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Barbara Allen anomaly

DigiTrad:
BARBARA ALLEN
BARBARA ALLEN (2)
BARBARA ALLEN (5)
BARBARA ELLEN (3)
BAWBEE ALLAN


Related threads:
Barbara Allen (35)
(origins) ADD: Barb'ry Allen (34)
(origins) Info Barbara Allen (49)
(origins) Origins: Barbara Allan (Sarah Makem) (16)
(origins) Origins of: Barbara Allen, is there a story ? (37)
Origins: Barbara Allen (246)
(origins) Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse? (113)
Lyr Req: Barbary Allen #84 (Sheila Kay Adams) (6)
Barbara Allen earliest version? (80)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (different versions) (75)
Lyr Add: Bobby Allen (Afro-American) (3)
Chord Req: Barb'ry Allen (Tom Rush) (5)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Phoebe Smith) (20)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Bob Dylan) (3)
Lyr Req: Barbry Allen (from Steve Tilston) (5)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Vic Legg) (2)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Shirley Collins) (2)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Susan Reed) (5)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Hedy West) (3)
Lyr Req: Barb'ry Allen (from Tom Rush) (6)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Jimmy Stewart) (4)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Fred Jordan) (5)
Barbara Allen in '30's Film (37)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (7)
Lyr Req: Barbara Ellen / Barbara Allen (15)


GUEST,Percy 04 Jan 05 - 11:11 PM
Amos 04 Jan 05 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,Percy 04 Jan 05 - 11:30 PM
Leadfingers 05 Jan 05 - 12:26 AM
Bob Bolton 05 Jan 05 - 12:31 AM
GUEST 05 Jan 05 - 12:57 AM
Lanfranc 05 Jan 05 - 06:45 AM
GUEST 05 Jan 05 - 10:46 AM
treewind 05 Jan 05 - 10:48 AM
Big Jim from Jackson 05 Jan 05 - 11:01 AM
Big Jim from Jackson 05 Jan 05 - 11:03 AM
Joybell 05 Jan 05 - 05:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jan 05 - 06:25 PM
Lighter 05 Jan 05 - 06:48 PM
Uncle_DaveO 05 Jan 05 - 07:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jan 05 - 07:54 PM
Don Firth 05 Jan 05 - 08:03 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Jan 05 - 08:32 PM
Don Firth 05 Jan 05 - 09:04 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Jan 05 - 09:08 PM
Amos 05 Jan 05 - 09:18 PM
Don Firth 06 Jan 05 - 12:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jan 05 - 12:41 PM
Billy Weeks 06 Jan 05 - 01:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jan 05 - 04:51 PM
Joybell 06 Jan 05 - 05:11 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 06 Jan 05 - 06:35 PM
jaze 06 Jan 05 - 09:29 PM
Uncle_DaveO 07 Jan 05 - 03:14 PM
Tannywheeler 07 Jan 05 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,Percy 08 Jan 05 - 01:06 AM
GUEST,Skivee, cookieless 08 Jan 05 - 01:54 PM
Mo the caller 11 May 20 - 09:26 AM
EBarnacle 11 May 20 - 05:54 PM
The Sandman 12 May 20 - 09:08 AM
leeneia 12 May 20 - 12:05 PM
Jim Carroll 12 May 20 - 12:40 PM
Steve Gardham 12 May 20 - 01:26 PM
The Sandman 12 May 20 - 02:24 PM
Steve Gardham 12 May 20 - 05:39 PM
EBarnacle 13 May 20 - 07:53 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 20 - 08:27 AM
Steve Gardham 13 May 20 - 11:11 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 20 - 03:01 PM
Steve Gardham 13 May 20 - 03:56 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 20 - 02:23 AM
Steve Gardham 14 May 20 - 06:23 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 20 - 07:38 AM
Steve Gardham 14 May 20 - 10:19 AM
Steve Gardham 14 May 20 - 10:26 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 20 - 10:43 AM
Steve Gardham 14 May 20 - 02:49 PM
Steve Gardham 14 May 20 - 02:50 PM
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Subject: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: GUEST,Percy
Date: 04 Jan 05 - 11:11 PM

