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Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)

DigiTrad:
FALSE LADY
FALSE TRUE LOVE
THE LORD OF SCOTLAND
YOUNG HUNTING
YOUNG HUNTING 2
YOUNG REDIN


Related threads:
Young Hunting by Tony Rose (5)
Review: Did Young Hunting have it coming? (26)
Lyr Req: Love Henry (#68, Hedy West) (11)
Lyr Req: Landers' The Scotland Man #68 (4)
Lyr Req: Proud Girl #68 (Frankie Armstrong) (8)
Lyr Req: Young Hunting #68 (Sheila Kay Adams) (4)
(origins) Origins: Looking for some Love Henry answers (4)
Lyr Req: jimmie tarlton's lowe bonnie (child #68) (12)
Lyr Req: Young Hunting (16)
Lyr Add: Young Hunting (13)
Tune Req: Young Redin (12)


Bryant 09 Jul 99 - 02:07 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jul 99 - 02:41 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jul 99 - 02:52 PM
09 Jul 99 - 03:22 PM
09 Jul 99 - 03:31 PM
Bryant 09 Jul 99 - 03:31 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jul 99 - 03:37 PM
Bryant 09 Jul 99 - 05:12 PM
Rick Fielding 09 Jul 99 - 10:27 PM
Pete Peterson 09 Jul 99 - 11:00 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 99 - 03:37 AM
CarlZen 10 Jul 99 - 04:03 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 99 - 04:26 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 99 - 04:40 AM
CarlZen 12 Jul 99 - 02:45 PM
Dale Rose 13 Jul 99 - 11:20 AM
Bryant 13 Jul 99 - 01:02 PM
Bryant 13 Jul 99 - 01:33 PM
Bryant 13 Jul 99 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Al Reynolds 11 Nov 01 - 09:33 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 11 Nov 01 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Al Reynolds 16 Nov 01 - 02:32 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 01 - 09:18 AM
Don Firth 16 Nov 01 - 12:29 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 01 - 01:14 PM
Stewart 16 Nov 01 - 02:25 PM
Stewie 16 Nov 01 - 07:28 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 01 - 08:25 PM
GUEST,Al Reynolds 16 Nov 01 - 10:30 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 01 - 11:00 PM
Sandy Paton 17 Nov 01 - 12:24 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Nov 01 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,shaina darcy 07 Dec 02 - 02:58 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Dec 02 - 04:36 PM
IanC 09 Dec 02 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Bryant 26 Feb 03 - 04:41 AM
Dave Bryant 26 Feb 03 - 07:00 AM
Roberto 03 May 04 - 01:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 May 04 - 05:35 PM
dick greenhaus 03 May 04 - 09:09 PM
Joybell 12 Jul 04 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 12 Jul 04 - 09:11 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 13 Jul 04 - 09:39 AM
Joybell 13 Jul 04 - 06:23 PM
Louisey 09 Aug 05 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Zac 21 May 07 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,Don Meade 07 Jul 07 - 02:09 PM
Joybell 08 Jul 07 - 08:29 AM
The Borchester Echo 08 Jul 07 - 08:44 AM
Bill D 08 Jul 07 - 10:44 AM
Joybell 08 Jul 07 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,p.ionad 12 Jan 08 - 03:20 PM
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Joybell 14 Jan 08 - 04:17 PM
tdcrjeff 14 Jul 10 - 03:32 AM
Brian Peters 14 Jul 10 - 09:19 AM
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GUEST 26 Nov 12 - 04:27 PM
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Subject: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Bryant
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:07 PM

Hi,

Great fourm you guys have here. I've been enjoying it a lot the last few days.

I've been trying to decipher a line from Dick Justice's version of "Henry Lee" -- the one on Harry Smith's Anthology -- for awhile. Even tried to find it in the database here at Mudcat. All to no avail. The line's in the 4th stanza when Henry Lee is trying to coax the bird down into the well. The stanza starts: "Fly down, fly down you little bird and alight on my right knee.

Your cage will be your ??? in need of ???"

Anyone out there know this line? It's been bugging me because I can't figure out what Henry Lee's trying to do by luring the bird down into the well with him. Company? A means of escape? Seems like the answer's in that line, but those two or three words are alluding me. Sort of like having a crucial page or two missing from a novel. Anyway, any answers (hints) would be appreciated. Thanks.

Bryant


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:41 PM

Hi, Bryant. The album notes say this song is also known as "Young Hunting," which is Child Ballad #68. We don't have all eleven versions that Child has, but we have five. put #68 in the search box on this page, and maybe that will help. If you can post what you have of the lyrics here, that would help us work together to solve your mystery.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:52 PM

Well, I hear "your cage shall be of purest gold" and then "in need of provecheer." As you can see, I can't make sense out of the second phrase....


