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Origins: Banks of Sweet Dundee

DigiTrad:
THE BANKS OF SWEET DUNDEE
THE BANKS OF SWEET DUNDEE (2)


RobbieWilson 29 Aug 08 - 05:40 AM
maeve 29 Aug 08 - 08:10 AM
maeve 29 Aug 08 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,doc.tom 29 Aug 08 - 08:48 AM
Nerd 29 Aug 08 - 10:45 AM
GUEST 29 Aug 08 - 11:03 AM
Nerd 29 Aug 08 - 12:35 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Aug 08 - 01:01 PM
Joe Offer 29 Aug 08 - 03:07 PM
Joe Offer 29 Aug 08 - 03:45 PM
Joe Offer 29 Aug 08 - 04:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Aug 08 - 07:12 PM
Billy Weeks 30 Aug 08 - 07:09 AM
Nerd 30 Aug 08 - 10:49 AM
Nerd 30 Aug 08 - 11:06 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Aug 08 - 01:41 PM
Joe Offer 30 Aug 08 - 01:59 PM
Joe Offer 30 Aug 08 - 03:24 PM
Joe Offer 30 Aug 08 - 03:30 PM
Nerd 30 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM
RobbieWilson 30 Aug 08 - 04:03 PM
Joe Offer 30 Aug 08 - 04:08 PM
Nerd 31 Aug 08 - 12:54 AM
Steve Gardham 31 Aug 08 - 04:49 PM
RobbieWilson 31 Aug 08 - 11:36 PM
Nerd 01 Sep 08 - 02:26 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Sep 08 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,Paul B 01 Sep 08 - 11:58 AM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 08 - 02:25 PM
RobbieWilson 02 Sep 08 - 07:52 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Sep 08 - 01:13 AM
Snuffy 03 Sep 08 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,leeneia 03 Sep 08 - 11:38 AM
Effsee 03 Sep 08 - 03:19 PM
Megan L 03 Sep 08 - 03:26 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Sep 08 - 04:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Sep 08 - 04:28 PM
Effsee 03 Sep 08 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Sep 08 - 10:05 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Sep 08 - 02:04 PM
Snuffy 04 Sep 08 - 06:54 PM
Jim Dixon 21 Apr 09 - 02:05 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 14 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Jan 14 - 09:54 AM
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Subject: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 05:40 AM

Does anyone know anything about this song? Sharp collected it in the Appalachians but where are its roots? Is it based on a real river whose name has been corrupted to dundee or is it simply a made up melodrama?

If it did start out life as a pop song of its day has it become a folk song because an acedemic wrote it down and 120 years later someone reads it and starts to sing it even there was no tradition of anyone in their community singing this song?

I like the song because its one where the girl wins out by her actions( well at least she ends up better off than all the male players) and not just by waiting around for seven years. I know of it through the singing of Pete Morton who used to do good versions of a lot of old songs but seems to concentrate on his own stuff mostly these days.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: maeve
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 08:10 AM

My understanding is that it's from an English broadside... and I assumed the name of the river indicated a reference to Dundee in Scotland. Sharp collected it. I'm sure one of our Mudcat scholars will post soon. I don't have the lyrics or tune in the accessible part of my collection.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: maeve
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 08:21 AM

You already mentioned Sharp. Sorry. I'm doddling around on google right now, and now have the lyrics and melody to refresh my memory.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 08:48 AM

Pending young Mr. Douglas contributing, wasn't this the song Sharp gave up collecting because 'every' singer had it? Yankee Jack (John Short)sang a set to a Heave Away Me Johnnies shanty. My set was 'corrercted'from Charlie Bate in Cornwall in the 1960s - "Not bad Boy, but down here we used to sing it like this", nobody ever knew he knew it!
Tom


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 10:45 AM

It is indeed from a British Broadside. You can see examples at the Bodleian Library's broadsides site.

Interestingly, most versions say "The Banks of Sweet Dundee," not "THE sweet Dundee," so we don't have to assume that Dundee is the name of the river. Given that, it could well be set near Dundee on the Tay.

That's what the National Library of Scotland has decided...you can see a version of the broadside, and their comments, here.

There was also a sequel ballad, in which William returns home from sea and tests her loyalty by disguising himself and telling her "I knew William and saw him die," and watching her go mad, then saying "just fooling, I am William!" Typical broadside stuff, and they live happily ever after. You can search at the Bodleian for "Answer to Undaunted Mary" to find that one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 11:03 AM

most versions say "The Banks of Sweet Dundee," not "THE sweet Dundee," so we don't have to assume that Dundee is the name of the river.

Since when do towns have 'banks' (apart from the financial sort, of course)???

No, the name is of a river. Unforunately it doesn't exist... The truth is nobody knows.