If young William was buried in the choir (assumingly under flagstone), then how on earth did his rose grow OUT of the coffin, UP through the stone, ACROSS the church floor, OUT the door (or window) OVER (how far?) to the church wall to join up with B.A.'s briar? I've heard of some horticultural feats, but this has to be one of the best yet...
Percy


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Amos
Date: 04 Jan 05 - 11:26 PM

Well, let's not make any assumptions here. For one thing, at least one version that discusses the entwining rose and briar says nothing about the different locations of burial. It's one of the related Barbry Ellen links -- not sure which. For another the parts of a church are often loosely named. For a third, the rose and the briar growing out of true lovers' bosoms int heir graves is a common theme...for example, it is reconstructed completely in "Lord Lovell". So who knows which verses were borrowed from whence?

A


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: GUEST,Percy
Date: 04 Jan 05 - 11:30 PM

A,
In my version the verse goes as follows: "BA was buried in the old church yard, young William IN THE CHOIR...etc (my caps). As we all know that's the part of the church that lies e-west.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 12:26 AM

They Buried her in the old church yard
Sweet Williams grave was by her
They grew and they grew by the old church wall
The Red Rose and the Briar

Is the verse that I have , which at least makes sense !


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 12:31 AM

G'day Percy,

What do you mean - anomoly? It rhymes!

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 12:57 AM

Sheesh, talk about conjuring upa straw man. Does every church that ever was have a stone floor? No. Ever been in a dirt floor church? I have. So what are you worried about?


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Lanfranc
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 06:45 AM

Anomoly is itself an anomaly!

Alan (ducking and running!)


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 10:46 AM

It's a floating verse. There's a lot of them about. We even found a song that consists entirely of floating verses. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's how it was sung by the lady it was collected from.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: treewind
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 10:48 AM

Oops - cookie went AWOL - that was me!

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 11:01 AM

"Sweet William was buried anigh her" is the way I have often heard it.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 11:03 AM

I forgot to mention "Barbara was buried by the old church tower"


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Joybell
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 05:30 PM

True-Love painted this theme on a little car I had. (Mini Moke = cute little baby jeep type car).
There were two skeletons lying together under the windows, along the side, with a rose and briar twining at the roof-top. A little owl with stars for eyes perched on top. The stars had moved up from below the skeletons, having been mined by a group of little dwarfs working with pick-axes underground. Barb'ry and Sweet William were wearing colourful leather boots but nothing else - well no - there were a few wisps of lace and silk floating around. Anyway not much.

People kept telling me their interpretations of what we were trying to say. We weren't saying anything actually. It was just an artist's inspiration. The best one was that it was a comment on the road toll! How boring! We singers of old songs live in a different space, don't we.

Hope this all helps. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 06:25 PM

And he was buried in diamond stone
And she was buried in cold harber.
(a version collected by Sharp)
I suppose the listener would know what cold harber is.

Young Jimmy was buried in the new church-yard,
Bar'bra Allen was buried in the choir.
(Coll. in Virginia, in Bronson)
The singer, poetically challenged, was stuck for a word to rhyme with brier.

Oh she was buried in the old church-yard,
Sweet William was buried a-nigh her...
(Ritchie Family, KY, recorded by Jean Ritchie. From Bronson)
Now she sang sensible, intelligible songs!

A crowded church-yard- William, Jimmy, Sir John, etc., etc.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 06:48 PM

Holy crow, you guys! Don't you know that "Love Conquers ALL"???


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 07:40 PM

Q: You said

Jean Ritchie. From Bronson)
Now she sang sensible, intelligible songs!


