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Tam Lin (Child #39-I)

DigiTrad:
TAM LIN
TAM O THE LINN
TAMLIN
TAMLYN


Related threads:
Tackling Tam Lin: Anais Mitchell (30)
(origins) Origins: A. L. Lloyd - Tamlyn: Source? (25)
(origins) Origins: Tam Lin: Contra dance tune (4)
tam linn child ballad no 39 (17)
(origins) Origins: Tam Lin and Tamberlaine (38)
Chord Req: Tam Lin (from Fairport Convention) (5)
Tune Req: mike waterson's tam lin (8)
Lyr/Tune Req: Tam Lin (8)
BS: Please help (Mrs. Janet Lin) (13)
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Lyr Req: Tam Lin (Ewan MacColl) (8)
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Tune Req: Tam Lin/Fairy Dance (9)
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Lyr Req: Young Tamblin / Tam Lin (13)


GUEST,Fred McCormick 22 Apr 14 - 12:25 PM
GUEST 22 Apr 14 - 12:38 PM
Phil Edwards 22 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Apr 14 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 23 Apr 14 - 04:47 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Apr 14 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 24 Apr 14 - 03:38 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Apr 14 - 03:59 PM
Brian Peters 24 Apr 14 - 05:53 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Apr 14 - 12:58 PM
Lighter 25 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Apr 14 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,allan conn 26 Apr 14 - 10:37 AM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 10:21 AM
Brian Peters 27 Apr 14 - 03:40 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Apr 14 - 03:43 PM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 05:19 PM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 05:37 PM
The Sandman 27 Apr 14 - 05:59 PM
Lighter 27 Apr 14 - 07:36 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Apr 14 - 09:35 AM
Lighter 28 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM
johncharles 28 Apr 14 - 10:45 AM
The Sandman 28 Apr 14 - 10:51 AM
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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 12:25 PM

Steve. I agree with both your points. For me, the best ballad singers never get in the way of the story, and neither should the accompaniment. In fact I'd strongly question the wisdom of applying any accompaniment to any ballad, unless it's a bloody good bluegrass band doing Gypsy Davy or something similar.

In fact I doubt that anyone who heard Bert Lloyd singing Tam Lin or Ewan McColl singing Clyde's Water, or the Keane Sisters singing Lord Donegal would disagree.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 12:38 PM

Part of it is in characterisation: the Ballads usually have a limited number of core characters and it helps to have each distinct. It can be that male and female roles call for a duet performance, and at the very least you need to be able to command a range of tones and accents, without becoming hackneyed about it.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM

Steve G - I had an unreasoning dislike of Sir Patrick Spens for some time after hearing somebody on a singers' night breaking up this rather long ballad with between-verse twiddly bits, the effect of which was to make it last rather longer than Desolation Row. The fact that I was waiting to get called myself (and never was) had something to do with this!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 02:28 PM

GUEST
In only a very few of the ballads (and I can call to mind perhaps a couple) is there any difficulty in knowing immediately which character is speaking. Things like tones and accents can be there in the listener's head but used by the singer they can still be a distraction. Yes there are folk songs that are suited to duet. In fact I'd go as far as to say some were most likely written with that in mind, but not the big ballads. Even those like 'Son David' that are all dialogue do not require a duet and I can't ever remember having heard them sung in this way.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 23 Apr 14 - 04:47 PM

Steve, I'm with you on the question of knowing which character is speaking at any given point in a ballad. My experience of singing or listening to repetitious/dialogue ballads is that a good, story-telling singer will automatically point up the speaker with 'said he '/ 'cried she' etc. And I've never heard a duet performance either -- or one that I can remember liking!

And, along with Phil, I'm not enamoured of accompanied versions which create lengthy instrumental interludes for "dramatic tension" -- a good singer has ways of doing that by him/herself. (Although I would trust a few singers to accompany themselves tastefully.)

My own starting point is the unaccompanied ballad, and the amazing performances I've been lucky enough to hear over the years. I've been fortunate enough to hear (in live performance) Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Davie Stewart, Sheila Stewart, and Norman Kennedy: and latterly Gordeanna McCulloch, Heather Heywood, Tom Spiers, Arthur Watson, Adam McNaughtan, Kevin Mitchell et al.
All of these singers are in complete control of the narrative of their ballads and are quite capable of persuading an audience likewise.

