Monday, January 14, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics (Ballads) - 24 (Tam Lin)



AG: Okay, what else do we have (besides) "Thomas the Rhymer"?

Bruce Martin; We have "Tam Lin".

AG: Okay, "Tam Lin".

BM: Alright. "Tam Lin:. Has anyone ever heard "Tam Lin"

AG: I never did.

Student: Sure.

BM: Oh, great. 

AG: You know it?

BM: It's a...

AG: Who else? [to student] - Do you know music? Are you a musician?

Student: Fairport's, (its a song of Fairport's), that's what it is.



BM: Fairport Convention's (version is) probably the easiestly accessible (one) is in this country. The Watersons do a version of it on Topic Records which, if you know anybody in England, you can get.

Student: You can get some of these records through the Denver Folklore Center  and there's a couple of places in town. Have you heard the version that Ray Fisher does?

BM: That's really good too. It's a great, great tune and the only trouble being that it's longer than anything (Bob) Dylan ever wrote. It's real long, but it's.. [Bruce Martin starts singing] - "Oh I forbid you maidens all/ That wear gold all in your hair/ To come and go by Carterhaugh/ For Young Tam Lin is there, my love,/ Young Tam Lin is there/  There's none that goes by Carterhaugh/ But they leave him a wad..."

AG: "They leave him a wad..?"  

BM: "..Either their rings or their green mantles/ Or else their maidenheads, my love,/ Or else their maidenheads.."  Let's see, I had these (verses) checked off at one time..

AG: For special..

BM: For performance, yeah, of about twelve of them.

AG: Let me read just a little bit. I just want to see what the sound is [Allen starts reading]  - "She's let the seam drop to her foot,/ The needle to her toe/ She's gone away to Carterhaugh/ As fast as she can go" - [Allen continues] - "She had not pulled a red red rose,/ A rose but barely three/ When up there started young Tam Lin/ Said, "Let the roses be"./ "Why pull through the rose, Margaret/ And why breaks thou the wand?/ And why com'st thou to Carterhaugh/ Withouten my command?"/  Carterhaugh it is my own,/ My father gave it to me/ And I will be at Carterhaugh/ And ask no leave of thee"/ He catched her by the milk-white hand/ Among the leaves so green/  And what they did I cannot say/ The green leaves were in between./ Now since you had your will of me/ Come tell to me your name... - Okay, there's that jump, that jump-cut - "..(W)hat they did I cannot say/ The green leaves were in between./ Now since you had your will of me/ Come tell to me your name" - [Allen continues with the next six stanzas] - "May Margaret's kilted her green, green skirt/ A little above her knee" - I haven't (quite) got the rhythm there - "Out then spoke an old grey knight..." Nah, you'd have to sing it, I guess. [Allen continues with the next  five stanzas] - "Now hold your tongue yon ill-faced knight..".."The horse that my true love rides on/ is lighter than the wind/ With silver he is shod before/ With burning gold behind" -  
No wonder  she liked that. It's really good.I mean Helen (Adam) really likes that, because the lines are good. [Allen concludes his reading of "Tam Lin", reading the remaining 36 (sic) stanzas] - "Up then spoke her mother dear/ And ever alas said she...".."If I'd had but half the wit yestereen/ That I have bought today/ I'd have paid my tithe seven times to hell/ Ere you'd been won away." - Really good. (A) great dream.

Student: Expansive

AG: That's really (Helen Adam's) style. I can see where Helen Adam gets her violence.    

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone have an original source for any of the melodies? There is just about one melody for each separate version - Ewan MacColl's is my favourite, spectacularly mournful and hypnotic... but I have no idea whether it's his own or a folk tune from another song.

    I write for a Zulu folk band based in Oxford, UK, and I'm very keen to translate this piece - but I am unsure as to which melody (which version) I should base this on!

    o

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