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Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow

DigiTrad:
BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW
BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW
BANKS OF YARROW (4)
BANKS OF YARROW (4)
BONNIE ANNIE
BONNIE ANNIE
THE BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW (2)
THE BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW (2)


Related threads:
Banks of Green Willow - Cyril Tawney (12)
Lyr Add: Bonnie Annie (Child 24) (14)
Lyr Req: The Green Willow (P Farrell) (5)
Chord Req: Banks of Green Willow (44)
Lyr Add: A Ballad of the Green Willow (Heywood) (3)
The Green Banks of Yarrow (7)
Lyr Req: Banks of Green Willow (from Butterworth) (3)
Banks of Green Willow (8)
What is 'Green Willow' (40)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Banks of Green Willow (from The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs)
William Glen


Alan of Australia 14 Jan 00 - 05:26 AM
Mían 14 Jan 00 - 11:27 AM
lamarca 14 Jan 00 - 12:44 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Aug 00 - 05:20 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 May 02 - 11:32 PM
Martin Graebe 28 May 02 - 02:41 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 May 02 - 09:16 PM
sadie damascus 30 Oct 03 - 06:22 PM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Oct 03 - 06:58 PM
Dave Bryant 31 Oct 03 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,MMario 31 Oct 03 - 10:01 AM
Fiolar 01 Nov 03 - 08:26 AM
pavane 02 Nov 03 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 24 Nov 07 - 01:41 PM
The Sandman 24 Nov 07 - 02:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 07 - 02:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 07 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,Karen Kaplan of Toronto 24 Nov 07 - 04:05 PM
The Sandman 24 Nov 07 - 07:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Nov 07 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 25 Nov 07 - 07:04 AM
The Sandman 25 Nov 07 - 11:03 AM
The Sandman 25 Nov 07 - 04:24 PM
The Sandman 25 Nov 07 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 26 Nov 07 - 06:47 AM
The Sandman 26 Nov 07 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 26 Nov 07 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Karen Kaplan of Toronto 26 Nov 07 - 12:15 PM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 07 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 27 Nov 07 - 04:01 AM
Phil Edwards 08 Jul 08 - 04:24 AM
GUEST 08 Jul 08 - 02:08 PM
Lord Batman's Kitchener 08 Jul 08 - 02:21 PM
Schantieman 14 Jul 08 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,In My Humble Opinion 14 Jul 08 - 04:37 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Jul 08 - 04:44 PM
Terry McDonald 14 Jul 08 - 05:58 PM
In My Humble Opinion 14 Jul 08 - 06:12 PM
Richard Mellish 14 Jul 08 - 06:57 PM
Phil Edwards 03 Sep 20 - 07:10 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Sep 20 - 01:59 PM
Phil Edwards 05 Sep 20 - 05:53 AM
Phil Edwards 05 Sep 20 - 06:05 AM
Phil Edwards 05 Sep 20 - 06:06 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Sep 20 - 04:13 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Sep 20 - 04:30 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Sep 20 - 09:54 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 20 - 10:34 AM
Phil Edwards 06 Sep 20 - 03:10 PM
Richard Mellish 06 Sep 20 - 05:11 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Sep 20 - 07:50 AM
Brian Peters 07 Sep 20 - 08:27 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Sep 20 - 08:33 AM
Brian Peters 07 Sep 20 - 08:33 AM
The Sandman 09 Sep 20 - 05:27 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Sep 20 - 06:16 AM
Mrrzy 09 Sep 20 - 07:29 PM
Brian Peters 10 Sep 20 - 04:59 AM
Steve Gardham 10 Sep 20 - 12:37 PM
Mrrzy 10 Sep 20 - 12:45 PM
Mrrzy 10 Sep 20 - 12:58 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Sep 20 - 05:00 PM
GeoffLawes 12 Sep 20 - 03:53 AM
GeoffLawes 13 Sep 20 - 01:12 PM
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The Sandman 15 Sep 20 - 04:15 PM
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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: THE BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW ^^
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 05:26 AM

G'day,
From the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, Ed Pellow's submission of the tune of The Banks Of Green Willow (Child #24) can be found here.


THE BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW

Go and get your father's good will,
And get your mother's money,
And sail right o'er the ocean
Along with young Johnny.

She had not been a-sailing
Been sailing many days, O,
Before she want some woman's help
And could not get any.

Oh, fetch me a silk napkin
To tie her head up easy,
And I'll throw her overboard
Both she and her baby.

Oh, they fetched him a napkin
And bound her head so easy,
And overboard he threw his love,
Both she and her baby.

See how my love do tumble,
See how my love do taver,
See how my love do try to swim,
That makes my heart quaver.

Oh, make my love a coffin
Of the gold that shines yellow,
And she shall be buried
By the banks of green willow.


The DT has a different version here.

Previous song: As Sylvie Was Walking
Next song: The Banks Of Newfoundland.

Penguin Index provided by Joe Offer

Cheers,
Alan ^^


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Subject: RE: Lyric & Tune add: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Mían
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 11:27 AM

oh my gawd.


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Subject: RE: Lyric & Tune add: Banks Of Green Willow
From: lamarca
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 12:44 PM

My favorite recorded version of this song is on a Fellside sampler record called "Flash Company!" that they released as a benefit for Nic Jones. On it a group calling themselves "The Famous Five (Less One)" does this as a choral close harmony, to a bouncy and totally inappropriate tune - but it works! The pseudonymous group is Martin Carthy and some of his friends; Martin recorded the song straight on his album "Shearwater"...

