The Deserter

The Deserter is a traditional song featured on Fairport Convention’s 1968 album Liege and Lief; it is said to be the favourite track on the album of Sandy Denny, and the producer, Joe Boyd.  The song has a long history, and many versions.  Dave Swarbrick commented:

Although we learned this song from a faded Victorian broadside, it is much older in origin. It was the habit of broadside printers to bring older songs up to date—in this case by including the name of Prince Albert.

A detailed list of performances can be found at Mainly Norfolk.  It seems from some of the comments that some performers totally missed the irony in the closing verse.

Searching on “Ratcliff Highway” led me to this beautiful instrumental version:

and a live recording of a totally different traditional song, by The Dubliners:

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