It’s been long enough since this original history-documenting LP has been available – missing reprint in either cassette or later CD formats – that it needs a brief twenty-first century historical note itself. In the early 1970s, I was asked to sing and play on a variety of American history recordings in the run-up to the Bicentennial, including album sets for The National Geographic Society and Oscar Brand, who published a book and several albums of American Revolution period songs. Throughout, I found it peculiar that almost all the material was political, as if singing about the war was the only music on American lips at the time, which was very much not the case. So, after a year or so of poring over period music collections, songbooks, sailor’s companions, broadsheets, and contemporary musical biographies at the New York Public Library, Julliard, and elsewhere, I came up with a collection of what were actually the most commonly found songs in the historical record of the late Colonial and early post-Revolution periods. From these I subtracted the political songs (already recorded) and with the generous help and support of Gene Rosenthal at Adelphi Records, went into the studio and recorded the cream of the crop. They were the songs of love, drinking, hunting, humor, entertainment and even wry cultural commentary that America was singing as it was born, mostly penned in mother England.

The reasons this effort has fallen into obscurity, without reprint, are both technical and economic. When the final mix was taken for disc mastering, it turned out the construction and electronics of the 8-track studio we used had conspired to hide serious distortion above about 12,000 Hz (it was a rock ‘n’ roll studio, nobody had noticed before), so we had to roll off everything above that level, turning it into a seriously lo-fi product – well, Martha Washington might have mastered it with one of her knitting needles, so perhaps there’s something vaguely historical there. Second, when release time for the spate of Bicentennial records came along in the spring of 1976, the press raised a terrific hue and cry about the “commercializing” of the event (in contrast to the mercantile bonanza of the 1876 Centennial), and the result was almost nobody made any money doing so. Even the most lavishly-funded and promoted productions lost money – indeed, this album was not even reviewed by a major newspaper, until it became the front-page pick of the New York Times art section exactly an entire year later.

So here it is, well-served by the .mp3 format so many years later. It contains many songs never before recorded, to this day. Indeed, Charles Dibdin’s jewel “The Hare Hunt” is no longer even available in his English sheet music collections and was fortunately saved by its reproduction in a contemporary American songster. The most obvious hit became “The Star Spangled Banner” for which we have also devoted an extra page here. Now to the original introduction, from the last century…

-- John Townley, Sea Cliff, NY,  July 2009


 For those of us born into the modern era of mass media and recorded pop music, the sounds of the top hits of our day kindle strong memo­ries of the events of our lives. The songs we sang and danced to in coffee houses and discotheques or lost ourselves in between the earphones of a good stereo are forever entwined with the joys, love affairs, and personal memories which they accompanied. For the generations that grew up in the '50's and '60's, the recordings of Elvis Presley and the Beatles will always evoke images of more peaceful and prosperous days, as well as providing a lucrative market for endless reissues of "Golden Oldies".

But what of earlier and simpler days before the rattle of Tin Pan Alley evolved into quadra­phonic stereo? What songs rekindled memories of the birth struggles of a young nation for an aging George Washington or Thomas Jefferson? Or memories of mixing wenching with diplo­macy for a greying, bespectacled Ben Franklin?

Although the 18th century is now generally better known for works by Mozart, Handel, and Haydn than for its top 40, far more money and energy was spent on producing and publishing the hit tunes of the day than was ever afforded to the works of the great masters.

Wherever good fellowship and jovial harmo­nizing was to be found—in the local tavern, on the popular musical stage, or in the drawing room—there was a constant turnover of new songs, ballads, and humorous ditties that rivals the output of today's monolithic record corpo­rations.

The center of the tangled web of the 18th century music business was London, and in the American Colonies the "English sound" was selling even better than it did two centuries later in the 1960's. Theatre-going audiences in Phila­delphia, New York, and Boston flocked to the latest shows by hit English songwriters like Charles Dibdin, Thomas and Michael Arne, and William Reeve. And, not unlike today, the box office receipts more often found their way into the pockets of greedy and unscrupulous publishers than to artists and writers themselves.

    But as with our own century, out of the prodigious output of the pop songwriters of the time comparatively few songs were memorable enough to survive in the later song collections of the 1790's and early 1800's. During the war years, very little music was published in America that is still extant, but after the war dozens of popular "songsters" were published—collections which reflected the cream of pop music from the century.

At the same time, musical periodicals sprang up chronicling all the latest hits, like Phila­delphia's Musical and Instrumental Miscellany and New Haven's American Musical Magazine, both monthlies. The songs on this record were chosen based on the extent of their lasting popularity, judged loosely by how often they turned up in the various songsters and magazines toward the end of the century.

Songs at that time were performed by small groups of musicians singing and playing on the popular instruments of the time—the pianoforte, violin, cello, German flute, and guitar. The instruments were very like their modern coun­terparts except for the guitar, which was strung in six unison courses of two, more like the lute or folk 12-string guitar than the more modern 6-string Spanish guitar.

Full written instrumental arrangements were rare—most of the harmonization was left to the musicians with a basic pianoforte arrangement or simple bass line to refer to. Sometimes sug­gested flute or guitar harmonies would accom­pany a tune at the end of the manuscript, but often as not only the melody itself was included or simply the words alone if it was assumed everybody knew the tune.

The recorded performances here are a reflec­tion of the fluid style of the day. Some parts were arranged, others simply made up on the spot by the performers, but all within the con­text of the popular harmony of the time. Like­wise, the melodies themselves are the most common of the sometimes multiple variants to be found in different contemporary collections.

It is a curious note on popular music in general that so few of these wonderful tunes have maintained their popularity into the 20th century. Only "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes" and "To Anacreon In Heaven" (now "The Star Spangled Banner") are still in current usage in the United States, and over half of the songs on this album have never been recorded before any­where. One wonders if our own current favorites will be as obscure to our grandchildren.

But good songs have a way of resurfacing. The recent revival of long-forgotten renaissance and Elizabethan tunes is a good example. So perhaps the renewed interest in the history and politics of the 18th century will bring back its music as well—not just the formal classics but the love songs and drinking songs that suffused the lives of the people that built the age. Truly they are the songs that memories are made of—"Golden Oldies" from the childhood of a nation.


1. To Anacreon In HeavenWritten in 1780 by John Stafford Smith, this was the constitutional song of the Anacreontic Society of London, with words written by Ralph Tomlinson, an early president of the Society. The Society was a group of mostly amateur musicians, with a sprinkling of professionals, that met every two weeks at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand for a concert followed by a dinner and much merrymaking thereafter. Each concert was formally opened by this song, performed by the President and joined by the company on the refrain lines. The Society finally folded in 1786 due to the dampening influence of the Duchess of Devonshire who had bought a secret box under the stage, and the uncertainty of whose presence prevented the members from indulging in their usual rounds of bawdy songs and ballads. The song might have passed out of exist­ence as well had it not been for Francis Scott Key's new^set of words penned during the siege of Fort McHenry twenty-eight years later. Reborn as "The Star-Spangled Banner" with a slightly altered tune it finally took its current place as the United States' national anthem more than a century later in the 1930's. Which just goes to prove you can't keep a good drinking song down. Included here are the first and last verses of the original six—the other four depicting a detailed bickering between the Greek gods, with Bacchus at last triumphant. Another special page with more historical details, plus links to complete words and sheet music here...

To Anacreon 1 in heav'n, where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition
That he their inspirer and patron would be;
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian –

Voice, fiddle, and flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot;
And besides, I'll instruct you like me to entwine

The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

Ye songs of Anacreon, then, join hand in hand:
Preserve unanimity, friendship, and love;
'Tis yours to support what's so happily planned:
You've the sanction of gods, and the fiat of Jove,
While thus we agree, our toast let it be,
May our club flourish happy, united, and free!
And long may the sons of Anacreon entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

1 A Greek poet (563-478 B.C.) given to the pleasures of wine, women, and song, who reputedly died at 86 from choking on a grape seed.

