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Tam Lin (Child #39-I)

DigiTrad:
TAM LIN
TAM O THE LINN
TAMLIN
TAMLYN


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GUEST,domjohnson 16 Apr 14 - 07:28 AM
Susan of DT 16 Apr 14 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 16 Apr 14 - 08:04 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 14 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Janey 16 Apr 14 - 08:12 AM
Lighter 16 Apr 14 - 08:22 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 14 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 16 Apr 14 - 09:42 AM
Jack Campin 16 Apr 14 - 11:08 AM
Steve Gardham 16 Apr 14 - 03:49 PM
Lighter 16 Apr 14 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Apr 14 - 12:45 PM
Brian Peters 17 Apr 14 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 17 Apr 14 - 02:32 PM
Phil Edwards 17 Apr 14 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Apr 14 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 17 Apr 14 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Apr 14 - 09:46 AM
The Sandman 18 Apr 14 - 12:32 PM
Les in Chorlton 18 Apr 14 - 01:26 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Apr 14 - 02:00 PM
The Sandman 18 Apr 14 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 18 Apr 14 - 04:56 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Apr 14 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,ST 19 Apr 14 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Apr 14 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 19 Apr 14 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 19 Apr 14 - 11:16 AM
Lighter 19 Apr 14 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,matt milton 19 Apr 14 - 04:06 PM
Lighter 19 Apr 14 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 20 Apr 14 - 07:07 AM
GUEST 20 Apr 14 - 04:40 PM
Richard Mellish 20 Apr 14 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Apr 14 - 05:15 PM
Lighter 20 Apr 14 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,Hilary 20 Apr 14 - 11:29 PM
The Sandman 21 Apr 14 - 12:21 AM
johncharles 21 Apr 14 - 04:13 AM
Brian Peters 21 Apr 14 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 21 Apr 14 - 06:19 AM
johncharles 21 Apr 14 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Grishka 21 Apr 14 - 08:20 AM
Richard Mellish 21 Apr 14 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,Grishka 21 Apr 14 - 11:24 AM
Lighter 21 Apr 14 - 12:59 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 21 Apr 14 - 04:57 PM
Brian Peters 21 Apr 14 - 05:31 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Apr 14 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 22 Apr 14 - 12:25 PM
GUEST 22 Apr 14 - 12:38 PM
Phil Edwards 22 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Apr 14 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 23 Apr 14 - 04:47 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Apr 14 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 24 Apr 14 - 03:38 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Apr 14 - 03:59 PM
Brian Peters 24 Apr 14 - 05:53 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Apr 14 - 12:58 PM
Lighter 25 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Apr 14 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,allan conn 26 Apr 14 - 10:37 AM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 10:21 AM
Brian Peters 27 Apr 14 - 03:40 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Apr 14 - 03:43 PM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 05:19 PM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 05:37 PM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 05:59 PM
Lighter 27 Apr 14 - 07:36 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Apr 14 - 09:35 AM
Lighter 28 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM
johncharles 28 Apr 14 - 10:45 AM
The Sandman 28 Apr 14 - 10:51 AM
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Subject: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: GUEST,domjohnson
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 07:28 AM

Hello!

So, I've been trying to wade through child ballad 39I - a particularly unusual version of Tam Lin - for a while and thought maybe I should ask here for some interpretations of some of the verses, particularly these three:

        That we got us between?
39I.26        'The truth ye'll tell to me, Tamlane,
        A word ye mauna lie;
        Gin eer ye was in haly chapel,
        Or sained in Christentie?'
39I.27        'The truth I'll tell to thee, Janet,
        A word I winna lie;
        A knight me got, and a lady me bore,
        As well as they did thee.
39I.28        'Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire,
        Dunbar, Earl March, is thine;
        We loved when we were children small,
        Which yet you well may mind.

In the first of the three, the last two lines are a complete puzzle to me - I know essentially no Scots dialect (basing the rest of the interpretations from what I know of today's North-Eastern dialect which is, of course, very different) so trying to untangle what it means is difficult. Is Janet asking if he is a supernatural being (Another version has this as "If eer ye were in holy chapel//Or christendom did see" which would suggest passing away).

As for the last two, I am struggling quite a bit so any interpretations are appreciated. I'm not sure the very last appears in other versions, hence the difficulty!


Many thanks (and I hope you all find these interesting)

Dom.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Susan of DT
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 07:57 AM

That first verse, it sounds to me, as you suggested, that she is asking whether he is human and Christian, rather than an elf or other supernatural being. The second seems to be saying that he is human and noble. The third gives his parentage and says that she knew him as a child.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 08:04 AM

Seems to me that 39I.28 is just reiterating the point, stressed in the other two verses, that he is of human noble birth, also that they were obviously well acquainted before he was whizzed off to Fairyland.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 08:06 AM

I go along with Susan's analysis.
I recommend that you read through Child's copious notes on the ballad (E.& S. P. B. vol 1) where he gives an analysis of the plot and a fascinating tour though its European analogues.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: GUEST,Janey
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 08:12 AM

How can it be 391 when there were only 305 in the collection? Why do people refer to songs as "Child Ballads" anyway, he didnt compose ANY of them it's like saying "I've just learnt The Now That's What I Call Music song 35/20 American Pie"


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 08:22 AM

To "sain" meant to "protect or bless with a ritual sign (as of the Cross)."

Janet is asking if he's a Christian. Tam Lin replies, "Not only that! My parents were of the local nobility! Remember?"

Conspiracy theorists (but few others) will note that he doesn't really answer Janet's question, does hie?

"Christendom to see" hardly suggests "passing away." It could be an attempt to make sense of an unfamiliar "sained in Christentie," or, along with being in a holy chapel, it could simply mean "have you ever been in church and are you familiar with Christianity?" (Which in context seems to imply only, "Are you really a Christian?")


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 08:44 AM

"hy do people refer to songs as "Child Ballads""
Child identified 305 songs as being 'ballads' and numbered them so the various versions could be identified and compared.
It is an invaluable reference number to those wishing to study them.
Malcolm Laws did the same with Native and Anglo-American ballads
More recently, Steve Roud has done the same with pretty near all folk songs.
It really has made a great number of people's lives a great deal easier
A toast to them all.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 09:42 AM

It's Child 39 version I, not 391. Child didn't compose any of them, as per the title "The English and Scottish POPULAR Ballads", but that in no way denigrates his importance as a scholar and anthologist. It's out of respect for Child's monumental efforts in compiling these ballads, in all their known variants, together with Continental analogues, folk tale variants etc that we call them Child ballads.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 11:08 AM

Conspiracy theorists (but few others) will note that he doesn't really answer Janet's question, does he?

That kind of attention to the fine print had been a literary commonplace since Macbeth was promised that no man born of woman could kill him. Any listener would conclude that Tam was weaseling around the question.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 03:49 PM

39 I is from Scott's Minstrelsy and therefore any awkward syntax like this is probably Scott's own. Child often gives versions from Scott's manuscripts in the later appendixes so it's worth having a look at the later versions in volume 5 to see the originals that Scott used to concoct this version. However a further warning is that some of the versions in his manuscripts were sent by people who had been concocting themselves. If this is of no interest to you as a performer, just ignore it.

Another useful pointer is that if you can't find these personal names in any other version then they are even more likely Scott's inventions as he was fond of changing/adding in historical characters.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39I)
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Apr 14 - 04:24 PM

"*Any* listener," Jack?

Not all listeners are as analytical as we are. And it's harder to pick up subtleties in a sung ballad than in the same ballad seen on a page, where you can look again and again.

Most theater-goers were presumably surprised when the witch's prophecies came true in the way they did. That's entertainment!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Apr 14 - 12:45 PM

Hi, domjohnson. I majored in English, and I love questions like yours. Here are the verses and what they mean in modern English.

'Sain' is a verb meaning to bless or consecrate or to make the sign of the cross. related to 'sign.'

'The truth ye'll tell to me, Tamlane,
       A word ye mauna lie;
       Gin eer ye was in haly chapel,
       Or sained in Christentie?'

The truth you'll tell to me, Tamlane, a word.
You must not lie.
Have you ever been in a holy chapel
or blessed by Christianity? (she probably means "Have you ever been   baptized?")
=========================

39I.27       'The truth I'll tell to thee, Janet,
       A word I winna lie;
       A knight me got, and a lady me bore,
       As well as they did thee.

