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Origins: Pretty Saro

DigiTrad:
AT THE FOOT OF YONDER MOUNTAIN
PRETTY SARAH (5)
PRETTY SARO
PRETTY SARO (4)
PRETTY SARO 2
PRETTY SARO 3


Related threads:
Lyr Add: The Maid from Buncloudy (2)
Lyr Req: Pretty Saro (Doc Watson) (2)


Lesley N. 04 Dec 99 - 07:56 AM
bunkerhill 04 Dec 99 - 09:38 AM
Lesley N. 04 Dec 99 - 10:01 PM
raredance 04 Dec 99 - 11:42 PM
raredance 04 Dec 99 - 11:57 PM
doug 05 Dec 99 - 12:18 AM
Lesley N. 05 Dec 99 - 12:30 AM
raredance 05 Dec 99 - 12:47 AM
Mary in Kentucky 05 Dec 99 - 11:19 AM
Lesley N. 05 Dec 99 - 12:14 PM
Mary in Kentucky 05 Dec 99 - 12:23 PM
bunkerhill 05 Dec 99 - 01:00 PM
Mary in Kentucky 05 Dec 99 - 01:39 PM
Lesley N. 05 Dec 99 - 02:04 PM
harpgirl 07 Oct 01 - 12:29 AM
Amos 07 Oct 01 - 11:08 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 07 Oct 01 - 04:44 PM
SharonA 08 Oct 01 - 11:13 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 08 Oct 01 - 11:31 AM
harpgirl 08 Oct 01 - 01:06 PM
Peter T. 08 Oct 01 - 01:10 PM
harpgirl 08 Oct 01 - 01:18 PM
harpgirl 08 Oct 01 - 01:34 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 08 Oct 01 - 06:28 PM
Joe Offer 08 Oct 01 - 06:42 PM
harpgirl 08 Oct 01 - 08:11 PM
GUEST,Saro 01 Nov 01 - 12:30 PM
Mary in Kentucky 01 Nov 01 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,saro 01 Nov 01 - 12:46 PM
Desert Dancer 01 Nov 01 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,saro 02 Nov 01 - 04:26 PM
harpgirl 02 Nov 01 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,guest sarah 24 Apr 02 - 06:40 PM
GUEST 24 Apr 02 - 06:46 PM
Hrothgar 24 Apr 02 - 08:12 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 24 Apr 02 - 08:28 PM
GUEST,Wee Willie 25 Apr 02 - 01:27 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 25 Apr 02 - 01:51 PM
RolyH 25 Apr 02 - 02:41 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Apr 02 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Joan Sprung 26 Apr 02 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,WeeWillie 26 Apr 02 - 05:06 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 26 Apr 02 - 05:14 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 26 Apr 02 - 05:19 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Apr 02 - 05:49 PM
Uncle_DaveO 27 Apr 02 - 07:24 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 Apr 02 - 07:57 PM
Uncle_DaveO 28 Apr 02 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 29 Apr 02 - 10:21 AM
John Minear 14 Aug 02 - 06:23 PM
John Minear 14 Aug 02 - 06:47 PM
John Minear 14 Aug 02 - 07:24 PM
John Minear 26 Aug 02 - 07:27 AM
Kim C 26 Aug 02 - 05:21 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Aug 02 - 10:12 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 26 Aug 02 - 11:43 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 Aug 02 - 12:33 AM
masato sakurai 27 Aug 02 - 02:56 AM
masato sakurai 27 Aug 02 - 04:27 AM
masato sakurai 27 Aug 02 - 05:01 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 Aug 02 - 12:28 PM
Kiki 28 Aug 02 - 10:36 AM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Aug 02 - 11:20 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 02 - 05:45 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Aug 02 - 07:21 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 02 - 08:52 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 02 - 09:22 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 02 - 09:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Aug 02 - 09:37 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 02 - 10:31 PM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 02 - 12:26 AM
John Minear 29 Aug 02 - 08:16 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 29 Aug 02 - 03:25 PM
Art Thieme 30 Aug 02 - 05:42 PM
Art Thieme 30 Aug 02 - 11:47 PM
harpgirl 26 Nov 02 - 08:11 PM
michaelr 28 Nov 02 - 12:36 AM
John Minear 28 Nov 02 - 09:44 PM
Richie 28 Nov 02 - 10:13 PM
michaelr 30 Nov 02 - 01:57 PM
John Minear 01 Dec 02 - 07:41 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 01 Dec 02 - 06:27 PM
Richie 01 Dec 02 - 11:43 PM
michaelr 02 Dec 02 - 12:01 AM
John Minear 02 Dec 02 - 01:30 PM
Richie 03 Dec 02 - 12:37 PM
Stephen R. 30 Mar 03 - 07:09 PM
Allan C. 30 Mar 03 - 10:32 PM
Desert Dancer 31 Mar 03 - 12:07 PM
Stephen R. 31 Mar 03 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Q 28 Jun 03 - 01:45 PM
GUEST 28 Jun 03 - 02:14 PM
toadfrog 02 Sep 03 - 11:33 PM
BanjoRay 03 Sep 03 - 03:31 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Sep 03 - 02:16 PM
John Minear 27 Feb 05 - 07:31 AM
John Minear 27 Feb 05 - 07:48 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 27 Feb 05 - 07:24 PM
Leadfingers 27 Feb 05 - 09:09 PM
Leadfingers 27 Feb 05 - 09:10 PM
John Minear 28 Feb 05 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,here's hoping 21 Feb 09 - 03:51 PM
GUEST 23 Feb 10 - 02:49 AM
GUEST,Tannywheeler 17 May 10 - 10:40 PM
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Subject: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Lesley N.
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 07:56 AM

Pretty Saro is in the database and there is a thread with Doc Watson's lyrics as well - but no information on the song. I've traced it to Sharpe's English Folksongs from teh Southern Appalachians but haven't found anything else. Does anyone know something about the suspected origins of the song?


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: bunkerhill
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 09:38 AM

It's related somehow to the Irish song "Bunclody." The first lines of the first three verses are 1. Oh were I at the moss house where the birds do increase...2. Oh, tis why my love slights me as you might understand...3. Oh were I a clerk and could write a fine hand.... My hunch is Pretty Saro came first, but maybe it could help with your trace?


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Lesley N.
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 10:01 PM

Thanks very much. I managed to find a bit at the Ballad Index on Pretty Saro - but haven't found anything on Bunclody!!


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO (from North Carolina)^^
From: raredance
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 11:42 PM

The Frank C Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (Duke Univ Press 1952) describes Pretty Saro (aka Pretty Sarah) "a favorite song in the South, and carried thence to the Midwest. It is reported as as a traditional song from Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, the Ozarks, Indiana, and Iowa.... The author - if it had one - has not been discovered." Two text versions and six tune variations are included in the FCB Collection. The first is rather much longer than most.

PRETTY SARO

When first to this country a stranger I came,
I placed my affection on a handsome young dame.
I looked all around me, and I was alone
And a poor stranger and a long way from home.

CHORUS:
Oh Saro, pretty Saro, I love you, I do
I love you, pretty Saro, wherever I go;
No tongue can express it, no poet can tell
How truly I love you, oh I love you so well.

Down in some lonely valley, in some lonesome place,
Where the small birds are singing and the notes to increase
The thoughts of pretty Saro, so neat and complete,
I want no better pastime than to be with my sweet.

Oh I wish I was a poet and could write some fine hand;
I would write my love a letter that she might understand
And send it by the waters where the island overflows,
And think of pretty Saro wherever I go.

My love she don't love me, as I understand,
She wants some freeholder, and I have no land.
But I can maintain her with the silver and gold
And all the pretty fine things that my love's house can hold.

Oh Saro, pretty Saro, I must let you know
How truly I love you - I never can, though;
No tongue can express it, no poet can tell
How truly I love you, I love you so well.

It's not the long journey I'm dreading to go
Nor leaving of this country for the debts that I owe;
There is but one thing that troubles my mind,
That's a-leaving pretty Saro, my true love, behind.

Farewell my dear father, likewise my mother too,
I'm a-going to ramble this country all through.
And when I get tired, I'll sit down and weep
And think of pretty Saro wherever she be.

Oh I wish I was a little dove, had wings and could fly,
Straight to my love's bosom this night I'd draw nigh
And in her little small arms all night I would lay
And think of pretty Saro till the dawning of day.

I love you, pretty Saro, I love you, I know.
I love you, pretty Saro, wherever I go.
On the banks of the ocean and the mountain's sad brow
I love you then dearly, and I love you still now.
^^
Note that verses 5 and 9 borrow heavily from the chorus.

rich r


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO (from North Carolina)^^
From: raredance
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 11:57 PM

Here is the second text from the Frank C Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore.

PRETTY SARO

Pretty Saro, pretty Saro, I love you, I know,
I love you so dealy I never can show.

On the banks of old Cowie, on the banks of said brow,
I loved you dearly, and I love you still now.

Down in some lonely valley, in some lonely place,
I hear small birds singing their notes to increas.

I makes me think of pretty Saro, her ways were so complete
. . . . . . . .

It's not this long journey that troubles my mind,
NOr the country I'm leaving behind.

My true love won't have me, so I understand;
She wants a freeholder, and I have no land.

