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Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife

GUEST,diplocase 23 Mar 17 - 02:38 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Mar 17 - 03:36 PM
RTim 23 Mar 17 - 04:13 PM
JHW 23 Mar 17 - 05:53 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Mar 17 - 06:24 PM
Elmore 24 Mar 17 - 11:30 AM
Bill D 24 Mar 17 - 02:21 PM
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Subject: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: GUEST,diplocase
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 02:38 PM

Can anyone point me to recordings of this American version of Sheath and Knife, apart from Boiled in Lead on their album Orb? I don't have their liner notes. Any background on where it was first collected, any collection it appears in? Many thanks, diplocase

Son Oh Son
(Down By the Greenwood Side, Sheath & Knife Child #6 w elements of Edward, Child #13)
as sung by Boiled in Lead

It's up in the kitchen, down in the hall
        All a-lee and a-lonely
Willie's the father of his sister's child
        Down by the greenwood side

Took her down to the merry wood
        All a-lee and a-lonely
There he shot his sister dead
        Down by the greenwood side

He goes back to his mother's home
        All a-lee and a-lonely
Welcome to me, my son, my son
        Down by the greenwood side

Son, oh Son, why are you so pale?
        All a-lee and a-lonely
I been down in the greenwoodd hunting quail
        Down by the greenwood side

There's no quail away down there
        All a-lee and a-lonely
I'm down there killing a white-tail deer
        Down by the greenwood side

There's no pistol kills a deer
        All a-lee and a-lonely
O Willie, where's your sister dear?
        Down by the greenwood side

Oh Mother, oh, Mother make my bed
        All a-lee and a-lonely
For I have shot my sister dead
        Down by the greenwood side

Then Son, where will you go
        All a-lee and a-lonely
For your Father will kill you when he comes to know
        Down by the greenwood side

He'll bury you under yon mill
        All a-lee and a-lonely
If he doesn't kill you, I surely will
        Down by the greenwood side


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Subject: RE: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 03:36 PM

I'm not aware that this ballad has been collected from oral tradition since about the 1870s and that in Scotland. In fact the ballad was very scarce even then. However, if there are any American versions they should show up on Richie's fantastic Bluegrass website.

There is supposedly a tune in Christie's Traditional Ballad Airs Vol2 p138, with other words set to it. But anything in Christie can't be guaranteed as genuine. There is a tune given in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, Vol 2, p434.

Generally speaking it is one of those scarce ballads that suddenly appeared in a few Scottish collections at the start of the 19th century.


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Subject: RE: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: RTim
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 04:13 PM

The Wiki on the album suggests the song was written by Todd Menton - so who knows??
I have just listen to it on YouTube - it is a very good version well performed by a band I have never heard of before.........I am listening to a few other songs by them!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: JHW
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 05:53 PM

I can't help thinking I've heard the chorus lines somewhere else and know a melody immediately, might remember when I stop trying.
Bluegrass Messengers site says bluntly [There are no extant US or Canadian traditional versions of Sheath and Knife.]

Remembered - The Bonnie Banks of Airdrie similar choruses, it being similar to Bonnie Banks of the Virgie, Canada (Folk Songs of the Americas A.L.Lloyd +)


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Subject: RE: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 06:24 PM

That chorus is most commonly found with Child 20 The Cruel Mother. See Bronson. Indeed it must have originated there as the mid 17thc 'original' (read earliest extant version) has parts of it. It may therefore be useful to compare the tune used above with tunes to The Cruel Mother in Bronson.


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Subject: RE: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: Elmore
Date: 24 Mar 17 - 11:30 AM

there's a version of this ballad sung by Helen Schneyer on her Folk Legacy Recording. "Ballads, Broadsides and Hymns. It's available from Folk Legacy. Different words though.


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Subject: RE: Son oh Son - Sheath & Knife
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Mar 17 - 02:21 PM

I have almost 2 dozen versions of Sheath & Knife, but Helen Schneyer's is about the only American one....one of the best though. Jean Redpath said it too her several years to find her own way thru it after hearing Helen.
... This version is 'what people do' in mixing two or more old songs to make an essentially different story.

Child 16, mixed with Child 6 and 13... it's no doubt "Boiled in Lead's" own creation, so no other version is likely.


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