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The Escape of Old John Webb

from Roots&Branches by GreenMatthews

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A song from 1730s Massachusetts. John Webb was a coin-maker who was jailed for forgery and who became something of a hero of American
independence some 40 years before the Revolution. The tune at the end, Because He Was A Bonny Lad, is a Northumbrian tune which Chris learned from his grandmother.

lyrics

Nine men to guard the British rank and five to watch the town above
And one to stand on either hand and one to let Bill Tenor out.

He had eighty weight of Spanish iron between his neck bone and his knee,
But Billy took Johnny up under his arm and carried him away right easily.

And Billy broke locks and Billy broke bolts and Billy broke all that he came nigh,
Until he came to the dungeon door and that he broke right manfully.

So they stole them a horse and away did ride and who but they rode gallantly,
Until they came to the river bank, to the river running wild and free

The British are comin' close sound their heels and who but they stood fearfully,
'Till Billy took Johnny up on his back and carried him over it easily.

And Billy broke locks and Billy broke bolts and Billy broke all that he came nigh,
Until he came to the dungeon door and that he broke right manfully.

So they stopped at an inn so that they might dance and who but they danced merrily
And the very best dancer among them all was old John Webb who was just set free!

And Billy broke locks and Billy broke bolts and Billy broke all that he came nigh,
Until he came to the dungeon door and that he broke right manfully.

And Billy broke locks and Billy broke bolts and Billy broke all that he came nigh,
Until he came to the dungeon door and that he broke right manfully.

credits

from Roots&Branches, released September 11, 2019
Chris: voice, mandocello, mandolin, bass, stomp
Sophie: voice, English border bagpipes

Words and music trad arr. C. Green ©2019

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GreenMatthews Coventry, UK

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews play English traditional songs and tunes in a thoroughly 21st-century kick-ass style. Using a blend of ancient instruments such as cittern, English bagpipes and shawm as well as modern folk instruments such as guitar, flute and piano accordion, they breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago, making it fresh and relevant for a modern audience. ... more

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