I think we're best quoting the admirable Steve Roud:
(copied from http://www.tradsong.org/peri.htm)

Ruairidh Greig, suggested that the former should actually be spelt The Banks of the Sweet Dun Dee, because the River Dee was once a dirty brown colour, but I was not convinced by this suggestion however ingenious it may sound, and I cannot find any evidence that the Dee was ever that colour. But his suggestion proved to be just the clue that I needed. On the way home I mused over the problem and with the aid of my indexes (of which you may have heard) and my expert knowledge of the subject of Folk Song, I can clear up this mystery. In fact, the 'Dee' part of the tide is a red herring as it was introduced into the song by a short-sighted broadside printer in the early 19th cent". This can be easily tested. Working by candlelight, take your glasses off, close your good eye, and read the title of the Catnach broadside of the song and you will discover that it should read Banks of the Sweet Dun Cow - and this is obviously what it was originally. This makes the whole thing quite clear, and indeed it sheds important light on the real meaning (hidden for over 100 years) of the whole song. By checking the standard social histories of the 19th century, one can easily discover that when the Rochdale Pioneers formed the Co-op Bank they couldn't afford proper premises and anyway all the decent corner properties were already owned by their rivals, so they hired a room in the back of the pub called the Dun Cow, and their potential customers were thus exhorted to 'bank at the sweet Dun Cow' (I am not sure why it was called the sweet Dun Cow - perhaps there were two in the town and this one also sold confectionery). In the light of this new knowledge one can see that the whole song is about the working classes (given the heroic title Undaunted Mary) slaying the capitalist bosses (the Squire) and thereby gaining their wealth.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 12:35 PM

GUEST, it's not that unusual for the banks of a river, located in a town or region, to be referred to as "the banks of the town or region of so-and-so." In balladry, the "Bonnie Banks o Fordie" is an example, Fordie being a region near Dunkeld that had a pretty burn running through it, not a river named the Fordie. Thus, it is the banks of Fordie, not the banks of the Fordie.

A modern example of this usage would be this site, which has a photo caption stating "Picture of fisherman and Atlantic Salmon statues displayed along the banks of the town of Campbellton, New Brunswick in Canada."

Also, "banks" was used to refer to earthworks, levees, dykes or sea walls used to shore up a town from encroachment by seas or river surges. An example would be the charter for the town of Poole, dated November 24, 1667, which authorizes taxation "for and towards the necessary reparations of the bridges, walls, and banks of the town and county aforesaid...." Since Dundee does have a sea wall, and is known to be on an estuary, it's not hard to imagine an imaginative writer referring to "banks."

This is, or course, only one theory, and it may be just as you say: a fictional river called the Dundee, which can join "Scarlet Town" and other fine fictional ballad locales in our mythic geography.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the sweet Dundee
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 01:01 PM

Bank can simply be raised earth or a hillside. 'The Banks of Sweet Primroses' is not a river bank, just a slope where grow lots of primroses. Could be a river bank but it doesn't have to be.

My money's on some hillsides in a park in Dundee, or even the banks of the sea there.

Catnach printed it as did many of the printers of the early 19thc but I haven't seen any pre-1800 versions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of Sweet Dundee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 03:07 PM

There's certainly a lot about the song in the Traditional Ballad Index:

    Banks of Dundee, The (Undaunted Mary) [Laws M25]

    DESCRIPTION: A rich girl, now living with her uncle, falls in love with Willie, a plowboy. Since her uncle wants her to marry a squire, he tries to have Willie pressed. The squire attempts to take Mary; she shoots him, then her uncle. Mary then is free to marry Willie
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: before 1845 (broadside, Harding B 11(3942))
    KEYWORDS: love death marriage poverty rape
    FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England,Scotland) Ireland
    REFERENCES (22 citations):
    Laws M25, "The Banks of Dundee (Undaunted Mary)"
    Ford-Vagabond, pp. 78-81, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    O'Conor, p. 68, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text)
    McBride 5, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Eddy 54, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text)
    Gardner/Chickering 69, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more, 1 tune)
    Belden, pp. 137-139, "The Banks of Dundee" (2 texts, 1 tune)
    Chappell-FSRA 58, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text)
    Randolph 62, "On the Banks of Sweet Dundee" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
    Randolph/Cohen, pp. 85-88, "On the Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 62A)
    SharpAp 67, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
    Creighton/Senior, pp. 128-130, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (2 texts, 1 tune)
    Creighton-Maritime, p. 38, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Mackenzie 23, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text)
    Leach, pp. 740-741, "The Banks of Dundee" (1 text)
    Leach-Labrador 14, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Lehr/Best 6, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    FSCatskills 50, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Ord, pp. 406-407, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (1 text)
    Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 200-201, "The Banks of Sweet Dandee" (1 text, 1 tune)
    JHCox 119, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (2 texts)
    DT 318, SWTDUNDE* SWYDUND2*

    Roud #148
    RECORDINGS:
    Bob Brader, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (on Voice15)
    Michael "Straighty" Flanagan, "Banks of Sweet Dundee" (on IRClare01)
    Tony Wales, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" (on TWales1)

    BROADSIDES:
    Bodleian, Harding B 11(3942), "Undaunted Mary" or "The Banks of Sweet Dundee", J. Pitts (London), 1819-1844; also Harding B 15(339a), Harding B 11(67), Harding B 11(834), Johnson Ballads 612A, Harding B 11(3944), Firth c.12(262), Harding B 11(2540), Harding B 11(3943), "Undaunted Mary" or "The Banks of Sweet Dundee"; Harding B 11(91), Firth c.12(258), Harding B 11(92), 2806 c.16(53), Harding B 11(1429), Firth c.18(252), 2806 c.16(52), "Answer to Undaunted Mary" or "The Banks of Sweet Dundee"; Harding B 11(93), Harding B 17(10b), "Answer to Undaunted Mary"; Firth c.26(255), Harding B 18(25), 2806 c.14(15)[partly illegible], "Banks of Sweet Dundee" [same as LOCSinging as200230]; Firth c.12(260), "Undaunted Mary, On the Banks of Sweet Dundee"; 2806 c.16(263), "Undaunted Mary"
    LOCSinging, as200230, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee", H. De Marsan (New York), 1861-1864; also as111340, "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" [same as Bodleian Harding B 18(25)]
    Murray, Mu23-y1:094, "Undaunted Mary on The Banks of Sweet Dundee", James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C
    NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(110a), "Banks of Sweet Dundee," unknown, c. 1890; also RB.m.143(034), "Banks of Sweet Dundee"