2. The LamplighterPenned by Charles Dibdin, England's most prolific songwriter and probably the best pop writer of the century. Originally performed at the Lyceum in the Strand in 1790 from the musical show the Oddities. Dibdin's shows of this period were a grab-bag of new original songs all tied together with humorous tales and skits all performed by the author him­self with only occasionaly help from other actors or musicians. The song was one of Dibdin's most popular and one of only a few of his over 3000 songs on which he actually collected a fair share of his royalties. Music publishers haven't changed over the centuries. . .

I'm jolly Dick, the Lamplighter, they say the Sun's my dad;
And truly I believe it sir, for I'm a pretty lad;

Father and I the world delight and make it look so gay,
The difference is, I lights by night, and Father lights by day.

But Father's not the likes of I for knowing life and fun,
For I strange tricks and fancies spy folks never show the 
Rogues, owls, and bats can't bear the light I've heard your wise ones say;
And so, d'ye mind, I sees at night things never seen by day.

At night men lay aside all art as quite a useless task,

And many a face and many a heart will then pull off the mask;
Each formal prude and holy wight will throw disguise away,

And sin it openly at night who sainted it all day.

His darling hoard the miser views, misses from friends decamp,

And many a statesman mischief brews to his country o'er his lamp.

So Father and I, d'ye take me right, are just on the same lay;

 I bare faced sinners light by night and he false saints by day.

3. Down Among The Dead MenThis first appeared as an anonymous copperplate half-sheet in London somewhere between 1700 and 1710. Its popularity continued to grow all the way up through the end of the 19th century and may still be found in some college songbooks. Not quite as morbid as it seems at first glance, the "dead men" refer to the empty bottles thrown down behind the table as the evening

Here's a health to the King, and a lasting peace
To faction an end, to wealth increase;
Come let's drink it while we have breath,

For there's no drinking after death,
And he that will this health deny,
Cho: Down among the dead men, down among the, dead men,
Down, down, down, down, down among the dead men let him him lie.

Let charming beauty's health go round,
In whom celestial joys are found,

May confusion still pursue
The selfish woman-hating crew;
And they that women's health deny, Cho:
In smiling Bacchus' joys I'll roll,

Deny no pleasure to my soul;
Let Bacchus' health round briskly move,

For Bacchus is a friend to Love,

And he that will this health deny, Cho:
May love and wine their rites maintain,
And their united pleasure reign,

While Bacchus' treasure crowns the board,
We'll sing the joys that both afford;
And they that won't with us comply, Cho:

4. The Hare Hunt18th century writers were fond of allegories, and this one really takes the cake, stretching a blast at the inhumanity of hare hunting into a cosmic justification for the ascendancy of evil. Another Dibdin jewel from Castles In The Air, first performed at the Royal Polygraphic Rooms in the Strand in 1793.

Since Zeph'rus first tasted the charms of coy Flora, 

Sure nature ne'er beamed on so lovely a morn; 

Ten thousand sweet birds court the smile of Aurora,

And the woods loudly echo the sound of the horn.

Yet the morn's not so lovely, so brilliant, so gay

As our splendid appearance in gallant array,

When already mounted we number our forces 

Enough the wild boar and the tiger to scare; 
Pity fifty stout beings count dogs, men, and horses,

Should encounter such peril to kill one poor hare.

Little wretch, they fate's hard, thou were gentle and blameless,
Yet a type of the world in thy fortune we see;
And Virtue by monsters as cruel and shameless,
Poor, defenceless and timid is humbled like thee.
See vainly each path how she doubles and tries,
If she 'scapes the hound Treachery, by Slander she dies,

To o'ercome that meek fear for which men should respect her,
Every art is employed, every sly, subtle snare,
Pity those that were born to defend and protect her,
Should hunt to her ruin, so timid a hare.

Thus it fares with poor Merit, which mortals should cherish,
As the heav'n gifted spark that illumines the mind;
As reason's best honor left with it should perish,

Every grace that perfection can lend to the mind.
Hark! envy's pack opens, the grim lurcher Fear,
And the mongrel Vexation skulk sly in the rear,
The rest all rush on, at their head the whelp Slander,
The fell mastiff Malice, the greyhound Despair,
Pity beings best known by bright truth and fair candour,
Should hunt down, shame to manhood, so harmless a hare.

