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From the Annie Patterson & Peter Blood,
creators of Rise Up Singing and Rise Again songbooks

"Country Life" from The Waterstons

"Country Life" as sung by The Watersons
As summer winds down I recall a couple of times I traveled up to help the farmers on my grandfather's dairy farm in Concord NH bring in the hay. It was impressed on me even as a small child how important it was to not bring in wet hay as it could cause spontaneous combustion and quickly burn down a whole barn. It was sweaty work lifting the bales onto the hay wagons. I was a complete failure at trying to back a four wheeled wagon into a barn from a tractor!

This wonderful song is one of the all-time favorites in Rise Up Singing. You can find it on page 49 in the "Farm & Prairie" chapter. 
"Country Life" page in Music Box

The song was popularized by the Waterson family, who were called "the most famous family in English folk music" by The Guardian. Their spirited tight harmony a cappella style is unmistakable and certainly had a huge impact on many traditional folk and folk rock bands.

The Watersons
We've lost some of the original members of the family but their work is being carried on by the next generation. One of these is Eliza Carthy, daughter of Margaret Waterson & Martin Carthy (who has often sung with the Watersons). Eliza is a fiddler and has often performed her own version of the song accompanying herself on the fiddle. I love the cover below where Eliza is joined by four young women (3 of them on fiddle) in a more up beat version than The Watersons'. 
"Country Life" as performed by Eliza Carthy & friends
You can find some other interesting covers with a quite different feel to them on the song page above in the Music Box.

I'm not sure where the other 4 verses included on the Music Box page came from. There are only 2 verses in the original Watersons' recording - the same ones that are in Rise Up Singing. Does anybody know? Perhaps one of the other bands that recorded the song made them up? Please let me know if you know.

Perhaps it's on the Mudcat thread (which is kind of long as I recall so I may have missed it.) That's the sort of question that Mudcat is great for finding the answers too! The Mudcat Cafe is a huge blog where thousands of people around the world converse with each other about all kinds of music. Check out Mudcat which is a project close to the heart of Rise Again associate editor, Joe Offer. There are links from many of the songs in The Music Box to a Mudcat thread. Check it out...
Mudcat Cafe
English traditional songs in The Music Box
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