Not "sang"; sings!   She's here on Mudcat.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 07:54 PM

Yeah, I know Dave O. My brain is drained today.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 08:03 PM

As I learned it. I'm not sure where, but I think it was out of A Treasury of Folk Songs compiled by John and Sylvia Kolb, a Bantam paperback I bought off a drugstore rack for 35˘ back in 1952. A great starter kit! No problem with anomalies in that version.

They buried her by the old church tower;
They buried him beside her
And out of his grave grew a red red rose
And out of hers a green briar.

They climbed and they climbed up the old church tower
'Til they couldn't climb any higher;
There they twined and they tied a true lovers' knot,
The red rose 'round the green briar.


[The red rose grew out of Sweet William's grave because his love was true. The briar grew out of Barbara's grave because she had "issues."]

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 08:32 PM

Beware of trying to derive "meaning" from versions of songs found in tradition. They may be confused or altered and will get you nowhere except an almighty tangle. Similarly, texts heard on records or seen in books are potentially misleading if they don't tell you where they came from. Singers ("traditional" or professional) and, often enough, book editors, don't worry too much over whether or not the words make logical sense; and it really doesn't matter.

See, for instance, the recent discussion here that went into interminable and pointless length about whether or not it was possible to kill somebody with a "wee pen knife" and whether or not the term ought to be "weapon knife"; when all the time the words were clearly just a "ballad convention" with no pretense at all to (or undue concern for) strict realism.

That's the case here. It's just a poetic convention, not an anomaly or logical problem. Nobody worries about whether or not it's physically possible (ballads are full of physical impossibilities. So what?)

If you really want to examine "meaning", then you need to look at the earliest available texts. They don't even contain those verses.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 09:04 PM

True indeed, Malcolm. A horse is never just a horse, it's always a "milk-white steed" or a "dapple grey." A woman's hand is never just a hand, it's usually a "lily-white hand." There are stock words and phrases that crop up in ballads all the time. People can drive themselves nuts trying to make perfect sense out of ballad conventions. Sometimes it just isn't there.

But sometimes ballad conventions do make perfect sense if you know what's going on. One that throws a lot of people is "my false true-love." Not the contradiction it seems to be. My "true-love" is the woman I truly love. If she's false to me, then she is "my false true-love."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 09:08 PM

Oh, absolutely. They often do make perfect sense (even if they seem a little odd, to begin with, to the modern sensibility); it just doesn't matter very much when they don't.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Amos
Date: 05 Jan 05 - 09:18 PM

A similar interminable, but fun, discussion was had about whether it would be possible to sink the Spanish enemy with a bit and augur while floating alongside her.

A


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 12:07 PM

Wow, could that kid tread water!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 12:41 PM

How about that cowboy, already wrapped up in white linen, but able to give a long discourse on his mis-spent life?


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 01:01 PM

I learned it as 'they buried her beside the church and him BESIDE the choir' which makes perfect sense. People do getburied that way. Provided they are dead.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 04:51 PM

Didn't the choir object?


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Joybell
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 05:11 PM

Ah! but it's such fun playing this game isn't it? I also particularly liked the "Golden Vanity" discussion.

I often gaze at cuckoos to see if the do indeed "wobble" as they fly (ours are different from American ones of course). They don't, as it turns out, although they don't "warble" either.
Thornbills on the other hand do wobble as they fly.

Oh the thornbill she's a pretty bird
She wobbles as she flies.

Not the same ring to it somehow. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 06:35 PM

Uncle DaveO, and Q. It's OK to say, "she sang..." as that has been in my repertoire since I was born. The track used as the opening one on the "Rose and Briar" CD was done for Folkways (the 2-record set of Child Ballads in America-now issued on one CD by Smithsonian/Folkways)
in 1961. But,"she sings" is still OK too- I think!


