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Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird

DigiTrad:
IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD
IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD (2)


Related threads:
(origins) If i was a blackbird? (14)
Lyr Req: If I Were a Blackbird [not DT] (35)
Lyr Req: If I Were a Blackbird (14) (closed)
(origins) Origins: Blackbird / If I Was a Blackbird (11)
Lyr Req: If I were a vulture (5)
If I was/were a blackbird? Author? (15)
Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird (from Silly Wizard) (6)


GUEST,scope@ocol.com 08 May 00 - 12:11 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 08 May 00 - 12:23 AM
Desert Dancer 01 Aug 02 - 07:32 PM
GUEST,Dale 01 Aug 02 - 08:34 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 01 Aug 02 - 08:38 PM
Alice 01 Aug 02 - 09:42 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 01 Aug 02 - 11:51 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 01 Aug 02 - 11:54 PM
GUEST, mg 02 Aug 02 - 12:04 AM
michaelr 02 Aug 02 - 08:28 PM
Desert Dancer 03 Aug 02 - 01:40 AM
GUEST,Glen Reid 03 Aug 02 - 10:58 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 03 Aug 02 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,JTT 03 Aug 02 - 11:56 AM
Alice 03 Aug 02 - 01:29 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 03 Aug 02 - 03:39 PM
Desert Dancer 05 Aug 02 - 01:12 AM
radriano 05 Aug 02 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,maryrrf 05 Aug 02 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Dan in Dartmouth 06 Aug 02 - 09:32 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 06 Aug 02 - 02:47 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Aug 02 - 07:02 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 06 Aug 02 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,Dan in Dart.... 07 Aug 02 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,Julia 21 Jul 06 - 11:45 AM
Georgiansilver 22 Jul 06 - 11:43 AM
Lin in Kansas 23 Jul 06 - 01:09 AM
ard mhacha 23 Jul 06 - 09:05 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Jul 06 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,Julia L 04 Jun 16 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Julia L 04 Jun 16 - 05:54 PM
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Subject: If I were a blackbird I'ld whistle and s
From: GUEST,scope@ocol.com
Date: 08 May 00 - 12:11 AM

The lyrics I recall are "If I were a blackbird I'ls whistle and sing," but my recollection is hazy after that. I cannot find it anywhere.

Does anyone know what song it is and where I could get the remaining lyrics?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I were a blackbird I'ld whistle a
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 08 May 00 - 12:23 AM

Scope, there are two versions here in the Digital Traditions Database. See the where it says up near the top, about Digital Traditions Database Lyrics Search

IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD
IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD (2)

Those are the two versions here in the DT. I have a version available which is slightly different, and found in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Nova Scotia version of If I Were a Blackbird


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I were a blackbird I'ld whistle a
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 07:32 PM

Hi, George,

I'm just back from my expedition to your neighborhood, in particular Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island. On PEI I happened onto a performance by Clary Croft, whose biography of Helen Creighton I'd just bought and read.

His rendition of If I Were a Blackbird was the first for me, then on a video I bought about Helen Creighton, Raylene Rankin sang it. I'm now determined to learn it (and learn more about it).

Unfortunately, I can't get the midi to play for the DT #2 version above, for which the text looks like the Nova Scotia version; and on your link for the Nova Scotia version, I get the notes, but not the image which presumably has the text and tune. So... any help??

Also an alert to the quirks of Mudcat searching and perils of grammar -- if I search on "Blackbird" I get this thread, but I don't get the song in question. "If I Were A Blackbird" doesn't work either, and even though it's in the DT as "If I Was A Blackbird", that doesn't get you more than the Young Sailor Lad either. (And I wonder how the Armstrong twins of Sherwood, Nova Scotia, sang it in 1949... :-) )

The Traditional Ballad Index doesn't and won't have the Creighton-collected Nova Scotia version because it wasn't published, but this thread ought to cross-reference to this other thread with the background: History of the song ' Blackbird '. (None of the Creighton stuff is in the Ballad Index yet, but I'm working on that.)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I were a blackbird I'ld whistle a
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 08:34 PM

Well now you are in luck if you are looking for an excellent recording of the song. I just learned today that Paddie Bell's 60s recordings have been reissued on CD. You'll find info on the album and mp3 sound clips on this page at Corries.com 29 tracks!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I were a blackbird I'ld whistle a
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 08:38 PM

hi Becky. So, you were up in my homeland, but didn't visit Halifax? Oh well!!! Next time stop in and say hi.

