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Yet another blurb about 'Cruel Sister'

17 Feb 02 - 12:39 PM (#652148)
Subject: Yet another blurb about 'Cruel Sister'
From: GUEST,Priscilla

I searched for variants on the Cruel Sister motif and found a ton of postings, but none that I saw mentioned this: The chorus of this song is frequently posted as "Lay the bent to the bonnie broom" or similar, with a lot of speculation on what "bent" means. I have no clue, but I know that a version sung by Old Blind Dogs as the line (as stated in the liner notes) as "Lay the bairn tae the bonnie broom." Not sure what that means, but as the note said, it gives a decidedly Scottish flavor to their version.

(Okay, I admit that I'm biased, but I think their version is the best I've heard yet!)


17 Feb 02 - 12:58 PM (#652164)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Yet another blurb about ''Cruel Sist
From: Maryrrf

I also love the Old Blind Dogs version!

17 Feb 02 - 01:47 PM (#652199)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Yet another blurb about ''Cruel Sist
From: Malcolm Douglas

The OBD seem to have learned this song off a Pentangle record; certainly it has never been found in tradition with that tune and refrain, both of which were borrowed (presumably by Pentangle) from another ballad, Riddles Wisely Expounded, around 1970.  The refrain has been discussed here a number of times, for example:  Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'

The OBD recording was discussed in this thread:  'twasisters' lay the bent to bonny broom,  which also includes a pretty exhaustive list of links to relevant material to do with Child #10 here and elsewhere.

My personal feeling is that OBD just mis-heard the lyric, though I suppose it could have been a deliberate change; at any rate it makes poor sense as compared to the traditional form.