Death and the Lady

In this supernatural folksong, a beautiful, young, well-to-do maiden is confronted by her own mortality… literally.

From Mainly Norfolk:

The ballad Death and the Lady was collected in 1946 by Francis M. Collison from Mr Baker of Maidstone, Kent, and published in Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd’s Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Waterson:Carthy sang Death and the Lady in 2002 with somewhat different verses on their fourth album, A Dark Light. Martin Carthy commented in the album’s sleeve notes:

Norma learned Death and the Lady from [the Cecil Sharp collection; One Hundred English Folk Songs(1916)]. It’s a dark song here and she did what was second nature to the Watersons in their heyday, transforming the tune by altering just a couple of notes.

Death and the Lady

As I walked out one day, one day
I met an aged man by the way.
His head was bald, his beard was grey,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay.

I said, “Old man, what man are you?
What country do you belong unto?”
“My name is Death—have you not heard of me?
All kings and princes bow down unto me
And you fair maid must come along with me.”

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The Claudy Banks

While were on the subject of various banks, here’s an English ballad performed by Eliza Carthy, Norma Waterson, and Martin Carthy.

The Claudy Banks

As I rode out one evening all in the month of May
Down by the banks of Claudy I carelessly did stray
There I beheld a fair maid in sorrow did complain
Lamenting of her own true love who had crossed the raging main

Ey-oh ey-oh he is my darling boy
He is the darling of my heart
All on the walls of Troy

I stepped up unto her and caught her in great surprise
I own she did not know me for I was in disguise
I said My pretty fair maid my joy and heart’s delight
How far do you mean to wander on this dark and dreary night

Oh the banks of Claudy I wish you would me show
Take on a fair young maid who has nowhere else to go
For I’m in search of a young man young Johnny it is his name
And on the banks of Claudy I hear he does remain

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