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: jaze
Date: 06 Jan 05 - 09:29 PM

Barbry Allen was buried in the old churchyard
Sweet William was buried beside her
Out of Sweet William's heart there grew a rose
Out of Barbary Allen's a briar
They grew and grew in the old churchyard
til they could grow no higher
At the end they formed a true lover's knot
and the rose grew round the briar.

OK, they still had to grow out of the coffins and up thru the ground, but then true love is an amazing thing!


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Jan 05 - 03:14 PM

Not necessarily through coffins. For a long, long time corpses were buried in no more than a winding sheet, or shroud.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 07 Jan 05 - 04:57 PM

It's one of the great blessings of life to be able to say of Jean Ritchie "She sings..." (IMHO)(tenses are sometimes important), and "...anigh her.." is the rhyme I remember, too. Not so weird.   Tw


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: GUEST,Percy
Date: 08 Jan 05 - 01:06 AM

Thankyou one and all. It has been most enjoyable watching you all go at it!
Percy


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomoly
From: GUEST,Skivee, cookieless
Date: 08 Jan 05 - 01:54 PM

They threw them down in some dark hole,
which was photosynthesis denyin'
So nothin' grew from their gory tombs
and nothin' did en-twi-an
Does that take care of the matter?


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 May 20 - 09:26 AM

Does a seed or sucker need photosynthesis? You've not looked at my garden path.

Now love and hate are very strong
But nature's power is stronger
It breaks the stones that men have laid
With bramble and with briar.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 May 20 - 05:54 PM

If BA had not been a false truelove and William hadn't been a jerk the song would have had a different ending and would probably not have survived as long.

Barbara came 'longside his bed,
Said "William don't you leave me:
We'll wed tomorrow in the church
And you'll never grieve me."

The first time I became aware of this song was in a book called, I believe, Wilderness Journey. I do not recall the deathbed verse fom that--I was about 10 at the time.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 May 20 - 09:08 AM

william a jerk?


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: leeneia
Date: 12 May 20 - 12:05 PM

We get all these variants as people try to think of a rhyme for briar.
Here's a novel choice from the song 'Sweet William and Lady Margot.'

And it's bury them both in the quiet church yard,
where praying folk RETIRE,
and see how it grows out of her heart a rose
and out of his a briar.

I agree with the OP, choir is a silly choice, unless the church is in ruins.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 20 - 12:40 PM

For the record, in the medieval church, being buried inside the church was common and the walls of the choir' (choire - where the clergy sat) was often a favoured spot for burying the clergy and patrons, which suggests not only that the ballad (or the motif) was older than sometimes believed bt also a class difference between the protagonists - one buried in state, the other stuck out in the cold
Tom Lenihan, who sang this ballad, always said that the burial bit, particularly the 'rose and briar' didn't belong to this ballad
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 May 20 - 01:26 PM

Of course it doesn't belong to this ballad. None of the early versions have it, but many other ballads do. It is a Europe-wide motif existing in ballads seemingly much older than any British ones.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 May 20 - 02:24 PM

it belongs to it now, folk process


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 May 20 - 05:39 PM

Absolutely, along with quite a few other unrelated ballads.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: EBarnacle
Date: 13 May 20 - 07:53 AM

Yes, William was a jerk. He was drinking in a tavern with his pals. Everyone else was toasting their beloveds and he did not. Surely he knew word would get back to BA about his lack of enthusiasm. She being a jealous type, felt slighted and the tragedy followed.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 20 - 08:27 AM

With respect Steve - it is a "floater" verse which automatically 'belongs' to every song or ballad it lands on
These are transferable motifs like 'seas running dry" or "rocks melting with the sun"
At present I'm being gobsmacked by working may way though a survey of songs which make up the 1801 second edition introduction to 'Complaynt of Scotland' and finding out how far back these motifs and even songs go
Putting dates or specific origins on them is like trying to put fog in a bottle
Jim


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:11 AM

Jim,
You are 100% correct. Nobody would even attempt to put a date on a motif.
As you say most of them go back to the earliest records and as far as we know beyond this.

