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> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > Earl Richard
> June Tabor > Songs > Love Henry
> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Proud Girl
“Don't mess with Scottish girls!”
Iona Fyfe at the Young Scots Trad Awards Winner Tour 2019
Young Hunting / Earl Richard / Love Henry / The Proud Girl
; Child 68
; Ballad Index
; Old Songs
; VWML CJS2/10/3537
; Mudcat 84081
This 30-verse long ballad of jealousy and murder was sung unaccompanied by Tony Rose as title track of his first album, Young Hunting (1970). He noted:
The story of Young Hunting is basically a simple one—a jilted girl gains revenge by killing her former lover—and yet the song is one of the most powerful and compelling I have heard. Perhaps more than anything this is due to the drama and mystery lent to the story by the recurring hints of magic and the supernatural—the talking bird, the floating candle used to indicate the place of a drowned body, the body of the murdered man bleeding in the presence of the murderer, and the final trial by ordeal. This is a fine reworking of the ballad by Peter Nalder, and the tune I got from Peter too.
Tim Hart and Maddy Prior recorded a much shorter form [Child 68F] with the name Earl Richard in 1969 for their second duo album, Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 2. The record's sleeve notes comment:
This song concerns the murder of Earl Richard by his jealous lover, and is a shorter version of the ballad Young Hunting. In the latter stanzas a bird speaks to the murderess, and while this could be a reference to the transfiguration of the soul of her victim, it is more probable that the bird plays an innocent role, since speaking birds like the mythological phoenix in earlier times and later the parrot, are universal as messengers throughout folklore. This version comes from Motherwell's Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern.
Arthur Knevett sang Young Hunting on his 1988 cassette Mostly Ballads. Vic Gammon noted:
Arthur learnt this ballad from a recording of A.L. Lloyd. This version represents Lloyd's reworking of mainly Scottish traditional material. His skill in sympathetic recasting such ballads was very impressive. The song demonstrates the consonance between the ballad form and a story with elements that might have intrigued Edgar Allan Poe: a refusal of sexual invitation leads to jealousy and murder; a magical talking bird (a motif in common with The Bloody Gardener), the walling up pf the murdered man's body, the disposal of the body in a river; the rousing of divers by the talking bird, candles burning under the water to show the corpse, and the final ghastly burning of the guilty woman. They don't write them like that any more! Visually it would be a video nasty, in Arthur's restrained, and stoical, ballad performance it is a piece of considerable power.
Rod Paterson sang Earl Richard in 1988 on his Greentrax album Smiling Waved Goodbye. He commented:
This version is from Motherwell's Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern.
Brian Peters sang Young Hunting on the 1997 Fellside anthology Ballads. He noted that this is
A ballad of murder and detection, whose supernatural elements—locating a submerged body using floating candles, a corpse gushing blood in the presence of a murderer, ordeal by fire—are omitted by recent source singers. The garrulous bird, however, is retained in Martin McDonagh's version (he called in “Lady Margaret”), collected in Co. Roscommon by Tom Munnelly in 1974, which supplied the tune used here. Frank Proffitt of North Carolina sang Song of a Lost Hunter—same story, no bird, servant's gender changed to male providing additional sexual frisson—to a recognisably related melody. The text was knocked together from Child; for dark drama it takes some beating.
Simon Haworth sang The Ballad of Earl Richard in 1998 on his Fellside CD Coast to Coast.
Nancy Kerr & James Fagan sang Young Hunting in 1998 on their first duo CD on the Fellside label, Starry Gazy Pie. They noted:
This version of Child 68 is from British Ballads from Maine. Vestiges of totemistic belief account for the ability of animals to chat with the human characters in a ballad. In this case the bird discloses the murder and may be the victim in spirit form. Songs like The Grey Cock and Outlandish Knight also feature human attempts to buy the favour of a surly animal/soul, with varying success.
John Spiers and Jon Boden recorded Earl Richard in 2001 for their Fellside CD Through & Through, and Jon Boden sang it as the 28 June 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He also commented in the CD liner notes:
A version of Young Hunting noted from a Miss Stephenson of Glasgow in 1825. Talking birds are not uncommon in traditional ballads but this one is unusually moral and immune to bribery, a stark contrast to the behaviour of the human characters.
Seriouskitchen sang Young Hunting on their 2002 CD Tig. They noted:
This was one of the very first ‘big’ ballads in Nick [Hennessy]'s extensive repertoire of unaccompanied song, learnt from the singing of Brian Peters. An engaging story ending, as is the case for most of the big ballads, with powerful imagery.
Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer returned to Young Hunting in 2007 on their CD Sliptease. They noted:
A blood, guts and gore ballad with 26 verses. For the most part, we learnt this traditional song in our Serious Kitchen days from the singing of Brian Peters (and adding our own tune). Since then we have tweaked the story to make more sense—taking extra verses from the singing of Pete Nalder and Tony Rose: Kindly provided by Ken Johnson.
Sara Grey sang Young Hunting at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2008. This recording was released a year later on the Festival CD Grand to Be a Working Man (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 5). She also recorded Young Hunting in 2009 for her Fellside CD Sandy Boys.
James Findlay sang Young Hunting at the Bath Folk Festival 2011:
Paul and Liz Davenport sang Young Hunting in 2011 on their CD Spring Tide Rising. They noted:
This version is from Sharp's English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. It's a simple and economic telling of the story in which a young man discovers that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. Generally, it's not a great idea to tell one's lover that she's the one who's unfaithful. Neither is it too smart to compound this by telling her that your wife is better looking than ten of her. Unsurprisingly it all ends in tears—frankly, it serves him right!
Alistair Ogilvy sang Earl Richard in 2012 on his Greentrax album Leaves Sae Green.
Iona Fyfe sang Earl Richard in 2016 on the Iona Fyfe Band's EP East. She noted:
Variants of the ballad are known as Young Hunting and Love Henry. A song found in England as well as Scotland, and found in William Motherwell's collection as well as Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. From the singing of Rod Paterson. Earl Richard is a ballad which crossed the Atlantic and became part of Appalachian song tradition.
Granny's Attic sang False Lady in 2016 on their WildGoose CD Off the Land. They noted:
A variant of Child ballad 68, Young Hunting. Like all good ballads, some variants of Young Hunting run to over 25 verses but we’ve opted for a more compact rendition here. We came across this variant in Bertrand Bronson’s The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads Volume II printed as The Faulse Layde, we’ve decided to correct the spelling (apologies to any traditional spelling purists). The song was collected from Thomas Edward Nelson of Union Mill, New Brunswick on 18 February 1929. The instrumental section features the traditional tune William Irwin’s, also known as Barbara Allen.
Kate Fletcher and Corwen Broch sang Young Hunting on their 2017 CD Fishe or Fowle. They noted:
In which a talking bird reveals a dreadful murder.
The text [is] Child Ballad #68G, set to the tune collected from Mrs G.A. Griffin of Newberry, Florida, by Alton C. Morris in 1950.
A variant of Young Hunting called Love Henry was collected by Cecil Sharp in September 1916 from Mrs Orilla Keeton, Mount Fair, Virginia [ VWML CJS2/10/3537 ] . Frank Proffitt of North Carolina sang it as Song of a Lost Hunter (Love Henry) on his Folk-Legacy album of 1962, Traditional Songs and Ballads of Appalachia.
Tom Paley sang Love Henry in 1965 on his and Peggy Seeger's Topic album Who's Going to Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot?.
Hedy West sang Love Henry in 1967 on her Topic album Ballads. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:
Young Hunting is the scholars’ name for this story of love, jealousy, murder and magical talking birds. As often happens, the American versions are much revised, simplified, sometimes corrupted, compared with the British versions. That’s not to say that Americanisation of ballads necessarily means decline (it doesn’t necessarily mean improvement either). Many of the changes come about naturally with the historical development of recognisable American characteristics of mood, outlook, personality. Stressing her proper pride in Americanised song (as proper as the British singers’ pride in his own tradition), Hedy West expresses a fond romance of hers: that people can begin from similarity to expand their tolerance of differences to an appreciation of those differences. The ballad has been not uncommon in Scotland, very rare in England. In the U.S.A. its circulation has been limited almost entirely to the Southern states, but in more or less hillbillyized versions it has been carried widely by rural professional minstrels attached to medicine shows and such, notably through Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and the Ozarks. Cecil Sharp collected this Virginia version in 1916.
The English Country Blues Band sang Loving Henry (Lord Henry and Lady Margaret) in 1983 on their Rogue album Home and Deranged. Ian A. Anderson returned to it in 2008 on Blue Bloke 3's Fledg'ling album Stubble. They noted:
A condensed ballad for these days of too much information, this précis of Young Hunting (Child 68) is a second cousin of Dick Justice's 1929 Henry Lee with a tune nicked from Kit Bailey. For a brief time after the English Country Blues Band recorded it in 1983 it acquired a now-forgotten last verse in which the parrot got its come-uppance.
