Jon acknowledges “Liza sings this on Anglicana and we used to do a string-tastic version with the Ratcatchers. This is fairly similar to Liza’s for pace (I think it’s more often done as a jaunty fast number but it works both ways.)”
Another cracker from Jon, but for me, working my way backwards through folk music, I first became aware of this song courtesy of Megson, a duo who I got to know pretty well and see on many occasions. Debs is due to give birth to their first child imminently, so here’s wishing them good luck and although that might curtail the gigging somewhat, catch them when you can, as they are ace. Anyway, Anglicana has come up before and I confessed to not owning it and that’s something that I’ve only just rectified, so that’ll be me playing catch up with that. Then it transpires that I’ve had a version for years without realising it and in truth without actually troubling my stylus with the vinyl of the 10,000 Maniacs version for a long time (far too long methinks – more catch up then!) There’s a also a version by the curiously trendy Bon Iver – not that I dislike him, but I could name half a dozen artists that would get the full page MOJO treatment before him, were it up to me. (It obviously isn’t, but I’m sure you get the point.) Most of those versions, the Maniacs aside, are slow but Eliza’s (Jon’s is a just little quicker and the phrasing different) is particularly stately. I think I like the melody being drawn out in that way as it makes it all the prettier for me. Interestingly this is another of the songs that possibly didn’t suit the collectors’ sensibilities. Mainly Norfolk has four versions transcribed and it’s the third that has the telling lines that seems to appear in the broadside versions,
“ Beneath a tree with the branches round, And what was done shall ne’er be found”
as opposed to “what was said would never be known,” which doesn’t rhyme nearly as well. Mind you if you follow this link there are even some versions where they head off to church at the end, rather than the sailor hitting the pub with some other floozy in tow!! It all smacks of efforts to clean up what is after all a fairly fruity tale – quite what he did to earn twenty quid…?!? As I said at the top another cracker.