    Notes: Broadside LOCSinging as200230: H. De Marsan dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
    File: LM25

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


There are two versions of the song in the Digital Tradition. The first one was collected by Sharp (English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians). The second one is from Folk Songs of the Catskills, by Cazden, Haufrecht, and Studer.


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Subject: DT Corr: Banks of Sweet Dundee (2)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 03:45 PM

The Second DT Version has some OCR errors. I'll post a corrected version here.

THE BANKS OF SWEET DUNDEE (2)

It's of a wealthy farmer, lived on the banks of sweet Dundee,
He died and left his daughter ten thousand pounds in gold.
He died and left his daughter ten thousand pounds in gold,
He left it with her uncle, her uncle to control.

Her uncle had a plowboy that Mary loved quite well;
Into the garden all alone all tales of love they'd tell.

One morning very early, her uncle, he arose;
He tapped at her bed-window: "Arise, put on your clothes.
Arise, my lovelie Mary, a Lady you shall be,
For there's a Squire waiting for you on the banks of sweet Dundee

"I care not for your squires, your lords nor dukes likewise
For William's eyes like diamonds shine, and they sparkle to my eyes,"
"Go 'way, you unruly female, happy you never shall be,
I will press young William from the banks of sweet Dundee."

The press gang, it was sent for, poor Bill was all alone;
He boldly fought for liberty, but there were ten to one
"Kill me now," says William, "Kill me now, " said he,
"For here I will die for Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee."

Mary went a-walking, lamenting for her love,
She met there with the Squire down in her uncle's grove.

He put his arms around her, he thought to set her down;
Two pistols and a sword she saw beneath his morning-gown.
She put her hand on one of them she could use quite free:
The trigger she drew and the Squire slew on the banks of sweet Dundee

Her uncle, hearing that report, down to the grove he ran,
Saying, "You have killed a squire, I'll give you a deadili wownd."
"Stand off, stand off," cried Mary, "daunted I never shall be!"
The trigger she drew and her uncle slew on the banks of sweet Dundee.

A doctor, he was sent for, a man of noble skill;
Likewise a noble lawyer for to write down the Will.
They willed all the gold to Mary, who'd fought so valiantly,
Willed all of the gold to Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

From Folk Songs of the Catskills, Cazden, Haufrecht, and Studer
DT #318
Laws M25
Collected from George Edwards
@love @recruit    @death
filename[ SWTDUND2
TUNE FILE: SWTDUND2
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


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Subject: ADD Version: Banks of Sweet Dundee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 04:48 PM

The Banks of Sweet Dundee

It's of a farmer's daughter, So beautiful I'm told,
Her parents died and left her Five hundred pounds in gold
She lived with her uncle, The cause of all her woe,
You soon shall hear how this maiden fair Did prove his overthrow.

Her uncle had a ploughboy Young Mary loved full well,
And in her uncle's garden Sweet tales of love would tell
There was a wealthy squire Who oft came her to see,
But still she loved the ploughboy
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

It was on a summer's morning Her uncle went straightway,
He knocked at Mary's bedroom door, And unto her did say-
"Come rise, my pretty maiden, A lady you may be,
The squire is waiting for you
On the banks of sweet Dundee."

"A fig for all your squires, Your lords and dukes likewise!
My William he appears to me Like diamonds in my eyes."
"Begone, unruly female, You ne'er shall happy be!
I mean to banish William
From the banks of sweet Dundee."

Her uncle and the squire Rode out one summer's day;
"Young William he's in favour," Her uncle he did say
Indeed 'tis my intention To tie him to a tree,
Or else to bribe the press-gang
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

The press-gang came to William When he was all alone,
He boldly fought for liberty, But they were six to one.
The blood did flow in torrents- "Pray, kill me now," said he,
"I would rather die for Mary
On the banks of sweet Dundee."

This maid, one day, was walking, Lamenting for her love,
She met the wealthy squire Down in her uncle's grove;
He put his arms around her; "Stand off, base man," said she,
"For you've banished the only man I love
From the banks of sweet Dundee."

