Mudcat Café message #3622547 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #153915   Message #3622547
Posted By: Richie
27-Apr-14 - 08:16 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 7
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 7
Ans since I'm finishing the "Two Sisters" here's another version that was recreated, rather clumsily at the end. The reason- to include the ending found in Child A-L called the "resuscitation-ritual" where the dead girl's body and hair are made into an instrument that reveals her sister is the murderer. In the US there are only two extant complete versions outside of the "wind and rain" versions, of which there are only a few traditional versions.

In this ballad, "The Sister's Murder" Patrick Gainer had recreated the last two two verses onto an apparent traditional version:

1. There lived an old woman down by the sea shore,
Bow down, bow down.
There lived an old woman down by the sea shore,
Bow and balance to me.
There lived an old woman down by the sea shore,
And she had daughters three of four,
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

2. A young man came a-courting,
Bow down, bow down.
A young man came a-courting,
Bow and balance to me.
A young man came a-courting,
And he made love to the youngest fair,
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

3. He bought the youngest a fine fur hat,
Bow down, bow down.
He bought the youngest a fine fur hat,
Bow and balance to me.
He bought the youngest a fine fur hat,
And the eldest she didn't like that,
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

4 "A sister, O sister, let's walk by the shore,"
Bow down, bow down.
"O sister, O sister, let's walk by the shore,
Bow and balance to me€.
"O sister, O sister, let's walk by the shore
And see the ships come sailing o'er."
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me."

5 As they were walking along the sea brim,
Bow down, bow down.
As they were walking along the sea brim,
Bow and balance to me.
As they were walking along the sea brim,
The oldest pushed the youngest in.
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

6 "O sister, O sister, please lend me your hand,"
Bow down, bow down,
O sister, O sister, please lend me your hand."
Bow and balance to me.
"O sister, O sister, please lend me your hand,
And I will give you my house and land,"
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

7 "I'll give you neither my hand nor my glove,"
Bow down, bow down.
"I'll give you neither my hand nor my glove,"
Bow and balance to me.
"I'll give you neither my hand nor my glove
For all I want is your own true love."
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.


8 And when they found the young girl fair,[1]
Bow down, bow down,
And when they found the young girl fair,
Bow and balance to me,
And when they found the young girl fair,
They made a fiddle bow from her golden hair,
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

9 And when on the fiddle the music did sound,
Bow down, bow down,
And when on the fiddle the music did sound,
Bow and balance to me,
And when on the fiddle the music did sound,
It cried, "By my sister I was drowned,"
Oh I'll be true to my love,
If my love will be true to me.

[Not usually a local title- surely from Patrick Gainer. You can hear Gainer sing this on West Virginia University's online site recorded in late 1960s, it was published in Singa Hypsy Doodle 1971, and from "Folk Songs from the West Virginia Hills (1975).

In the late 1960s when Marie Boette began preparing her book, Singa Hypsy Doodle (published in 1971), she asked Gainer to include some songs from his collection. One of the ballads he gave her was "The Two Sisters" that Gainer said was "Sung by Mrs. Lou Pritt of Gilmer County."

However in his book, "Folk Songs from the West Virginia Hills," (1975), the exact same version (above) was purported to be by Jack Hamrick of Webster County. The ending is so rare that it has only been found in a handful of versions. No only that but the ending is written in a clumsy way not found in tradition. Clearly this is some traditional version with the last two verses recreated by Gainer.

There are simply no versions from the US that resemble Gainer's last two verses, which contain what Barry calls the "resuscitation- ritual" found in Child A-L (an instrument is fashioned from the hair and body of the murdered sister). Evidently Gainer wanted to have these rare verses in his version. I have no problem with the recreation- it just needs to be stated, instead of implying a traditional source. Unfortunately like Niles, Gainer began working recreating or assisting wit the recreation of ballads when he began collecting with Carey Woofter in the 1920s, creating a shadow of suspicion some on the Combs collection (Wilgus). Gainer's lack of scholarship is evident when he changes informants for the same text and published both versions within a period of 4 years!! To his credit, he did change the title.

Gainer is a talented singer and a knowledgeable collector, who never had any boundaries. He lost his father when he was one, and was raised on a farm by his grandfather, F.C. Gainer, who knew some traditional ballads and songs. But even his grandfather has been drawn into this ballad! A version, "The Miller's Two Daughters" was collected by Carey Woofter (c. 1924 when Gainer and Woofter were students at West Virginia University) purportedly from F. C. Gainer and is in the Combs collection (never published- and I don't have access). So Patrick Gainer knew Woofter collected this ballad that was attributed to his grandfather- but never mentions it and doesn't try to republish it or talk about it online.

Richie