Jon calls this “Another lovely song learnt from Magpie Lane. They may have got it from Pete Coe, not sure. I’ve mentioned Magpie Lane a few times so thought it might be nice to put some of their stuff up on AFSAD. They have kindly agreed to let us put their version of this track up (from Six for Gold). Marvellous!”
We’re back into Child #1 or #2 territory again and also Scarborough Fair and Captain Wedderburn. As the observant amongst you will doubtless have recognised, I mentioned the daughters in my write up of that. Juniper and Jennifer are the same thing and Gentle is another name for Hawthorn. This version is Pete Coe’s, or at least from the same source, following the version transcribed at Mainly Norfolk. It’s another curious ballad, with one sister letting the valiant knight in, one making his bed and the third answering the questions to gain his hand – if only life generally followed such an orderly procession. There’s a distinctly faulty bit of maths involved too, as I count six questions. Mind you there are versions of this involving the Devil asking as many as nine questions and I wonder whether there might be a touch of numerology involved. I found this Mudcat thread entertaining and you may agree or rate it a complete waste of time, as the debate about the magical significance of the plant combination rages. I can see a certain logic to it in the context of the supernatural question setter in other versions, but have grown more cautious of accepting such theories as factual. Besides the knight here seems merely mortal and there’s a somewhat different refrain under debate anyway, with “lay the bent to the bonny broom” possibly having the erotic inference that Phil was suggesting in his comments for Scarborough Fair. In that case I wonder at the “dew flies over the mulberry tree”!!! (Or should that be lies?) As compensation for the scholarly stuff, there are some other good riddle/impossible songs in the thread to distract you, with a couple of very interesting, comic and somewhat surreal examples. I’m going to have to make notes on all of these riddle permutations, as you never know when a crib-sheet could come in handy. Mind you, knowing my luck it’s more likely to involve Old Nick than any fair young maidens . Anyway, I hope you enjoy the bonus too as it’s lovely stuff.
Bonus track by Magpie Lane