Bold Archer

from by Debra Cowan

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about

(trad. arr. Cowan/Bartley)
From the singing of Tony Rose

Known as “Archie O’ Cawfield” in Scotland and “Billy Broke Locks” in America, this story could be described as a Red Tape Ballad. It involves Archer, who is held in prison with assorted manacles, chains and heavy iron balls weighing about two tons. His friend, Bold Dickie, breaks into prison and carries Archer away, chains and all. The red tape comes in when the High Sheriff catches up with them and is not so much concerned with his escaped prisoner, but with the loss of two ton of ironmongery, which he has probably had to sign for at some point.

lyrics

As I walked out one morning in May,
All at the dawning of the day,
I met with two brothers a-making their moan,
I listen'd a while to what they did say.

"We have a brother in prison," said they,
"Oh, in prison lieth he,
If we had ten men just like ourselves
We surely will set the prisoner free.

"Oh, no, oh, no” Bold Dickie says he.
"Oh, no, oh no, that never could be;
For forty men is full little enough
If I for to ride in their companie."

"Ten to pull the horses in,
Ten to guard the city about,
Ten to stand at the prison door,
And ten to let poor Archer out."

They mounted their horses and so rode they,
Who but they so merrilie ?
They rode till they came to a broad riverside
And there they alighted so manfullie.

They mounted their horses and so swam they,
Who but they so swiminglie!
They swam till they came the the other side
And there they alighted so drippinglie.

They mounted their horses and so rode they,
Who but they so gallantlie!
They rode till they came to that prison door
And there they alighted so daringlie.

" Archer, poor Archer," Bold Dickie says he,
"Look you not so mournfullie
I've forty men in my companie
I have come to set you free."

"Oh, no, Oh, no," poor Archer he cried,
"Oh, no, oh, no, that never can be,
I’ve forty weight of good Spanish iron
Between me ankle and my knees."
But Dickie broke lock, and Dickie broke key
And Dickie broke everything he could see.
He took the poor Archer under his arm
He carried him out so manfullie.

They mounted their horses and so rode they,
Who but they so merrilie!
They rode till they came to that broad riverside,
And there they alighted so manfullie.

" Dickie, Bold Dickie," poor Archer he cried
"Give me love to me wife and me children three,
My horse he grows lame, he cannot swim,
Here I am afraid that I must die."

They changed their horses and so swam they,
Who but they so swiminglie!
They swam till they came to the other side,
And there they alighted so shiveringlie.

" Dickie, Bold Dickie," poor Archer he cried
"Look you yonder there and see,
I see the High Sheriff he is a-coming
A hundred men in his companie."

" Dickie, Bold Dickie," High Sheriff says he,
"You are the worst rascal ever I’ve seen;
Go bring me back the iron you stole
And I will set the prisoner free."

"Oh, no, oh, no," Bold Dickie says he,
"Oh, no, oh no, that never could be;
The iron will do to shoe our horses
The blacksmith rides in our companie."

"Dickie, Bold Dickie," High Sheriff says he,
"You are the worst scoundrel ever I’ve seen."
"Thank you for nothing," Bold Dickie replied,
"And you are a fool for following me."

credits

from The Long Grey Line, released January 23, 2001
Vocal: Debra Cowan
Guitar: Geoff Bartley
English Concertina: Jim Williams

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about

Debra Cowan Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Singer Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of folk songs. Debra has two acclaimed solo recordings to her credit, and her third, “Fond Desire Farewell” was produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks. A former California resident, she now resides in Massachusetts and tours all over North America and the United Kingdom. ... more

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