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Lyr Req/Add: If I Had a Ribbon Bow

A Friend 24 Apr 99 - 01:07 PM
JB3 26 Apr 99 - 03:37 AM
Martin Jonas 01 May 99 - 06:07 AM
GUEST 10 Sep 01 - 04:07 AM
GUEST 04 Oct 07 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Peace 04 Oct 07 - 10:35 AM
Peace 04 Oct 07 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Guest, Judy Dyble 04 Oct 07 - 10:41 AM
Peace 04 Oct 07 - 10:42 AM
Peace 04 Oct 07 - 10:52 AM
GUEST 04 Oct 07 - 11:19 AM
Art Thieme 04 Oct 07 - 07:09 PM
balladeer 04 Oct 07 - 11:46 PM
balladeer 05 Oct 07 - 12:17 AM
GUEST,Judy Dyble 05 Oct 07 - 02:53 AM
balladeer 05 Oct 07 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Judy Dyble 05 Oct 07 - 01:21 PM
Joe Offer 05 Oct 07 - 02:44 PM
Herga Kitty 05 Oct 07 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Judy Dyble 05 Oct 07 - 03:29 PM
balladeer 06 Oct 07 - 01:21 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Oct 07 - 08:44 AM
Herga Kitty 07 Oct 07 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Karen Lane 14 Oct 07 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Oct 07 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Oct 07 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Karen Lane 21 Oct 07 - 09:09 AM
Art Thieme 21 Oct 07 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Oct 07 - 10:09 PM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Oct 07 - 01:04 PM
Joe Offer 22 Oct 07 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Karen Lane 23 Oct 07 - 10:17 AM
balladeer 24 Oct 07 - 12:23 AM
Joe Offer 24 Oct 07 - 02:25 AM
Joe Offer 24 Oct 07 - 02:50 AM
Joe Offer 24 Oct 07 - 03:11 AM
Joe Offer 24 Oct 07 - 04:25 AM
balladeer 24 Oct 07 - 11:03 PM
peregrina 25 Oct 07 - 02:27 PM
Joe Offer 25 Oct 07 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Oct 07 - 09:05 PM
balladeer 26 Oct 07 - 09:09 AM
peregrina 26 Oct 07 - 03:44 PM
karen k 30 Oct 07 - 02:21 PM
peregrina 30 Oct 07 - 02:46 PM
GUEST,Karen Lane 16 Nov 07 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,Judy Dyble 16 Nov 07 - 06:00 PM
peregrina 17 Nov 07 - 02:37 AM
GUEST,Karen Lane 25 Nov 07 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Cher 11 Dec 08 - 11:48 PM
peregrina 16 Jun 09 - 03:31 AM
Smedley 16 Jun 09 - 04:11 AM
Judy Dyble 16 Jun 09 - 07:07 AM
peregrina 16 Jun 09 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM
Judy Dyble 16 Jun 09 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 16 Jun 09 - 03:01 PM
peregrina 16 Jun 09 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,Jason 17 Jul 09 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,miguel 01 Jun 10 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,Dirk-Jan 15 Oct 10 - 07:02 AM
GUEST 10 Jun 13 - 10:35 AM
Jim Dixon 14 Jun 13 - 01:27 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 16 - 11:09 PM
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Subject: Ribbon Bow
From: A Friend
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 01:07 PM

Looking for words/background of "If I Had a Ribbon Bow," recorded by Odetta in the 60s and by Karen Dalton a bit later (it's on a Koch CD reissue). Someone told me the song is by John Jacob Niles. Verdad?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: JB3
Date: 26 Apr 99 - 03:37 AM

^^
RIBBON BOW

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair
And he'd go down to Asheville, a-loggin' on the rise
And bring me back with his two hands a very pretty prize

If I had a pair of shoes so bright and smart
Not a boy in all these parts would know my heart
My red heels would go flashin' where e'er my fancy would
My love would see and wish that he had taken me, when he could

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
If I had a fancy sash so fair.

My parents had a '78 of Susan Reid that they bought back in the early 50's with this song on it. Hope it's close to the version you're looking for. Never heard that JJ Niles had anything to do with it.

June


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Martin Jonas
Date: 01 May 99 - 06:07 AM

"If I Had A Ribbon Bow" was the first single released by Fairport Convention in 1967 -- recorded a few months before their first album. As far as I know, it's originally a 30s pop song and it's credited to "Prince/Singer". The lyrics of this song are quite different from the ones listed above and I have no idea which one of the two songs was recorded by Odetta. ^^ Fairport's lyrics are:

If I had a ribbon bow to tie in my hair
And a gown of calico for me to wear
I'd surely get a sweetheart, a prince or a king
A palace home where I could have everything.

If I had a ribbon bow to tie in my hair
(... ?) I wouldn't care
I'd stay up in my castle (... ?)
A ribbon bow so fine to tie in my hair.

All the livlong day, to the lord above me
All I do is pray, for someone to love me.

If I had a ribbon bow, all nice and clean
I could be a princess or a fairy queen
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear
If I had a ribbon bow to tie in my hair.

There's a story long ago, a story seldom told
What she wanted from this world (... ?)
Her wishes were quite plain as you will see
How often she would simply make this plea.

All the livlong day, to the lord above me
All I do is pray, for someone to love me.

If I had a ribbon bow, all nice and clean
I could be a princess or a fairy queen
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear
If I had a ribbon bow to tie in my hair.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 04:07 AM

I was looking for "Ribbon Bow" and came across this old thread. I heard Carolyn Hester's version back in 1961, and I could have sworn she sang:

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair
Then he'd go to Frankfort, a-lawin' on the rise;
He'd bring me back with his own hands a very pretty prize

If I had (a pair of shoes?) so fair and smart,
Ne'er a lad in all these parts would know my heart.
My red heels would go flashin' where e'er my fancy should (shewed?),
My love would see and wish that he had taken me when he could.

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
If I had a fancy sash so fair.
If I had a ribbon bow .....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 08:35 AM

I know this song is definitely by Huey Prince and Louis C Singer. Can anyone tell me whether it is in the public domain


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:35 AM

If I Had a Ribbon Bow - Prince, Hughie/Singer, Lou

Hester, Carolyn. Caroline Hester, Tradition TLP 1043, LP (1961), trk# B.04

Odetta. Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues, Tradition TLP 1010/TCD 1, CD (1996/1956), trk# 2


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Peace
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:40 AM

It has been attributed to Fairport Convention near 1968, but as you can see the recordings of it by Hester and Odetta predate that. If indeed it's the same song, it was an arrangement that was copyrighted.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Guest, Judy Dyble
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:41 AM

The missing lyrics from Martin Jonas' post are:

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
This old world could come and go I wouldn't care
I'd stay up in my castle and I'd always wear
A ribbon bow so fine to tie my hair.


There's a story of a girl, a story seldom told
What she wanted from this world was not of gems or gold
Her wishes were quite plain as you will see
How often she would simply make this plea.

(And in all cases just 'tie my hair')

At least that's how I transcribed it from Maxine Sullivan's version which was written by Prince/Singer. I don't think it's in the public domain yet. But I could be wrong....
Hope this helps


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Peace
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:42 AM

"Fairport Convention's first single, "If I Had a Ribbon Bow," was released in 1967; it had been recorded previously by Maxine Sullivan in 1936. "


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Peace
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:52 AM

Maxine Sullivan also went by the name, Marietta Williams.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 11:19 AM

Thanks for all the information, I really appreciate it. A band on our label heard Karen Dalton's version and decided to record the song and we are trying to figure out who the actual rights holders are. or is it public domain, chances are it is since the song dates back from the 30's!

K from Lil People records


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 07:09 PM

The Mildred Bailey rendition of this song   was done with a big band led by CHARLIE MINGUS if my memory is correct. It's a great record; one of my favorites!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 11:46 PM

In the version I sang in 1962, (which I learned from I don't remember who - we all just rolled around in one big melting pot in those days - it certainly could have been from John Jacob Niles -I'm hearing his voice singing it in my head right now, but maybe it's an aural hallucination ...) Any way, in my version the line is, "He would go to Frankfurt, A-LOGGIN' on the rise ..." and there are no red shoes in any version I ever heard anyone sing. The last verse goes:

If I were like city girls, all fair and smart
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart
My red heels would go flashing where e'er my fancy should
My love would see and wish that he had taken me when he could

Balladeer

PS. I wouldn't be surprised if the Fairports made their version up. Inspired by a wisp of something someone overheard ...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 12:17 AM

Ooh, I just remembered another snippet (I haven't thought about this song since sometime in the seventies - now it's rushing back - thanks thread beginner.) The last two lines of the second verse are:

Then I would go to Frankfurt where all the loggin' goes
I'd hang around the settlements a-wearin' (fancy? foreign?) clothes

Please, someone try to find those missing lines. I'm gonna lose sleep over this ....

PS. to guest who wants to record this anew. 1930 is not too old to be protected by copyright.

Balladeer


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Judy Dyble
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 02:53 AM

"PS. I wouldn't be surprised if the Fairports made their version up. Inspired by a wisp of something someone overheard ..."

Ummm. No. We didn't make it up. I said we transcribed it from a Maxine Sullivan LP. I can't remember which one, it was in Joe Boyd's record collection and it was 40 years ago.

The song you're all looking for is obviously a very different one to the one I sang.