The truth I'll tell to you, Janet, a word.
I will not lie.
A (human) knight fathered me and a (human) lady bore me,
just as a knight and a lady did thee.
=============

       Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire,
       Dunbar, Earl March, is thine;
       We loved when we were children small,
       Which yet you well may mind.

Randolph, the Earl of Murray, was my father,
Dunbar, Earl of March, is yours.
We loved (were affectionate) when we were small children,
as you may still recall.
==============
Whatya think?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Apr 14 - 01:11 PM

> Why do people refer to songs as "Child Ballads" anyway, he didnt compose ANY of them it's like saying "I've just learnt The Now That's What I Call Music song 35/20 American Pie"

Except that the vast majority of the Child Ballads had anonymous composers.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 17 Apr 14 - 02:32 PM

And most of them made far more sense than American Pie.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Apr 14 - 03:14 PM

The truth you'll tell to me, Tamlane, a word.
You must not lie.
Have you ever been in a holy chapel
or blessed by Christianity?


I'm pretty sure it's "a word ye mauna lie", all one phrase. Also "sained in Christentie", not 'by'. So I'd say it's

The truth you'll tell to me, Tamlane,
You must not lie, not even a word
Were you ever in a holy chapel
or consecrated as a Christian?

My impression is that 'sained' is quite a strong word - 'sanctified' or 'made holy'. Which is what the sacrament of baptism does: it makes the baptisee holy by admitting him/her to Christianity.

The truth I'll tell to you, Janet, a word.
I will not lie.
A (human) knight fathered me and a (human) lady bore me,
just as a knight and a lady did thee.


Again, I'd go for

The truth I'll tell to you, Janet,
I will not lie, not even a word.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Apr 14 - 04:26 PM

Yes, that makes sense too.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Apr 14 - 06:14 PM

Sense?
a few of them are little better than nonsense, lord randall[ tedious drivel on a par with american pie]
hugh of lincoln anti semitic propoganda, bonny george campbell, a fragment, what happened next did he start a soup factory?
a gest of robin hood, Robin displays a poor sense of humour,SINGULARLY LONG WINDED AND NOT FUNNY., no wonder nobody sings it, dreadful fare, rather like being made to eat mcdonalds food for ten minutes non stop.
the bristow tragedie 100 verses of my noble liege and not much action, a number are very poor indeed.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 09:46 AM

And how does that differ from most other forms of pop music?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 12:32 PM

most forms of pop music are only 3 minutes of tedium.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 01:26 PM

Grump, grump, grumpty grump. But good points all the same Soldier


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 02:00 PM

Yes, Dick, I'd even say more than a few, but Child didn't set out to include any ballads on grounds of quality, although, like you he made it obvious when he did include stuff he thought was rubbish. His intention from the off was to be as inclusive as possible, warts and all. Most of us seem to agree though that despite this he just about got everything in there that was wonderful and available to him. I don't remember any of the Bristol Tragedies being in Child but you obviously have a different edition to me.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 04:26 PM

correct,Steve, glad to see you are watching like the Skibbereen Eagle. the bristow tragedie [not bristol],or the death of sir charles bawdin,is by thomas chatterton1752 to 1770 text 1772 edition.
I agree there are some good songs, gest of robin hood, is child and is that interminable bore, lord randall.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 04:56 PM

should read, i agree there are some good songs , but not gest of robyn hoode and not that interminable bore lord randall


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Apr 14 - 05:04 PM

And yet Lord Randal is one of the most widespread ballads and not just in the English-speaking world. It must have something going for it! One man's meat eh?

Of course there is no evidence that the Geste was ever sung or even recited. Perhaps it was just a collection of rhymed stories after all!

And anyway fashions change over the centuries. I can't imagine anyone attempting to sing it today.

As for making sense, I have never had much of a problem with the sense in the vast majority of ballads, even those that have been worn down to the bare bones. Tam Lin has always made wonderful sense to me, even in some of the concocted versions. It's one of my all-time favourites.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 04:40 AM

"a gest of robin hood, Robin displays a poor sense of humour,SINGULARLY LONG WINDED AND NOT FUNNY."

