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Three Black Crows

DigiTrad:
SAYS THE BLACKBIRD TO THE CROW
THE THREE CROWS (BILLY MACGEE MACGORE)
THE THREE RAVENS
THE THREE RAVENS (5)
THE TWA CORBIES (7)
THOMAS O YONDERDALE
THREE CRAWS
TWA CORBIES
TWA CORBIES 2
TWA CRAWS SAT ON A STANE


Related threads:
Twa Corbies - transl. into Engl, please (63)
Origins: Twa Corbies / Three Ravens / etc. (46)
3 Ravens (Ravenscroft) what's it about? (38)
Lyr Req: Three Ravens, newer version? (22)
Lyr Req: The Twa Corbies (13)
Mudcatter's CD's Part 2 (16)
Help! Twa Corbies (12)
Lyr Req: Old Black Crow (6)
Info needed for 'Two Ravens' (13)
origins of 'Two Ravens' (4)
Lyr Req: Scot Gaelic Song - The Two Crows? (7)
Twa Corbies (32)
Lyr/Chords Req: The Twa Corbies (Old Blind Dogs) (5)
Lyr Req: Three Black Birds (8)


Tradsinger 08 Feb 05 - 03:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Feb 05 - 06:32 PM
Stewie 08 Feb 05 - 07:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Feb 05 - 07:40 PM
Leadfingers 08 Feb 05 - 09:24 PM
Lighter 08 Feb 05 - 09:40 PM
NH Dave 08 Feb 05 - 11:02 PM
Malcolm Douglas 08 Feb 05 - 11:21 PM
Lighter 08 Feb 05 - 11:39 PM
Scabby Douglas 09 Feb 05 - 03:44 AM
GUEST 09 Feb 05 - 09:03 AM
Scabby Douglas 10 Feb 05 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 10 Feb 05 - 06:12 AM
Scabby Douglas 10 Feb 05 - 10:20 AM
Scabby Douglas 10 Feb 05 - 10:41 AM
Fergie 27 Jul 05 - 05:33 PM
Jim McLean 28 Jul 05 - 11:10 AM
BonnyAnne 28 Jul 05 - 12:46 PM
Goose Gander 28 Jul 05 - 02:27 PM
dick greenhaus 28 Jul 05 - 05:41 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Jul 05 - 07:20 PM
Jim McLean 29 Jul 05 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Eltanin Antenna 29 May 10 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Lighter 29 May 10 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Sandy 11 Oct 10 - 04:08 PM
Tradsinger 11 Oct 10 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Songbob 09 May 12 - 10:53 AM
Carole Bannister 09 May 12 - 04:44 PM
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Subject: Three Black Crows
From: Tradsinger
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 03:23 PM

I have just posted an article on the Internet on some local Gloucestershire versions of "The Three Ravens", transformed into Two/Three Black Crows. The article is at:

http://www.cmarge.demon.co.uk/gwilym/threecrows.htm

I would be interested to know whether other Mudcatters have come across similar versions in their travels.

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 06:32 PM

Haven't checked the threads on Three Ravens (Child 26) for versions that may have been posted already. One was published by Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, Vol. 1, no. 9, The Three Crows, A, B. A similar version from Bronson is in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 07:28 PM

I have been listening recently to a beaut version from the 'folk revival' days in the UK. It's in a recent 3CD set of folkie-type stuff from the Transatlantic catalogue. The version is titled 'The Three Ravens' and there were also two Ravens in the group - The Black Country Three which comprised Jon and Mike Raven plus Derek Craft.

Thread drift! A fair number of the recordings in the above-mentioned box set sound a bit dated. However, there are some memorable moments, including an excellent rendition of 'Pretty Polly' by a bloke named Dave Sless. Does anyone know anything about him? Did he release any albums? I would like to hear more of him if anything is available.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 07:40 PM

Two versions in Cox, Folk-Songs of the South, No. 6, have the verse: 'What shall we do for meat to ate', and go on to the verses with the dead horse and the eyes as the repast. These were collected c. 1916 in West Virginia; the similar verses in Randolph (coll. 1930s) are from Missouri.

William A. Owens collected the song from both Whites ad Negroes in Texas, and said a version he found in the Carolinas had been learned in the 1880s. These Texas versions also included the three verses mentioned above, in variant forms. Tunes heard in Texas approximated "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
Wm. A. Owens, Texas Folk Songs, 1950 (1976 ed.), "Three Black Crows," pp. 14-15 with music.

I am sure that this 'three crow' variation has been found in other areas as well.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 09:24 PM

I recollect a Scots mate used to sing something like Twa Craws sat upon a wall But I cant remember it all - The First Craw did or said some thing , the Second Craw was greetin' for his ma , and the Third Craw was nae there at all . No doubt that will strike a chord with someone who will correct my feeble attempt .


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 09:40 PM

One reason the tune started approaching "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" may be that the opening bars of the somber trad version printed by Frank Kidson in the 1890s - but said to have been current many decades earlier - were already nearly identical. Kidson's melody quickly turns modal, however, quite obscuring the resemblance.

