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Come all ye Bob

Tuesday, 10 February, 2015

“Come all ye loyal heroes and listen unto me / Don’t hire with any farmer till you know what your work will be.” So begins The Rocks of Bawn, a 19th-century Irish ballad about the exploitation of rural labour. Migrants from the British Isles took this song form, with its appeal to attention, across the Atlantic and it found an audience in the New World. When Bob Dylan was honoured as the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year last Friday night in Los Angeles, he recalled in his acceptance speech the role these songs played in his own musical development. Snippet:

“I sang a lot of ‘come all you’ songs. There’s plenty of them. There’s way too many to be counted. ‘Come along boys and listen to my tale / Tell you of my trouble on the old Chisholm Trail.’ Or, ‘Come all ye good people, listen while I tell / the fate of Floyd Collins a lad we all know well / The fate of Floyd Collins, a lad we all know well.'”

If you sung all these ‘come all ye’ songs all the time, you’d be writing, ‘Come gather ’round people where ever you roam, admit that the waters around you have grown / Accept that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone / If your time to you is worth saving / And you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / The times they are a-changing.'”


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