Mary Ann

Archie Fisher sings a traditional (possibly English) parting song made famous by Bob Dylan on his album “Dylan.”

According to the “Mainly Norfolk” site:

Perry Friedman sang two verses of the parting song Mary Ann in 1960 on his Topic EP Vive La Canadienne. The album notes commented:

“This unusual sailor’s song comes from the collection of Dr. Marius Barbeau, the dean of Canadian folklorists. He heard it in 1920 in the town of Tadoussao in the province of Quebec. The singer, Edouard Hovington, who was then ninety, had been for many years an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the famous fur-trading company which played such an important part in Canada’s early history. He said he had learned it from an Irish sailor some seventy years earlier, which would carry it back at least to 1850.

Mary Ann is obviously descended from the old English song, “The True Lover’s Farewell,” which is also the ancestor of “The Turtle Dove “and Burns’ “My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose,” but this is one of the most unusual of the many variants. The nautical references give it a salty flavour quite appropriate to the Tadoussao region which abounds in tiny fishing villages. However it did not originate in Canada, for almost the same words are given in a book of Victorian Street Ballads edited by W. Henderson and published in London in 1937. Even the lobster and the blue fish, which seem typically Canadian, are found in the English version. The only difference is in the final stanza: instead of longing for a flask of gin, the Victorian ballad concludes:

The pride of all our kitchen rare
That in our kitchen garden grows
Was pumpkins, but none could compare
In angel form to my Mary Ann.”

Mary Ann

Oh fare you well my own true love,
Oh fare you well my dear;
The ship is waiting and the wind is high,
And I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann,
Yes, I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann.

Ten thousand miles away from you,
Ten thousand miles or more,
But the earth will freeze and the sea will burn
If I never no more return to you, Mary Ann,
If I never no more return to you, Mary Ann.

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A Ógánaigh Óig

Stephanie Makem, a member of the traditional group Dorsa, sings this old song of a slighted lover from the southeastern part of Ulster. 

A Ógánaigh Óig

A ógánaigh óig dá siúlfá an ród liom
Ba deas do lóistín is do leaba luí
Bheadh fliúit is orgán ag seinm ceoil duit
A thógfadh an brón seo go léir ód’ chroí.

Ins na bóithre udaí bhéinn leat i gcónaí
Dá dtabharfá móid dom nach mbeifeá claon
Is dá bhfaighinnse bás is mé sínte i gcomhnair
Le fáil do phóige sea bheinn slán arís.

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An Spailpín Fánach

I heard a slightly different version of this song from the singing of Connie Dover, whose website describes it as “an early version of an Irish song that became one of America’s most widely known folk tunes. Known originally as ‘The Bard of Armagh,’ the melody migrated westward, evolving eventually into a popular song, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me.'” This lively version is sung by Síle Denvir and Valerie Casey from Líadan.

A Spailpín Fánach

1. Is Spailpin aerach tréitheach mise is bígí soláthar mná dhom,
Mar a scaipfinn an síol faoi dhó san Earrach in éadan na dtaltaí bána,
Mar a scaipfinn an síol faoi dhó san Earrach in éadan na dtaltaí bána,
Mo lámha ar an gcéachta a’m i ndiaidh na gcapall
agus réapfainnse cnoic le fána.

2. Is an chéad lá in Éirinn dár liostáil mise, ó bhí mé súgach sásta,
Is an dara lá dár liostáil mise ó bhí mé buartha cráite,
Ach an tríú lá dár liostáil mise, thabharfainn cúig céad punt ar fhágáil,
Ach dtá dtugainn sin is ar oiread eile ní raibh mo phas le fáil agam.

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