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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Vic Smith Barbara Allen (35) RE: Barbara Allen 10 May 20

This is the start of a review which I wrote in 2006 If you want to read it in its entirety, you will have to follow this link to

"When I first got involved with folk songs, I wasn't really sure what I was looking for. I knew what I didn't want; I didn't want to hear any schoolmarmy voices singing the likes of:

    In Scarlet Town where I was born.
    There was a fair maid dwelling,
    Made every youth cry, "Well-a-day".
    Her name was Barbara Allen.

"Whatever happens", I can remember saying to myself, "I will never want to sing Barbara Allen." That opinion lasted until the opening concert of the TMSA festival in Kinross in 1970. I watched as a young red-haired man was introduced. He looked at the audience with his serious eyes and started singing:

    It fell aboot last Martinmas time
    When the green leaves were doon-falling
    Sir John the Graeme frae the North Country
    Fell in love wi' Barbaree Ellen.

I was utterly captivated by the power, timelessness and majesty of the expressive singing. I knew by the time that he had finished the first verse that I wanted to learn that version and that here was an utterly compelling singer. This was the first time that I heard Stanley Robertson. If I had known that I was going to be listening to the nephew of Jeannie Robertson; the cousin of Lizzie Higgins, my expectations might have been higher, but I don't think I knew that until after I had heard him."

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