Their sport's at an end, harsh reflection's beguiler, 
To some thoughtless oblivion their souls they resign, 
The seducer takes pleasure to revenge the reviler, 
The hunter's oblivion more harmless is wine;
Thus having destroyed every rational joy

That can dignify reason they reason destroy,
And yet not in vain is this lesson in spirit,

Ought of reverence for genius, respect for the fair,

So the tear of lost virtue and poor ruined merit
The sad spirits shall appease
of the innocent hare.

5. Banks Of The DeeWritten in 1775 by John Tait, an Edinburgh judge, upon the occasion of the departure of some friends to fight the Colonial rebels at the beginning of what came to be called the War of American Independence. According to Robert Burns, the tune is a slowed version of a popular Irish jig, but it certainly was intended to be played in the style of a Scots air or strathspey. The tune was very popular among American Tories and provoked many Rebel parodies.

'Twas summer and softly the breezes were blowing,
And sweetly the nightingale sang from the tree.
At the foot of a hill, where the river was flowing,
I sat myself down on the banks of the
Flow on, lovely Dee, flow on thou sweet river,
They banks, purest stream, shall be dear to me ever,
For there I first gained the affection and favor,
Of Jaimie, the glory and pride of the

But now he's gone from me and left me thus mourning,
To quell the proud Rebels, for valiant is he,
But ah! there's no hope of his speedy returning,

To wander again on the banks of the Dee.
He's gone, hapless youth, o'er the rude roaring billows,
The kindest, the sweetest, of all his brave fellows,
And left me to stray 'mongst these once-loved willows,
The loneliest lass on the banks of the

But time and my prayers may perhaps yet restore him,
Blest peace may restore my dear lover to me;
And when he returns, with such care I'll watch o'er him,
He never shall leave the sweet banks of the Dee.
The Dee then will flow, all its beauty displaying,
The lambs on its banks will again be seen playing,
Whilst I, with my Jamie, am carelessly straying,
And tasting again all the sweets of the

6. Lovely NanCharles Dibdin was known as "The Tyrtaeus of the British Navy" for his many songs of the English sailor, which numbered among the best of his works. Although Dibdin never went to sea, his brother was the captain of an East Indiaman, and his songs were popular among the sailors themselves as well as with more metropolitan audiences. This song is from Great News, first performed at the Royal Poly-graphic Rooms in the Strand in the fall of 1794. [For songs and chanties written by the sailors themselves, see The Starboard List album, AD 1025]

Sweet is the ship that under sail
Spreads her white bosom to the gale;
Sweet, ah sweet's the flowing can;
Sweet to poise the lab'ring oar

That tugs us to our native shore,
When the boatswain pipes the barge to man;
Sweet sailing with a fav'ring breeze,

But oh much sweeter than all these

The needle faithful to the north,

To show of constancy the worth,

A curious lesson teaches man;

The needle time may rust, a squall

Capsize the binnacle and all;

 Let the seamanship do all it can,

My love in worth shall higher rise,

Nor time shall rust, nor squalls capsize

My faith and truth to lovely Nan.

When in the bilboes I was penned
For serving of a worthless friend,
And every creature from me ran;
No ship performing quarantine

Was ever so deserted seen.
None hailed me, woman, child, nor man;
But though false friendship's sails were furled,
Though cut adrift by all the world,
I'd all the world in lovely

I love my duty, love my friend,

Love truth and merit to defend,

To moan their loss who hazard ran;

I love to take an honest part,

Love beauty with a spotless heart,

By manners love to show the man,

To sail through life by honour's breeze;

'Twas all along of loving these

First made me doat on lovely Nan.


1. Batchelor's HallFox hunting and the pleasures of and particularly after the chase were the passion of the 18th century gentleman on both sides of the Atlantic. American songsters were filled with odes praising the joys of the hunt usually composed in a galloping meter and often accompanied by written horn calls and cries of "Tantivy!" The best of the period is this one by Dibdin, the popularity of which is attested to by a popular series of five color prints from the period illustrating each of the verses of the song—of which verses one and three comprise the front and back covers of this album. It was first performed in the Oddities at the Lyceum in the Strand in 1790.

To Batchelor's Hall we good fellows invite,
To partake of the chase that makes up our delight,
We have spirits like fire and of health such a stock
That our pulse strikes the seconds as true as a clock,
Did you see us you'd swear, as we mount with a grace,

That Diana had dubbed some new gods of the chase:

Hark away, hark away, all Nature looks gay,
And Aurora with smiles ushers in the bright day.

Dick Thickset came mounted upon a fine black,
A better fleet gelding ne'er hunter did back;
Tom Trig rode a bay, full of mettle and bone,
And gayly Bob Buxom rode proud on a roan;
But the horse of all horses that rivalled the day
Was the Squire's Neck or nothing, and that was a gray.

Hark away, hark away, while our spirits are gay,
Let's drink to the joys of the next coming day.

Then for hounds there was Nimble, so well that climbs rocks,
And Cock-nose, a good one at scenting a fox;
Little Plunge, like a mole, who will ferret and search,

And beetle-browed Hawk's-eye, so dead at a lurch;
Young Sly looks, that scents the strong breeze from the south,
And musical Echowell, with his deep mouth.

Hark away, etc.

Our horses thus all of the very best blood,
Tis not likely you 'II easily find such a stud;
And for hounds, our opinions with thousands we 11 back

That all England throughout can't produce such a pack;
Thus having described you dogs, horses, and crew,
Away we set off, for the fox is in view.

Hark away, etc.

Sly Reynard's brought home, while the horns sound a call,
And now you're all welcome to Batchelor's Hall,

The savory sirloin grate full smoaks on the board,
And Bacchus pours wine from his favorite hoard;
Come on then, do honor to this jovial place,
And enjoy the sweet pleasures that spring from the chase.

Hark away, etc.

2. The Women All Tell MeThis first appeared as an anonymous copperplate half-sheet in London between 1740 and 1750. Since then its alcoholic antifeminism helped it work its way into many a collection. Its most recent revival was at the hand of John Parry who, in 1835, turned the last two lines of the last verse into a chorus and gave it a new lease on life under the title "Take A Bumper And Try." There are endless verses extant—these are a few of the best.

The women all tell me I'm false to my lass;
That I quit my poor Chloe and stick to my glass:
But to you, men of reason, my reasons I'll own;
And if you don't like them, why leave them alone.

Although I have left her, the truth I'll declare;

I believe she was good, and I'm sure she was fair:

But goodness and charms in a bumper I see

That makes it as good and as charming as she.

Her lilies and roses were just in their prime,

Yet lilies and roses are conquered by time:

But, in wine, from its age such benefit flows,

That we like it the better the older it grows.

She, too, might have poisoned the joy of my life

With nurses, and babies, and squalling, and strife:

But my wine neither nurses nor babies can bring,

And a big-bellied bottle's a mighty good thing.

Perhaps, like her sex, ever false to their word,
She has left me to get an estate or a lord;
But my bumpers (regarding nor titles nor pelf)
Will stand by me when I can't stand by myself.

Then let my dear Chloe no longer complain,
She's rid of her lover, and I of my pain:
For in wine, mighty wine, many comforts I spy,
Should you doubt what I say, take a bumper and try.

3. John Anderson, My Jo The first and last verses, two simple but touching stanzas by Robert Burns, have inspired countless tunes, dozens of extra verses, and musical settings by composers as diverse as Turnbull and Karl Maria Von Weber. The tune here is the most common, a melody dating back to Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book (1578) and which may be an altered form of the earlier "I Am The Duke of Norfolk." Versions were common in Virginia into this century. The theme of a lifetime of happy and contented love, even unto death, is eternal. .

John Anderson my jo, John, when we were first acquaint,
Your looks were like the raven, your bonnie brow was brent 
But now you're turned bald, John, your locks are like the snow, 
My blessings on your frosty brow, John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John, you were my first conceit,
And aye at church and market I've kept you trim and neat;
There's some folk say you're failing, John, but I scarce believe it's
For you're aye the same kind man to me, John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John, from year to year we've past,
And soon that year must come, John, will bring us to out last; 
But let that not affright us, John, our hearts were ne'er our foe, 
While in innocent delight we lived, John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John, we climbed the hill together,
And many a happy day, John, we've had with one another,
Now we must totter down, John, but hand in hand we'll go,
And we'll sleep together at the foot, John Anderson, my jo.

