to reduce me to tears every time x

Sharon Longworth said...

Carrie - it's coming back to me now - 'thou art lost and gone for ever, dreadful sorry Caroline!
Not surprising it made you cry.

And do you remember "oh dear what can the matter be, so long, locked in the lavatory, she was there from Monday to Saturday, nobody knew she was there..."

Caroline said...

I still sing that to Dylan! Ha ha ha

The Idiot Gardener said...

I can still sing the Jamacian Ginger Grower song from the McVities advert, word perfect.

It always made me laugh that the Jamacian Ginger Grower gave it all up to move to Peckham and run a pretend barber's shop!

Madame DeFarge said...

What a lovely thing for her to do for you. A most unknown song to me - all I need is the tune now.

Happy Frog and I said...

That's brilliant news! :-)

Mark Fletcher said...

Did you ever find the lyrics being song on the internet, it was our dads favourite as well