Jon says, “My absolute favourite Tim Hart and Maddy Prior track. The harmony line is so good that it took me a very long time to work out who had the melody. I think I picked the right line!” This seems to be known alternatively as Wiilie-O, while there is at least one other completely different song known as Bay Of Biscay(-O). Just to add to the confusion, you’ll note that Willie The Waterboy is also used as the title by Brass Monkey on their recording as noted on Mainly Norfolk. There seems to be some debate about the origins of this as well although an Irish source seems most likely from the assembled notes and this Mudcat thread. To back that up to some degree, there’s a version of Willie-O from an Irish singer called Nora Clearly on Vol.3 of Topic’s Voice Of The People series, which starts with Willie’s appearance, but adds a concluding verse about the lovers meeting again “when the fishes they will fly and the seas they will dry and the rocks will melt to the sun.” This is one of the night visiting songs and it’s quite possible as that Mudcat thread suggests that the verses are a bit slippery. I’m grateful for the notes on Mainly Norfolk about the seven year period and the soul denied a Christian burial and therefore rest, as both are obviously recurring motifs. I’ve managed to find the Waterson:Carthy version of this but does anyone have the version Jon refers to? I’d like to know more about it.
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