Tra la


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 08:20 AM

Hi Judy: Yes, I saw what you said about transcription from an old arrangement. I just thought you might have added stuff to it, as so many of us have done over the years. Anyway, you're right. They're two different songs. Mind you, the Maxine version might have been "inspired"
by a song from tradition. There's certainly been a lot of that and all.
Joanne


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Judy Dyble
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 01:21 PM

Well interestingly, it is listed as Trad,arr. Prince/Singer on the MCPS site so you could be right.

Don't think we added anything to the words, but the arrangement was definitely a bit different!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 02:44 PM

The only example I could find of this song in the Roud Index was "Ef I had a ribbon bow" in Niles, Seven Kentucky Mountain Songs (1929) pp.10-11. Anybody have this book? It's also in Songs of John Jacob Niles, bu not in his Ballad Book.

Many of the songs "collected" by John Jacob Niles turned out to be composed by Niles. So, is this a Niles composition? I have to say I like the songs Niles composed, even if they weren't authentic folk songs. I don't like his singing, though.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 03:22 PM

Thanks for posting, Judy - your recording was the first I heard of Fairport (though I did once hear the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra live).

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Judy Dyble
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 03:29 PM

".......though I did once hear the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra live....."

heavens Herga Kitty, that must have been a giggle and a half!
Sorry -very off topic....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 01:21 AM

Yes, Joe, John Jacob Niles is not to everyone's taste. He was quite popular in the mainstream for a little while long ago.
How do you feel about the singing of Bascomb Lamar Lunsford?
Joanne


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 08:44 AM

Niles was first to report the song and claimed it as his, I'm certain -- though I haven't the documents to hand. He certainly did publish the song under his copyright.

It's important to note that its true title is the one Joe cites: "Ef I Had a Ribbon Bow," because that will help you find it in indexes.

My guess is that at most a phrase or two of the song MAY have been something Niles heard from a Kentucky singer (how I wish we could hear his sources!!!) -- but that he composed the bulk of the song himself.

From what I've heard, Niles' notorious deceptiveness about what was and was not traditional usually broke down into serious treatment of a copyright claim when it came to royalties. He liked to pretend that each song was a hoary mystery heard from some elusive primitive at a time when Appalachia was indeed isolated, seemed wild and strange to outsiders, and had few "made roads."   (In a way he was right about the mystery -- haven't others of us felt it too?)

Niles was of his time in that he looked on the "naive, untutored" styles of mountaineers as raw material for art. He couldn't bridge the gap to respect for the WAY they sang. That was left for future generations, us.
Some other early collectors -- Jean Thomas is one -- "fixed up" the songs they found, more or less, from then till now. (Thomas even "fixed up" Blind Bill Day to the extent of parading him as Jilson Setters.) But that was the passion of the times, and needs to be understood in its context. We're fortunate that a few like Olive Dame Campbell and Cecil Sharp believed in reporting the songs and their sources reasonably straight, rather than dressing them up for the public.

All this should not obscure the fact that Niles was one of the earliest collectors on the scene in the Appalachians (began 1907, I think?), knew his territory well, and found many fine songs.

For me, his arty, precious style, hard to listen to as it is, is a fascinating example of an educated, sophisticated man's reaction to the deep mystery of Appalachian folksong. Niles' vocal response was bizarre, but I heard it at an early age, and though traditional style and presentation is my strong favorite, I still get a chill hearing him sing. "Like" it? Not sure. But like Yma Sumac, it's one of those things that sticks like a burr. A world gone by, but an early landmark in the history of how the idea of folksong mutated over time. I think he deserves a lot of credit, one way and another.


I understand Ron Pen has a Niles biography in the works. I, for one, am looking forward to reading it.

Bascom Lamar Lunsford, by the way, was a difficult man to record at his best. Some of his later records are mediocre for various reasons, including unsuitable accompaniment, which is a whole other story. But he made some fine early 78s, and the Folkways LP Smoky Mountain Ballads is a gem. And he was another early collector who gathered many rare songs and fiercely defended of the old ways and the dignity of Appalachian people and singers.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 07 Oct 07 - 11:09 AM

Judy - it was a life-changing experience! The friends who introduced me to the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra also introduced me to the New Lost City Ramblers, Watersons, Young Tradition and Herga folk club...

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Karen Lane
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 09:59 AM

I was wondering whether anyone has any suggestions regarding the following: I'd like to perform 'If I Had a Ribbon Bow' in concert, at the end of my part-time music course. But despite extensive searching, I haven't found the sheet music for this. I'd like to perform the Hughie Prince & Lou Singer composition, which I believe was the basis for the Fairport Convention 1960s' recording, but the only score I've only come across is a 'choral - mixed a cappella' arrangement by Roy Harris, which I don't think will be suitable. So I'd be very pleased if anyone knows where or how I might get hold of a Prince/Singer (or Fairport Convention) score for voice and piano. With many, many thanks for any advice.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 05:31 PM

If you would be content with the melody, to which you can add chords, I can send in a MIDI in any key you want. That is, if Joe Offer is available to put the MIDI on the Mudcat.