One wonders whether this was a coincidence, or whether it was some decadent version of "The Three Crows" that inspired Union army bandleader Patrick Gilmore to write "When Johnny...." He denied in print that he had composed the melody, saying that he'd overheard it from a young black man in New Orleans. (Contrary to popular belief, authorities on Irish melody insist that Gilmore's tune has nothing Irish about it. Or so I'm told.)

See Irwin Silber's "Songs of the Civil War" (Columbia U. P. 1960) for a discussion. Silber concludes that Gilmore's source may have been humming or whistling a "bluesy" version of "The Crawdad Song," a theory I find unappealing.

Burl Ives sang a version of The Crows to the tune of "When Johnny" back in the 1940s, but it wasn't original with him.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: NH Dave
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 11:02 PM

I have always thought that the tune of the song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" came from "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye" which is in the database.

    Dave


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 11:21 PM

Opinion is divided on that question. Both songs first appear within a few years of each other (see previous discussion); my own feeling, for what it's worth, is that Johnny I hardly knew you is most likely a pointed parody of the American song.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Feb 05 - 11:39 PM

I agree, Malcolm. The only serious evidence to the contrary is Herbert Hughes's statement in "Irish Country Songs" (don't have the precise volume to hand)that he was told (in the '70s?) by an old man that "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" predated the American Civil War.

Despite the usual run of opinion, the reference to "the island of Sulloon" does not guarantee antiquity.

Conceivably, Hughes's informant was thinking of the tune alone, (perhaps attached to "The Three Crows"!)- but that conjecture itself is worth nothing at this point.


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Subject: ADD Version: Three Craws
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 09 Feb 05 - 03:44 AM

Ladfingers, the song that your Scots mate used to sing was probably this:

THREE CRAWS

Three craws
sat upon a wa'
sat upon a wa'
sat upon a wa-a-a-a'
Three craws
sat upon a wa'
On a cauld an frosty mornin


The first craw
wis greetin fur his maw
wis greetin fur his maw
wis greetin fur his ma-a-a-aw
Three craws
sat upon a wa'
On a cauld an frosty mornin

The second craw
Fell an broke his jaw
etc

The third craw
Couldny flee at a' (or: awa')
etc

The fourth craw
Wisny there at a'
etc


Cheers


Steven


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 05 - 09:03 AM

I thought there was no "etc" in verse 4 (ends suddenly like Be kind to your web-footed friends)


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 03:54 AM

Yeah ... but I often get shouted at from the sidelines when I end it that way...          :)

As Guest says, the Fourth verse of Three Craws can be sung so that it stops abrup...


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 06:12 AM

The Scottish 'Three Craws' was also used on CND demonstrations and sung in Folk Clubs in the 1960's to protest about the citing of nuclear submarines in Scotland. The repeated line 'On a cold and frosty morning' was changed to - 'And we dinna want Polaris'
That version had the sudden stop after 'The fourth craw wasna there at a' too.
Georgina


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 10:20 AM

Aye... something like..

The USA is giein subs away
Giein subs away
...
But we dinny want Polaris.

It's probably in the Digitrad...


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 10:41 AM

Jim McLean's Song....

Follow the link ... Great song....


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Fergie
Date: 27 Jul 05 - 05:33 PM

Picked up fragments an old song book. No covers or any means of identifying what book title was. Pages look 1920s style but this is one of the songs in it. Can anybody suggest an air?

CROW SONG

There were three crows sat on a tree,
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
There were three crows sat on a tree,
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
There were three crows sat on a tree
And they were black as crows could be,
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Caw, Caw; Caw, Billy Magee Magar!
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Billy Magee Magar!

Said one old crow unto his mate,
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
Said one old crow unto his mate,
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
Said one old crow unto his mate,
"What shall we do for grub to ate?"
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Caw, Caw, Caw, Billy Magee Magar!
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Billy Magee Magar!

"There lies a horse on yonder plain,
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
"There lies a horse on yonder plain,
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
"There lies a horse on yonder plain,
Who's by some cruel butcher slain,"
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Caw, Caw, Caw, Billy Magee Magar!
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Billy Magee Magar!

"We'll perch ourselves on his backbone
Oh Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
"We'll perch ourselves on his backbone
O'Billy Magee Magar! Billy Magee!
"We'll perch ourselves on his backbone
And pick his eyes out one bv one."
And they all flapped their wings and cried
Caw, Caw, Caw, Billy Magee Magar!
And they all flapped their wings and
cried Billy Magee Magar!


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Jim McLean
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 11:10 AM

Fergie, I have heard the verses you posted only spoken so I'm not sure if there is a tune.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: BonnyAnne
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 12:46 PM

Hi, everyone. Please excuse me if I am repeating any information that you already know. This is the first time I have posted any message on a noticeboard...
I have been performing The Three Ravens since 1963 (I think it was 1963 - such a long time ago).
I am also an historian and have this compulsion to research any Traditional songs that I sing. So much easier now with the Internet. At The Contemplator's website is a very good provenance about the song The Three Ravens - Child Ballad #26.

This ballad dates back to 1611 where it appears in Melismata. Musicall Phansies Fitting the Court, Cittie, and Countrey Humours by T. Ravenscroft.
It is also known as The Twa Corbies.
According to the The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English -Speaking World the song deals with primitive superstition.
"Perhaps in the folk mind the doe is the form the soul of a human mistress, now dead, has taken.
Or it may be that the doe was considered an animal - paramour of the dead knight.
Most probably the knight's beloved was understood to be an enchanted woman who was metamorphosed at certain times into an animal."

THE THREE RAVENS
There were three ra'ens sat on a tree,
response: Down a down, hey down, hey down,
They were as black as black might be,
response: With a down.
The one of them said to his mate,
Where shall we our breakfast take?
response: With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down

Down in yonder green field,
Down, a down, hey down, hey down,
There lies a knight slain 'neath his shield,
With a down.
His hounds they lie down at his feet,
So well they do their master keep,
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

His hawks they fly so eagerly,
Down a down, hey down, hey down,
No other fowl dare come him night,
With a down.
Down there comes a fallow doe
As great with young as might she go
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down

She lifted up his bloody head,
Down a down, hey down, hey down,
And kissed his wounds that were so red,
With a down.
She got him up upon her back,
And carried him to earthen (I sing 'lac')lake,
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down

She buried him before the prime
Down a down, hey down, hey down,
She was dead herself ere e'en-song time,
With a down.
God send every gentleman,
Such hawks, such hounds, and such a leman.
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down
-    -    -
I have a copy of the original music as in the Melismata - I can email it to anyone that wants a copy.

In the Melismata version
The 1st line is repeated again to make the 2nd
& 3rd verse lines. With the 2nd line (above) becoming the last line of the verse.
- - - -
'Leman' (Leman used in the Melismata version, 1611)
lem·an (lĕm'ən, lç'mən) n. Archaic.
A sweetheart; a lover. A mistress.
[Middle English leofman, lemman : leof, dear (from Old English lçof) + man, man; see man.]
- - -
As to the use of 'a doe', this may have an Old 'secret meaning' but think it is just a term of endearement as we still do today ('Hen', 'Duck', 'Pigeon', you 'little Monkey, etc..etc..)
- - - -
The song, although sung slowly, gives the feel of being a slow dance song.

I hope I have not spoilt the thread by giving all this information. I find it really fascinating to find other versions and try to unravel how songs change - just like Chinese whispers!


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 02:27 PM

BonnyAnne-

Welcome to Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 05:41 PM

Am I the only one who is convinced that the tune for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is a fairly straightforward derivative of "John Anderson, My Jo"?


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 07:20 PM

Now there's a thought. There would be some mutation involved, but not a huge amount. John Anderson first appears in the 17th century Skene MS, and seems to be a close relative of Paul's Steeple (I am the Duke of Norfolk), which is probably a bit earlier (see Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 331-335 and 394-395).


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Jim McLean
Date: 29 Jul 05 - 04:59 AM

Dick, in 1959/1960 I wrote a song called Ghost Tigers in the Sky after Ghost Riders in the Sky. At the time I was challenged with using an original tune but countered that GRS was derived from John Anderson, My Jo ... at least the first eight bars.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: GUEST,Eltanin Antenna
Date: 29 May 10 - 08:27 AM

Fergie, I think the book you found may be:

Folklore from Iowa By Earl J. Stout


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 May 10 - 09:45 AM

In reply to Dick's post of five years ago: I'm persuaded also.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: GUEST,Sandy
Date: 11 Oct 10 - 04:08 PM

I agree that both songs' tunes were stolen from "John Anderson, My Jo" but also agree with Malcolm that all three are close relatives to the "Duke of Norfolk." If you don't know those tunes, check them out on YouTube. All of them are there.


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Tradsinger
Date: 11 Oct 10 - 04:19 PM

The point of my original posting was to ascertain whether any MCers had come across any versions still in oral tradition. There was a Royal Navy version sung in Sods Operas until recently, and I have heard Hampshire and Sussed versions. Any more around?

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 09 May 12 - 10:53 AM

I learned this song (the Three Craws, not the Ravens versions) from Lani Herrmann, and she sang a verse that I am not sure I got right in my memory:

The First Craw got drunk enough to daw
Drunk enough to daw... etc.

Now, trying to transliterate my imperfect memory of the Scots' dialect means I probably have that wrong, but I don't know what is should be, and I'm curious. Is it "drunk enough to" or "drunken upta" (whatever that means) or something else entirely? And what does the whole thing mean? Drunk enough to die? But I thought "die" in broad Scots was "dee," so why "daw" (or even "dah," since it could be that).

So, what's the line and what's it mean?

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Three Black Crows
From: Carole Bannister
Date: 09 May 12 - 04:44 PM

what about "Twa Corbies" ? Steeleye Span did a version of it on their album "Time."


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