Brown Girl


Jon notes his source here as “From Frankie Armstrong. This is sort of Barbara Allen but with a bit more venom.” A bit of righteous indignation indeed. Mainly Norfolk has this covered and also has Martin Carthy and Steeleye’s versions. The suggestion is that she’s tanned from working the fields and therefore not a fair maid, although matey boy seems to get his comeuppance for the rejection. It’s #295 in Child’s collection and there are at least two versions of it. You can Wiki here and if you follow the link through explore more about the Child Ballads should time allow and the fancy take you.



20 Responses to “Brown Girl”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by folkandroots, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: : Brown Girl […]

  2. Shelley says:

    Another strong women’s song – I could put some “oomph” into that one!

  3. LadyD says:

    Sounds like the prequel story to cold blows the wind.

  4. Mark says:

    The strength of Jon’s voice here really suits the song and vice versa. He’s good isn’t he?

  5. muzza says:

    I like the lyrics and the story(shades of Barbara Allen)…but (I think) the tune is nonedescript……has none of the charm and subtlety of the “Barbara Allen” tune.

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    I like this sort of song, with strength of voice to match strength of feeling. And you’ve got that strength Jon, being a man, being a girlie again – hahahaha! Plenty of ‘welly’ given for today’s weather. I don’t dislike the tune – at least one to follow, unlike some of those non-tune tunes ye can’t learn!

    Muzza, if you mean the ‘original’ ‘Barbara Allen’ tune I know (not the one Jon sang earlier in the cycle), then I agree about the charm. But then this Brown Girl is hard as a nut, ain’t she? Go, Shelley, go! Ha ha!

  7. Diana says:

    Certainly shades of “Barbara Allen” but good in its own right. Well sung though!

    Jane hasn’t posted for several days now Muzza, perhaps on holiday.

  8. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    A great song, and new to me again. My comment to Barbara Allen was, “There are sad songs, there are miserable songs, and then there is Barbara Allen”. This is MUCH better, I think feisty is the word I am looking for.
    Pure speculation on my part, and I have not explored the links yet, but are we singing about a gypsy girl ? Dark skinned naturally, and from the continuous outdoor life, the flashing eyes as black as sloes, the wild nature, the hot temper etc. The local village boys would have been warned off relationships with such girls but the exotic attraction compared with the pale local girls is obvious.
    Living where we do, one of my favourite authors is John Moore. Perhaps I have read ‘September Moon’ too often.

  9. Peter Walsh says:

    Welcome back Muzza!

    @Diana & Muzza, I’m in contact with Jane – she’s a bit preoccupied with a missing cat, a new loo being installed and winds blowing her garden furniture over the wall — plus she’s done a lot of gigging this past week! She’ll fill you all in soon, don’t worry. She doesn’t get holidays Diana; a dozen cats see to that!

  10. Diana says:

    @Peter. Can sympathise with Jane, have one very old cat which curtails holidays as we couldn’t put her in a cattery. Hope Jane finds her lost cat, gets her loo fitted and the wind drops.

  11. muzza(S.E.England) says:

    @John B…..”.flashing eyes as black as sloes, the wild nature, the hot temper etc”..steady on old chap..I recommend more bromide in your tea..cured me!

    @Peter W…thanks for reassurance about Jane……..I did mis-read as “giggling” first time through!

  12. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    No thanks muzza, I’ll pass on the bromide and stay as I am. After all, when you get to my age , if the imagination is still working, all is not lost.

    Ref the missing JANE, perhaps Pete DID mean giggling ! She may have met a guy who said “Me Tarzan”, in which case it will be good bye to all us S.O.Gs
    However, reports of problems with wind and the loo ARE a bit worrying !

  13. muzza(S.E.England) says:

    @John B………………Surely not the same ‘Old John B’ as in the song!!!!
    The Bromide was army National Service days back in 1958……..
    Perhaps I should tell you that I’m also an old fella…running on empty!(no imagination!)
    Jane’s problem of “wind & loo”………wonder if she eats ‘very’ hot Indian takeaways…
    if she does….she’ll have to nail down the garden furniture.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Quite the opposite from excessive mourning of the dead in ‘Cold Blows the Wind,’ what with dancing on his grave for 12 months and a day! Obviously a ‘lady’ who is also having some difficulty ‘letting go,’ though hardly weighed down with grief, more revenge! Wants to be careful all that hoofing doesn’t invoke a visitation!

    Calling all SOGs! You don’t seem to be lacking in any imagination to me! T’is all that keeps me going… so much less taxing than actually doing owt!

    PS How am I going to nail down plastic garden furniture to (what is laughingly called) a patio (I laid it missen!). T’is plastic to better shelter the outside cats’ little kennels, though also perfectly sealed plastic. There were 2 bemused moggies sat by their waterproof Savics, wondering where the green canopy had gone… but wondering more about where was their breakfast, of course!

  15. Diana says:

    Another good folk song. Well sung as usual.

  16. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    How I envy Jon’s lusty, strong voice……we have strong winds ‘Darn Sarth’ today and I wonder how Jane’s garden furniture is doing this year

  17. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Gale force winds and rain darn sarf again this year (today)
    temporarily stopped this daft old git from being up a ladder painting the house (yeah…..I know I should have done it in the summer!)

  18. Jane (Maryland, US) says:

    Oh, what joy!! This site has been an important part of my day for over a year and a half, and it was a shock to have it disappear abruptly. (And just before December and all the wonderful Sheffield carols!) Thank you, Linda and Jon! My husband also will be delighted. He’s not quite as addicted to AFSAD as I am, but he has enjoyed being along for the ride.

  19. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Jane( Maryland)…….yup…great to have the site back…we thought we’d have lost you!
    Now settling back to enjoy the carols (we could peek ahead of course…..but we wouldn’t do that would we!)

  20. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Oh yes we would /or have!!!!….doh….so impatient these old fellas!

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