He clasped his arms around her, And tried to throw her down,
Two pistols and a sword she spied Beneath his morning gown.
Young Mary took the pistols, His sword he used so free,
Then she did fire, and she shot the squire
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

Her uncle overheard the noise, And he hasten'd to the ground
"Oh, since you shot the squire, I'll give you your death-wound!"
"Stand off, then," cried young Mary, "Undaunted I will be."
She the trigger drew, and her uncle slew,
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

A doctor soon was sent for, A man of noted skill,
Likewise there came a lawyer, To sign her uncle's will.
He will'd his gold to Mary, Who fought so manfully,
Then he closed his eyes, no more to rise,
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

Young William, he was sent for And quickly he did return.
As soon as he came back again, Young Mary ceased to mourn.
The day it was appointed, They joined their hands so free;
And now they live in splendour
On the banks of sweet Dundee.


from the 1997 Andy M. Stewart CD, Donegal Rain. Stewart learned the song from the singing of Joe Heaney. It is very similar to the text of "Undaunted Mary" that you'll find at contemplator.com. The Contemplator text came from English Folk-Songs Collected and Arranged by Wm. Alexr. Barrett [Novello, Ewer & Co. London, 1891].
The Contemplator text ends with this verse:
    The doctor soon was sent for, A man of noted skill,
    Likewise came his lawyer, For him to make his will.
    He will'd his gold to Mary, Who fought so manfully,
    And now she lives quite happy
    On the banks of sweet Dundee
HOWEVER the Andy M. Stewart recording has an extra last verse (in italics above) that came from John Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads (1930), and that verse changes the story completely. This happy ending doesn't sound quite authentic, since ballads aren't supposed to have happy endings - but I like it. I suppose it defies Ballad Logic to have the uncle will all his gold to the "unruly female"; but I think I detect a good dose of incestuous interest on the part of the uncle, and that may have driven him to such folly. Stewart's tune sounds almost like "Lakes of Ponchartrain" to me, but not quite. And I'm still thinking about that "Dun Dee Cow" part of the story. It's not a done deal for me, that's for sure....

-Joe-

I looked at the song in Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads (pp 406-407). The Stewart recording is almost exactly the same as the text of the whole song in Ord - I think there are two words different. Ord does not cite a source for his version - I wonder if there are other versions with this "happy ending." Anybody have the Joe Heaney version?


Still later note: this is almost the same as #224A in the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection (Volume 2) - singer was William Watson. Other similar versions - both with the same "happy ending" are #224B (singer Alexander MacKay) and #224K (James Cheyne). #224J (A. Fowlie) is also very similar, but lacks the final "happy ending" verse. Other versions in Greig-Duncan Volume 2 are fragments or tunes. In short, there's nothing in Volume 2 of Greig-Duncan that's different enough for me to bother posting - but wait until you see what I found in Volume 5.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 07:12 PM

An abbreviated 'happy' ending appears in a broadside at the Bodleian, Harding B 15(339), Undaunted Mary, or The Banks of Sweet Dundee.
"He willed his gold to Mary, who fought so manfully,
And now she lives so happy on the banks of sweet Dundee."
I did not find the 4-line 'happy' verse at the Bodleian- prob. an add-on by Heaney.

The version posted by Joe Offer (minus the last happy verse) matches closely "Undaunted Mary," Ballads Catalogue 2606 c16(263), in the Bodleian Collection, printed by Peel, Oldham.

The earliest of the several broadsides at the Bodleian is dated c. 1819-1844 (Pitts, London)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 07:09 AM

'And now she lives all lonely on the banks of sweet Dundee'. Tragic, Joe. I think William must have bled to death.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 10:49 AM

Re: the four-line "Happy" verse.

It is in Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads (1930). (Not added by Joe Heaney then--Q must have misread Joe's posts).

This verse is also in Robert Ford's Vagabond Songs and Ballads (1899) p. 77-80, so it wasn't added by Ord, either.

The Gypsy singer Danny Brazil sang this verse, according to:

Shepheard, Peter. Folk Songs and Ballads of the Brazil Family of Gloucester (1967).

According to the Voice of the People Notes online at Musical Traditions, the verse was found on broadsides by Durham printer George Walker:

The popularity was such that a 'follow-up' sheet, The Answer to Undaunted Mary, was also produced, although the latter does not appear to have lasted well in tradition. George Walker, a Durham printer, did without the Answer sheet by ending his version of the original ballad thus:

    Young William he was sent for, and quickly did return,
    As soon as he came back again, Young Mary ceased to mourn;
    The day it was appointed, they joined their hands so free,
    And now they live in splendour on the banks of the sweet Dundee.


More anon...I see a good note in an old Journal of American Folklore...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 11:06 AM

Here is the note as printed by Tolman and Eddy in the Journal of American Folk-Lore, Vol. 35 (1922). They are quite right that the "Answer" really exists as two separate ballads that tell a very similar story. Likely a hack for some Broadside printer read the first but did not buy a copy, then re-wrote the ballad himself from what he remembered. Also, from this we learn that the four-line happy ending occurs in Grieg as well, so it was around in Scottish oral tradition. Okay, here's the note:

There are two songs which go by the name of "The Banks of Sweet Dundee." The original song to which Professor Tolman's text belongs and his references apply and which is also known as Undaunted Mary is common in English broadsides. It runs to ten stanzas. See Harvard broadsides as follows 25242.17, vi, 149, and ix, 79 (Bebbington, Manchester, No 83); vii, 117 (Catnach); xi, 15 (Such); Pitts; George Walker, Durham, No 6. The Walker broadside has an additional stanza which appears also in Ford (as cited above) and in the text collected by Greig in Scotland "Folk Song of the North East" Ixvi For America see "De Witt's Forget Me Not Songster" p 94; "We Parted by the River Side Songster," (New York cop 1869) p 44; "Henry de Marsan's New Comic and Sentimental Singers Journal," i 37 No 5; "Irish Come All Ye's p 68; "Delaney's Scotch Song Book No l" (New York) p 3; "Wehman's Irish Song Book No I" (New York cop 1887) p 117; "Wehman Bros Pocket Size Irish Song Book No 2" (New York cop 1909) pp 6-7; Wehman broadside No 274; Andrews broadside, List 6, No 81. An imperfect copy was taken down in 1910 by Mr FC Walker in St John New Brunswick. Mackenzie pp 47-48 prints a Nova Scotian version.

