Nottamun Town

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"Nottamun Town" (Roud # 1044) is an English folk song which possibly dates from the late medieval period. It is popular in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States.

Lyrics[edit]

Most version of the song run along these lines:

In fair Nottamun Town, not a soul would look up
Not a soul would look up, not a soul would look down
Not a soul would look up, not a soul would look down
To show me the way to fair Nottamun Town

I rode a grey horse, a mule roany mare
Grey mane and grey tail, green striped on his back
Grey mane and grey tail, green striped on his back
There wa'nt a hair on her be-what was coal black

She stood so still, She threw me to the dirt
She tore -a my hide, and she bruised my shirt
From saddle to stirrup I mounted again
And on our ten toes we rode over the plain'

Met the King and the Queen and the company more
Came a riding behind and a walking before
Come a stark naked drummer, -a beating a drum
With his heels in his bosom come marching along

They laughed and they smiled, not a soul did look gay They talked all the while, not a word they did say I bought me a quart to drive gladness away And to stifle the dust, for it rained the whole day

Sat down on a hard, hot cold frozen stone
Ten thousand stood round me yet I's alone
Took my hat in my hand, for to keep my head warm
Ten thousand got drowned that never was born

s==In America== The song was discovered in a handful of locations spread through the Appalachian mountains, and their remoteness from each other suggest that the song was brought to America from England. It has been recorded by Jean Ritchie.

Bob Dylan borrowed the melody to "Nottamun town" for his 1963 song "Masters of War" from the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

Iain Matthews used the melody for his song "So Many Eyes" from the 1996 album God Looked Down. However, there was previously a reference in "Second Spring" (1969) on the track "Southern Comfort" written by Sylvia Tyson.

Origins and versions[edit]

The song is fairly popular in the English Midlands, particularly in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Southern Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, which lends credence to the theory that the Nottamun in the song is a corruption of Nottingham.

Theories abound as to the meaning of the song, but two are generally accepted as probable:[citation needed]

1. That it derives from the Feast of Fools or Mummers’ Plays and their absurd topsy-turvy worlds.

2. That it refers to the English Civil War. In this war, Charles I of England raised his first army around Nottingham and it may be a corruption of that city’s name that gives the song its title. A popular theme at the time with diarists and pamphleteers was ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ and there are many famous woodcuts dating from this period with illustrations of cats chasing dogs, men wearing boots on their hands and the like.

Well-known versions have been recorded by Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch. The British folk artist Steve Tilston has recorded a version with contemporary lyrics on his 2011 album 'The Reckoning'. The English folk trio Lady Maisery recorded a version of this song, 'Nottamun Fair', which appears on their 2011 album Weave and Spin.

External Reference[edit]

Old Songs Steve Tilston version

English folk rock band Galley Beggar recorded Nottamun Town on their 2nd album in 2012