Lemady

2015
03.31

Jon refers to this as “A beautiful aubade sung quite widely in a variety of versions. This is from Martin Carthy who sung it on Lark Rise to Candleford. I’m not sure where he got it from – sounds a bit more broadside-ish than the Copper family’s version so perhaps he compiled it from written sources? That’s a guess though.”

Not wishing to disagree, but this actually comes across as a mixture of Martin’s version on Larkrise and Eliza’s, although without the latter’s heartbreaking of parting at the end. Have a look at the various versions on Mainly Norfolk and you’ll see what I mean. I was also getting set up for delving into the name Lemandy and the possible midsummer tradition that Malcolm Douglas refers to in his notes (scroll down the page for his Cornish version.) That was until I followed the link over to Mudcat and got the sense that Malcolm disowned that line of thinking. There is no doubt that leman is archaic for lover or sweetheart, so there might be a simple word link. The idea of some sort of Leman Day, however, is  not something I’ve been able to gather any evidence for, although I was rather taken by ‘aubade’ being obviously French in origin and ‘leman’ at least sounding as if it is. If someone can point us in the direction of something that verifies Leman Day that would be good, as it all sounds rather appealing. While we’re at it, an aubade is serenade at the other end of the day, morning rather than evening, but you probably knew that already! As usual the trouble with all this ferreting is I’m actually not much the wiser as to the origins of this. It was collected by the Coppers, but as Jon notes versions seem to be fairly well spread. If you follow the Mudcat thread down, there’s even a suggestion that it’s actually an Irish song.  Like many songs there is the sense of only fragments surviving, with some knocked into shape and printed as broadsides. In many ways, therefore, Jon’s suggestion of a composite is probably not far off the mark.

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26 Responses to “Lemady”

  1. the_otter says:

    The word ‘leman’ appears in Chaucer. Various free internet dictionaries claim it’s a word with Old English roots – leof (dear) + man. Mentions of a ‘leman day’ seem to be confined to here and mudcat, so the question of its existence is something the old-fashioned types who still look for information in dead trees will have to resolve!

    Pretty song.

  2. Neil says:

    There’s a VERY avant-garde version of this by Jim Moray on his ‘best of’ compilation, which is well worth seeking out.

  3. Muzza(s.e.England) says:

    It grieves me to make a negative comment……..sweet little song, words and well sung…..but the strident Fiddle seemed to have no empathy at all with singer or song.

  4. Jan says:

    Well, I think this particular combination of song and fiddle is absolutely beautiful. I shall attempt to learn the song, and just wish I could persuade a fiddle-player to accompany me.
    No accounting for taste, I suppose!
    Thanks as usual Simon for all the fascinating info – and no, I didn’t know till today what an aubade is.

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    My Chambers dictionary says ‘leman’ is archaic for a lover, sweetheart/paramour, but was later – doesn’t say when – applied to women in a derogatory fashion! Why am I not surprised!

  6. Phil says:

    What I’m really into is unaccompanied singing – & accompaniments that complement a vocal line that could stand on its own. So I really like this one, because of the contrast between the vocal and the fiddle – I think it works much better than a more conventionally pretty arrangement (like today’s On One April Morning, with which I regret to say I couldn’t really be doing). Jon’s in particularly good voice on this one, too. Ace, in short – it’s one of the few songs in this series that I’ve played twice in a row.

  7. Jane Ramsden says:

    Take Muzza’s point, but think I’m with Phil on this one, as per Stanislavski’s ‘drama is contrast.’

  8. Joanne Sheppard says:

    I think the fiddle works really well on this one, and really gives it an edge which I like – but of course it’s all down to personal taste and I can see it wouldn’t be everyone’s thing.

  9. Peter Walsh says:

    I keep returning to this song. It is really atmospheric! Closing my eyes, it conjures up a misty morning of golf at St Andrew’s Old Course – don’t ask me why. I don’t even play! I can see that the volume of the fiddle might bug some people; at times it comes over loud enough to drown out the vocal. After repeated listens, though, I’ve come to really like the combination. Can’t help feeling it would work with bagpipes too; now that WOULD place it in Scotland!

  10. Phil says:

    Just checked back to see if it was as good as I remembered. (It was.)

  11. Phil says:

    I knew I’d heard this song before! Have a listen to this:

    Scritti Politti, Hegemony

    “Hegemony, hegemony, you are the fairest creature…”

    Similarity also spotted here.