The other song is a sequel or answer. This is the piece published by Christie, 1 258-259 as "The Banks of Sweet Dundee." It recounts the heroic deeds of Mary's lover who has been pressed into the navy and tells of their happy reunion. Harvard College has it in broadsides issued by John Ross (Newcastle) No 19 25242.17 iv 184, and JO Bebbington (Manchester) No 320 25242.17 x 68; and Greig gives a text Folk Song of the North East xxx. A somewhat different answer telling the same story is in broadsides issued by Ryle & Co, 25242.17 vii 238 and C. Paul I have no record of the printing of either answer in America.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 01:41 PM

Thanks very much for the information. Yes, I did mis-read Joe's post.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 01:59 PM

Gee, this is great. OK, so now we can we find and post a text for the answer? I found two answer versions in Greig-Duncan - I'll post them within the hour, unless the Higher Authority in the household finds more chores for me.

-Joe-


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Subject: ADD: William's Return to Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 03:24 PM

So, here's one version of the answer. Does the plot sound familiar?

Greig-Duncan #1046A (Volume 5)

WILLIAM'S RETURN TO THE BANKS OF SWEET DUNDEE

Young William was a ploughboy, the truth I will unfold
He was parted from his Mary for the sake of cursed gold
He was torn from his Mary and sent to plough the sea
While she lamented sorely on the banks of sweet Dundee.

2 But Fortune smiled on William while he was on the main
Yet the thought of his dear Mary oft filled his mind with pain.
For the sake of her he loved so well he was banished o'er the sea
To plough the briny ocean from the banks of sweet Dundee.

3 Young William from the fore-top a strange sail he did spy
The captain viewed her and said, I think she does lay by.
Come clear the deck for action, my heroes bold and free
Then William thought of Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

4 At length the bloody fight began, the cannons loud did roar,
And many a gallant seaman lay bleeding in his gore.
Young William by a musket shot was wounded on the knee
And as he fell, he cried Farewell to the banks of sweet Dundee.

5 At length she struck her colours, with victory they were crowned.
Freighted with stores of riches to England they were bound.
When they arrived in England each man was paid so free,
That William hastened to Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

6 When he arrived in sweet Dundee he was walking all alone
He said, My pretty maiden why do you sigh and mourn?
She said, My William that was banished from me
And sent across the ocean from the banks of sweet Dundee.

7 If William was your lover's name I knew that young man well
When boarding off a Spanish ship young William he fell.
And as he lay in grief and pain these words he said to me,
Tell Mary I shall ne'er return to the banks o' sweet Dundee.

8 When this she heard, then down she fell and gave a bitter cry,
If William's dead then broken-hearted I'll wander till I die.
It's cursed gold has caused all my grief and misery
And left me broken-hearted on the banks of sweet Dundee.

9 He said, Fair maid, dry up your tears, I am your William
That has returned with gold in store unto my native land
Unto the seas I'll bid adieu and we'll for ever happy be
So now we'll get married on the banks of sweet Dundee.

Singer: F.R. BROWN — G


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Subject: ADD: Banks of the Sweet Dundee (Answer)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 03:30 PM

So, here's the other one. Same old, trite plot - the guy has to lie to her and tell her he's dead, and then reveal he's alive. I think the "happy ending" verse of 'Banks of Sweet Dundee' is far more satisfying.
-Joe-

Greig-Duncan #1046B (Volume 5)

WILLIAM'S RETURN TO THE BANKS OF SWEET DUNDEE

Young William was a plough-boy, the truth I will unfold.
He was parted from his Mary for the sake of cursed gold.
He was torn from his Mary and sent to plough the sea.
While she lamented sorely on the banks of sweet Dundee.

At length the war is over and home the men return
Unto their sweethearts and their wives they left behind to mourn.
When they arrived at Liverpool each man was paid so free.
And William flew to Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

As on the banks of sweet Dundee he was walking all alone,
He said. "My pretty fair maid why do you sigh and mourn"
She said. "It's for my William that was banished far from me
Across the briny ocean from the banks of sweet Dundee."

"If William was your true love's name I knew that young man well.
While boarding of a Spanish ship your young William fell.
And as he lay in grief and pain this words he said to me,
'Tell Mary I will never return to the banks of sweet Dundee.'

When that she heard then down she fell and gave a bitter cry:
"If William's dead, I'll wander broken-hearted till I die.
It's cursed gold that's caused all this grief and misery
And left me broken-hearted on the banks of sweet Dundee."

"Dry up your tears my Mary dear for I am your William.
Once more I have returned to my own dear native land.
And I've got stores of riches so we'll ever happy be,
Then let us both be married on the banks of sweet Dundee."

Singer: Miss BELL ROBERTSON - G


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM

Good work, Joe! Those are both versions of the same broadside. The other broadside variant began "There was a pretty Ploughboy, and William was his name."

