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Peggy Gordon

[ Roud 2280 ; Ballad Index Gil127 ; DT PEGGORDN ; Mudcat 21179 , 21282 ; trad.]

Peggy Gordon seems to be of Canadian origin; nearly all versions listed by Roud are from Nova Scotia, most prominently from the Helen Creighton collection.

Ailsa Craig sang Peggy Gordon on the 1971 album of finalists of the Scottish Folk Group Championship, Folk Philosophy.

Robin and Barry Dransfield sang Peggy Gordon in 1977 on their Free Reed album Popular to Contrary Belief. Like most of the tracks from that album, it was included in 1997 on their anthology Up to Now.

Charlie Allan sang Peggy Gordon on his 1988 cassette of bothy ballads, The Auld Folks on the Wa’.

Incantation with the Sergeant Early Band sang Peggy Gordon in 1994 on their Cooking Vinyl CD Sergeant Early’s Dream.

Deaf Shepherd sang Peggy Gordon in 1996 on their Greentrax album Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire. They noted:

A firm favourite of ours sung the country over. In this Interpretation John [Morran] and Angus [McLaughlin] have tried to emphasise the sadness inherent in the male’s unrequited love, which is graphically portrayed in the singing of our friend Stephen Bradley who belts out the best gravel-throated version ever heard.

Susie Allan sang Peggy Gordon on her 1998 album Tipsy Courting. She noted:

A sad song of unrequited love, learned from my dad Charlie, who used to sing to his four children to try to keep us quiet on long car journeys to the Highland Games.

Jon Boden and Lucy Farrell sang Peggy Gordon as the 9 January 2011 entry of Jon’s project A Folk Song a Day and Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell recorded it in the same year for their CD Kite. Jon Boden commented in his project’s blog:

I know this from Ian Giles and Dan Plews, but I’ve learnt Lucy’s version here. Lucy and Jonny were brilliant supporting Bellowhead on the November tour—definitely going places. Do check them out.

Bram Taylor sang Peggy Gordon in 2012 on his Fellside CD Joker & Rogues. He commented in his liner notes:

Whilst taking part in a local session recently, I was reminded by my friend John Readett of this lovely traditional song. John is a collector of traditional folk song and a fine singer with the excellent Lancashire based folk band Turnpike. Apart from it being a good song to sing I’ve included it as a nod in the direction of my friends in Canada as it was collected in Nova Scotia in 1962 and most versions seem to emanate from that. It has similarities to The Water Is Wide.

Allister Thompson sang Peggy Gordon on his 2017 album Larkrise Revisited.

Adam Holmes sang Peggy Gordon on his 2024 album The Voice of Scotland.


Robin and Barry Dransfield sing Peggy Gordon

Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling,
Come sit ye down, love, upon my knee
Come tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted so by thee.

I wish I was faraway in Ingol,
Far away across the briny sea,
Sailing over the stormy ocean
With love nor care never bothering me.

I put my head to a cask of brandy,
It was my fancy, I do declare.
For when I’m drinking, I’m always thinking,
And wishing that Peggy Gordon was there.

Oh, I’ll go down to some lonesome valley
Where no man on earth shall there me find,
Where the pretty little small birds do range their voices
And every moment blows blusterous wind.

(repeat first verse)

Jon Boden and Lucy Farrell sing Peggy Gordon

Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling,
Come sit you down here on my knee
And tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted so by thee.

I am so in love, I can’t deny it,
My heart lies broken in my breast.
But it’s not for you to let the world know it,
A troubled mind can know no rest.

I turned my head to a glass of brandy,
It was my fancy, I do declare,
For when I’m drinking, I’m seldom thinking,
And wishing Peggy Gordon was there.

I wish I was in a lonely valley
Where womankind can not be found,
And the pretty birds all change their voices
Every moment to a different sound.