This song occurs in the book "Seven Kentucky Mountain Songs, collected and arranged by John J. Niles. I just got a copy of the book from my public library. If you live in the U.S., you may be able to do the same.

Trouble is, the song in the book is quite high. It's in the key of B flat and the highest note is an F. The beauty of going with my MIDI is that I can lower it with two strokes of the keyboard.

Tell me what is your comfortable highest note, and I will make a MIDI to suit, send it to Joe, and then it should appear here. I assume that your school has a way to download and print a MIDI.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 06:33 PM

Joe asked, 'So, is this a Niles composition?'

I have the book with If (ef)I Had a Ribbon Bow in it right before me. He wrote:

First recorded at Ebenezer (Mercer County) Kentucky. ...The woman who first sang me this song was about twenty-three years of age. She was the mother of three children. It seems that her husband had disappeared....

In 1919 I met a white-haired old lady in Winchester, Ky, who had spent most of her life teaching in the Mountains. She sang me 'Ef I had a Ribbon Bow' in almost exactly the same way in which I had recorded it at Ebenezer ten years before.
======


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Karen Lane
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 09:09 AM

Hello leeneia

Many thanks for your offer to send me a MIDI of 'If I Had a Ribbon Bow'. I'm not sure if sending it via this forum will work, but we can give it a try. Being an alto, I can reach the high Fs if the notes are short and quite widely spaced throughout a piece, but I struggle if they're sustained, frequent or close together, so perhaps the song would be better transposed so that the highest note is around D/E flat. Thanks also for offering to do this.

Unfortunately, from the point of view of getting the book 'Seven Kentucky Mountain Songs', I don't live in the USA, though I may be able to order it via the internet, with any luck from a supplier in Britain. And thanks for the unwitting compliment, but I'm not at school! I'm a mature student attending evening classes in singing at an adult education college in London. I doubt whether I can make use of the facilities there to download and print a MIDI, but my husband's a whizz on computers, so he should be able to help me with this at home.

With thanks again for your kind offer - Karen


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 01:50 PM

As I mentioned before in a thread, Niles singing reminded me of the sounds that filled the air the night the orphanage burnt down! ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 10:09 PM

Hello, Karen. Nice to hear from you again. I'll send the MIDI to Joe Offer, probably once in one key, once in another, to give people a choice. I often do this. One reason is that flutes like music quite high.

To download a MIDI and print the piece as sheet music requires music software. I use NoteworthyComposer, which meets my needs and is not expensive. I also have a little piano keyboard on my computer desk.

I wonder if your teacher could download the song for you after it's posted. That seems like a good possibility to me. Many music professionals use computers nowadays.

Now I'm off to send the MIDI to Joe. If Joe is in town, he should post it here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:04 PM

Karen, time for an update. I see that when I made the music file of "If I had a Ribbon Bow," that I didn't save the lyrics. I thought they were in this thread, but they are not complete. I'll submit the song, but I can't supply all the lyrics now because I've already returned the book.

However, I've had a thought. I saved the music and lyrics for a song called "Come all you fair and tender ladies," which Niles collected in Kentucky in 1912. I think it's superior to "If I Had a Ribbon Bow." If you would like to sing a song with 'mountain sound" at the end of your course, it's the one to pick. I'll see if Joe will post it to a new thread called "Tune Add: Come all you fair and tender ladies."


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Subject: ADD Tune: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 07:24 PM

Here's Leeneia's tune. Thanks, Leeneia.
You returned the book to the library???? Gee, I was going to ask you to send me all of the remaining five tunes, with lyrics.
-Joe-

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Karen Lane
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 10:17 AM

Hello leeneia and Joe

Many thanks for posting the tune to If I Had a Ribbon Bow. I've already listened to it, and have the software to copy it to CD. Don't worry about not having the words for the song as, judging by earlier postings here, it has no 'official' lyrics anyway. So I'll just experiment with some of those listed in this thread, to see which best fit the tune. With thanks again for all your help. Best wishes - Karen.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 12:23 AM

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair
Then he would go to Frankfort, a-loggin' on the rise;
He'd bring me back with his own hands a very pretty prize

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair
Then I would go to Frankfort where all the logging goes
I'd hang around the settlements wearing foreign clothes

If I were like city girls, all fair and smart,
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart.
My red heels would go flashing where e'er my fancy should,
My love would see and wish that he had taken me when he could.


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from Susan Reed)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 02:25 AM

Where's your version from, Balladeer?

I listened to versions by Susan Reid, by the Simon Sisters, and by Odetta - lyrics in all of them are a bit different from each other. I wish we had the exact lyrics from the Niles songbook. Leeneia, might you want to go back to the library???