Whenever I get tired I set down and weep
And think of pretty Saro wherever I be.
^^

The book suggests that that the odd line "banks of said brow" might be a corruption of the line in verse 9 of the other version which has "the mountain's sad brow"

rich r


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: doug
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 12:18 AM

like the lyrics, how can i get the tune? (i don't know how to get tunes in general) thanks doug


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Lesley N.
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 12:30 AM

You can find the tune (one of them at least) at Pretty Saro (http://www.contemplator.com/folk6/saro.html).

Interesting variations. Vance Randolph also has the song In Eighteen Hundred and Forty-Nine in Vol. 4 - says it took parts of Pretty Saro and Jack of Diamonds as well. The version I have of PS doesn't have the verse about wishing to be a dove - which is similar to Fair and Tender Ladies... Seems like much cross pollination is going on and isn't likely to be all sorted out. Such is both the pleasure and frustration of folk music...


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO / PRETTY SARAH^^
From: raredance
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 12:47 AM

Dorothy Scarborough in "A Song Catcher in Southern Mountains, American Folk Songs of British Ancestry" (Columbia University press, 1937) includs two versions that she collected in 1930. One was from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, the other was collected in the Asheville, North Carolina area near the Smoky Mountains. She has a somewhat different take on the origins of the song as indicated by the book title and the following passage from the book:

"Mrs. Stikeleather also sang it (i.e Pretty Saro) into my Dictaphone and contributed it to this collection. She told me that while the date 'eighteen-forty-nine' is used in some of the versions of the song, 'seventeen-forty-nine' is more probably correct, as that year witnessed considerable immigration to North Carolina from Ireland and Scotland, and this old English song was no doubt adapted to its new setting at that time"

This is an interesting anecdote, and plausible too, but can't be considered strong evidence because there is no connection made to the purported English predecessor. Later Scarborough says that the use of the phrase "free-holder" indicates the song is of British origin. I am not sure how the distinction is made between a song brought over from Britain and a song assembled in the USA by recent English-speaking immigrants. Here is the text she collected in NC

PRETTY SARO

I came to this country in seventeen-forty-nine,
I saw many a true love, but I never saw mine.
I looked all around me and found I was alone.
And me a poor stranger, and a long way from home.

Down in some lonesome valley, down in some lonesome place,
Where the wild birds do whistle their notes to increase,
I think of pretty Saro whose waist is so neat,
And I know of no better pastime than to be with my sweet.

I wish I were a poet and could write a fine hand,
I would send my love a letter that she could understand.
And I'd send it by a messenger where the waters do flow
And think of pretty Saro wherever I go.

And here is the text collected in Virginia:

PRETTY SARAH

Down in some low valley in some lonesome place,
Where the small birds to whistle their notes do increase.
I think on pretty Sarah and her ways air so compleat,
I could wish no better pastime than to be with my sweet.

I came to this country eighteen-sixty-nine,
I saw many lovers but I never saw mine.
I looked all around me, I found I was alone,
And I a poor soldier and a long ways from home.

I wish I was a larks man and had wings and could fly
Down in my love's window this night I would lie.
All day and all night I would set down and cry,
And in my love's lily white arms this night I would lie.

I wish I was a penceman (pen-man, i.e writer)and could write a fine hand,
I would write my love a letter that she might understand
I would send it by the waters and the Island do flow
I think on pretty Sarah wherever I may go.

My love she won't have me because I am poor
She says I am not worthy of entering her door.
But I could maintain her on silver or gold
And meny other fine things that my love's house could hold.

My love she won't have me, as I understand
She wants some free-holder that has houses and land.
But she will repent it when her love's all in vain,
For love is a torment and a heart-breaking thing.
^^

Notice the 1800's date in the second version and how the folk process converted "waist is so neat" to "ways air so complete" or vice versa.

rich r


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARD IS THE FORTUNE
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 11:19 AM

Hi Lesley,

Yep, it's me, Mary!

Talk about knock my socks off when I heard your "Pretty Saro." It's one of my favs, but I've always known that tune as "HARD IS THE FORTUNE." My tune starts out just like yours, but then is a little different. Here are the words:

Hard is the fortune
of all womankind
She's always controlled,
she's always confined.
Controlled by her parents
until she's a wife,
Then a slave to her husband
the rest of her life.

My horses are hungry,
They won't eat your hay;
So goodbye, little darlin'
I'm going away.
Your parents don't like me,
They say I'm too poor;
They say I'm not worthy
To enter your door.

TTYL,
Mary (AKA, Mary in Kentucky)


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Lesley N.
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 12:14 PM

How interesting. Sounds like the woman's answer to Prety Saro! I'll see if I can find anything on it. In case I can't - do you have the tune anywhere Mary? I suppose it could be one of the variations in Randolph or Sharpe... I'd love to put it up!


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 12:23 PM

I'll send it to you. It was the first song I sequenced and is only two voices.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: bunkerhill
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 01:00 PM

Mary in Ky: "Hard is My Fortune" lyrics look a lot like the ones I first heard as "Bachelor's Hall" and later as "Wagoner's Lad." Since I just came in from another planet, could someone explain why oppression of women was such a popular theme? Lesley N.: I've got no notes on Bunclody. Found it in "Ireland the Songs: Book 4" (publisher's US rep is Walton Music Inc., 110 Elm St., Westfield, MA, 01085). Penultimate line is "I am bound for Amerikay, my fortune to try," which may point toward famine-gold rush year of 1849 referenced in some of the other postings. (And if you're the Lesley N. behind the Carolan site, THANKS).


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 01:39 PM

You're right Markf. I just noticed that another name is "Wagoner Lad."...As far as oppression, can't answer that. But I do know that when I first heard these words in 1968 (and in college near Appalachia....pre-women's movement) the words really grabbed me.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BACHELOR'S HALL
From: Lesley N.
Date: 05 Dec 99 - 02:04 PM

I'm with Mary. I don't know why it strikes a chord with others, but when I was working my way through college as a temporary secretary I was treated with less than respect a good bit - and when came out of college with a BA in economics the employment agency wouldn't offer me anything but secretarial positions. I also volunteered for a battered women's shelter for many years. So it strikes a chord with me even though I was never the sort to march or burn my bra!

And yes, the Carolan site is mine - at least this one is Turlough O'Carolan (http://www.contemplator.com/carolan.html). It languishes a bit because I can't find full arrangements of his music, but I'm very pleased to have introduced a lot of people to his wonderful work - and to Barry's fantastic arrangements of them.

Good call on BACHELOR'S HALL! Here are the American lyrics from my site (from the Appalachians again)

Oh hard is my fortune and hard is my fate,
Controlled by my mother so early and late,
And when I get married just to end all the strife,
Controlled by a man for the rest of my life.

O, young men go a-courtin' they dress up so fine,
They cheat the girls up, that is all their design;
They'll titter, they'll tatter,
They'll laugh and they'll lie,
They'll cheat the girls up till they're ready to die.

When young men go a-courtin' they stay up all night,
Get out in the mornin' and look like a fright;
They saddle their horses, they rock and they reel,
Dag-gone them old girls, how sleepy I do feel!

O, bachelor's hall it is bound to be best,
Get drunk or stay sober, lay down take your rest,
No woman to scold you, no children to bawl,
So happy is the man that keeps bachelor's hall.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: harpgirl
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 12:29 AM

resound


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Amos
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 11:08 AM

Ref-rush!


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 07 Oct 01 - 04:44 PM

Lesley N- The "Bachelors' Hall" lyrics you gave are the ones from my (Ritchie) family of Viper, KY. The song was first recorded on one of my earliest recordings, Elektra (EKL-25, 1954, "O Love is Teasin'" album). I know these are my lyrics because of the very slight changes I made when singing it in my younger days.

Also, the three verses and melody given here in the DT version are the ones from our family. Recorded in 1957 on Folkways 2316, "The Ritchie Family." Most recent recorded on Greenhays (GR714-distr.by Rounder) on "The Most Dulcimer" album, 1984.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: SharonA
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 11:13 AM

Wow. How curious that this thread was refreshed on October 7th (yesterday). Later that day, I heard "Pretty Saro" sung by Marti Rogers (who has appeared on Mudcat Radio) during a memorial service for a dear man and an anchor of our local folk-song society, Tor Jonassen. He had named his daughter Saro (actually, as one of her middle names), and Marti had often sung the song for him.

Tor passed away on September 12th. BTW, his extensive (and I do mean EXTENSIVE) collection of folk recordings is to be bequeathed to Sing Out! magazine, and will be preserved with his name in the title of the collection as a tribute.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 11:31 AM

SharonA- I'm so sorry to learn of the death of Tor Jonassan...this is a loss. But what a lovely gesture- to leave his music to Sing Out!

I just re-read my note above, and I neglected to say that the second paragraph refers to, "Pretty Saro," and not "Bachelors' Hall." Jean R.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: harpgirl
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 01:06 PM

...I refreshed this thread because I wanted to see if I could track down possible origins of the version of Pretty Saro that Iris Dement does in "Songcatcher." I'd like to see Dorothy Scarborough's book! Anyone have an opinion or know????


