Give Us a Tune: “Drowned Lovers”

Kate Rusby from Hourglass


Willie sits in his stable door
And he’s combing his coal-black steed
And he’s doubting on fair Margaret’s love
And his heart began to bleed
Give corn unto my horse, mother
And meat to my man John
And I’ll away to fair Margaret’s bower
Before the night comes on

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Give Us a Tune: Sergeant William Bailey

Lancum when they were Lynched


Sergeant William Bailey was a man of high renown
Tooral looral looral looral loo
In search of gallant young recruits he used to scour the town
Tooral looral looral looral loo
His face was full and swarthy, of medals he had forty
And ribbons on his chest red white and blue
It was he that looked the hero as he made the people stare O
As he stood on Dunphy’s corner tooral loo

But alas for human greatness every dog he has his day
Tooral looral looral looral loo
And Sergeant William Bailey he is getting old and grey
Tooral looral looral looral loo
No longer youths are willing to take his dirty shilling
And things for him are looking mighty blue
In spite of fife and drumming no more recruits are coming
For Sergeant William Bailey tooral loo

Sergeant William Bailey what a wretched sight to see
Tooral looral looral looral loo
His back that once was firm and straight is almost bent in three
Tooral looral looral looral loo
Some rebel youths with placards have called his army blackguards
And told the Irish youth just what to do
He has lost his occupation let’s sing in jubilation
For Sergeant William Bailey tooral loo

Give Us a Tune: “Master Kilby”

Cecil Sharp collected Master Kilby from Harry Richards of Curry Rivel in Somerset both on July 29, 1904 and on January 6, 1909. Nic Jones sang it on his album From the Devil to a Stranger. 

Traditional lyrics to “Master Kilby”

In the heat of the day when the sun shines so freely
I met Master Kilby so fine and so gay.

Well, I pulled off my hat and I bowed to the ground,
And I said, “Master Kilby, oh, where are you bound?”

“I’m bound for the west in hopes to find rest;
And in the arms of my dear Nancy I’ll build a new nest.

And if I was the master of ten thousand pounds
In bright gold and silver or in King William’s crowns,

I would part with it all with my own heart so freely:
It’s all for the sake of my charming Nancy.

She’s the fairest of girls, she’s the choice of my heart;
And her skin shines like silver in every part.

Oh, I gave her some kisses, it was down by the sea shore;
But still she lay asking, lay asking for more.

Radie Peat “Katie Cruel”

When I first came to town
They called me the roving jewel
Now they’ve changed their tune
Call me Katie Cruel
Through the woods I’m going
And through the boggy mire
Straight way down the road
‘Til I come to my heart’s desire
If I was where I would be
Then I’d be where I am not
Here I am where I must be
Where I would be, I can not
When I first came to town
They bought me drinks plenty
Now they’ve changed their tune
And hand me the bottles empty
If I was where I would be
Then I’d be where I am not
Here I am where I must be
Where I would be, I can not

Katie Cruel is a traditional American folksong, likely of Scottish origin. As a traditional song, it has been recorded by many performers, but the best known recording of the song is by Karen Dalton on the album In My Own Time. The American version of the song is said to date to the Revolutionary War period.

The opening verse of the song bears a strong resemblance to the Scottish song, Licht Bob’s Lassie, whose opening verses mirror the song in both notional content and form:

First when I cam’ tae the toon
They ca’d me young and bonnie
Noo they’ve changed my name
Ca’ me the licht bob’s honey
First when I cam’ tae the toon
They ca’d me young and sonsie
Noo they’ve changed my name
They ca’ me the licht bob’s lassie

Licht Bob’s Lassie would appear to tell a story about a camp follower or prostitute:

I’ll die my petticoats red
And face them wi’ the yellow
I’ll tell the dyser lad
That the licht bob I’m tae follow
Feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are bonnie
I wad leave them a’
And jog along wi’ Johnny
Oh my heart’s been sair
hearin’ Craigie’s corn
I winnae see him the nicht
But I’ll see him the morn


The imagery about dyeing petticoats is shared by the Irish Gaelic lament Siúil A Rúin.

Karen Dalton’s performance of the song is perhaps the best known. About her version, Stephen Thompson has written that “It’s unsettling to hear Dalton, who died homeless and haunted, sing of bridges burned and backs turned.”

Jerry Garcia also performed the song, as have a number of other performers, including Peggy Seeger, Sandy Paton, the New Christy Minstrels (“Miss Katy Cruel”, 1965), Odetta, Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Gingerthistle, Linda Thompson, Moira Smiley, Allysen Callery, Molly Tuttle (The Tuttles and AJ Lee), Joe Dassin and Bert Jansch (with Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart). Cordelia’s Dad recorded the song on their 1995 release, Comet. The Demon Barbers also recorded the song on their 2002 album Uncut. White Magic started covering the song live in 2004, and released it as a single in 2006.. Marie LaForet, a French singer, has also done an English version and a French version of the song. The Owl Service recorded a version of the song on their album A Garland of Song.
Agnes Obel did a version in 2011. The song also features on Raise Ravens, a 2011 release by Glasgow-based John Knox Sex Club who have brought together elements of both versions of the song. The song also features on Lady Maisery’s second album, Mayday (released in 2013). Lisa LeBlanc recorded a version of the song on the album Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted in 2014 [ . . . ] WIKIPEDIA