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Murder on Claudy Banks

20 Jul 07 - 05:42 PM (#2107850)
Subject: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Greg B

I was listening to Finest Kind's excellent rendition of 'Claudy Banks'
the other day, and it occurred to me that in that genre of songs---
you know, lover goes away to seek his fortune, returns in disguise
to locate girl (usually on river bank), and engages her in a
conversation designed to test her fidelity over the past, oh, seven or
so years--- the woman always seems grateful to see him.

Having, of course, proved her virtue by going mad when the fellow
in disguise informs her that her true love has met some awful fate,
and swearing that she'll never have another.

Then, the guy says 'no worries, love, it was me all along.'

Now I don't know about you, but any woman I did this to would
promptly chuck me straight into the (Claudy, Bann or whatever)
river that we were on the banks of at the time.

While I was drowning and she was chucking stones at my head, she'd
be informing me that

a) It wasn't a bit funny
b) She resented me putting her loyalty to such a test


c) Giving her a conniption fit by telling her the lover she'd
   waited for for 7 or more years was actually dead was a lousy
   way to prove my love

She'd then go and marry the local undertaker, who'd been wooing
her for six of those seven years.

It seems to me that all of these songs ignore the fundamental problem
of female nature and relationships, and must thus have been written
by wishful sailors who thought that the whole disguise and loyalty
test was a really good idea, but never actually carried it off.

20 Jul 07 - 06:53 PM (#2107886)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Bank Holiday
From: Severn

Back in those days, it was a better pickup line than line than the, "Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy, Miss Claudy! You sure look good to me!" that was later collected from Lloyd Price and Elvis. However, had it been collected by or from "A.L.Lloyd Price", those would be the words we'd be singing today, with the spelling changed to "Laud", most likely.

20 Jul 07 - 07:05 PM (#2107894)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Herga Kitty

No, they don't necessarily return in disguise, there just seems to be a lot of not recognising after 7 (ish) years.

And Grit Laskin pretty well summed it up with Angus Hempstead,,,

20 Jul 07 - 07:06 PM (#2107895)
Subject: RE: Wreck Of The "Claude D. Banks"
From: GUEST,Long Lost John

"That's th' way we'd sung it, back when we was broke and tokin'", said Long Lost John, wryly. "It 'alfway 'ad a nice ring to it!"

20 Jul 07 - 07:32 PM (#2107901)
Subject: RE: Claudia's Re-Tarred, At Last!
From: GUEST,Dark Eyed (freshly-blackened) Sailor

"Besides, way back then, disguise was th' limit! Not the same nowadays......."

21 Jul 07 - 05:12 AM (#2108069)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Marje

There are so many variants of this theme that it must have stirred something in people's imaginations. Either, as suggested above, young men away at sea or at war hoped that their sweethearts would wait indefinitely for them, or the girls themselves liked to imagine that their young man would come back, no matter how long he'd been away.

I don't think there's ususally a disguise, just maybe a beard and a bit more muscle (not, of course, on the girl, who would remain recognisably fresh and nubile - and this, too, would be everyone's fantasy scenario).

I never did get the point, though, of the man testing the relationship to the point of announcing his own death, just as a tease. Serve him right if the girl threw herself (or possibly him) into the conveniently close Bann/Claudy/Dee in despair before he'd had a chance to put her right.

Having said that, I just love those songs, especially the line where he says "Betsy, I'm that man!" or whatever. Gets me every time, and I've never even had a sweetheart who went to sea.


21 Jul 07 - 12:11 PM (#2108191)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Greg B

Biggest concern shouldn't have been the dis-guise but
rather the dis-ease.

21 Jul 07 - 12:58 PM (#2108223)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Anglogeezer

Go here for the modern view by HARPMOLLY
Wiser Maid

it's a grand song I reckon.


21 Jul 07 - 01:12 PM (#2108233)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Gene

never knew a claudy banks but i did know a Claudie Eubanks years ago

21 Jul 07 - 03:48 PM (#2108305)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Waddon Pete


I, too, love the song Claudy Banks. Not least because when I was working it out, (more years ago than I care to remember and when I was still living at home), Mum wandered into the room and said, "I know that song!" I said, "Mum, you can't possibly!" She said, "Yes, my uncle used to sing it!"

To me, the thought behind the song is timeless and is true for every generation. (But I hear his platoon got wasted all in Afghanistan...)

Today we are so used to the photo, text message, e-mail, postal system etc. that we forget that people only had their memory to aid them in 'the good old days'. (Try remembering what your infant teacher looked like!) No wonder that some people were not recognised when they came back! Clearly the song has been truncated over time so we don't know some of the salient details, but it still goes down very well with audiences unfamiliar with it.

Best wishes,


21 Jul 07 - 07:43 PM (#2108375)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Susanne (skw)

Maybe, but there are songs where the guy does lie about having died etc., and I entirely agree with Greg about what my reaction would have been!

Incidentally, Greg's point was made by the late Tony Cuffe back in 1994, the only time I was lucky enough to hear him live. He had a song where the girl actually sends the guy packing, but I can't find it any more so I'm not sure whether he wrote it himself. I think he did, though.

22 Jul 07 - 02:52 PM (#2108699)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Bat Goddess

I got a piece of spam about a year ago from an entity which claimed to be "Claudia Banks" -- and almost no one else (except Curmudgeon) seemed to find that as amusing as I did. But, then again, I also broke up when I spied a package of paper on the shelf at the printer I was working for -- the color name was "Dorian Gray".

Back on topic, I know I would be very angry to be "tested" in such a manner by a "true love" off galavanting at sea. I really like "Wiser Maid" and should find the time to learn it.


23 Jul 07 - 07:53 AM (#2109127)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt

I like Les Barkers version
"....well here's my half of the wardrobe..." !!

23 Jul 07 - 09:19 AM (#2109183)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Fidjit

Girl would be easy to reconise. She'd have the same dress on. Still chalky white completion.

Man would be sunburnt . There was no sunfacta 15 or 20 in those days
Big difference from a 16 year old and a 23 year old.

But I agree now that his balls have dropped she'd be kicking them


23 Jul 07 - 11:07 AM (#2109271)
Subject: RE: Murder on Claudy Banks
From: Stilly River Sage

Greg, I remember having the same questions for my father when he was learning some of these broken token songs when I was a kid. I suspect a strong component of "do as I say, not as I do" when it comes to the fellow being faithful also, don't you? Wishful thinking on his part that she'll wait even though he's out working and adventuring. There was an antidote to be had, of course. I always rooted for the wife in the Wraggle Taggle Gypsy and Black Jack Davey songs.