Traditional Songs
 
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Please click on the links by the titles to listen to recordings in mp3 format!

 

 

The Lakes of Ponchartrain

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/lakesofponch.mp3

 

It was one fine March morning I bade New Orleans adieu,

And I took the road to Jackson Town, my fortune to renew,

I cursed our foreign money, no credit could I gain

Which filled my heart with longing for the Lakes of Ponchartrain.

 

I stepped on board a railroad car beneath the morning sun,

I rode the rods till evening and I laid me down again,

Oh strangers, they’re no friends to me, till a dark girl towards me came,

And I fell in love with a creole girl by the Lakes of Ponchartrain.

 

I said, ‘My pretty creole girl, my money is no good.

If it weren’t for the alligators I sleep out in the wood.’

‘You’re welcome here, kind stranger, our house is very plain,

But we never turn a stranger out by the Lakes of Ponchartrain.’

 

She took me into her mammy’s house and treated me right well

The hair upon her shoulders in jet-black ringlets fell;

To try to paint her beauty I’m sure t’would be in vain,

So handsome was my creole girl by the Lakes of Ponchartrain.

 

I asked her if she’d marry me; she said that could never be,

For she had got a lover, and he was far at sea;

She said that she would wait for him, and true she would remain,

So faithful was my creole girl by the Lakes of Ponchartrain.

 

Then it’s fare thee well, my bonny young girl, I never will see thee more,

I’ll ne’er forget your kindness in the cottage by the shore,

And at each social gathering, a flowing glass I’ll drain,

And I’ll drink a health to my creole girl by the Lakes of Ponchartrain.

 

 

She Moves Through the Fair

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/shemovesthro.mp3

 

My young love said to me, ‘My mother won’t mind

And my father won’t slight you for you lack of kind,’

And she laid her hand on me, and to me did say,

‘It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.’

 

And she turned away from me and she moved through the fair

And fondly I watched her move here and move there

Till at last she went homewards with one star awake

As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

 

The people were saying, ‘No two e’er were wed

But one had a sorrow that ne’er could be said,’

And I smiled as she passed me with her goods and her gear,

And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

 

Last night she came to me, my dead love came in

She came in so softly, her feet made no din,

And she laid her hand on me, and to me did say,

‘It will not be long, love, till our wedding day.’

 

 

The Banks of Sweet Primroses

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/banksofprim.mp3

 

As I walked out on a fine summer morning

To view the fields and to take the air

Down by the banks of the sweet primroses

There I beheld a most lovely fair.

 

I said, ‘Fair maid, why are you grieving?

And what’s the occasion of all your grief?

I will give you whate’er your poor heart could long for

If you will grant to me one small relief.’

 

‘Stand off, stand off, you’re a false deceiver:

You are a false deceiver, this I know,

For it’s you that have caused my poor heart to wander,

You are the occasion of all my woe.’

 

‘Then I’ll go down to some lonesome valley,

To some lonesome valley where no man can me find,

Where the pretty small birds do change their voices

And each moment blows the restless wind.’

 

At long last... some songs on this page!!!
Thanks to my sister Katherine Langrish, for not only suppling the words and informing notes in this column, but most of all for making these lovely recodings.

Katherine is also the author of several folklore-based fantasies for children and young adults. You can find

out more on her blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles:

http://steelthistles.blogspot.com

and her website:

www.katherinelangrish.co.uk

The Lakes of Ponchartrain: This song is variously thought to be of either Irish, English, or American origin – nobody really knows, but it sounds Irish to me!  The reference to railroad cars probably dates it to no earlier than the 1850’s.  It was recorded by Planxty on their album, Cold Blow and the Rainy Night.  Lake Ponchartrain is a real place: the second-largest saltwater lake in the USA, after the Great Salt Lake in Utah.  It’s only a few miles north of New Orleans, so the train the singer rode on must have been a slow one!

 

 

 

She Moves Through the Fair:

This is a traditional Irish song, collected in Donegal by the poet Padraic Colum and the musicologist Herbert Hughes, and it was first published in a work entitled Irish country songs in 1909.  It’s one of the most beautiful songs I know, full of loss and longing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Banks of Sweet Primroses:

This song, on the standard ‘girl deserted by her lover’ theme, was originally collected by Cecil Sharp who came across various different versions of in Devon and Somerset.  It was first printed in full in 1891, but it’s certainly earlier.  I love the range it gives to the voice, and the twiddly bits you can put in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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