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Origins: Down in the Willow Garden

autoharpbob 15 Feb 10 - 07:30 AM
Marje 15 Feb 10 - 08:27 AM
mayomick 15 Feb 10 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Feb 10 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 15 Feb 10 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 15 Feb 10 - 10:03 AM
autoharpbob 15 Feb 10 - 10:11 AM
autoharpbob 15 Feb 10 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 15 Feb 10 - 10:29 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Feb 10 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 15 Feb 10 - 10:51 AM
Marje 15 Feb 10 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 15 Feb 10 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 15 Feb 10 - 11:52 AM
Janie 15 Feb 10 - 01:21 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 15 Feb 10 - 01:33 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Feb 10 - 01:55 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 15 Feb 10 - 02:09 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Feb 10 - 02:35 PM
autoharpbob 15 Feb 10 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,Stephen 17 Apr 10 - 04:36 PM
Taconicus 20 Aug 10 - 12:31 PM
Taconicus 20 Aug 10 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,Dan 26 Feb 13 - 02:24 PM
redhorse 26 Feb 13 - 03:43 PM
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Subject: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: autoharpbob
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 07:30 AM

Trying to learn this, which is listed as a trad US song, with a melody similar to "Roisin the Beau" and am convinced it must be related to "Down in the Sally Gardens", even though the words are very different and the tune is possibly different enough. I still hear them as related. Anyone agree?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Marje
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:27 AM

"Salley" means "willow", so the first lines mean the same thing. But if you mean the US song that the Everlys recorded, I can't really see any resemblance beyond that line. The tunes don't seem to have much in common. Maybe it's just a stock opening line like, "As I walked out one morning..." etc, which Yeats (who wrote Salley Gardens) picked to give it a folksy feel?

Marje


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: mayomick
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:53 AM

There is a tune in P.W Joyce's book of Irish music called Down by the Sally Gardens which would be worth checking out Bob. I can't remember whether it is the Rose Connolly/Roisin the Beau tune ,but it isn't the same tune to the one Yeats used for Sally Gardens (which is also in the book but under a different name ).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 09:15 AM

I've found the words to 'Down in the Willow Garden,' and I don't think there's any relationship. The songs are quite different.

I think the title/first line was spliced onto an older song by somebody who had heard of 'Down by the Salley Gardens.' The phrase 'willow garden' doesn't seem natural to an American song at all. Where I live in America, willows are junk trees that are permitted to grow at water's edge, but nobody grows a garden full of them.

Their tendency to invade and clog pipes is one reason for that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 09:58 AM

A "willow garden" can be any back property (behind a house or not) that has even a single willow in it. My guess: the willow garden was a piece of low land by a river, where willows grew. Benches were often placed in such spots for courting couples. Good place for concealment, if they were weeping willows, for the descending branches hide kisses and more. Rose Connally ought to have known, though, that kissing under a willow could be bad luck, since willows have signified sadness for centuries ...

As to origins, I seriously doubt any relationship with "Down by the Salley Gardens," apart from the fact that both are Irish in origin (maybe; see below). Just a chance resemblance of phrase, in my opinion.

The song is more usually known as "Rose Connolly," but G.B. Grayson recorded it in 1927 (and Mainer's Mountaineers covered it in 1937) as "Down in the Willow Garden," so that name has stuck.

It's probably a broadside. So far as I know its earliest known occurrence is the Grayson and Whitter recording. Its origin may be British but evidence is missing.

DT discussions of the song appear in the following thread among others:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=14897

Surprisingly, Olive Woolley Burt, in her American Murder Ballads (Oxford 1958) does not include this. Cox adds nothing; nor does Gus Meade in "Country Music Sources" find any original sources, so its origin is still clouded. The Lomaxes, in Folk Song USA (1947) give no specifics, only remarking that it's a song young lady folksingers in New York City seem to cherish. So the usual run of folklorists have come up with a whole lotta nothin'.

