Jon reveals, “I learnt this mainly to try and learn the guitar part from the June Tabor / Martin Carthy version on Silly Sisters. I didn’t get very far with the guitar part so here it is unaccompanied.”
Knowing Jon is no slouch with the guitar that’s got me curious, but regrettably, the album doesn’t seem to be available. There are numerous different versions of this, however, and both Child and Cecil Sharp collected the song. It’s another ballad that may have an historical event at its core, but typically the variations pull it in all sorts of directions with some relating it to a battle and some to theft or poaching. Still there seems a detail to this that makes it seem very realistic. I’m also intrigued by the fact that Robbie Burns got his hands on this and submitted a version to a Scottish museum collection. There could well be something in the idea that this accounts for the last verse as delivered by Jon here. The story is a good one and I like the idea of the simmering tension that perhaps leads the King’s advisor to council mercy. It does then make me wonder whether the money that is then donated to the Lady to secure Geordie’s release is freely given. If so it seems that saving Geordie was a popular cause. I’ll not add to the speculation on the historical element as I doubt anything can be proved, but If you know different please add the details below and I’ll happily eat my words. I will point you at this Mudcat thread for starters and then this one, also Mainly Norfolk for the words and notes of various recordings.