4. The Desponding NegroThe late 18th century characterized the black man as a pathetic figure, torn from his blessedly primitive home by rapacious slavers and then infected by all the ills, both moral and physical, of his greedy exploiters. Certainly here are the seeds of abolitionism, already thriving in America 70 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Written by John Collins and William Reeve (another great British stage composer) in 1792.

On Afric's wide plains where the lion now roaring,

With freedom stalks froth the vast desert exploring, 

I was dragged from my hut and enchained as a slave, 

In a dark floating dungeon upon the salt wave.

Cho: Spare a halfpenny, spare a halfpenny, 

Spare a halfpenny to a poor Negro.

Tossed on the wild main, I all wildly despairing,
Burst my chains, rushed on deck, with my eyeballs all
When the lightning's dread blast struck the inlets of day,
And its glorious bright beams shut forever away.

The despoiler of man then his prospect thus losing. 

Of gain by my sale, not a blind bargain choosing,

As my value compared with my keeping was light,

Had me dashed overboard in the dead of the night.

And but for a bark to Britannia's coast bound then, 

All my cares by that plunge in the deep had been drowned then, 

But by moonlight descryed, I was snatched from the wave,

And reluctantly robbed of a watery grave.

How disastrous my fate, freedom's ground though I tread now,
Torn from home, wife and children, and wandering for bread now,
While seas roll between us which ne'er can be crossed,
And hope's distant glimmerings in darkness are lost.

But of minds foul and fair when the judge and the Ponderer
Shall restore light and rest to the blind and the wanderer.
The European's deep dye may outrival the sloe,
And the soul of an Ethiop prove white as the snow.

5. How Stands The Glass Around?An anony­mous London broadside of 1710 that attained great popularity because it became the favorite of the illustrious General Wolfe, often later entitled "General Wolfe's Song". Many a soldier sang it as a knowing prelude to his own death the following morning. . .

How stands the glass around?
For shame ye take no care, my boys,
How stands the glass around?
Let mirth and wine abound.
The trumpets sound,
The colors they are flying, boys,
To fight, kill, or wound,
May we still be found,
Content with our hard fate, my boys,
On the cold ground.

Why, soldiers, why,
Should we be melancholy, boys?
Why, soldiers, why?
Whose business is to die!

What, sighing? Fie!
Don't fear, drink on, be jolly, boys!
'Tis he, you or I!
Cold, hot, wet, or dry,
We're always bound to follow, boys,
And scorn to fly!

'Tis but in vain, —
I mean not to upbraid you, boys, —

'Tis but in vain,
For soldiers to complain:

Should next campaign

Send us to Him who made us, boys,

We 're free from pain!

But if we remain,

A bottle and kind landlady

Cure all again.

6. Drink To Me Only With Thine EyesThe all-time hit of the 18th century—hardly a songster is without it. Still popular today, the words date back to the 2nd century Greek poet Philostratus, whom Ben Johnson translated in his poem "The Forest". Although the tune is probably traditional English, it is most fre­quently attributed to Mozart in 18th century sources. But whatever the combination, it is certainly one of the greatest pop hits of the English tradition, sung and recorded countless times in dozens of languages since tune and words were joined so many years ago. One of the few songs that could join Rebel and Tory, Jacobite and Englishman, in the dawning age of global conflict.

Drink to me only with thine eyes and I will pledge with mine 
Or leave a kiss within in the cup and I'll not ask for wine

The thirst that from the soul doth rise doth ask a drink divine, 
But might I of Jove's nectar sup, I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a roseate wreath, not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that there it could not withered be.

But thou there thereon didst only breath and sent it back to me,
Since when it looks and tastes I swear not of itself, but thee.


Many thanks to John Kilgore for transferring the original LP to .mp3 

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