Brown, in North Carolina Folklore, Vol II, The Folk Ballads, a usually reliable source on these things, thinks it could be Irish. He says of "Rose Connolly": "One supposes that it is an Irish stall ballad, but I have found it reported only from the United States. Cox ... prints two versions from West Virginia ... in which the murderer names himself (Patsey O'Reilly in A, Morison in B). Shearin and Combs's syllabus lists it for Kentucky ... entitled "Rose Colalee (Colleen?)." He goes on to say it's also reported from North Carolina and Virginia.

It would be worth checking the various broadside ballad collections, starting with the Bodleian, in hopes of coming up with an original somewhere.

Final note: Wayne Erbsen, in Rural Roots of Bluegrass Songs, says Charlie Monroe said his mother used to sing this to him when he was a kid. Zeke Morris disagreed angrily, said Monroe got the song from him. Wade Mainer said "I really don't know where the old song came from."

But my bet is, they all learned it from the remarkable 1920s blind fiddler-singer G.B. Grayson. And to the best of my knowledge Grayson, who had quite a repertoire of odd old songs both folk and pop, never told anyone where he learned it.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:03 AM

Quick correction to the above:

G.B. Grayson recorded the song as "Rose Conley."

It was the Mainers who retitled it "Down in the Willow Garden."

Such retitling was a frequent practice in the recording industry of the time, to conceal the fact that one band was covering the song of, or in any way using the repertoire of another.

So there's nothing magic about "Down in a willow garden," it's merely the first line of a song that until then apparently had never been titled that way.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: autoharpbob
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:11 AM

I heard this from a recording by Rayna Gellert and Susie Goehring, and I swear that I can sing the Yeats song along to it. Obviously the bluegrass arrangement with fiddle makes it sound different, but to me they are very similar tunes.

I may have come upon a theory about the words. If Wikipedia is to be believed(!) Yeats wrote his poem based on some badly remembered words. It seems Willow Garden - otherwise known as Rose Connally - pre-dates Sally Gardens by some time, so maybe that was the song he was mis-remembering. Doesn't explain the similarity in the tunes though.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: autoharpbob
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:28 AM

Having listened to the midi of Rosin the Beau in the Digitrad, it still sounds very similar to me to the tune to Sally Gardens, though there are big differences. Thanks everyone for your help though - I had thought this was a good example of a tune/song being changed in its journey across the pond. Probably still is - but on the way back here!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:29 AM

Well, its Irishness seems more and more likely ...

In Anne Warner's Traditional American Folk Songs from the Frank & Anne Warner Collection, p 276, Ms Warner refers to an article, "'Rose Connoley,' An Irish Ballad," by Prof. D.K. Wilgus of UCLA in the April-June issue of the Journal of American Folklore, and says he cites

"a text found recently in the Irish Folklore Collection of University College, Dublin. .... Professor Wilgus believes that "Rose Connoley" has an Irish origin, although he says he finds scant proof for his conclusion. He says, 'It is as if an Irish local song never popularized on broadsides was spread by a single Irish peddler on his travels through Appalachia,' and in a footnote he even suggests .... John Calvin 'Lie-Hew' Younce ..."

Elsewhere(p 238) as she describes Younce "an almost legendary figure ... who traveled all over the southern Appalachians, staying with anyone who would offer him hospitality, planting songs and tales like a musical Johnny Appleseed. He earned the name ... by invariably confusing fact with fancy."

So I checked Sam Henry's Songs of the People, an invaluable source for Irish tradition and pop, with loads of old obscure Irish songs Henry found ... but I can't find Rose Connolly there. So for now I'm stumped.

If Wilgus, a leading scholar, can get no farther, we have a real mystery on our hands. Everything points to Ireland, but nobody has come up with a source. Perhaps some of you can add something more definitive to this? Mudcat's famous for ferreting out the obscurities ? go to it!

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:40 AM

FWIW, Connolly is certainly an Irish name; & even more so is Patsey O"Reilly, the name of the murderer in one version cited above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:51 AM

As to "Down By the Sally Garden," a couple of points:

1. You can sing many songs to the scansion of others ? "Home on the Range" to "Star Spangled Banner," just to pick an example out of my cluttered head.

2. The song history of "Down by the Salley Garden" is quite interesting. Its ultimate origin is uncertain, but the Yeats connection is fairly clear. This deserves a thread of its own, but here's the gist, from Sam Henry, Songs of the People, p 286. Have patience; this is a bit long:

"Down in My Sally's Garden

... I have every reason to believe that this is the song o[n] which W. B. Yeats founded his world-famous lyric, 'Down by the Sally Gardens. Alternatively, Yeats may have founded this song on the first verse of another ballad called 'The Rambling Boys of Pleasure':

Down by yon valley gardens
One evening as I chanced to stray,
It's there I saw my darling,
I took her to be the queen of May,
She told me to take love easy,
Just as the leaves grow on the trees,
But I, being young and foolish,
Her then I did not agree.

This song has also been collected in Vermont, U.S.A. ...."

Henry then cites the older "Down in My Sally's Garden." He admits the likeness is distant, and though he doesn't say so, my own theory is that, as poets and songwriters commonly do, Yeats' brain fused the above with the motif of Sally's Garden:

Down in my Sally's garden,
Upon an ivy bush,
At morning and at twilight
There sings a sweet song thrush,

His notes come clearly ringing,
And tidings to me tell,
And oh, I know already
My Sally loves me well.

I kissed her milk-white features
One silv'ry eve of May,
She whispered,
Won't you wander
Until the close of day?'

We wandered in her garden,
The flowers were wet with dew,
I saw the love-light beaming
In her fond eyes of blue.

Down in my Sally's garden,
Where snowy hawthorns blow,
My heart became love-weary
When I at last must go,

The bloom was on the hawthorn
That night I said farewell,
I left my Sally weeping
Down by an ivied dell.

The Wikipedia entry for "Down by the Salley tardens" quotes yeats as writing it was

'"an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself." Yeats's original title, "An Old Song Re-Sung", reflected this; it first appeared under its present title when it was reprinted in Poems in 1895.[2] The verse was subsequently set to music by Herbert Hughes to the air The Maids of the Mourne Shore in 1909. In the 1920s composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) set the text to music.[3] There is also a vocal setting by the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, which was published in 1938; and another by Benjamin Britten published in 1943.

'"Salley" is an anglicisation of the Irish saileach, meaning willow, i.e., a tree of the genus Salix. Willows are known as "salleys", "sallies" or "salley trees" in parts of Ireland.'

Hence the rather thin resemblance is explained by Yeats' small fragment and his vague memory. His poem brought the image to the world. I believe, but am not sure, that there is now a park in Dublin? or elsewhere in Ireland named the Salley Gardens after the poem ?please correct me, anyone, if that is inaccurate, it's based on my own vague memory.

Altogether I think this song / poem's relationship to "Rose Connolly" / "Down in the Willow Garden" is nil. But judge for yourselves.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Marje
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 10:57 AM

The fact that you can sing the words of one tune to the melody of another simply means that the tunes are in the same metre - there doesn't have to be any melodic connection between the tunes.

Here's a link with some information (and some further speculation) abut the origins of the song:

http://appalachianlifestyles.blogspot.com/2009/03/in-search-of-rose-conelly.html

Marje


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 11:17 AM

Marje, good find. I'd like to quote parts of it here, because it gives that Irish version of Rose Connolly. The blogger is Matthew Burns, and the entire entry, which is quite long, is well worth your time, but here are the parts that bear on our question:

http://appalachianlifestyles.blogspot.com/2009/03/in-search-of-rose-conelly.html

QUOTE

Most folks credit Ireland as the place of origin for Rose Conolly, and the Bunting Collection says it was collected in Coleraine in 1811. But in fact, the lyrics and tune are entirely different between the Bunting version and all later versions. In 1979, folklorist D.K. Wilgus searched for Rose Conolly in the archives of the folklore department of University College in Dublin, widely credited as being the repository for the most complete collection of Irish folklore. In my opinion, Wilgus research is the best available for tracking down the origins of Rose Conolly. He could find no exact match, but he did however, locate the following folksong that was collected in Galway in 1929, it is obviously akin to the Appalachian version of Rose Conolly.

