The Longest Song Wiki

This traditional song is in the running for one of the oldest songs the Johns sing. Flash Company is a Limerick street ballad that exists in printed format as early as 1832 under the name "Wandering Girl", and likely predates that period in general use as most collections of street ballads historically found them about fifty years late. The phrasing and language used suggests mid-to-late 18th century.

Factoids

"Flash" appears in numerous Cant lexicons in varying meanings, but given the song's context can be most likely taken to refer to 'pretending', those who might pretend to be friends would be "Flash Company."

The song does not, it seem, refer to the Flash Company, a semi-organized group of street criminals and thieves operating in London in the 19th century.

Lyrics

These are the lyrics performed by The Longest Johns in Livestreams.

Once I had a colour as red as the rose
  Now my colour has fade like the lily that grows
  Now my colour has fade like the lily that grows
  if it wasn't for flash company I should never been so poor
 


{Chorus}
So you take this yellow handkerchief in a remembrance of me
And tie it round your neck, my love, in your flash company
Flash company has been the ruin of me and a great many more
  If it wasn't for flash company I should never been so poor


Well it's singing and dancing well it was my delight
Flash company's been the ruin of me, and the ruin of me quite (quite!)
Flash company's been the ruin of me and a great many more
If it wasn't for flash company I should never been so poor


{Chorus}


So come all you little flash girls take a warning by me
And never build your nest, my love, on the top of a tree
For the green leaves they will wither and the roots they will decay
And the beauty of a fair maid it will soon fade away


{Chorus til finish}