I know certain things were supposedly ill-luck on shipboard, but I'm not sure why the young woman has to die in this song - is it because she stole money from her parents, or because she was a woman on board ship, or because she was an unchaste woman (having produced a baby out-of-wedlock) on board ship? It always seemed grotesquely unfair that she had to die, but her so-called "true love" who got her pregnant, asked her to steal the money and persuaded her to go on board gets off scot free!


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Subject: RE: Lyric & Tune add: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 05:20 PM

From the notes to the Penguin Book (1959):

"There is a common superstition, older than Jonah, that the presence of a wrongdoer aboard ship may make the vessel unmanageable.¹  Disaster may result unless the offender is discovered and thrown overboard.  A Scottish text printed in 1827 makes it clear that the "Jonah" motive lies within this song, though the 20th. century versions are so disordered that the meaning is rather obscured.  The full story concerns a young woman who robs her parents, at her lover's request, and sails away with him.  During a storm at sea the woman gives birth to a baby.  The sailors fear that someone aboard is flying from retribution.  The blame is fixed on the woman, and to her lover's grief she is thrown overboard.  Later versions, however, make it seem that the lover is the murderer.  Fifty years ago Sharp reported the song "very generally sung throughout Somerset".  Five of Sharp's nine Somerset versions are given in FSJ vol.II [issue 6] pp.33-6, and FSJ vol.III [issue 13] p.292 has a Hampshire version² noted by R. Vaughan Williams."  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

This version was collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Overd of Langport, Somerset, in 1904, and was first published in the Folk Song Journal, vol.II [issue 6] p.34.

Other versions on the DT:

Banks of Green Willow  transcribed from a record by Frankie Armstrong, with tune.

The Banks of Green Willow  transcribed from a record by Nic Jones; no tune is given.
Bonnie Annie  from Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland, ed. Ewan MacColl, with tune.

In the Forum:

Banks of Green Willow A brief discussion of the significance of the title.

Child #24
@love @bastard @sea @murder @deadbaby @ship @Jonah @death

There is an entry at  The Traditional Ballad Index:
Bonnie Annie

Also called The High (or, Green) Banks of Yarrow.

In The Constant Lovers (E.F.D.S. Publications, 1972), Frank Purslow gives a version with text collated from several collected by George Gardiner and the Hammond brothers, and comments:

"In some versions the crew cast lots to discover who the wrong-doer is; in others the girl admits her own guilt, as here.  Older sets of words describe the captain writing a letter to friends ashore asking that, if her body is found, she be buried on "the high banks of Yarrow".  By the end of the 19th. century this phrase had apparantly become corrupted to "by the banks of green willow", probably by country singers who had no knowledge of Yarrow, and it is under this title that the song appears on 19th. century broadsides."

² Vaughan Williams' 1909 Phonograph recording of Banks of Green Willow, probably sung by David Clements, is available on  A Century of Song: A Celebration of Traditional Singers Since 1898  (EFDSS CD02, 1998)  The tune is the one used by Martin Carthy for his 1972 recording of the song.

¹ Another song based around this motif is The Guilty Sea Captain (Laws K22, DT #563), of which there are two versions on the DT:

William Glen
The New York Trader

See also the version from the Penguin book:  The New York Trader

Arguably related to these is  Brown Robyn's Confession  (Child #57)

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Lyric & Tune add: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 May 02 - 11:32 PM

Seemingly there is no tune older than 20th century for this ballad, according to Bronson, The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular Ballads, notes to "Bonnie Annie," p. 86. He gives three tunes for "Banks of Green Willow," 1903-1905. Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Loomis House new edition, p. 338, provides still another melody, for Bonnie Annie, variation C (from S. Baring-Gould?).


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 28 May 02 - 02:41 AM

Baring-Gould staggers into the the C19th having collected the song in 1888 from John Masters of Bradstone in Devon (two other singers gave hime the song over the nest couple of years. He called it 'The Undutiful Daughter'.

Martin


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 May 02 - 09:16 PM

"The Undutiful Daughter." Lyrics and music may be found at: Daughter
Your site, Martin?


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: sadie damascus
Date: 30 Oct 03 - 06:22 PM

I've lost it now, but thirty minutes ago I visited a page whose version of this song had the sailors draw lots with "black bullets", or at least that's what I think they were doing. For years I have thought I had once heard a version in which they threw a "black bullock" overboard before throwing the maiden. Now I realize it was this version I must have heard.

Despite following every link I can find, now, I cannot seem to return to that "black bullet" version. It was the sort of page that does not lend itself to being copy-and-pasted. Anybody?

How would these bullets be used?

Sadie Damascus


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Oct 03 - 06:58 PM

That verse rarely appears in tradition, but there's a form of it in Child 24A, Bonnie Annie, verse 7:

They've casten black bullets twice six and forty,
And ae the black bullet fell on bonnie Annie.

That text was taken from Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads. The sequence also appears in a set noted by Sabine Baring-Gould in Devon, The Undutiful Daughter. This is in his MSS in collated form, the tune and the bulk of the text being from J. Masters, Bradstone, 1888; with additional material (including, it seems, this verse, no. 5 in the MS) from H. Smith, Two Bridges, 1889.

