Married and Single Life - (2010)
for tenor and piano
Come all ye young people and listen to me,
I'm going to tell you my sad destiny.
I'm a man by experience whose favours is won;
Love has been the ruin of many a man.
If you go to get married, don't hasten it on,
And don't you get married till you're full twenty-one;
And don't you get married till you find your love set,
Then marry some good girl your love won't forget.
Come all you young gentlemen who want to be smart,
Don't place your affections on a smiling sweet heart.
She's dancing before you some favours to gain,
Then turns her back on you with scorn and disdain.
When a man's married he ain't his own man,
He must rove through the country and live as he can.
He's lost that sweet apparel, the flowers of life,
For selling his freedom to buy him a wife.
But when a man's single he can live at his ease,
He can rove through the country and do as he please;
He can rove through the country and live at his will,
Kiss Polly, kiss Betty and he is the same still.
Just pour out another bowl, boys, we'll drink bumpers round.
We'll drink to the poorest, if they're to be found;
We'll drink to the single with the greatest success,
Likewise to the married, and wish them no less. [ Drink! ]
[ 5 pages, circa 3' 00" ]
The text comes from an anthology, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, collected by Cecil J. Sharp, London, Oxford University Press, 1932. It was a collection of tunes and lyrics from folk "informants" in the sense of musicology -- people recording their recollections of oral traditions in song. This one was marked, "melody as sung by Mrs. Mary Sands, at Allanstand, North Carolina, 1916." In verse form, it is advice for the young man which might be viewed in many ways by different perspectives. In the end, it is also a drinking song.
Set for tenor, it is a set of six variations for the accompaniment as this text progresses, with a final interpolated call to "Drink!"
The score for Married and Single Life is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
Married and Single Life