-Joe Offer-


I'd disagree with JB3's version above, which she attributes to Susan Reid. Here's what I hear on the Susan Reed recording:

If I Had a Ribbon Bow
(as recorded by Susan Reed, 1957 - no songwriter attribution)

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair;
Then he would go to Franklin, a-loggin' on the rise,
He'd bring me back with his two hands a very pretty prize.

If I was like the city-born, all fair and smart,
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart.
Then I would go to Franklin where all the lawin'* goes,
I'd knock about in settlements a-wearin' foreign clothes

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair.
My red heels would go a-flashin' where e'er my fancy should,
My love would see and wish that he had taken me when he could.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, so fair.



transcribed by ear from the 1957 Elektra album, Susan Reed (CD reissue by Collectors' Choice, 2006)

*I'm not sure that's the word - Reed pronounces it "lawin'" - other transcriptions have "logging"
In the next line, she pronounces "foreign" more like "furrin'"

This is a terrific recording, by the way, one of two Susan Reed Elektra CD's that Collectors' Choice has reissued.-

Click to play


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from Odetta)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 02:50 AM

If I Had a Ribbon Bow
(Hughie Price and Lou Singer)
(as recorded by Odetta, 1957)

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair;
And when he goes to Frankfort, a-loggin' on the rise,
He'd bring me back with his own hand a very pretty prize.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair.
If I was like city girls, and fair with smart,
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart.
And then I'd live in Frankfort where all the lawin' goes,
I'd lark about the settlements and wear them foreign clothes.

[hum two lines]

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash.

Transcribed by ear from the 1956 Tradition album, Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues (1996 CD reissue)

Need some help with a few parts of this one...


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from Simon Sisters
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 03:11 AM

If I Had a Ribbon Bow
(Hughie Price and Lou Singer)
(as recorded by the Simon Sisters, 1964)

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair;
And when he'd go to Frankfort, a-loggin' on the rise,
He'd bring me back with his own hands a very pretty prize.

If I were like city girls, so fair and smart,
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart.
And then I'd live in Frankfort where all the loggers go,
I'd march about the settlements and wear foreign clothes

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair;
My red heels would go flashing where my fancy would,
My love would look and wish that he had taken me when he could.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair.


Transcribed by ear from the 2006 Geffen CD, The Simon Sisters - Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod: The Kapp Recordings


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from C Hester)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 04:25 AM

Well, I found one more, and it's got printed lyrics, so what the heck? - expecially since this one agrees with me and hears "a-lawin'"...
-Joe-


If Had A Ribbon Bow
(Traditional/Arr: C Hester)

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair.
When he'd go to Frankfort a-loggin' on the rise,
He'd bring me back with his own hands a very pretty prize.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love Would think me fair.
If I was like the city brung and fair with smart,
Ne'er a lad in all them parts would know my heart.
Then I'd live in Frankfort where all the lawin' goes.
I'd lark about them settlements a-wearin' foreign clothes.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair.
My red heels would go a-flashin' where'er my fancy should.
My love would see and wish that he had taken me when he could.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair.


from the 1961 Tradition album, Carolyn Hester (reissued in 1995 by Road Goes On Forever)


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 11:03 PM

Hi Joe: Thanks for doing so much research, and in the process helping me correct my memory. I had two couplets mixed up until you printed a whole bunch of versions and I recognized the one that was most like the one I used to sing. I'm still not sure about the name of the town .... As to where I learned the song, we're going back over forty years and my memory has lost some of its sharpness, but I do remember hearing Carolyn Hester and John Jacob Niles sing it (not together). The thing is, in the sixties there was a well-worn path between Toronto and New York, lots of cross-pollination between the two cities, and really, most of us who were singing for our supper at that time shared one huge floating repertoire, so I could have learned it from anyone on the circuit. It's a good thing Len Chandler and Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs and Eric Anderson and Tom Paxton all began writing when they did. We sure needed new material. Balladeer
*******************************************************************

If I Had a Ribbon Bow

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair;
Then he would go to Franklin, a-loggin' on the rise,
He'd bring me back with his two hands a very pretty prize.

If I were like city girls, all fair and smart,
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart.
Then I would go to Franklin where all the logging goes,
I'd hang around the settlements a-wearin' foreign clothes

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair.
My red heels would go flashing where e'er my fancy should,
My love would see and wish that he had taken me when he could.


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Subject: Lyr Add: EF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (John Jacob Niles)
From: peregrina
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 02:27 PM

from:
The Songs of John Jacob Niles (1975; rpt with 8 additional songs, New York, 1993), pp. 79-82

Ef I Had a Ribbon Bow
words and music by John Jacob Niles

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair.
And when he goes to Frankfort
Loggin' on the rise,
He'd bring me back with his own hands
A very pretty prize.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my own true love would think me fair.
If I was like the city brung and fair with smart,
Ne'er a lad in all them parts would know my heart.

