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Lyr Req: House Carpenter (#243 - Jean Ritchie)

DigiTrad:
HOUSE CARPENTER
THE DEMON LOVER
THE HOUSE CARPENTER (II)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? (182)
(origins) Origins: Question about a verse in 'Daemon Lover' (8)
Joe Rae's Daemon Lover (4)
Lyr Req: Child 243 on Bronson (16)
(origins) Origin: House Carpenter (27)
Pentangle's House Carpenter (8)
Lyr Req: cyril tawney's carpenter's wife (#243) (18)


Roberto 11 Sep 05 - 03:41 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 23 Sep 05 - 08:59 PM
Roberto 24 Sep 05 - 01:54 AM
GUEST,Arkie 24 Sep 05 - 09:14 AM
Amos 24 Sep 05 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Arkie 24 Sep 05 - 03:03 PM
Big Mick 24 Sep 05 - 06:25 PM
Tannywheeler 24 Sep 05 - 06:58 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Sep 05 - 07:43 PM
Arkie 24 Sep 05 - 10:57 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 25 Sep 05 - 08:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Sep 05 - 09:41 PM
Big Mick 25 Sep 05 - 10:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Sep 05 - 11:01 PM
Big Mick 26 Sep 05 - 08:34 AM
John Hardly 26 Sep 05 - 10:38 AM
Tannywheeler 26 Sep 05 - 11:03 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Roberto
Date: 11 Sep 05 - 03:41 AM

From Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City, 1963, Smithsonian Folkways SF 40005. Here Jean Ritchie sings a different version of the ballad than the one she sings on Child Ballads in America, Folkways F-2301, 1961 (that, she writes, she got from her father). About the recording at Folk City, she writes : my mothr sang a different version, a sweeter tune. This one I heard most from Uncle Jason Ritchie and from my older sister Una.

A couple of words I can't get at all and a couple of doubts: please, help me complete and correct the transcription. Thank you. R

Well, I once could have married the king's third son
And a fine young man was he
But now I'm married to a house carpenter
And a nice young man is he
And a nice young man is he

O will you forsake your house carpenter
And go along with me?
I will take you to where the grass grows green
On the banks of the river Dee
On the banks of the river Dee

What will you have to maintain me upon
To keep me from slavery?
Well, I have seven ships, they will soon be at land
And at your command shall be
And at your command shall be

She took her two babes by their hand
And gave them kisses three
Saying – Stay at home, you darling little babes
Keep your father sweet company
Keep your father sweet company

Now she dressed herself in her very best
Like a high-born lady was she
She shimmered and she shammered (?) and she lovely stepped
As they walked by the banks of the sea
As they walked by the banks of the sea

Well, she hadn't been gone but a short, short time
Until she wept full sore
I would give all the gold in this round world
Just to see my babes once more
Just to see my babes once more

Well, if you had all the gold and the silver too
That ever (?) crossed (?) the sea
You never would be at land anymore
And your babes you'll never more see
And your babes you'll never more see

O they hadn't been sailing but a short, short time
'Bout two weeks, three or four
When the ship sprang a leak and they were ...(?)
And they were far away from the shore
And they were far away from the shore

I see bright hills of Heaven, my dear
Where angels come and go
I see bright hills (?) - That's Hell, my dear
Where you and I must go
Where you and I must go

O I wish I was back to my house carpenter
I'm sure he would treat me well
But here I am in the raging sea
And my soul is bound for Hell
And my soul is bound for Hell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 08:59 PM

Roberto- Sorry I just found this old thread of yours. Here are the two words you didn't get:

When the ship sprang a leak and they were DOOMED

She shimmered and she shammeered and she LIGHTLY stepped

The rest of the song seems correct.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Roberto
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 01:54 AM

Thank you, kytrad. R


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 09:14 AM

This has long been one of my favorite ballads and seems to be found realtively often in some version in folk tradition. One particular thing is intriquing to me. In older versions found in the British Isles the ship captain is a spirit or demon (Daemon Lover is another title) of one who has died and returns to claim his mortal love and take her to his spirit world. Speaking from my own experience I have not heard or seen in print versions from North America that mentioned the demon aspect even when the Demon Lover title was used. My question is had the 'other world' element of the ballad ceased to be sung before the song migrated to North America, was that part changed in North America, or was it changed simultaneously in the British Isles and North America? Any opinions? Any documentation?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 02:42 PM

One version has vivid visions of the banks of Heaven and the banks of Hell, treated in separate verses. But I have never heard the demon ship captain variant. An interesting question. Possibly it was ruled out of play by Puritan influences, I suppose.