End result is that I'm seriously considering working up a presentation of Tam Lin, to appreciate any problems for myself!


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 11:12 AM

Hi Anne! Best of luck with that. A good starting point for learning a long ballad I've always found is writing down what you can remember from all the other versions you've heard over the years. I don't sing Tam Lin myself but I utilise the Waterson/Lloyd tune for my version of Maid and the Palmer. It works very well.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 03:38 PM

Steve, I'm not sure whether you know it, but the tune which Bert used for Tam Lin was actually derived from a version of Let No Man Steal Your Thyme which Isla Cameron used to sing.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 03:59 PM

I may have assumed that Bert and Mike's tunes were the same. I only heard Bert sing it a couple of times whereas I heard Mike sing his almost on a weekly basis and my memory's not that good. My tune is definitely based on Mike's. I've never bothered to check if it was a traditional tune, I just fell in love with the tune. But come to think of it it does sound a bit like a minor variant of the thyme tunes.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 14 - 05:53 PM

Isn't it a pretty generic ballad tune? Something very similar carries Martin McDonagh's 'Lady Margaret' (aka 'Young Hunting').

But what about Anne Briggs' tune? Not the usual one as far as I can remember, though you'd have expected she'd have got it from Bert.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 12:58 PM

I normally steer well clear of ballad tune origins as I am very much text-based when I have my researcher's cap on. Also what makes matters worse as far as revival renderings are concerned is the heavy muddying of the waters by the likes of Bert and Ewan. I use the word 'worse' as a researcher; with my singer's cap on I would be more inclined to use 'better'.

Regarding Bert's tune, somewhere in the dim and distant past I could easily just have assumed that Mike got his tune from Bert. Either way without serious research it would be foolish to put any store in a revival singer's version of anything regarding its relationship to earlier oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 02:14 PM

> I use the word 'worse' as a researcher; with my singer's cap on I would be more inclined to use 'better'.

That well sums up the theme of many a thread, Steve.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Apr 14 - 04:16 PM

Hi Jon,
Have you anything you can add to thoughts on the Smith brothers on the Child Ballads thread?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: GUEST,allan conn
Date: 26 Apr 14 - 10:37 AM

I take it the guest was joking. Tv reception for the vast bulk of folk in the borders is rather good, and i live bang in the middle of the region. 4 hours driving would get us south to Newark or north past Aberdeen. For most people the nearest cinema isn't very far. For me it is 16 miles to the multiplex in galashiels. Only takes about 25 mins thoughts


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 10:21 AM

back to lord randall, each to their own,but i can not understand how anyone can seriously say that an absence of a plot makes a song riveting, but we will have to agree to disagree.
which is why I find alot of martin amis books, and pincher marten tedious, Amis does write beautiful English, but in my opinion has little to say.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 03:40 PM

'Pincher Martin' (by William Golding), like 'Lord Randall', is both moving and profound.

A young man, mysteriously poisoned - apparently by his lover - his mother trying to comfort him... the slowly dawning realization of the horror of situation... her helplessness in the face of his inevitable death... his bitter instruction to be avenged... That's not a plot?

I agree to disagree.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 03:43 PM

Dick, why do you keep repeating this? You're obviously in a minority of one. We're happy to take this as your opinion which is all it can be. As you say 'each to their own (opinion?). What's the point in labouring this?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 05:19 PM

Brian you find it deep and profound,I find it a tedious book, neither do I have any inclination to sing Lord Randall.
I am pointing out that in my opinion not all ballads are worth singing, the choice will always be subjective, some people who go to folk clubs are not keen on any ballads,
Steve as for a minorty of one[presumably you mean on this thread], so what?


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 05:37 PM

Some singers, obviously not Brian, appear to choose a traditional song, because it is traditional, I came across a few singers like this in the seventies.
Personally, I choose a song because it catches my attention, Iam not sure I always did this, I think when I first started I jut started to try and build a repertoirewithout being too discriminating, Iknow i bypassed the gallant frigate amphitrite for many years because i thought it was over sung, and I had not listened to the words carefully. I used to sing boNny george campbell, a song that i now consider a fragment and more of a waste of space than lord randall, Tam Linn,is a song[imo] that has a complicated plot. likewise Thomas the rhymerTrue Thomas sat on Huntley bank
And he beheld a lady gay
A lady that was brisk and bold
Come riding o'er the ferny brae
        

True Thomas sat on Huntley bank
And he beheld a lady gay
A lady that was brisk and bold
Come riding o'er the ferny brae

Her skirt was of the grass green silk,
Her mantle of the velvet fine
At every lock of her horse's mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine
        

True Thomas, he pulled off his cap
And bowed him low down to his knee
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven
Your like on earth I ne'er did see."
        

True Thomas, he pulled off his cap
And bowed him low down to his knee
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven
Your like on earth I ne'er did see."

"No, no, Thomas," she said,
"That name does not belong to me
I am the queen of fair Elfland
And I have come to visit thee."
        

"You must go with me, Thomas," she said,
"True Thomas, you must go with me
And must serve me seven years
Through well or woe, as chance may be."
        



She turned about her milk white steed
And took Thomas up behind
And aye whenever her bridle rang
Her steed flew swifter than the wind
        

She turned about her milk white steed
And they rode faster than the wind
Until they came to a desert wide
And living land was left behind

For forty days and forty nights
They rode through red blood to the knee
And they saw neither sun nor moon
But heard the roaring of the sea
        

For forty days and forty nights
They rode through red blood to their knee
And they saw neither sun nor moon
but heard the roaring of the sea

And they rode on and further on
Further and swifter than the wind
Until they came to a desert wide
And living land was left behind
        

"Don't you see yon narrow, narrow road
So thick beset with thorns and briars?
That is the road to righteousness
Though after it but few enquire."
        

"Don't you see yon broad, broad road
That lies across the lily leaven?
That is the road to wickedness
Though some call it the road to heaven."
        

"Don't you see yon bonny, Boone road
That lies across the ferny brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland
Where you and I this night must go."
        

"Don't you see yon bone, Bonn road
That lies across the ferny brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland
Where you and I this night must go."


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 05:59 PM

back to lord randall, the version i really detest is this one, which is frequently sung in folk clubs

Where have you been all the day, Henry my boy?
Where have you been all the day, my pride and joy?
In the woods, dear mother
In the woods, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What did you do in the woods all day, Henry my son?
What did you do in the woods all day, my pretty one?
Ate, dear mother
Ate, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What did you eat in the woods all day, Henry my boy?
What did you eat in the woods all day, my saveloy?
Eels, dear mother
Eels, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What color was those eels, Henry my boy?
What color was those eels, my pride and joy?
Green and yeller
Green and yeller
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

Those eels were snakes, Henry my boy
Those eels were snakes, my saveloy
Urgh, dear mother
Urgh, dear mother
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die

What color flowers would you like, Henry my son?
What color flowers would you like, my currant bun?
Green and yeller
Green and yeller
Mother be quick, I got to be sick and lay me down to die
This version has EVEN less plot Than other versions, why would anyone sing this, when they could sing a version that gives some explanation as to why, the above does not mention any motive, just someone getting poisoned, no mention of a lover, if i was going to sing lord randall,i wouldnt sing the above one


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 07:36 PM

That one sucks, all right.

But it ain't because of the plot.

It's practically a burlesque of the song.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 09:35 AM

Jon,
It is a burlesque, no question, and part of the attraction is the exaggerated delivery taking the piss out of the original. Originally it would have been sung in costume on stage. I can't believe Dick thought this was a serious song!

Just to show I'm not completely in disagreement, Dick, I agree with you on 'Bonny George Campbell', but I know singers who think it is lovely, and they're perfectly entitled to do that.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM

"Bonnie George Campbell" was probably the fourth ballad I met with, at the age of twelve. (The first two had been "Streets of Laredo" and Disney's "Balld of Davy Crockett." The third was "Tom Dooley.")

The simple tune of "Campbell" was haunting. The strange words had meaning in spite of themselves, and there was something chilling (I still remember it!) in the bare-bones narrative that forced the unspoken events into my mind.

If I'd first heard it ten years later, maybe I wouldn't have been impressed.

But since I didn't, I have to say, yeah, it's beautiful.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: johncharles
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 10:45 AM

I am with Lighter on this one. Universal themes captured in a few short lines. It moves me every time I sing it.
john.


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Subject: RE: Tam Lin (Child #39-I)
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 10:51 AM

I am not saying BGC has a bad tune.I just do not want to hear green and yellow ever again, i agree other versions of lord randall are better.


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