Then I'de (sic?) live in Frankfort
Where all the lawin' goes.
I'd lark about the settlements
And wear them furrin' clothes
If I was like the city brung and fair with smart,
Ne'er a lad in all them parts would know my heart.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 03:41 PM

Thanks a lot, peregrina - so it's quite possible I heard correctly when I transcribed "lawin'" and "fair with smart."
Now, I wonder what they mean by "lawin'" - I thought maybe it referred to lawyering in the county courthouse or statehouse, or something like that. Frankfort, Kentucky, has a statehouse - but I don't know of a state capital named Franklin. No doubt there must be a county seat bearing that name.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 09:05 PM

The words I remember from 'Seven Kentucky Mountain Songs'gibe with Peregrina's words. No need for a return trip to the library.

I believe the word 'lawin' refers to the government activity in the state capital of Frankfort.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: balladeer
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 09:09 AM

Yes, you're right Jeeneia. Lawin' is what they do in the statehouse, and I believe the city in question is Frankfort KY. Thanks all for reminding me of this song I used to sing, and for helping me patch up my memory on the words.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: peregrina
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 03:44 PM

I had thought that lawin' was lawyering, but then I was listening to Heather Heywood sing some Scots ballads today and got another notion. Could lawin' be lovin' (like the Scots phrase I heard, something like 'the land I loue').

This song seems to have much more rural dialect than many of Niles's other songs and it strikes me that he might be trying to characterize the speaker-someone poor enough, or far enough from the city, that a ribbon bow and a sash seem like something special.

So anyone have ideas for 'city brung (born???) and fair with smart'?


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: karen k
Date: 30 Oct 07 - 02:21 PM

Does anyone know what the other 6 songs are in the John Jacob Niles songbook, Seven Kentucky Mountain Songs, NY: G.Schirmir, 1928.

Thanks,
karen


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: peregrina
Date: 30 Oct 07 - 02:46 PM

The Songs of John Jacob Niles (New Edition containing Eight Additional Songs)
1993 (G. Schirmer, New York)
--I can't reconstruct the contents of the 1928 edition from this one; copyright dates of the songs in the 1993 edition range from 1934 to 1990.


Go 'way from my window
The Black Dress
The Lass from the Low Countree
Evening
I wonder as I wander
Black is the color of my true love's hair
The Lotus Bloom
The Carol of the Birds
Sweet little boy Jesus
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head
What Songs Were Sung
The Rovin' Gambler
The Gambler's Lament
The Gambler's Wife (By-Low)
Gambler, don't you lose your place
Gambler's Song of the Big Sandy River
My Lover is a farmer lad
The Wild Rider
Ribbon Bow
Little Black Star
The Robin and the the Thorn
Unused am I to Lovers
When I get up into Heaven
The Flower of Jesse


Anyone have any thoughts on my post (two above) asking about the meaning of 'city brung and fair with smart' ? Or the hypothesis that 'lawin' might be 'lovin'' rather than laywering ?


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from Fairport Conv
From: GUEST,Karen Lane
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 03:00 PM

Further to Martin Jonas' post of 1 May 1999, I recently bought a Fairport Convention album which included the band's 1967 version of If I Had a Ribbon Bow. Here's my transcript of the track. I've checked and checked, and the phrase 'to tie my hair' at the beginning of the song really does become 'to tie IN my hair' towards and at the end of it:

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair,
And a gown of calico for me to wear,
I'd surely get a sweetheart, a prince or a king,
A palace home where I could have everything.

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair,
This old world would come and go; I wouldn't care.
I'd stay up in my castle, and I'd always wear
A ribbon bow so fine to tie my hair.

All the livelong day, to the Lord above me
All I do is pray, for someone to love me.

If I had a ribbon bow, all nice and clean
I could be a princess or a fairy queen.
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear.
If I had a ribbon bow to tie in my hair.

There's a story long ago, a story seldom told.
What she wanted from this world was not of gems and gold.
Her wishes were quite plain as you will see.
For often she would simply make this plea:

All the livelong day, to the Lord above me
All I do is pray, for someone to love me.

If I had a ribbon bow, all nice and clean,
I could be a princess or a fairy queen.
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear.
If I had a ribbon bow,
A pretty little ribbon bow,
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear,
If I had a ribbon bow to tie in my hair. Aaah!


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Judy Dyble
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 06:00 PM

Oh Karen, I do hate to be obstinate and stubborn, but honestly, I never ever sang 'to tie in my hair'. Honest! Really! Cross my heart!

And I just listened to it again to make sure....


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: peregrina
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 02:37 AM

I'm still wondering if anyone who knows more about the language of Niles can comment on my tentative suggestion (5 posts back) about the word 'lawin'.

Could it mean 'lovin' rather than lawyering. (Possibility came to me after listening to a CD fo Scots ballads and hearing the word 'loue' for 'love'). Though lawin/lawyering works, I think 'lovin' also fits the gist of the song.

And 'city bring and fair with smart'? City born? But the rest?


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Subject: RE: If I Had a Ribbon Bow - apologies to Judy!
From: GUEST,Karen Lane
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 01:23 PM

Sorry, sorry, sorry, Judy. I've listened to the track again, and realised why I was hearing the phrase 'to tie my hair' incorrectly. 'Tie' contains the two vowel sounds 'iy' and 'ee', and where these are sung across slurred notes, the 'ee' sounds like 'in' to me. Anyway, I'll shut up now, as unless others can listen to Fairport Convention's recording of the song, they won't have a clue what I'm talking about.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Cher
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 11:48 PM

You should have watch the play called the Blonde Bombshells of 1943. Casts are from England. They are superb. One of the girl, Karen, sang Ribbon Bow. Really Awsome! with live music.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: peregrina
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 03:31 AM

I have found 'lawin' in a Burns poem to mean doing business (lost the exact reference), so lawin and louin are different words; contrary to my post above, I think that is the meaning here.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Smedley
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 04:11 AM

There is another, excellent version that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet - by Doris Henderson & John Renbourn. Before he formed Pentangle, John R made an album (or was it two?) with an American singer, Doris H, who was resident in London in the mid 1960s. It (just) predates) the first Fairport recordings, so I don't know if they'd heard it - Rembourn was an influential figure in that milieu.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Judy Dyble
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 07:07 AM

Hi Smedley
The answer is that we (Fairport)first heard the version of the song as recorded by Maxine Sullivan. I certainly wasn't aware that Doris and John had recorded a version of it at all, in fact I doubt any of us heard it, so it probably would not have had any influence on us.

Judy


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: peregrina
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 07:45 AM

Judy,
I am curious, when you sing it, do you have to resolve (in your mind at least) the lexical uncertainties, or does the feeling of the whole song mean that singer and audience don't need complete clarity of meaning for some of those dialect phrases?

By the way, this question doesn't imply any kind of criticism or judgement, just sincere curiosity --which is informed by a great appreciation for the way even singing in an entirely foreign language can be powerful and moving.

thanks.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM

If an archaic word interferes with understanding and enjoyment, then the first thing I do is change it. If I can't, I explain it. Briefly.

For example, in 'Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doone,' I change 'ilka' to 'every.' I figure that if Bobbie Burns came to my house, I wouldn't force him to talk like me. Therefore, I should not be forced to talk like Bobbie Burns. It's fair.


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: Judy Dyble
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:34 AM

Umm well remember that the version of Ribbon Bow was taken from a jazzy version of the song, not the traditional version so your question doesn't really apply to my version. And also remember that Fairport didn't get into the whole traditional thing till way after my departure, in fact two albums later, when Sandy was the only lead singer and her love of traditional music began to be part of Fairport's move in that direction.

Judy


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 03:01 PM

Peregrina above is right. The somewhat archaic "lawing" means transacting business, in which legal contracts usually figure.

In Niles' song "all the lawin'" went to Frankfort because that's where business, commerce, etc. were done. It also suggests to a country person the kind of people they noticed doing urban business and commerce: sharpsters, "fine gentlemen" and tradesmen. Men togged out and trading, and cheating where they could. Faulkner's townsmen would be a good example.

On the other hand, in the song "Jim Gunter and the Steer" as sung by Obray Ramsey is the phrase

"They lawed Jim Gunter and they brought him to trial ..."

(The crime in question was shooting a steer that Gunter falsely claimed he thought was a deer.)

In this case the lawin'clearly involves either a subpoena or an arrest warrant. And most certainly a suit—they "took him to court."

So "lawin'" can also cover court business, involving law enforcement officials. In the oldtime southern towns the courthouse was the focus of all interest, men hanging around jawing, chawing, and waiting for the latest verdict. It was the biggest thing going on, on Court Day.

In sum, lawin' refers generally to the main business of towns and cities: buying, selling, and disputing the results at law, as well as occasional shady doings.

That could look pretty sophisticated and incomprehensible from the viewpoint of a country person who either hadn't been there, or saw it only from the outside, and was in awe of all those "important folks" and their doings. I think that's the sense meant in "Ribbon Bow."

Bob


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: peregrina
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 03:08 PM

Bob, thanks so much for that--I had been wondering for a long time. And your Southern example is so much more persuasive than Burns (though I think Scots' emigration to the Appalachians does make the latter relevant).