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 01:10 PM

Is there something you are looking for specifically from Dorothy's book? or just seeking general info. I have access to a copy (it was the inspiration for my part in the Mudcat Star Trek adventure).

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: harpgirl
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 01:18 PM

...Actually, Peter, I'd like to have a copy of the book. I wanted to see just how closely the version that Iris Dement sang was to what was collected in this particular book. I must confess I haven't read anything from the Songcatcher threads. Perhaps I should.

Prior to seeing the movie and purchasing the CD I sang a version of "Pretty Saro" that I got from a dulcimer book. I think it is Jean's version but I have to go back home and look today.

I liked the "Songcatcher" movie version a lot. hg


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: harpgirl
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 01:34 PM

...Well, I read all the threads (didn't take long, they were mostly about how we had all these threads) and the most interesting thing is that Dorothy Scarborough may have been the inspiration for the movie as katlaughing points out.

I do think the CD is very good and despite all the Nashville stars, it is an interesting mix of versions of the old songs. I recommend it.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 06:28 PM

I heard that the "heroine" in the script of "Songcatcher" was based upon the life of Olive Dame Campbell. She and her husband, John C. Campbell, founded the John C. Cambbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC (Name recently shortened to Campbell Folk School).

Olive Campbell collected songs in our part of Eastern Kentucky, early in the last century; also, Josephine McGill (Uncle Jason Ritchie squired her around on horseback to introduce her to singers, and always afterward referred to her as, "a right fine girl.").


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 06:42 PM

For the sake of completelness, I think I'll post the Ballad Index entry. Sandy Paton e-mailed and told me that the the book A Song Catcher in Southern Mountains was for sale at Edward R. Hamilton Bookseller, but I couldn't find the dang thing in their catalog or Website. I bought a copy used for $15, which seems to be the going price for used copies of the 1966 reprent of this 1937 book.
-Joe Offer-

Pretty Saro

DESCRIPTION: The singer loves Pretty Saro, but she shows no interest in him: "She wants a freeholder and I have no land." Nor can he write her a letter "in a fine hand" as he would wish to. In despair he vows to "wander by the river" (or kill himself?)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1911
KEYWORDS: love poverty river
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Randolph 744, "Pretty Saro" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 39, "Pretty Saro" (1 text, 1 tune, with one stanza omitted)
Chase, pp. 152-153, "At the Foot of Yonder Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 148, "Pretty Saro" (1 text)
DT, PRETSARO* YONDRMTN

RECORDINGS:
Cas Wallin, "Pretty Saro" (on OldLove)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "In Eighteen-Forty-Nine" (floating lyrics, tune)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Pretty Sarah
Notes: This piece seems to break up into two families, "Pretty Saro" (which appears to be more popular) and "At the Foot of Yonder Mountain." In the latter, the woman is "Mary," not "Saro." Broadwood and Gilchrist argued that all this is based on an ancient hymn to the Virgin Mary. If so, that would argue that the "Yonder Mountain" form is older. But we all know how active some folklorists' imaginations are. - RBW
File: R744

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2000 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: harpgirl
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 08:11 PM

I dunno Jean...Dorothy Scarborough still rings truer for me...(see my remarks on the Songcatcher thread I refreshed earlier today while I was goofing off...)hhhggg


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,Saro
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 12:30 PM

Oddly enough, I came here to find some mp3s on my namesake. I am named Saro after this song. My father grew up in North Carolina and fell in love with this song along with many others. I've heard him sing it to me since I was a little girl, but I was looking for some of the other versions I've heard about and when I saw this page, I thought it might interest you to hear from me. One more thing, just to date this equation, I am a 19 year old college student in Idaho.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 12:41 PM

Saro, do you also know the song, Rock About My Saro Jane? I always think about that one when I talk to a friend from Georgia named Sara Jane.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,saro
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 12:46 PM

i've heard of that song, i have it in a book, but i've never actually heard anyone sing or play it


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 01:54 PM

Harpgirl,

Not to set this thread adrift too far (and I'm getting tired of saying this on every Songcatcher thread I encounter), but the Songcatcher screenwriter, publicity materials, and movie credits all say that the story was inspired by Olive Dame Campbell. She and Marguerite Butler founded the John C. Campbell Folk School in 1925, naming it for Olive's late husband. Also, as a friend of mine says, "without Olive Campbell, Cecil Sharp would have had just a nice walk in the woods." She gets credit on the title page of "English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians", but not much of the glory. More info (and a picture!) on Olive Campbell on the Folk School's site here.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO
From: GUEST,saro
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 04:26 PM

Mary in Kentucky,

I'm sure you've heard many versions of the song, but I've only heard the one my father sings to me and I've also seen one in an old book that I have that is very similar. My father learned from his dad in the mountains near Asheville and here are the words as we know it, (they're pretty straightforward, I think):

Down in some lone valley, in a far lonesome place
Where the wild birds do whistle and their notes do increase
Farewell my pretty Saro, I'll bid you adieu
And I'll dream of my darling wherever I go.

My love, she won't have me, so I understand
She wants a freeholder and I have no land
I cannot maintain her with silver or gold
Or buy all the fine things that a large house would hold

It's not the long journey; I'm dreading to go
Nor leaving my country for debts that I owe
The one thing that grieves me and troubles my mind
Is leaving my darling, pretty Saro behind

Farewell to my father, and my old mother too.
I'm going to ramble this country all through,
And when I get tired, I'll sit down and weep
And dream of my Saro, pretty Saro my sweet

I wish I were a sparrow and had wings and could fly
This night to her window, I would draw neigh
And in her lily-white arms, all night I would stay
And I'd sing to my darling 'till dawn becomes day

I wish I were a merchant and could write a fine hand
I'd write my love a letter that she'd understand
I'd write it by the river where the waters o'erflow
And I'll dream of my darling wherever I go

Down in some lone valley, in a far lonesome place
Where the wild birds do whistle and their notes do increase
Farewell, my pretty Saro, I bid you adieu
But I'll dream of my darling wherever I go

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 16-Aug-02.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: harpgirl
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 08:29 PM

...lovely version, Guest,saro. I'll bow to the experts regarding Dame Olive but sometimes I give a dissenting opinion just to stimulate conversation, my friends. Dialectics you know .......harpy


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Subject: pretty saro
From: GUEST,guest sarah
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:40 PM

has anyone deciphered the lyrics to the last verse of iris dement's recent version from 'Songcatcher' where she sings something like

"far away to my lover's bodzine" ????

thanks


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:46 PM

Lyrics to Iris Dement's version can be found on this page (scroll to the bottom)


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 08:12 PM

I just came into this thread, and noticed Joe Offer's posting that suggests a meaning for "wander by the river" might be suicide.

I was talking to Kevin Baker (a fine songwriter down Wollongong way) a few years ago, and he mentioned some social research he had done in the Riverina district of New South Wales. He had come across the expression "walking into the dam" as a euphemism for suicide in the area. This had developed because drowning oeself in a farm dam was a method used in a number of suicides.

Is there any more information on the "wander by the river" expression?


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 08:28 PM

In an earlier post, it is stated that Scarborough believed that the song is of British origin because of the term freehold. The term is used in United States law as well. In brief, freehold is defined as "a tenure of real property by which an inheritance in fee simple or fee tail of an estate for life is held." Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Greek? Yep. And not quite correct, either.
The "'Lectric Law Library" has a simpler definition: "an interest in land which permits the owner to enjoy possession of real estate during his life without interference from others."
The citizens of Freehold, New Jersey, would be surprised that their area was not a product of freehold.
There is still no evidence that the song has British origins (or that it is exclusively American either).
See: freehold The definition here goes on to give a simple example.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,Wee Willie
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 01:27 PM

Danny Doyle recorded Pretty Saro on an LP in the late 60s or early 70s, this is a beautiful recording. Wee Willie


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 01:51 PM

Danny Doyle, with Terence Folan, has written the book, "The Golden Sun of Irish Freedom," based on the 1798 Rebellion. It includes the traditional ballads with music and guitar notation. He has several good cds out, but none includes Pretty Saro.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: RolyH
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 02:41 PM

Notes on the song by Alan Lomax from 'The Penguin Book of American Folk Songs'

'This song refers,fleetingly,to the motive which forced many settlers into the wild and rugged mountain country.All avialable good land in the lowland South had been taken up by the time of the American Revolution,and the 'poor white'who wished to better himself had to move on West.This love-sick frontiersman feels 'lonesome';he is not sure that he is wanted or has roots anywhere.This 'lonesome'feeling increasingly pervaded Southern songs,giving rise,ultimately to the 'lonesome blues'of the Negro.'

Sounds a bit like living in Suffolk.(except for the mountains)


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 05:22 PM

GUEST,Saro, the version you posted is almost exactly the version I have, recorded by Pete Seeger.

This version makes A LOT more sense than most of the others posted, some of which imply that the singer doesn't have land, but he could take care of her with silver and gold!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,Joan Sprung
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 03:55 PM

Since so many lines are similar, there's surely a link between Bunclaudy and Saro. Which came first is a good question. Surely someone can come up with the text; I can't seem to find it. Must be in that safe place I put it in case I wanted it...


