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Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)

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GUEST 30 Sep 10 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Ed 30 Sep 10 - 07:06 AM
Mike Yates 30 Sep 10 - 07:32 AM
Terry McDonald 30 Sep 10 - 07:41 AM
Mike Yates 30 Sep 10 - 07:52 AM
Willa 30 Sep 10 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Ed 30 Sep 10 - 09:48 AM
RTim 30 Sep 10 - 01:15 PM
Valmai Goodyear 30 Sep 10 - 01:34 PM
Terry McDonald 30 Sep 10 - 01:37 PM
Richard Mellish 30 Sep 10 - 05:48 PM
Mike Yates 01 Oct 10 - 03:33 AM
GUEST,Ed 01 Oct 10 - 04:11 AM
Valmai Goodyear 01 Oct 10 - 04:23 AM
Terry McDonald 01 Oct 10 - 04:31 AM
Valmai Goodyear 04 Oct 10 - 02:51 AM
Terry McDonald 04 Oct 10 - 07:17 AM
Herga Kitty 04 Oct 10 - 06:39 PM
Herga Kitty 04 Oct 10 - 06:44 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 04 Oct 10 - 07:00 PM
Mike Yates 10 Oct 10 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,schlimmerkerl 20 Feb 11 - 03:02 PM
Matthew Edwards 20 Feb 11 - 03:44 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 06:49 AM

i heard tim van eyken sing young alvin .is this traditionasl or his own composition?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:06 AM

Traditional according to the sleevenotes of'Stiffs Lovers Holymen Thieves':

"Trad after Packie Manus Byrne"

Ed


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Mike Yates
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:32 AM

Packie can be heard singing this on vol. 17 of Topic's "Voice of the People" set. (TSCD667) - "It Fell on a Day, a Bonny Summer Day". I originally made the recording for Packie's solo Topic LP (now out of print). Packie was the only singer that I came across who knew the piece.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:41 AM

If it is traditional, it has to be the only song that features lovers called Alvin and Melanie. Strange....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Mike Yates
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:52 AM

This is what I wrote about the ballad for Musical Traditions:

Young Alvin sung by Packie Manus Byrne, London, 1974. Roud 2988.

According to both R S Thomson and Frank Purslow (personal correspondence) versions of Young Alvin appeared in late 18th-century chapbooks, although I have not, so far, come across one. Packie learnt the ballad in the early 1930s at Ballysadare horse fair from Kathleen Collins, a tinker whose family travelled around Fermanagh and Tyrone. He could not recall having heard it sung elsewhere - and nor has Roud. Presumably the line 'But ere he came to earl's court' (verse 4) refers to that part of west London that is now called 'Earls Court'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Willa
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 09:29 AM

Here's a link to a sample of Tim's version.


Mudcat member James Berriman sings it. If you become a mudcat member (free - no hassle) you could send him a PM (personal message)

http://www.last.fm/music/Tim+Van+Eyken/_/Young+Alvin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 09:48 AM

You'll find a far better version of Tim's version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E--y7tOWUR0


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Subject: Lyr Add: YOUNG ALVIN (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: RTim
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 01:15 PM

As from Packie Manus Byrne
- Tim Radford


YOUNG ALVIN.
From Packie Manus Byrne

Young Alvin came from Worcestershire
A man of high renown
He fell in love with fair Melanie
Who dwelled in London town, In London town
Who dwelled in London Town

He dreamed of her full many a night
And pined full many a day
Until his heart and ready hand
He could no longer stay, no longer stay
He could no longer stay.

The calling on his stable boy
He this to him did say
Go saddle to me my jet-black steed
And likewise of my grey,
And likewise of my grey.

With his broadsword all by his hand
He rode to London town
But ere he came to earl's court
The sun had long gone down, gone down
The sun had long gone down.

He went in haste to her father's house
The place wherein dwelled she
And asked of her chambermaid
If he his love might see, might see
If he his love might see.

The chambermaid did thus reply
She rests upon her bed
And she is weeping tears of grief
For tomorrow she must wed, must wed
For tomorrow she must wed.

Then if tomorrow she must wed
Pray tell me to the man
That I may meet him face to face
And slay him if I can, I can
And slay him if I can.

His name it is John Farthington
A rich and cruel lord
And many a brave and gallant man
Has fallen by his sword, his sword
Has fallen by his sword.

They met within the lord's courtyard
Young Alvin spoke this line
I have come to wed fair Melanie
I hold that she be mine, be mine
I hold that she be mine.