You can find the actual broadsides online at the Bodleian. One example is
this one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 04:03 PM

Thank you to everyone who has responded but I'm afraid none of this takes me any further than I had already gone with my own research. There are indeed a number of broadsides of this song and the answer song printed in the second half of 19th Century but I am doubtful that this is the start of the story. Doubtful but not definitely dismissive. Is the song a victorian music hall song "in the folk style" or was that just when the old song got comitted to paper?

Are we all agreed there is no river Dundee?

The anonymous guest joke attreibuted to Steve Roud was actually written by Abby Sale in a thread all about fakelore, by the way


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Subject: ADD: Answer to UNDAUNTED MARY
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 04:08 PM

Hi, Robbie. Thanks for reminding us of the original question. We'll get there, but we tend to dig up whatever we can on songs when we start to work on them. I guess I'd have to say I don't think we'll find an answer. The earliest broadside I found at Bodleian was this one (click), without the "happy ending:
    Printer: Pitts, J. (London) [Pitts Wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse]
    Date: between 1819 and 1844
I don't see any clue where the song came from before that. It does seem to fit into the early 19th century style.

Let's see if I can OCR the "answer" version that Nerd found at Bodleian Library


Answer to Undaunted Mary, or the Banks of Sweet Dundee

IT'S of a pretty ploughboy, young William was his name,
He fell in love with Mary, of honour an great fame,
But her uncle was so cruel, as you shall understand,
He had him pressed and sent to sea from his native land.

In crossing of the ocean a French ship hove in sight,
All hands on deck, the captain said, to have a glorious fight,
But William like a hero bold, he fought so manfully,
When he thought of young Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

And broadside for broadside they did let fly,
And many a British sailor bold upon the deck did die,
And among lay young William wounded in the knee,
But his mind was fixed on Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

The French ship struck her colours and quickly bore away,
But the tars of courage bold soon showed them British play;
They boarded her immediately and gained the victory,
And William drank to Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

So now the prize is taken they returned home with speed,
And William got a pension for the wound he did receive,
And for his noble valour they paid him off quite free,
So now he has returned again to the banks of sweet Dundee.

A tarry jacket and trousers blue young William had on.
He came into the house where his true love did belong;
Take pity pray, young lady gay, and give relief to me
That wanders here in deep distress on the banks of sweet Dundee.

I oncee had a true love, young William was his name,
And in those cruel wars I'm told he was slain,
And whilst I live I'll give it to a sailor bold and free,
That wanders here in deep distress on the banks of sweet Dundee.

If your true love was William, I knew the young man well,
And by a shot from the French he quicky fell
And as he lay I heard him say. how cruel they must be,
That press'd me from young Mary on the banks of sweet Dundee.

When Mary heard this dreadful news she ran in deep despair.
The tears ran down her cheeks, she tore her auburn hair;
Saying, it was my cruel uncle that parted him from me,
But I caused his overthrow on the banks of sweet Dundee.

When William heard her loyalty the tears flowed again,
He said, lovely Mary, I'm the man you thought was slain,
But Providence protected me and from danger set me free,
And our days we'll spend in splendour on the banks of sweet Dundee.

And since it is young William, married we will be,
The lands and god my uncle had, he willed unto me;
The bells did ring, the lads did sing, and each heart was filled with glee,
When these lovers were wed on the banks of sweet Dundee.


Printer: Such, H. (London)
Date: between 1863 and 1885


I admit to having salacious thoughts when I ponder this couplet:
    And whilst I live I'll give it to a sailor bold and free,
    That wanders here in deep distress on the banks of sweet Dundee.


-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 12:54 AM

Robbie,

There is no river Dundee, but as several of us have said, that isn't what "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" is likely to mean anyway. It is likely to mean "the slopes, earthworks or riverbanks located in the burgh of Dundee."

As for your other question, I see no reason to assume it did not originate on a broadside. You suggested music-hall as an origin, but broadsides of this song were already being printed in the era that saw the genesis of the music-hall (1819-1844). So if it ever was a music-hall song, it made the jump almost immediately to a broadside anyway and became a broadside song.

It's possible that the song comes from an earlier time, and was just committed to paper in the 19th century, as you suggest, but I doubt it. As Joe says, it has the style of 19th century broadsides, not earlier folk ballads. Also, in the case of older songs, we tend to see more variation in the oral versions that survive. Think Gypsy Laddies, which is only demonstrably about 100 years older, but which we find with opening lines as varied as

Three Gypsies Came to Our Hall Door

Blackjack Davey Came a ridin' through the woods

'Twas way out in New Mexico along the Spanish line

There were seven yellow gypsies and all in a row

etc., etc.

We see little of this variation in "Banks of Sweet Dundee," so I would suspect it was just what it appeared to be: a broadside song.

I guess the question that might occur to me is, what about it makes you feel it's older?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 04:49 PM

Robbie,
It actually tells you in the description who wrote the spoof explanation. He is Ruairidh Greig of Grimsby, noted wag and scholar and member of the TSF on whose website it appears.

Sometimes it turns out that these early 19thc broadsides are reprints of earlier printings or rewrites, but in this case take it from someone currently researching into 18thc printings, it is highly unlikely that this one goes back any further than 1800. It is very typical of its period and type, and Music Hall, definitely not, not even supper room type; the Music Halls as such didn't get under way until about 1850.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 11:36 PM

Thank you all once more for your responses. Each time I come into this place I understand a little more about the songs I sing.   Among the things of which I am stll ignorant about music of this period is, where would these broadside ballads be performed.?

