Maria’s Gone


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 Jean 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.


39 Responses to “Maria’s Gone”

  1. muzza says:

    Well…that gave the old vocals a good work out! Good song. I note that “Mainly Norfolk” says song collected 1917 & Jean not born until 1922..just being picky again.

  2. Shelley says:

    That was stunning!

  3. Reinhard says:

    According to Mudcat Jean Ritchie copyrighted her version of “Maria’s Gone” in 1969. It’s not the first time in history that someone claimed a traditional song for her/himself. But maybe the copyright is just for her arrangement of this song?

    Anyway, it’s a fine song and a fine performance of Jon’s. Somehow the verse structure reminds me of “What shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor”.

  4. Simon says:

    Hmmm! I had wondered about the authorship hence starting with “It seems… Perhaps it was a family song or learned through the family. I guess if the rights were only assigned in 69 it’s a safe bet that no one was aware of it or able to contest it. It may also be a lyrical twist as this has the feel of a spiritual and mourners lament to me. Yet the words seem to take another direction in the second verse with “Never did I know her mind”, as if Maria has made a decision to leave. The rest seems entirely ambiguous to me.

  5. Phil says:

    Lovely stuff – a great song and a terrific performance. Incidentally, I hear that verse as “never did I know her mine”, which perhaps fits better.

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to who copyrighted what – as Reinhard says, lots of traditional songs have been through the process for various reasons. I doubt very much that Jean Ritchie (who is still with us, although she’s been ill) would claim to have written this.

  6. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I’ve not heard Peter Bellamy’s version of this but if this version doesn’t ‘get anywhere near his performance level’ then it must be absolutely astonishing – I think this is wonderful singing.

  7. Maggie says:

    My thoughts exactly Simon. Beautiful song and great singing. Thanks again Jon

  8. Simon says:

    Thanks Phil, ‘mine’ would make more sense of it. As for the copyright it doesn’t bother me other than in the sense of trying to tell the story of the song. As the Ritchies were singers, recorded as early as the 30s, you can bet they were carrying a tradition with them from a generation or two before that to get to that standard. As elsewhere they probably left their own mark on the family repertoire.

  9. maggie says:

    Lovely! The best this month in my opinion.

  10. Judith Parker says:

    Fabulous. Loved this!

  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    Oh, WOW! Gets my vote right now! Stunning & stunningly delivered with real emotion, Jon. I just loved it! (‘Mind’ or ‘mine’ both make different, but pertinent sense to me.)

  12. speedwell says:

    Great to hear a new version of one of Peter Bellamy’s long since unavailable tracks from “Second Wind”. Bellamy also cites and thanks Jean Ritchie in connection with “Fair and Tender Ladies” on the same album. Excellent website. Many thanks.

  13. muzza (N.W Surrey) says:

    Just popped in to remember good old Rudyard Kipling.
    born 30Dec 1865 and died- on this day-18th Jan 1936

  14. Diana says:

    Liked this one also – but yet another sad song but Jon did his usual great delivery of same.

    @Muzza: I like Rudyard Kipling’s work and a lot of his marvellous sayings remain. Especially fond of “The female of the species is deadlier than the male”. Not sure if it is genuinely true but wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

  15. Tedd O'Ramsden says:

    I had forgotten that this *stunning* song out of Jean Richie followed yesterday’s 500 Miles, so my link to her singing ‘Hangman’ was fortuitously & particularly appropriate, esp as Skyman says above, “not least because of her studies of the links between American ballads and those of the British Isles.” I do believe I am finally getting on the folk wavelength!

    To sing it out as Jon has done here shows me what really makes the difference between good and great. This is one of your 5-star performances, Jon, and I love it!

    @ Daina: Yes, got your FB message – it was the red hat gave me away! Kipling was right about the female of the species being deadlier than the male, ‘cos they have to carry and guard the babbies & fodder the clan!

    That saying ranks up there with another favourite of mine by Bulwer-Lytton, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword,’ which reads quite differently if one elides the 2nd and 3rd words in the quotation. Thereby perhaps challenging Kipling’s female of the species being deadlier than the male. Hahahahaha! But I still like his line ‘It was a dark and stormy night…’ the best.

  16. Tedd O'Ramsden says:

    Oh, no-one will be able to access the Wiki link about jean Richie or owt else today as they are having a 24-hour blackout of the site in England, to protest against two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively, i.e. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act. IP standing for ‘intellectual property.’) In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but Wiki thinks they do so in a way that infringes free expression whilst harming the Internet.

    I know it’s not perfect, but I find Wiki a very useful tool as a starting point for all sorts of research. During the blackout, Wikipedia is accessible on mobile devices and smart phones. You can also view Wikipedia normally by disabling JavaScript in your browser.

