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Your favorite version of Barbara Allen

27 Jul 19 - 04:22 PM (#4002325)
Subject: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: lefthanded guitar

I have heard this song by many performers over the years, from famous singers and 'regional' talent. I was recently listening to the Emmy Lou Harris version from the movie Songcatcher, and would have to rate this as my favorite. How about yours? ( And any thoughts you may have about the narrative and/or evolution of the song are also welcome)


27 Jul 19 - 04:40 PM (#4002327)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,keberoxu

Jean Ritchie's solo album for, I think the label was Argo,
has an uncommonly beautiful melody
for the Barbara Allen lyric.


27 Jul 19 - 08:52 PM (#4002338)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Thomas Stern

Rebecca Tarwater LoC L1


27 Jul 19 - 08:53 PM (#4002339)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Gerry

I like The Cowboy's Barbara Ellen, as recorded by Art Thieme.


28 Jul 19 - 03:32 AM (#4002351)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST

THIS
Jim Carroll


28 Jul 19 - 03:46 AM (#4002353)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Observer

Now odd as this may seem I have never, ever heard this song sung by anyone. Been aware that it existed, yet never heard it.


28 Jul 19 - 03:53 AM (#4002355)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Mike Yates

Have always loved Sarah Makem's haunting version, which includes this verse:

'Look at my bedfoot,' he said,
'And there you'll find them lying.
Bloody sheets and bloody shirts
I sweat for Barbara Allen.'

You can hear it on the Musical Traditions 3 CD set (MTCD 353-5).


28 Jul 19 - 04:00 AM (#4002357)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Jim Carroll

Arguably one of the longest running and widespread ballads in the oral tradition
At the time of the Great Fire of London in the 1660s, Samuel Pepys commented in his diary ".but above all, my dear Mrs Knipp whom I sang; and in perfect pleasure I was to hear her sing, and especially her little Scotch song of Barbary Allen."
It runs into hundreds of versions and has been found all over the English-speaking world.

It's unique place in the tradition was summed up for me when she wrote about her collecting trip to Ireland in the early 1950s.
"When we asked for "the old songs" we were given 'Danny Boy', 'I'm 'My Dear Irish Home' and all the the sentimental stuff, but when we asked, "Do you know Barbara Allen", that's when the beautiful traditional songs came pouring out".
(paraphrase)

As far as I'm concerned, she reigns queen over her genre
Jim Carroll


28 Jul 19 - 04:02 AM (#4002358)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Jim Carroll

"It's unique place in the tradition was summed up for me when she wrote about her collecting trip to Ireland in the early 1950s."
Sorry - that refered to Jean Richie
Jim Carroll


28 Jul 19 - 04:58 AM (#4002368)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers

The Everly Brothers, on their 'Songs Our Daddy Taught Us' album.


28 Jul 19 - 07:05 AM (#4002381)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Vic Smith

When I started going to folk clubs in the late 1950s, Barbara Allen was sung quite frequently, but it was always the same version that I heard; a rather soppy version that many of us had learned at school:-
In Scarlett Town where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwelling,
Made every youth cry "Well-a-day".
Her name was Barbara Allen.

I remember thinking to myself. " 'every youth cry "Well-a-day'? Yuk! However much I get into this folk music thing, I'll never want to sing that awful song!"
It must have been 12 or 13 years later that I heard Stanley Robertson in the flesh for the first time - I had heard recordings of him before this - at the opening concert of the TMSA concert in the first year they moved the festival to Kinross. I heard a voice that seemed to be coming through the ages and yet had total involvement with what he was singing.
By the end of the first verse, I had a shiver going down my spine and the flesh moving aginst the muscles in my arms.
By the end of the first verse, I knew that I would have to learn it. I still have the copy of the words in his neat copperplate writing that Stanley wrote out for me before the end of that weekend:-
It fell aboot last Martinmas time,
When the leaves they were doon-faa'ing,
Sir John The Graeme fae the north country,
Fell in love wi' Barbri Allen.

It was harsh, moving, strident, emotional. It was everything that I loved in a ballad and I have sung it countless times since.

I have heard many other versions since and many that I like but three come to mind. Two are from other members of the travelling community. John Hughes, husband of the famed Caroline Hughes, could not be called a great singer could not be called a great singer as his wife certainly was, but there is something about his delivery that I find utterly compelling. Then Vic Legg's version I also love - mind you I love everything that Vic Legg sings and finally the version that Brian Peters reconstructed from a tune and verse noted from an ex-slave Aunt Maria Tomes in Virginia by Cecil Sharp. the combination of the old British words and an African-American tune I find delightful.


28 Jul 19 - 07:31 AM (#4002383)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Gerry

"Now odd as this may seem I have never, ever heard this song sung by anyone. Been aware that it existed, yet never heard it." As Yogi Berra might have said, it's so popular, no one sings it any more.