Why should anyone think The GESTE of Robin Hood should/would be funny? It seems to be exactly what the title says it is; a tale of adventure in verse about Robin Hood.

As for being boring, I don't disagree but I do recognise a lot of the storylines from various Richard Green episodes in there – just all run together.   Remember they didn't have Eastenders in those days to bore them so they had to have something! I bet if you asked someone to retell the last month's Eastenders' storylines you'd get something on a par.

I didn't think Child was collecting these ballads with a view to being a source of material for 21st Century folk singers and there are other reasons to read his collection than just to look for singable songs.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 10:39 AM

Now wait a minute. Pretend for a moment that it's 1550 AD or 1650 or 1750. It's cold, the winds blasts right through the house, nights seem interminable, and there's no TV. Sex is problematic because there's very little privacy.

What better thing to do than to gather round the fire and sing long songs lampooning the so-called upper classes? It's even better if a song has a refrain so everybody can join in.

That's what ballads were all about.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 10:45 AM

What the hell is wrong with Lord Randall?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 11:16 AM

I'm with you, Fred.

Lord Randall is - IMHO - a superb tragic ballad, and often attracts superior tunes. But that's not the reason why I'm inclined to it: the lengthy question and answer format (in the hands of a good story-telling singer) heightens tension to an almost unbearable level, and keeps the listener hanging on for every new revelation -- until, finally, the truth is revealed.

For an example of this, Google Kist o Riches (the wonderful archive of recorded material from the School of Scottish Studies and others) and enter Lord Randall/Arthur Argo into search. This recording was made in the 1950s and features a young Arthur at an early People's Festival ceilidh in Edinburgh: he sings Lord Randall to the very trite tune of 'Villikens and his Dinah' and nerves are evident in the first two thirds of the recording -- but as he approaches the finale the story overtakes him and the full strength of the denunciation is apparent. A masterful performance, in many ways.

(Apologies for being unable to do the clicky link thing, but please try it for yourselves to see what I mean -- and, of course, the story-telling gift in a singer will always help to clarify text to a listener. As the whole tension in Tam Lin lies between Elfland and - what is often described as - Christendom, I'm fairly confident that most listeners would recognise this in the exchange quoted in the original post, without necessarily having knowledge of the precise meaning of 'sain'.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 02:21 PM

> gather round the fire and sing long songs lampooning the so-called upper classes?

You must think "Randall" and "Spens" and "The Gypsy Laddie" and "The Baron o' Brackley" are real knee-slappers!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 04:06 PM

I used to find long ballads unutterably boring but now I find that all it takes is hearing one person's inspired performance of a ballad I could hitherto find zilch of interest in for me to completely re-think it.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 05:16 PM

Meant to mention "Bonnie James Campbell" and "The Bonnie Earl o' Murray" as well.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 07:07 AM

The first time I heard Tam Lin it was being sung by Mike Waterson at the Folk Union One in Hull.

I heard it through the peephole in the door being lucky enough to be at the head of the silent queue waiting to re-enter the room. There was no slipping in in those days!

I found it rivetting then and I still do.

I have also heard many excellent renditions by other singers and try as I might cannot recall any duff ones. Maybe I have just been lucky (it's the company I keep) or the song uses its magical qualities to ward off the less able (nearly said crap) singer.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 04:40 PM

It's a meaty ballad, requiring some effort from the singer. I think the sort of singer who wouldn't be able to do it justice probably wouldn't bother to learn it and sing it at all. For me the classic version is the one put together by Bert Lloyd and sung by Frankie Armstrong, but that's not to say there haven't been other fine versions.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 05:01 PM

Oops, cookie lost again. Now reset. That last one was from me.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 05:15 PM

Hello, Lighter

I admit 'lampoon' was the wrong verb. But if you read through a collection of ballads, rather than deal with one at a time, you soon realize that their is theme running through almost all of them, and that is theme of what jerks the upper classes are.

Whether they are poisoning their lovers, murdering maidens while on their knightly rambles or knifing in the back the suitor they disapprove of, they are all bad people.

