This is Child #44 and Jon says, “Paul made me learn this. It’s not a particular favourite of mine but it does have a good punchy chorus. I’m generally in favour of songs about shape-shifting but I think I prefer the Steeleye melody.”
A version of this was recorded for Hedonism, but didn’t make the cut. There are two very distinct versions being discussed here and the one that Jon sings follows on from Martin Carthy who in turn followed Bert Lloyd. Carthy credits Bert as you’ll see on Mainly Norfolk and Bert also tellingly wrote, “…the ballad dwindled away, but it seemed too good a song to remain unused, so I brushed it up and fitted a tune, and now it appears to have started a new life.” That explains the “Bide Lady bide” version. I wonder therefore whether the Steeleye recording is the version collected by Cecil Sharp referred to in this Mudcat thread. I’d agree with Jon on the melody but for the fact that one of the first records I came across when I started working for Proper was Rosie Doonan and Ben Murray’s excellent Mill Lane. It’s an underrated gem in my book that didn’t get the exposure it deserved with a cracking version of this that has rattled around my head for the last five years and more. Anyway this Wiki link is interesting too and makes it clear that the ballad had already been collected before Child. If you follow the page down there are interesting links to more on the shape shifting mythology, worth following through if you have the time.
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