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,WeeWillie
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 05:06 PM

Dicho, Danny Doyle DID record Pretty Saro, also on the LP My old Howth gun,John O`Hallrohan, The rising of the Moon, and far and away the best rendering of Mary from Dungloe. At this moment I am having the pleasure of listening to DANNY DOYLE SINGING PRETTY SARO. Wee Willie


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 05:14 PM

Yep, Doyle did- I said it is not listed now, not that he didn't sing it.
Bunclody seems to be the most common spelling. The version in Mudcat, posted by Stewie under Buncloudy, is in thread 17880: Buncloudy
Another version is at Bunclody


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 05:19 PM

Capitols? Aargh!
17080: Buncloudy


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 05:49 PM

Although large parts of both Saro and Bunclody are composed of "floating" verses, the quite close parallel certainly would seem to suggest a connection; both songs being descended from a common ancestor, perhaps. There are some broadside examples of the second half of the 19th century at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads; only one, an issue by Brereton ("The World's Worst Printer") is legible, though, and that barely. However, it's virtually identical to the text given by Colm O Lochlainn in his Irish Street Ballads, which he learned from his father, who would have been around 10 years old when the Brereton sheet was issued.

The maid of Bonclody Printed c.1867 by P. Brereton, 56 Cook Street, Dublin.

Lochlainn's tune for Bunclody doesn't much resemble the best-known Saro tune, but one that does is the melody used by A.P. Graves for his song My Love's an Arbutus. As Bruce Olson pointed out in the thread where that was posted, the tune is from Stanford-Petrie (no. 507), where it is called I rise in the morning with my heart full of woe, or, The Coola Shore. At this point I grasp at a tenous connection; in Sam Henry's Songs of the People, there is a song, If I Were a Fisher, which begins When I rise in the morning, to my garden I'll go... which, like the song that follows it, The Star of Benbradden, is pretty clearly a member of the Saro / Bunclody song-family. I don't think it's only my imagination that detects a kinship between the Fisher tune and that of I rise up, either.

Of course, the floating verses mostly turn up in English songs, too, but given the structure of the text and these apparent tune correspondences, in this case the strongest argument seems to be for placing Saro as an Irish song changed in some, relatively minor, particulars to suit its new life in America.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 07:24 PM

Dicho reported, concerning "freehold" or ownership in fee simple, that: The "'Lectric Law Library" has a simpler definition (: "an interest in land which permits the owner to enjoy possession of real estate during his life without interference from others."

The "'Lectric Law Library" is wrong. If the definition goes no further than as quoted, it would merely be a "life estate" rather than outright ownership.

"Freehold" or "fee simple" gives the owner all rights, including the right to sell during his life or to dispose by will after death.

Then there's "fee tail", which sounds strange, and we need no bawdy jokes here, but it can be thought of as an relative of the "life estate" I referred to above. In this case, the thought is that the estate in question really belongs to the family or line of succession; it is "entailed". The holder of fee tail may use, lease out, build upon, or whatever during his lifetime, but may not sell the land, and may not will it to anyone else, because it must go to (is entailed to), for example, his oldest son, who then will have the same rights during his life, and it passes on to HIS (for example) oldest son, and so on forever.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 07:57 PM

Dave, read on in their definition- A lot more is there. My lawyer son is not here so I should have just stopped with the statement that, yes, there is such a thing as freehold in USA law.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 12:55 PM

I just took your quotation as you gave it. As given, it was wrong.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 10:21 AM

I've just noticed this thread - I've been after the origins of Pretty Saro for years. I vaguely remember someone once telling me that it was collected in Somerset and this made sense to me as I've interpreted the version I know as fitting in very neatly with the emigrations from Wiltshire and Somerset to Upper Canada in the 1820s and 1830s. Many of these emigrants, whose passage was paid for by the parish were ex soldiers, and their letters home were published at the time in order to encourage other poor people to emigrate. In 'my' version one of the verses is

'I wished I was a poet and could write a fine hand I'd write my love a letter, so she'd understand I'd send it by the islands, where the waters overflow, And I'd think on Pretty Saro, wherever I go.'

Letters out of Upper Canada (like the emigrants who came in) would have been carried thought the St lawrence and through its rapids and the many islands between Quebec, Montreal and Kingston.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 06:23 PM

Almost a year ago, Harpgirl asked about the origin of Iris Dement's version of "Pretty Saro" that she sings in SONGCATCHER. On both the CD and the website listed above for the lyrics, the song is marked "traditional". And traditional I think it is, but from a rather special tradition. I would suggest this lineage:

1. Iris Dement learned this song from the dialect and song coach for the film SONGCATHER, who happened to be Sheila Kay Adams, the ballad singer from Sodom, North Carolina.

2. Sheila says she learned this song from Cas Wallin, a cousin of hers, also from Sodom. I think she was also influenced by Cas' nephew, Doug Wallin.

3. Doug says he learned his version from his great-aunt, Mary Sands. I would imagine that Cas also either learned his version from Mary Sands or was at least influenced by her version, and that Sheila drew from Sands'(printed) version.

4. Mary Sands sang her version for Cecil Sharp on August 5, 1916, and it appears as No.76, version A, in his book ENGLISH FOLK SONGS FROM THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS, Vol. II, p. 10.

For comparative purposes, I will post these various versions in two more messages.


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO
From: John Minear
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 06:47 PM

Here is the version that Iris Dement sang in the film SONGCATCHER and on the CD:

When I first come to this country in eighteen and forty-nine
I saw many fair lovers but I never saw mine
I view-ed it all around me, saw I was quite alone
And me a poor stranger and a long way from home.

Well, my true love she won't have me and it's this I understand
For she wants some free holder and I have no land
I couldn't maintain her on silver and gold
But all of the other fine things that my love's house could hold.

Fair thee well to ol' Mother, fair thee well to my Father, too
I'm going for to ramble this wide world all through
And when I get weary, I'll sit down and cry
And think of my Saro, pretty Saro, my bride.

Well, I wished I was a turtledove, had wings and could fly
Far away to my lover's lodgings, tonight I'd draw nigh
And there in her lily-white arms I'd lay there all night
And watch through them little winders for the dawning of day.
---------------------------------------------------
Here is the version that Sheila Kay Adams sings on her cassette, LOVING FORWARD, LOVING BACK, from Granny Dell Records, GDR-3107:

When I first come to this country in eighteen and forty-nine
I saw many fair lovers but I never saw mine
I view-ed all around me, saw I was quite alone
And me a poor stranger and a long ways from home.

Well it's not this long journey I'm a dreadin' for to go
Nor the country I'm, a leavin' nor the debts that I owe
There's only one thing that troubles my mind
That's leaving my darlin' pretty Saro behind.

Fare-thee-well to old Mother, fare-thee-well to Father, too
I'm a goin' for to ramble this wide world all through
And when I get weary, I'll sit down and cry
And I'll think of my darlin', pretty Saro, my bride.

Well, I wish I was a poet and could write some fine hand
I would write my love a letter that she might understand
And I'd send it by the water where the islands overflow
And I'll think of my darlin' wherever I go.

Well, I wish I was a turtledove, had wings and could fly
Right now to my lover's lodging tonight I'd draw nigh
And there in her lily-white arms, I'd lie there all night
And I'd watch them little windows for the dawning of day.

These two versions share three verses. Sheila has two verses that Iris omits and Iris has one that Sheila omits. You will find all of these verses in the more comprehensive versions to follow, and I would suggest that both versions have a common source. Iris's tune and phrasing is almost exactly the same as Sheila's. Even Iris's pronunciation and dialect reflect Sheila's training. For comparison, see Sheila's version of "Barbara Allen" on her CD MY DEAREST DEAR, from Granny Dell Records 1220, and compare this with Emmy Rossum's version of "Barbara Allen" on the SONGCATCHER CD. It is uncanny! Sheila says that it took six weeks, seven days a week, several hours a day for Emmy to learn how to do that.


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO
From: John Minear
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 07:24 PM

Here is Cas Wallin's version of "Pretty Saro" that was recorded by John Cohen and Peter Gott in August, 1963, and released by Folkways Records as OLD LOVE SONGS AND BALLADS FROM THE BIG LAUREL, NORTH CAROLINA, (Album No. 2309).

When I first come to this country in 1849
I saw many fair lovyers, but I never saw mine
I view-ed all around me, I found I was quite alone
And me a poor stranger and a long ways from home.

My true love she won't have me, as this I understand
She wants a freeholder and I've got no land
But I can maintain her on silver and gold
And as many of the fine things that my love's house could hold.

It's I wish I was a poet and could write some fine hand
I would write my love a letter that she might understand
And I'd send it by the waters when the islands overflow
And I'd think of my darling wherever she goes.

It's I wish I was a turtle dove, had wings and could fly
Just now to my love's lodging tonight I'd draw nigh
And in her lily white arms I would lie there all night
And I'd watch them little windows for the dawning of day.

Way down in a lonesome valley, way down in a lonesome grove
Where the small birds doth whistle, her notes to increase
My love she is slender, both proper and neat
And I wouldn't have no better pastimes than to be with my sweet.

