original lyrics

Me Lad Is Ower Bonny

© Richard Ridley


Me lad is ower bonny to go working down the mine
He’ll not go down the pits amongst the coal and muck and grime
His fatha went before him and his Fatha’s Fatha too
But my lad is ower bonny for to shovel, pick and hew

I think he’ll be poet and write a fancy line
Or a driver of the engine bringing workers home on time
Well I think he’ll be a tailor and he’ll cut the finest clothes
Or a baker on the High Street making cakes and pies and loaves

I think he’ll be a farmer out ploughing in the fields
Or a shipwright in the shipyard laying down the finest keels
I think he’ll be a blacksmith shoeing horses for the dray
Or a fiddler for the céilidh, man ye’ll want to hear him play

He'll never be a sailor and sail away from me
On a ship that takes him far away on the deep and rolling sea
And he’ll never be a soldier to fight for King and Crown
In a place where he is hunted, where they want to cut him down

In years gone by the only career for lads in the Tyne Valley was mining. Seven generations of Richard's family worked down the pit. He was the first to avoid that, and became a merchant seaman instead. The song was inspired by Frank Lee's lovely playing of the tune My Lad Is Ower Bonny For The Coal Trade, which was widespread throughout the North East of England in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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