June Tabor (accompanied by Mark Emerson on violin) recorded Love Henry in March 1990 at Wytherston Studios. This demo was included in the Hokey Pokey charity compilation Circle Dance and later on her 4 CD anthology Always. She noted:
I've often found it amusing and distressing the way the great ballads metamorphosed when they crossed the water. Something as disturbing as Young Hunting with its supernatural references, with the corpse bleeding when the murderer approaches and the real weight of horror that is in that tale of murder and the attempted concealment by the former true love, turns into a kind of Disneyfied version that becomes Love Henry. And yet it still has so much strength. Now I appreciate much more the power of the Appalachian versions, whereas I might once have said, “Yes, but it's not as good as the original.” This one sneaked through because it's got so many good lines in it. Particularly,
Then up and spoke a pretty little bird
Exceeding on a willow tree
You've got to sing a song with that in it! The bird flies away into the sunset to star in the sequel, while everybody else dies unhappily ever after.
Chris Coe sang Love Henry in 2001 on her Backshift CD A Wiser Fool.
Martin Simpson sang Love Henry in 2005 on his Topic CD Kind Letters. This recording was also included in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2007 compilation. He noted:
One of the most affecting performers I ever saw at Scunthorpe Folk Club was Hedy West. A banjo player, singer and guitarist from Georgia, Hedy's work has been a great influence on me and many others. She was the source of the 9/4 tune which appears at the end of Fairport Convention's Matty Groves and which Martin Carthy used for The Famous Flower of Serving Men. Hedy recorded a great collection of ballads for Topic in the early 60's and that was the source for Love Henry. The Scot's version is usually called Young Hunting and it appears on the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Songs as Henry Lee, performed by Dick Justice. The mixture of sex, murder, talking bird and a great tune is irresistible to me. I wanted to re-Anglicise the song for this record and James Fagan's beautifully considered, driving bouzouki and Nancy's open-tuned fiddle do the job superbly.
Lucy Farrell of The Furrow Collective sang Henry Lee on their 2014 album At Our Next Meeting. She noted:
Our version comes from the Peggy Seeger record Heading for Home. When I learnt it I was becoming interested in the symbolism of birds in ballads. In Henry Lee I think the bird that appears at the end represents her conscience, singing too loud. We recorded it on a windy day and decided it added to the atmosphere!
This video shows The Furrow Collective at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow on 22 February 2014:
The Proud Girl
A.L. Lloyd sang another variant of Young Hunting called The Proud Girl live at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on 5 November 1972. This concert was published in 2010 on the Fellside CD An Evening with A.L. Lloyd.
And Frankie Armstrong sang The Proud Girl in 1996 on her ballads album Till the Grass O'ergrew the Corn. The sleeve notes commented:
Bert Lloyd gave Frankie this chilling version of Young Hunting, which he seems to have based chiefly on that given to Walter Scott by James Hogg, the “Ettrick Shepherd”, who had it from his mother. There can be few more imperious female protagonists in balladry: on learning of her love's falseness, she reacts with a ferocity worthy of a heroine from Greek tragedy. One reason for the power of ballad texts is that the bareness of their telling leaves space for singers and listeners to fill in the parts which are missing: they positively demand that we set our imaginations to work. Was it really pride that sparked the girl's action, or true love turned to hate? Did she keep the corpse so close because she still loved him? The candles which burn so bright may, says Child, allude to the practice of floating a loaf with a consecrated candle on it to divine the whereabouts of a drowned body. The inquisitive and tale-telling bird has been identified by folklorists as housing the soul of the dead man.
|Tony Rose sings Young Hunting||Tim Hart and Maddy Prior sing Earl Richard|
Earl Richard is a-hunting gone,
As she was a-walking all alone
He rode till he came to my lady's gate
“Come down, come down, you fine young man,
“Oh light, oh light, Earl Richard,” she said,
“Oh I can't come down and I won't come down
“I will not light, I cannot light
“Oh well, a finer girl than ten of me
Then and he has leaned him across his saddle
He stooped down from his milk white steed
Saying, “Lie there, lie there, you fine young man,
“Oh lie ye there, oh lie ye there
She's called the servants one by one
Then one's a-take him by the hands
But as she walked up on the high highway
Then up bespake a little bird
“Come down, come down, you pretty little bird
“Come down, come down, oh my pretty bird
“I can't come down and I won't come down
“Go home, go home you false lady
“Oh, then I wish I had my bended bow
“If I had an arrow in my hand
“Ah, but you've not got your bended bow
So she's gone back to her own house
And she has kept that fine young man
So she's called unto the servant girl
So the one of them's took him by the shoulders,
And they had not crossed a rig of land,
“Oh where you've been, my gay lady?
