The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #77411   Message #1381458
Posted By: The Villan
18-Jan-05 - 01:44 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Annachie Gordon
Subject: Lyr Add: ANNACHIE GORDON (from Loreena McKennitt)
Words and music traditional; arranged and adapted by Loreena McKennitt

Harking is bonny and there lives my love
My heart lies on him and cannot remove
It cannot remove for all that I have done
And I never will forget my love Annachie

For Annachie Gordon he's bonny and he's bright
He'd entice any woman that e'er he saw
He'd entice any woman and so he has done me
And I never will forget my love Annachie.

Down came her father and he's standing at the door
Saying Jeannie you are trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so much for thee
You must marry Lord Sultan and leave Annachie

For Annachie Gordon is barely but a man
Although he may be pretty but where are his lands
The Sultan's lands are broad and his towers they run high
You must marry Lord Sultan and leave Annachie.

With Annachie Gordon I beg for my bread
And before I marry Sultan his gold to my head
With gold to my head and straight down to my knees
And I'll die if I don't get my love Annachie

And you who are my parents to church you may me bring
But unto Lord Sultan I'll never bear a son
To a son or a daughter I'll never bow my knee
And I'll die if I don't get my love Annachie.

Jeannie was married and from church was brought home
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
She goes into her chamber and cries all alone.

Come to my bed my Jeannie my honey and my sweet
To stile you my mistress it would be so sweet
Be it mistress or Jeanne it's all the same to me
But in your bed Lord Sultan I never will lie

And down came her father and he's spoken with renown
Saying you who are her maidens go loosen up her gowns
And she fell down to the floor and straight down to his knee
Saying Father look I'm dying for my love Annachie.

The day that Jeanne married was the day that Jeannie died
And the day that young Annachie came home on the tide
And down came her maidens all wringing of their hands
Saying oh it's been so long, you've been so long on the sands
So long on the sands, so long on the flood
They have married your Jeannie and now she lies dead.

You who are her maidens come take me by the hand
And lead me to the chamber where my love she lies in
And he kissed her cold lips till his heart it turned to stone
And he died in the chamber where his love she lies in.

In the end, the album featured 11 of Jones' best arrangements of traditional English and Scottish songs, adapted by Harding and Lloyd. "I really hate to analyze these songs," Harding told me, "because I think they're exactly the way they should be, and full of these stunning images." Still, he's been living with them for some time, and has a lot to say about individual tracks on the album. "'Annachie Gordon' is all about sex," he explained. "I mean, I love the way Lord Saltoun's 'towers stand high.' It's very threatening. And there's the whole rather horrible realm of parentally controlled rape. That to me is chilling, you know, 'loosen off her gown.' It has a very Victorian ending in which everybody turns to stone, but the reality of that song is intense and horrible. It's a song about how women have been treated for years, which hardly makes it a feminist anthem, but it is a horror story."

The Auchanachie Ballad
A Commentary by Professor Gerald Auchinachie
The name of Auchinachie in North America, at least, is not one much seen in print. I remember my aunt writing enthusiastically about a murder mystery simply because it briefly featured a police officer called "Sergeant Auchinachie". You can imagine my pleasure and even amazement as a Canadian when several decades ago I stumbled on the lyrics of the ballad of "Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie" which is #239 in Francis J. Child's five volume collection, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads"

What is even more pleasing to family vanity is the fact that Gordon Auchanachie of the ballad is depicted as "bonny and braw", the sort of man who "would tempt any woman" who lays eyes on him. Despite his having neither title nor significant land and his being apparently only a fisherman, Gordon Auchanachie has sufficient attractions in Jeanie Gordon's mind to outweigh the material advantages of a marriage to a lord.

The ballad is dramatic, even melodramatic. In Child's synopsis: "Jeanie Gordon loves Auchanachie, who is bonny and braw, but she is forced to wed [Lord] Saltoun, who is bowed in the back and thrawin on the knee [crooked or bow-legged]; and all for Saltoun's lands [he is a Fraser of Saltoun near Fraserburgh in the extreme north-east corner of Aberdeenshire]. Jeanie refuses to be bedded; her maidens, at her father's order, loose off her gown and stays; she falls in a swoon and dies. Auchanachie comes home from the sea the same day, learns what has happened, asks to be taken to the chamber where Jeanie lies, kisses her cold lips, and dies."