If you want, I can photocopy the page/pages out of the book Folksongs of the Maritimes. Send me a PM with an address and I can send it to you.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE YOUNG SAILOR LAD
From: Alice
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 09:42 PM

For another song that is similar and fits the same tune, check out THE YOUNG SAILOR LAD in the database. "From the Grieg Duncan Folk Song Collection Collected from Margaret Gillespie, 1905 "

I like to sing the Young Sailor Lad to the tune of If I Were A Blackbird, starting the first verse - When I was a young maid my fortune was bad, for I fell in love with a young sailor lad... and ending the chorus with ... and I'd pillow my head on his golden chest. Combining the verses of Margaret Gillespie with the extra verse by Mrs. Cruikshank and other influences, and tweaking it a little as it became mine over time of memorizing, this is how I sing it now:

When I was a young maid, my fortune was bad,
For I fell in love with a young sailor lad
He courted me fondly by night and by day
But now he has left me and gone far away.

My friends they all tell me that I am beguiled
Some of my friends say that I am with child;
But I'll keep myself easy, they'll say what they will
While there breath in my body, I'll love him still.

If the child be a boy he shall fight for his King
If she be a girl she will wear a gold ring
A ring on her fingered engraved all in gold
With the name of her father, the young sailor bold.

If I was a blackbird, I'd whistle and sing,
I'd fly to the vessel my true love sails in,
In the top rigging, I'd there build my nest
And I'd pillow my head on his golden chest.

There was three curly locks in my laddie's black hair
His three curly locks did my poor heart ensnare
His red rosy cheeks and his dark rolling eyes
And his false flattering tongue did my poor heart entice.

A bunch o blue ribbons I'll lay up with care
To tie back the locks o my laddie's black hair
An when he comes home I will crown him with joy
An' kiss the sweet lips o my dear sailor boy.

I particularly like the verse about the child being boy or girl and the engraved gold ring.

Andy Stewart's version that changed it to a man's point of view just grates on my nerves because it was the men who went to sea and this song used to be a very good example of the woman's experience, but now it has been overwhelmed by his recorded version. There are a lot of men around whom I have heard singing it from his version and it just doesn't ring true for me when I hear it (sensitive new age guy syndrome?). Anyway, I guess I should get over it.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 11:51 PM

Becky, I see what the problem with the MIDI file is. Someone typed it in wrong:

http://media.mudcat.org/midi/IFBLKBRD.MID

IT was typed up on the page as IFBKLBRD.MID, so of course, it can't find it. Try the link above and you should be able to download it.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 11:54 PM

I've just listened to that MIDI file, and it starts off fine, but loses something by the time it finishes "Fell in love ..."


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD
From: GUEST, mg
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 12:04 AM

Here are the words I know. Think from a record I had of Anne Byrne. Oh what a voice. Is she still singing? This was probably from the mid-70s.

If I was a blackbird I'd whistle and sing,
And follow the ship that my true love sails in,
And in the top rigging, I'd there build my nest,
And lay down my head on his lily-white breast.

I am a young maiden my story is sad,
For once I was courted by a bold sailor lad.
He courted me fondly by night and by day,
And now my poor sailor has sailed far away.

He promised to take me to Donnybrook fair
To buy me red ribbons to tie up my hair,
And when he returned from the ocean so wide,
He'd take me and make me his own loving bride.

His parents they slight me and cannot agree
That I and my sailor lad married shall be,
But when he returns I will greet him with joy,
And take to my bosom my dear sailor boy.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: michaelr
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 08:28 PM

My favorite version is on Steve Tilston & Maggie Boyle's "Of Moor and Mesa" (Green Linnet, 1992) -- an all-around brilliant album.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: Tune Add: IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 01:40 AM

George, I sure wish we could have made it down to Halifax. As it was we put 3000 miles on the car just seeing the west side of Cape Breton Island and the east half of Prince Edward Island! I sure hope to make another trip sometime.

Here's my abc of the version Clary Croft sings, is it as it appears in Folksongs of the Maritimes?

T:If I Was A Blackbird
Q:1/4=120
V:1
M:3/4
L:1/8
K:Em
E2|F3 E F2 |A,2 D2 E2 |F2 A3 B |
A4 A2 |A2 G2 F2 |F2 E2 D2 |A,2 G2 F2 |
E4 E2 |F3 E F2 |A,2 D2 E2 |F2 A2 B2 |
A4 A2 |A2 G2 F2 |F2 E2 A,2 |A,2 F2 E2 |
D4 z2 |]

(I hope my abc is readable.)