A


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 03:03 PM

I have never heard or picked up the demon verses in any version that I have heard but have seen them in print. Four examples are in the digiTrad.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 06:25 PM

Tim O'Brien does a version on the CD "Two Journeys". HERE are the lyrics to that version. It is a striking arrangement. It clearly references the demon. Excellent CD, by the way.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 06:58 PM

My mother, Hally Wood, used to sing a version of House Carpenter. I don't remember it all word-for-word (kytrad-don't hit me, please). Kinda like this:
verse 1: He approaches her and says he's home.
verse 2: He claims he could have married really well, but didn't to return to her.
verse 3: She is sorry he missed his chance to marry well, but she's married ("...a house carpenter, and I thank he's a nice young man.")
verse 4, 5, 6: (getting muddier)He prevails upon her to leave her husband, she kisses her baby goodbye ("...and keep him good company."), and they walk together ("...on the banks of the salt, salt sea") looking very glamorous.
verse 7: begins to enumerate how long they'd been sailing; she starts crying("...2 weeks--I'm sure it was not 3--when this poor lady began to weep, and she wept most bitterly.")
verse 8: He asks why, and she says it's for her baby ("...for your house carpenter, or for your golden store? No, I'm weeping for my dear little babe whom I never shall see any more.")
verse 9: Ship springs a leak and sinks ("...3 weeks--I'm sure it was not 4--when this great ship, she sprung a leak, and sank to rise no more.")
verse 10: "Oh what is that so white behind me--
          As white as any snow?
          Oh that is Heaven, the purest Heaven--
          Where we may never go."
verse 11: "And what is that so black before me--
          As black as any crow?
          Oh, that is HELL, the deepest Hell-
          Where you and I must go."
These are the only 2 verses I'm sure of all the way through. I remember Mama explaining that the man who had convinced the woman to run away with him was not really a man, but The Devil.
I don't remember, if I ever knew, what her source was. Sorry.    Tw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 07:43 PM

Heaven and Hell appear often enough, but in American forms of the song there is never, so far as I can tell, any overt supernatural reference. It's interesting that Hally Wood was clear about the nature of the lover; that implies that a good many singers may have had that in mind, though the song itself has -in America- lost any real mention of it.

As for Tim O'Brien, the big question, of course, would be where he got his text. If we don't know whether it's a version from tradition or a modern collation, we can't draw any useful conclusions from it.

So far as I can tell, there isn't a single known traditional form of the song that mentions a "cloven hoof"; and only one text that mentions a "cloven foot". That's the (much anthologised) one that Walter Scott printed. The line may be genuine, but it doesn't seem to have survived in tradition anywhere (if it was ever there in the first place).

My guess would be that Tim O'Brien has done a "mix-and-match" job on the song, and also introduced some business of his own ("to be my partner in life"? Oh dear). It may well be a nice arrangement, but it can't tell us anything about the tradition of the song prior to Tim's involvement with it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Arkie
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 10:57 PM

While I did like the O'Brien lyrics, I too suspect that they are a reworking of and possibly a combination of more traditional versions. The story line is tied together much more neatly than the traditional versions I have heard or seen in print.   I'm with Malcolm on this one.   The fact that O'Brien and also Nickel Creek have recorded this ballad is an example of its resiliance and the appeal it has had for countless generations.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 08:23 PM

I don't know... our song doesn't mention a "demon," or yet a "devil," but it seemed we just took it for granted everyone knew he was The Devil when he told her that it was Hell they were headed for.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 09:41 PM

That's important. As a rule, published examples only tell us what was sung; not what was understood as part of the context by performer or audience. The absence of overt supernatural references in American versions has frequently been commented upon, but perhaps it just wasn't necessary for the singers to state what was (for them) obvious.

Context is vital in our understanding of traditional song; there are frequently things understood implicitly by the participants that, because not overtly stated, are missed by collectors who don't happen to ask the right questions.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 10:29 PM

I referenced O'Brien's version simply because he had done a version. I don't think I implied anything beyond that. It is a striking telling of the tale, should you decide to listen to it.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 11:01 PM

You said "It clearly references the demon": implying that you felt that proved something. As I've already said, it does nothing of the kind. If that wasn't your intention and you only mentioned it because you liked the arrangement, then that's fair enough; but it would have been helpful if you had said so.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Sep 05 - 08:34 AM

I am so very pleased that you are here to explain to me what I meant, Malcolm. I shall endeavor to make sure that what I meant to imply meets with your interpretation of what I meant to imply. Sometimes I forget myself and actually make an observation off the cuff just to be a part of conversations I find interesting. I will try and curb that impulse in the future.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: John Hardly
Date: 26 Sep 05 - 10:38 AM

O'Brien takes liberty with lots of traditional lyrics -- always has. But it has so often been his superlative take -- putting new life into tired material -- that has opened my eyes to the potential in a song.

If it bothers you that O'Brien carries on the folk tradition in such a manner, then I suggest you avoid his two new CDs -- Fiddler's Green, and Cornbread Nation -- like th' plague. In both those CDs he has created more songs full of "Frankenlyrics" then I've ever seen in one recording. He does a take on Gospel Plow that makes it a completely new song.

The other pleasing thing about the way O'Brien uses traditional material -- he is obviously so intimately acquainted with it, both in the playing and the singing, that he is not making changes by error -- rather, he is making changes by whimsy -- a wonderful folk tradition.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jean ritchie's house carpenter #243
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 26 Sep 05 - 11:03 AM

Big Mick, as my grandmother's granddaughter I must concur that there are some impulses which should be curbed. Your tendency to keyboard observations off-the-cuff, however, is not one of them.    Tw


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