Rosey O'Connell

It was on a Saturday morning
My true love and I did meet
Yonder a soddely garden
Our sorrows we did relate.

A bottle of poison I brought her
Of which she did not know
Which made me murder my darling
All under the banks below.

Rosey O'Connell she loved me
As dear as she loved her life
It was my whole intention
To make her my loving wife.

When it was the devil's temptation
That soon entangled me
Which made my murder my darling
All under the ivy tree.

My mother she reared me tenderly
For seven long years and more
But seldom she ever thought of
That the gallows would be my store

My father often told me
That money would set me free
But now I am found in this country
And its hung I'll surely be

I live in a castle of comfort
A little beyond the fair
Grief it is my comfort
And sorrow is my care.

My bolsted feathers are dingling
The whole length of day
I have but the cold floor to walk on
To pass the time away.

My father stood at the hall-door
With a watery eye
Looking at his only dear son
Hanging on the gallows so high

I leave it written on my tombstone
To read as they pass it by
That my name is James Mullrooney
That murdered Rosey O'Connell.

Since this version of the song was collected in 1929, it isn't exactly safe to say that it is the precursor to the Appalachian version of Rose Conolly, especially since there are documented versions of the song here in America that are dated before 1929. Added to this is the flow of folks songs at the time from America to Ireland ....

In fact, the earliest documented report of Rose Conolly in the United States was found in the oil fields of Wetzel County, West Virginia, in 1895. American folklorists subsequently found the same song with little variation in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and even as far west as Wisconsin. The Wisconsin link is attributed to lumber men who left Kentucky to work the timber camps in the Great Lakes region.

Interestingly, if you read the original lyrics to Rose Conolly that were gathered in Wetzel County, WV, you can get another clue as to where the song began. There is the line:

"I had a bottle of burgaloo wine,
My love she could not know,
That I would murder my darlin'
Down on the banks below".

Later versions of the song called it "burgundy wine", or "burglar's wine" but the earliest mention is "burgaloo wine". What is burgaloo wine? It is a type of pear wine that was commonly made in central Virginia in the late 1700's into the early 1800's.

UNQUOTE

So, there's your "burglar's wine" and all! But we still have a big job trying to trace the intermediate versions.

Once again, congratulations to Matthew Burns for his research and to Marje for locating it. Nice work, folks.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 11:52 AM

Sources are bustin' out all over. The following is from Lyle Lofgren, who after publishing an article called Remembering The Old Songs: ROSE CONNOLEY (Laws F6) in Inside Bluegrass, May 2003, heard from a correspondent. What the correspondent said deserves wider circulation and certainly fills in the growing picture:

http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-RoseConn.html

QUOTE

I was thrilled that someone did send me more information about the song. I received the following message from one Bob Moore:

Lyle,
I found your post about "Willow Garden" from 2003. You asked for the origin of the song. My Mother, who was born in 1900, sang this song to my family. She learned it from her father, John Duncan Sullivan, who was a wonderful folk singer. She remembered him singing it in her very early childhood; so it is at least as old as @ 1900. He told her it came from Ireland.

I was always interested in what the words meant in all of her songs. She told me that she had asked the same questions of her father. The Sullivan family was of Scotch/ Irish descent. Her explanation of the song was that the man was of a higher class than Rose, and that she became pregnant. His father did not want him to marry beneath his class and encouraged him to kill Rose; since he thought that his money and position would buy the boy out of trouble.

As for the term "burglars wine"; she told me that in the olden days, travelers would stay at roadside inns at night. Crooked inn keepers would dope wine to give to them so that when they went to sleep it would be easy to steal their valuables. This makes sense in that the songs murderer wanted to make sure that she did not resist when he stabbed her. Even in my early days, I am now almost 70, to poison someone did not necessarily mean to kill them. Looks like a well planned crime. In her version the last of the song was:

My race is run beneath the sun
Low hell is waiting for me
For I did murder my own true love
Whose name is Rose Conley

The term "low hell" refers to the 7 levels of hell. The lowest being reserved for the worst crimes. What crime could be lower than murdering one's own true love?

We were poor country folks in the late 1930s and 1940s when I was young, and were quite isolated from other folks. There were 10 children. We had to make our own entertainment. The thing we loved the most was my Mother's singing of numerous old songs, along with popular songs of the 1920s and 1930s. I wrote down many of her songs before she died in 1981. I only wish I had recorded them. She still had a wonderful voice even into her 70s. Hope this helps.
Regards,
Bob Moore

This explanation makes so much sense that I changed "lo" to "low" in the lyrics given above.  I also asked Bob for more information about his family background. His response:

Lyle,
As best as we can determine our ancestor Henry Sullivan or (O'Sullivan) came to Pennsylvania in 1746. Probably from County Cork. He was a peasant farm worker or maybe a servant type. There is evidence that he was a servant to a Samuel Flowers to whom he was in servitude for 4 years to pay his passage to the new world. His offspring migrated to Tennessee around 1800 and settled in Green County. For an absolute certainty we know our family decended from a Henry Sullivan who was born in Pennsylvania around 1788. He and his wife moved to Bledsoe County, TN by 1815. The family spread into White, Warren and Van Buren Counties. My Grandfather, John Duncan Sullivan, was born in 1868, in rural White or Warren County, TN. My mother was born at Bone Cave, Van Buren County, TN in 1900. Much of the family started west in covered wagons in 1906; but illness plagued them shortly after departure and they ran out of money. My Grandfather worked in a limestone quarry in Sherwood, Franklin County, TN. This is in the Crow River Valley near the Alabama border.

My Grandfather and 4 others of the family are buried there. I suspect, though I have no evidence, that this song had it origin in Ireland. Many of the other songs he sang came from there. My mother said that he told her he learned the songs from his mother. If that is so, the song would date to at least before his birth date.

Regards, Bob Moore

UNQUOTE


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Janie
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:21 PM

From Fiddler's Companion, I ran across the following:


ROSE CONNOLLY. AKA and see "Rosey Connolly," "The Fair at Dungarvan," "Alas, My Bright Lady," "Lament for Kilcash," "Nelly, My Love, and Me," "There is a Beech‑tree Grove," "Were You Ever in Sweet Tipperary?" Irish, Air (6/8 time). E Major. Standard tuning. One part. The tune was noted by the Irish collector Edward Bunting from an unknown source in Coleraine in 1811.

***

All you young men and Maidens I pray you take warning by me,

And never court your true love anunder a Hozier Tree.

The devil and his temptations it was that came over me,

And I murdered my Rosey Connolly anunder a Hozier Tree.

***

O'Sullivan notes that "ozier," a form of willow, is meant for "Hozier" in the lyric.
Actually, the term referring to willows is osier (Janie's note.)

***

Joel Shimberg points out that the American old-time duo Grayson and Whitter recorded a song called "Down In The Willow Garden" in the 78 RPM era, a reworking of the "Rose Connolly" theme. However, John Moulden says that "Down in the Willow Garden" was not very widespread in pre-Ralph Peer (the seminal 78 RPM recording engineer of the 1920's) Appalachia. It goes:

***

Down in the willow garden, where me and my love did meet,

It's there we sat a-courting, my love dropped off to sleep.

I had a bottle of burgundy wine, which my true love did not know,

And there I murdered that dear little girl, down under the banks below.

***

I stabbed her with my dagger, which was a bloody knife,

Threw her into the river, with was a dreadful sight.

My father often had told me that money would set me free,

If I would murder that dear little girl, whose name was Rose Connolly.

