Monday, 2 August 2021

2 ballads collected by Don Brian

A couple of old English songs recorded in Australia and not previously published. Collected by Don Brian.

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Article copyright Don Brian.

These songs were collected from Stanley Cullen. They were recorded in 1959 by his sons Mout and Pat and more recently copied from tape in possession of Pat’s son Peter Cullen.

These songs were remembered by Stanley Cullen of Laggan NSW, as learnt 65 years earlier on his father’s property, from an employee, a ticket of leave man. (about 1894)

The Green Mossy Banks of the Lee - Stanley Cullen 1959

One May morn as I carelessly rambled
Way down by a sweet pearly stream
Its there I espied a fair creature
Some goddess appearing to be.
As she rose in the reeds of the waters
On the green mossy banks of the Lea
As she rose in the reeds of the waters
On the green mossy banks of the Lea

I stepped up and bid her good morning
Her fair cheeks they blush like a rose.
(I see your) green meadows are charming
Your guardian I’ll be if you choose

Kind Sir, Oh I don’t want a guardian
Kind Sir, you’re a stranger to me
For yonder’s my father a’coming
On the green mossy banks of the Lea
For yonder’s my father a’coming
On the green mossy banks of the Lea

I waited till up came her father
Summoned my courage once more
Say aye that this may be your daughter
This beautiful maid I adore

Ten thousand a year be her fortune
And a lady your daughter will be
She’ll ride in a chariot and horses
On the green mossy banks of the Lea

So they welcomed her home to the cottage
In wedlock next day they were bound
And now they live happy together
In splendour and (luxury found)……

So come all you pretty fair maidens
And a warning take by me
By flattery let no one persuade you
Except those that’s got lots property

Similar versions are to be found in West Midlands songs in the George Butterworth manuscripts
http://www.btinternet.com/~radical/thefolkmag/butterworth.htm

and in:

Ballads and Sea Songs from Nova Scotia, Mackenzie, 1963.

More Irish Street Ballads, O'Lochlainn, 1960.

American Balladry from British Broadsides G Malcolm Laws 1957

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The Briar and the Rose
(Mother, mother, make my bed) as sung by Stanley Cullen 1959


Oh where, oh where is the little fat (foot?) boy
That was my sister’s joy
Let him go and tell my lord that his true love lies a dying
And will die before he can come

Now the first three miles this little boy walked
And the next three miles he ran
He ran till he came to a broad river side
Then he bent his back and he swam

He swam till he came to the other side
And he took to his heels and he ran
He ran till he came to a nobleman’s hall
Where they all seated down to a meal (meat?)

If you knew what news I have brought
Not one more bite would you eat

What news have you brought for me my boy,
What news have you brought (my son) for me1
I’ve come to tell you that your true love lies a dying
And will die before you can come.

Saddle up, saddle up my dark bay horse
And bridle him up so neat
That I may kiss those cherry cold lips
That once to me were so sweet

It was when riding o’er those hills
At twelve o’clock in the night
It was there he met four jovial men
And the corpse was shining bright


Set her down, set her down my jovial men
Set her down upon her feet
That I may kiss those cherry cold lips
That once to me were so sweet


Now this lady she died of grief
And me Lord he died of sorrow
Out of my ladies grave there grew a White rose4
And out of the Lords a sweet briar


Now the briar it grew to such a height
It grew till it couldn’t grow any higher
It doubled and it trebled and it tied a true loves knot
And the rose grew around the sweet briar.


Folklorists may see here a number of features of Child ballads and a type of song not commonly found in the canon of Australian collected folk-song.

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In 2009 Alan Musgrove & His Watsaname Band recorded both of these songs on Behind the Times, available from Trad and Now






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