  12. […] are the fairest creature Listen, if you can (the audio may be taken down before long), to this. It’s one of those traditional tunes that seem to do everything that a tune can or should do, […]

  13. […] for the first time about two years ago, and only learned it properly when Jon Boden featured it on AFSAD (although see NS06). Perhaps it’s more that I feel as if that this song has been there […]

  14. Diana says:

    It brings back memories of lovely sunny summer mornings, very early before it gets too hot. I think the fiddle adds to it just right and complements Jon’s voice.

  15. Diana says:

    Have just been googling and have come up with this item. The song is also called “Lemon Day” and appears to be a composite of all the songs mentioned on “Mainly Norfolk”. The source is B. Baring-Gould – “A Garland of Country Song” – London 1893 so this makes it rather old.

  16. Linda says:

    @Diana, need some company? Not really sure about this one, Some bits I like other bits I m not to sure about.

  17. Muzza(N.W.Surrey. UK) says:

    Well………..that told me then……….soundly trounced and outnumbered by the “likes”.
    I have read all the background notes on the various sites…
    takes ages once you get sidetracked to a host of complementary sites.
    (another afternoon with nothing done!)

    When you have a duff car, or something doesn’t work properly…you call it a lemon….
    I wonder if the phrase had its roots in the period from which this song evolved.

  18. Diana says:

    Linda I did not care for this when I first heard it ages ago, but it has grown on me since. – not one of my favourites though. Pleased to see you – it has been awfully quiet but it is Saturday so that is fairly normal. Glad of your company though. It is nice to have a chat albeit it in writing.

    @Muzza I have sent you a message but Jane says you do not often go on FB so you probably won’t have received it, as I am still undecided whether I sent it in the first place. I did some fine detective work after seeing the cat picture on Jane’s wall and subsequently writing a note underneath.

  19. Muzza(N.W.Surrey. UK) says:

    @Diana………I’m on Face book by accident and NEVER go on it as it seems to grow like Topsy!

  20. Diana says:

    @Muzza I am very selective as to who is on my list – only 7 (relatives) and Jane with whom I communicate most. Otherwise I resisted for ages until my son set it up. He keeps on twittering about Twitter but here I draw the line. No way Jose.

  21. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    I think many of these very old songs have survived because of the sheer beauty of their lyrics, i.e. ‘The sun is just a’glimmering, arise my dear’. What a joy, to sing a line like that. As a consequence they may have got mixed into other songs with equally fine lyrics, until what we end up with today is a song in which any history or meaning is lost in obscurity, but, which has exquisite beauty.
    Just my thoughts on Lemady, for what they are worth, which has been a favourite of mine ever since I first heard it in a production of Larkrise years ago.

  22. Jan says:

    Still love this one, still haven’t learned it, and still haven’t found a fiddler to accompany me, although Kate is learning!

  23. Jeremy Main says:

    As the owner of the source Malcolm had the Cornish words from, I must tread carefully: I’ve become a historian and recently joined the CSH choir, which makes me doubly respectful of the heritage I passed on. The first thing to be said is that what I submitted was to the highest standards of those professions, no interpretation or alteration in any way, and should be taken as such – what the publishers of the book did before it came to me (in second-hand bookshop in Greenwich, about a hundred yards from the Cutty Sark, of all places!) is another matter.
    However, as a historian it’s always puzzled me somewhat as its very title long predates the music: a leman is a term which appears first in the late 12th century, the French equivalent of the Low German Minnaar, which you find used in the Carmina Burana, for example. The phonetic link is evident, and it becomes more common in the next couple of centuries, closely associated with the ideals of Courtly Love – which, unlike the Victorian stab at the subject, were not as high and holy as you’d be led to understand. As a result, by the time of the Renaissance, the term is becoming more closely associated with easy women, and is finally pretty much replaced by the word doxy (of Romany origins, according to Middleton) at the start of the seventeenth century. That it survived in Cornwall so long says more about the speed of communications into that county until the need for rapid signalling from the fleet bases at Plymouth and Falmouth, and the arrival of improved mining technologies, brought improved roadways during the Napoleonic wars.

  24. Old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    Very interesting but I think Jeremy stopped the flow dead with that deluge!

  25. Jane Ramsden says:

    I see where you are coming from, Muzza, but some interesting additional info in Jeremy’s last post. Have to admit, I had to check whether I had added it to my own personal AFSAD archive, as could not recall it in its entirety! I had, of course, but lopped the first paragraph and just kept the word definition. Great song.

  26. Old Muzza (N.W.Surrey UK) says:

    OK….I’ve cracked……..gotta learn it

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