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> Tony Rose > Songs > Blackwaterside
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Blackwater Side

[ Roud 312 ; Laws O1 ; Henry H811 ; Ballad Index LO01 ; trad.]

Anne Briggs recorded the ballad Blackwaterside in 1971 for her album Anne Briggs. Like all tracks from this album it was reissued on her two compilations Classic Anne Briggs and A Collection. A.L. Lloyd wrote in the original album's sleeve notes:

Some English singers know this as The False Young Man. It's one of those pieces whose verses have floated in from half-a-dozen other songs. A form of it was published late in the nineteenth century by the London broadside printer Henry Such of Southwark. Anne's version is the one popularised from a BBC Archive recording of an Irish traveller, Mary Doran. Anne says her accompaniment “is based on Stan Ellison's version.”

This recording also appeared on the anthology Troubadours of British Folk Vol. 1. In the sleeve notes Anne Briggs commented:

Bert Lloyd gave me this song. The version I sing was originally recorded by Irish traveller Mary Doran for the BBC Archives. I don't personally identify with the sentiments, but it's a lovely thing to sing and, in the midst of the swinging '60s, was a sad reminder of a harsher and unequal sexual morality that still lingers on.

Bert Jansch learnt the song from Anne Briggs and recorded it five years before her—in 1966—for his Transatlantic album Jack Orion; this version also appeared on The Electric Muse and served as the basis for Led Zeppelin's Black Mountainside. This video is from the DVD Fingerstyle Guitar: New Dimensions & Explorations, Volume 1:

In 1993 Anne Briggs, accompanied by Bert Jansch, sang Blackwaterside in the BBC Scotland documentary about Bert Jansch, Acoustic Routes. It wasn't included in the 1993 soundtrack album but in the 2013 reissue.

Tony Rose recorded Blackwaterside in 1970 for his first album Young Hunting. This track was included in 2005 on the CD Never the Same: Leave-Taking from the British Folk Revival 1970-1977. A live recording from the Cheltenham Folk Club in 1969 was included in 2008 on his posthumous CD Exe. Tony Rose commented in his original album's sleeve notes:

Blackwaterside is such a beautiful song and speaks so eloquently for itself that little else needs to be said about it. It is one of the songs which I most enjoy singing, and in its form here owes more to the singing of Louis Killen than anyone else.

Sandy Denny sang Blackwaterside as the only traditional song on her first solo album, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. It was recorded at Sound Techniques in May 1971 with Sandy Denny playing acoustic guitar; Richard Thompson, electric guitar and accordion; Pat Donaldson, bass; and Gerry Conway, drums; and appeared also on her Who Knows Where the Time Goes? box set and in 2004 on the 5CD Fledg'ling Sandy Denny anthology A Boxful of Treasures. And Sandy Denny recorded Blackwaterside three times live for the BBC:

  1. A live performance with Richard Thompson on the BBC 1 TV Show “The Spinners” on April 22, 1971 was published in 2007 on the3CD+DVD set Live at the BBC.
  2. A live version recorded at the Paris Theatre, London, on March 16, 1972 for BBC “Radio 1 in Concert” and broadcast on March 25, 1972 was released in 1997 on The BBC Sessions 1971-73 and in 2007 on Live at the BBC.
  3. Live at the BBC contains a third live recording from November 1972 for the BBC Radio 1 show “Sounds on Sunday”, hosted by Johnny Moran, and broadcast on December 3, 1972.

Peta Webb sang Blackwater Side in 1973 on her Topic album I Have Wandered in Exile. Reg Hall and A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

A widespread song particularly favoured by travelling people. In England, it’s usually called The False Young Man. Some versions depict the cheated girl as saying:

And when you said your heart was mine, and your head lay on my breast,
You could make me believe by the fall of your arm that the sun rose in the west.

The broadside sometimes gives the story a happy end: the girl consults her mother, and acting on her advice, returns to the young man and marries him. He didn't deserve it.

Maureen Jelks sang Black Waterside in 2000 on her album Eence Upon a Time. She commented:

From the singing of Anne Briggs, a singer I would love to have seen performing live. Another song of unrequited love.

Oysterband sang Blackwaterside on their 2002 CD Rise Above. A live recording from The Forum, London, on December 12, 2003 was released in 2005 on their DVD The 25th Anniversary Concert.

Jon Boden sang Blackwaterside as the July 4, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Bryony Holden sang Blackwaterside in 2013 on her Sandy Denny tribute album Across the Purple Sky.

Lyrics

Anne Briggs sings Blackwaterside

One morning fair to take the air
Down by Blackwater side.
'Twas in gazing all, all around me
'Twas the Irish lad I spied.

All through the first part of the night
Well, we lay in sport and play,
Then this young man he arose and he gathered his clothes,
He said, “Fare thee well today.”

Well, that's not the promise that you gave to me
When first you lay on my bed,
You could make me believe with your lying tongue
That the sun rose in the west.

Then go home, go home, to your father's garden,
You go home and weep your fill.
And you think of your own misfortune
That you brought with your wanton will.

For there's not a girl in this whole wide world
As easily led as I,
Sure it's fishes they'll fly and the seas run dry,
'Tis then you'll marry I.

Tony Rose sings Blackwaterside

One evening fair I took the air
Down by Blackwaterside.
And in gazing all around me
'Twas the Irish lad I spied.

All for the first part of that night
We two did sport and play,
Then that young man arose and gathered up his clothes,
Saying, “Fair lady, well a-day.”

Oh, that's not the promise that you gave to me
When you lay upon my breast,
For you made me believe with your lying tongue
That the sun rose in the west.

Go home, go home, to your father's garden,
Go home and cry your fill.
And think on your misfortunes
And that you brought with your wanton will.

For there's not one girl in this wide world
So easily led as I,
Oh, the fishes will fly and the seas will run dry,
Sure it is then you'll marry I.

(repeat first verse)

Sandy Denny sings Blackwaterside

One evening fair I took the air
Down by Blackwaterside.
'Twas a-gazing all around me
That the Irish lad I spied.

All through the first part of that night
We did lie in sport and play,
When this young man arose and he gathered his clothes,
Saying, “Fare thee well today.”

That's not the promise that you gave to me
When the first you lay on my breast,
You could make me believe with your lying tongue
That the sun rose in the west.

Go home, go home, to your father's garden,
Go home and weep your fill.
And think upon your own misfortune
Which you brought with your wanton will.

There's not a girl in this whole town
As easily led as I,
And when the sky does fall and the seas will run dry,
Why, it's then you'll marry I.

(Copyright © 1970 Warlock Music)

Music Transcription

Transcribed by Silver.

Intro on G

G C G
One evening fair I took the air
F G G
Down by-y Blackwaterside
C G(+F#) C G
'Twas in gazing all around me
F G G
That the Irish lad I spied

(Verse 2)

(Verse 3)

(Instrumental: verse chords)

(Verse 4)

(Verse 5)

(Instrumental: verse chords)

End on G