The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #64582   Message #1057022
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
19-Nov-03 - 11:28 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Shirley Collins' George Collins
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Shirley Collins' George Collins
Shirley states in her sleeve notes "Peter Kennedy had this from Enos White in Sussex".

That isn't the whole story, and it may be that her memory failed her on this occasion; it was Bob Copper who recorded the song from Mr White (in July 1955, and at Axford in Hampshire, not Sussex), rather than Peter Kennedy, and transcriptions appear in Bob's Songs and Southern Breezes (Heinnemann, 1973, 246-7) and in The Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (IX (2) 1961 72-3). They were both collecting for the BBC at the time. The recording has been issued a number of times (usually there is a Kennedy connection, of course, hence perhaps the confusion): most recently on Topic's O'er His Grave the Grass Grew Green (TSCD 653).

In fact, Shirley seems here to have mixed Enos White's text with the one in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, the tune and first verse of which were noted by Dr George Gardiner and J. F. Guyer from Henry Stansbridge at Lyndhurst in Hampshire (1906); the rest of that text came from Henry Gaylor and Philip Gaylor, both of Minstead, New Forest, Hampshire, also 1906. She has also made various changes, whether deliberate or unconscious, of her own.

Credit where it's due, then: there are several people whose names we know who were involved in the immediate history of this song (and we should also include A. L. Lloyd, who collated the Penguin text). Shirley herself tries to encourage people to go back to traditional sources rather than learn songs directly from her records; that way they can make their own, informed synthesis. George Collins is classed under Child's numbers 42 and 85, and is no. 147 in the Roud Folk Song Index.