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From:
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 03:22 PM

Well, it seems I made a huge mistake in interpretation. In all of Child's versions it is the Lady, not Lord Henry, who is asking the bird to "alight on [her] right knee". It seems that the bird (a talking parrot) witnessed the murder and is threatening to reveal the secret, so she is trying to get the bird to fly down so she can kill him. But the bird is on to her and refuses.

What threw me off is that in the version on the Anthology there's no middle stanza saying that the bird witnessed the crime. After Henry Lee is stabbed and thrown in the well, the very next line is: "Fly down, fly down you little bird. . . " I just assumed the speaker there is Henry Lee (fly *down* i.e. into the well).

So the whole stanza is:

"'Fly down, fly down you little bird and alight on my right knee. Your cage will be the finest gold with door of ivory.' 'I can't fly down, I won't fly down and alight on your right knee. A girl who would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me.'"

Kinda makes you see how variants get created, huh? I have all the advantages of a recording of the song and I still managed to change the whole story. Imagine if I had just learned it by ear.

Thanks for the lead Joe. This has been fun!

Bryant


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From:
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 03:31 PM

Yeah, now that I listen to it, he's not singing "with door of ivory."

It's odd. She's trying to bribe the bird with a spectacularly beautiful cage, so why would it be "in need" of anything? In need of polishing? ;-)

Well, I'll go with the "door of ivory" when I play it. And I'll probably add the stanza that clarifies who's speaking. But any other guesses on what Dick Justice is singing would be fun.

B.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Bryant
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 03:31 PM

Yeah, now that I listen to it, he's not singing "with door of ivory."

It's odd. She's trying to bribe the bird with a spectacularly beautiful cage, so why would it be "in need" of anything? In need of polishing? ;-)

Well, I'll go with the "door of ivory" when I play it. And I'll probably add the stanza that clarifies who's speaking. But any other guesses on what Dick Justice is singing would be fun.

B.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 03:37 PM

Well, Bryant, I can't agree with your "door of ivory" interpretation. It isn't what I hear on the recording - but it works, and I would certainly sing it that way myself because I can't make out what Justice is singing. Think you might be willing to post your entire transcription of the song? I don't think we have a version in the database that is so thoroughly American as the Dick Justice recording.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: HENRY LEE
From: Bryant
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 05:12 PM

Sure. Um, I'm doing this from memory and I change a phrase or two for clarity. (The 2nd line if the 1st stanza is a good case in point.) So this is not Justice's version word-for-word, but it's pretty close. Feel free to correct anything.

HENRY LEE

'Come down, come down my Henry Lee and stay all night with me.
The very best lodging you can afford would be far worse than me.'
'I can't come down, no I won't come down and stay all night with thee.
For the girl I have in that merry, green land I love her better than thee.'

She leaned herself against the fence just for a kiss or two
With a little penknife held in her hand she plugged him through and through.
'Come all you ladies in the town, a secret for me keep.
With a diamond ring held in my hand I never will forsake.'

'Some take him by his lily-white hand, some take him by his feet.
We'll throw him in this deep, deep well more than one hundred feet.
Lie there, lie there my Henry Lee 'till the flesh falls from your bones.
The girl you have in that merry, green land she waits for your return.'

'Fly down, fly down you little bird and alight on my right knee.
Your cage will be of purest gold in need of ???' [or "of purest gold with a door of ivory."]
'I can't come down, no I won't come down and alight on your right knee.
A girl who would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me.'

'If I had my bended bow, my arrow and my string
I'd pierce a dart so nigh your heart your warble would be in vain.'
'If you had your bended bow, your arrow and your string
I'd fly away to that merry green land and tell what I have seen.'

That's it. Sorry if the lines are all run together. I can't figure out how HTML decides to do things sometimes.

Bryant

Line Breaks
added. Thanks, Bryant.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 10:27 PM

Dick Justice was an amazingly gifted musician. He was also a wonderful blues player as well as balladeer.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 11:00 PM

I don't have the recording, and it's been years, but my take on that line was "your cage will be of beaten gold, no need for poverty" which has the advantage, at least of making sense. Or is this my very own mondergreen? PETE


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 03:37 AM

If you have RealPlayer G2, Click here to take a listen to this recording.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: CarlZen
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 04:03 AM

Joe- Thank you for supplying us with all of these wonderful bits of wizardry.

Can you explain why I can't get a decent print out of the lyrics to the songs on your home page?

I also tried the digital search to get the lyrics to your song of the week, Going To The West, but I couldn't find them.

ALSO, does anyone know of other available recordings of Dick Justice aside from the Anthology?


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 04:26 AM

Hi, Carl - if you tried to print a page from my Website by just clicking on the printer icon on your browser, you'd probably have trouble. I use colors that look pretty, but they don't print out very nicely. It's best to highlight the lyrics, and copy [CTRL-C] them. Then paste [CTRL-V] them into a word processor and manipulate the lyrics however you wish.
Can't quite understand what you mean about doing the "digital search" for "Going to the West." I don't think Dick Greenhaus has put the song into our Digital Tradition database yet, but I think it was posted in a thread.
I thought it might be a good idea to post recordings of songs while we're talking about them. I'm using RealPlayer G2 because it offers pretty good sound quality without being too huge a file - it's usually under 500 kilobytes for a 3-minute song. Besides, the RealProducer recorder is free...
You have to have a Pentium to use RealProducer G2. I apologize to people I'm missing.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: LOVE HENRY (Bob Dylan) [Henry Lee]
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 04:40 AM

Oh, hey - here's Dylan's version:

LOVE HENRY
(Words and Music by Bob Dylan)
1993 Special Rider Music

"Get down, get down, Love Henry," she cried,
"And stay all night with me.
I have gold chains, and the finest I have
I'll apply them all to thee."

"I can't get down and I shan't get down,
Or stay all night with thee.
Some pretty little girl in Cornersville
I love far better than thee."

He layed his head on a pillow of down.
Kisses she gave him three.
With a penny knife that she held in her hand
She murdered mortal he.

"Get well, get well, Love Henry, " She cried,
"Get well, get well," said she.
"Oh don't you see my own heart's blood
Come flowin' down so free?"

She took him by his long yellow hair,
And also by his feet.
She plunged him into well water, where
It runs both cold and deep.

"Lie there, lie there, Love Henry," she cried,
"Til the flesh rots off your bones.
Some pretty little girl in Cornersville
Will mourn for your return."

Hush up, hush up, my parrot, she cried,
Don't tell no news on me,
Or these costly beads around my neck,
I'll apply them all to thee.

"Fly down, fly down, pretty parrot," she cried,
"And light on my right knee.
The doors to your cage shall be decked with gold
And hung on a willow tree."

"I won't fly down, I can't fly down
And light on your right knee.
A girl who would murder her own true love
Would kill a little bird like me."


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: CarlZen
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 02:45 PM

Thanks again, Joe. I love the access the computer affords me, but my technological hands seem to have about 9 thumbs and a pinky. I do keep learning, though. I have actually watched that one pinky grow where the tenth thumb used to be. I'm now working on getting an index finger. Your assistance has helped the transition. :-)


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Dale Rose
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 11:20 AM

Here's a good discussion of the song from the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old Time Music Association (MBOTMA) Remembering the Old Songs page. http://www.mtn.org/~mbotma/RTOS-HenryLee.html I have used their site for various things for a long time, but just remembered that this was on there.

Use this link to get to the rest of their pages. Their links at the bottom of the Henry Lee page do not work. http://www.mtn.org/~mbotma/


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Bryant
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the link, Dale. Looks like I have my answer.

"Fly down, fly down, you little bird, and alight on my right knee. Your cage will be of purest gold, in deed of property."

Sounds a bit archaic, but it makes some sense.

Last night I worked in some lines from one of Child's variants and wrote a few more in order to make the idea of the tattle tale bird a little clearer.

"There was a pretty parrot bird perched high upon a tree And with an eye both keen and sharp saw the murder of Henry Lee. He looked the Lady in the eye from up upon his limb Saying 'You have cut down poor Henry Lee and in a well did throw him in'."

A little clumsy, but it sounded OK when I sang it.

Bryant


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Bryant
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 01:33 PM

Arrrrgh.

Joe, could you explain how to get lines to line up? Should I use

 tags? 

Bryant


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Bryant
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 02:02 PM

Double arrrgh.

I think that means the answer is 'yes'.

What I was asking was should I use 'pre' tags to line up lyrics.

Will it affect the display if the line wraps when I enter it in this box?

Maybe I'll check out the HTML thread. Sorry for being such an HTML clutz.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: GUEST,Al Reynolds
Date: 11 Nov 01 - 09:33 PM

Bryant,

Two years later, i.e., November 2001, I inquired about the words for Henry Lee to Mudcat and was referred to the Forum, where I found your inquiries of July 1999 and the responses. (My first experience with this service!) I had the same problem that you had regarding some of the words on the anthology version.

Thanks so much for your original inquiry. I think the responses have led to the correct, or at least a consistent, reasonable, version. I'll go try it out now and see if it all works. I'm very excited to get it all ironed out because I love this song and have been frustrated over the uncertain words in the Justice recording.

I'll see if you have any further response to this on the Forum, but it might be interesting to communicate directly too. My email address is hareyn@aol.com.

-- Al.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 11 Nov 01 - 09:50 PM

The key to singing this song is to mumble those lines. That's what I've done all these years. I must admit, it does sound like poverty is in there. I've been told the line is "your cage will be with purest gold, with doors of ivory," but it just doesn't feel right when I sing it that way. Why's a smart little bird like that going to get suckered into a cage, just because it has doors of ivory. It's still a cage.

I know why the caged bird sings. He wants to get out, not in.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: GUEST,Al Reynolds
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 02:32 AM

Jerry, I'm not too concerned about being too logical, though I've not decided yet which version to adopt related to the cage problem.

I was interested in Bryant's suggestion about a transition stanza between the murder and the introduction of the little bird. Though I'm attracted to the mystery invovled without this transition, it might be better to be more specific, as Bryant suggested. I took what he suggested and added and changed it, and this is where I am at the moment:

Near by was a little bird Perched high up in a tree With eyes so keen she watched unseen The fate of Henry Lee

Now all you ladies in the town Your secret will not keep For I saw you throw poor Henry Lee Down in that well so deep


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 09:18 AM

Good idea. I'll sing it in my head. I always thought the best part of the whole song is the bird. I always heard, "Oh, yeah!, you think I'm stupid... any girl who would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me." When I've sung the song over the years, maybe it's because I get such a kick out of the bird (although I don't add the "oh, yeah" that that's the point in the song where people get a kick out of it, too. What's a good murder ballad, without a little humor?

I suppose that there might be some discomfort about adding a verse to a traditional song, but people do it. Many years ago, I wrote a song based on an old handbill they reprinted at Sturbridge Village, based on a true incident that took place in New England. Levi Kelly was accused and found guilty of murder and was sentenced to be hung. As was the custom in those days, they built a scaffold in the center of town and eveyone brought their picnic lunches to watch the hanging. Families that hang together, stick together. The built bleachers around the scaffold, and so many people got up to get a close look at the hanging, that the bleachers collapsed and several people were killed. My kinda story. I had misplaced the handbill, so in the song, while everyone was lying around him, dead and dying, Levi slipped away. A few years after I wrote the song and had shared it on tape with Sally Rogers, she called me one evening to ask where I learned the song. She had added another verse to it. I told her that I wrote it. And, there was a long silence on the other end of the line. She felt very awkward about adding a verse to a song I'd written. She had no problems adding a verse to a traditional song. When folks are dead, who cares? (Just kidding.) I think eve the purest of traditional folksingers has rewritten lines of songs, not necessarily because they couldn't understand a line on a recording... they just thought it made the song flow more smoothly. I'd bet that most traditional folk singers who decry songwriters have a secret song that they've written, hiding in their closet, too..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 12:29 PM

I learned the song about forty years ago from a borrowed record, but I can't remember which record or who sang it. I thought was the Kossoy sisters, but have since run across a copy of their record, and it isn't on it (!??). But I remember the line distinctly. It was

Your cage shall be of purest gold, no need for poverty.

It was clear and distinct, and there was no mistaking it. It also fit well with the almost naive style of the rest of the lyrics. At least, this was the line in the version that I learned.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 01:14 PM

Hey Don, I think you've got it!!!!! I have always heard the word as poverty (not ivory) the line makes sense, and that's the way I used to sing it until someone told me I had misheard it, and it was "with gates of ivory." I agree that the line as you hear it is not only right, and fits the feel of the whole song.

It doesn't hurt that that's the way I've always heard it, too...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Stewart
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 02:25 PM

Malvina Reynolds wrote a song "RED BIRD" based on the same Child ballad. CLICK HERE

S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Stewie
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 07:28 PM

Don and Jerry, that certainly makes sense, but I still hear Justice distinctly singing 'in need of', not 'no need of', which would not make sense if the word is 'poverty' in his version.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 08:25 PM

O.K... Stewie... If the truth be told, I too always heard it in need of (and who is in need of poverty? The other way that I've done it, mumbling it, is in need of propriety, which could make sense. Or maybe it's in need of property. Realtors would like that.

The thing that astonished me is that ANYONE sings this song. I've sung it since the early 60's, and have NEVER heard anyone else sing it. The next thing you know, someone else will say that they sing Old Shoes and Leggins, or Three Nights Drunk.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: GUEST,Al Reynolds
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 10:30 PM

Hey Jerry, I love Old Shoes and Leggins. I like the fiddle part on the Anthology, and since I play the fiddle I want to sing it with the fiddle in between, like on the Anthology version. -- Al.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 11:00 PM

Hi, Al: (Can I call you Al?) That makes two of us who Sing Old Shoes and Leggins. Back in the 60's, I remember talking to Peter LaFarge as I was heading down the stairs into the Gaslight Cafe. He said, in a voice as prophetic as the guy who told Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate that the future was one word, "plastics," the people who are going to make it are the songwriters. One strange week, around that time, I was opening for the Highwaymen. In my set, I was doing Old Shoes and Leggins, Henry Lee, Bandit Cole Younger ("Hand us out your money, Sir, and make no long delay, we are the noted Younger boys and spend no time in play, Charles Guiteau and all that great Anthology of American Folk Music stuff, complete with surface noise. The Highwaymen sold a million records. I got ten bucks a nightat the Gaslight, and a hamburger with fries when I did a set across the street at the Fat Black Pussycat. How could anyone not fall madly in love with all that music?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 17 Nov 01 - 12:24 AM

I guess we haven't spent enough time swapping ballads with you, Jerry. Caroline also sings the Henry Lee from the Anthology. She learned it from the record when she was in college. She's asleep right now, so I can't ask her how she finessed the phrase in question. I suspect she went with the "doors of ivory" that often appears in other versions and in other ballads that include talking birds. I'm sure she doesn't sing about needing poverty. Frank Proffitt's haunting version of the ballad stops after the serving man (who has helped the lady dispose of the body) declines the lady's offer of a similar night of bliss in her bedchamber. Seems he suspects she might try to do him in, as well. Smart fellow. Dead servants tell no tales!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Nov 01 - 07:41 AM

Hi, Sandy:

It was Caroline who told me the "Doors of Ivory" phrase. At first, I was really pleased to sing it "right." And sang it that way for awhile. But, you know us Folk Purists, Sandy. If someone belched in the middle of a line on an old recording, I'd feel obligated to, too. I've gone back to singing it "in need of pr'prioty, In a way, it's all a little silly. Why intentionally make a line unintelligble? Thank God it isn't a key line. Besides, I think it's unfair to be too critical of a way a bird pronounces a word like propriety (if that's what he was saying.) Try saying that with a bill for a mouth.

Jerry


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Subject: Lyr Req: henry lee/young hunting
From: GUEST,shaina darcy
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 02:58 PM

i know y'all have discussed this one before, but i can't find it in the thread archives so it's high time the subject came up again. this isn't really a lyric req, more like a request for lyric explanation. in the old scottish version of "young hunting", what is a "may catheren" -is that her name? and what is the "hoky-gren" that she burns like? that whole part of the song confuses me. i need the information for a research paper. any info you might have on variation or origins of this ballad would be GREATLY appreciated.
thanks...
I moved this message here from another thread on the same topic.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 04:36 PM

The question has indeed come up in previous discussions; the search engine isn't working for the Forum at present, though. F.J. Child (English and Scottish Popular Ballads, vol.V. p.355, Glossary), states:

"hoky-gren (burnt like, II, 145, A, 27: hoakie, "a fire that has been covered up with cinders, when all the fuel has become red." Jamieson. A branch or stem in such a fire? or good to make such a fire with? Scott has, hollins grene."

Hollins is holly, of course. Martin Carthy, who borrowed the lines for his re-write of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, apparently says that hoky is hawthorn, but I don't know where he got that from.

"May Catheren" appears in Child's example A (from David Herd's MS); she is the servant who the villainess tries to fit up for the murder. In other versions she is unnamed, but appears in example J (Scott) as "my may, Catherine", so May is either the first part of her name or her job-description (or, indeed, both).


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: IanC
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 06:14 AM

"My May" in this sense means my young lady (usually "Girlfriend"):

From Merriam-Webster
may (pronunciation: 'mA) noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English m[AE]g kinsman, kinswoman, maiden
Date: before 12th century

:-)


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Subject: Lyr Add: HENRY LEE
From: GUEST,Bryant
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 04:41 AM

Well, I'm 2 years late in replying, but here are some responses to those who had things to add to the original posting.

Overall, I think "no need for poverty" a) makes the most sense, and b) is closest to whatever the hell Justice sang, so I'll give this line (instead of "a door of ivory" which I've been singing for 4 years now) a try.

Al: I have no idea whether you still visit the Mudcat, but I really like the "explanatory" stanza you wrote ("Your secret will not keep." is a great twist off of Justice's line.) Here's the version I sing now (with various changes all throughout and my own added stanza.)

Henry Lee

"Come down, come down my Henry Lee and stay all night with me.
The very best lodging you can afford would be far worse than me."
"I can't come down. No, I won't come down and stay all night with thee.
For the girl I have in that merry, green land I love her better than thee."

She leaned herself against the fence just for a kiss or two
And with a knife ground keen and sharp she stabbed him through and through.
She bent her lips down to his ear and unto him she spake
Saying "The diamond ring you gave to me I never will forsake."

When Henry's blood had drained away she took him by his feet.
And threw him in a deep, deep well more than one hundred feet.
"Lie there, lie there, my Henry Lee 'til the flesh rots from your bones.
The girl you have in that merry, green land she waits for your return."

There was a pretty parrot bird perched high upon a tree
And with an eye both keen and sharp saw the murder of Henry Lee
He called down to the lady fair from high upon his limb
Saying "You did murder poor Henry Lee and in a well did throw him in."

"Fly down, fly down you little bird and alight on my right knee.
Your cage will be of purest gold, no need for poverty."
"I can't come down, no I won't come down and alight on your right knee.
A girl who would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me."