It was rather like Kansans telling anti-Oklahoma jokes, only more bitter.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 08:14 PM

I think that's a very contemporary interpretation, though it undoubtedly applies to a few minor ballads.

It's like saying Greek drama is mainly about exposing gods and heroes as jerks. Or that "Macbeth" was understood as revolutionary propaganda. ("Those no good nobles! All they do is scheme and kill and get us into wars and then outfox themselves! Loved it!")


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Hilary
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 11:29 PM

Leeneia, I would posit the idea that the ballads are not necessarily about the immorality of the upper classes, but about the way people in general can treat each other. They make us question who we are as human beings and how we should treat one another, what we expect from relationships with other people. Pretty much every single Child Ballad has a relationship between two characters which is then threatened by a third character as the central problem of the story. If you want to read a really good study about the way the ballads functioned in rural 18th century Scotland, I highly recommend David Buchan's book The Ballad and the Folk.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 12:21 AM

LORD RANDALL in my opinion is a very poor ballad, that is not in the same league as Tam Linn, its story content is weak rather like Bonny George Campbell, in fact Culinary wise the two ballads are like eating a tin of campbells soup and a four course dinner, each to their own.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: johncharles
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 04:13 AM

The following link contains a paragraph which neatly sums up the power of the fragmentary ballad Bonny George Campbell.

bonny george campbell
john


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 06:09 AM

I agree with Hilary that the ballads tell stories of basic human behaviour and emotion, many of which happen to be set in a fantasy world of royalty and aristocracy.

As for 'Lord Randall' and 'Bonny George Campbell', they're two of my favourite ballads. Although a complex and detailed plot like that of 'Tam Lin' can be rivetting, so too can a 'bare bones' story.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 06:19 AM

Brian. Precisely. It's the fact that we're not told why Lord Randall's girlfriend poisoned him, or what happened to Bonnie George Campbell which makes both ballads so rivetting.

Come to that, all ballads work in much the same way. If it hasn't been shorn of all superfluous detail it isn't a ballad.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: johncharles
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 06:19 AM

spot on Brian.
john


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 08:20 AM

If Tam had been Janet's playmate as a child, this absolutely implies that he was considered the legitimate and baptized son of a noble family. He may have been a changeling, though, son of an elf knight and lady. Or he may just have lied ...

Folk tales are usually about powerful persons, including wizards etc., to emphasize the need to make up one's mind and take responsibility for one's decisions. Ordinary people often feel that they have little to decide at all, but if the situation occurs, they must be prepared, as if they were queens or fairies. For example, foolish wishes are a motif known to the whole world, in folk tales and reality; we must be warned that they may come true!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 08:26 AM

"... foolish wishes are a motif known to the whole world, in folk tales and reality; we must be warned that they may come true!"

Indeed -- but does anyone in this particular ballad fall into that trap? The only character who ends up disappointed is the elf queen, and only because she wasn't prepared for Tam to be rescued.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 11:24 AM

Foolish wishes are an example of the general observation that decision-makers are most suitable protagonists of tales - not mainly for lampooning or schadenfreude, what leeneia seems to suggest.

In our democracies, we often see little political parties with absurd agendas, designed to attract the so-called protest vote. When they suddenly have to join coalition governments, it may be too late. Their voters should have learned from those fairy tales.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 12:59 PM

One reason celebrity gossip is common in today's media (and non-celeb gossip is absent) is that just being a celebrity makes you interesting: the glamor, the wealth, the adventure, the opportunities to escape boredom and routine!

Like being a seventeenth-century noble.

I think it was only natural that nobles would have been preferred as ballad protagonists for just that reason.

If one desires to look deeper, there is the "tsk, tsk" factor. All those advantages and they can still suffer and mess up their lives, just like us. And, more significant I think, is the familiar tragic motive mentioned by Hilary and Brian. It doesn't matter so much that they're nobles: what makes the story is what they do and what happens to them.

Its worth repeating that Greek tragedy was all about nobles as well. The audiences evidently wouldn't have it any other way. Ordinary people were just too limited.

Of course, you never can tell what individuals are thinking in the presence of art. *Somebody* may have thought Macbeth was a satire or that "Bonnie George Campbell" was a good one on the bigwigs.

Not many would enjoy spending much time with such a person, however.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM

Going back a tad, Leenia's reply needs expanding, the need for long ballads in winter evenings still exists in the Borders, where TV signals are weak unless you have satellite and the nearest cinema is four hours and more away. It's why Northumbrian piping is so strong, the tradition of visiting around in the evenings continues to this day, each farm hosting the neighbourhood one night a week and being hosted in return. The answer is to learn to play, so each verse is subtly different, telling the tale in the music as well as the words.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 04:57 PM

And to respond to Guest above - I'm entirely with you: a ballad like Lord Randall or Son David or Lizzie Wan with lots of repetition needs a good story-telling singer to bring emotional differentiation to the inevitable progression towards the final resolution, so that the audience is prepared to accept the delay in arriving at the final outcome.

But a ballad like Tam Lin needs - IMHO - a rather different narrative drive: there is certainly some formulaic repetition, but the whole narrative is 'rushing' towards a solution rather than delaying it, and so a singer needs command of pace and energy sooner than the sonority which would be more appropriate in Lord Randall.

I'm really enjoying this exchange -- even though we've moved quite a bit sideways from the original post!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 05:31 PM

That is a really good point, Anne. I feel the same about ballads like 'Young Hunting' or 'Sir Aldingar', where there's lots of narrative and it comes at you at quite a pace!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 11:36 AM

Whilst agreeing about the longer action-packed ballads I've always felt they don't need any dramatic input at all. The only thing the singer needs to do is not distract the listeners from the story in any way. This is also why I don't like musical interludes or overelaborate accompaniment for such items.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 12:25 PM

Steve. I agree with both your points. For me, the best ballad singers never get in the way of the story, and neither should the accompaniment. In fact I'd strongly question the wisdom of applying any accompaniment to any ballad, unless it's a bloody good bluegrass band doing Gypsy Davy or something similar.

In fact I doubt that anyone who heard Bert Lloyd singing Tam Lin or Ewan McColl singing Clyde's Water, or the Keane Sisters singing Lord Donegal would disagree.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 12:38 PM

Part of it is in characterisation: the Ballads usually have a limited number of core characters and it helps to have each distinct. It can be that male and female roles call for a duet performance, and at the very least you need to be able to command a range of tones and accents, without becoming hackneyed about it.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM

Steve G - I had an unreasoning dislike of Sir Patrick Spens for some time after hearing somebody on a singers' night breaking up this rather long ballad with between-verse twiddly bits, the effect of which was to make it last rather longer than Desolation Row. The fact that I was waiting to get called myself (and never was) had something to do with this!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 02:28 PM

GUEST
In only a very few of the ballads (and I can call to mind perhaps a couple) is there any difficulty in knowing immediately which character is speaking. Things like tones and accents can be there in the listener's head but used by the singer they can still be a distraction. Yes there are folk songs that are suited to duet. In fact I'd go as far as to say some were most likely written with that in mind, but not the big ballads. Even those like 'Son David' that are all dialogue do not require a duet and I can't ever remember having heard them sung in this way.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 23 Apr 14 - 04:47 PM

Steve, I'm with you on the question of knowing which character is speaking at any given point in a ballad. My experience of singing or listening to repetitious/dialogue ballads is that a good, story-telling singer will automatically point up the speaker with 'said he '/ 'cried she' etc. And I've never heard a duet performance either -- or one that I can remember liking!

And, along with Phil, I'm not enamoured of accompanied versions which create lengthy instrumental interludes for "dramatic tension" -- a good singer has ways of doing that by him/herself. (Although I would trust a few singers to accompany themselves tastefully.)

My own starting point is the unaccompanied ballad, and the amazing performances I've been lucky enough to hear over the years. I've been fortunate enough to hear (in live performance) Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Davie Stewart, Sheila Stewart, and Norman Kennedy: and latterly Gordeanna McCulloch, Heather Heywood, Tom Spiers, Arthur Watson, Adam McNaughtan, Kevin Mitchell et al.
All of these singers are in complete control of the narrative of their ballads and are quite capable of persuading an audience likewise.

