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Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!

DigiTrad:
MAID AND THE PALMER
THE WELL BELOW THE VALLEY


Suegorgeous 03 Jan 09 - 04:02 PM
Tim Leaning 03 Jan 09 - 04:04 PM
Folkiedave 03 Jan 09 - 04:09 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Jan 09 - 05:23 PM
Richard Bridge 04 Jan 09 - 06:08 AM
Paul Burke 04 Jan 09 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin 04 Jan 09 - 06:59 AM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Jan 09 - 07:23 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jan 09 - 07:34 AM
Bob the Postman 04 Jan 09 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 04 Jan 09 - 08:31 AM
BB 04 Jan 09 - 05:05 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Jan 09 - 05:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Jan 09 - 06:24 PM
Ruth Archer 04 Jan 09 - 06:42 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 09 - 07:13 PM
Nerd 04 Jan 09 - 07:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Jan 09 - 07:31 PM
Tootler 04 Jan 09 - 07:35 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Jan 09 - 07:52 PM
Frank_Finn 04 Jan 09 - 08:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Jan 09 - 08:50 PM
Les in Chorlton 05 Jan 09 - 12:06 PM
BB 05 Jan 09 - 02:22 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 09 - 02:33 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 09 - 03:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jan 09 - 03:45 PM
Tootler 05 Jan 09 - 04:02 PM
Nerd 05 Jan 09 - 04:47 PM
Nerd 05 Jan 09 - 05:20 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Jan 09 - 05:54 PM
Nerd 05 Jan 09 - 05:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jan 09 - 05:59 PM
Nerd 05 Jan 09 - 06:12 PM
michaelr 05 Jan 09 - 06:20 PM
Nerd 05 Jan 09 - 06:39 PM
Suegorgeous 05 Jan 09 - 08:23 PM
Suegorgeous 05 Jan 09 - 08:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Jan 09 - 10:44 PM
Nerd 06 Jan 09 - 12:55 AM
Ruth Archer 06 Jan 09 - 02:34 AM
Valmai Goodyear 06 Jan 09 - 04:50 AM
Ruth Archer 06 Jan 09 - 06:01 AM
Brian Peters 06 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
Suegorgeous 06 Jan 09 - 08:34 AM
Valmai Goodyear 06 Jan 09 - 01:46 PM
Suegorgeous 06 Jan 09 - 01:54 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Jan 09 - 01:58 PM
Suegorgeous 06 Jan 09 - 02:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jan 09 - 03:07 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Jan 09 - 03:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Jan 09 - 03:48 PM
Ruth Archer 06 Jan 09 - 03:58 PM
Nerd 06 Jan 09 - 04:04 PM
Matthew Edwards 06 Jan 09 - 04:06 PM
Nerd 06 Jan 09 - 04:10 PM
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Nerd 06 Jan 09 - 04:44 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Jan 09 - 05:19 PM
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Nerd 06 Jan 09 - 11:29 PM
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mattkeen 07 Jan 09 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 07 Jan 09 - 07:10 AM
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Jim Carroll 08 Jan 09 - 04:28 AM
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Jim Carroll 08 Jan 09 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,christy moore 12 Oct 09 - 10:39 PM
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Liberty Boy 13 Oct 09 - 07:51 AM
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Subject: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:02 PM

I've started taking a closer look/listen at this extraordinary song - known it for years, but now wanting to sing it - and would be very interested to hear what others know/think about its symbolism etc.

It's pretty obvious what the song's about (incest, oppression, etc) and I've checked out a relevant thread here - but I'm wondering if anyone has more info about specifics - such as, who is the "gentleman"? (and how does he know so much about her secrets?), or who does he represent? - or is that too literal, and is he just a device for getting the story told?

What is the symbolism of things like the lily/bushes and the well? I could obviously make guesses at these, but if anyone knows or has researched this or has a link to some research, I'd love to hear.

What's the significance of their initial conversation, ie about the "cup", "drinking" (presumably at the well?), etc?

Here are the DT words:

A gentleman was passing by
He asked for a drink as he got dry
At the well below the valley-o
Green grows the lily-o
Right among the bushes-o

"Me cup is full unto the brim
If I were to stoop I might fall in"

"If your true love was passing by
You'd fill him a drink as he got dry"

She swore by grass, she swore by corn
That her true love had never been born

He said "Young maid, you swear in wrong
For six children you had born"

"If you be a man of noble fame
You'll tell to me the father of them"

"There's two of them by your uncle Dan"
"Another two by your brother John"
"Another two by your father dear"

"If you be a man of noble esteem
You'll tell to me what did happen to them"

"There's two buried 'neath the stable door"
"Another two near the kitchen door"
"Another two buried beneath the wall"

"If you be a man of noble fame
You'll tell to me what will happen to mysel' "

"You'll be seven years a-ringing the bell"
"You'll be seven more a-porting in hell"

"I'll be seven years a-ringing the bell
But the Lord above may save me soul from porting in hell.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:04 PM

Its a disturbin song no doubt will read the experts opinions with interest.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Folkiedave
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 04:09 PM

This gives a fairly good account and a starting point for you


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 05:23 PM

The song originally was "The Maid and the Palmer," take a look at an old version posted by Bruce O. in thread 9182. It may give you some ideas. Maid and the Palmer
An interesting comment indicating unmarried maids were doomed to lead apes in hell.

The song is Child 21. There are two versions in the DT. Other titles- see Traditional Ballad Index.
And the thread above, post by Joe Offer, links other versions or near-versions.

The current remakes being sung are pretty much simpified, but Christy Moore has put new words to the song that ain't bad.
I will post them in the Maid and the Palmer thread, to keep the lyrics together.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:08 AM

I am inclined to guess that the Palmer Man, on the one hand, and the Well Below the Valley on the other hand are different songs from each other although some of the business is similar.

Am I not right that a Palmer was another name for a sin-eater?

That concept (critical surely to that song) is surely not to be found in the version of the Well below the Valley recorded by Jon Loomes, and the tunes are wholly dissimilar.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Paul Burke
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:35 AM

A palmer was a pilgrim- the symbol they carried, a palm leaf folded into a cross, was still handed out in (RC) church on Palm Sunday when I was a lad. Strangers aren't expected to know intimate deatails of family relationships, so there's something uncanny about him- a prophet or perhaps an epiphany of a saint. The American version has explicitly made him Jesus, and missed out (prudery?) explicit descriptions of the incest.

Do lilies grow in bushes, or is this in just for the sound? And how can a well be below a valley?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:59 AM

I thought that the basis of it is from St John, Chapter 4, Verses 4 to 42, where Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well and tells her she's been married five times previously and is now living with a man who isn't her husband.

However, as for the incest themes and lilies . . .


Bobby Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:23 AM

A palmer was just somebody who had (or affected to have had) made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. A sin eater was somebody who took on themself, usually for payment, the sins of the newly dead. Not the same thing at all.

