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Tom of Bedlam (Bedlam Boys)

Anonymous
Language: English

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This song is originally from Thomas d'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, published 1720, where it had the title Mad Maudlin's Search for Her Tom of Bedlam. It was in the repertoire of The Halliard at the end of the 1960's with a tune that was “mostly the work of the Halliard's Dave Moran with some small input from Nic Jones” (according to Julia Jones). However, they didn't record it until 2005 for their songbook and CDBroadside Songs.

Tom Gilfellon sang Mad Tom of Bedlam in 1972 as the title track of his Leader album Loving Mad Tom.

Steeleye Span learned Boys of Bedlam from The Halliard via the Farriers and Tom Gilfellon. They recorded it in 1971 for their album Please to See the King, and this track was later included on the Martin Carthy anthology, The Carthy Chronicles. Martin Carthy and Maddy Prior share vocals, starting singing into the back of a banjo like a primitive echo-chamber and set against simple percussion. The second verse adds Ashley Hutchings' bass like a bell tolling. For the third track, the rhythm picks up to a jolly pace and Martin sings solo with Maddy joining in the chorus. The album's sleeve notes commented:

The priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem at Bishopsgate founded in 1247 became the male lunatic asylum known as Bethlehem Hospital or Bedlam in 1547. In 1815 it was moved to Lambeth in the buildings now housing the Imperial War Museum and in 1931 was moved to Beckenham in Kent. The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen [pronounced Maudlin] was its female counterpart. During the 16th and 17th centuries the man in the moon was depicted as a bent old man with a staff leading a dog, carrying a thorn bush and lantern.

Maddy Prior recorded Boys of Bedlam again in 1993 for her album Year. A live version recorded during her 1994 tour was released on the Park Records samplerPark Taster. Maddy wrote in the Year sleeve notes:

Bedlam was the popular name given to Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane. This lyric, set to music by Nic Jones and Dave Moran, has a certain Brechtian quality and is certainly one of the most grotesque and alarming images of madness that I know.

mainlynorfolk.info
For to see mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand miles I'd travel
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
For to save her shoes from gravel

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money

I went down to Satan's kitchen
For to get me food one morning
And there I got souls piping hot
All on the spit a-turning

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money

Me staff has murdered giants
And me bag a long knife carries
For to cut mince pies from children's thighs
With which to feed the fairies

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money

This spirit's white as lightning
Would on me travels guide me
The moon would shake and the stars would quake
When ever they espied me

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money

And when that I have murdered
The man in the moon to a powder
His staff I'll break and his dog I'll shake
And there'll howl no demon louder

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money

For to see mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand years I'd travel
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
For to save her shoes from gravel

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money

Contributed by Dq82 - 2019/1/25 - 10:49



Language: Italian

Traduzione italiana di Miguel Martinez da kelebekler blog
Per trovare il folle Tom di Bedlam
viaggerei diecimila miglia
La folle Maudlin cammina su dita sporche
perché la ghiaia non tocchi le sue scarpe

Canto ancora, bravi ragazzi, bravi ragazzi folli
i ragazzi di Bedlam sono bravi
perché vanno tutti scalzi e vivono d’aria
non vogliono né liquore né denaro

Sono scesa nella cucina di Satana
per prendermi da mangiare una mattina
e lì mi sono presa anime calde calde
che giravano tutte su uno spiedo

Con il mio bastone ho ucciso giganti
e nella borsa porto un lungo coltello
per fare tortine di carne dalle cosce dei bambini
con cui nutrire le fate

Questo spirito è bianco come il fulmine
mi guidava nei viaggi
la luna tremava e le stelle si agitavano
ogni volta che mi vedevano

E quando avrò ucciso 
l’uomo nella luna facendone polvere
gli spezzerò il bastone e scuoterò il suo cane
e nessun demone griderà più forte

Per trovare il folle Tom di Bedlam
viaggerei diecimila anni
La folle Maudlin cammina su dita sporche
perché la ghiaia non tocchi le sue scarpe

Contributed by Dq82 - 2019/1/25 - 15:27


La straordinaria (come tutte le altre contenute nei due sommi e irraggiungibili dischi del 1971) versione originale è ripresa dagli S. Span, con un arrangiamento hard-rock/rap, nel loro ultimo disco "Dodgy Bastards" (2016): mah! .....però io non facio testo: sono antico!!!

Flavio Poltronieri - 2019/1/25 - 19:31



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