They cast the black bullets, as they sailed on the water
The black bullet fell to the undutiful daughter.
Now, who in the ship must go over the side O
O none save the maiden, the fair captain's bride O.

The full song is in Bronson, I, no. 24.7, pp. 300-301. It can also be seen in pdf format at Martin Graebe's Sabine Baring-Gould and the folk songs of South-West England:

The Undutiful Daughter.

Martin Carthy recorded a collated form of the song that features the incident. In his case, the tune and the bulk of the text were from David Clements of Basingstoke, Hampshire (recorded by Ralph Vaughan Williams, January 1909), with three verses adapted from Kinloch. Clements' set was printed in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, III (4) 1909 292-3 and Bronson I 25.15 303. A cylinder recording presumed to be of him survives at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, and a transcription can be heard on the EFDSS CD A Century of Song (EFDSSCD02, 1998).

The process is one of drawing lots; evidently in this case using bullets; one only being black.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 31 Oct 03 - 09:55 AM

The version that I sing (I can't remember who I got it from) contains the verses:

We had not been a-sailing not three weeks so many
When our ship it was becalm-ed sore
No way we made any

So they counted out black bullets, they numbered twice six and twenty
And the lot it fell upon this maid
On her and her baby

They've tied a kerchief round her eyes, they've tied it round so bravely
And they've cast the wrongdoer over the side
Both her and her baby.

Now it's see how she doth swim me boys and it's see how she doth swagger
And she will not stop her swimming
Till she comes nigh some harbour

Now it's see how the winds do blow me boys and how our ship is moving
That women was our cause of woe
And this is the proving.



I've assumed that the assumption about her swimming prowess, was that she was some sort of witch and therefore could not drown.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 31 Oct 03 - 10:01 AM

I have seen elsewhere drawing of lots with "billets" and sometimes "ballots".


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Fiolar
Date: 01 Nov 03 - 08:26 AM

The late Tony Rose recorded a beautiful version.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: pavane
Date: 02 Nov 03 - 03:34 AM

Nic Jones did sing it on one of his earlier ('Bulmerised') albums, so it should be possible to check his version of the tune.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 01:41 PM

I'm exhuming this rather antique thread having spent a lot of time trying to put together my own collation of this ballad. I've been through all the examples in Bronson, the various versions - some of them rather suspicious in terms of text - that Baring-Gould included in his notebooks (thanks to Martin Graebe on that one), and a couple of others from the Gardiner MSS that Bob Askew has sent me.

A couple of questions arise:
1. In the Penguin version, allegedly that collected by Sharp from Mrs. Overd, there is the verse:

See how my love do tumble,
See how my love do taver,
See how my love do try to swim,
That makes my heart quaver.

However, Bronson's account of the same version (Overd / CJS) has:

Look how my love's swimming along
See how my love swager
I'm afraid she'll swim to dry land
Which makes my heart quaver

For those who set great store by detailed motivational analyses of song texts, this would suggest that young Johnny is scared stupid that she will escape alive to tell the tale. More to the point, though: is the Penguin version simply one of Lloyd's revisions? I don't have the source material to check up on it.

2. As far as I can make out, the only reference I've found in a version from tradition (outside of Child) to some kind of ill-fortune having been visited on the voyage is the stanza "The sails were outspread, but of miles made not any" in the "Undutiful Daughter" version collected by Baring-Gould from John Masters - which bears evidence of at least some editorial intervention. So has anyone come across anything similar in a collected version that I haven't discovered yet? I'm intrigued by the text submitted above by Dave Bryant, which contains some very unusual and suspiciously judgemental lines.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 02:06 PM

I never heard Dave sing this,and alas hes no longer with us.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 02:07 PM

"See how my love do tumble" starts the verse in "Classic English Folk Songs," Ed. R. Vaughan Williams and A. L. Lloyd, Revised by Malcolm Douglas, efdss, 2003. (The Banks of Green Willow, Sung by Mrs. Emma Overd, Langport, Somerset (C. J. S. 1904))
This volume is a much-needed revision of the Penguin of 1959, with a section on the Singers, as well as the songs.

In his notes, Malcolm says Emma Overd died in 1928, and that Sharp noted 43 songs from her. Malcolm gives notes and references which may help you to sort it out, if he doesn't come along to this thread in the meantime.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 02:21 PM

Bronson's notes indicate multiple Sharp collections, from Overd, Mrs. Milton and the Mrs White and Hooper. Probably more than one version from Overd; Malcolm Douglas says Sharp collected nine versions in Somerset.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Karen Kaplan of Toronto
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 04:05 PM

In response to Brian Peters two questions, looking through the seven versions (of which two have only one verse so only five are relevant) in "Cecil Sharp's Collection of Engllish Folk Songs" edited by Maud Karpeles...

1)
One version is from Mrs Overd, sung 22 August 1904. It has the "Look how my love's swimming along" verse as given in Bronson.

In none of the five relevant versions does she "tumble" and "taver"

However,..
"totter" and "tumber" appear in the Elizabeth Mogg version
"taver" appears in the Louie Hooper version
"totters" and "tremble" appear in the Jane Guilford version
"rollin'" and "tumblin'" appear in the W.Spearing version

But only Mrs. Overd's version has "which makes my heart quaver" or anything like it. None of the other four indicate that he is fearful. Contrite, perhaps, what with wanting to go after her with a small boat and/or provide her a coffin (in some versions one could think he hopes to prevent her death after all; in others it seems he simply wants to retrieve the bodies)

2)
None of these five refer to ill-fortune suffered by the ship. In Louie Hooper's version he "was troubled / with her and her baby". In some she asks to be thrown overboard. In some she asks to be sent or taken back home. Conceivably those requests (or her misery and complaining that those requests may represent) could have angered him.