Well I strolled through the mountains, I strolled through the plain
I strove to forget her, but it was all in vain
On the banks of Old Cowee, on the mound of said brow
Where I once loved her dearly and I don't hate her now.
------------------

Here is Doug Wallin's version, from DOUG AND JACK WALLIN, FAMILY SONGS AND STORIES FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS, Smithsonian Folkways :

I came to this country in 1849,
Saw many a true lover but I never saw mine,
Then I viewed all around me and found myself alone,
And me a poor stranger, and a long ways from home.

My true love won't have me, this I understand,
She wants a freeholder, but I have no land,
Though I could maintain her on silver and gold,
And all the other fine things that her heart might behold.

It's not this long journey I'm dreading to go,
Nor the country I'm leaving, nor the debts that I owe,
But nothing so grieves me, nor troubles my mind,
Like leaving my darling, pretty Saro behind.

If I was a poet and could write a fine hand,
I would write my love a letter that she might understand,
And send it by the water when the islands o'erflow,
And think of pretty Saro wherever she'd go.

If I was a little dove, had wings and could fly,
To my true lover's dwelling this night I'd draw nigh,
In her lily white arms all night I would stay,
And watch them little windows for the dawning of day.

Sheila Kay Adams' tune and phrasing is almost exactly the same as that of Cas Wallin and she has picked up phrasing and a verse from Doug Wallin as well. She has said that she liked Doug Wallin's singing of these old love songs the best.

------

And here is Mary Sands' version that she sang for Cecil Sharp on August 5, 1916, at Allanstand, N.C. She was Doug Wallin's Great Aunt and Cas Wallin's Aunt and Sheila Kay Adams Great-Great Aunt (I think!).

When I first came to this country in eighteen and forty-nine,
I saw many fair lovers, but I never saw mine;
I view it all around me, I found myself lone,
And me a poor stranger and a long way from home.

My love she won't love me, yes, I do understand,
She wants a freeholder and I've got no land,
But plenty to maintain her on, silver and gold,
And as many other fine things as my love's house can hold.

Farewell to my mother and adieu to my old father, too,
I am going to ramble this whole world all through;
And when I get tired I'll set down and weep
And think of my darling, pretty Saro, my sweet.

Down in some lonesome vallely, down in some lone place,
Where the small birds do whistle their notes to increase;
But when I get sorrow, I'll set down and cry
And think of my darling, my darling so nigh.

I wish I were a poet and could write some fine hand,
I would write my love a letter that she might understand;
I would send it by the water where the island overflow,
And I'd think of my darling wherever I go.

I wish I were a dove and had wings and could fly;
This night to my love's window I would draw nigh,
And in her lily-white arms all night I would lay
And watch them little windows to the dawning of day.

The tune given by Sharp for Sands' version is quite close to that sung by both Wallins, Sheila and Iris Dement. One can see here how this song has come down through at least four generations. So Iris Dement's version is very traditional, that tradition coming from the Sodom Laurel country of Madison County, North Carolina.


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARRY (trad. Indiana)
From: John Minear
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 07:27 AM

Here is a version, with music, called "Pretty Sarry" from southern Indiana. You will find it in SINGING ABOUT IT: FOLK SONG IN SOUTHERN INDIANA [transcribed] by George List in 1991, and published by Indiana University at Bloomington, pp. 169-170. These songs were "Transcribed principally from recordings in the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music."

"PRETTY SARRY"

Way down in some lone valley or in some other place,
Where the small birds do whistle, and their notes do increase,
I'll think of Pretty Sarry, her ways so complete;
I love her, my Sarry, from her head to her feet.

My love she won't have me, as I understand
She wants a freeholder and I have no land,
Yet I could maintain her on silver and gold
And as many other fine things as my love's house could hold.

I went to my Sarry, my love to unfold,
To tell her my passion so brave and so bold.
I said to her, "Sarry, will you be my bride,
And walk with me ever, right here by my side?"

"I love you, my Sarry, as you can well see.
I will take you a-traveling o'er land and o'er sea.
...some jewels I will buy you to wear,
For there's no one, my true love, to me is more fair."

Then Sarry held out her sweet little hand,
And said, "I can't love you for you have no land.
I have promised another to be his dear wife,
And walk with him ever, all the days of my life."

"You have broken my heart strings, Pretty Sarry," I said.
"I will go from your presence. I wish I was dead.
Some other lover will kneel at you feet
And take the dear kisses that I once thought so sweet."

The tune seems similar to other traditional versions, with complexities of its own. The note following the song says,

"Aunt" Phoebe explains how and when she learned this song at the beginning of Chapter 1[sorry I didn't get more of this information]. She had learned it from a great aunt who, in turn, had learned it in Virginia before 1800. George Malcolm Laws considers this a lyric song rather than a ballad. The song seems to be associated with the Appalachian region, there being only one non-Appalachian text printed, from the Ozarks. However, the song obviously refers to the colonial plantation life of the coastal plain, to a period when the English semifeudal aristocratic view still prevailed. The ownership of land was not only the mark of a family of good breeding but also the source of political power. A merchant, a nonfreeholder, no matter how successful, was to be rejected." (page 170)


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Kim C
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 05:21 PM

What's an arbutus?

I've never heard Iris DeMent NOT sing like that.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 10:12 PM

An arbutus is a strawberry-tree.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 11:43 PM

Arbutus is a genus of the Ericaceae. The British have the evergreen strawberry tree, or Arbutus unedo, from southern Europe but naturalized in Ireland, and often cultivated in England.
Americans mostly know a quite different plant, the trailing or creeping arbutus, Epigaea repens of eastern North America, a creeping plant with fragrant pink or white flowers in early spring, followed by (usually) orange berries.
An American Arbutus, a small tree, is Arbutus Menziesia, or Madrona, with peeling white bark on cinnamon stems, mostly seen on the west coast. It is quite different from the European Arbutus.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 12:33 AM

Does anyone have the words to "At the Foot of Yonder Mountain" (in Chase) or of another version?

I pointed out this website on Sharp, Olive Dame Campbell, Mary Sands and the contributors to Sharp in another thread. It is well-worth reading. Nest of Singing Birds


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Subject: Lyr Add: AT THE FOOT OF YONDER MOUNTAIN
From: masato sakurai
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 02:56 AM

Dicho, here it is, with Chase's notes. From: Richard Chase, American Folk Tales and Songs (1956; reprinted Dover , 1971, pp. 152-153; with music).

AT THE FOOT OF YONDER MOUNTAIN

This is from the singing of Horton Barker. It is given in John Powell's Five Virginian Folk Songs as recorded by Annabel Morris Buchanan from Miss Lillie Williams of Marion, Virginia.
Mr. Powell says of this song: "Among American songs of this group may be mentioned: 'The Wagoner's Lad,' 'On Top of Old Smoky,' and 'Pretty Saro.' Lucy Broadwood and Anne Gilchrist have written articles which set forth the hypothesis with such logic and insight as to bring conviction that this song is derived from an ancient mystical hymn to the Virgin. They identify its locality with that of Saint Michael's Mount, strangely predominant in Cornish lore since pre-Saxon, even pre-Christian, times."
Related English songs are: "Sweet England," "Come All You Little Streamers," and "Linden Lea." There are related tunes from Scotland and Ireland. (See also, "Clinch Mountain.")

1. At the foot of yonder mountain there runs a clear stream,
At the foot of yonder mountain there lives a fair queen.
She's handsome, she's proper, and her ways are complete;
I ask no better pastime than to be with my sweet.

2. But why she won't have me I well understand:
She wants some freeholder and I have no land.
I cannot maintain her on silver and gold,
And all the other fine things that my love's house should hold.

3. Oh I wish I were a penman and could write a fine hand!
I would write my love a letter from this distant land.
I'd send it by the waters just for to let her know
That I think of Pretty Mary wherever I go.

4. Oh I wish I were a bird and had wings and could fly,
It's to my love's dwelling this night I'd draw nigh.
I'd sit in her window all night long and cry
That for love of Pretty Mary I gladly would die.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 04:27 AM

The same pages from Chase's book are reproduced in Reprints from SING OUT!, Volume 12 (Oak, 1973, pp. 14-15).


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 05:01 AM

I didn't notice that AT THE FOOT OF YONDER MOUNTAIN is in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 12:28 PM

Thanks, Masato. I failed to turn up the song in the DT as well, forget what I typed in the DT. 'at the foot' also turns up "Green Mountain," another folksong about an imprecisely defined(?) high spot.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Kiki
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 10:36 AM

Here is another answer to your question. No one has mentioned Jean Ritchie. She has a lovely version on her The Most Dulcimer (I think) CD. (I am at work and can't remember which one, but I am pretty sure it is on The Most Dulcumer) She might be a good sorce for its routes and very willing to answer questions. Look up Greenhays or her name on the internet. I would be intersted in the time frame. It sounds Civil Warish but from reading all the responses looks like it could be earlier. I am involved with a living history time period of about 1770 - 1830.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 11:20 AM

Jean herself has already posted to this thread a few times last year, when it was originally started; she posts here as "kytrad". With luck she'll be back before too long; her comments on the additional material that's been added since the discussion was revived a few months ago would be very interesting.


