"Lily the Pink" is a 1968 song released by the UK comedy group The Scaffold. It is a modernisation of an older folk song titled "The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham".
The Scaffold's record, released in November 1968, became No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart for the four weeks encompassing the Christmas holidays that year. Backing vocalists on the recording included Graham Nash (of the Hollies), Elton John (then Reg Dwight), and Tim Rice; while Jack Bruce (of Cream) played the bass guitar. The lyrics include a number of in-jokes. For example, the line Mr Frears has sticky out ears refers to film director Stephen Frears who had worked with the Scaffold early in their career; while the line Jennifer Eccles had terrible freckles refers to the song "Jennifer Eccles" by the Hollies, Graham Nash's former band.
The U.S. American folk (or drinking) song on which Lily the Pink was based is generally known as "Lydia Pinkham" or "The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham". The song was inspired by Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, a well-known herbal-alcoholic patent medicine for women. The compound was mass-marketed in the United States from 1876 onwards.The song was certainly in existence by the time of the First World War. F. W. Harvey records it being sung in officers' prisoner-of-war camps in Germany, and ascribes it to Canadian prisoners. In many versions, the complaints which the compound had cured were highly ribald in nature. During the Prohibition era (1920–33) in the United States, the medicine (like other similar patent medicines) had a particular appeal as a readily available 40-proof alcoholic drink, and it is likely that this aided the popularity of the song. A version of the song was the unofficial regimental song of the Royal Tank Corps during World War II.
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A video for this song: