The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8648   Message #54599
Posted By: George Seto -
17-Jan-99 - 09:48 PM
Thread Name: If i was a blackbird?
Subject: ADD: If I Were A Blackbird (Creighton)^^^
The answer I got from Clary is:

Thanks for the update George:

The song, If I Were A Blackbird, was collected by Helen Creighton from the Armstrong twins, Alister and Judson, around 1950 in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. She never did publish the song. I discovered it in her manuscript collection with accompanying audio tape in 1986 and began performing it (first at the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival). Soon it became very popular and has since been recorded by many Maritime performers.

I have since collected variants from several sources, including one handwritten in the 1920s from the Sherbrooke area. The song appears to be Irish, and obviously many people here in Nova Scotia knew it and only had to be jogged in their song memory to bring it back. It is now found, along with mine and various other audio recordings, in Folksongs of the Maritimes by Kaye Pottie and Vernon Ellis, published by Formac in 1992.

Cheers, Clary


Here is the version he sings:

1 I once knew a maiden, a maiden so rare
 Fell in love with a sailor, a young sailor beau,
 She courted him dearly, by night and by day
 Til at length this young sailor, he sailed far away

Chorus And if I were a blackbird, I'd whistle and sing
       I'd follow the ship that my true love sails in,
       And on the top rigging I'd there build my nest
       And I'd fly like a seagull to his lilly white breast

2 My true love is handsome in every degree
  My parents despise him because he loves me
  Well, let them despise him, or say what they will
  While there's life in my bosom, I'll love the lad still (Chorus)

3 If I were a scholar, I could handle a pen
  One long, loving letter unto him I'd send
  I'd tell him my sorrow, my grief and my woes
  If I could but find him I'd crown him with gold (Chorus)

Repeat First Verse in 1st Person. ^^^