Jon says “Bellamy gives an extraordinary vocal performance on his recording of this. I Learnt it to see if I could get anywhere near his performance level. Sadly not.”
It seems this was written by Jean Ritchie, who grew up in the Cumberland Mountains, the south-eastern range of the Appalachians. The youngest of 14 children born in 1922, she grew up learning the family repertoire of songs. Alan Lomax recorded The Singing Ritchies in the 30s, but June went on to college and teaching rather than a musical career. It wasn’t until the late 40s, having moved to New York and met the likes of Pete Seeger and Leadbelly that her singing career started to take shape. Ultimately she became known as the Mother Of Folk and you can read her story on this Wiki page. It’s worth a few minutes not least because of her studies of the links between American ballads and those of the British Isles. Peter Bellamy was obviously a big fan of Ritchie, as his notes on his Second Wind version of this song make clear and you can read them courtesy of Mainly Norfolk.
You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores: