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Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes

DigiTrad:
BROOM O' THE COWDENKNOWES (BALLAD VERSION)
BROOM OF THE COWDENKNOWES


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MartinNail 05 Nov 20 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Ray 05 Nov 20 - 08:23 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Nov 20 - 03:33 PM
Reinhard 05 Nov 20 - 04:23 PM
MartinNail 05 Nov 20 - 07:22 PM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 01:25 AM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 01:32 AM
Dave Hanson 06 Nov 20 - 02:33 AM
Reinhard 06 Nov 20 - 04:38 AM
MartinNail 06 Nov 20 - 04:52 AM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 09:16 AM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 10:12 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 20 - 02:38 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 20 - 02:47 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 20 - 03:10 PM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 03:11 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 20 - 03:22 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 20 - 03:27 PM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 03:43 PM
The Sandman 06 Nov 20 - 03:57 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 20 - 05:34 PM
The Sandman 07 Nov 20 - 02:43 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 20 - 02:29 PM
The Sandman 07 Nov 20 - 05:33 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 20 - 05:49 PM
MartinNail 08 Nov 20 - 10:36 AM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 20 - 10:57 AM
The Sandman 08 Nov 20 - 05:16 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Nov 20 - 06:00 PM
The Sandman 08 Nov 20 - 11:41 PM
Richard Mellish 09 Nov 20 - 06:48 AM
MartinNail 09 Nov 20 - 09:20 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Nov 20 - 02:14 PM
Richard Mellish 09 Nov 20 - 06:11 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Nov 20 - 09:57 AM
Richard Mellish 11 Nov 20 - 12:28 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Nov 20 - 03:04 PM
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Subject: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowden
From: MartinNail
Date: 05 Nov 20 - 08:15 AM

I didn't have any luck asking this in an existing thread -- I think it got buried under an unhelpful thread title.

Does anyone know the origin of The Watersons' version of The broom of Cowdenknowes? I've seen it described as a Yorkshire version, but nobody has actually cited a source for where and when etc it was collected.

Their version, as performed on New Voices (Topic 12T125 1965) and reissued on Early Days (Topic TSCD472 1994), is (in full):

Oh the broom, the bonnie, bonnie broom
The broom of Cowdenknowes
Fain would I be in the north country
To milk my daddy's ewes.

All the maids that ever were deceived
Bear part of these my woes
For once I was a bonny lass
When I milked my daddy's ewes.

Oh the broom, the bonnie, bonnie broom
The broom of Cowdenknowes
Fain would I be in the north country
To milk my daddy's ewes.

The first and third verses are a pretty standard chorus, but the second isn't in other versions that I have come accross, and appears to come from a broadside ballad called The lovely Northerne lasse (Roud V20510, printed by Child as an appendix to 217).

The sleeve notes to New Voices (reprinted with Early Days) are by Bert Lloyd and talk about the seventeenth and eighteenth century sightings of the tune, but say nothing about the origin of the words of the version.

Can anyone help?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 05 Nov 20 - 08:23 AM

Cowdenknowes Is just off the A68 east of Melrose if that’s any help.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Nov 20 - 03:33 PM

Hi Martin
I know for a fact that Mike and Norma spent a lot of time in the local music library and when they could, in the VWML, looking up pieces in books like Kidson's Traditional Tunes. I'm pretty certain they will have got the fragment they sing from Chappell's Popular Music 460/461. This would have been in the early 60s.

The chorus and tune are on p461 and that verse is on p460.

Chappell devotes 3 and a bit pages to the history of the various songs.

Regarding 'Yorkshire song' the girl wishes she was in her own country in the north so she must be at the time somewhere in England. Danby is mentioned which is on the North Yorkshire Moors.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Reinhard
Date: 05 Nov 20 - 04:23 PM

These are the two paragraphs from Chappell's Popular Music p460 that Steve mentioned:

The broom of Cowdon Knowes is a long story in two parts. Besides the copy in Mr. Halliwell's Collection, it will be found among the Roxburghe Ballads, i. 190; and is reprinted in Evans' Old Ballads, i. 88, 1810. The following are the two first stanzas :—

“Through Liddersdale as lately I went,
    I musing on did passe ;
I heard a maid was discontent,
    She sigh'd and said, alas !
All maids that ever deceived were,
    Bear a part of these my woes,
For once I was a bonny lasse,
    When I milkt my daddies ewes.
With O the broom, the bonny broom,
    The broom of Cowdon Knowes ;
Fain would I be in the North Country,
    To milk my daddies ewes.

My love into the fields did come,
    When my daddy was at home ;
Sugar'd words he gave me there,
    Prais'd me for such a one ;
His honey breath and lips so soft,
    And his alluring eye,
His tempting tongue hath woo'd me oft,
    Now forces me to cry.
All maids,” &c.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: MartinNail
Date: 05 Nov 20 - 07:22 PM

Steve and Reinhard

Thank you, that's helpful. Yes, Chappell printed the first two stanzas of the Lovely Northerne lasse from a seventeenth century broadside the Roxburghe collection (and Child printed the whole ballad).

I was very interested to hear how the Watersons researched their songs. The words of their version do indeed appear in the extract that Chappell printed, so that could well be where they got them from. And they sing it to the tune Chappell prints, which is from Playford (though I can't immediately see where he states that it is). However, there is no direct Yorkshire connection as Chappell doesn't print the fourth stanza, which is the one that mentions Danby Forest.

I can see that the Lovely Northerne lasse could be considered to be a song about Yorkshire on the grounds of the heroine's birthplace, but on the evidence so far it's not a Yorkshire song in the sense of having been collected in the county, or been known to have been sung there.

Martin


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 01:25 AM

i always assumed the song was scottish


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 01:32 AM

knowes is a scottish word?cowdenknowes is in scotland
Broom of the Cowdenknowes", also known as "Bonny May", is a traditional Scottish love ballad, (Child 217, Roud 92). It has been traced to the seventeenth century, but its exact origin is unknown.[1]

The title of the song references the Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) flower, a vibrant yellow flower found throughout Scotland, including Cowdenknowes, a Scottish barony east of the Leader Water (River Leader), 32 miles southeast of Edinburgh in Berwickshire.
whatever next,perhaps lamorna or bungay roger might be claimed by the yorkies


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 02:33 AM

In The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders, Scott gives 26 verses for this song.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Reinhard
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 04:38 AM

Sandman, please read the original poster's question.

Yes, we all know that The Broom of the Cowdenknowes is a Scottish song. The Watersons' fragment has, besides the chorus, just one verse that is not in the usual versions of this song. The original poster asked if this one version might be from Yorkshire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: MartinNail
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 04:52 AM

Dear all

I started this thread to ask a very specific question. There are other threads about the Child ballad called the Broom of Cowdenknowes (Chlid 217, Roud 92) and the Allan Ramsay lyric also called the Broom of Cowdenknowes (Roud 8709). Some of the postings to this thread would be more appropriate in one of those, for example here: Where is Cowdenknowes?.

Martin


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 09:16 AM

possibly a mike waterson composition? please note question mark


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 10:12 AM

reinhard your apostrophe should be after posters, thus posters'
there is not a letter missing between poster and s but rather the apostrophe should be after indicating that the comment belonged to the poster , hope you do not mind me correcting your punctuation


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 02:38 PM

??


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 02:47 PM

Dick, you're digging yourself a big hole!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 03:10 PM

Hi Martin,
Yes, you're right about the Danby reference. The Hull club Folk Union One had a set of Child by the time I arrived there c1965, but Norma could easily have accessed a copy at the local music library or the VWML.

Norma would have been happy singing about a 'north country lass' with a great tune, as she did with the similar art song 'A North Country lass up to London did pass/The Oak and the Ash'. I'll ask her when we can get together again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 03:11 PM

why, i am asking a question, do you not think its possible , he was a good song writer-, it is within the conventions of tradtional song that someone can add a verse, that is what makes it a living


why, i am asking a question, he was a gifted songwriter, why should he not add a verse, is it not possible? its all part of the folk process. what exactly do you mean?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 03:22 PM

As for some people wanting to call that version a Yorkshire song (much more likely a London 'Scotch' song) people on the folk scene would be happy to do that simply because the Watersons are from Yorkshire.

As for the borrowing of the 3 songs, I'm quite happy to put them in order of when they first appeared:
1 The London 17th century broadside
2 Ramsay's 1720s flowery piece
3 The Child Ballad, earliest 1768.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 03:27 PM

Mike was indeed an excellent songwriter, but nobody from the last century wrote or added anything to this song as sung by Norma. Every bit of what they sang including the tune goes back to the 17th century. Keep digging, Dick! Or at least try to follow the thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 03:43 PM

i was asking a question, nothing more
there is no need to be patronising or insulting or rude. the purpose of this forum is to ask questions about music
i did not know the origin of the verse, so i asked a question, i would appreciate if you replied, using some manners.,


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 03:57 PM

Mike was indeed an excellent songwriter, but nobody from the last century wrote or added anything to this song as sung by Norma. Every bit of what they sang including the tune goes back to the 17th century. quote
if you had restricted yourself to that , it would have been an acceptable reply.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version of The broom of Cowde
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 05:34 PM

Dick, your suggestion that Yorkshire people want to claim all songs as theirs, and your completely wrong disparagement of Reinhard's grammar, in face of your own lack of grammatical knowledge, prompted my response.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Nov 20 - 02:43 AM

it was a joke, of course yorksire people dont want to claim all the songs.
on the subject of the apostrophe ,
The apostrophe has three uses: 1) to form possessive nouns; 2) to show the omission of letters; and 3) to indicate plurals of letters, numbers, and symbols. ?Do not ?use apostrophes to form possessive ?pronouns ?(i.e. ?his?/?her ?computer) or ?noun ?plurals that are not possessives.
REINHARDS use of the apostrophe indicated an omission of a letter.

you are clearly in no position to pontificate on the subject of Grammar


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 20 - 02:29 PM

Oh, Dick, is this a joke as well?

