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The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea

[ Roud 987 ; Laws O15 ; Ballad Index LO15 ; trad.]

Harry Cox sang The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea in a recording made by Sheila Park in 1967 on his Topic anthology The Bonny Labouring Boy: Traditional Songs and Tunes from a Norfolk Farm Worker (2000). Steve Roud commented in the CD booklet:

A popular song with English singers, where over thirty traditional versions are known to have been collected, and also in Canada, but few in the United States. Many of the 19th century broadsides produced printed versions, and it would seem to have originated in the 1820s. It has a rather uneventful story-line, in which the lover has plenty of money so the parent does not object, and texts do not vary a great deal from version to version.

Jumbo Brightwell sang The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea in 1975 on this Topic LP Songs from the Eel's Foot: Traditional Songs and Ballads from Suffolk.

Vin Garbutt sang Green Mossy Banks of the Lea on his 1976 Trailer album King Gooden.

Frank Hichliffe sang The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea at his home in July 1976 in a recording by Mike Yates and Ruairidh & Alvina Greig. This was issued in 1977 on his Topic LP In Sheffield Park: Traditional Songs from South Yorkshire.

Nic Jones sang The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea on his 1978 Transatlantic album From the Devil to a Stranger.

Compare to this Banks of the Bann as sung by A.L. Lloyd on The Best of A.L. Lloyd and by Shirley Collins on No Roses.

Lyrics

Nic Jones sings The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea

When first in this country a stranger
Curiosity caused me to roam;
Over Europe I resolved to be a ranger
When I left Philadelphia, my home.

We quickly sailed over to England
Where forms of great beauty do shine;
And there I espied a young woman
And I wished in my heart that she was mine.

Oh it's there I did spy this young woman,
She appeared like some goddess to me.
As she rose from the reeds by the water
On the green mossy banks of the Lea.

I stepped up and wished her good morning
And her cheeks, well, they did blush like the rose.
Says I, “How the river looks charming
And your guardian I'll be if you choose.”

Says she, “Sir, I ne'er want a guardian;
Young man, you are a stranger to me.
And yonder's my father a-coming
O'er the green mossy banks of the Lea.”

Well I waited until up come her father,
Saying, “Your daughter, a lady she'll be.
She'll ride in a carriage and horses
O'er the green mossy banks of the Lea.”

They invited me home to their cottage
And soon after this lady she was mine;
And there I built a fine castle
In grandeur and splendour to shine.

So now this American stranger,
All pastime and leisure he can see.
He can live with his gentle young woman
On the green mossy banks of the Lea.

So it's all you young women, attention,
No matter how poor you may be:
Just you think on that gentle young woman
On the green mossy banks of the Lea.

(repeat first verse)