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All Around My Hat - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

All Around my Hat was a hit for the Folk-Rock group Steeleye Span, reaching number 5 in the UK charts in 1975. Twenty-one years later, it was recorded by those ageing but amiable rockers, Status Quo.

The song comes from England, and seems to have originated in the nineteenth century. However, the version that hit the pop charts is - whilst undeniably catchy and certainly a lot of fun - well, um, a bit messed up really...

Several versions of the song's lyrics exist. In one variant a young seaman returns from a voyage to find his love about to marry another man. In others, a street hawker mourns his lover who has been transported to Australia for stealing. 

The Steeleye Span version gets some of its lyrics, though, from another traditional song, Farewell He. In the chorus the narrator mourns because her love is far away, but in the verses she's upset because - apparently - he's tried to deprive her of a (ahem...) 'precious thing'. Putting these small quibbles aside, however, it's hard not to like the Steeleye version with all its energy and vibrancy.

Why does the song's narrator wear willow around her hat? This is because the willow tree was associated with sorrow (think of a 'weeping' willow). And why for a twelve-month and a day? This may be connected to the old marriage rite of 'handfasting', in which couples could separate after a year and one day if their union had not been 'fruitful' (why the extra day? Were they likely to change their minds?).

There is a detailed discussion of the song's origin and meaning here.

Chords

Chours

D     A               D                                          A

All around my hat, I will wear the green willow,

        D  A                  D                                       E         A
And all around my hat, for a twelve-month and a day.

A                                   D                  G                         Bm
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearin' it,


A     D  A         D                                A     D

It's all for my true love who's far, far, away




Verse

D               A             D                                                   A 

Fare thee well cold winter, and fare thee well cold frost.


D                  A          D                                        E                A

Oh nothing I have gained, but my own true love have lost.


A                              D                        G         Bm

So sing and I'll be merry, when occasion I do see-


            D           A        D                                      A             D

He's a false deluded young man, let him go, fare well he.


Lyrics

Chorus

All around my hat,
I will wear the green willow
All around my hat,
For a twelvemonth and a day
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it,
It's all for my true love,
Who is far, far away

Repeat Chorus

Fare thee well, cold winter
And fare thee well, cold frost
Nothing have I gained,
But my own true love I''ve lost
I''ll sing and I''ll be merry
When occasion I do see,
He''s a false, deluding young man,
Let him go, farewell he, and... 

Repeat Chorus

The other night he brought me
A fine diamond ring, but he
Thought to have deprive me
Of a far better thing!
But I being careful,
Like lovers ought to be,
He''s a false, deluding young man
Let him go, farewell he, and...

Repeat Chorus

With a quarter pound of reason,
And a half a pound of sense,
A small spring of time,
And as much of prudence,
You mix them all together,
And you will plainly see
He''s a false deluding young man
Let him go, farewell he, and...

Repeat Chorus

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs