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Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river

GUEST,Hannah Mae 07 Aug 10 - 05:12 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 10 - 06:07 AM
Jack Campin 07 Aug 10 - 07:19 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 07 Aug 10 - 07:30 AM
Phil Cooper 07 Aug 10 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 07 Aug 10 - 11:05 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 10 - 12:06 PM
Mr Happy 07 Aug 10 - 12:31 PM
Anne Neilson 07 Aug 10 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 07 Aug 10 - 01:57 PM
mayomick 07 Aug 10 - 03:42 PM
mayomick 07 Aug 10 - 04:14 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Aug 10 - 04:27 PM
open mike 08 Aug 10 - 01:17 PM
mayomick 08 Aug 10 - 03:13 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Aug 10 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 08 Aug 10 - 03:42 PM
mayomick 08 Aug 10 - 03:45 PM
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Subject: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: GUEST,Hannah Mae
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 05:12 AM

I'm working on a project about folklore/the folk process as a sort of ecology - you know, evolution of songs, instruments diversifying into niches in different environments, that sort of thing - and I've forgotten all identifying details about one of my favorite pieces of evidence.

Once upon a time, I knew a murder ballad which was based, with reasonable certainty, in actual fact: a girl in Ireland, or Scotland, or Britain, drowned (probably by her true love) in a river. The original song specified the river by name (though not, I think, the girl). Later on, the song migrated to the US, where it is sung in various regional versions, most of which use the names of local rivers.

I'm sorry to say that that's all the detail I can dredge up from my memory, but perhaps the same intriguing song lineage has caught someone else's ear as it caught mine...?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 06:07 AM

Banks of The Ohio springs to mind; no direct counterpart in Britain or Ireland, but Laws points out the similarties to some English broadsides.
He also gives numerous versions with different rivers named.
The Two Sisters (Child 20) is probably the best known drowning ballad, but not based on a known case, and no river named.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 07:19 AM

Ireland, or Scotland, or Britain

I know why Americans so often have such screwed-up geography as regards this part of the world.

Doesn't make it any more excusable, and it's a real hindrance if you're trying to understand folklore.

BTW apart from the Two Sisters of Binnorie and its variants, it's a lot more common for men to get drowned in folksong rivers than women.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 07:30 AM

This is probably the song that Mary Ann Haynes called "Wexford Town". Others call it "The Wexford Girl". Harry Cox, for one, sang a version of it. In America it became "The Knoxville Girl", as recorded by, I think, the Blue Sky Boys among others.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 09:46 AM

Omie Wise was drowned, but there are no Irish ancestors to that song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a riv
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 11:05 AM

Sounds like Knoxville Girl to me, which is a US version of an old English ballad called The Bloody Miller. The Berkshire Tragedy, Oxford Girl, Wexford Girl, The Noel Girl and The Lexington Miller are all members of the same family of songs springing from this source. And so, arguably, is Banks of the Ohio.

I've set out the full story in exhaustive detail here.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 12:06 PM

The problem with The Knoxville Girl, et al is that the victim is usually stabbed or clubbed to death and her body thrown into the river. It is what distinguishes them from Banks of the Ohio, which is a straightforward drowning (as straightforward as drownings can be).
I have to confess that I was a little surprised at the lack of actual 'drowning ballads'; I thought there were a lot more.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 12:31 PM

Banks of the roses?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a riv
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 01:08 PM

The Butcher Boy?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a riv
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 01:57 PM

Actually, Banks of the Ohio kills its victim by stabbing rather than drowning too - at least in the versions I'm familiar with.

Here's the key verse from Olivia Newton John's recording:

"I held a knife against his breast
As into my arms he pressed
He cried "my love, don't you murder me
I'm not prepared for eternity"

And here's Johnny Cash's account of the same moment:

"I plunged a knife into her breast
And told her she was going to rest
She cried "Oh Willy, don't murder me
I'm not prepared for eternity."

That final line about being "not prepared for eternity" occurs in Knoxville Girl and its predecessors too, of course, which is one of the reasons I say Banks may be part of the same song family.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: mayomick
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 03:42 PM

Oxford Girl , Wexford Girl , Knoxville Girl , Poor Omie Wise


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: mayomick
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 04:14 PM

All the above given as variants in Kennedy's Songs of British Isles. Oxford girl only mentions "the river outside of the town". In another Irish version set in Dublin ,the River Liffey is mentioned as the scene of the murder.
Harry Cox sang about Ekefield Town and the Eke River which may be where the name Elk River in Poor Omie Wise derives from, according to Kennedy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Aug 10 - 04:27 PM

The Distressed Maid and all its antecedents and relatives.
The Lily-white hand.

Stock phrases: he took her by the lily-white hand, down by the river side, away she goes and away she flows floating with the tide, Instead of ....she should have been my bride, kind sir I am too young, etc.   Roud 564, Laws P18.

I think some Irish versions mention the name of the river (Slaney?) Blackwater side.

A related song Roud 1414 False-hearted William has the same motifs and some phrases in common. Here though its usually the place that is named rather than the river. Dublin, Camden, Coleraine, Kilmarnock, Charlottetown, Cambridge, Charlestown, London, etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: open mike
Date: 08 Aug 10 - 01:17 PM

ok, so if we in the U.S. are geographically challenged, please en- lighten us...what about this statement is incorrect?

"Ireland, or Scotland, or Britain...I know why Americans so often have such screwed-up geography as regards this part of the world."

I think the British Isles includes Scotland, England and Ireland, am I correct? Does U.K. mean "just" England? then what does the United part stand for? Is there a difference between Britain and England?

If we need more info, please provide it! thank you...
trying to bridge the gap between UK'ers and US'ers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: mayomick
Date: 08 Aug 10 - 03:13 PM

The confusion is understandable Open Mike , a lot of people this side of the Atlantic get things mixed up as well. Jack Campin means that guest Hannah should have written "Ireland or Scotland or England " and not "Ireland or Scotland or Britain" which is a bit like saying "Mexico or Canada or North America" .

There were once two western European islands consisting of the four nations, Ireland ,Scotland, Wales and England . At different points in history , the most powerful of these nations England brought the four nations under one crown , either through force or through agreement with the leaders of the other nations . That union became known as the United Kingdom. The island where England , Scotland and Wales are situated is often referred to as Great Britain .

The island of Ireland is always known as Ireland geographically, but the northern six counties of Ireland are politically part of the United Kingdom .So, Britain plus the northern six counties of Ireland are referred to by British people as "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ."
Many people in Ireland are uncomfortable with the term "British Isles" .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Aug 10 - 03:24 PM

Paul
"Actually, Banks of the Ohio kills its victim by stabbing rather than drowning too"
Vance Randolph's Ozark Folksongs' version A of 'Down By The Banks of the Ohio' gives the victim as having been drowned, version B is just the chorus and version C has her being stabbed and presumably only woundd, but then, led by the hand to the river and drowned.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 08 Aug 10 - 03:42 PM

I sing the song as Hanged I Shall Be which is in the Digi Trad HERE. The river isn't named, but the town is identified as Ekefield, supposedly a coruption of Hocstow, but did I once hear it might be Tewkesbury?? There is a thread about this HERE.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: ISO fact-based murder ballad w/a river
From: mayomick
Date: 08 Aug 10 - 03:45 PM

"BTW apart from the Two Sisters of Binnorie and its variants, it's a lot more common for men to get drowned in folksong rivers than women." Jack Campin

Yes ,but the men drown tend to drown by accident ,the women are murdered .


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