Can you give the full bibliographic info for the Folksongs of the Maritimes? I'm not finding it in my library catalogs (U of Arizona and Library of Congress). Thanks.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: GUEST,Glen Reid
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 10:58 AM

I first heard my Tipperary born grandmother sing this song that she said she learned as a child. I even took a stab at it on my "Heritage River" album. I have since heard an old 78 version by Dublin singer Mary Carton, 40,s vintage.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 11:55 AM

Sorry, I don't have any music reading ability.

I just got a scanner though! Send me an e-mail (see above), and I can e-mail it to you as a GIF/JPG file.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 11:56 AM

Delia Murphy used to sing this; if you can find a CD or tape of her music it'll certainly be on it.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: Alice
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 01:29 PM

note in lyrics posted above, fingered should be "finger", of coure. alice


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 03 Aug 02 - 03:39 PM

Formac Publishing


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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: THE BLACKBIRD
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Aug 02 - 01:12 AM

Thanks for the copies of the pages that you e-mailed, George, here they are for those you can translate from abc (which I do thanks to the Melody Assistant program):

from Folksongs of the Maritimes, From the collections of Helen Creighton and other distinguished Maritime folklorists, by Kaye Pottie & Vernon Ellis, illustrated by Kathy Kaulbach, Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-88780-200-1 (paper), 0-88780-201-X (Hardback):


T:The Blackbird
C:Traditional
Q:1/4=120
M:3/4
L:1/8
K:Em
D3/2E/ |F4 F3/2F/ |A,2 D2 E2 |F2 A2 B2 |
A4 A2 |A2 G2 F2 |F2 E2 D2 |A,2 G2 F2 |
E4 DE |F4 FF |A,2 D2 E2 |F2 A2 B2 |
A4 A2 |A2 G2 F2 |F2 E2 D2 |A,2 G2 FE |
D4 z2 |]

For what it's worth, this is very slightly different than what I transcribed (above) from Clary Croft's singing. I think the difference in the next to the last measure is what's important.

The words are as follows:

The Blackbird

I once knew a maiden whose fortune was so,
She courted a sailor, a young sailor boy,
She courted him dearly by night and by day
Until this young sailor he sailed miles away.

Chorus:
Then if I were a blackbird I'd whistle and sing
I would follow the ship that my true love sailed in
And on the top rigging I'd there build my nest
Like an eagle I'd fly on his lily white breast

My true love is handsome in every degree
My parents despise him because he loves me,
But let them despise him or say what they will
While there's life in my bosom I'll love the lad still.

If I was a scholar, could handle a pen,
A letter of love to my sailor I'd send
I would tell him my sorrows, my griefs and my woes
If I could but find him I would crown him with gold.

"This beautiful melody should be sung with the feeling on one beat to the bar, making the music flow with the words. It was sung for Helen Creighton by twin brothers Allister and Judson Armstrong of Sherwood, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, when they were sixty-five years old. When Judson's throat got tired from singing, he would eat salt to clear his voice!"

(Just so we've got one version with complete attribution!)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: radriano
Date: 05 Aug 02 - 04:30 PM

Nice thread!

I first heard Andy Stewart's reworking of this song but I'm very interested in hearing the earlier versions from a woman's point of view.

Radriano


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: GUEST,maryrrf
Date: 05 Aug 02 - 04:37 PM

I love Andy M. Stewart's version of the song but, I agree, it really needs to be done from a woman's point of view!


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: GUEST,Dan in Dartmouth
Date: 06 Aug 02 - 09:32 AM

Hello George,

and all. Desert Dancer, if you are wondering what the Armstrong twins version is like, or others, you might be able to find them at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia on University Ave. in Halifax on your next trip to Nova Scotia. If I am not mistaken I found a few different versions of "If I were a Blackbird" on tape, including the Armstrong twins, (but my memory is short and it has been a while since I have been there and I was not looking for that particular song). The archives have put most, if not all, of Helen's collection on cassette tape and you can visit there and head up to the 3rd floor. From there someone can help you and set you up with a small tape deck and retrieve the tape you need. {There are many more gems there as well.} Barry Smith, at the archives, is the one who is mostly in charge of Helen's collection and he might be the most able to help you.

Good luck with all.

Cheers, Dan


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 06 Aug 02 - 02:47 PM

Thanks Dan.