And there came a-seeking for this fine young man
And now the ladies turned them around and about
“So, who will dive from either bank
Then up and speaks that pretty little bird
“And I'd have you to cease your day diving
So the divers ceased their day diving
And they have raised his body up
And when his father did see this dreadful wound
Then up and speaks the pretty little bird,
“Oh, blame not me,” the lady says,
But the fire wouldn't take upon her cheek
And when the servant girl touched the clay cold corpse,
So they've taken out the servant girl
And the fire took fast upon her cheek,
Brian Peters sings Young Hunting
Young Hunting’s to the castle gone
As fast as he could ride
His hunting horn about his waist
A broadsword by his side,
A broadsword by his side.
And when he came to the castle gate
He’s pulled all at the pin
No-one so ready as the lady herself
To rise and let him in,
Arise and let him in.
“You’re welcome here, my Young Hunting,
For coal and candle-light,
And so welcome are you Young Hunting
To lie with me this night,
To lie with me this night.”
“I thank you for your light lady
So do I for your coal
But there’s a fairer woman than ten of thee
Meets me at Brandy’s well,
Meets me at Brandy’s well.”
He bent down o’er his saddle bow
To kiss her ruby cheek,
But she took out a little pen-knife
And wounded him full deep,
And wounded him full deep.
And she has called on her maid Katherine
So long before the day,
“I have a dead man in my bower;
I wish he was away,
I wish he was away.”
They booted him and spurred him
As he was wont to ride
They have taken him to the wide water
They call the River Clyde,
They call the River Clyde.
One has taken him by his feet
The other one by his head
In the deepest part of Clyde Water
It's there they made his bed,
It's there they've made his bed.
“Lie there, lie there, you Young Hunting
'Til the blood seep from your bone
That fairer woman than ten of me
Will wait long ere you come home
Wait long ere you come home.”
Then up and spoke the bonny little bird
That stood up in the tree
“Go home, go home, you false lady
Pay your maid her fee
And pay your maid her fee.”
“Come down, come down, my bonny little bird
Come down into my hand
Your cage I’ll make of the fine beaten gold
Where now it's the willow wand,
Where now it's the willow wand.”
“Keep your cage of beaten gold
And I will keep my tree
For as you did with Young Hunting
You'd do the same with me,
You'd do the same with me.”
And it fell out on the very next day
The King was going to ride
And he has sent for Young Hunting
To ride all at his side,
To ride all at his side.
The lady swore by the grass so green
So did she by the corn
“I saw not your son, Young Hunting
Since yesterday at morn,
Yesterday at morn.
“But I saw him ride to Clyde Water;
I fear he's drowned therein!”
And they have sent for divers bold
To dive for Young Hunting,
To dive for Young Hunting.
Then up and spoke the bonny little bird
That flew above their heads
“Dive on, dive on, you divers bold
For there he lies indeed,
For there he lies indeed.
“But leave off your diving in the day
And dive all in the night
And where Young Hunting he lies slain
The candles will burn full bright,
The candles will burn full bright.”
So they left off diving in the day
And dived all in the night
And where Young Hunting he lay slain
The candles burned full bright,
The candles burned full bright.
White, white were his wounds all washed
As white as a linen clout
But when the lady she came near
The blood come gushing out,
The blood come gushing out.
“Well, it's surely been my maid Katherine
And ill may she betide!
For I'd have never slain my young Hunting
And thrown him in the Clyde,
And thrown him in the Clyde.”
So they have taken the maid Katherine
And a bonfire set her in
But the fire wouldn't take upon her cheek
Nor yet upon her chin,
Nor yet upon her chin.
So they've taken out the maid Katherine
They've thrown the lady in
And the fire took fast on her fair body
She burned like holly green,
She burned like holly green.
|June Tabor sings Love Henry||Lucy Farrell sings Henry Lee|
As Lady Margaret was a-going to her bed
Who should it be but her love, Henry,
“Come down, come down, Love Henry
“Lie down, lie down, my love Henry,
“I shan't come down and I won't come down
“I won't lie down, I can't lie down
He's leaned across his saddle trim
And he's leaned him o'er her soft pillow
“Woe be, woe be, Lady Margaret,
She's called unto a maid of hers:
One's taken him by the long yellow hair,
And she's picked him up by his long yellow hair
”Lie there, lie there, Love Henry
“Lie there, lie there, love Henry Lee,
It's up and spoke a pretty little bird
“Come down, come down, my pretty little bird
“Come down, come down, you pretty little bird,
“I shan't come down and I won't come down
“O, if I had an arrow in my hand,
“I wish I had my bending bow,
“O, if you had an arrow in your hand,
“I wish you had your bending bow
I found the verses of June Tabor's Love Henry and Malcolm Douglas's note to the song's origin and some text variants at the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Love Henry and changed the verses to June's actual singing. Thanks too to Garry Gillard who reminded me of Martin Simpson's version, and to Tim McElwaine for Brian Peters' verses.