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Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)

Phil Edwards 12 Jul 09 - 08:14 AM
Brian Peters 12 Jul 09 - 12:56 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 01:48 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 01:50 PM
Brian Peters 14 Jul 09 - 03:11 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 04:12 PM
BB 15 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM
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Subject: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 08:14 AM

As sung by Johnny Collins (RIP) on the album Free and Easy.

I asked on another thread about the chords played on this track. Listening to it again, I realised it's different from the various versions of the Wind and Rain/Two Sisters/Binnorie in the Digitrad, in that the girl's killer is her partner rather than her sister - it's like the Wind and Rain meets Hangèd I shall be*.

WIND AND THE RAIN

'Twas early one morning in the month May
Oh the wind and the rain
Two lovers went walking on a hot summer's day
Crying in the dreadful wind and rain

Well he said, O my lady, will you marry me?
And my sweet wife you will always be

But she said, O no, that can never be
For you are much too poor for the support of me

So he spun her around and he stabbed her to the ground
Threw her in deep water where he knew she would drown

But she floated on down to the miller's mill-pond
(repeat)

And the miller fished her out with a long fishing-line
(repeat)

And he's made fiddle-pegs out of her long finger-bones
(repeat)

And he's made a fiddle-bow out of her long yellow hair
(repeat)

But the only tune that fiddle could play
Was Oh the wind and the rain
%he only tune that fiddle could play
Was Crying in the dreadful wind and rain.


Any more information on this version, or other variants of it?

*I found one comment on that thread rather poignant, particularly in the light of the recent loss of Johnny Collins -

Subject: RE: ADD: Hanged I shall be
From: Malcolm Douglas - PM
Date: 02 Nov 05 - 09:24 PM

Thank you, Pete. Very interesting to have specific references to go with the details given with the original broadside. Bruce Olson (sadly no longer with us) would have been very pleased. Do keep us up to date on anything else you find.


Could everyone else keep well, please?


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Subject: RE: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 12:56 PM

I've never seen that version before - the sleeve notes are no help, presumably? I would suspect a recent rewrite here. It's not unknown for verses from one ballad to get mixed up with another by way of the oral process (though it's uncertain whether this kind of thing happened by accident or design), but this doesn't look like that somehow. 'Wind and Rain' versions of Child 10 are historically pretty rare, anyway - there's only one amongst the 97 variants in Bronson, to which can be added the one collected from Dan Tate in 1962 and another from Kilby Snow that the Grateful Dead covered. None of those had the opening verses as listed above.

A great pity Johnny isn't around to ask, of course.


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Subject: RE: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 01:48 PM

Solved! It's a version recorded - and probably rewritten - by the Appalachian autoharpist (John) Kilby Snow. Here are the lyrics, reproduced from a page put up by a singer called Robin Greenstein:

The Wind and Rain

It was early one morning in the month of May
Oh the wind and the rain
Two lovers went walking on a hot summer's day
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He said to the lady "won't you marry me"
"And my little wife you'll always be"

Then he knocked her down and he kicked her around
(repeat)

He hit her in the head with a battering ram
(repeat)

He threw her in the river to drown

He watched her as she floated down
(repeat)

She floated on down to the miller's millstream
He watched her as she floated down

The miller fished her out with a long fishing pole
(repeat)

He made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
(repeat)

He made a fiddle bow of her long curly hair
(repeat)

The only tune that fiddle would play, was
Oh the wind and the rain
The only tune that fiddle would play, was
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

A contemporary review of Kilby Snow's 1969 LP Country Songs and Tunes with Autoharp, written by D.K. Wilgus and published in the Journal of American Folklore 83(329), is informative if a bit sniffy:

His "Wind and Rain" is one of the most interesting ballads recovered recently. The tune and refrain and the stanzas in which a miller fishes a girl from a river and makes a musical instrument of her body belong (as far as we know) to a local tradition of Child 10 ... but the ballad does not tell the tale of sibling rivalry, as does "The Two Sisters." It is instead a "murdered girl type" in which a spurned lover knocks the girl in the head with a battering ram and throws her body into the river. It would seem that a singer, recalling only the conclusion of the ballad, reconstructed the story in terms of the best-known plot in which a girl is murdered. I would suggest "Wexford Girl" (Laws P35) as the model. Kilby Snow is the likely recomposer, as he tells it:

"The first time I ever heard that was my old grandfather [Thomas Snow, a Cherokee Indian also known as Tom Big Bear]... I heard that tune, I don't know, some way or other it just got in my mind. Then the old man died. Went on 'til here I guess just a couple years ago that I thought of that devilish thing. I just happened to be setting there studying about, thinking about the old man ... and that tune come to my mind. So I studied it all up and put it back together as near as I could from remembrance the way that he singed it."

This is illustrative of a number of problems: the textual classification of ballads, the associational relationship of "narrative units," the determining force of a local ballad pattern ("the murdered girl"), and so forth.


I guess one folkie's "problems" are another's "the kind of issues that make the folk process so interesting"...


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Subject: RE: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 01:50 PM

Oops, missing (repeat). Should read

He threw her in the river to drown
(repeat)

He watched her as she floated down
(repeat)

One for the database? I think it's different enough from all the versions of Wind and Rain/Twa Sisters/Binnorie/Swan Swims Bonnie that are there already.


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Subject: RE: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:11 PM

That is very interesting, Pip. I thought I'd read the Kilby Snow lyric on a previous thread, but it was obviously a different version. So here we have, not only a documented example of change during traditional process, but a bit of the singer's back-story too. I'll file that one away, for sure.

There are still differences in Johnny's version, though. Did he (or A N Other) try to Anglicize it? Oddly enough, phrases like "knocked her down and kicked her around" and "hit her in the head with a battering ram" (yes I know, it's horrible) sound more 'traditional' than the rather 'correct' verses in Johnny's version.


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Subject: RE: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 04:12 PM

Yes - there's something a bit modern about

"Threw her in deep water where he knew she would drown"

It's as if the guy's being held to account for what he did. The Kilby Snow version is just unadorned brutality (like the Wexford Girl).


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Subject: RE: Wind and the Rain (NOT Two Sisters)
From: BB
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM

From the notes to Johnny's 'Free and Easy' album, apparently the version was learnt from Hugh Diamond. I'll try to contact him to see if I can find out more.

Barbara


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