28 Jul 19 - 09:04 AM (#4002400)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Greg F.

Hardly a "trad" version, but I've always liked Tom Rush's rendition from "Blues, Songs & Ballads" (1963)


28 Jul 19 - 09:09 AM (#4002403)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,HiLo

I would agree about the Everly Brothers, very good version. Songs Our Daddy Taught Us is an extremely good album. I also like Alison Krause singing this.


28 Jul 19 - 10:31 AM (#4002410)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Brad Sondahl

This would be tooting my own horn, but I came up with a minor melodic version that I intersperse with the more conventional
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbnuyncG41k


28 Jul 19 - 07:31 PM (#4002463)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Stewie

There is an unusual version on Stick in the Wheel's recent second volume of 'English Folk Field Recordings'. It is by Mary Humphreys and Anahata and comes from Ella Bull of Cottenham. According to the insert to the CD, the search for the version was instigated by the late Mudcatter, Malcolm Douglas.

Barbara Allen

--Stewie.


29 Jul 19 - 08:22 AM (#4002528)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel

I learnt (and then adapted) a version from one of John Pearse's guitar tutor books. It was in E minor, but I have no idea where he'd got it from.


29 Jul 19 - 02:31 PM (#4002588)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: keberoxu

Herself.

Jean Ritchie: Barbry Allen (Smithsonian Folkways)


29 Jul 19 - 02:37 PM (#4002590)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Mr Red

the Everly Brothers


29 Jul 19 - 03:43 PM (#4002596)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Dennis the Elder

The version sung by Joan Baez.


29 Jul 19 - 05:14 PM (#4002610)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

Another vote for Rebecca Tarwate's splendid a capella version on Library of Congress LOC1. Among the many fine US versions (and even the many more British ones I have heard), I don't know any other version that comes close.

Bob


29 Jul 19 - 07:42 PM (#4002621)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Stewie

Another vote for Rebecca Tarwater but I am also fond of Dan Tate's rendition on
'Virginia Traditions: Ballads from the British Tradition' Global Village CD 1002.

--Stewie.


30 Jul 19 - 03:03 AM (#4002633)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,DaveA

We all forget so quickly.

I find it sad that no-one has mentioned the stripped back to basics version of this that Pete Seeger did.

I may be an old man now but I will never forget the songs that Pete introduced me to in the fifties and sixties. We all owe such a debt to him for the music he preserved, perpetuated and created.

I feel so lucky to have lived during the time that Pete was performing.

Dave


30 Jul 19 - 02:41 PM (#4002714)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: pattyClink

I stumbled on a recording by a group called Barley Bree, which used a melody I think is more beautiful than the usual one, and I think they said it was a variant from county Tyrone.


30 Jul 19 - 07:17 PM (#4002729)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,DrWord

My mother, a capella, in the front seat of the ‘51 Ford. It was the “rather soppy version”, but she sang it well. Appreciate the pointers to other performances ~ thanks again, ‘catters.
keep on pickin
Dennis


30 Jul 19 - 08:08 PM (#4002730)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,Deborah Lee

I've always loved June Tabor's version, entitled "Barbry Ellen."


31 Jul 19 - 12:15 PM (#4002783)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Mrrzy

I'm with Dennis the Elder. But then again Joan Baez' version was the first I knew, and I have a strong preference for the first version of anything.


31 Jul 19 - 08:37 PM (#4002875)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Lighter

Jean Redpath ("Barbarry Allan")

Ewan MacColl (much like the lyrics posted above by Vic Smith)


01 Aug 19 - 04:49 AM (#4002911)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Brian Peters

When I attended Anne Neilson's funeral in Glasgow recently, one of the pieces played was a recording of Anne singing a terrific 'Barbara Allen'. Turns out it's on the 'Kist O' Riches' site, so I can share it.

Anne Neilson: Barbara Allen

Another vote from me for Sarah Makem, and one for Elizabeth Cronin, and thanks Vic for mentioning Aunt Maria Tomes.


01 Aug 19 - 06:22 AM (#4002929)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: GUEST,henryp

Nancy Kerr sings Barbara Allen on the new CD An evening with Nancy Kerr and James Fagan. She says that it comes from Queen Caroline Hughes, via Peggy Seeger and Sandra Kerr.


01 Aug 19 - 07:29 AM (#4002939)
Subject: RE: Your favorite version of Barbara Allen
From: Vic Smith

Thank you to Brian Peters for linking to that lovely version from a favourite singer of mine, Anne Neilson.
It is interesting to hear in her introduction that her opinion of that well known version taught in British schools concurs with mine expressed at 28 Jul 19 - 07:05 AM