Drive Dull Care Away

introduced by Dick Swain

This wonderful song was introduced to most people by Joe Hickerson on his recording, Drive Dull Care Away, Vol. 1, Folk Legacy Records, FSI-58. It was collected on Prince Edward Island from Charles Gorman by folklorist Edward (Sandy) Ives, and published in his book, Drive Dull Care Away: Folksongs from Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, Institute for Island Studies 1999, pp. 81-82. The book includes a CD with a field recording of Charles Gorman singing the song. In the late 18th and early 19th century  it appeared in broadsides and a number of songsters under the titles "Contentment" or "The Friendly Society." In the notes to his recording, Joe Hickerson says that an untitled version of the song was published in the September 30, 1775 issue of The Pennsylvania Ledger; or the Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania & New Jersey Weekly Advertiser, and included the refrain, "Let us then constant be / For while we're here / My friends so dear / We'll fight for liberty."

Listen to John Roberts and Debra Cowan sing the song in this YouTube video (also embedded above): https://youtu.be/LElqdYyWwu4


drivedullcareawayClick on the notation to download a PDF versionLyrics:

Oh, why should we our lot complain
Or grieve at our distress?
Some think if they could riches gain
T’would be true happiness
But alas how vain is all their strife
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away:

[Chorus]
Away, away, away, away
We will drive dull care away
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away.

Why should the rich despise the poor?
Why should the poor repine?
When we will all in a few short years
In equal friendship join
They’re both to blame, they’re all the same
We are all made of one clay,
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away:    

[Chorus]

We’ll drive dull care away:

[Chorus]

So let us make the best of life
Not rendering it a curse
But take it as you would a wife
For better or for worse
Life at its best is but a jest
Like a dreary winter’s day
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away:

[Chorus]

The following verse appears under the title “The Friendly Society” with a different tune and no chorus in Spicer’s Pocket Companion, Ishmael Spicer, Connecticut Historical Society, MS, [1797?].  See Jim Douglas, Contentment or The Nutmeg Songster, Sturbridge, MA, Pedlar Press, 1986.

When age, old age, comes creeping on
And we are young no more
Let’s not repine at what we’ve done
Or grieve that youth is o’re
But cheerful be as formerly
And innocently gay
And since we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away

 

Combining his skills as a librarian with a life-long interest in folk music, Dick Swain researches and preforms songs from the places he has lived and worked, including the Great Lakes Region, Pennsylvania, and Maine., He accompanied Sandy Ives on several trips to Prince Edward Island and has performed folk festivals, museums, and libraries in the U.S. and Canada. He was Program Director of the CDSS Pinewoods Folk Music Week four times and was a staff member of the Traditional Music and Dance (TradMaD) Camp in 2017. He is especially proud that Sandy Ives signed his copy of Drive Dull Care Away with the words: “For Dick Swain, who sings the old come-all-ye’s the way they should be sung!”

 

     
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