Lucy Wan


Half in jest Jon calls this, “Track one on Now That’s What I Call Incest Murder Ballads Vol 4.” That seems about bob on as far as I can see. This is also known as Lizzie Wan, but Jon picked up this version from Martin Carthy and you can find a version of it on his CD with Dave Swarbrick Skin And Bone. It’s a Child Ballad (#51) and this link suggests was published in Herd’s Scottish Songs in 1776. You will find Mudcat variants including Edward, (Child Ballad #13) where it is a brother who is slain, although the reason for the murder seems less clear.

The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:


27 Responses to “Lucy Wan”

  1. John Burton says:

    Downloaded In Ontario Canada at 9.40 PM EST on 15.07.2010
    Well sung too.

  2. […] Lucy Wan « A Folk Song A Day […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelley Rainey, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: Lucy Wan […]

  4. Mark says:

    This is great Jon. Only ever heard Jim Moray’s version of this, which as you know is quite different!

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    I think this one just shot to the top of my Folk-Song-A-Day chart! Absolutely lovely haunting rendition, Jon. I’ll have to seek out the Jim Moray version now as am intrigued by the difference.

  6. Tom Brown says:

    An astonishing song, bursting with the inexplicable oddness and magic that makes so many trad songs captivating. One of the happiest – if that’s the right word – epiphanies of my folk journey so far was listening to Kate Bush’s ‘The Kick Inside’ and making the connection between that and this. Haunting and disturbing in all its many guises.

  7. Carla says:

    It’s great to hear Jon singing some of the Child Ballads! I hope to hear a rendition of The Three Ravens this year!

  8. Mzz.Beee says:

    The best from JB so far, for me. Really moody and affecting.
    Yes please, more Child Ballads.

  9. Nick Hallam says:

    More about Lucy Wan from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

    There are only 3 records of Lucy Wan in the Library; only Gardiner is identified as the collector of it with this title.

    When searched on the Roud No. it produces 37 results under Fair Lucy, Lucy, Rosianne, Rosie Ann and Lizie Wan to name but a few.

    If you wish to see more detail on each record, change the ‘output’ to ‘record’ and press ‘submit query’.

    There is just the one Gardiner record of the song in the Take 6 Archive collected in Hampshire from F Harrington. Unfortunately there is no date.

    To find these go to enter the name of the song into the first empty field, select ‘Title’ from the drop down menu ‘all fields’ and press ‘submit search.

    We use the Roud index and the Take 6 online collections in the search for information on Jon’s selections.

    For more information, or to carry out your own search for songs, please visit
    If you need any help accessing the library online or have any questions, please contact the VWML on 020 7485 2206 or

  10. Peter Walsh says:

    Wow Jon! Another absolute gem. I’d only heard a guitar instrumental of this title on Martin Simpson’s album Leaves Of Life, so the lyrics hit me like a broadsword in the face. Stunning rendition.

  11. Andy says:

    I swear Jon’s voice improves with each song, he certainly knows how to wring the last bit of emotion out of a song (or out of the listener) without overdoing it. Gorgeous, haunting and wouldn’t it make a stunning interlude in the middle of a mad magical Bellowgig?

  12. Julia Taylor says:

    I must say I look forward very much to your accompanied numbers Jon. But this one is a real cracker. I was gobsmacked by the content and will be haunted by it for some time to come I think.

  13. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Jane Ramsden, if you go onto jim moray’s site at the moment you can listen to Jim’s version. Warning, it’s marked Jim Moray[feat Bubbz], and it does include rapping. To bagpipes.

    I’d recommend the song below it on his player, ‘Three Black Feathers’, sounds like a Child ballad but was written in 2009 by Bella Hardy.

    I don’t normally make a point of checking my pc every day but I am at the moment – I thought this sounded an interesting idea when I 1st heard about it but it’s really turning into something special.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Thank you so much, Simon, for the signpost to Jim Moray’s version of Lucy Wan…and the warning, as it does indeed sound to be different! I’ll listen to Three Black Feathers too in the morning… well, later morning than this, as it’s 1.05am. This site is so addictive I have to keep returning to read the comments!