On the other hand, perhaps the idea that the ship would be in trouble due to the woman and her baby and her malfeasance was so well understood it did not need to be included in the song. (In my reading, HE was as culpable as SHE, but I've just been reminded by reading "Albion's Seed" of how deeply double the double standard was in these matters.)


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 07:49 PM

perhaps,these are all examples of how the tradition changes and evolves,when songs are learned by ear.
why not make your own variation.
I am fairly sure this is what Bob Roberts did to Gamekeepers lie sleeping.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 08:06 PM

Karen has pretty much covered the verse in question, but I can expand on that a little. The Penguin text, attributed by Lloyd and Vaughan Williams solely to Emma Overd, is actually a composite based on her version but including elements from other sets noted by Sharp, and published in The Journal of the Folk-Song Society, II (6) 1905, 33-37 (and later in Karpeles, as cited above). As I mentioned in the notes to Classic English Folk Songs, verse 4 is from William Spearing, Ile Bruers (Isle Brewers), Somerset, 6 April 1904; lacking space, I didn't deconstruct the collated text in detail, noting only 'Parts of a few lines have been interpolated from other versions noted by Sharp...'. The source verses used by (presumably) Lloyd are as follows:

Now see how she totters
Now see how she tumbers
Now see how she's rolling
All on the salt water.

Elizabeth Mogg, Holford, 30 August 1904

See how my love she will try to swim
See how my love she will taver
See how my love she will try to swim
To the banks of green willow, to the banks of green willow.

Louie Hooper and Lucy White, Hambridge, 28 December 1908

Look how my love's swimming along
See how my love swager
I'm afraid she'll swim to dry land
Which makes my heart quaver.

Emma Overd, Langport, 22 August 1904

O see how my love's a rollin'
O see how my love's a tremblin' *
A-fetch to me the life-boat
And bring my love safe back again
Both she and her baby.

* 'tumblin' in Karpeles and Bronson: likely the confusion arose from different readings of Sharp's handwriting.

William Spearing, Isle Brewers, 6 April 1904


Tumbers, tumbling, trembling, taver, swager? David Clements (Basingstoke, Hampshire, January 1904) sang 'swagger'; Mr & Mrs Cranstone (Billingshurst, Sussex, June 1907) sang 'quivers'; and Sam Fone (Devon, 27 February 1893) sang 'totter'. Sharp (Folk Songs from Somerset, Simpkin, 1904, 63-4) quotes some ingenious -but ultimately, I suspect, mistaken- speculation from the Rev Charles Marson as to the possible meaning of 'taver', and gives Emma Overd's set (28-29) with an additional verse, written by Marson to fill the perceived gap in the narrative:

For O the ship was pixy-led
And lots were cast for the cause on't
But every time the lot fell out
On her and her baby, on her and her baby.

This was specifically inspired by the 'black bullet' verse in the text printed by Kinloch (1827).

My guess on the text quoted by Dave Bryant would be that it's a modern adaptation circulated in the folk clubs, but further information would be useful if anyone has it.

One further loose end: Nic Jones used the famous tune collected by Butterworth, slightly adapted.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 07:04 AM

Thanks everyone for this info. Pretty much what I suspected on the "tavers" verse, and as yet no convincing corroboration for SBG's "becalmed" verse.

Capt. B.: "why not make your own variation" is exactly what I'm doing. But I prefer to know before doing it whether the raw material I'm working with is actually that, i.e. raw material, or whether it has already been tampered with at some point. From the point of view of creating a song that hangs together and engages an audience this might not matter too much, but if I'm going to introduce it by telling that audience that I'm singing a "traditional song" then I'd like to know how traditional it really is, and how much of it may have been made up by The Rev. B-G or Bert Lloyd along the way. The more unadulterated collected versions I can examine, the more I can develop a sense for what is genuine and what may be a bit dodgy. Even so, there is always the possibility of a single singer coming out with a 'rogue' verse, like William Bone in the version of BGW he sang to George Gardiner: this ends with a verse in which young Johnny decides to write a letter to the victim's friends, to tell them she's drowned. I've never come across that line anywhere else.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 11:03 AM

fair comment Brian.
I will e mailyou.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 04:24 PM

Brian,the problem as Isee it is:that we dont know anything about past
amendments [we may assume they are mishearings, when they may have been
deliberate]when we do know[BertLLoyd]should we not make our judgements on
the quality of the text,rather than the fact he altered it,what I am trying
to say is that this sort of amendment may have been going on for hundreds of
years[yet when we dont know the author of the amendment ,we call it
traditional]it seems a bit artificial,especially when we know that
traditional singers in the past ,didnt seem to worry, they just enjoyed a
good song.
I have come to the conclusion that the word traditional is best avoided,and
[forexample]I would introduce a song as old,collected in Dorset by Hammond
Brothers in 1880,I am trying to say[probably not very well]that probably
every traditional/old song has been altered,and that in the end I think that
what matters is the quality of the text,and that with some of these
alterations we shall never find out[how old the alteration]whether it was
accidental or deliberate,so is it as important as having a good text.?Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 04:38 PM

should read [how old the alteration is]


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 06:47 AM

Capt B: "we dont know anything about past amendments [we may assume they are mishearings, when they may have been deliberate]"

Good point. Clearly some of the variations in texts and tunes we find in tradition have been the result of poor memory or confusion, but equally it's reasonable to suppose that traditional singers made deliberate improvements as well.

