A version of this appeared on the Spiers & Boden Songs CD with the same tune and Jon Says, “This is one of a number of ballads that I’ve set to a popular English country dance, in this case The Dark Girl Dressed In Blue. Martin Carthy first (?) employed this trick setting The Maid And The Palmer to From Night Till Morn’. Since many instrumental tunes started life as song melodies it seems very natural to reverse the process.” The notes about the track on Songs say “Or Gil Maurice (Gil Morice and Bill Norrie also -admin)- once a very well known ballad in Scotland inspiring tawdry dramatic adaptations and cropping up all over the place in various ballad versions. Our version is based on a version collected from Banffshire in 1826 from Widow Michael, a very old woman.” Fittingly it’s also Child Ballad #83 and is likely to prove one of the hardest for anyone to learn on account of its length. As usual, Mainly Norfolk turns up trumps with details of the recordings and you’ll also find some Mudcat here under one of the title variants (there are others, but Child Morris won’t get you anything.) Elsewhere, there are threads that pick at the similarities to Mattie Groves and Little Musgrave, with a Lord Bernard (Barnard) putting the titular subject to the sword in a jealous rage, although the reason here is somewhat different. If you have time this Mudcat thread, trying to nail Lord Barnard in history is quite entertaining, although somewhat futile. If you don’t have time, suffice to say that someone has plucked a reference to Musgrave being sung from a play apparently first performed in 1607.
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: