Anachie Gordon


Another of the Child ballads, #239, and Jon says “I first heard this sung unaccompanied by the brilliant Elle Osborne. She sang it with real gusto and totally nailed it. I’ve only just learnt this recently so am not sure how it will develop for me. I was a bit disappointed to find out it wasn’t called Anarchy Gordon. That should surely be a David Owen illustration of some sort?”

Jon Lydon to guest on AFSAD perhaps??!!?? This is a bit of a Scottish epic and it seems another revived by Nic Jones, with all subsequent versions based on his, first second or third (etc) hand. Mainly Norfolk has his notes and it’s clear from those that he pulled the verses together from several different sources.  I guess it makes this one of those hybrids that I suggested the other day. There have been several notable recordings, including Mary Black’s version that led some people to presume this to be Irish. I think that the name says it all, however, with various alternative spellings Annochie, Anachi and Auchannachie, etc plus the alternate title of Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie. I didn’t think Mudcat added much to the story, but start here should you want to. Wiki has an entry for it and I’m intrigued by the closing remark thatAccording to the Columbia State University website, it is ‘Possibly related to the Swedish ballad Stolt Ingrid [Proud Ingrid]’.” The whole slightly over wrought, Romeo and Juliet, ill-starred lovers story dying broken hearted has a strong moral lesson element. The father ordering the loosening of his daughter’s gown for political or monetary gain is rather sinister and unsavoury, the consequences are tragic.

You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores.


37 Responses to “Anachie Gordon”

  1. John Wigley says:

    That’s wonderful isn’t it? I might have a go at a punk version though…

  2. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Lovely, sad little song, sung in just the right way. Ruined my day as I now have to find a corner to cry in……..those damn sailors again….haven’t got a clue have they!

  3. Dave Eyre says:

    The best rendering of this I have heard in a long time was at the Nic Jones concert at Sidmouth Festival last summer. Done brilliantly by Jackie Oates singing and Belina O’Hooley on piano.

    One of those “audience knocked into silence” moments.

  4. Shelley says:

    That was just gorgeous! Thanks Jon!

  5. Neil says:

    Jim Moray recently released a lovely version of this via his Download club thing for people who bought ‘In Modern History’.

    I’ll have a look to see if it’s hosted anywhere and link it later on if it is.

    On another note, the AFSAD tour kicked off in fine style at The Apex In Bury St Edmunds with Jon(and Fay) in excellent voice despite one or two minor sound niggles, which I’m putting down to the newness of the venue(its only been open since October and perhaps needs a little time to settle down and ‘warm up’)

    Going spoiler free here, I can state that whilst he’s definitely less manic than with Bellowhead, JB remains an engaging and charismatic performer and the Remenant Kings somehow manage to project a ramshackle-but-menacing presence, which, given the material played is ideal.

    A great night, enjoy yourselves next Thursday Londoners!

  6. Iggy says:

    It might be stating the obvious but this has also been well popularised recently by The Unthanks on their Here’s the Tender Coming album.

    There seem to be various videos of live performances e.g.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I love this song. I’ve “learnt” it from Nic Jones version but will never do it justice. For one thing it’s so long you really have to have some vim and character to your performance for it to retain even your own interest. Jon does this here, despite it being at a suitably low, pensive tempo.
    And yes, those lines are truly appalling – not a rare thing in traditional song, but a father encouraging the rape of his daughter (as we’d view it today, certainly) is beyond words.

  8. Jan says:

    For what it’s worth, my friend Teresa Mclean sings this, and her first line is
    ‘The barchan (boat) is bonny, and therein lies my love’
    and ends the song with the line
    ‘Annachie Gordon, barely yet a man…’
    It’s a room-qietener when she sings it, and I’m sure it will be for Jon too when it gets bedded in.

  9. Maureen Musson says:

    Lovely version, Jon.

    One of the best that I’ve heard is Sinead O’Connor’s – as good as Jackie and Belinda’s in my opinion.

  10. John Burton says:

    Well sung Jon, not a “Bellamy” moment heard throughout.
    I could not listen to the Unthanks version “as usual” (even after finding another version which did play for me) I really do not understand what people see in them (I can’t get past what I can hear) sorry.

  11. Jon Boden says:

    ‘not a “Bellamy” moment heard throughout’
    …not a definition of ‘well sung’ that I would agree with, but thank you anyway!

  12. John Phipps says:

    I first heard it sung by Mary Black decades ago.

  13. Lenora Rose says:

    Lovely — having mostly heard this through Loreena McKennitt’s rather overwrought version (in her early career, too, her voice has a tendency to shrill) I rather prefer this more subdued approach to this tragedy.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Oh, the commodity that is woman in the hands of another’s (usually male, but not exclusively) control! And not everyone today would see that as in any way wrong. Many girls and women still do not have a say over their own future and marriageable destiny. For that reason, I love this song.

    Beautifully sung, Jon. Perhaps the Bellamy comparison means no nasal twang, which could ridicule the sentiments, in this woman’s opinion at least. Many singers can sing many songs any which way, I suppose, but sometimes it doesn’t work as well as others. I’d like to hear a woman sing it too. Jackie Oates is a singer I’ve yet to investigate thoroughly, but going there!

  15. Diana says:

    Another lovely song but so tragic. Nicely sung though.

    Reynard I know the doll you mean now. She is playing a coloured xylophone with the aid of green drumsticks. She is on the Bellowhead DVDs. Your chinese doll should get on well with her and they could start playing duets.

  16. Stephen says:

    I could not find a website for Columbia State University, but wikipedia makes clear it was a diploma mill, closed by court order in 1998. No great authority then. Child himself mentions Stolt Ingrid as being one of several Swedish ballads related to Hind Horn.

