Friends are Few When Foak Are poor

from by Richard Moss

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I felt the Lyrics are by Blackburn poet William Billington are as pertinent today as when they were written over 130 years ago. The trend for 'poverty porn' and tabloids demonising the poor do not reflect the huge chasm between the lives of the rich and everyone else in society. The song written in 1861 was published on several broadside ballad sheets and in a collection Lancashire Songs with Other Poems and Sketches published in 1883


When aw hed wark, an' brass to spend,
Aw never wanted for a friend;
Fooak coom a campin every neet,
An mooved when meetin me i'th' street;
Mi company wor cooarted then
Bi business chaps, an' gentlemen—
Aw ceawnted comrades then bi t' scoor,
Bud neaw aw've noan, becose aw'm poor.

Aw'd invitations every day,
To dine, or sup, or teck mi tay,
Or caw an' hev a friendly chat
Wi Mr. This and Mrs. That;
An' Squire Consequence, to boot,
Ud ax me o'er to fish—or shoot
Wi dog an' gun, o'er fell an' moor—
Bud that's knockt off, becose aw'm poor.

Then Scotchmen bothered me wi' goods,
An' tongues as smooth as soft-sooap suds,
For patronage; an' strove to ged it
Wi' yerds o' cloth, an' years o' credit!
Bud neaw they'n torned ther tune, bi th' mass;
Some's hawkin tay—for reddy brass!
Some kornd si th' number o' mi door, '
They'n groon so blind, sin' aw grew poor.

An' wod mecks matters look moor feaw,
Mi kinsfooak doesn't know mi neaw;
Puffed up wi' pride to sitch a pitch,
They'n no relations—bud wot's rich!
An' even my own brother Jim,
He ses aw'm nowt akin to him­-
"Bi gum!" thowt aw, "bud that's a througher,
A mon's a boggart when he's poor."

Aw know there's t' Warkheawse when o's done,
Bud whooa likes gooin to th' Union?
Aw'd liefer lay mo deawn an' dee
Nor live on public charity!
On parish pay, or teawn's relief
One's looked on next door to a thief;
An wonst inside o' th' Warkheawse door,
They'll keep yo alive, bud nod mich moor!

Sooa th' world wags on, fro day to day,
An' still id ses, or seems to say,
"This poverty's a deadly sin
Wod banishes booath friends an' kin,
An' stinks in every noble nooas."
Sooa yo, who've nether meyt nor clooas,
Mun live o'th' air, an lie o'th' floor,
An serve yo reet—becose yo're poor.


from Back To the Yellow Hills, released May 20, 2016



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Richard Moss Blackburn, UK

Richard is a powerful guitar player and a fine singer from Blackburn equally at ease with folk, ragtime, blues and contempory fingerstyle. His driving percussive and rhythmic guitar skills are blended with subtle fingerstyle playing making him in high demand as a soloist and as a skilled accompanist for singers and traditional melody players. ... more

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