Arthur McBride and the Sergeant—
I have always assumed that this highly subversive song was from East Anglia, but in fact I don't know. It is probably 18th-century in origin and I learned it from Redd Sullivan, who sang it with great wavings of the arms (the folk world's Joe Cocker?). The tune at the end is French.
When Lucy Broadwood first tried to collect this song, she failed, because the singer refused point-blank to sing 'such an improper song' to a lady, and it took a special trip by a gentleman friend of hers to get it. The present version is from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.
Polly on the Shore—
A song about that most beautiful and most precarious of emotions resignation, and with a tune to match.
A song from the Percy Grainger collection of Lincolnshire songs.
Died for Love—
It has been suggested that this a fragment of a much longer ballad but this eally immaterial when what you have stands perfectly well on its own. Taken from the Grainger collection of Lincolnshire songs, from the singing of Joseph Taylor.
This the result of a cooperative effort by Cyril Tawney, the Yetties, Frankie Armstrong and myself. The tune is obviously for a very formal dance, and has echoes of Michael Praetorius and before.
To the country person, everything around him has its place in the pattern of nature, but the fox seems the odd man out. Among other things, it seems that he kills for no reason, and although this has been explained by diligent study, at one time it led to people attributing a very sinister aspect to him. He was believed to have magical powers, and there are many stories of foxes appearing as people and threatening them in some evil way (Little Red Riding Hood is one related). The same theme in a very debased form was made famous by Lon Chaney Jr's many appearances as the Werewolf on film.
Seven Yellow Gipsies—
There is a whole school of thought which seeks to show that ballads are records of historical occurrences, Possibly they are, but I can't see that it matters two hoots. The idea of a wife being taken by the gipsies is as old as the gipsies themselves. I have taken the liberty of filling the story out by plundering different versions. Little
Musgrave and Lady Barnard—
The story speaks for itself, and really needs nothing written about it at all. The tune I pinched from a version of the Holy Well.
This a rewrite of a song that appears in Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, and set to an imperfectly remembered tune usually sung to either The Broomfield Hill or The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter.
(The Kong) Collected by Andy Nis6et, formerly of Swansea University, from two old ladies in Pembrokeshire.
Martin Carthy (1969)