  17. Diana says:

    There is a website for Columbia State University (New York) – can by reached via Google.

  18. Reynard says:

    Stephen, I think Simon meant to refer to the Traditional Ballad Index entry for Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie. The Ballad Index resides at which stands for California State University, Fresno, not for Columbia State University.

    And Diana, have a look at my little performer.

  19. Diana says:

    She’s lovely, the two of them should hit it off immediately. I see you have got loads of Bellowhead items, but fancy covering Fay’s face – sacrilege.

  20. Reynard says:

    Both Annachie Gordon and Hind Horn share the motiv of the heroine being married against her will to another man than her lover. But while Annachie Gordon and Jeanie prefer to die rather than to accept their fate, Hind Horn manages to get away with the bride.

    Stold Ingrid seems to be nearer to Hind Horn than to Annachie Gordon: “Proud Ingrid’s beloved Loman has gone away and Ingrid’s brother plans to marry her off to the rich Tor instead. Ingrid does everything she can to put off the wedding because she knows instinctively that Loman will soon return. At last, on the day of the wedding itself, she sees the sails of his ship on the horizon… Will he get there on time?” Of course he will, and this comment is from Ranarim’s 2000 CD Till Ljusan Dag. You can listen to their version of Stolt Ingrid on YouTube.

  21. Diana says:

    Thank you for going to all that trouble Reynard, I spotted that you had done it all today.

  22. Reynard says:

    Thank you, Diana, but I don’t know what I did to earn your praise except for that photo, silly as it may be.

    I just noticed that Simon was not at fault for the Columbia State University reference; he just relied on Wikipedia. Sorry; I should have read his comment more carefully before. Anyway, the Wikipedia entry is corrected now too.

  23. Diana says:

    Well Reynard, I thought it was nice to you to show me the doll. There was something missing from your tableau and I am sure you must have them – all their CD’s. The DVD’s get my vote cos they (Bellowhead) are a joy to watch.

  24. Tedd O'Ramsden says:

    Very lovely, Jon, thank you.

    Since last year I have explored Jackie Oates and her ‘Violet Hour’ is now in my collection. Here is a YouTube link to her moving version of this song with Belinda O’ Hooley, as mentioned above:

  25. (Anonymuz) says:

    Going to ditch chat up line suggested by Diana i.e.
    ‘motto for Yarmouth in Maine, USA is “Our latchstring always out”……..
    and switching to Reynard’s suggestion ..see above-
    ‘have a look at my little performer’.
    I’m sure you guys and gals do this deliberately to get me into trouble with Tedd.

  26. Blue Ramsden says:

    @ Anonymuzza: There is no hiding place. I may be a ‘Miss’ but have missed bl**dy nothing and heard all the standard chat-up lines, and some less conventional ones as well! However, you could never be in trouble with me, Muzzy.

    PS Little?

  27. Skippy says:

    @Anonymuzza – you will get into trouble with more people than just Tedd you know coming out with remarks like that. Anyway you will not be in trouble with Blue by the look of it.

  28. Reynard says:

    Muzza, I didn’t realize that my remark could be misread as a double entendre. Little performer (or, le petit joueur) is just the official name of the wind-up doll that is Bellowhead’s mascot as you can read on the doll’s wrapping.

  29. Roo Ramsden says:

    The whole double entendre goes from bad to worse, Reynard! I trust ‘wind up’ is not the same as ‘blow up’… or are you just winding us up? Hahahahaha!

  30. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Now look here you lot…….STOP THIS AT ONCE….before we All get struck off!

    @Reynard………….I always follow your links and was amused by your little xylophone-playing doll……I would never have noticed the Bellowhead mascot had it not been for your exchanges on AFSAD and gives it added charisma to the fun loving group.

  31. Diana says:

    Muzza Muzza you naughty boy. We can always rely on you to stir things up. I am now going to set a little task for you to keep you out of mischief. What is the longest word in the english language apart from “antidisestablishmenterianism”? Course you probably know the answer already. You and Tedd certainly keep the laughs flowing with a few little odd remarks from yours truly and others.

  32. Diana says:

    Still find the comments amusing. All the little inuendos!
    The song is good as well.

  33. Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Diana……….Ref the comments…………….I am a reformed man a year on and would not dream of saying such things these days….now where did I put that halo!

  34. trilby fairfax says:

    This one made me cry. i’m going to learn it.
    reminds me of the way I feel about my bloke. differnevce we have been together for 36 years! we’re the lucky ones.

    I learnt ‘I drew my ship’ as promised, by the way.
    who’s going to tell me how to do the you-tube posting?

    Jon, thank you so much for this. and for what you are doing every f…ing day. wow.
    it makes my day.
    I have your songs repeating as i write this boring report.
    makes all the difference, getting the work done while learning the songs.

  35. trilby fairfax says:

    This one made me cry. i’m going to learn it.
    reminds me of the way I feel about my bloke. difference is we have been together for 36 years! we’re the lucky ones.

    I learnt ‘I drew my ship’ as promised, by the way.
    who’s going to tell me how to do the you-tube posting?

    Jon, thank you for this. and for what you are doing every f…ing day. wow.
    it makes my day.
    I have your songs repeating as i write this boring report.
    makes all the difference, getting the work done while learning the songs.

  36. old Muzza(N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    Trilby really liked this one……………just like New good -she said it twice!
    How did that slip past the technology…always tells me (politely)
    you appear to have already submitted this message!

  37. OldMuzza(NW SurreyUK) says:

    That stream of comments above…..What were we like -eh……..all that innuendo ……..(I still think it’s Italian for suppository!)

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