The other thing that puzzles me is the lack of composers name on any of the prints of this song which I have looked at. Is this because there was no such thing as royalties so all of the money went to the printer?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Nerd
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 02:26 AM

Hi Robbie,

Yes, you've pretty much got it. The writers generally worked for the printers, and were not usually acknowledged for their creations. Nowadays we'd say they created the songs on a "for hire" basis, giving the printer who commissioned the song all the rights. They wrote the words to these songs specifically for the broadside trade. Printers also stole from each other, so the same song would make the rounds of all the printers.

Usually, the songs were printed words-only. The writer often had a tune in mind, and would set "to the tune of such and such" before the ballad. But sometimes (many times) no tune survives for a broadside song that did not enter oral tradition.

Nowadays the best source of tunes is the oral tradition, as collected either in manuscript or on cylinder/disc/tape. Also, some folk revival singers (such as Nic Jones) specialize in creating tunes for great broadsides that had only words.

One prominent place where these songs would be performed is in the market. The hawker who sold the broadsides often sang the songs as he stood in his market-stall. They would also be sung socially, in pubs, private homes, and social gatherings, and even (for example) while walking two hours to and from work!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 10:46 AM

Robbie,
To add to Nerd's catalogue of info, in many cases the broadsides were pasted up on pub or cottage walls, so this would reinforce their usage. Some of our more celebrated trad singers like Harry Cox learnt much of their repertoire from broadsides. Only a very few writers were allowed to have their names put on the broadsides in later years, George Brown, T Wise, John Morgan.
During the 17thc this was a little more common with writers like Martin Parker, Richard Leveridge, Lawrence Price and Thomas Deloney. Sometimes while some of our more celebrated poets were honing their craft they made a living by writing ballads for the printers, but we have little info on this.
If you want to delve deeper some of Leslie Shepard's books on street literature are very helpful.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: GUEST,Paul B
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 11:58 AM

Just a quick note to say that Danny Brazil certainly did always used to sing the "happy" version - it was quite a favourite song of his. He also used to be quite insistent that "Dundee" was a river in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 02:25 PM

It sometimes frustrates me that broadsides don't have melodies. But hey, here in Northern California, probably the most significant songwriter in our history was John A. Stone ("Old Put"), who published two "songsters" that were widely used by the miners of the Gold Rush. I don't think any of Stone's songs had an original tune - they were all sung to some earlier, well-known tune.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 07:52 PM

So is the consesus that the song was written for publishing as a broadside in early 19th c. a creation of the Tin Pan Alley of it's day?

Is there any evidence of a trail of oral transmission or has the song just been revived from written records?

All this stuff fascinates me. Thank you to everyone who has passed on the fruits of their learning


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 01:13 AM

Yes. C19 cheap print for sure.

The song has persisted in oral currency to the present day; some of the singers mentioned in this thread belonged to the old tradition (and it may be that they are not all yet dead), while others who are essentially revivalists may have learned it from traditional sources (or recordings of them), though of course some will have learned it from books or other revival performers.

Have a look at the Roud Folk Song Index (search for 148 in the 'Roud number' field) for an extensive listing of examples from tradition (print, manuscript or recording), and note the dates. That will give you some idea.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Snuffy
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 08:34 AM

Robbie,

The double cassette of field recordings Many a Good Haorseman from Veteran Records contains two versions collected in Mid-Suffolk in 1959/60.

I learned Stan Steggles' version, and will sing it for you if you're at Bromyard as usual.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 11:38 AM

Two points here:

1. Here are two 'Williams" to add to the body of scholarly work on anti-William tendencies in traditional song. The first instance is pro-William (notable for its rarity.) The second, in the answer ballad, was probably meant to show a good William, but his cheap trick upon his return weakens the case.

2. I have found it great fun to use GoogleEarth to look at the places mentioned in old songs. You can download GoogleEarth for free if your computer is fairly modern.

Go to GoogleEarth and enter 'Dundee Scotland' in the search box. You will see that Dundee is located on a huge fjord. There are banks everywhere you look. Upstream, downstream, and across the broad water.

Scots probably call it a firth.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Effsee
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 03:19 PM

Actually leeneia, it's called the Firth of Tay, and in geographical terms it's an estuary. The Tay being the name of the river.
As someone who was born in Dundee I can confirm the existence of many banks. In fact lots of the street names include the word. Lilybank Road, Forebank Road, Rosebank Terrace etc.
However, I'm not convinced that this song has any connection with my hometown, mainly by the use of the word "squire", which I don't think is common in Scottish ballads.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Megan L
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 03:26 PM

Ach Effsee thon explains a lot aboot ye yer jist as glaikit as ma platie Mckenzie cousins.

* hobbles aff tae the door


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 04:11 PM

The use of 'squire' is certainly interesting. Did they have squires in Scotland in the early 19thc? However all of the many broadside printings insist on Dundee and until we find another 'Dundee' we must assume that the Scottish one is intended. Of course it is unlikely that the ballad was written in Scotland anyway and as most of these early 19thc broadsides are totally fictional anyway Dundee may simply have been chosen because of its stress on the second syllable and the ee sound being one of the easiest to rhyme as Scottish big ballads will attest, some of them with many verses all totally reliant on the ee rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 04:28 PM

"Dundee" as a town name is well-known outside Scotland. "Dundee marmalade"- is there any other? When Scotland is mentioned, Dundee pops into the mind even before Edinburgh, Glasgow.

