Folk songs


John Thomas.
John Thomas.

Years ago, when I was a lad,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
No worse than any other,
I set my mind on pretty girls
To fill the world with laughter
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh, bey–oh,
I set my mind on pretty girls
To fill the world with laughter

And in the end I married,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
With the prettiest girl I'd ever seen;
I'd have been better off, by the living God,
If I'd married an Irishwoman!

She couldn't knit, she couldn't sew,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
She couldn't wash clothes nor iron them,
Nor darn a patch on my trousers,
The bitch deserved a kicking!

She couldn't wind wool,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
She couldn't mend socks,
The only thing she could manage all right
Was making apple dumplings

She'd sing on the way to bed,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
She'd cry a little when she got up;
She'd sit by the fireside,
And scratch herself for hours on end

And when breakfast time came,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
The old glutton would be shovelling it in:
Eggs and pancakes turn about
– While I had a bowlful of slops!

One morning I decided,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
To talk to the old girl:
If things didn't change around here
I'd take her to court

But, "Thank you, Miss", Death came,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
And got hold of her by her heels;
He took the bitch from this world –
The very thing that was needed!

Before long I started courting,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
With old Twm Sion Cati's daughter;
She was very like my first wife –
And so I let her be.

After that I married,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
Gentle Siân from the mill;
And true to say, we lived together,
As happy as two lovebirds!

All the tidy lads in this company,
Boom–bah boom–bah boom–bah doodle eh,
Take some advice from me:
Make sure it's you wears the trousers
After you get married

SFNHM Tape 609. Collected 10.8.63 from John Thomas (engineer, n. 1912), Felin, Abercastell, near Mathri, north Pembrokeshire. Learnt initially by the singer from his relative Ben Phillips (1871–1958), who recorded several folk songs for the British Broadcasting Corporation during 1952–3.


The song is a frolicsome tirade against a worthless first wife, providentially now departed. Life with her and a subsequent happy marriage have combined to produce the advice offered in the last stanza: 'Make sure that you dominate your wife/When you get married'. Stanzas 1–8 reveal a jocular attitude towards marriage and death which is rare in the corpus of Welsh folk songs hitherto published. Regional dialect flavour is strong in the text. Four stanzas only (corresponding to Stanzas 1, 2, 3 and 8 above), together with practically identical tune, appeared in JWFSS, iv, 60, in 1951 after having been obtained in the Gwaun Valley, near Fishguard. Versions of the same four stanzas, sung to a different tune, were collected about 50 years ago in Llanwddyn, Montgomeryshire. (See JWFSS, ii; 734-5.)

Click here to download the music to Bwmba
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