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,Jason
Date: 17 Jul 09 - 03:44 PM

My children love the Fairport version. Anyone know how to play it on guitar? Yes, I know RT does... Anyone got the chords?


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Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST,miguel
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 06:54 PM

does any one know the chords to this song the version i have heard is the karen dalton one


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Subject: Chords Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from Fariport..
From: GUEST,Dirk-Jan
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 07:02 AM

Finally someone posts the chords... It's been a little exercition. One of the first songs I've tried to decipher the chords from, after having used lots of transcriptions from the internet.

Especially welcome are suggestions: dirkjan80[at]gmail[dot]com
Or you could post them in the thread.
It messes with the chord positions in the preview, but I've managed the best I can.
Good luck and please let me know.

Fairport Convention – If I had a Ribbon Bow

Intro:   A   D#   G#   D | D#   A   C#   B-Am

Am         D                     Am    D
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
Am                   D            Am                D
And a gown of calico for me to wear
    Bm             E                   Bm                      E
I'd surely get a sweetheart a prince or a king
    Am                           Bm                              E
A palace home where I could have anything

Am          D                   Am    D
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair
Am                         D                     Am                  D
this old world could come and go I wouldn't care
    Bm                  E             Bm            E
I'd stay up in my castle and I'd always wear
    Am                  Bm                        E
A ribbon bow so fine to tie my hair

          A    D    E
All the live long day
          E          A
to the Lord above me
       A D E
All I do is pray
       E                (F)
For someone to love me

Am       D                   Am          D
If I had ribbon bow all nice and clean
Am             D                   Am                D
I could be a princess or a fairy queen
            Bm                            E                   Bm                E
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear
Am         Bm
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair

A   G   F   A# | A   G   F   A#

Am                   D                Am               D                        
There's a story long ago, a story seldom told
Bm                      E                              Bm             E
What she wanted from this world was not a gentle gold
       C                                                    E
Her wishes were quite plain as you will see
       F                                                    E
How often she would simply make this plea

          A    D    E                E         A
All the live long day, to the Lord above me
       A D E            E                F
All I do is pray, for someone to love me

A#       D#                   A#          D#                (=> Modulation)
If I had ribbon bow all nice and clean
A#               D#                  A#               D#
I could be a princess or a fairy queen
            C                               F                   C                     F
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear
A#          C                  A#         C         A#             C                   A#         C
If I had a ribbon bow,                      a pretty little ribbon bow
            A#                              C                   A#                  C
Prince Charming then would court me, his love he would swear
A#(m)
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair

End:   A#   D#   F   A#


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from Ane Brun)
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 13 - 10:35 AM

From hearing Ane Brun cover, that's what she sings:


If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair;
Then he would go to Frankfurt, a-logging on the rise.
He'd bring me back with his own hands, a very pretty prize.

If I had a ribbon bow to bind my hair,
If I had a fancy sash, my love would think me fair.
If I was like city girls, and fair with smart
Not a lad in all these parts would know my heart.

And then I'd live in Frankfurt, where all the lovin' goes,
I'd lark about them settlements a-wearin' foreign clothes.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR77wTfICeY

Greetings,
Javi Dark


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW (from M Sullivan)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Jun 13 - 01:27 PM

I have listened carefully to the song performed by Maxine Sullivan, whose recording was the source for Fairport Convention, and I have found several words that are different from Fairport's—or at least, different from the way some people have heard (or misheard) Fairport's version, which is obscure at some points. Sullivan's version is quite clear.

I'm about 80% sure that Sullivan sings "All I'd do is pray" rather than "All I do is pray"—and that makes more sense to me, since it is consistent with the previous verse; she is describing what she would do if she had a ribbon bow.


IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW
As sung by Maxine Sullivan

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair,
And a gown of calico that I could wear,
I'd surely get a sweetheart, a prince or a king,
A palace home where I would have everything.

If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair,
This old world could come and go; I wouldn't care.
I'd stay up in my castle and I'd always wear
A ribbon bow so fine to tie my hair.

All the livelong day, to the Lord above me,
All I'd do is pray for someone to love me.

If I had a ribbon bow, all nice and clean,
I could be a princess or a fairy queen.
Prince Charming then would court me; his love he would swear,
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair.

Here's a story of a girl, a story seldom told.
What she wanted from this world was not of gems or gold.
Her wishes were quite plain, as you will see,
For often she would simply make this plea:

All the livelong day, to the Lord above me,
All I'd do is pray, for someone to love me.

If I had a ribbon bow, all nice and clean,
I could be a princess or a fairy queen.
Prince Charming then would court me; his love he would swear,
If I had a ribbon bow,
A pretty little ribbon bow.
Prince Charming then would court me; his love he would swear,
If I had a ribbon bow to tie my hair.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req/Add: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 16 - 11:09 PM

Could someone put the chords up for Odetta or Karen Dalton's version? Please


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