And there are steam-dozen songs mentioning Dundee.

(There is a Dundee in the States- Florida).

And as Steve says, the writer may never have been to Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Effsee
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 04:32 PM

Ach yersel' Megan! Eh wiz aff the pletty by the time Eh wiz 10 months!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Sep 08 - 10:05 AM

Let's face it. The whole song was a 'fill-in-the-blanks' operation.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Sep 08 - 02:04 PM

leen,
Pretty much!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of the Sweet Dundee
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Sep 08 - 06:54 PM

But it was always Dundee in this song. There are some broadsides where it's The Rose of Enter placename here.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BETSY OF DUNDEE (from Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 02:05 PM

Although this song has the same repeated phrase "banks of sweet Dundee" it is really a different song. The Bodleian collection has several versions. The one below is a composite; I have compared them all and selected the most felicitous phrases, but I have preserved most of the alternates in the footnotes.


BETSY OF DUNDEE.

1. You sailors of this nation, I pray you give attention.
It is no false invention, as plainly you may see:
My parents in this nation they live by cultivation
In rural habitation near the banks of sweet Dundee.

2. When young, I took the ocean for riches and promotion,
All with an inclination strange countries for to see;
But the wars they being over, I was discharged at Dover,
And then returned a rover to the banks of sweet Dundee.

3. To rambling I inclined. My parents seldom minded,
For they by love were blinded and partial unto me.
Fair maidens always courting, from nymph to nymph resorting,
My time I spent in sporting on the banks of sweet Dundee.

4. Till at length a lovely maiden my youthful heart invaded.
Beneath the fragrant shade, I espied this lovely she.
Without deliberation, I asked her habitation.
In accents sweet she answered, "I am Betsy of Dundee."

5. In secret long we courted while the sweet birds round us sported.
The valleys were our chambers; we found them nest secure.
Her parents did divide me and oftentimes did chide me,
And never could abide me because that I was poor.

6. Whilst we our case lamented, a scheme she soon invented,
And harmlessly consented with me to run away.
Her father coming by us, beneath the shade did spy us,
And sternly he drew nigh us on the banks of sweet Dundee.

7. He caught this lovely fair by the ringlets of her hair.
I fell in deep despair. It set my heart aflame.
He said, "I have information you are going to leave this nation,
And drive to desolation our character and fame."

8. She said, "If he had gold, we would never be controlled,
But you would us both enfold with the greatest harmony.
If it's your determination to cause a separation,
In spite of all this nation, with him I'll leave Dundee."

9. He said, "If you're inclined, with an honest upright mind,
This night you shall be joined, so come home along with me."
What pleasure did surround me, and nuptial bands soon crowned me,
And Hymen's chains soon bound me to sweet Betsy of Dundee.

VARIATIONS:
Verse 1, line 1: sailors/lovers
Verse 1, line 3: in/of - they/now - by/in/
Verse 1, line 4: near/on

Verse 2, line 1: riches/honor
Verse 2, line 3: they/now
Verse 2, line 4: And then I/I am now/And now I'm – to/on

Verse 3, line 1: rambling/ramble – seldom/never
Verse 3, line 2: were/was
Verse 3, line 3: maidens/maids I – courting/courted – resorting/resorted
Verse 3, line 4: sporting/courting

Verse 4, line 1: maiden/maid – invaded/betrayed
Verse 4, line 2: I espied/where I spied - this/that/the
Verse 4, line 4: answered, I am/answered me, I'm

Verse 5, line 1: long/love – courted/courting - while/whilst – sweet/small - us sported/were sporting
Verse 5, line 2: were our chambers/was so charming/were so charming – nest/most
Verse 5, line 3: me/us- me/us

Verse 6, line 1: we/thus/this
Verse 6, line 3: did spy/he spied
Verse 6, line 4: sternly he drew nigh us/strangely did he use us - banks of sweet Dundee/sweet banks of the Tay

Verse 7, line 1: caught/seized – lovely/charming – her/the
Verse 7, line 2: I/She - in deep/into – aflame/on flame/inflamed/in flames.
Verse 7, line 4: desolation/desperation – our/your

Verse 8, line 1: said/says – he/I/she – we/she/he - would never/ne'er should
Verse 8, line 2: would/will
Verse 8, line 3: to cause/all for
Verse 8, line 4: this nation/relations

Verse 9, line 1: said/says - - with an honest/all with an
Verse 9, line 3: pleasure/glory – bands/banks - soon crowned/did crown
Verse 9, line 4: Hymen's/Hyment's


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of Sweet Dundee
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 05:21 PM

It was indeed a broadside. We I(Liza DiSavino and A.J. Bodnar) recorded it on an album of Catskill Traditional Music entitled "A Home in the Catskills" on duvoo music a few years ago. We based our version on the one in the Cazden Book, "Songs of the Catskills." That version was sung by George Edwards, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Banks of Sweet Dundee
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Jan 14 - 09:54 AM

The first version linked above in the DT has a pretty good tune. Nice for flute...


There
Em was a fair young lady so
Am lately I've been
Em told. She
G lived with her uncle, the cause
D of all her
Em woes; Her
G uncle had a ploughboy, which Mollie liked quite
Em well. And
C in her uncle's
G garden their
Am tender love did
Em tell.


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