The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #120379   Message #2618371
Posted By: Jack Blandiver
25-Apr-09 - 04:17 AM
Thread Name: Riddle Songs??
Subject: RE: Riddle Songs??
I'm sure I wrote this yesterday but it's not here. Anyhoo...

I've been singing Child #1 a lot of late - Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom as it appears in The Northumbrian Minstrelsy - the refrain of which is more by way of enhancing the erotic burlesque of the ballad rather than Jim's somewhat fanciful magical powers of certain plants as he suggests above. I think we're straying into Frazerian territory there, though certain confusion does exist as over the last 30 years or so Lay the Bent has become somewhat confused with Child #10 (via the folkie process which is of a somewhat more serious nature. Also fanciful is the suggestion of riddles somehow warding off evil which is not at all evident in the context of Child #1, where the romance is born from a compatibility of both mind and body, hence Lay the bent to the bonny broom is simply a picturesque euphemism for shagging.

I've been singing Child #2 (The Elfin Knight) for twenty years now to the traditional French melody of La Chanson des Livrees as I didn't have a traditional one when I first came across it (in Roberts' The Legendary Ballads of England & Scotland). I've heard various melodies since, but none quite as compelling as LCDL. Rachel and I are currently working up a version of that which appears in the Max Hunter Collection as sung by Mrs. Allie Long Parker, Eureka Springs, Arkansas on April 14, 1958 (see Here) which is an absolute belter.