Mudcat Café message #3957248 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165063   Message #3957248
Posted By: Kevin Werner
18-Oct-18 - 07:31 AM
Thread Name: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Subject: RE: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
There is little variation between versions, but Jeannie Robertson wasn't the only recorded source for "My Son David".

Margaret Stewart recalled her own version of the song after hearing Jeannie singing it:
http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/fullrecord/62076/1
This was recorded by Hamish Henderson in 1954.

Another text was recorded by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger from Maria Robertson in 1963. It was printed in "Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland":

1 What's the blood that's on your sword?
      Hey son David, Ho son David,
What's the blood mat's on your sword?
      Come promise, tell me true.

2 That's the blood of my grey mare,
      Yes lady Mother, ay, lady Mother,
That's the blood of my grey mare,
      Because it wadna rule by me.

3 That blood is far too clear,
      Hey son David, Ho son David,
That blood is far too clear,
      Come promise, tell me true.

4 That's the blood of my hunting hack,
      Yes lady Mother, ay, lady Mother,
That's the blood of my hunting hack,
      Because it wadna rule by me.

5 That blood is far too clear,
      Hey son David, Ho son David,
That blood is far too clear,
      Come promise, tell me true.

6 That's the blood of my brother John,
      Yes lady Mother, ay, lady Mother,
That's the blood of my brother John,
      When he drew his sword to me.

7 What way did youse fall out?
      Hey son David, Ho son David,
What way did youse fall out?
      Come promise, tell me true.

8 It was the cuttin' o' a silly wand,
      A silly wand,
'Twas the cuttin' o' a silly wand
      When he drew his sword to me.

9 I'm gaun awa' in a bottomless boat,
      In a bottomless boat,
I'm gaun awa' in a bottomless boat,
      And a good scholar I'll come hame.

Here's a bit of info on the singer from the book:

MARIA ROBERTSON
Maria Robertson was born in 1930 in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. Her father, David Robertson, a brother of Jeannie Robertson (the well-known Aberdeen ballad-singer) is known among Travellers as 'The Iron Man', a title bestowed upon him during the time he worked the boxing booths at fairs and markets. We met Maria at the home of Wilhelmina MacAllister and only recorded her for an hour, during which she sang us five traditional songs and 'yen I made up the day'. She has contributed the following items to this book:

5 Edward
17 The Braes o' Yarrow
110 The Ale-Wife and Her Barrel
111 Hooly and Fairly

(Collected 1963)

The Musical Traditions CD reissue of the book also includes the audio recordings for all songs.

Maria Robertson sang it much slower than Maggie Stewart but both sang "Hey Son David" instead of "My Son David" and pronounced it the same way. There's also the verse about the bottomless boat which was missing in Jeannie's early recordings of the song.