  17. Daina says:

    @Tedd: another mesage on FB for you – I don’t seem to be able to verify if I have sent it – containing a little more information.

  18. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Now this song did nothing for me; it is just a matter of taste is’nt it.
    Having said that, my taste may be slightly impaired by having a head like a suet pudding after last nights wassailing, and follow up singing session in the pub.
    I shall give it another try tomorrow.

  19. Daina says:

    @Tedd: Another message for you on FB – do read please.

  20. Tedd O'Ramsden says:

    @ Daina: I’m reading ’em! Yes, you’ve sent them, ‘cos I keep replying! Hahahahaha!

  21. Pewter says:

    Jon’s performance is excellent here and the song is one of my favourites from the January selection!

    Nice to see people are still chipping in with comments this third time around; I’ve had little time to post, but have been giving all the songs another listen of course.

    Jane R also asked me to include this link to this weeks Desert Island Discs as it will be of great interest to AFADDERS (her PC won’t let her submit at the moment):

  22. Jane Ramsden says:

    Well, sthg won’t let me submit comments… some sort of gremlin with a grudge against Teds! Lol.

  23. Jane Ramsden says:

    It appears AFSAD does not like the email address I have always used, so I’ve had to switch to another! Now, will I be able to restore the Big Red ‘at?!

  24. Jane Ramsden says:

    Obviously not…. despite changing my email address on WordPress as well *sighs*

  25. Jane Ramsden says:

    A-ha! SorTed!

  26. Muzza+444days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane…………how long must I wait for the ears’ photo.or is it going to appear on FB?

  27. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: And why are you 444 days? Have I missed summat, or is that your shelf-life? Lol. Keep going!

    Now, I do not think I ever promised ears as such… Indeed, I have just scoured my photo files and have no pic of me wearing said ears, tho’ I do have them variously on my drinking companion, Michael. Pity, ‘cos I would have made the more fetching bunny! The hat was really his and the ears mine, but I made him swap on account of the weather being ‘nithering,’ as we say in Yorkshire, which means wot it’s like now with the snow and ice.

  28. Diana says:

    Wondered myself why the days are adding up. Nice to see the gangs all here for a rather rare outing.

  29. Muzza+444days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane/Diana………..ref the 444 days…back in 2005..I filled in a questionairre and it predicted I would die on 3 nov 2011….and I nearly did ..on the 2nd after hip op I had the ‘crash team’ out.but survived…..and so I have had 444 bonus days and counting (cautiously after the Ha on 31Aug 2012!)

  30. Muzza+444days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Ref the ears……DRat….I misunderstood your comment from the 16th (see below)…no ears then!

    ‘Actually, she got me a headband with large rabbit ears attached, but I insisted on a swap for the cardinal’s hat, less on the grounds of looking ridiculous than the biting cold!’

  31. Jane Ramsden says:

    Muzza, I think you should stop counting, anything other than your blessings anyway. But I think I shall go away and fill in the same questionnaire to work out if I can afford a new car. The lengths we have to go to, to justify expenditure in pensionerdom!

    And I have ears…. They are even on the side of my head… Not both on the same side, you understand… Hahahahahahaha!

  32. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane……..ok………stopped counting

  33. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: And take away the ‘old’ description, despite upcoming umpteenth birthday on 22nd!

  34. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Oooooer………… last comment awaiting moderation !!!!……..second part of the ‘Mastertape /Bellowhead interview is Tomorrow 19th at 3:30pm Radio 4.

  35. mike tovey says:

    The Jon Bowden version of this amazing song “mariah’s Gone” is very good but the recently released Melrose Quartet version is amazing.

  36. old Muzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    In case you missed it from a couple of days ago
    Jon Boden on Radio 4 talking about poet John Clare

  37. Linda says:

    Glad you found it……

  38. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Cor Blimey Jon Boy… ain’t arf makin; a racket so early in the bally morning!
    This one would give John Peel and his hunting horn a run for the money!

  39. Jane Ramsden says:

    Hello, soon-to-be birthday boy, Young Muzza! Lol.
    Yes, this rousing rendition would definitely rouse you from your slumbers, but I wonder if not a tadge sombre before setting off to work… except most of us are sadly confined to barracks in the currant coronavirus pandemic.
    But one good thing is (depending how you look at it, or listen to it! Lol) is I have finally set about singing & recording some songs into my mobile, as Young Muzza can testify, ‘cos he is the (un)fortunate recipient solo audience for such so far. He has been nothing but encouraging…. so he’ll be getting some more… hahahaha!
    Not sure I am quite up to the singing out standard required for ‘Maria’s Gone’ just yet, other than in the privacy of my own home. (The neighbours love me!) I’m working my way up to emulating Tim Eriksen. HAHAHAHA!

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