End result is that I'm seriously considering working up a presentation of Tam Lin, to appreciate any problems for myself!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 11:12 AM

Hi Anne! Best of luck with that. A good starting point for learning a long ballad I've always found is writing down what you can remember from all the other versions you've heard over the years. I don't sing Tam Lin myself but I utilise the Waterson/Lloyd tune for my version of Maid and the Palmer. It works very well.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 03:38 PM

Steve, I'm not sure whether you know it, but the tune which Bert used for Tam Lin was actually derived from a version of Let No Man Steal Your Thyme which Isla Cameron used to sing.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 03:59 PM

I may have assumed that Bert and Mike's tunes were the same. I only heard Bert sing it a couple of times whereas I heard Mike sing his almost on a weekly basis and my memory's not that good. My tune is definitely based on Mike's. I've never bothered to check if it was a traditional tune, I just fell in love with the tune. But come to think of it it does sound a bit like a minor variant of the thyme tunes.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 05:53 PM

Isn't it a pretty generic ballad tune? Something very similar carries Martin McDonagh's 'Lady Margaret' (aka 'Young Hunting').

But what about Anne Briggs' tune? Not the usual one as far as I can remember, though you'd have expected she'd have got it from Bert.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 12:58 PM

I normally steer well clear of ballad tune origins as I am very much text-based when I have my researcher's cap on. Also what makes matters worse as far as revival renderings are concerned is the heavy muddying of the waters by the likes of Bert and Ewan. I use the word 'worse' as a researcher; with my singer's cap on I would be more inclined to use 'better'.

Regarding Bert's tune, somewhere in the dim and distant past I could easily just have assumed that Mike got his tune from Bert. Either way without serious research it would be foolish to put any store in a revival singer's version of anything regarding its relationship to earlier oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM

> I use the word 'worse' as a researcher; with my singer's cap on I would be more inclined to use 'better'.

That well sums up the theme of many a thread, Steve.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 04:16 PM

Hi Jon,
Have you anything you can add to thoughts on the Smith brothers on the Child Ballads thread?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,allan conn
Date: 26 Apr 14 - 10:37 AM

I take it the guest was joking. Tv reception for the vast bulk of folk in the borders is rather good, and i live bang in the middle of the region. 4 hours driving would get us south to Newark or north past Aberdeen. For most people the nearest cinema isn't very far. For me it is 16 miles to the multiplex in galashiels. Only takes about 25 mins thoughts


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 10:21 AM

back to lord randall, each to their own,but i can not understand how anyone can seriously say that an absence of a plot makes a song riveting, but we will have to agree to disagree.
which is why I find alot of martin amis books, and pincher marten tedious, Amis does write beautiful English, but in my opinion has little to say.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 03:40 PM

'Pincher Martin' (by William Golding), like 'Lord Randall', is both moving and profound.

A young man, mysteriously poisoned - apparently by his lover - his mother trying to comfort him... the slowly dawning realization of the horror of situation... her helplessness in the face of his inevitable death... his bitter instruction to be avenged... That's not a plot?

I agree to disagree.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 03:43 PM

Dick, why do you keep repeating this? You're obviously in a minority of one. We're happy to take this as your opinion which is all it can be. As you say 'each to their own (opinion?). What's the point in labouring this?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 05:19 PM

Brian you find it deep and profound,I find it a tedious book, neither do I have any inclination to sing Lord Randall.
I am pointing out that in my opinion not all ballads are worth singing, the choice will always be subjective, some people who go to folk clubs are not keen on any ballads,
Steve as for a minorty of one[presumably you mean on this thread], so what?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 05:37 PM

Some singers, obviously not Brian, appear to choose a traditional song, because it is traditional, I came across a few singers like this in the seventies.
Personally, I choose a song because it catches my attention, Iam not sure I always did this, I think when I first started I jut started to try and build a repertoirewithout being too discriminating, Iknow i bypassed the gallant frigate amphitrite for many years because i thought it was over sung, and I had not listened to the words carefully. I used to sing boNny george campbell, a song that i now consider a fragment and more of a waste of space than lord randall, Tam Linn,is a song[imo] that has a complicated plot. likewise Thomas the rhymerTrue Thomas sat on Huntley bank
And he beheld a lady gay
A lady that was brisk and bold
Come riding o'er the ferny brae
        

True Thomas sat on Huntley bank
And he beheld a lady gay
A lady that was brisk and bold
Come riding o'er the ferny brae

Her skirt was of the grass green silk,
Her mantle of the velvet fine
At every lock of her horse's mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine
        

True Thomas, he pulled off his cap
And bowed him low down to his knee
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven
Your like on earth I ne'er did see."
        