When posting something that you later want to claim was a joke can I recommend you append the following pieces of punctuation :) or similar.

Oh, and a piece of trivia for you....I taught English for 40 years.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Nov 20 - 05:33 PM

of course it was a joke,
Steve you are the epitome of the schoolmasters I remember.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 20 - 05:49 PM

Rather elaborate joke, Dick! I wonder if Reinhard was fooled as well.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: MartinNail
Date: 08 Nov 20 - 10:36 AM

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to believe that this version must derive from Chappell. I think that it's a plausible selection from (or abridgement of) the stanzas that Chappell prints but it would (to me) be far less plausible that someone would come up with this if they had the whole of the broadside text in front of them.

Reinhard -- I see you've updated your website already!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 20 - 10:57 AM

'perhaps lamorna or bungay roger might be claimed by the yorkies'

With apologies for thread drift, 'Lamorna' (i.e. 'Pomona') actually belongs to Manchester!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Nov 20 - 05:16 PM

ah well, such is life, we must have a seance and contact Brenda Wootton, that is a joke, school master, Steve Gardham


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Nov 20 - 06:00 PM

Hi Martin
The only place I can think of that would have been readily available to them in the 60s would have been the Child appendix to 217. It is possible that once Norma had the tune and chorus from Chappell that Bert gave them the verse.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Nov 20 - 11:41 PM

A L Lloyd involvement?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 06:48 AM

As a colleague of mine once said at a conference about an entirely different subject: "If you are not yet confused, you are not yet informed".

We seem to have a tangled history of songs on at least two themes:
1. the ballad, with its story of (probably) rape followed by later marriage, most versions of which don't mention Cowdenknowes at all, being better identified as The Ewebuchts; and
2. the lyrical lament by a girl (or recently in the Revival a man) about separation from Cowdenknowes where she or he herded or milked the yowes.

Both themes can be combined in the same song, with the girl in the ballad being married but still wishing to be back with the yowes, but I'm not at all convinced that they belong together.

The Watersons' version of the lyrical song is clearly either an extremely abbreviated extract, with trivial changes, from The Lovely Northerne Lasse as printed in Child's 217 Appendix, or else a separate descendant from a common parent; anyway with only the word "deceived" to give any hint of an explanation for the separation.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: MartinNail
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 09:20 AM

I don't think that Bert Lloyd was involved, although he did of course point the Watersons in the direction of many songs.

Given that their version could have resulted from from Norma finding the words and music in Chappell that seems to me the most likely scenario.

Bert Lloyd would have had a copy of Child, and hence access to the full text of The Lovely Northerne lasse as printed in the Appendix to Child 217. As I said above, it seems to me that someone starting from the full text is less likely than someone starting with Chappell to come up with such an abbreviated result. I feel that Lloyd would have made a lot more of the Northern lasse.

The other thing that makes me doubtful of Lloyd's involvement is the sleeve notes to New Voices, which he wrote. As I mentioned in my initial post, these talk about the tune but don't mention the words. This confirms me in my view that he wasn't the source of the words.

None of this is proof, of course, just what seems to me most likely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 02:14 PM

Hi Martin. I could go with that.

Hi Richard, we are not discussing the Child Ballad at all here. It just happens that the older ballad is in his appendix to the Child Ballad. I couldn't even tell you if they use the same tune. I suppose I could check Bronson. I agree Child's choice of title for 217 was unfortunate, but then so was 'Edward' for 13 :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 06:11 PM

> Hi Richard, we are not discussing the Child Ballad at all here.

Sorry for bringing that in. That was mainly to clarify my own thinking: that the ballad and Cowdenknowes do get tangled in together but it might be better if that had never happened.

I agree with Martin that someone starting from the whole of The Lovely Northerne Lasse would be unlikely to abbreviate it to such an extreme extent. But it's a drastic abbreviation even if you start from the amount that was in Chappell. We don't seem much nearer to discovering who did that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Nov 20 - 09:57 AM

I think Norma the most likely. I can imagine her liking the tune and the chorus and just the one likeable verse.

Decided to look at what Reinhard has on MN. Recorded versions appear to be mainly the Child Ballad and the flowery Ramsay piece.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 11 Nov 20 - 12:28 PM

> I think Norma the most likely. I can imagine her liking the tune and the chorus and just the one likeable verse.

whereas Sabine, Cecil or Bert would have blythely added some new verses.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Watersons' version Broom of Cowdenknowes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Nov 20 - 03:04 PM

Back in the 60s very few people on the folkscene knew very much about the songs and their histories including those of us who eventually became researchers. 'Traditional' just meant an old song, any old song, whether it came from an old book, the Music Hall, off a broadside, the theatre etc. Many professionals had their own specialities, chanties, Music Hall, Americana, bluegrass, comic songs, blues, their own material, protest songs. Everything was accepted with equal enthusiasm. Even some of the most traditional clubs accepted a wide range of material. The verse and chorus that Norma sang had never been folk until she sang it.

Very similar of course is 'The Oak and the Ash/North Country Maid' sung by Norma which again comes from Chappell, though it occurs in lots of art song collections.


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