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO and PRETTY SUSAN
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 05:45 PM

There are many songs about a young man without land (Pretty Saro) or without money or without a decent trade (Pretty Susan, Rose of Ardee) who can't forget the gal who refused him for one with the wherewithall. There are parallels with Pretty Susan (Susie), an old English song which made it to North America as Pretty Susie (in the DT, from Brown) Here is Pretty Saro from Randolph, coll. in MO.
(Note: place of collection, in the period after WWI may have no relation to the place where the song was originally sung).

PRETTY SARO

Way down in Lowless Valley,
In some lonesome place,
Where the small birds doth whistle,
Their notes do increase,
Whilst thinkin' on pretty Saro,
Her ways so complete,
I want no better passtime
Then her to be with.

But my love she doth slight me,
Because I am pore,
She says I'm not worthy
To enter her door,
But this she'll repent of
When all is in vain,
For love is a torment
An' a heart-breakin' thing.

My love she won't have me
An' I understand,
She wants some free-holder,
But I got no land.
But I could maintain her
On silver and gold,
An' many a fine thing
My love's house should hold.

I wish I was a lark
An' had wings an' could fly,
Away to my love's house
This night I'd draw nigh.
An' in some little window
All day I would cry,
An' all night in her white arms
I'd lay down an' die.

Sung by Mrs. Linnie Bullard, MO, 1926; with music.
Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, 1980, vol. 4, pp. 222-224.
A fragment in Randolph uses the name Molly.

Randolph separates "In Eighteen-forty-nine" as a song made up of scraps and fragments, including "Pretty Saro," with echoes from "Jack O'Diamonds," "Farewell, Sweet Mary" and "Rabble Soldier."

A similar story but told very differently is found in "Pretty Susan," from England (orig. Ireland?).

PRETTY SUSAN

When first from sea I landed I had a roving mind,
Undaunted I rambled my true love to find,
When I met pretty Susan with her cheeks like a rose
And her bosom more fairer than lilies that grows.

Her keen eyes did glitter as the bright stars of night
And the robes she was wearing was costly and white,
Her bare neck was shaded with her long raven hair,
They call her pretty Susan, the Pride of Kildare.

A Long time I courted till I'd wasted my store,
Her love turned to hatred because I was poor,
She said I love another whose fortune I'll share,
So begone from pretty Susan, the Pride of Kildare.

O my heart asked next morning as I lonely did stray
I espied pretty Susan with a young lord so gay,
And as I passed by them with my mind full of care,
I sigh'd for pretty Susan the Pride of Kildare.

Once more on the ocean I resolved for to go,
And was bound for the east with my heart full of woe,
There I beheld ladies in jewels so rare,
But none like pretty Susan, the Pride of Kildare.

Some days I am jovial, sometimes I am sad,
Since my love is courted by some other lad,
And since we are at a distance no more I'll despair,
And my blessings on my Susan the Pride of Kildare.

Bodelian, Harding B 17(246b) and Johnson Ballads 1935; printed between 1827 and 1847. Wheeler, printer, Whittle St. Oldham.

Pretty Susie, The Pride of Kildare, from Brown, in the DT, from North Carolina, is quite similar.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 07:21 PM

An Irish origin for this song still looks most likely, I think: see my post long ago and far above...


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SHUTTLE-COCK (from Bodleian broadside
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 08:52 PM

In the post by Malcolm Douglas concerning the origin of Bunclody-Pretty Saro, etc., he mentions a tune used for Bunclody, also used in "I rise in the morning with my heart full of woe." This is the first line of a song called "The Shuttle-cock," about a weaver. The song has some parallels with songs discussed here. This version was printed between 1780-1812 and is from the Bodleian.

Lyr. Add: THE SHUTTLE-COCK

I rise in the morning, with my heart full of woe,
I go to my shop, lift my shuttle for to throw;
There's nothing does ail me but innocent love,
And hope to be rewarded by the powers above.

O Polly, O polly, O Polly love, said he,
The pain I lay under for Loving of thee,
If you did but know, love, how love torments me
You'd take pity on me, lovely Polly.

Tho your friends and mine do all join in one,
To strive for to part us, they do all they can,
Leave your own parents, and go along with me
Like a lady of honour, my darling shall be.

It's hard to find a young man that's loyal and true
For he'll go a courting to one girl or two;
He'll go a courting, till to their love inclin'd
Then maids make your hay while the sun it doth shine.

The last verse taken in part from another song? Firth c.18(96), between 1780 and 1812, J. Evans, printer, Long-lane, London. Bodleian Library.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MAID FROM BUNCLODY (added verses)
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 09:22 PM

Some time ago, Stewie posted "THE MAID FROM BUNCLODY" but it has not yet reached the DT.
A version in the Bodleian Library has reference to freehold, and firms up the connection to "Pretty Saro" The two verses not in the version posted by Stewie, plus a different 2nd verse, are:

If I was in Bunclody I would think myself at home
It's there I would have sweethearts but here I have none
Drinking strong liquor is the height of my cheer
Here's a health to Bunclody and the maid I love dear.

If I were a lark and had wings I could fly,
I would go to yon harbour where my love does lie
I would proced to yon harbour where my true love does lie
And on her fond bosom contented I would lie.

The reason my love slights me as you may understand
She has got a freehold and I have no land
She has a great store of riches ans a large ---- gold
And everything fitting a house to uphold.

The first line, 1st verse- Were you ever at the moss house---. Other differences to the one posted by Stewie very small. Maid of Bunclody
The Maid of Bunclody, 1867, P Brereton, 56 Cook St., Dublin


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 09:29 PM

Maid of Bunclody- Bodleian Library Broadside 2806 b. 9(206). Other copies (2) use the spelling Bon Clody, but one unreadable and the other has no image.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 09:37 PM

Again, see my earlier post, with a link to the Brereton set. My comments were not made idly. The more information we repeat, the harder it will become to see wood for trees.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 10:31 PM

Bodleian broadsides are often difficult to read and copy unless size and contrast are optimized by Adobe, or eq. so that they may be transcribed into clear, printed text. This cannot be done as easily with links as it is to go to the website and lift the images directly. I think you will find that many who are interested in these songs will throw up their hands at links that are difficult to read, and that others wish to have side by side comparisons with versions that they may have. In my view, the more texts the better.
It is important to find the material (the first, most difficult and important step in any search), but it is also necessary to get it into useful and readable form.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE RED RIVER SHORE (from Alan Lomax)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 12:26 AM

Just two things:

First: Andrew Calhoun is looking for the version of "Pretty Saro" that contains the line:

And I'd watch them little windows 'til the dawning of day.

I know it was sung by Iris Dement in Songcatcher---but what traditional (N. Carolina maybe?) source did it come from?

Second: Here is a song I recorded on my second LP for Sandy Paton at Folk Legacy---On The Wilderness Road. It came from Alan Lomax's singing and from his book Folksongs Of North America. The verse with "Hard is the fortune of all womankind..." shows up in this cowboy version of the ballad "Earl Brand" (Child #7)

THE RED RIVER SHORE

At the foot of yonders mountain where the fountain does flow,
There's a fond creation where the soft winds do blow,
There lived a fair maiden, she's the one I adore,
She's the one I will marry on the Red River shore.

I asked her old father would he give her to me,
"No, sir, she won't marry no cowboy," said he,
So I jumped on my broomtail and away I did ride,
Leaving my true love on the Red River side.

She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind,
And in this letter these words you will find,
"Come back to me darlin', you're the one I adore,
You're the one I will marry on the Red River shore.

Well, I jumped on my broomtail and away I did ride,
To marry my true love on the Red River side,
But her dad learned our secret and with twenty and four,
Came to fight this young cowboy on the Red River shore.

I drew my pistol, spun 'round and around,
Six men were wounded and seven were down,
No use for an army of twenty and four,
I'm bound for my true love on the Red River shore.

Hard is the fortune of all womankind,
Always controlled and always confined,
Controlled by their parents until they be wives,
Then a slave to their husbands for the rest of their lives.

At the foot of yonder mountain...(repeat first verse)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 08:16 AM

Art, check my postings above for August 14 for the lineage of Iris Dement's version. She learned it from Sheila Kay Adams, who is one of the Sodom Laurel ballad singers and was the voice and dialect coach for Songcatcher. Sheila learned it from Cas and Doug Wallin and they learned it from Mary Sands, from whom it was collected by Ceceil Sharp. - Turtle


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 03:25 PM

Art, Thanks for your version of Red River Shore. Max Hunter has two versions, collected in Arkansas. The one listed as 0223, sung by Lucy Quigley, is my preference of the two, because the cowboy used his Winchester to kill five and wound seven. A pistol or saber would hardly be up to the job! The broomtail in your version makes it more western and cowboy, however. Red River Shore .
According to the notes, it is related to White River Shore (In Max Hunter), New River Shore (in Brown) and to The Valiant Soldier in Randolph (from the old country).
Lomax put it in his Cowboy Songs (1938 and later eds.), in ten verses- rode a bronco here (only six verses in FSNA).


