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Folksingers Lament

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The Folksingers Lament

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The Folksingers Lament
(David Diamond)

Come all you floor singers, here in this throng,
I'll sing you a ditty that's turgid and long,
With rhymes that don't rhyme and with metre that's a little bit wrong,
     And it's not what I'd sing when I'm sober.
But I'm ready to sing, now I've had one or two,
So you swine at the back needn't run for the loo;
You can put up with me like I've put up with you
     And I'd like you to join in the chorus.

Although my guitar I relentlessly bring,
It's never in tune when you ask me to sing
So I'll go a capella with this little thing,
     And it's not what I'd sing when I'm sober.
There are ninety-four verses I'll stop to explain
And I learned them this morning with infinite pain.
I'll just mumble the ones I've forgotten again,
     And I'd like you to join in the chorus.

The verses, of cuckoos and valleys so deep
My intent from the ears of the innocent keep,
But you know what I mean if you've not gone to sleep
     And It's not what I'd sing when I'm sober.
And after the sex comes the violence and gore
With murders and stabbings and blood on the floor
But before all the squeamish ones run for the door
     I'd like you to join in the chorus

I go round pretending I gathered this lay
From an ancient agrarian covered with hay
On the floor of the pub where the old fellow lay
     'Cause it's not what I'd sing when I'm sober.
But the truth is to tell that I stole the refrain,
The characters' motives I cannot explain,
And next week I'm planning to sing it again,
     And I'd like you to join in the chorus.

I scribbled it down on the back of this sheet
Which I tore from the roll as I sat on the seat
At the back of the pub where the folk-singers meet,
     But it's not what I'd sing when I'm sober.
I carry it round to the clubs where I go,
And I ask at the door can I join in the show,
And this was the first one that didn't say 'no',
     And I'd like you to join in the chorus.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III