***

Now he sits in his own cabin door, a-wiping his tear-dimmed eyes.

Watching as his only son climbs up the scaffold high.

My race is run beneath the sun, and hell now waits for me,

because I murdered that dear little girl, whose name was Rose Connolly.

***

The "Down in the Willow" tune made its way into bluegrass repertoire from the Grayson/Whitter recording. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 14, pg. 21.


It is not clear to me from the Fiddler Companion if the tune for Rose Connolly for which notation is provided is the same tune as "Down in the Willow Garden."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:33 PM

My copy of the Roud index lists 35 entries for the song (#446), all from the USA, the earliest versions seem to be collected by Sharp in 1917 and 1918 (both starting My father always told me..). (These are both given as MSS Folk Tunes, so I don't know if that means there is no complete text with them).

The titles are varied: many different spelling of Rose Connally and similar, Willow Garden or Down in/by the Willow Garden being the most common.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:55 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index lists Cox 1917 as their earliest entry, as "Rose Connoley." It dates the Grayson-Whitter recording as 1927.

The suggestion in Moore's letter (Coltman post) of the meaning of "burglar's wine" seems logical; I have read of the practice, but haven't seen this name before.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 02:09 PM

Quite right Q on the date. There are two versions in Cox (Oct 1915 and Jan 1917; though, acording to my copy, the book wasn't published until 1925) and I missed it when I scanned the 35 results I had from Roud.

It's the first version in Cox that appends the comment It was popular in the oil fields of Wetzel County about 1895.

I have a copy of the Bunting tune if anyone wants it for comparison.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 02:35 PM

The 1915 version in Cox ("Wetzel County 1895")
Verse 2, line 3
I had a bottle of merkley wine, and this she did not know.

The 1917 version has it burglar's wine, "which my true love did not know."

"Burgundy" is doubtful, as least to me. I doubt that it was one of the wines marketed in the area except to well-to-do folks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: autoharpbob
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 02:47 PM

Wow! Isn't it amazing what you get when you ask a question here! Many thanks guys and gals!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Stephen
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 04:36 PM

Hi All,
I'm a Simon and Gar fan and happened upon the Everly's "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us." I wondered if anyone had any other recommendations for more sources of this wonderful music. I also have some John Jacob Niles.

Thanks,

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Taconicus
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 12:31 PM

Main thread on this topic is at http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=13144


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Taconicus
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 12:34 PM

Whoops - sorry! The link above is to the Salley Gardens thread. The two songs seem to me to be related.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: GUEST,Dan
Date: 26 Feb 13 - 02:24 PM

I am still on the hunt for WHAT happened with this song between ca. 1811 (when one source says the lyric is first mentioned) and its appearance on record in 1927 ... one can assume lots of people knew it, but how did it get to be this song?

I do it in kind of a '50s 'teen tragedy' style, D, Bm and A -- and I sing 'burglar's wine' - it gives some weight to the planning/plotting of the young man.

Other notes:
I heard from someone that in the American tradition, pregnancy or illegitimacy are often not mentioned (hence all the songs that skirt around the issue of 'why' when lovers kill).

My sister was a Celtic studies Ph.D. and said that in much Irish folklore the hero would have to be killed 3 times ... that's the aspect of the song that many hearing it for the first time are particularly floored by. ("he poisoned her, stabbed her, and drowned her?")

Even if I do eventually discover more about its 'missing years' the song remains an endless source of fascination.

Dan Aloi, NY


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in the Willow Garden
From: redhorse
Date: 26 Feb 13 - 03:43 PM

Burglar's wine is exactly what it says it is: poisoned/drugged wine to aid burglary. A servant accomplice, who had either been planted in the household or corrupted, would serve it to the master and mistress, and when they were unconscious would let the burglar in.

At least that's how it was explained in a Peter Lovesey novel that I read years before I first heard "Down in the Willow Garden", and whose title I have unfortunately since forgotten.


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Mudcat time: 22 February 10:10 PM EST

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