Then spoke the cruel Lord Farthington
I deem it meet he said
That she shall pay her father's debt
I claim her for my fee, my fee
I claim her for my fee.

Then draw your sword Lord Farthington
For one of us must die
The other shall wed fair Melanie
And that one shall be I, be I
And that one shall be I.

With force and skill the duel began
All that summer night
But Young Alvin proved the better man
Before the break of light, of light
Before the break of light.

Then back in haste to her father's house
To tell her she was free
Arise, arise fair Melanie
Tomorrow you wed with me, with me
Tomorrow you wed with me.

He placed her on the saddled grey
Then mounted by her side
He brought her back to Worcestershire
And made of her his bride, his bride
And made of her his bride.


(From a tinker Margaret or William Collins)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 01:34 PM

Hmmm. I strongly suspect Packie made it up. Were Alvin Stardust and Melanie ever in the charts at the same time? Could they have been the inspiration for the preposterous names?

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 01:37 PM

My thoughts exactly, Valmai.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 05:48 PM

Oliver Mulligan sings a version very similar to Packie's, which I believe he learnt in South Armagh, where he grew up.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Mike Yates
Date: 01 Oct 10 - 03:33 AM

Richard,

do you know if there is a recording of the Oliver Mulligan version? I ask because I only know Packie's version & would like to hear any others.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 01 Oct 10 - 04:11 AM

Valmai asked:

Were Alvin Stardust and Melanie ever in the charts at the same time?

That would be a yes! The chart of 2nd March 1974 saw Alvin Stardust at No. 2 with 'Jealous Mind' and Melanie at No. 37 with 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'

Given that 1974 was the year that Mike Yates recorded the song from Packie, I reckon your on to something, Valmai.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 01 Oct 10 - 04:23 AM

If Alvin was riding to London from Worcestershire he wouldn't have arrived in Earl's Court. He'd have come down through Harrow, Wembley and Paddington.

Oliver may well have learnt the song in South Armagh, where he grew up, but not necessarily while he was growing up, and it's not impossible that Packie taught it to him on a visit.

I still think it's a ringer.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: young alvin
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 01 Oct 10 - 04:31 AM

I also think the lyrics are too complete, full of phrases that sound just a little too 'olde Englishe.'


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 02:51 AM

Thanks for the research, Guest Ed. Agreed, Terry. But it's got a fine tune.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 07:17 AM

Yes,it was the tune that attracted me to it. I learnt it from Tim's version and corresponded with him about its provenance. All he knew about it was what appears on the sleeve notes to his CD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 06:39 PM

I wonder if Bonnie knows....?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 06:44 PM

So I've sent her a PM...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 07:00 PM

Nope! I've been following this thread but can't add any brilliant pearls of wisdom, I'm afraid. (I didn't meet Packie until 1975 and we didn't start gigging until early '76.) He did write a lot of song words and has a knack for ballad verse, so I think Valmai could well have it pegged.

I see what people mean about those names, now you mention it. Reminds me of Cletus & Brandine (The Simpsons) calling their kids things like Tiffany and Amber.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Mike Yates
Date: 10 Oct 10 - 05:18 AM

Mention of "Young Alvin" brought back many very happy hours spent with Packie Manus Byrne. It also reminded me that I never managed to find out all that much about the ballad, especially where the ballad originally came from.

Let me recap. Packie recorded the piece in 1974 in order to put it onto his Topic LP "Songs of a Donegal Man". Having recorded it, I asked Packie where he had learnt it and he told me that he had picked it up in the early 1930s at Ballysadare horse fair from Kathleen Collins, a tinker whose family travelled around Fermanagh and Tyrone. He could not recall having heard it sung elsewhere. I first met Packie in the mid 1960's, when we were both living in Manchester, and we became very good friends. I spent many hours recording Packie's songs and whistle tunes and he would always tell me when he was playing a tune that he had composed himself.

I then played the ballad to various people prior to writing the album notes. I happened to be at Topic one day when the Irish collector Hugh Shields showed up. He listened to the ballad and expressed surprise that Packie had got this from a Traveller. He thought that the text was just too complete, unlike most ballad texts that he had recorded from Irish Travellers. I then played it to Bob Thompson, who was in the process of completing his PhD on the subject of broadside ballads, and Bob said that he had seen the words in a late 18th century chapbook, though he could not remember where he had seen it. Finally, I played it to Frank Purslow when I called at his home one day, and Frank said that he too knew the words and had seen them in a chapbook. Like Bob, though, he was unable to remember which chapbook!