True Thomas, he pulled off his cap
And bowed him low down to his knee
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven
Your like on earth I ne'er did see."

"No, no, Thomas," she said,
"That name does not belong to me
I am the queen of fair Elfland
And I have come to visit thee."
        

"You must go with me, Thomas," she said,
"True Thomas, you must go with me
And must serve me seven years
Through well or woe, as chance may be."
        



She turned about her milk white steed
And took Thomas up behind
And aye whenever her bridle rang
Her steed flew swifter than the wind
        

She turned about her milk white steed
And they rode faster than the wind
Until they came to a desert wide
And living land was left behind

For forty days and forty nights
They rode through red blood to the knee
And they saw neither sun nor moon
But heard the roaring of the sea
        

For forty days and forty nights
They rode through red blood to their knee
And they saw neither sun nor moon
but heard the roaring of the sea

And they rode on and further on
Further and swifter than the wind
Until they came to a desert wide
And living land was left behind
        

"Don't you see yon narrow, narrow road
So thick beset with thorns and briars?
That is the road to righteousness
Though after it but few enquire."
        

"Don't you see yon broad, broad road
That lies across the lily leaven?
That is the road to wickedness
Though some call it the road to heaven."
        

"Don't you see yon bonny, Boone road
That lies across the ferny brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland
Where you and I this night must go."
        

"Don't you see yon bone, Bonn road
That lies across the ferny brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland
Where you and I this night must go."


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 05:59 PM

back to lord randall, the version i really detest is this one, which is frequently sung in folk clubs

Where have you been all the day, Henry my boy?
Where have you been all the day, my pride and joy?
In the woods, dear mother
In the woods, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What did you do in the woods all day, Henry my son?
What did you do in the woods all day, my pretty one?
Ate, dear mother
Ate, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What did you eat in the woods all day, Henry my boy?
What did you eat in the woods all day, my saveloy?
Eels, dear mother
Eels, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What color was those eels, Henry my boy?
What color was those eels, my pride and joy?
Green and yeller
Green and yeller
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

Those eels were snakes, Henry my boy
Those eels were snakes, my saveloy
Urgh, dear mother
Urgh, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What color flowers would you like, Henry my son?
What color flowers would you like, my currant bun?
Green and yeller
Green and yeller
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die
This version has EVEN less plot Than other versions, why would anyone sing this, when they could sing a version that gives some explanation as to why, the above does not mention any motive, just someone getting poisoned, no mention of a lover, if i was going to sing lord randall,i wouldnt sing the above one


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 07:36 PM

That one sucks, all right.

But it ain't because of the plot.

It's practically a burlesque of the song.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 09:35 AM

Jon,
It is a burlesque, no question, and part of the attraction is the exaggerated delivery taking the piss out of the original. Originally it would have been sung in costume on stage. I can't believe Dick thought this was a serious song!

Just to show I'm not completely in disagreement, Dick, I agree with you on 'Bonny George Campbell', but I know singers who think it is lovely, and they're perfectly entitled to do that.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM

"Bonnie George Campbell" was probably the fourth ballad I met with, at the age of twelve. (The first two had been "Streets of Laredo" and Disney's "Balld of Davy Crockett." The third was "Tom Dooley.")

The simple tune of "Campbell" was haunting. The strange words had meaning in spite of themselves, and there was something chilling (I still remember it!) in the bare-bones narrative that forced the unspoken events into my mind.

If I'd first heard it ten years later, maybe I wouldn't have been impressed.

But since I didn't, I have to say, yeah, it's beautiful.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: johncharles
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 10:45 AM

I am with Lighter on this one. Universal themes captured in a few short lines. It moves me every time I sing it.
john.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 10:51 AM

I am not saying BGC has a bad tune.I just do not want to hear green and yellow ever again, i agree other versions of lord randall are better.


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