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 05:42 PM

Dicho,

Thanks! The version I did was from Lomax' 1910 book I thought. Going through my copy of that book now I can't find it there at all. I DO remember Alan Loimax singing the song----that's how I got the tune.-------------------Anyhow, the notes I wrote for the LP say My version is close to the version printed in 1910 by John Lomax---as sung for him by Mrs. Minta Morgan of Balls, Texas (Cowboy Songs--New York). Alan Lomax also printed the song in his Folksongs Of North America, (Doubleday-1960). When Alan Lomax did it he sang "bronco" where I sing "broomtail". I changed it to broomtail when a woman from Winfield, Kansas told me that 'broomtail' was the way they had sung it as kids. She ought to know; Winfield stands right a-straddle of the old Chisholm Trail.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:47 PM

I just saw that other "Red River Shore" thread from 1999. It seems I posted this over there back then. I don't even remember participating in that thread. Sorry for being so redundant.

ALSO: The name of the town where Mrs. Minta Morgan, a source for this song, lived was NOT Balls, Texas as I posted here. It should read BELLS, Texas ---- although I kind of like it the new way. Somehow seems to fit. ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO (Mississippi)
From: harpgirl
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 08:11 PM

Here is a variant collected by AP Hudson in Mississippi: It was secured by Mr. George Swetnam from the singing of his mother, Mrs. F.S. Swetnam, Vaiden. Compare Campbell and Sharp, No 76.

I came to this country in eighteen and forty nine;
I saw many true lovers, but I never saw mine.
I looked all around me and saw I was alone,
And I a poor soldier, and a long way from home.


Farewell to my father likewise mother too;
I'm going to travel the wilderness through.
And when I get tired I'll sit down and weep,
And think of my pretty Saro, my darling and sweet.

"Tis not the long journey I am dreading to go,
The country I'm leaving, nor the debts that I owe:
There's one thing that grieves me and bears on my mind:
It is leaving pretty Saro, by darling, behind.

Pretty Saro, pretty Saro, I must now let you know:
How truly I love you I never can show.
I wish I was a poet, could write some find hand;
I would write my love a letter, that she might understand.
I would send it by the waters, as the Ireland doth flow,
And think of pretty Saro, my darling and sweet.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: michaelr
Date: 28 Nov 02 - 12:36 AM

Thanks, harpgirl, for refreshing this thread, as it reminded me to pull out a video tape a friend shot in `99 and sent to me. It shows (among a bunch of other great mountain music) Mrs. Mary Jane Queen of Cullowhee, N.C., singing "Pretty Saro".

Mrs. Queen, who is approaching 90, is the matriarch of a large musical family, and is one of the last living recipients of the oral song tradition in the Southern Appalachians. She and her grandson, Henry Queen, are named in the credits of the "Songcatcher" film.

Tonight I put on that tape and, for comparison's sake, wrote down her rendition of "Pretty Saro". Turns out it's very close to the first text Rich R posted from the Frank C. Brown collection, except she omits verses 2, 5 and 8.

The one difference that stands out is that in verse 3, line 3, Mrs Queen sings "I'd send it by the waters that don't overflow". I haven't seen that phrase in any of the versions posted.

I get chills hearing her sing.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Nov 02 - 09:44 PM

Michael,

Check my several postings for August 14 above. You will find the phrase that you mention about "sending it by the waters that don't overflow" in the following versions by:

1. Sheila Kay Adams, who learned it from
2. Cas Wallin, and
3. Doug Wallin, who both traced their versions back to
4. Mary Sands, whose version was collected by Cecil Sharp.

Mary Jane Queen is still a powerful ballad singer, and a good friend of Sheila Kay Adams. I don't know the source of Mary Jane's version. It is on her CD "Songs I Like", but she doesn't give any information on her source.

Turtle Old Man


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Richie
Date: 28 Nov 02 - 10:13 PM

We do a version with the same lyric here:http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/songlist.html
click on - Pretty Saro.

Another good version is by John Dolye on his last solo CD.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: michaelr
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 01:57 PM

T.O.M. -- all the versions you posted say "I'd send it by the waters where the islands overflow" which is slightly but noticeably different from "I'd send it by the waters that don't overflow".

As to the provenence of the song, would it be fair to say that while it is related to "Bunclody" et al, "Pretty Saro" in the versions we've seen, is an American song?

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 07:41 AM

Right you are Michael! I got "waters" and "overflow" and skipped a beat. Neither version makes much sense to me and I've not heard any good explanations of "islands overflowing". I wish we had a source on Mary Jane Queen's version. I would suspect that her's, along with the Madison County, NC versions are all variations of a common source.
Best, T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 06:27 PM

...I'd write my love a letter that she'd understand;
   I'd write it by the river where the waters o'erflow...Ritchie vsn.

The differences here may be just a matter of natural changes over the years- someone filling in a gap when he/she cannot remember just how the words lay, or something like that. A "corruption" in the wording, the scholars describe it. But who knows what the "original" poem said? And it's all pretty...


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRETTY SARO (from Bluegrass Messengers)
From: Richie
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 11:43 PM

For the last verse I sing:

"I would send it by the river where the water's overflow,
And I'll dream of Pretty Saro, where ever I go," on our last CD.
You can listen to it here:
http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/songlist.html Click on Pretty Saro; I got the lyrics from my grandfather's collection. Doesn't sound much like bluegrass though.


PRETTY SARO
Bluegrass Messengers from "Farther Along"

(Guitar)

Down in some lonesome valley, in such a lone place,
Where the wild birds do whistle, their notes to increase;
Farewell Pretty Saro I bid you adieu,
And I'll dream of Pretty Saro, where ever I go.

I came to this country in eighteen forty-nine,
I saw so many lovers, but I never saw mine;
I looked all around me, and I saw I was alone,
And me a poor stranger, a long way from home.

(Fiddle Solo)

My love she won't have me, so I, I understand,
She wants a freeholder who owns house and land,
I can not maintain her with silver and gold,
Or buy all fine things a big house can hold.

I wish I were a poet and could write some fine hand,
I would write her a letter that she'd understand;
I would send it by the river where the water's overflow,
And I'll dream of Pretty Saro, where ever I go.

(Guitar)

Farewell Pretty Saro I bid you adieu,
And I'll dream of Pretty Saro, where ever I go.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: michaelr
Date: 02 Dec 02 - 12:01 AM

kytrad, just curious -- do you know Mary Jane Queen? I keep watching this video, and she is just awe-inspiring.

Regards,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 02 Dec 02 - 01:30 PM

Jean, I like the way your version resolves the question of the waters overflowing. It reminds me of Spring runoff and the danger in the mountains of flashfloods -

    "I'd write it by the river where the waters o'erflow..."

And, it is always a fine balance between "making sense", "corruptions", and "its all pretty". I could never say that just because I may not be able to make sense out of something I don't enjoy hearing it or singing it. When you go back over all of the versions that have been posted here, there are many subtle changes and shades of meaning with just this one phrase. For instance, between your version and that posted by Richie, which says,

    "I would send it by the river where the waters overflow."

There is a difference between "writing by the river" and "sending it by the river". And as Michael has pointed out, in Mary Jane Queen's version, the waters "don't overflow". As I tried to read carefully back through this thread, I found this explanation from GUEST Terry McDonald, back on April 29, which is interesting:

"I've interpreted the version I know as fitting in very neatly with the emigrations from Wiltshire and Somerset to Upper Canada in the 1820s and 1830s. Many of these emigrants, whose passage was paid for by the parish were ex soldiers, and their letters home were published at the time in order to encourage other poor people to emigrate.

In 'my' version one of the verses is

'I wished I was a poet and could write a fine hand
I'd write my love a letter, so she'd understand
I'd send it by the islands, where the waters overflow,
And I'd think on Pretty Saro, wherever I go.'

Letters out of Upper Canada (like the emigrants who came in) would have been carried thought the St lawrence and through its rapids and the many islands between Quebec, Montreal and Kingston"

Terry, if you are still in touch, do you have specifically Canadian versions of this song? Can you say more?

But even here, it it is the waters rather than the islands that are overflowing. I'm still curious about islands overflowing. Even when a line gets changed, it then gets repeated over and over. I wonder what kind of images come to mind when you hear about "islands overflowing".


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Richie
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 12:37 PM

Turtle Old Man,

Here's another version from Avery Co. NC collected in 1930.

I'd send it by the waters, and the isle overflow,
And think of Pretty Saro wherever I go.

From Melinger Henry FSSH

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Stephen R.
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 07:09 PM

At this point it appears to me that "Pretty Saro" and its doppelgaenger "At the Foot of Yonder Mountain" are mostly derived from "The Streams of Bunclody." The 1749 date suggested above looks good too. I have read, but so far cannot document, that there is a local tradition that "The Streams of Bunclody" was written from America by an immigrant from County Wicklow and sent back to Ireland. If this immigrant or a son or daughter or someone who had the song from him was among the early European settlers of the Appalachians, the American versions could easily have been adapted from the immigrant's song. On the other hand, while songs passed freely from America to Ireland as well as in the reverse direction, I don't think that this included Appalachian songs, and the ones we are here concerned with are definitely Appalachian/Ozark songs, not traditionally known elsewhere. In this case, 1749 could be the date of the immigrant's arrival in America, although the stanza with the date did not go back to Ireland or was dropped there. Of course, there is a lot of floating lyric here, and John Moulden has some excellent observations on the dangers of taking such material as a basis for identifying oral texts as versions of the same song (I don't have the reference handy, see his edition of Sam Henry's songs). What one must look for is distinctive stanzas; otherwise there would be just one song of which "Pretty Saro," "On Top of Old Smokey," "It was in the Month of January," "The Wagoner's Lad," and countless others would be examples. But these do have distincive content and I think the filiation is that "Streams of Bunclody" begat "Pretty Saro."