"If I had my bended bow, my arrow and my string
I'd pierce a dart so nigh your heart your warble would be in vain."
"If you had your bended bow, your arrow and your string
I'd flown away 'ere I spoke to you to tell what I have seen."

My other comment was to Jerry: I'm glad to hear that you've not heard too many others perform this song (although since your post, I've seen Ralph Stanley do it on Austin City Limits.) I was afraid when I first learned it that because it was on Harry Smith's Anthology - and at that, the 1st song - people would think it was too much of a chestnut. Happy to know it seems a little exotic to some. It's been a standard for me ever since I wrote this original post four years ago.

Cheers,
Bryant


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 07:00 AM

I think that it's all down to floating or borrowed verses. The Outlandish Knight has a similiar sort of plot, although in this case the maiden drowns the knight in self defence - he deserves it as he has already drowned six maidens previously. Again the parrot sees what has happened and the maiden bribes him:

"Well done, well done, my Pretty Polly
You have tuned your notes well to me
Now your cage shall be made of the finest beaten gold
And the doors of the best ivory"


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Roberto
Date: 03 May 04 - 01:54 PM

A question. Bob Dylan took his Love Henry from Tom Paley's (on Tom Paley & Peggy Seeger, Who's going to shoe). It seems to me that Tom Paley in the third line of the first stanza sings "I have gold chairs and the finest I have", instead of "I have gold chains", as Dylan sings. But it would not make sense. Does someone have the recording and can check? Thank you. R


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Subject: Lyr Add: LOVE HENRY (from Cox)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:35 PM

There is another "Love Henry" in Cox in which a chair of gold appears in the first stanza.

Lyr. Add: LOVE HENRY (Cox B)

"Come in, come in, Love Henry," she said,
"And sit on my right knee;
I'll give you a chair of yellow green gold,
And all the best is for thee."

"I can't come in, nor I shall not come in,
To sit on your right knee;
For the girl I left in the India land
Will think long of my coming home."

She leant herself all over the fence,
The kisses she gave were three;
A little penknife all in her hand,
She would it in fully.*

"O live, O live, Love Henry," she said,
"A half an hour or more,
And all the doctors in the town
Shall be here at your cure."

"O how can I live, O how can I live,
O how can I live?" said he;
"For don't you see my own heart's blood,
Come trinkling to my knee?"

"Come down, come down, Polly Parrot," she said,
"And sit on my right knee;
I'll give you a cage of yellow green gold,
And all the best is for thee."

"I can't come down, nor I shall not come down,
To sit on your right knee;
For it have n't been long since you killed Love Henry-
How soon you might kill me!"

*note- "She wished to thrust it completely into his bosom."
Miss Polly McKinney, Sophia, WVA, 1919. Cox 9B, Folk-Songs of the South, Dover ed., p. 42-44.

All sorts of variants on what she offered the parrot. Some of them:
Cage of beaten goud-gold, yellow gold, ivory beaten gold, purest yellow gold, cage o' the beaten gold, cage o' the wiry gold.

Door of ivory, door of an oak tree, of the willow tree.

And hang it on yo(a)nders tree.
When now it's but the wand.

I'll gie it unto thee.
In deed of property.

Come down...,
Light down upon my hand.
For ae goud feather that's in your wing
I woud gie a' my land.

Some versions have a better solution:

Go bend to me my bow, she said,
And set it to my ee.
And I will get that bonnie bird
Come quickly down to me.
----


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 May 04 - 09:09 PM

I"ve always interpreted the mumble as "a perch of ivory" But what do I know.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Joybell
Date: 12 Jul 04 - 07:08 PM

Three for "Old Shoes and Leggings", Jerry. True-love still sings it and also "Henry Lee". Here's what he sings about the "golden cage":

learned the song from Art Rosenbaum, who owned a copy of the 78:
"fly down fly down little bird she cried
fly down to my right knee.
your cage shall be of the beaten gold,
adorned all silvery."

How does that compare with what you all hear? Joy


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 12 Jul 04 - 09:11 PM

In my version of the False Knight - AKA outlandish knight the bird is promised a cage of beaten gold and a perch of the best ivory

I do not have a version of Henry Lee.

A perch of ivory would fit the same space as the various sugestions though, and it would not be beyond credulity for it to have been misheard and resulted in 'no need for poverty' and the like.

I just realised recently that I had written down 'one more line' for the line in the song in 'due south', rather than 'one warm line'as I didn't hear that when writing it down. All part of the folk process.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 13 Jul 04 - 09:39 AM

SOme of us are going to be at the "Harry Smith Memorial Festival" in Greenfield MA this weekend (starting Friday July 16 2004) and we'll sing through a LOT of soings in the Anthology. See if we come up with a consensus on this one. . . always liked Smith's explanation of why Henry Lee is the FIRST song. . . "it was the lowest-numbered Child ballad which I included, so it had to go first." (Nobody has mentioned the womens' trio of this on the Folkways "Berkeley Farms" record from the early 1970s, which was great!)