However, there is some mileage for researchers in identifying the earliest extant appearance in ballad form, even if that earliest appearance is in another culture or state.

Dating the earliest extant versions is not easy by any means but I find it a useful exercise and other researchers appear to be interested in the results.

Takes all sorts I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 20 - 03:01 PM

"Dating the earliest extant versions is not easy by any means"
Impossible in fact unless you can trace the oral versions further back than the beginning of the twentieth century and further still, earlier than Mrs Knipp
Pepys suggested the song was "old" then
Accordi to the anonymous writer of the introduction to the second edition of 'Complaynt' many of the songs current then and mentioned in the first edition, many of these songs predated the printing press, suggesting an extremely lively oral tradition way back then
Putting a date on these pieces is rather like trying to represent a horse race by taking a photograph at the winning post - a 'non-stater' to mix metaphors

Don't know whether anybody is interested but I've started to put up some of our old articles and talks on the Academia website - I intend to make it a regular thing
I started last week with an article/talk I gave entitled, 'Mikeen McCarthy, Ballad Seller' and have just put up one on Walter Pardon
I will put up another next week on a London/Clare singer and dancer
Yez gorra fill in these empty days with something more interesting than cutting grass !
Jim


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 20 - 03:56 PM

Jim, you need to look up the word 'extant'.

Yes,
I've been following your additions to Academia with interest. Thanks for this.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 20 - 02:23 AM

"Extant"
"still in existence; surviving." - what I thought it was
Which makes no difference to its origins - a bit like the Eiffel Tower really. only much, much older
What's your point ?
The fact that some versions have the 'rose and briar' motif and some don't makes neither more correct than the other
The oral tradition expands the songs, never replaces them - they are all out there lurking in the ether somewhere
Jim


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 20 - 06:23 AM

Precisely, 'still in existence, surviving' so the 'earliest version still in existence'. That's all we're claiming as fact, nothing more.

The rest is opinion based on 50 years of studying as much of the extant material as possible.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 20 - 07:38 AM

"That's all we're claiming as fact, nothing more."
I'm concerned with your view on origins, but as I said, the rose and briar motif belongs wherever it lands
Your opinion - once presented as irrefutable fact is spancilled from the word go by that fact that our detailed knowledge (which is sparse enough), of an oral tradition which is older than printing, only goes back as far as 1900, so everything earlier than that has to be guesswork (and sometimes wishful thinking)
One of the factors that appears to have been missed is the mixed reception songs in print received among the singers - some regarded them as unreliable, others as sacrosanct and shouldn't be altered
These were singers regarded as such rather than old people reporting what their granny's, granny had passed down
Jim


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 20 - 10:19 AM

We at least have plenty of facts to back up our opinions, based in the individual songs themselves, when they were first printed, and detailed comparison with thousands of others that didn't make it as far as the oral tradition of the last 150 years.

>>>>'One of the factors that appears to have been missed is the mixed reception songs in print received among the singers - some regarded them as unreliable, others as sacrosanct and shouldn't be altered
These were singers regarded as such rather than old people reporting what their granny's, granny had passed down'<<<<

What relevance has this to what was happening in England 200 years ago?


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 20 - 10:26 AM

Anyhow getting back to the title: Jim, interested in your statement, 'Pepys suggested the song was "old" then'. Can you flag this up for us all please? Don't recall Pepys referring to the age of the song at all.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 20 - 10:43 AM

"Old Scotch Ballad" I seem to remember Stave
Jim


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 20 - 02:49 PM

I think Pepys must have written that one in his secret diary!

Here's what Child quoted 'In perfect pleasure I was to hear her sing, and especially her LITTLE Scotch song of Barbary Allen.' Or maybe Child got it wrong. He was always editing the ballads apparently.


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Subject: RE: Barbara Allen anomaly
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 20 - 02:50 PM

What was that comment a few posts back about 'wishful thinking'?


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