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Allan C.
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 10:32 PM

This is one of my most favorite of songs. I have fallen in love with virtually every version I have ever heard. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned, If I Were A Blackbird which must certainly be a relative.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 12:07 PM

Allan, aside from the sentiment, what relationship do you see?


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Stephen R.
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 05:55 PM

I expect the connection must be the stanza about If I were a blackbird with a bottle of gin, I'd follow the vessel my love's sailing in, and in the top rigging I'd there build my nest, and I'd fly down the cleavage of her lily-white breast. Well, ok, I don't remember the exact words, but you know what I mean, and a similar stanza shows up in a number of versions of Pretty Saro. Trouble is, it shows up in The Prisoner's Song and a number of others. This is a fine example of floating lyric.

Stephen


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Jun 03 - 01:45 PM

Refresh in relation to thread on "Red River Shore." The songs, at least in some versions, are close.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jun 03 - 02:14 PM

John Doyle does a version of Pretty Saro on his CD Evening Comes Early, giing credits to Lomax's North Carolina booklet from 1911, Dorothy Scarborough, and the resemblance to Bunclody. It's very lovely.--Sidney


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: toadfrog
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 11:33 PM

Sheila Kay said the "very best" verse was about
"From the banks of Old Cohee (or 'Cowee'),
To the mount (or 'mound') of said brow . . ."

Because nobody she knew had any idea what those words meant, or if they were the original words. So it has to be the song is very old.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 03:31 AM

I don't know about Old Cohee, but the Ocoee river is 20 miles East of Cleveland in Tennessee. I wonder if there's a Said Mount (or Sad Mount?) somewhere near.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 02:16 PM

Cowie sounds like (?) the Coola Shore mentioned by Malcolm far, far above.
The version with 'on the banks of old Cowie,' from Brown, with the line 'mountain's sad brow'(?) posted by Rich R near the top of this thread, is a fragment that calls for completion, but the rest is probably lost.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 07:31 AM

The first time that I ever heard "Pretty Saro" was back in 1961, at the Highlander Folk School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Guy Carawan was the musician in residence at Highlander then. His singing each weekend there was what really introduced me to folk music. I loved it. And I especially loved his "Pretty Saro". He went on to record it on his Folkways Alblum GUY CARAWAN SINGS SOMETHING OLD, NEW, BORROWED AND BLUE (FG 3548 - still available), his GREEN ROCKY ROAD album (June Appal 021), and reissued on his wonderful CD, SPARKLES AND SHINES (Ponder Productions).

    Later, I found a shorter version of "Pretty Saro" in the REPRINTS FROM SING OUT!, Vol. 5, p.25, where the headnote says:

    "Here is Pretty Saro, pretty much in the version popularized by Jean Ritchie. Jean says that her sister Edna brought it home to Viper Kentucky, some 30 years ago, after having learned it from someone in Berea Kentucky."

    I don't know when "Pretty Saro" was orginally published in SING OUT! The Reprints was published in 1963, so Jean's reference had to go back thirty years prior to that and would be somewhere back before 1933. This version of "Pretty Saro" is what is printed in Jean's Dulcimer book and in her FOLK SONGS OF THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS (2nd ed.) It is also the version printed in Pete Seeger's THE BELLS OF RHYMNEY song book (1964).

    Alan Lomax, in his headnote to Guy Carawan's version on his Folkways album says, "This version from Sharp's ENGLISH FOLK SONGS OF THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS, VOL. II, page 12, was popularized among city singers frist by Elizabeth Harold and Hally Wood." The version printed by Sharp on page 12 of EFS is the one by Lizzie Gibson of Crozet, Virginia, April 26, 1918. The Gibson version is also the version that Lomax publishes, with some additional verses from somewhere, in his PENGUIN BOOK OF AMERICAN FOLK SONGS. However, I can't see that the Lizzie Gibson/Sharp version has much to do with either Guy's version or Jean's version in terms of the tune or the text.

    What intrigues me is the tune of the "Ritchie version". I didn't hear the Madison County, NC, version from Mary Sands (by way of Cas & Doug Wallin, Sheila Adams, Iris Dement, Jim Taylor, et. al.)until just a few years ago. It may be older. I don't know. It is longer and the tune is significantly different from what I'm calling the "Ritchie version". But I've always thought that the Ritchie version tune is unique. It has its own integrity as a tune. I can't talk about it in technical musical terms, but it sounds old. I've never heard anything else like it. Where did it come from?

    That's my question: Where did the tune of the Ritchie version of "Pretty Saro" come from? Jean, I hope you can help us with this. Also, is Lomax right about it being introduced to the folk revival by Elizbeth Harold and Hally Wood? Who is Elizbeth Harold? And do we know any more about Hally Wood's involvement in this? Tannywheeler, do you know about this?   Also, where did Guy Carawan learn his version? Perhaps Frank Hamilton can help us with this question.

    Thanks for whatever help we can get on this. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 07:48 AM

I meant to add that the latest version I know of Jean Ritchie's "Pretty Saro" is that by Elizbeth LaPrelle on her recent CD, RAIN AND SNOW (Old 97 wrecords #004), with a very nice fiddle drone in the background. Also, one of the finest versions of Jean's "Pretty Saro" that I know of was done by my friends Dick Harrington and Victoria Young on their album LOVER'S RETURN (Fiddletop Productions). The tune is the Ritchie tune but Vickie's harmony takes it a whole nother place. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 07:24 PM

T.O.M., in our family (ten girls and three boys grew up, out of 14), we never sang "Saro" without harmony- just made-up, natural harmonies. It's gorgeous, to use a modern adjective! It's one of those tunes calls for harmony, and almost everything one sings sounds great. I used to sing what we called a "low tenor,"...made a lovely bottom for the song.

To answer some other questions: Elizabeth Harold was Alan Lomax's wife, mother of their daughter Anne Charitakis, now Anne Wood (this 2nd husband no relation to Hally). Alan and Elizabeth were divorced in the early 1940s, I'd guess.The version which Elizabeth and Hally sang was not the Ritchie version.

Our tune seems very simple, but has a quality that captures and holds the heart (sounds silly but I can't express it any other way). At a Kodaly music-teachers' convention where I recently sang, one of the leaders called it, "the perfect melody." what he meant I do not know, but he wept when it was sung.

My older sisters who went to Berea College in Kentucky, Edna, Patty, Kitty, Mallie, were all in the Glee Club for years, led by Gladys Jamison. She collected traditional songs of the region, in a personal way- did not publish nor do scholarly studies. I think she was the one who brought "our" version of, "Pretty Saro" to the Glee Club, and from there the girls began singing it at home. This would be about 1925-26, with Kitty and Patty who were older and were at Berea first. And I was born at the end of 1922, so you see have known this song ALL my singing life. I guess that's why people think of it as a Ritchie song. I wish Miss Jamison had shared more on her song sources, but she never did, as I know.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:09 PM

I see this thread started in 1999 so this is post 99


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:10 PM

And this is 100 !!


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 06:20 AM

Jean, thanks so much for your reflections and answers. I guess we can assume that in fact it was you who introduced the "Ritchie version" of "Pretty Saro" into the folk revival. It certainly is a beautiful tune. I tried again last night to see if I could sound out the tune that Sharp collected from Lizzie Gibson from Crozet, VA, which is just a few miles from where I live. It is a beautiful tune as well and quite complicated, at least for me, and it is not the same as yours, in my judgement. I wonder if it was this tune that Elizabeth and Hally sang? Thanks again for your help, Jean.

Does anybody else know about Gladys Jamison, or Berea in the 1920s, and where she might have found this particular version. I've not come across it in any of the other early collections from Kentucky that I know about.

Also, did Guy Carawan pick up his version from Jean and add a few verses from Sharp's collection, or did he learn it somewhere else?
Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Info on Pretty Saro?
From: GUEST,here's hoping
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 03:51 PM

Does anyone know where "Pretty Saro" first came from, and what year it was orginally made?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pretty Saro
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 02:49 AM

Mike Lydiat

Lesley - I noticed your comment about ownership of the Contemplator Carolan site and bemoaning the fact that you cannot find good arrangements with harmonies etc. I spent 2 years on my Carolan Project doing just that work - many / most of the single top line melodies I got (with thanks) from your site. I now have full arrangements of all 213 Carolan tunes for guitar in various open tunings on my own web site:
http://www.docsworkshop.co.uk

Take a look and see if they fill the gap.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pretty Saro
From: GUEST,Tannywheeler
Date: 17 May 10 - 10:40 PM

Sorry, T.O.M. Been gone a while. You've been given good info about Elizabeth (& Anne) formerly-Lomax. Elizabeth has always been warm & kind & very smart. Had quite a writing career, I think. This song goes back to before my 4th b'day, so I don't know where my mother(Hally) got her version, but the one I remember I've always associated with Jean Ritchie. Another warm, sweet lady. Never doubt what she says. Even IF she considered making stuff up(lying) George, the great & good, wouldn't let her. Tw


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