    And thanks also to Tom Brown for mentioning The Kick Inside by Kate Bush. I made the connection whilst listening to Lucy Wan earlier and was trying to remember what song it reminded me of. That’s two pieces of wonderment sorted! Thanks, guys! And Jon for the singing, of course. And Peter, hope your face has recovered from the broadsword…there’s an image to conjure with!

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    And Admin, your clock is an hour behind me, saying 12.14 when it’s 1.14! Hahahahaha!

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    Just listened to Jim Moray’s Lucy Wan. He renders a cracking song! I’m not very attuned to rap, but all credit to the willingness to meld musical forms. Loved Three Black Feathers, so thanks to Simon for that. I have ‘Sweet England’ but must add more Jim Moray soonest. I can see Jon’s venture is going to vastly extend my folk collection of various artists aside from his own music! I’m concluding I’m more folk rock than trad, but room for all.

  17. admin says:

    Thanks for pointing out the clock settings Jane. I hadn’t realised and didn’t even know I could change it, presuming it was set automatically. Anyway, it’s sorted now, so hopefully we’ll be on the correct schedule from here. As for the Kate Bush connection, this Wiki entry calls the song Lizzie Wan and indeed references The Kick Inside. I was going to add this at the start, but not everyone approved of my Blackwaterside update, so I let it slide.

  18. Jane Bird says:

    Lucy Wan is one of my favourite ballads. Very sparing in detail, just the shocking essentials. The descriptions of the different sorts of blood are facinating touch, and really add drama to the song. I used to sing it, but find that it doesn’t go down very well in post morris sessions these days.

  19. Mike Armstrong says:

    A gentle and bitter sweet performance – so different in style from the version on “Songs” – both wonderful.

    And a real contrast to the storming Spires & Boden set last night at Larmer Tree 🙂

  20. Diana says:

    A completely different folk song although it has shades of “My son David” and others.

    Have been playing over the weekend the “Rising Road” CD by John Jones, lead singer with the Oysterband. It contains a mixture of traditional and new material penned by John. His fine voice deals with both types competently, He is accompanied by some of his friends which adds overall to create musicality. A really interesing and eclectic collection of songs which I thoroughly recommend. He is about to undertake a 200 mile walk from the Welsh Borders to an Oysterband event in Leicester again accompanied by several of his friends.

  21. Great article and right to the point. I am not sure if this is
    really the best place to ask but do you guys have
    any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  22. Jane Ramsden says:

    Re-posting from yesterday for Linda, in case you don’t look back or use the RSS feed:

    @ Linda: Just seen your query about a cd copy of Louis Killen’s version of the timber-shivering Rose in June! Hard to find! I understand he did an unaccompanied version of this title song on his ‘Rose in June’ cassette.

    I have found this site which sells the album for about 12 squids. I am assuming this is cd & not cassette, though it’s not explicit. You could email them to check, but the 2001 date makes me think it is a cd. Happy hunting!

  23. Diana says:

    I am catching up as well.

  24. What an awesome view, and an amazing ride! Love your free spirit!

  25. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Eleven years…..I can hold back no longer…….beeeehaaave…what a horrible song.

  26. OldMuzza(NWSURREY UK) says:

    I still cannot believe that contributors above think this is a lovely song!!!!!!
    First we have incest….then the nutter of a brother, horribly, slaughters the sister that he has wronged……..then he tells his mother……. so that’s all right then!!!!!
    What sort of neighbourhood do you folk live in….aaaarrrgggghhh!
    and to cap it all…the UK is in the middle of a 38C (108F) heat wave and a change of conservative Prime minister!!

  27. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Wowee…ref last year’s comment…this year…..Europe has the heat wave and we have the rain…and we’ve had a few ministerial changes in the meantime!
    I’m grateful for the rain.

Your Reply

Warning: Undefined variable $user_ID in /customers/a/0/f/ on line 121