"when we do know[BertLLoyd]should we not make our judgements on
the quality of the text,rather than the fact he altered it"

It depends from what point of view we are looking at the finished article. As a song, I would say that "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid" as collated by Lloyd is a more interesting piece than any of the traditional versions he used to construct it, but if you wanted to use it to make inferences about the social history of the day it would be flawed, since he he appears to have made key changes to the status of the participants, possibly in line with his own agenda. Previous Mudcat discussions have picked apart his amendments to "The Recruited Collier" and "Reynardine", which made crucial changes to the entire point of each song - so now a generation of singers believes that "Reynardine" has something to do with werewolves. Also Lloyd was in a uniquely influential position in that he fed material to many of the most popular acts in the folk revival. Baring-Gould, for his part, submitted material to FJ Child and published singbooks, so in his case too he was attempting to make his "improved" texts part of the folksong canon. I think there's a difference in kind between that and an individual singer lost in the mists of time making changes to the song that he or she sang.

The other crucial difference is that when I, for example, go about constructing my own version of "Banks of Green Willow", I have at my disposal the collections at Cecil Sharp house and the Bodleian Library, the research of Bronson and Child, a welter of folk revival recordings of the song, and the combined wisdom of Mudcat members. I daresay you could throw at me the example of Gordon Hall as a self-conscious "song improver" but nonetheless I would never claim that what I am doing is analagous to what we consider "the traditional process". Although if "Famous Flower", that magnificent monument to Martin Carthy's creative genius, can win a BBC award as Best Traditional Track, then perhaps the meaning of "traditional" is still open to debate.

And I'm not at all convinced that using "old" as a substitute for "traditional" is going to make things any clearer.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 09:47 AM

well I often think of the old /traditional Songs ,rather like old paintings,or antiques,
if they have had to have the work of a restorer,to enable me to appreciate their beauty[even if they are no longer original]so be it.
   The version I sing of Game keepers lie sleeping[thatBob Roberts sang],I suspect is a rewrite,But it is in my opinion the best version,and that is what I look[Iam sure you do too] for when I am singing,It doesnt worry me that it may or may not be traditional,it has the best story,and has been lovingly restored in a suitable style.
If I view a painting,in a gallery,My enjoyment comes from the beauty that I perceive [at that moment in time],if it turns out later to have been a very good forgery,my enjoyment hasnt been ruined[many art experts and galleries have been fooled,there was a very good art forger in the 1960s ,his name escapes me,whose work was as good as the original artist.
Traditional/old songs have evolved and do change,the problem we face now,is that with the increase in communication[computers],these changes will no longer be anonymous,but we shouldnt reject the changes[because its tampering with an original] if they are an improvement [famous flower of serving men,Gamekeepers lie sleeping].
I have to disagree with you,what you are doing is analgous to the traditional process,and will be the way, traditional/old songs will be kept alive in the future,if you are un comfortable with doing this all you have to do is mention your amendments when you introduce the songImight add that youare an ideal person to be making alterations as you are steeped in the tradition.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 11:00 AM

"if you are un comfortable with doing this all you have to do is mention your amendments when you introduce the song"

I'm not uncomfortable about it - it's "what I do", after all! I just think it's a different process from what used to happen. But really we're only disagreeing about the terminology. As to making clear the scope of my amendments, I was already thinking of posting all the lyrics from my forthcoming Child Ballads CD on the web, accompanied by detials of the sources and some indication of where I've altered things. Just in case anyone was interested.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Karen Kaplan of Toronto
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 12:15 PM

Brian said, "I was already thinking of posting all the lyrics from my forthcoming Child Ballads CD on the web, accompanied by detials of the sources and some indication of where I've altered things. Just in case anyone was interested."

I shall certainly be interested. Thank you!


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 03:49 PM

We'd be glad to have you post it here, Brian.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 04:01 AM

Well, Joe, my plan was to post it on my own site, but that's certainly a nice idea, thanks. Right now I need to concentrate on getting them recorded.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 04:24 AM

I'd just like to thank posters to this thread (Malcolm in particular) for the light they've thrown on this song. I've only heard Nic Jones's version, which uses a text so gappy as to make the plot line downright mysterious (she gets pregnant, he tells her to steal some money and come away to sea, she has the baby on board ship, he throws her and the baby overboard, he promises to give her a decent burial).


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 02:08 PM

Steve Turner did a nice version w/ concertina, which includes the black bullet stanza a casting lots.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Lord Batman's Kitchener
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 02:21 PM

I recently picked up a copy of the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, 1959 edition, at a used bookshop, for 74p. Best purchase I've made, so far, this year


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Schantieman
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 04:31 PM

Singing Book of English Penguins


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GUEST,In My Humble Opinion
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 04:37 PM

The Book of Singing English Penguins


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 04:44 PM

And if you want more info on how Bert and RVW concocted their versions you can read all about it in Malcolm's edition ' Classy King Penguin Folk Songs' or some such title. A tad more expensive than 74p but well worth the money.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 05:58 PM

Isn't there a Les Barker volume entitled 'The English Book of Penguin Folk Songs?'


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: In My Humble Opinion
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 06:12 PM

*Isn't there a Les Barker volume entitled 'The English Book of Penguin Folk Songs?*

Yes there is, and it's available via Les's website.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 06:57 PM

My thanks to Brian and Dick for some cogent observations about The Folk Process. I firmly believe that the conscious and unconscious changes that people in the revival make to tunes and text are often of a piece with those made in the past that led to the versions that were collected.

A minor additional comment: the PDF of The Undutiful Daughter that is linked to on this thread clearly has its bar lines awry. The first note on the second stave ought to be the last note in the previous bar, and so on all the way to the end, which would make the last bar correctly three beats instead of four.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 03 Sep 20 - 07:10 AM

Twelve years on(!), this remains a fascinating and genuinely useful thread.

Having compared and contrasted several versions of the song, I can make a couple of observations.

Firstly, there's a big difference between the Child versions and the 'Southern' versions collected by the Gardiners, Butterworth et al. The business with the napkin doesn't appear in the Child versions, which have the woman asking the sailor to "take me up in your arms" and pitch her overboard. On the other hand, the drawing of lots and the suggestion of enchantment only appears in Child A, and the whole passage with the ship being becalmed - or possibly stuck on a sandbank - appears only in the Child versions and Baring-Gould's.

Secondly, several different versions - but very few contemporary interpretations - have a verse in which the man offers to help (in a "why would you need women's help when there's a man standing here?" sort of way), and the poor woman replies "you have no idea what you're talking about" or WTTE. On the other hand, although most contemporary renderings follow Frank Purslow in giving the woman a successful labour and a beautiful baby, this detail is only specified in one of the source versions - Baring-Gould's.

Thirdly, there are a lot of differences between Baring-Gould's "Undutiful Daughter"[sic] and all the other 'Southern' versions; some of the differences bring the song closer to the Child versions, others just fill in the details of the story. Purslow, and the contemporary singers who have followed him, lean more heavily on a single - rather flowery and literary - source than I'm comfortable with.

Fourth, the tune. I've always been dissatisfied with the rather upbeat and bouncy tune that a lot of singers use; I stumbled on Debra Cowan's version a while back and have used her tune ever since. It's an appropriately melancholic but spiky tune, with accidentals appearing and disappearing from bar to bar; it's almost, but not quite, in a melodic minor. It's also - I discovered yesterday(!) - almost, but not quite, the tune recorded by Butterworth in 1909, which Sharp described as having Scandinavian characteristics (make of that what you will). I don't know who tweaked it, but - having attempted the Butterworth tune - I think it's just as well they did.

For performance, I've kept Debra Cowan's tune and stripped down the song to verses that only appear in two or more 'Southern' versions excluding Baring-Gould (plus one or two that I just wanted to keep). What emerges is something singable but very bleak - essentially, woman has difficult labour, can't get help because entirely surrounded by hairy-arsed sailors, asks to be put out of her misery with a quick drowning and burial at sea.

OTOH, Baring-Gould's instincts may have been right - all of this may have been a corruption / simplification of the witchy 'Northern' original. I don't think there's any way of knowing.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Sep 20 - 01:59 PM

Be interested to see your compilation version, Phil. I too have put together a compilation based on the English versions, but more for study purposes.

my opinion based on many other ballad adaptations is that the Scots took a mid-18th century English broadside (not currently extant) and added in the supernatural bits etc. Think Scott's extra supernatural bits for The Daemon Lover, or Scott's extra bits to Douglas Tragedy based on Earl Brand, Scottish adaptation of Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor, Peter Buchan's 'Bonny Lass of Fyvie' adapted from 'Pretty Peggy of Derby', etc.

One thing that adds to this idea is that the English versions, seemingly without the help of multiple rewritten broadside versions, has produced quite a varied selection of multiple versions, suggesting that it had been in oral tradition for some considerable period such as a century and a half. This fits in with other ballads from the mid 18th century that did not get multiple adaptations in the 19th. Not many but there are some.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Sep 20 - 05:53 AM

Interesting angle, Steve. We tend to think of restoration in terms of stripping out later additions, but if you start from the assumption that the original must have had extra layers to it you could quite easily end up believing that your embroidery was really restoration. It reminds me of those C19 folklorists who would pronounce with great authority that the Boar's Head Carol portrayed a pagan ritual or that the Poor Old Horse was actually Odin's steed Sleipnir.

Here's the BOGW that I sing:

It's of a sea captain down by the banks of Yarrow
He courted his lovely Annie till she prov'd with child O;

"What shall I do, my love, what will become of me?
My mother and father they both will disown me."

"Go and fetch some of your father's gold and some of your mother's money,
And you shall sail the ocean along with your Johnny."

So she fetch'd some of her father's gold and some of her mother's money,
And she went on board a ship along with her Johnny.

They had not been a-salling scarce six weeks nor so many,
Before she wanted women's help but could not get any.

"Oh what is your women's help, my love, my honey?
Whatever a woman can do, it's I'll do it for thee."

"Oh hold your tongue, you foolish man, do not talk vainly
How little you know of what women have borne for thee!

"Then tie a napkin round my head, tie it soft and easy
And throw me right overboard, both me and my baby."

He's tied a handkerchief over her head, he's tied it soft and easy,
And he's thrown them both overboard, both she and her baby.

"See my love how she's swimming, see how her body tumbles,
See how she's rolling all on the water.

"My love shall have a coffin made of the gold that shines so yellow,
And the coffin shall be buried on the banks of Yarrow."


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Sep 20 - 06:05 AM

Most of these verses are recorded by at least two out of Sharp, Butterworth and Gardiner. Verse 4 - confirming that she did in fact steal her father's gold - is only in Butterworth, although it is in both of the Child versions.

"Hold your tongue you foolish man" [sic] only gets a full verse in Child B, but there's half a verse to that effect in Child A and (more importantly for my purposes) in Butterworth. (Also, Shirley Collins sang it whsn she recorded the song recently!) The only real 'import' is "What shall I do", which is only in Child B - but Purslow used it & on this occasion I agree with him.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Sep 20 - 06:06 AM

(Oh, and "Annie" and "Yarrow" are both hangovers from an earlier and more Purslow/Child-influenced version I used to sing; they may not stay in.)


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Sep 20 - 04:13 PM

Ah, my composite is all English, being a mixture of Clements, Selby, Bone, Cranstone, Mogg, Grubb, Harrington, Spearing, Welsh, Russell and Way, so quite different.

It's of a sea captain lived near the sea-side-o
He courted a damsel and got her with child-o.

Go fetch your father's gold likewise your mother's money,
And you shall sail the ocean and I'll make you my honey.

She's fetched her father's gold likewise her mother's money,
To sail upon the ocean along with her Johnny.

They had not been a-sailing scarce six weeks or many,
Before she wanted woman's help but could not get any.

Oh, hold your tongue, you silly girl, oh hold your tongue, my honey,
We cannot get women's help for love nor for money.

They had not been sailing scarce miles very many,
Before she was delivered of a beautiful baby.

O fetch me a napkin and bind my head easy,
And throw me overboard, both me and my baby.

He fetched her a napkin and bound her head easy,
And threw her overboard, both her and her baby.

See how she swims, boys, see how she labour,
She will not stop swimming till she comes to some harbour.

Sea captain, sea captain, here's fifty pounds for thee,
If you'll fetch my love back again, both she and her baby.

Oh no, cried the captain, that never can be,
We'd better to lose two lives, than we had to lose many.

She shall have a coffin of the gold that shines yellow,
And she shall be buried on the banks of green willow.

Oh, toll the bell for her, toll it soft and easy,
For this poor girl is dead and gone who I lov'd so dearly.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Sep 20 - 04:30 PM

Of course this version doesn't scan properly as it is the captain who is the villain, so who is pleading in verse 10? But if it was 150 years old when it was being recorded that can be excused.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Sep 20 - 09:54 AM

I like the 'toll the bell' verse - it's another one that Shirley Collins revived for her version. We don't hear it much, despite it being in Purslow's Wanton Seed version; I guess people find it anticlimactic.

I don't immediately recognise all those sources, but I'm curious about verses 10 and 11, as well as verse 6 (baby is delivered); I haven't seen them in any English versions apart from Baring-Gould's, which I don't entirely trust.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 20 - 10:34 AM

10 is Welsh and Mogg
11 is all Welsh
13 is Welsh and Way

Welsh and Way are Hammond/Dorset
Mogg is Sharp, Somerset so none of them are Baring Gould, Devon


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Sep 20 - 03:10 PM

Thanks! It's specifically the sailor(?) offering money to turn the ship round, and the captain(?) declining, that I thought looked like a borrowing from Child. I don't think that's in Mogg, but it is in Welsh - as is the "delivered of a beautiful baby" line which I hadn't seen collected by anyone but SB-G. (Pauses to offer a prayer of thanks for the digitisation of VWML resources.)

All in all the song looks quite different if you take the versions collected by Sharp, Butterworth, Gardiner and Hammond as a baseline. Back to the drawing board...


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 06 Sep 20 - 05:11 PM

Given the variety of collected and published versions, most of them telling stories that are confused and/or incomplete, I quite understand modern singers choosing to construct their own versions. However it is noteworthy how different even these rebuilds are from one another, with different story elements included or excluded.

Whose decision is it that she needs to be thrown overboard; the captain's, the sailors', or the girl's herself? What makes her a Jonah: the theft, the pregnancy, the birth on board? Does she swim? Can she swim all the way to land (as implied by the "she will never leave off swimming" verse)? If the expectation is that she will be drowned, how likely is her body to be washed ashore, where the specified coffin can be provided?


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Sep 20 - 07:50 AM

Good questions all!

Most versions seem to have the woman asking to be thrown overboard - it's one of the odd things about this song. Hence my gut feeling that the song was originally about somebody dying in childbirth (although that subject does seem rather strong meat for the broadside trade).

As for the 'Jonah' sub-plot, I'm not sure any of the versions of it work. Certainly women on board ship were seen as unlucky, but would a woman - even a woman in labour - be so very unlucky as to jinx the wind? Then again, while there's at least one song where an undiscovered murderer supernaturally brings a ship to a halt, would a thief be bad enough to do the trick - or Baring-Gould's "undutiful daughter"?

As for swimming, all that rolling and tumbling suggests a dead or dying body to me, rather than somebody swimming for home. But then there's "she'll never stop swimming till she comes to some harbour", which is another deeply weird line - they're at sea, for heaven's sake. It would only really make sense if the woman was bewitched herself - or, I suppose, if the sea rejected the undutiful daughter... (My favourite bit of the Baring-Gould version is when the sailor asks her, "O why do you swim?" Beats the alternative, would be my answer to that.)

When I sing it I always assume the poor woman's lost at sea and the sailor is planning on burying an empty coffin to remember her by - although that's also rather odd, now I spell it out. Either way, I can't bring myself to have him say he's going to bury her.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Sep 20 - 08:27 AM

> Oh no, cried the captain, that never can be,
We'd better to lose two lives, than we had to lose many.

Why would going back to pick her up risk losing many lives? Because she's a Jonah? Or because the weather has taken a turn for the worse (which the text neglects to mention)?

It's quite a strange song as collected in England. When I put my version together I did in the end allow a hint of the supernatural to intrude, although the website where I posted all my ballad lyrics went down a couple of years ago and I have haven't got around to replacing them.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Sep 20 - 08:33 AM

For me the confused plot and variety of versions are enough evidence to suggest to me a longer piece from the middle of the 18th century, very much like the Bruton Town evolution. Again with that ballad we have lost the early garland it must have appeared on. At least with Bruton Town we have the much longer/earlier American versions. I think the Scottish versions of Bonnie Annie could easily have been rewritten from the English original, but I have no proof.

I am almost totally convinced that the original Bramble Briar was written and printed in Bristol; and if not London, I think Bristol is as good a place for BOGW to have originated.

Oh for a good collection of 18thc Bristol garlands to surface from somewhere!!


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Sep 20 - 08:33 AM

'Beats the alternative, would be my answer to that.'

Very good!


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 20 - 05:27 AM

may i ask your opinion of the version Tony Rose sang, was it his own tune?


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Sep 20 - 06:16 AM

'It's quite a strange song as collected in England.'

Indeed, Brian. It does have some of the elements of the Outlandish Knight and I wonder if it was originally a translation of a quite different foreign version of that ballad, or just loosely based on the beginning of a British version.

It has logic right up to where she asks to be thrown overboard, so obviously material/motive missing there, and then the mixed up bit about the captain/person pleading for her.

Some can be explained in that if the ship is close to a dangerous coast and she is swimming towards land the ship would not be able to follow.

Certainly the Jonah aspect and the drawing of lots found in Sc. versions adds logic and this very likely was present in the original.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Mrrzy
Date: 09 Sep 20 - 07:29 PM

The Cynthia Gooding version differs slightly... Seeing how that she doth swim, and seeing how she doth swagger / She will never leave off swimming toll she come to some harbor

But the Fetch me some of your father's clothes and some of your mother's money part shows up in other songs, no?


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Sep 20 - 04:59 AM

> Certainly the Jonah aspect and the drawing of lots found in Sc. versions adds logic and this very likely was present in the original.

I tend to agree, especially as we have other ballads with the Jonah theme. Captain Glen goes back a fair way, I think?


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 20 - 12:37 PM

Mrzzy, yes, as I mentioned earlier, The Outlandish Knight certainly does 'Go fetch me some of your father's gold, and some of your mother's fee'....

Captain Glen c1770

+ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
Sir William Gower
New York Trader
The Man and two Maidens
The False-hearted Sailor
The Portsmouth Tragedy.

As a motif I'm pretty certain it's at least 17thc.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Sep 20 - 12:45 PM

Usually it's father's *clothes* and mother's money, interesting.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Sep 20 - 12:58 PM

Here is what I recall from Cynthia Gooding:

It’s of a sea captain lived near the sea-side-O
And he courted of a lady till she proved by child


Oh, it's fetch some of your father’s clothes and some of your mother’s money
That I might go onboard of ship with my own dearest honey


Now they hadn’t been on beard of ship not six weeks nor better
Before she wanted women but could not get any


And it's hold your tongue O you silly girl and it's hold your tongue O my honey
For we cannot get women for love nor for money


He tied a napkin round her head and he tied it round softly
And he throwed her right over both she and her baby


And it's seeing how that she doth swim and it's seeing how she doth swagger
She will never leave off swimming till she come to some harbor


Oh she shall have a coffin and the nails shall shine yellow
And my love she shall be buried on the banks of green willow


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 20 - 05:00 PM

That suggestion I made rather off-hand about it could be a loose translation of something from the continent has sparked further thought. Many of those long ballads printed about 1750 by the Dicey-Marshall dynasty were based on plots from foreign sources. Worth keeping a look out.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 12 Sep 20 - 03:53 AM



Tony Rose - On Banks of Green Willow (1976)


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 13 Sep 20 - 01:12 PM



A more direct link to Tony Rose singing the song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoMMyHB0PT8


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: DebC
Date: 15 Sep 20 - 03:50 PM

Whoa! Just discovered this thread and I am chuffed that you like the tune of my version of "Banks...", Phil.

Something I tend to do, especially when learning songs is I change the tune without realising it. I actually got the tune from Frankie Armstrong's version and I might have unconsciously tweaked it. "Casting the black bullet" line I first heard from Margaret Christl and I thought that imagery was striking (no pun intended if there is even a pun there) and I kept it.

This is a fascinating thread and thanks to all who contributed.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: DebC
Date: 15 Sep 20 - 03:53 PM

Here is the version Phil mentioned:

Banks of Green Willow

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Sep 20 - 04:15 PM

well done deb c


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