This song can be found on 19th century broadsides by Bloomer & Evans of London. The song was collected by Henry Hammond in May 1906 from John Pomery of Bridport, West Dorset.
My favourite English Folk Revivalist, A.L.Lloyd had a theory about this song. “Some erotic folk songs, thought crude by genteel collectors, embody ancient ritualistic notions of love. Just as, at seed-time in primitive communities, peasants would be expected to copulate in the furrows to give good example to the plants, so too songs were raised conveying the magical idea that all natural phenomena are interdependent, and that the closest unity exists between the germination of grain and the amorous encounters of men and women. As in this genial song to be heard in Dorset pubs earlier in the present century, sometimes called The Chiefest Grain.”
For a lifelong Marxist, Lloyd’s theories can veer into the Margaret Murray-esque mixed with a healthy dose of George Frazer-esque pagan place. I love it when he does this!
I rarely sing this song out, because context is key for me. If I am singing the song as part of a pagan event I’m good. In a gig or singaround environment I feel the song can be an imposition on the audience. I would prefer this to be a song performed in a context of liberation & harmony with the earth, rather than as throwaway dirt.
This song is part of my current release, “Constant Companion”, which you can hear more of if you click on this link.