One of these days, I'll have to go over there.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Aug 02 - 07:02 PM

Yeah, I wish, Dan! What I need (from my more usual geographic position) is for all these nice collections to be put online, like the Library of Congress is doing. Sigh. Someday!

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 06 Aug 02 - 10:31 PM

Dan, we're going to have to see if we could get the Archives to look at the Virtual Museum Project of the Federal Government.


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Subject: RE: Req: If I Were a Blackbird I'd Whistle & Sing
From: GUEST,Dan in Dart....
Date: 07 Aug 02 - 08:43 AM

Hello Again George,

That sounds wonderful. I've just been by the Nova Scotia Archives web site - http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/ - but it didn't look all that promising at the moment. Lots of policies and such online but not much of what I would really want to know about. (Perhaps I just didn't stay long enough nor look hard enough?!)

George, perhaps you and the Helen Creighton Society should look into putting some other items of Helen's collection on cd instead of just the sea songs and shanties? And speaking of that cd, will it be released soon??

All the best, Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird
From: GUEST,Julia
Date: 21 Jul 06 - 11:45 AM

For those that have a hard time with this being "reworked" by men, we have a local story of a young man named Alexander Fossett who was forbidden to court a young lady. Her parents were so determined to break them up, they sent her to the wilds of Maine (in 1748). He, however was equally determined, worked his way across to Philadelphia, thence north to Pemaquid where he appeared in her garden one evening...
SO, when we perform the song, we leave the man's point of view, but change a couple of pronouns and small details to fit THIS story. Folk process.
Just for the record, we make it very clear that the song was NOT written about this particular story. Just a nice sequey.

best- Julia


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 11:43 AM

To get the lyrics and hear some of the song sung by 'Wild Mountain Thyme' please go to http://www.chivalry.com/cantaria/      and click on Alphabetical index....scroll down to 'If I was a blackbird' and click on it....the lyrics are there for both male and female to sing and you can play some of the song to get the tune.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 01:09 AM

Barley Bree also does a very nice version of this, with lyrics that match those posted above by Guest mg, on their album "The Best of Barley Bree," Shanachie #52039 (1995).

Lin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 09:05 AM

Delia Murphy had a big hit with this song in the early 1950s, I have a recording on tape.


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Subject: Lyr Add: IF I WERE A BLACKBIRD
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 01:44 PM

A verse or two in Sam Henry somewhat different from posted versions.

Lyr. Add: IF I WERE A BLACKBIRD

When I was a young maid, my fortune was told
That I'd fall in love with a young sailor bold,
He courted me fondly by night and by day,
But he's gone and he's left me, he's gone far away.

If I were a blackbird, I'd whistle and sing,
I'd follow the vessel my true love was in,
And on the top riggin' I'd there build my nest
And lie the night long on its lily-white crest.

My love's tall and handsome in every degree,
But my parents despise him because he loves me,
But let them despise him and say as they will,
While there's breath in my body I will love him still.

My parents despised him because he was poor,
But I loved him better, I loved him the more,
But now he has left me and gone far away,
My heart it is breaking for my own sailor boy.

He promised to buy me at the bonny bright fair
A bunch of blue ribbons to bind round my hair,
But he's gone and he's left me, he's gone far away,
And I'm breaking my heart for my own sailor boy.

No date, no source. Published in "The Northern Constitution" [Northern Ireland]. With music, "key F sharp."
Sam Henry, 1990, "Songs of the People," pp. 428-429.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 04 Jun 16 - 05:45 PM

Here's Ronnie Ronalde 1950's BBC performance with orchestra complete with birdcalls

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trtxVvyzlrA


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: If I Was a Blackbird
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 04 Jun 16 - 05:54 PM

From the session website https://thesession.org/tunes/2618

X: 1
T: If I Was A Blackbird
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
z D |:B4 ^AB |D2 G2 A2 |B e3 d2 |A4 Dd |
d2 c2 d2 |e2 =c2 A2 |D =c3 B2 |A4 DD |
B3 ^A B2 |D2 G2 A2 |B e3 d2 |A4 DD |
d3 c d2 |e2 =c2 A2 |D2 B2 A2 |G4 D2 :|

comment from Guernsey Pete https://thesession.org/members/6734

This song is TRAD, ie a folk-song, collected originally in Dorset, amongst other places. I haven't tried to play the tune yet to check, but, with slight variations in melody, it was a big hit in GB in the '50's for Ronnie Ronalde, a music-hall entertainer who specialised in whistling as well as singing, and who ended his days running his own hotel on my native Guernsey.


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