If Bob and Frank were right, then we know that the ballad must have some age. If their memories were faulty, then we are back at square one.

The Mudcat "debate" brought out a couple of points. Valmain Goodyear pointed out that "If Alvin was riding to London from Worcestershire he wouldn't have arrived in Earl's Court. He'd have come down through Harrow, Wembley and Paddington." I did feel like saying that he only had to continue a few miles to get to Earl's Court. (Actually, what I really felt like saying was that there was no problem here. All he had to do was catch the Circle Line from Paddington and he would be at Earl's Court in a few stops. Sadly, though, I suspect that my sense of humour would not be appreciated!) Secondly, the same person, thinking of the names Alvin and Melanie, asked "Were Alvin Stardust and Melanie ever in the charts at the same time?" and we are told that on 2nd March, 1974, both were indeed in the charts! So, using a logic that would not be out of place in a Dan Brown novel, Packie must have made the song up himself, because 1974 was the year that he recorded it.

Actually, this is not the case. Someone else pointed out that Oliver Mulligan also sings the ballad, "which I believe he learnt in South Armagh, where he grew up". I contacted Oliver, who told me that he had learnt the ballad from Packie when the two of them were travelling together around the folkclubs. This was in 1969-1970. I then managed to find my diary for 1972, the year when Packie and I first started talking about a possible LP, and "Young Alvin" was one of the pieces that he then suggested he would like to sing. There were then a series of delays ? I think that Packie had a fall at one time and cracked a couple of ribs ? and it was not until 1974 that we finally managed to get to a studio.

I also contacted Jim Carroll, whose knowledge of Irish songs is breathtaking, but Jim had not come across "Young Alvin" from anyone else, apart from Packie. Jim also mentioned that Tom Munnelly had not come across "Young Alvin" either, adding that Tom, "was somewhat suspicious of it." But, Jim did say that the ballad did, "resemble in form some of the recitations you occasionally hear - I wonder if this is how (Packie) got it and put a tune to it. Alternatively, there were hundreds of song and recitation books available throughout the first half of the twentieth century."

I did a quick "Google" for the names Alvin and Melanie and it seems that both names are quite old, and go back several hundred years. However, the name Melanie was rather rare until the late 1930's, when it was used for one of the characters in the novel/film "Gone With the Wind". Apparently, quite a number of girls were then named Melanie, after this character. So, could it be that the song dates from the 1930's ? remember, Packie said that this was when he learnt it ? when the name Melanie was in vogue? Or am I too beginning to be taken over by Dan Brown!

I think that we all agree that there is something "odd" about the ballad. It just does not ring true. But, I must say that the opening line, "Young Alvin lived in Worcestershire" does intrigue me. Why Worcestershire? It is surely not the sort of place name that belongs to an Irish ballad. So, after all, could there be an English origin? Let's hope that, someday, somebody will be able to tell us.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: GUEST,schlimmerkerl
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 03:02 PM

Debate to one side, it's available (as are several of his other songs) on iTunes. 99 cents! And thanks for the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Young Alvin (Packie Manus Byrne)
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 03:44 PM

Thanks to schlimmerkerl for reviving this thread. I've just had a look in Packie's book Recollections of a Donegal Man at the chapter "Droving Days" where he describes learning the song during the war years.

He was walking a couple of horses from Ballysadare to Ballybofey when he broke his journey at the camp of the Collins family outside Ballyshannon. The family were horsedealers and Packie joined them to swap tunes and songs. Kathleen, the shy fifteen year-old daughter, sang one song that really got Packie's attention:-

"The song was called 'Young Alvin', and I don't know where it came from, but it was one of the best and the most obscure stories that I ever heard. After she sang it I asked her for the words and scribbled them down on a bit of paper. It wasn't so easy trying to get the words down because there were about four of them all singing it at the same time and all talking at once. Mrs Collins could not shut up. She would be telling me one line of the song while I would be writing another, and it was most confusing. Little Kathleen wouldn't say a word at all. I would ask her something and she would look at her mother! They were never in England, the kids, but they could name the places so well that appeared in the song, like 'Woostershire', and 'Airl's Coort'. Probably I didn't pick up the song exactly as Kathleen sang it, but I did pick it up well enough to add in my own bits where I didn't catch it."

Matthew


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