You can see a sort of Romeo and Juliet theme here. In his book on the ballads, David Buchan suggests that this one is showing a sentimental streak which connects it with developments in the 18th century. The lovers do seem overgiven to swooning.

Child mentions "airs" (music) which might go along with this ballad, but an enterprising American musicologist, Bernard H. Bronson, actually collected all music connected to Child's ballads and so if one wishes to play the piece, it is better to go directly to Bronson's "The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads". Bronson's discography of the American recordings of Child's ballads (1960) records no performance of the "Auchanachie" ballad, though a more recent discography will reveal at least one post-1960 recording. In the 1970s I persuaded my friend and Concordia University colleague, Harry Hill, a talented actor, voice teacher and singer (from Aberdeen) to record it for me since I never expected that the ballad would take the fancy of any well known singer.

The 1990s proved me wrong. The Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt (now of world reknown) recorded it on a CD called "Parallel Dreams" (QR CD103). It is called "Annachie Gordon" (a name variant given in Child). McKennitt's voice is beautiful and haunting and her rendering is what I would call "lyrical": the sweetness of her voice colours everything and distances the events which, for me, reduces a little the dramatic immediacy of the ballad. Certainly, Harry Hill's interpretation is dramatic; he impersonates the various characters: the angry father, the wheedling groom, the bridesmaids, and, at the end, the bereft Gordon Auchanachie.

However, since McKennitt's is likely the only internationally available rendering and is far and away more than a merely acceptable interpretation, I would heartily recommend your trying to get a copy. Play it to your friends and remind them that your name is famous in song and story.

Gerald Auchinachie, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Auchanachie Gordon is bonny and braw,
He would tempt any woman that he ever saw;
He would tempt any woman, so has he tempted me,
And I'll die if I getna my love Auchanachie.'

In came her father, tripping on the floor,
Says, Jeanie, ye're trying the tricks o' a whore;
Ye're caring for them that cares little for thee;
Ye must marry Salton, leave Auchanachie.

Auchanachie Gordon, he is but a man;
Altho he be pretty, where lies his free land?
Salton's lands they lie broad, his towers they stand hie,
Ye must marry Salton, leave Auchanachie.

'Salton will gar you wear-silk gowns fring'd to thy knee,
But ye'll never wear that wi your love Auchanachie.'

Wi Auchanachie Gordon I would beg my bread
Before that wi Salton I'd wear gowd on my head,
Wear gowd on my head, or gowns fring'd to the knee;
And I'll die if I getna my love Auchanachie.

'O Salton's [a] valley lies low by the sea,
He's bowed on the back, and thrawin on the knee;'

'O Salton's a valley lies low by the sea;
Though he's bowed on the back and thrawin on the knee,
Though he's bowed on the back and thrawin on the knee,
The bonny rigs of Salton they're nae thrawin tee'

'O you that are my parents to church may me bring,
But unto Salton I'll never bear a son;
For son or for daughter, I'll ne'er bow my knee,
And I'll die if I getna my love Auchanachie.'

When Jeanie was married, from church was brought hame,
When she wi her maidens sae merry shoud hae been,
When she wi her maidens sae merry shoud hae been,
She's called for a chamber, to weep there her lane.

'Come to your bed, Jeanie, my honey and my sweet,
For to stile you mistress I do not think it meet:'
'Mistress or Jeanie, it is a' ane to me,
It's in your bed, Salton, I never will be.'

Then out spake her father, he spake wi reknown;
Some of you that are her maidens, ye'll loose aff her gown;
Some of you that are her maidens, ye'll loose aff her gown;
And I'll mend the marriage wi ten thousand crowns.

Then ane of her maidens they loosed aff her gown,
But bonny Jeanie Gordon she fell in a swoon;
She fell in a swon low down by their knee;
Says, Look on, I die for my love Auchanachie!

That very same day Miss Jeanie did die,
And hame came Auchanachie, hame frae the sea;
Her father and mither welcomd him at the gate;
He said, Where's Miss Jeanie, that she's nae here yet?

Then forth came her maidens, all wringing their hands,
Saying, Alas for your staying sae lang frae the land!
Sae lang frae the land, and sae lang on the fleed!
They've wedded your Jeanie, and now she is dead.

'Some of you, her maidens, take me by the hand,
And show me the chamber Miss Jeanie died in;'
He kissed her cold lips, which were colder than stane,
And he died in the chamber that Jeanie died in.