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The Green Valley

[ Roud 2125 ; G/D 6:1183 ; Ballad Index K168 ; trad.]

Frankie Armstrong sang The Green Valley in 1972 on her LP Lovely on the Water. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Most of our lost-love songs are from the girl’s viewpoint. On this theme, girls’ songs probably outnumber the boys’ five to one, the proportion established by Bartók after a statistical survey of his huge East European collection, he concluded that “the figures mean that love relations are far more momentous to girls”: fair enough. They’re a confusing lot, these songs that tell no tale but convey a mood. They merely take a stock of images and commonplace verses, and combine and recombine them till one hardly knows whether one’s hearing a dozen different songs or a dozen versions of the same lyrical piece. So it is with this one, entirely constructed of verses that crop up here and there in countless lost-love songs, Nor does the tune help much to distinguish one piece from the other. In this case it’s a member of that vast melody-family of which Died for Love is the central figure.

Chris Coe sang Yon Green Valley in 2001 on her CD A Wiser Fool She noted:

I think of this as being a very English song, but it was in fact collected from Bruce Laurenson of Bressay, Shetland, by Pat Shuldham-Shaw.

The Devil's Interval (Emily Portman, Lauren McCormick and Jim Causley) sang Green Valley in 2008 on their WildGoose CD Blood and Honey. They commented:

From the inimitable singing of Chris Coe; this song got mangled up in Jim's head together with John Kirkpatrick's tune to Tarry Trousers. This is the monster that was spawned. The last line has become our motto for life.

Lyrics

Frankie Armstrong sings The Green Valley The Devil's Interval sing Green Valley

A young man courted me all on sly,
And to his vices I did comply.
'Twas his false vows and flattering tongue,
He beguiled me, love, when I was young.

Well, a young man courted me earnestly,
And with his wishes I did comply,
'Twas his false vows and his flattering tongue,
He beguiled me, love, when I was young.

As we went down in yon green valley
With the small birds whistling round,
Changing their notes from tree to tree
As the sun arose on the green valley.

As I sat down at my love's right hand,
He swore by Heaven, by sea and land
That the rising sun he never would see
If ever that he proved false to me.

As I sat down, all by my love's right hand,
He swore by Heaven, by sea and land
That the rising sun he would never see
If ever he proved false to me.

For nine long months he proved true and kind,
A short time after he changed his mind.
He changed his mind to a high degree
And said farewell to yon green valley.

For eleven long months he proved both true and kind,
But a short time after he changed his mind.
He changed his mind to a high degree
And he bade farewell to the green valley.

Well, hold him fast, and don't you let him go,
For he his mine, and that well he knows.
And mind of the promise you made to me,
As the sun arose on the green valley.

I mind the promise I made to you,
I'll have no more to do with you,
My father's choice I must obey,
So farewell darling, I cannot stay.

Well, mind of the promise that I made to you
That I'll have no more to do with you.
My father's counsel I must obey,
So it's goodbye, darling, I must away.

So off he's gone and I wish him well,
For to get married 'tis I hear tell.
My innocent babe I'll tend and care,
And to his false, false you soon beware.

Well, if he's gone, then I do wish him well,
For to marry as I've heard tell.
My innocent babe I must tender care,
Of this false promise let him beware.

Oh am I bound or am I free?
Oh am I bound to marry thee?
A single life is the best I see,
A contented mind bears no slavery.

Am I single or am I free?
Oh am I bound, love, to marry thee?
A single life is the best that I see,
A contented mind bears no slavery.