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Joybell
Date: 13 Jul 04 - 06:23 PM

I can only speak for myself but I always try to listen to /read the earliest possible example of any song - at some time in my life anyway. Doesn't mean I'll necessarily sing a song in it's oldest form. I'm waffling sorry. Joy


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Louisey
Date: 09 Aug 05 - 08:58 AM

I've been singing Love Henry (Young Hunting) recently, and had a poke around on mudcat to have a look at some alternative lines and lyrics (as there always are!) and it seems the version I sing is completely different as she has a bed (!) not gold chairs/chains, Henry decides to stay the night, but she pushes him down a well anyway and the parrot is hung in a willow tree! I've had to cut a few verses, as I sing quite a slow version and 9 verses would go on quite a while!! Here is the version I know...

Light you down, light you down, love Henry, she said,
And stay all night with me,
For I have a bed and a fireside,
And a candle burning bright.

I won't get down, nor I can't get down,
And stay all night with thee,
For that little girl in the old Declarn,
Would think so hard of me.

But he slided down from his saddle skirts,
For to kiss her snowy white cheek,
She had a sharp knife in her hand,
nd she plunged it in him deep.

I will get down and I can get down,
And stay all night with thee,
For there's no girl in the old Declarn,
That I love better than thee.

Must I ride to the East, must I ride to the West,
Or anywhere under the sun,
To get some good and clever doctor,
For to cure this wounded man.

Neither ride to the East, neither ride to the West,
Now nowhere under the sun,
For there's no man but God's own hand,
an cure this wounded man.

She took him by the long yellow locks,
And also round the feet,
She plunged him in the doleful well,
Some sixty fathoms deep.

And as she turned around to go home,
She heard some pretty bird sing,
Go home, go home, you cruel girl,
Lament and mourn for him.

Fly down, fly down, pretty parrot she said,
Fly down and go home with me,
Your cage shall be decked with beads of gold,
And hung in the willow tree.


I have to admint, before I read this thread, the parrot concept completely confused me, as in my version there's no hint of it A.seeing the murder or B.threatening to tell, so it all seemed a bit random!!


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: GUEST,Zac
Date: 21 May 07 - 04:54 PM

I think he may be saying "And need of property" as in "The cage will be so big, we'll need some land to put it on."


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: GUEST,Don Meade
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 02:09 PM

The Child Ballad "The Grey Cock" also has the floating verse with the plea to the bird. A version from the late Joe Holmes of Co. Antrim, also sung by Len Graham, Roisin White and Franke Harte, includes the lines:

"Fly up, oh fly up my pretty little cock
"And don't crow before it breaks day
"And your wings they will be made of the very beaten gold and beak of the silvery grey."

This makes less sense than the offer of a golden birdcage, but that's what you get from the old oral tradition!


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Joybell
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 08:29 AM

But the reason for bribing the bird in the song "The Grey Cock" is quite different. It's because the cock crows to herald the dawn. The visiting DEAD lover has to return to the grave before daylight. She doesn't want to lose him. It's the same for Juliet when she tells Romeo that the bird he hears is not a cock -- so it's not yet time to part.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 08:44 AM

In Child #4 The Outlandish/Elfin Knight, Lady Margaret/Isabel or whatever she's calling herself today similarly tries to bribe the parrot when she gets back from her jaunt with he (False Sir John/Bluebeard) who jumped through her bedroom window blowing a trumpet.

She's a bit scared her father will hear the racket "three hours before it was day" (why is it always that time, just as sailors playing silly buggers always return after seven years, in disguise and clutching a broken token?).

But it's OK. The parrot blames the cat and everybody gets back to sleep.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 10:44 AM

(not all sailors return like that...sometimes their silly girlfriends get on another ship and chase them...usually discovering how sailors spend their time during those 7 years. [and why do the silly GFs think they can REALLY disguise themselves as men for several years on board a ship?])

We do like our 'what if' stories....


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Joybell
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 05:43 PM

It's easy Bill. Grant the boys a few favours in exchange for keeping the secret, take a supply of contraceptives, and Bob's your uncle.
Cheers, Joy (who's never actually tried it, mind)


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: GUEST,p.ionad
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 03:20 PM

I know the line as:'Your cage shall be decked with beads of gold, And hung in the willow tree.'
....then again I know it as Love Henry not Henry Lee, so......


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Joybell
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 07:16 PM

The original question on this thread was, "I've been trying to decipher a line from Dick Justice's version of "Henry Lee" -- the one on Harry Smith's Anthology -- for awhile."

I know there's a lot of waffle here -- some by me -- but I believe that my original answer still stands. The Dick Justice record, owned by Art Rosenbaum, back in the 60s, had him singing this version as:

Fly down fly down little bird she cried
Fly down to my right knee.
Your cage shall be of the beaten gold,
Adorned all silvery."

Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 09:30 PM

Nuts to you lot! The words as I remember them are,

Fly down, fly down, you pretty little bird
And sit upon my knee,
And I'll buy you a cage of beaten gold
With spokes of ivory.

I can't fly down, and I won't fly down
And sit ypon your knee.
For as you have done to your own truelove
I'm afraid you would do to me.

Well I wish I had my bended bow,
With an arrow in the string,
I'd shoot it through your tender heart
So no one would hear you sing.

O if you had your bended bow
With an arrow in the string,
I'd fly so high above your mark-
And there my song I'd sing!

Note: The vowel sound is the same, so I suppose a long-ago Someone heard "door" instead of "spokes.

Anyway- it's a beautiful song, if a bloody one. It's on my Smithsonian-Folkways ballads CD.      Love to all, Jean Ritchie


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Joybell
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 04:17 PM

Thank you for the love, Jean. It's a great thrill to receive it. It's also a thrill to share the love of this beautiful song.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: tdcrjeff
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 03:32 AM

I've been captivated by the version of Henry Lee that Crooked Still has recently released on their "Some Strange Country" album. Here's a youtube clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx4HzVP91lM

The lyrics as printed in the booklet:

Lie down lie down love, Henry Lee
And stay with me this night
You will have my candle and coal
My fire's burning bright

I won't lie down I can't lie down
Nor stay all night with thee
There's a lady ten times fairer than you
In Barnard's hall for me

He's leaning o'er her soft pillow
To give her a kiss so sweet
But her little pen knife held keen and sharp
She's wounded him full deep

I will lie down I must lie down
I will come in said he
There is no lady in Barnard's hall
That I love better than thee
I love more better than thee

Oh live my love Lord Henry she said
For an hour or two or three
And all these cards about my waist
I'd freely give to thee

All them cards about your waist
They do no good to me
Love don't you see my own card's flash
Come twinkling at my knee

She took him by his long yellow hair
She dragged him by his feet
She threw him down a cool dark well
Full fifty fathoms deep

Lie down lie down you pretty little bird
Lie down all on my knee
No, a girl who'd murder her own true love
Would kill a little bird like me

I wish I had my bending bow
My arrow and my string
I'd shoot my dart right through your heart
So you'd no longer sing

I wish you had your bending bow
Your arrow and your string
I'd fly on back to Barnard's hall
You'd always hear me sing


So it avoids the whole golden cage and property etc by skipping that verse, and in the process making it a little confusing standing on it's own. What's this bird got to do with it? :-)

But my question - what is this part about "cards about my waist"? What does that mean?


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 09:19 AM

Interesting version that I hadn't come across before - I wonder where Crooked Still found it? However, those 'cards' look mighty like mondegreens to me. A version from San Jose, CA, has the following verses:

What have you done my pretty fair maid?
What have you done, said he
For don't you see my own heart's blood
Comes trickling down to my knee?

It's not an unimaginable leap from 'heart's blood' to 'cards flash', and 'trickling' to 'twinkling'. And the idea that she begs him to live - from your other 'cards' verse - is contained in another verse from the Ca. version (although it isn't consecutive):

Oh live, oh live, Young Henry, she cried
One half an hour for me
And all the doctors in Yorkshire land
Shall be at the cure of thee

It's just possible that the cards being 'around the waist' harks back to an old Scots version in which the victim has a hunting horn around his waist, but that's a bigger leap of the imagination.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: tdcrjeff
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 07:58 PM

I Googled "cards about my waist" and surprisingly got a single solitary hit (well other than this thread). Peggy Seeger did the song on "Heading for Home" and is virtually identical to the Crooked Still version so that's likely where they got it.
http://www.peggyseeger.com/listen-buy/heading-for-home/heading-for-home-notes

One glaring difference is the twinkling at me knee verse, where Peggy's does call out "heart's blood." But there is still reference to cards around the waist.

All them cards about your waist
They'd do no good to me;
Love, don't you see my own heart's blood
Come twinkling at my knee, (2)


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: tdcrjeff
Date: 30 Jul 10 - 10:02 PM

"I Googled "cards about my waist" and surprisingly got a single solitary hit (well other than this thread). Peggy Seeger did the song on "Heading for Home" and is virtually identical to the Crooked Still version so that's likely where they got it."

I just heard a live recording of Crooked Still playing the song and Aoife stated that they did indeed learn it from Peggy.


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Subject: RE: Line from 'Henry Lee' (Young Hunting)
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 04:27 PM

As i see it, the Murderer is afraid that the bird will tell others ( an allusion to Eccl. 10:20) about this otherwise secret crime. Thus the attempt to coax into range, then rage and wishful threats at failing to do so.


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