I think it’s fair to call this a bit of a hybrid as Jon says, “The story of the early morning tryst on top of a blossom-covered hill always seemed May morning-ish to me anyway, so when I found the ’13 months’ refrain in a fairly unremarkable Robin Hood ballad it seemed reasonable enough to marry the two together. The tune is Bogie’s Bonny Belle.”
It’s great to get the back story to this as it’s certainly one of my favourites from the current Bellowhead set and that chorus is a great one to bellow (all of the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.) I don’t know what it is that appeals exactly, but it’s quite a gentle tale apart from the horse threatening bit. Mind you I understand there are some more would-be murderous versions, although the maid’s triumph seems the common outcome. Still there’s something about the wise and wylie old witch’s intervention that I like. It would be great to be able to summon the power of the Broom when you’re in a tight spot – a sort of herbal “beam me up Scotty.” It’s not surprising to find that Child (# 43), Sharp and Vaughan Williams all gobbled this up, with Child in particular alluding to the widespread versions of the story. The magical properties of the Broom or Gorse are a common thread in many European cultures with its flowering in May and June associated with fertility. So Jon’s right to fit this in here. As always Reinhard offers great insight into the various recordings and sleeve notes at Mainly Norfolk. There’s a wealth of material on this and it continues on this Mudcat thread as well. I love that concertina too, which makes it another in the “Vote for May” column. Brilliant!