By 'The Palmer Man', I assume that Richard means Martin Carthy's re-write of the Percy MS text of Child 21, set to a tune with which the words had not previously been associated. 'The Well Below the Valley' was recorded by Tom Munnelly in 1969 from John Reilly; the only example ever found in Ireland, and the only tune known to Bronson for Child 21. The two texts printed by Child are the (English) Percy text and a Scottish fragment; neither have tunes.

Presumably Jon Loomes, like everybody else who performs 'Well Below the Valley', is using Reilly's text and tune. Christy Moore can hardly be said to have written new words for it, though he did make some minor alterations. His official website is misleading in that respect, and inexcusably fails even to mention John Reilly.

Sue needs to look at Child's notes for 'The Maid and the Palmer'; these can be found via Google Books nowadays for those who prefer not to buy a print edition. The basic story is an elaboration of the biblical episode of the Woman of Samaria, combined with elements from medieval traditions concerning Mary Magdalen. Such re-workings of biblical stories were common enough. Structural evidence does suggest a familial connection between the English, Scottish and Irish texts; American forms are probably separate treatments of the subject, and have been discussed here separately.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:34 AM

I stand corrected on the palmer man (palm, I geddit now!).

I'll try to find a mo to put up the Loomes words.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:16 AM

There appear to be affinities between this song and Child 20 The Cruel Mother: being impregnated by a member of one's own household; infanticide; and the "toll a bell/burn in hell" rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:31 AM

I find both The Cruel Mother and Maid & Palmer / Well Bellow The Valley disturbing on a number of levels, not least of which is that the central woman is presumably a powerless victim of patriarchal circumstances, given the time these songs were first written/performed. If a woman has had sex with that many relatives and all the dead (murdered?) children buried I would work on the assumption that none of this was of her choosing. It seems she was used as the living family sex doll. In that case, what torment must this woman already have been through? Then, on top of this, she is judged to deserve further punishment after death for the sins meted out on her by her family. What says the palmer about the sins of her family?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: BB
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 05:05 PM

The Cruel Mother usually refers to 'her father's clerk' rather than a member of the family, so, like so many young girls before and after her, she found a way of getting rid of the babies rather than have her family find out. But so many of the ballads are disturbing to modern ear - and maybe to contemporary ones as well, otherwise maybe the stories wouldn't have been worth telling.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 05:25 PM

Child pointed to the overlap between his numbers 20 and 21 more than a century ago. The likelihood is that 'Cruel Mother' has in some cases (chiefly Scottish ones) acquired material from forms of 'Maid and the Palmer', which appears to be the older ballad.

I do hope that people won't feel the need to post the words of any more revival arrangements of 'Well Below the Valley'. A lot of people perform such things and a fair few have recorded them; but all derive from John Reilly's unique traditional version, though in many cases they have been learned from other revival performers rather than from the recording of Reilly himself. That isn't to say that there is necessarily anything wrong with such things: just that, by definition, they cannot tell us anything about the history or meaning of the song, just a little about the personal sensibilities of the individuals concerned.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:24 PM

I should have read The lyrics of John Reilly before accepting the Christy Moore website 'new words' statement, which was false.
If it has not already been done, I will post the Reilly lyrics in the thread where I posted the Christy Moore lyrics; the 'new words' by Moore are just one here and there.
The thread is linked in my previous post but here it is again: Well Below the Valley


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:42 PM

Well, Christy Moore adds a number of verses compared to the version I have by John Reilly...maybe there's a more complete John Reilly vrsion than the one on VotP?

Christy Moore acknowledged John Reilly's influence, and played his Raggle Taggle Gypsy, when he was on Desert Island Discs...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:13 PM

I wouldn't try to put a lot of meaning into the Reilly refacimento which is obviously based on Child21 with bits of other songs thrown in as a chorus. I'm not suggesting necessarily that Reilly rewrote a version of Child 21 himself but that someone else did and it eventually came down to him. Travellers have often used ballads from books and it's remarkable how quickly they pass back into oral tradition. There are plenty of examples of this among the Scottish travellers.

The Maid and the Palmer has various analogues on the continent but The Cruel Mother doesn't.

I used to sing Child 21 to the basic tune of Tam Lin and it worked fine. Having said that, the Tam Lin tune I used probably came from Bert Lloyd anyway.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:29 PM

I wouldn't blame Christy Moore personally. It's never clear what the intentions are when someone claims "new words." In some cases, it may be an attempt to secure copyright on one particular verbal formulation; in others, it may simply be a way of acknowledging that the source is not being followed to the letter. In other words, it may be a form of hyper-honesty rather than a form of dishonesty.

In The Christy Moore Songbook, and in many other places, Christy has acknowledged Reilly as essentially the sole source of the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:31 PM

The VOTP recording was made in 1967 and lacks some lines present in the 1969 recording transcribed in Bronson. Perhaps the compilers didn't have access to the more complete version.

The misleading attribution is on Christy Moore's official website, and 'Q' quoted it in good faith. Whether or not Moore would himself claim that his minor alterations to Reilly's text constituted 'new words' I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Tootler
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:35 PM

Roy Palmer included it in his "Book of British Ballads". He used the John Reilly version, though slightly modified - he notes the modification in a footnote.

I heard it first and learnt it from a CD I bought in an English Heritage shop, sung by Michael Henry - and a very fine version it is too. The CD sleeve notes acknowledge John Reilly and, judging by the words posted elsewhere here and in Roy Palmer's book, the singer sticks pretty close to the Reilly version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:52 PM

Palmer prints the precise text and tune from Bronson (his example 2, from the 1969 recording). The footnote referring to 'a verse omitted in this version' quotes lines from the Percy MS text that do not appear in Reilly's version, not lines later omitted editorially.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Frank_Finn
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:28 PM

Hi Tootler. That is very interesting about CD, by Michael Henry that you bought in an English Heritage shop. Can you tell me more about the singer and other songs on it


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:50 PM

The Reilly version printed in Bronson has now been posted in the thread with Child 21 (Percy MS) and other notes; the thread is linked twice above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 12:06 PM

"
Очень хочется от всей души поздравить всех посетителей сайта и администрацию с новым годом!"

really?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: BB
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 02:22 PM

Frank, I suspect the CD referred to was actually from a Past Times shop, rather than English Heritage, unless Past Times are now selling through English Heritage.

The CD is called 'The Fairy Dance: Myth and Magic in Celtic Songs and Tunes' - the sort of thing I would usually shy away from, but it was produced by Tim Healey, with performances from Moira Craig, Julie Murphy, Andy Cutting and Chris Leslie, amongst others, so I thought it was worth a try. It was worth it. And Michael Henry is an excellent singer.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 02:33 PM

John Reilly's version came from his mother. He tended to improvise both the tunes and the texts of his songs each time he sang them.
Neither John nor his family were literate so the chance of his having got the song from a printed text is extremely unlikely.
Malcolm Douglas's last paragraph cannot be repeated too often in my opinion.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 03:04 PM

Hi Jim,
Happy New Year.
I don't doubt what you say. The Percy text has often been reprinted, notably in the 1910 widely disseminated Oxford Book of Ballads. I shall in due course be looking in great detail at all versions of the ballad, but for the moment it looks to me like a concocted text with bits garbled and bits added in from other songs. Oral tradition? Possibly but with some doctoring from someone with access to a print copy IMHO, and at first inspection.

Steve the skeptic


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 03:45 PM

Child said "the only English copy of this ballad that approaches completeness is furnished by the Percy manuscript," and it is the only one, outside of a couple of fragments from Scott, included in his popular ballads. Bruce O. posted it in the original thread.

Has any additional information been found?

Bronson shows only the Reilly text.
It does seen a 'wee bit pekuliar' that Reilly came up with a 16-verse text several generations after the Percy MS, and nothing intervening except the scraps from Scott.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 04:02 PM

Barbara

The CD I referred to was from English Heritage. It was a 2 CD set called "Celtic Inspirations" and the musicians included those you listed.

Like you, I am wary of CD's called "Celtic......" but you sometimes come across some gems and this was one. Micheal Henry is indeed an excellent singer - as is Moira Craig. I was less keen on Julie Murphy. Her Welsh songs were my least favourite on the album. It was not the fact they were in Welsh so much as they did not seem to have that something extra that I often find in Gaelic songs that compensates for not understanding the language

I suspect the Past Times CD came from the same source as the English Heritage one. The copyright message says that all the tracks were licensed from Beautiful Jo records and all the artists listed have indeed recorded for Beautiful Jo at some time and BJ have some excellent CD's in their catalogue.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 04:47 PM

According to Steve Roud's index, there is a version in the Glenbuchat manuscripts, which Emily Lyle published in Scottish Ballads, and which is also presumably in Buchan and Moreira's edited volume of Glenbuchat materials. I don't have easy access to this version, but someone on the list must.

That pushes the date in oral tradition to about 1818, and we aren't that far from when John Reilly's Mother would have been born--within a century, anyway.

If anyone had that text available to post, that would help. In a pinch I can go into the vast library stacks at work for a copy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 05:20 PM

Okay, here it is: I got it off Amazon's "Search this book" feature, but had to type it over.

It's from The Glenbuchat Ballads, edited by David Buchan and James Moreira, pages 89-90. It originally appeared in volume 2 of the Glenbuchat folios.

To put this in context, these manuscripts were written out, probably in 1818, by Rev. Robert Scott of the parish of Glenbuchat. Scott does not say if he got the song directly from oral tradition (from a singer or reciter), but the editors make a good case that he probably got most of the songs that way. Scott provided no tunes. This is considered one of the most important ballad manuscript collections that Child did not have access to when compiling the Child Ballads.

The ballad singer seems to have been inconsistent on whether to sing "maid" or "maiden," and Scott inconsistent on whether the contraction for "ye are" should be "ye're" or "yere."

^^
The May's to the well to wash and to wring
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
An' ay so sweetly did she sing
I am the fair maid of Coldingham

O by there cam' an eldren man
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
O gie me a drink o' your cauld stream
An' ye be the fair maiden of Coldingham

My golden cup is down the strand
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
Of my cold water you shall drink nane
Tho' I be the fair maiden of Coldingham

O fair may bethink ye again
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
Gie a drink o' cauld water to an auld man
If ye be the fair maid of Coldingham

O she sware by the sun and the moon
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
That all her cups were flown to Rome
Yet she was the fair maid of Coldingham

O seven bairns hae ye born
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
An' as many lives hae ye forlorn
An' ye're nae the fair maiden of Coldingham

There's three o' them in your bower floor
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
It gars ye fear when you wouldna fear
An ye're nae the fair maiden of Coldingham

There's ane o' them in yon well stripe
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
And twa o' them in the garden dyke
An' yere nae the fair maiden of Coldingham

There's ane o' them in your bed feet
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
It gars ye wake when ye should sleep
An' yere nae the fair maid of Coldingham

Ye'll be seven lang years a stane in a cairn
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
An' seven years ye'll go wi' bairn
An ye're nae the fair maiden of Coldingham

Ye'll be seven years a sacran bell
The primrose o' the wood wants a name
An' ither seven the cook in hell
An ye're nae the fair maiden of Coldingham


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 05:54 PM

For the sake of completeness, and because I've just typed the whole blasted thing out:

Glenbuchat MSS Vol II:5, pp 17-18

(Child 21, The Maid and the Palmer; Roud 2335)


Stanzas numbered and left aligned.
31: Of my scored out at beginning of the line.
53: frae or fare scored out, were inserted above.
81: well poss. changed from wall.
101: craw written above a deleted word, poss. crow.

David Buchan and James Moreira, eds., The Glenbuchat Ballads. University Press of Mississippi in association with the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. 2007, pp 89-90.

The editors note that the refrain suggests a relationship with the fragment that Sir Walter Scott sent to C K Sharpe (Child 21B)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 05:58 PM

Thanks, Malcolm...looks like we were both typing simultaneously!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 05:59 PM

Thanks for that! It is a good ballad, too.
An eldren man this time.

The book looks like a must for the collector of Scots ballads.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 06:12 PM

Yes, Q, I like this version. I love the obscurity of "the primrose o' the wood wants a name"; it's one of those refrains that would have been declared pagan and magical in the 19th century.

I love "gars ye wake when ye should sleep," too, and I love that the punishment involves being pregnant for seven years.

It is different enough from the Percy text that I honestly don't think anyone simply sat down with Percy and rewrote it. But, there is obviously a direct common ancestry as well.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: michaelr
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 06:20 PM

Any idea what "all her cups were flown to Rome" might mean?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 06:39 PM

Of course, come to think of it, no one could have sat down with the Percy and rewritten it. This song wasn't published in Reliques. So this version was written down before the publication of Percy's text.

As for "cups were flown to Rome," I suppose it could mean that, if this well were on a pilgrimage route, previous palmers had made off with all her drinking cups!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:23 PM

Thanks to everyone for all the references, information and thoughts. Whew! lots to digest and think about and follow up...

Seems to me after reading all of this thread and the other one mentioned, that there may well be 3 (at least) separate songs (Well below the valley, Maid and Palmer, Jesus met a woman), but they have so very much in common, in terms of lyrics, symbolism and structure, they must derive from the same roots, whatever those are/were (the bible story?).

Yet it's interesting that none of the Child manuscripts, the Glenbuchat ballad, the bible story and American song versions (whether related or not) include the element of incest. This first (only?) appears in Reilly's Irish version, implying it was added as a reflection of Irish society/religious repression - though surely this social ill wasn't unique to Ireland?

Can I just clarify from what various people have said above - so 2 recordings of Reilly singing it were made by Munnelly, one (1969) used for the VotP recording, and another (1970) that was printed in the Bronson 1976 book - have I got this right?

No one has yet really commented much on symbolism - of the lily, the bushes, the well, etc - any thoughts?

Nerd/Malcolm - hmmm, a new punishment (7 years pregnancy) appears in that version - heavy stuff!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:43 PM

Guest Ian - indeed - the song says an awful lot about religious oppression of women - she gets raped, then gets all the blame herself! to boot, she may then have been pressurized into the abortions/murders - and it may not even have been her that buried the bodies... ho hum! and this kind of thing still happens round the world too...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 10:44 PM

Two recordings, as I've already said: 1967 and 1969. The first was made by Tom Munnelly, the second (longer) by Munnelly, D K Wilgus and his wife Eleanor Long-Wilgus. John Reilly died shortly after.

I doubt if there is any conscious symbolism in Reilly's refrain. Bear in mind, too, that any assumptions regarding the 'back story' must necessarily be subjective and speculative; bringing modern sensibilities to bear on an old story may be more likely to mislead than to enlighten. On the general roots of the 'Maid and the Palmer', I repeat my suggestion that you read Child's notes.

Re the Glenbuchat text, 'all her cups were flown to Rome' clearly means 'all her cups were gone/disappeared'; why is another matter. 'Nerd's suggestion is as good as any, though there may just possibly be an allusion to the widespread folk belief that all church bells flew to Rome at Easter and were absent from their places at that time. That (Catholic) belief persists in France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and so on; whether it was ever common enough in Scotland to be a meaningful image there I wouldn't know.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 12:55 AM

A couple of things to clarify in the above discussion.

A "palmer" originally meant specifically a Jerusalem pilgrim as Malcolm says, but by Chaucer's day it had broadened to mean a pilgrim to any hallowed site; Chaucer specifically mentions "Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages/and palmeres for to seken straunge strondes/to ferne halwes, kouthe in sondry londes."

(Middle English was more flexible about clause order than modern English, so this means "then people long to go on pilgrimages, and palmers to distant holy sites known in various countries long to seek foreign shores...")

I mention this because the various mentions of Rome in the ballad suggest that this version of the story is occurring on a pilgrim route to Rome...even though it is of course based on a story that occurred in the Holy Land.

Second, Christy Moore's website does indeed mention John Reilly and Tom Munnelly in connection with The Well Below the Valley, just not in the lyrics area. When he sings the song, Christy usually talks for several minutes about how deeply Reilly influenced him. I have mentioned this in the other thread and wanted to mention it again here; Christy is more conscientious about mentioning traditional sources than any performer I know of similar popularity.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 02:34 AM

Nerd, those are great lyrics - I think i'm going to start singing that.

Sue, the song never says that she was raped. I can remember reading accounts by researchers at the turn of the 20th century who visited remote rural places in America where incest was common. Some of the women cheerfully reported the incestual familial lines they were part of and had given birth to; it all depends on what becomes normalised behaviour in a particular societal group.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:50 AM

Hear, hear - a fine set of verses. Now for a tune. Could 'roam' and 'Rome' be a deliberate play on words, or just an ambiguity?

Isn't it extraordinary how ballads which seem to belong to an earlier age have a knack of turning up as a current, heartbreaking news story? The recent Austrian and Yorkshire incest cases throw Well Below The Valley into sharp relief.

In fact, the Fritzl case has elements of Prince Heathen too.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:01 AM

Valmai, The Flower of Northumberland was the first tune that occurred to me while reading the lyrics - I think it works...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

Excellent thread. Welcome back, Malcolm; good work, Nerd.

I've got my eye on those verses too.....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:34 AM

I'm reading everything, and more thoroughly when I've more time.

Ruth - agreed, I should have said abuse rather than rape. For a child, much behaviour can be normalised, doesn't mean it's not abusive. And secretly burying six/nine babies doesn't sound like cheerful acceptance to me. The abuse is about the shaming and the misogyny too.

Valmai - yes, some things are timeless! which is one reason we connect to and sing these songs, I guess.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 01:46 PM

Ruth, the F F of N occurred to me as well because the repeated lines echo it closely, although it may need amending to 'The primrose of the wood, it has no name' to fit the tune. The great thing will be getting the song sung again, to an old tune or a new one.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 01:54 PM

In the new song, "May" should be "maid", surely? a mishearing/mistranscription?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 01:58 PM

Not in the least. 'May' is perfectly correct, and means the same as 'Maid'. See any ballad collection for numerous examples of the usage.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 02:03 PM

Never seen it used with that meaning - thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:07 PM

Look up 'May' in the OED, and the first usage that comes up is maiden or virgin. Separate entries for other May nouns.

This is a problem for anyone who has not studied older English word usage (all of us, except specialists!).
Words such as gwine, which shows up in slave songs, spirituals, minstrel songs, etc., is an old English word, its use probably stemming from the overseers of the plantations who often had little education of the kind received by the plantation owners.

There are many cant words as well, which have also gone out of usage or changed meanings.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:23 PM

Great thread. Can I second the comments about "The Glenbuchat Ballads"? One on my essential purchases of last year.

I just wish more of the recordings of John Reilly's singing were available commercially than the few tracks on VOTP. I assume the two recording sessions are safely held in an archive somewhere? Does anyone here have a list of the songs he sangs on them?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:48 PM

Simply search for Reilly, John in the Performer field of the Roud Folk Song Index.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:58 PM

"although it may need amending to 'The primrose of the wood, it has no name' to fit the tune."

Snap! I did that too.

Looks like this song is going to get a fair airing this year!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:04 PM

John Reilly's songs have also been released elsewhere. He had his own LP from Topic, which you may be able to find used. The info for that is:

12T359 The Bonny Green Tree. Songs of an Irish Traveller. John Reilly.

    Adieu Unto All True Lovers / The Raggle Taggle Gypsies / The Well Below the Valley / Tippin' It Up to Nancy / Lord Baker / Old Caravee / The Bonny Green Tree / Once There Lived a Captain / Peter Heany / What Put the Blood? / Rozzin Box / The Braes of Strawberries / One Morning I Rambled from Glasgow / The Pride of Clonkeen.

There are also tracks by Reilly on recordings by the European Ethnic label, and the GlobeStyle label.

More info can be found at the Topic Records Discography and theTraditional Music Discography at Musical Traditions, here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:06 PM

Dear Spleen (I'm sorry but I can't recall your real name though I daresay I could work out the anagram); the songs of John Reilly are well worth exploring. I don't think that the Topic LP of his songs The Bonny Green Tree sold many copies as I have had to wait some years before I found a second-hand copy for sale. Malcolm Douglas very kindly let me hear his copy a few years ago when I first expressed an interest in John Reilly, and that was a gesture I remain very grateful for.
I think that the Irish Traditional Music Archive (or possibly the UCD) hold Tom Munnelly's recordings of John Reilly, but the recordings by D.K.Wilgus are held in the Ethnomusicology Archive at UCLA (that's California).
The last time I checked the collection's online archive it listed all the recordings made by Wilgus of John Reilly and other Irish singers and musicians amidst a huge quantity of material from all around the world, but a quick look today suggests that while some recordings (or extracts from recordings) can be heard in a digital library it is much harder to locate the details of the recordings. The archive nevertheless is a priceless source of ethnographic recordings and it is well worth exploring.
Matthew


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:10 PM

I also thought of "Fair Flower of Northumberland," and decided you'd have to amend the primrose line to make it work. I think the last line of each stanza being "fair maiden of Coldingham" makes it a natural idea. But, I do love that primrose line as it is!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:26 PM

I had forgotten that only the published examples are listed in Roud. Matthew has now specified where the field recordings are kept.

Re 'Fair Flower of Northumberland': it might be better to find a tune that actually fits the words. Shoe-horning a song into an inappropriate melody (or the reverse) does it no favours, however anxious you may be to sing it. Be patient! Martin Carthy for one will tell you that it can take years for the 'right' melody to surface.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:44 PM

I would give a fair hearing to anyone's rendition using the "Fair Flower of Northumberland" tune. However, I agree with Malcolm not to be hasty. Another tune might work better.

The problem is that "The primrose of the wood wants a name" is in a different meter than the other refrain line, "you are the fair maiden of Coldingham," so I doubt a tune will easily be found to accommodate the song as is. Another option would be to compose a tune, but the result would still sound asymmetrical.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 05:19 PM

Thank you Malcolm, Matthew and Nerd for your helpful responses.

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:59 PM

Hmmm, confused now.....because using the Fair Flower of Northumberland tune that I know, it seems to fit the song pretty well without any need to alter lines. I'm thinking of the one Dick Gaughan uses for his rendition. Is there another one?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:04 PM

Matthew, try Spencer


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:13 PM

The Maid of Coldingham (Glenbuchat) first appeared in print in 1994 in Emily Lyle's Scottish Ballads.

Yes, Fair Flower of Northumberland jumps out immediately as being the tune. In some ways better suited than to its own text. It only needs minimal tweaking.

Another possible alternative, John Jacob Niles published a hashed up version with a tune in his Ballad Book. I've not looked at his tune but he was quite good at this sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 11:29 PM

Sue,

I am indeed thinking of the Gaughan tune. I'm just commenting that "The Primrose of the wood wants a name" fits very awkwardly to the music that goes with "Oh, but her love, it was easy won."

Otherwise, that tune works fine...but fully a quarter of the song is repetitions of that line, so it had better fit.

"The rose in the greenwood, it wants a name" fits better, but it's less beautiful.

So that's the kind of alteration we're all talking about...just that line. Otherwise, minimal tweaking required.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 12:37 AM

It is not the slightest 'wee bit pekuliar' that John Reilly had the ballad 'Well Below The Valley'; he also had Lord Gregory and Lord Bateman. Tom Munnelly's vast collecting work in Ireland was turning up dozens of ballads which had disappeared elsewhere.
Directly from Travellers he also got Thomas of Winesbury, Lambkin and Young Hunting, and indirectly, Lord Thomas and The Brown Girl, The Cruel Mother and Fair Margaret and Sweet William (Ch 74), all originally learned from Traveller sources. Pat Mackenzie and I recorded The Grey Cock, and Lord Randall in full, and part versions of Famous Flower of Serving Men and Lord Gregory. Up to the mid-seventies in our experience the most popular ballad in the Travelling community was The Outlandish Knight, closely followed by Edward.
The Irish Travellers' singing tradition was totally uninfluenced by literacy; very few Travellers could read at all and those tiny few who could had such a rudimentary grasp of reading for it to have no effect whatsoever on their song repertoires. Ironically, their influence on the settled repertoires was through print; the trade of 'Ballad Selling', selling song-sheets at the fairs and markets in rural Ireland, carried on to the mid-fifties. We have long, detailed descriptions of Travellers reciting their songs across the counter to printers, who then produced them to be sold locally - the trade was carried out almost exclusively by Travellers and the material included everything from popular songs of the day to those taken from their own oral repertoires (Little Grey Home In The West, Smiling Through, Betsy Of Ballentown Brae, Willie Leonard, Early in The Month of Spring, The Blind Beggar... etc.)   
Even among the settled, literate population the influence of literacy was a complicated one; very few singers we recorded in rural Ireland learned songs directly from print; rather they used printed texts as very rough guides to what they already knew, or altered the songs from the page so totally as for them to bear little resemblance to the 'original'.
Our main problem in discussing traditional singing is that we have virtually no information on the subject from the horse's mouth - from the singers themselves. Collectors appear not to have thought it worthwhile asking their sources about their songs and singing, rather preferring to speculate and theorise themselves on such 'weighty matters'. One of these once commented on Walter Pardon's ability to separate his traditional songs (Walter always used the word 'folk') from his music hall and early pop songs; "How would he know the difference - he's just a simple countryman?"
It has always seemed to me more than a little 'pekuliar' to treat with scepticism, or even to reject outright, what little evidence we have from our source singers - I wonder are there any solid grounds for thinking John Reilly's having The Well Below The Valley "a wee bit pekuliar", or for 'Sceptical Steve's' scepticism? I believe that the way to an understanding of our song traditions is to pool what little information we have rather than treating it with the suspicion it so often gets.
Tom Munnelly's recordings of John Reilly, along with the other 22,000-odd songs he collected, are housed at University College Dublin and also at The Irish Traditional Music Archive in Merrion Square, Dublin.
Apart from the Topic album 'Bonny Green Tree', Peter Kennedy issued (without permission) 'pirated' recordings on Folktrax; I know Dick Greenhause was attempting to sort out the problems connected with these; don't know if he ever did.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: mattkeen
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 06:39 AM

Thanks all for a great thread


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 07:10 AM

Maybe it's good to note here, for reference, Tom Munnelly's article on John Reilly in Ceol IV (1), jan 1972. - p. 2-8

in which a notion of a number of song is given: What put the blood, The Bonny Green Tree, The Raggle Taggle Gypsy and the music and first two verses of the Well below the Valley.

The article references an older article in Ceol III, p. 61 (which is not in my possession) where another version, almost identical words but slightly different music, of the last song is given


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 07:45 PM

Jim,
Excellent info there.
All I have to go on is a hunch and probabilities and possibilities.
You mention other Child ballads in JR's repertoire but they're all relatively well-known and printed on broadsides. Nothing pekuliar there.

Interesting that Edward is described as common in Irish traveller repertoires. I'd certainly be interested in seeing these texts as it is pretty scarce in England and even more scarce in Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 03:25 AM

I've now checked my old notes of the catalogue entries of recordings from John Reilly in the D K Wilgus Collection at UCLA. The material is presumably still there at the UCLA Ethnomusicolgy Archive but the way the catalogue is organised has changed so my initial attempts to find the songs again have proved fruitless.

Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/007
Collected from John Reilly, July 26-27, 1967, Dublin, Ireland
The Green Bushes
The Well Below the Valley-O
The Raggle-Taggle Gypsie[s]
Lord Baker
The Jolly Tinker
There Was a Woman In Our Town
The Braes of Strablane
Barbara Allen
What But the Blood On Your Right Shoulder
For Here's Adieu and To All True Lovers
Once There Lived a Captain
Peter Haney
My Name it is Sean McNamara
Interview


Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/008
Collected from John Reilly, February 22, 1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
The Woman in Our Town
The Well Down in the Valley
The Laurel Tree
Lakes of Cool Finn
The Jolly Tinker


Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/009
Collected from John Reilly, February 22, 1969, Blyle[sic], Col. Roscommon, Ireland
What's That Blood on Your Right Shoulder
The Constant Farmer's Son
Ship Crew of Sailors (Jacket so Blue)
Clauda Banks
Pride of Clonkeen
Raggle-Taggle Gypsies


Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/010
Collected from John Reilly, February 22,23,1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Irish Sea Captain
John Reilly
Lord Baker
The Bonny Green Tree
I Will Bid Adieu to All True Lovers
Bonnie Lass of Aughrim


Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/011
Collected from John Reilly, February 23, 1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Seven Drunken Nights
Bold English Naavy[sic]
Peter Heaney
Willie Heaney
One Morning I Rambled from Glasgow
Longford Murder
Newry Mountains ("Streams of Lovely Nancy")


Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/012
Collected from John Reilly, February 23, 1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Dublin's Big City
Mountain Stream Where the Moor Cock's Crow
The Home I Left Behind
Two Little Orphans
Braes of Strablane
To Mysel' and My Own Country (Emigration Song)
As I was Going Over Kilgary Mountain
There was a Lady in Her Father's Garden
Dark-Eyed Gypsy


Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/013
Collected from John Reilly, February 23, 1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Background recording session

Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/014
Collected from John Reilly, February 23, 1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Background to recording session

Archive Call Number 2002.3 - 69/015
Collected from John Reilly; Josie MacDermott; Liam Purcell, February 23, 1969; April 26, 1969, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Side I
Background Tape, John Reilly
Side II
The Dark Slender Boy
Long A-Growing (Ballad Air)
[10 Untitled tracks]
Winking at Me


Additional catalogue entries for items 2002.3-0061,0062,0063 and 0064 appear to be duplicate copies of the same material but with the note that the recordings on February 22, 1969 took place in the kitchen of Grehan's Public House.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 03:32 AM

Presumably the 1967 recordings listed are copies of those made by Tom Munnelly alone. Can anyone confirm that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 04:28 AM

"but they're all relatively well-known and printed on broadsides"
Not from field singers in Ireland they're not - and, as I said, in our experience, (and Tom M confirmed that as being his opinion) generally Travellers did not learn songs from print. The only example we have of one learning from a record was one who sang The McNulty Family's Old Ballymow'. The same singer learned to read in prison and put a tune to R L Stevenson's 'Heather Ale'.
The version of Edward common among Travellers was similar to that recorded by Kennedy in the 50s from Mary Connors . The 4 sets we recorded in the early 70s (What Put The Blood being the most popular title) were all learned from parents or other family members.
Yes, the 1967 recordings listed were those made by Tom Munnelly alone; Tom gave us copies which are more or less in the same recorded order (the 5" reel order differs).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 06:32 AM

Incidentally, I meant to comment on one of John's songs,(given alternatively as 'My Name it is Sean McNamara' or Old Caravee')We recorded this several times under yet another title, but on each occasion we were asked not to play it to anybody else. The song tells of a Travelling couple who were married by a 'made match' - a formally agreed arrangement through a matchmaker (a fairly common practice in Ireland among both Travellers and settled people up to the middle of the 20th century - please note - these were not enforced marriages). The couple were still living when we recorded it and the singers did not wish to give offence. One singer said, "He's me cousin he'd murther me if he knew I'd sung it to you".
Mikeen McCarthy, from Kerry was at the wedding and described how the song was made by a group of Travellers sitting on a bank outside the church before the service - interestingly, he couldn't recall the names of any of the composers - it didn't seem important.
The song tells of the match being made because of the bride's ability to buy and sell mattresses - dealing in feathers was a traditional Traveller trade. It goes on to describe how eventually the woman became the dominant partner in the marriage - remember, this was actually made at the wedding - and eventually "wore the trousers down the main street of old Cahermee". John's 'Sean McNamara' was not the name of the groom!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 07:27 AM

Jim, that is a wonderful story. Thank you. Is the song commercially available now?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 11:16 AM

Ruth,
Sorry - no it isn't.
As much as we would have liked to, we promised we wouldn't use it.
It is pretty much the same as John Reilly's version with the real names of the couple concerned - who might still be around!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,christy moore
Date: 12 Oct 09 - 10:39 PM

a servin girl took up her pail
to draw springwater from the well
down below the valley O
Green Grows The Lily O
Right among the rushes O....(new verse by m douglas cop con)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 05:56 AM

No-one so far seems have mentioned the ballad representing 'The Cruel Mother' on 'The Folksongs of Britain, Vol. 4' (Child Ballads #1. This was recorded fromfrom Thomas Moran, Mohill, Co. Leitrim, by Seamus Ennis for the BBC (not sure of the date).
^^
O your first little child with the golden locks
All along and a-lonely-O
And you've buried him under your own bed stock
Down by the greenwood sidey-O

You've buried three more on your way going home
And you've buried three more on that butting stone

Well you'll be seven long years a wolf in the woods
And you'll be seven long years a fish in the floods

You'll be seven long years a-ringing the bell
And you'll be seven long years a-burning in hell

Well I'd like very well to be a wolf in the woods
And I'd like very well to be a fish in the floods

I'd like very well to be a-ringing the bell
But the Lord may save my soul from hell

Leaving aside the standard Child 20 chorus, this looks much more like 'The Well Below the Valley' to me. The sleeve notes don't give any info about the singer - anyone care to tell us more?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 07:26 AM

Tom Moran - one of the all-time great Irish tradition bearers.
Jim Carroll

MORAN, Thomas
Singer and storyteller. Mohill, Co. Leitrim. December 1954.
Aged 79. Lived in a Townland called Drumrahool, near Mohill, Co., Leitrim. Had been a farmer all his life. The collector suspected he might have travelled: "No", he said, "I learnt that song from a neighbour who hardly ever crossed a cow-track in his life". "Were you ever in Scotland or in England?" "I was once in England, on a couple of week's foolishness". The singer also made the remark: "The songs came in by these by-roads, and the condition of the roads would not let them out again".

In writing of this singer in JEFDSS 1955, where several of his songs are published, transcribed from the BBC recordings, Seamus Ennis said: "Certain repertoires of folk song in Ireland are greater than Thomas Moran's repertoires, which include both Gaelic and English, and both Anglo-Irish ballads and purely Irish songs, but Moran is the one in all my experience who has excelled in preserving the ballads of England, and particularly those of older vintage".

Section 1.
Airy little tailor: 22025; Barbara Allen (2): 22017; Blind Beggar's daughter (1): 22036; Boat that first brought me over 22015; Bonnie bunch of roses (8): 22024; Bonnie lass of Fyvie (3): 22014; Brian O'Lynn (3): 22025; Broken token (8): 22023; Captain Thunderbold: 22014; Captain Wedderburn's courtship (3): 22026; Cherry tree carol (2): 22024; Cruel mother (3): 22035; Drumhullogan Bottoms: 22023; Edward (3): 22015; Elfin Knight: 22026; Farewell my friends: 22027; Farewell Nancy (2): 22016; Farmer's curst wife (3): 22035;. Fox (5): 22013; Frog and the mouse (6): 21900.
Green bushes (5): 22038; Grey Cock (3): 22036; Green Wedding (2): 22016; Greenmont smiling Ann; Hag of Timahoe (2); Hammering cold iron: 22027; Herring song (6): 22025; I'm going to be married next Sunday morning (l): 22036; In the highlands of Scotland: 22037; Indian lass (3): 22018; Jackie Eraser (2): 22015; Kinlough Cow: 22036; Lord Bateman (2): 22033-4; Lord Gregory (2): 22016; Lord Leitrim {political ballad) (2): 21899; Lord Rendal (3): 22015; Lover's ghost: 22036; Maid of Magheracloone: 22013; Man in love he feels no cold (5): 22036; Marrowbones (4): 22013; Old man rocking the cradle; 22023; Our Goodman (2): 22029; Seventeen come Sunday : (11 ): 22035; Tinker (2): 22013; Up to the rigs of London Town (2): 22038; Van Dieman's Land (4): 22029; Village pride: 22037; Wonderful musician in Germany did dwell: 22027.
Section 9 (a)
Folk tales: Bill the robber: 22850; Bruno and the Devil: 22017-8; Monaghan Moe and Monaghan Beg; Paddy and Holly;
Three Redcaps: 22850.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Liberty Boy
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 07:51 AM

At the 30th Anniversary celebrations of An Goilin in mid May, Christy Moore sang "The Well Below the Valley", sitting at a table and pointing with his right hand to a photo of John Reilly which was, along with lots of other photo's, pinned to the wall as decoration for the event. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck. A fabulous moment!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 07:53 AM

Thanks, Jim, thought somehow you might oblige.

Any recordings apart from Folksongs in Britain?

And any comments on his Child 20?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 01:51 PM

Thomas Moran probably deserves a new thread to himself; there was a Folktracks cassette/CD FTX-076 'The Bonny Bunch of Roses' with some 32 songs recorded by Seamus Ennis for the BBC in 1954, all of which appear in Jim's list above from the JEFDSS 1955, and in the Roud Index (though I think 'Jackie Eraser' should be 'Jack Mulroe'). Dick Greenhaus at Camsco should be able to supply a copy, but I'm waiting to see what turns up in the forthcoming Topic 'Voice of the People 2' based on the Peter Kennedy and BBC collections. The fragments of his songs which appear in the FSB series really don't do him any justice.

At the same time in 1954 Seamus Ennis also collected four songs from Mary Reynolds of Mohill, County Leitrim. I've been listening to her version of 'The Lakes of Shellin', but I'd love to hear her sing 'Sweet Mohill For Me', 'The Shores of Loch Bran', and 'My Darling Sleeps in England'.

Regarding the similarity of Thomas Moran's 'Cruel Mother' to 'The Maid and the Palmer', I think Malcolm Douglas mentioned above that Child thought that the seven-year penances verses in 'Cruel Mother' all belonged properly to the 'Maid and Palmer'.
There is a 1967 article in the 'Malahat Review' (which I haven't read) by the ballad scholar David Buchan on the relationships between these two ballads 'The Maid, The Palmer and the Cruel Mother' which, if you can track it down, could shed some light on the subject.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 01:53 PM

Hi Brian,
The only other recordings I know of are those issued by Kennedy.
Not convinced that Jacko Reilly and Tom Moran's ballads are from the same source - most of the TM verses you quoted are 'floaters' and appear in numerous ballads - but am happy to be persuadedd.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 02:10 PM

I am somewhat bemused by the characterization of the young(?) lady(?) as "a maid", after having given birth to six or seven or nine babies.


"Maid" is commonly taken to mean "virgin", or at least "young and inexperienced girl".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 03:31 PM

> Child thought that the seven-year penances verses in 'Cruel Mother' all belonged properly to the 'Maid and Palmer'. <

> most of the TM verses you quoted are 'floaters' and appear in numerous ballads <

Yes and yes. However what intrigued me weren't just the penances, but the number and fate of the children. 'Cruel Mother' never seems to describe more than three. However...

Child 21A (Percy MS) describes nine children, hidden thus:

Three were buried under thy bed's head
Other three under thy brewing leade (sic)
Other three on yon play greene...

WBTV has six children killed:

There's two buried 'neath the stable door
Another two near the kitchen door
Another two buried beneath the wall

The Moran 'Cruel Mother' has seven:

And you've buried him under your own bed stock
You've buried three more on your way going home
And you've buried three more on that butting stone

The theme of multiple burial places seems (on the admittedly thin evidence available) to be characteristic of 'Maid & Palmer', and note that the first specified is beneath her bed head in both Percy's and Thomas Moran's versions.

None of which amounts to very much for anyone outside the ranks of ballad obsessives, except that Child 21 is very rare in oral tradition - and yet it seems that there's been another version under everyone's noses the whole time. Nothing, apart from the refrain (and ballad refrains are even more fluid than verses about penances!), identifies the Moran ballad as Child 20.

It reminds me a bit of 'Lucy Wan' and Edward'. You can find versions classified as the second that might equally well be identified as the first. Are they separate ballads at all?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 03:42 PM

> I am somewhat bemused by the characterization of the young(?) lady(?) as "a maid", after having given birth to six or seven or nine babies. <

Dave, in the Percy text she swears that she's never had a lover, but the palmer calls her a liar...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Diva
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 03:47 PM

Ach but maybe she had a selective memory? Child 20 one of the oldest ballads if memory serves me correctly.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 04:55 PM

Brian, I think you're right about Thomas Moran's song belonging to Child 21 rather than 20, but as you say the refrain hints at some sort of transitional version. I'd love to hear his complete song.

In the notes to the Folktrax record Seamus Ennis is quoted as saying:-
"Thomas Moran's songs came to Leitrim in Cromwellian times - the Plantation period" which perhaps suggests a Scottish ancestry for his songs.

'The Cruel Mother' only had one lover in all the versions I've seen, and generally the songs credit her with giving birth to two pretty babes at one birth, or occasionally only one or more rarely, three. Whereas the "maid" in Child 21 has clearly had multiple lovers and as many children - as much as fifty or seventy in some Central European variants. There is probably some significance in the different ways the children are buried which could be worth looking at again.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 05:17 PM

There are no versions of 20 older than the late 17th century English broadside 'The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty', which is very likely the origin. Child got it wrong. The only continental analogue, from Denmark, actually derives from English/Scottish versions translated by Svendt Grundtvig, ironically Child's mentor. Most of Child's notes to 20 actually apply to 21. All of these analogues are related to 21.

Some Scottish versions some time during the 18thc acquired the penances much as those described here. However, as far as I know none of these actually mention the burying of the 9 infants so this is indeed intriguing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 10:15 AM

Interesting, Steve. Is there somewhere I could access a copy of that 'Duke's Daughter' broadside? Very sorry not to have been able to attend the seminar last Saturday!

Re the penances, I was interested enough to check the parallels.

Scots texts Child 20 have:
Seven years as Bird (or fowl) in a Tree (wood)
Seven years a fish in the sea (flood)
Seven years to ring a (church) bell
Seven years as a porter in hell

Maid & Palmer has 7 year penances:
Stepping stone/ clapper in bell / lead an ape in hell

Reilly WBTV has:
Ringing the bell / porting in hell

Moran has:
Wolf in the woods / fish in the flood
Ringing the bell / burning in hell

North American versions in Bronson commonly end with the threat or actuality of hellfire, but several have other penances as well.

Ben Henneberry, Nova Scotia (coll. Creighton) had:
Beast in the woods / fish in the sea / toll the bell

Ellen Bigney, Nova Scotia had:
Ring a bell / owl in the woods / whale in the sea

R. W. Duncan, Nova Scotia had:
Roll a stone / toll a bell

Theresa Corbett, Newfoundland had:
Roll a stone / stand alone / ring a bell / spend in hell

Peter Cole, Pennsylvania had:
Wash and wring / card and spin / ring them bells / serve in hell

I've no idea whether that proves anything at all - but I once studied paleontology, so trying to discern links between fossils comes as second nature. Finding characteristically Scottish ballad elements in Nova Scotia isn't the biggest surprise in the world, but there does seem to have been a degree of creativity within oral tradition (owls, whales, laundry?). I wonder whether the act of 'rolling a stone' is some kind of throwback to the 'stepping stone' of Child 21? Or maybe a New Testament reference?

Anyone know where to find parallels for those kind of penances from inside or outside the ballad world?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 10:42 AM

"Card and spin" = "Laundry" - what was I thinking of?? We've just got a new washing machine so perhaps the intricacies of spin cycles are still playing on my mind.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 04:31 PM

Brian,
Thanks for your little survey. As far as I'm concerned it shows the Irish versions are much closer to Scottish 20s and American 20s than anything in the early 21s. The likely evolution seems pretty obvious.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Fergie
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 07:56 PM

Hi Matthew Edwards

You could hear Mary Reynolds of Mohill, County Leitrim sing 'My Darling Sleeps in England' on Ewan MacColl's 10 disc collection from his BBC radio program THE SONG CARRIERS. It is available from Bob Blair Archives. If you are interested I'll point you in the right direction

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 03:34 PM

I'm really suprised that this thread hasn't meantioned a thing about
Peter Mullin's "The Magdalene Sisters".
It's sung at a wedding by a priest. The song was chosen because it reflects the abuse and lack of support and information that the girls in the story will face. One girl is raped by her drunk cousin.
One is accused of flirting and kicked out of the orphanage she lives at. One is sent away for being a teen pregnancy. And, another that is already there at the laundry, was another teen pregnancy who is mentally challenged AND being abused by her confessor.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 05:15 PM

Well, errr.... now it has....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 07:50 PM

You click on "PM" to the right of their name above their post.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 07:57 PM

You must be a member to use PMs...click on 'membership' at top of page.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 03:33 AM

Ah, didn't know that! :)

hey, where did that post before mine go, asking about PMs??! (makes the 2 subsequent posts look a bit random!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 04:49 AM

Excellent stuff all round.

Just found this which I did a few years ago after realising that if you took away the refrains, Child 20 reads like an Edward Gorey poem. No chance of a Gorey Book of Ballads now, alas, but we can dream...

Gorey Child 20

One can just imagine how his Child 21 would have turned out...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 04:51 AM

Best make that:

Gorey Child 20


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST,Laura
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 07:11 PM

The Christy version of this song seems to look upon the girl more sympathetically - perhaps the green lily referred to is the her. Green because she is young, naive, not fully matured, innocent etc. If she is compared to a lily, maybe it is to plant the idea that she is beautiful (also slightly sinister as the lily is synonymous with death, I think?)

I'm very curious to know what people think of the "my cup is full up to the brim, if I were to stoop I might fall in" line?

All the natural symbolism ties in well with the bodhrбn - very pagan and earthy ('she swore by grass, she swore by corn"). I love this song - although I skip over it if I'm listening to it in bed as it frightens me a bit!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Richie
Date: 12 Jan 12 - 11:42 AM

Hi,

I'm including Moran's version in my Maid and the Palmer:http://bluegrassmessengers.com/english-and-other-versions-21-maid-and-the-palmer.aspx

At the bottom of the page I've organized an article from posts in this thread.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Brian Peters
Date: 12 Jan 12 - 12:02 PM

Flattered to find my words quoted on your site, Richie. And your comment about the 'Stepping Stone' (Percy) vs the 'Butting Stone' (Moran) is apt. I hadn't noticed that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: MAG
Date: 12 Jan 12 - 07:18 PM

along with Prince Heathen and Mill o' Tifty's Annie, this is a song I think needw to be preserved, but can't bear to listen to --


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Jan 12 - 07:41 PM

Nicely done, Richie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 09:13 AM

John Reilly singing "The Well below.."

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Well below the valley - discuss!
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 15 - 10:56 PM

Hello!
I started looking for some information about this old song after watching the "Magdalene Sisters" film and I found your discussion, which is very interesting.
I am from Greece and I don't have some information about this old song, but I surprisingly realized that it reminds me much of a Greek folk song. This song is called Menousis and it is a story about a murder. Three friends were drinking and discussing about beautiful women and one of them insisted that he had met his friend's Menousis' young wife who was in the well to take some water. The man told his friends that he asked her to wash his towel with the well's water -asking a young woman for "a favor" was at least something like sexual harassment, especially a young married woman. He insisted that he knew her very well, that he knew what she was wearing under her clothes etc. In the end, the woman is being murdered by her drunk husband, because "she acted like a whore".
Also, I read about the symbolism, the well is a very common element in the folk songs of Europe, because it used to be the only place that the women were alone and so the men could come closer to them. Also,the lily is the flower of the virgins, so maybe it has a connection with the innocence of the young girl.


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