Birds Upon the Tree, The

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The Birds Upon the Tree

Roud 1863

Written by the American W. C. Robey and first published in New York in 1882. Percy Grainger noted a version of the song in 1905 from the great Lincolnshire singer Joseph Taylor. A version called The Birds, from Tom Brodie, of Rockliffe / Wreay, Cumberland can be heard on Pass the Jug Around (Reynard Records RR 002, reissued on Veteran VT142CD).

Version from Charlie Bridger

Stone-in-Oxney, Kent, recorded by Mike Yates April 1984.
available on The Birds Upon the Tree (MTCD333)

  1. Oh, I am a happy fellow; my name is Tommy Bell
    I don't care for your billiards nor game of bagatelle.
    A-rambling in the country; a country life for me,
    And listen to the little birds a-singing on the tree.

    Oh, the birds upon the trees, oh, the bird upon the tree.
    Oh what a pretty sight it is, the little ones to see.
    You talk about your music, the sweetest song to me,
    Is the warbling of the little birds a-singing on the tree.

  2. Oh, I often lose me temper; it puts me in a rage,
    To see a little dicky bird imprisoned in a cage.
    So I burst the bars asunder and set the prisoner free,
    And hear the song of liberty while singing on the tree.

  3. Oh, there's little Maud the miller's maid who is to be me bride
    We often take a ramble through the meadows side by side.
    And when we settle down in life our cottage it shall be,
    Where we can hear the little birds a-singing on the tree.

Charlie learned the song from Nip Bailey, who worked as a hop-drier at Kenardington, Kent.

"he was known for singing The Birds upon the trees, that was all.He used to like a sing-song though, you know. Oh no, he was only known in Woodchurch really for his song The Birds upon the trees, that's what they always used to associate him with, for his singing. My old grandfather used to say "Come on Nip"; he used to get his cornet out, my old grandfather; old Nip used to sing, and he used to play. In the pub, this was."
(Charlie Bridger, interviewed by Andy Turner 15/04/1983)