Monday, November 29, 2010

The Persistence of a Folk Song

There's a folk song from the British Isles, called "Lord Randall."  Here are the words of one version:

Lord Randall


"O where ha you been, Lord Randal, my son?
And where ha you been, my handsome young man?"
"I ha been at the greenwood; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi hunting, and fain wad lie down."


"An wha met ye there, Lord Randal, my son?
And wha met ye there, my handsome young man?"
"O I met wi my true-love; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down."



"And what did she give you, Lord Randal, My son?
And wha did she give you, my handsome young man?"
"Eels fried in a pan; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fein wad lie down."



"And what gat your leavins, Lord Randal my son?
And wha gat your leavins, my handsome young man?"
"My hawks and my hounds; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fein wad lie down."



"And what becam of them, Lord Randal, my son?
And what becam of them, my handsome young man?
"They stretched their legs out and died; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down."



"O I fear you are poisoned, Lord Randal, my son!
I fear you are poisoned, my handsome young man!"
"O yes, I am poisoned; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and fain wad lie down."



"What d'ye leave to your mother, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your mother, my handsome young man?"
"Four and twenty milk kye; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."



"What d'ye leave to your sister, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your sister, my handsome young man?"
"My gold and my silver; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, an I fain wad lie down."



"What d'ye leave to your brother, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your brother, my handsome young man?"
"My houses and my lands; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."



"What d'ye leave to your true-love, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your true-love, my handsome young man?"
"I leave her hell and fire; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."



Basically, it's a dialogue between Lord Randall and his mama.  He went out and met a wonderful gal (he thought), but she was an evil gal who poisoned him with "eels boiled in brew" and he has come home to die.
 
In college, in Speech class, I wrote music to one version of the words and performed it.
 
Well, this morning I was listening to some music by The Buchanan Brothers -- you should be familiar with them through the Atomic Cafe soundtrack -- and one of their songs is called "Mama I'm Sick."
 
Mama I'm  sick, I went away...
Mama, I nearly die when I think of that pie,
Oh mama I'm sick ...
Oh why did I roam?
Oh mama I'm sick ...
Mama I'm sick from my head to my feet ...
I went away, like a fool went astray,
I've rued that day --
Oh Mama, I'm sick.
 
Now, do you think that the Buchanan Brothers knew anything about the old English ballad?
 
See you in a few days with "The Demon Under the Red Sun!"

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