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Greenbeer Origins: She Moves through the Fair (162* d) RE: She Moves Through the Fair 16 Feb 01

i recently started a thread on this very topic over on, and received this personal reply from the musician David Kilpatrick which i am reprinting here to add to the pot. A bit ago we had an e-xchange with Dec Cluskey, of The Bachelors (1960s to present day Irish pop group who do their best to hide a natural love for traditional stuff). The theme was 'can you do a song without changing a chord?', or at least without moving more than a single finger on the left hand end of the guitar. I did a take on She Moved Through the Fair; OK, I cheated and added some bodhran and a mountain dulcimer drone backup, but essentially that guitar stays rooted in a 1-5-8 Irish harp style arpeggio, drop D.

It's been one my more successful songs. I'll admit to being influenced by Loreena McKennit anyway, but in this also by Hamish Imlach's final album before he died - both Hamish's most beloved ladies came over to Kelso for an 'in memoriam' concert on the day he was supposed to be booked to play at our club, a few weeks after his funeral. I'm pretty sure they did 'She Moves' that night as well, with Ian Mackintosh and Tich Frier on stage. It was Hamish's use of sweeping organ sounds that persuaded me to create the spatial swirling effects using the bodhran skin.

There was also some debate on the traditional or otherwise nature of 'She Moves', and the subject of the song. It is not a ghost story, as some people think; in one music book, the words 'my dear love came to me' were misprinted as 'my dead love came to me', and that's how the mistake started. The words were written by Percy French, or collected by him, and the tune may be traditional; it is widely published as traditional, and often never attributed to French. The actual story is of marital desertion, not death; the (more wealthy) bride moves in, but pretty swiftly leaves her intended husband and takes all her furniture, linen and clothes etc with her. The period the song refers to is one where pots and pans, nightshirts, stools, chests and so on were considered so valuable they were handed down through the generations and invading soldiery or local robbers would literally steal the shirt off your back. So a wealthy (in terms of 'gear') girl was a worthwhile catch. The narrator merely DREAMS his bride returned to him, and it doesn't imply that she is a ghost - just that he is alone.

David Kilpatrick

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