The Derby Ram

As I came in by Derby,
T’was on a market day,
I spied the biggest ram sir
That ever was fed on hay

And indeed me lads, it’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
And if you’d have been in Derby
You’d have seen it same as I

This ram was fat behind sir,
This ram was fat before,
And ever’time its hooves to the ground
They covered an acre or more

And indeed me lads, it’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
And if you’d have been in Derby
You’d have seen it same as I

The space between this ram’s horns
Was built so mighty wide,
That a coach foot six could go betwixt
With a footman by the side

And indeed me lads, it’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
And if you’d have been in Derby
You’d have seen it same as I

This ram he had a tail, sir
That reached down into Hell,
And ever’time he waggled it
It rang the fireman’s bell

And indeed me lads, it’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
And if you’d have been in Derby
You’d have seen it same as I

The singers of this song, sir
We’re called “Sweeney’s Men”,
Another couple o’ pints, sir
And we’ll sing it for you again

And indeed me lads, it’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
And if you’d have been in Derby
You’d have seen it same as I

Now if you don’t believe me, sir
And if you think I lie,
Just ask the folks in Derbyshire,
They’re better liars than I

And indeed me lads, it’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
And if you’d have been in Derby
You’d have seen it same as I

Traditional

“The Derby Ram” or “As I was Going to Derby” is a traditional tall tale English folk song (Roud 126) that tells the story of a ram of gargantuan proportions and the difficulties involved in butchering, tanning, and otherwise processing its carcass.

Llewellyn Jewitt wrote about the song in his The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire of 1867, asserting that song had been alluded to for at least a century before that.

Traditional variations

The following version is the one transcribed by Llewellynn Jewitt in The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire (1867).
The first three stanzas of this version are sung thus:

As I was going to Darby, Sir,
All on a market day,
I met the finest Ram, Sir,
That ever was fed on hay.
Daddle-i-day, daddle-i-day,
Fal-de-ral, fal-de-ral, daddle-i-day.
This Ram was fat behind, Sir,
This Ram was fat before,
This Ram was ten yards high, Sir,
Indeed he was no more.
Daddle-i-day, etc.
The Wool upon his back, Sir,
Reached up unto the sky,
The Eagles made their nests there, Sir,
For I heard the young ones cry.
Daddle-i-day, etc.

Helen Hartness Flanders collected versions of the song in both Shaftsbury and Springfield, Vermont, which featured an alternative nonsense-syllable refrain:

As I was going to Derby
Upon a markey day
I saw the largest ram, sir,
That ever was fed on hay.
To di ro di do do,
To di ro di da,
To di ro di do do,
To di ro di da.
He had four feet to walk, sir,
Her had four feet to stand,
And every foot he had, sir,
Covered an acre of land.
To di ro, etc.

An alternative recording of the song is found on the Derbyshire Folk and Dialect Vinyl LP “Ey Up Mi Duck, A celebration of Derbyshire”. This version was recorded by Derbyshire-based Folk group Rams Bottom in the 1970s. Unlike many traditional variations, this version contains a narrative refrain:

As I was going to Derby,
All on the market day,
I spied the finest ram, sir,
That ever was fed on hay,
And indeed me lads,
It’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
If you’d have been to Derby,
You’d have seen the same as I.
This ram it had a tail, sir,
It was too long to tell,
It stretched rate ovver to Ireland,
An’ it rang St.Patricks bell,
And indeed me lads, etc.

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