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Question on a TWO SISTERS song

DigiTrad:
BINNORIE
BINNORIE (TWO SISTERS)
CRUELISH SISTER
OH, THE WIND AND RAIN (The Two Sisters)
THE CRUEL SISTER
THE SWAN SWIMS BONNIE (Two Sisters)
THE SWAN SWIMS BONNIE (Two Sisters)
THE TWA SISTERS
THE TWO SISTERS (7)
THE TWO SISTERS (8)
THE TWO SISTERS (9)
THE WIND AND RAIN (Two Sisters)
TWO SISTERS (12)
TWO SISTERS (13)
TWO SISTERS (Bonnie Broom)


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Nothing to do this Friday? (Manchester, UK) (14)
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Yet another blurb about 'Cruel Sister' (3)
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Lyr Req: The Cruel Sister (from Pentangle) (12)
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Lyr/Chords Req: the two sisters (23)
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And A Two And A Three (5)
Lyr Add: Rollin' a-Rollin' (Child #10) (5)
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Susan-Marie 03 Sep 98 - 07:35 AM
Susan-Marie (again) 03 Sep 98 - 07:42 AM
Maelgwyn 03 Sep 98 - 11:41 AM
Susan-Marie 03 Sep 98 - 12:16 PM
Ewan McV 04 Sep 98 - 04:43 AM
Jon W. 04 Sep 98 - 10:45 AM
Muriel 21 Sep 98 - 11:21 PM
Frank in the swamps 22 Sep 98 - 12:20 AM
Jerry Friedman 22 Sep 98 - 05:58 PM
harpgirl 22 Sep 98 - 07:09 PM
harpgirl 22 Sep 98 - 07:14 PM
Rob O 24 Sep 98 - 02:56 PM
harpgirl 24 Sep 98 - 06:38 PM
Jonathan 26 Sep 98 - 06:56 AM
Susan-Marie 28 Sep 98 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,henryp 25 Nov 17 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,Gerry 25 Nov 17 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,henryp 26 Nov 17 - 05:50 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: TWO SISTERS (sung by Clannad)
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 03 Sep 98 - 07:35 AM

I'm looking for a "two sisters" song that doesn't appear to be in the database. I learned it from a Clannad CD, but I can't make out some of the nonsense chorus stuff (I guess that's why it's called nonsense, right?) or the ultimate fate of the eldest sister. Here's what I do have, if someone cam fill in the {???} I'd appreciate it.

There were two sisters side by side
Sing I dum, sing I day
There were two sisters side by side
The {??boys are bound for me??}
There were two sisters side by side
The eldest one for Johnny cried
I'll be true unto my love, if he'll be true to me

Oh, Johnny got the youngest a gay gold ring [etc.]
He never got the eldest anything [etc.]

Oh, Johnny got the youngest a beaver hat [etc.]
The eldest didn't think much of that [etc.]

One day as they were walking by the foamy brim [etc.]
The eldest pushed the youngest in [etc.]

Oh, sister, oh, sister, give me thy hand [etc.]
And you can have Johnny and all his land [etc.]

Oh sister, I'll not give you my hand [etc.]
And I'll have Johnny and all his land [etc.]

Away she sank and away she swum [etc.]
Until she reached the miller's dam [etc.]

The miller, he took her gay gold ring [etc.]
And then he pushed her in again [etc.]

The miller he was hanged on the mountain head [etc.]
The eldest sister {???????} [etc.]


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Susan-Marie (again)
Date: 03 Sep 98 - 07:42 AM

After sending the above, I read the thread on the Cruel Sister and found the answers to my questions.

The line in the chorus appears to be "The boughs they bend to me", and the last verse is "The miller was hung at his mill gate, The eldest sister was burned at the stake".


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Maelgwyn
Date: 03 Sep 98 - 11:41 AM

Actually, in the Clannad version I think it is 'the boys are bound for me', and the last version is 'the miller he was hanged on the mountain head/ the eldest sister was boiled in lead.'


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 03 Sep 98 - 12:16 PM

"Boiled in lead"!!! WHOA, it gets more gruesome every time I ask! I'm planning on singing it at a family party (I'm the eldest of two sisters) so I may use the least gory version I can find. Thanks for the confirmation on Clannad's lyrics.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE TWO SISTERS
From: Ewan McV
Date: 04 Sep 98 - 04:43 AM

Re the refrain lines
- A favourite version of mine has

There lived an old lord by the northern sea
Bow down, bow down
There lived an old lord by the northern sea
The limbs they bend to me
There lived an old lord by the northern sea
And he had daughters, one two and three
And I'll be true to my love
If my love will be true to me

Then there is Howie Mitchell's little gem of a version,

Two little sisters went a walking one fine day
Oh the wind and the rain
One pushed the other in to the waters waters deep
And she cried, the dreadful wind and the rain

Ewan McV

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 5-May-02.


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Jon W.
Date: 04 Sep 98 - 10:45 AM

As I mentioned in another thread recently, a local group has changed the end of this song (they do a "three sisters" version) where the eldest pushes the boy in instead of her sister. That's not very gory - they also stop the song before he dies. I'll try and post their lyrics later today.


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Muriel
Date: 21 Sep 98 - 11:21 PM

The line in question in the first verse is: "The boys are bowin' (bowing) for me".

I have heard other versions (can't remember which ones) sung with a same or similar line, so I think that's the correct words.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE TWO SISTERS
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 22 Sep 98 - 12:20 AM

The murder ballads seem to be my favourites. I've played around with this song in the past, using Lomax & C. Sharp as my primary sources. I've been drawn to the superstitious/supernatural element in the tune and have made a couple of attempts at rewriting my own ending. I like the bit about body parts announcing guilt. I've attempted to write the ending so that the miller, upon fishing the body from the pond, cuts off the hair and makes strings for his fiddle, then plays at the wedding of the older sister & the suitor. ex...

He cut off her tresses to make fiddle strings,
Bow & balance to me.
He cut off her tresses to make fiddle strings,
He played at the wedding,
The fiddle did sing,
I'll be true to my love etc.

I never was satisfied with any of the verses I could come up with, but I liked the concept of having a supernatural condemnation of the crime, without clear consequences. If you like the idea, help yourself. I'm stumped.

This song, along with "the Cruel Mother" Came to my mind when the Susan Smith infanticide story hit the news. The more things change...

Frank I.T.S.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE TWO SISTERS
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 22 Sep 98 - 05:58 PM

Thanks, Maelgwyn, for telling me where the name of the band "Boiled in Lead" came from. (One of its members is or was Steven Brust, one of my favorite fantasy writers. The band is also mentioned in his friend Emma Bull's classic fantasy The War for the Oaks, which many readers of this forum would like.)

See if you like this, Frank:

The miller, he took her gay gold ring [etc.]
And then he pushed her in again [etc.]

He gave to his wife the gay gold ring [etc.]
And the hair to the fiddler to make his strings. [etc.]

The fiddler played at the wedding day. [etc.]
The fiddle said, "Sister did me slay." [etc.]

The miller was hanged etc.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LITTLE DROWNED GIRL or 'Drownded Girl
From: harpgirl
Date: 22 Sep 98 - 07:09 PM

John Jacob Niles cites a version he learned from Patterson Whetmore, in 1932 on the steps of the Hatcher Hotel in Pikeville, Ky. This version of the Twa Sisters was called;

THE LITTLE DROWNED GIRL

Derry down and around the old piney tree
I know a lord who lived by the Northern Sea,
He had daughters by one and by two,three

Derry down and around the old piney tree.
Sister fish me out of the raging sea,
You may have my own true lover-ee.

Derry down and around the old piney tree.
She did swim around so heartily,
Until she sank and she did drowndery.

Derry down and around the old piney tree
She was stripped to her bare body,
For her gold and her watches and her fee.

Derry down and around the old piney tree
They hanged the sister and the miller-ee.
On a scaffold 'side of the deep blue sea.

harpgirl


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: harpgirl
Date: 22 Sep 98 - 07:14 PM

Oops, he spelled it The Little DROWNDED Girl...harp


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Rob O
Date: 24 Sep 98 - 02:56 PM

I've heard this song too... but it was "The boys are bound for me" in that version though I don't recall ever hearing the last verse. I think it left off with the miller getting the ring.

Say, does anyone have the chords to it?

Rob O


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: harpgirl
Date: 24 Sep 98 - 06:38 PM

Rob, If you want the chords to the song above I will post them later. I also have two other versions of the Twa Sisters which JJN collected. I have to go practice with the DoneyGals now....later harpgirl


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Jonathan
Date: 26 Sep 98 - 06:56 AM

There is a version in the Database with the refrain "Lay the bend tae the bonny broom" which is more or less the one done by Old Blind Dogs. Having sung various versions inc. 'The boys abound'...etc. this former is my favourite! Jonathan.


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Subject: RE: ? on a
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 28 Sep 98 - 12:46 PM

I've decided that the Clannad version needs an additional verse to explain why the miller and eldest sister get punished. So, here's my first contribution to folk music, if it goes well I might write a whole song one day:

add as next-to-last-verse:

The youngest was found on the clay so cold
The miller was found with her ring of gold


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Subject: RE: ? on a TWO SISTERS song
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 04:10 PM

They'll never believe it's true (Andy Irvine / Steve Cooney) (Andy Irvine)

In the notes for his CD Way Out Yonder, Andy Irvine writes;

This was meant to be a song called The Two Sisters that I found in a Cecil Sharp collection many years ago.

I’d always been a bit irked that some people, who recorded it subsequently, had seemingly not known that the tune – and some of the words – were mine. The bit about Boiled in Lead for instance.

However when we put the backing track down, Steve was entranced by it and decided it was Faerie Music. We bandied around ideas for a week or two and one morning, when I woke up, this song greeted me! Needless to say not ALL of it is true…


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Subject: RE: ? on a TWO SISTERS song
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 08:45 PM

henryp, that's curious. I have the Way Out Yonder CD, Appleseed Recordings APR CD 1049 from 2001, and the liner notes are as you gave them, except there's no mention of "Boiled in Lead".


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Subject: RE: Question on a TWO SISTERS song
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 05:50 AM

Ah! I actually took the words from here;

They'll never believe it's true

I assumed that the notes were those in the CD booklet. My own copy of the booklet is apparently from the original release AK2 on Andy's own label from January 2000. These notes too do not include the words "Boiled in Lead". The Appleseed copy was released on 27 March 2001.

And I was at the following performance, though not part of the conversation;

Subject: RE: J. Moulden or Philippa: Two sisters
From: Ross Campbell Date: 16 Nov 15 - 07:59 PM

I used to sing The Two Sisters, mainly from Clannad's version, with a verse or two from Sharp's Appalachian text which seemed to fill out the story. I sang it once when Andy Irvine was the guest at the Lane Ends Folk Club, Wesham, near Blackpool.

He came over afterwards to say that he had set the tune to those words, but that Clannad and others who recorded the song had either not known or had somehow failed to mention that. He had always felt slightly miffed about the missing attribution, but somehow never got round to recording the song in that version.


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