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There Is a Tavern in the Town

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Wikipedia article

"'There Is a Tavern in the Town'" is a traditional folk song, which first appeared in the 1883 edition of William H. Hill's 'Student Songs'. The song was the college anthem of Trinity University College.

It was famously performed by Rudy Valle as "The Drunkard Song", slightly changing the chorus. While recording the last verses of the song, Valle started to laugh uncontrollably given the antiquated lyrics. He and his band recorded the song again without laughing, but Victor released both takes in 1934. He also performs the song in the film 'Sweet Music'.

There have also been recordings by Gracie Fields (c.1938) and Wally Cox.

Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album '101 Gang Songs' (1961) and Nat King Cole performed a cover of the song on his album 'Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer' (1963).

It also featured in the English WW2 Leslie Howard movie, Pimpernel Smith, as the code tune to indicate the pimpernel's presence.

While the song is usually performed up-tempo, a balladic version appeared in the 'Ripper Street' third season episode "Ashes and Diamonds", arranged for Charlene McKenna as the character Rose Erskine on BBC One and Amazon Prime Instant Video.


There is a tavern in the town, in the town

And there my true love sits him down, sits him down,

And drinks his wine as merry as can be,

And never, never thinks of me.

Chorus: Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,

Do not let this parting grieve thee,

And remember that the best of friends

Must part, must part.

Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, adieu, adieu,

I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,

I will hang my harp on the weeping willow tree,

And may the world go well with thee.

He left me for a damsel dark, damsel dark,

Each Friday night they used to spark, used to spark,

And now my love who once was true to me

Takes this dark damsel on his knee.

And now I see him nevermore, nevermore;

He never knocks upon my door, on my door;

Oh, woe is me; he pinned a little note,

And these were all the words he wrote:

Oh, dig my grave both wide and deep, wide and deep;

Put tombstones at my head and feet, head and feet

And on my breast you may carve a turtle dove,

To signify I died of love.

Note: The Hill version has "And on my breast carve a turtle dove"

The penultimate verse does not appear in this oldest published version.

The lyrics share similarity to English folk ballad "Fare The Well," including the repeated phrase and imagery of a turtledove.

See also

*Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes a children's song sung to the same tune


Category:American folk songs

Category:Songs about parting

Category:Songs about death

Category:1883 songs

Category:Songwriter unknown

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