Mudcat Café message #757717 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #50004   Message #757717
Posted By: GUEST,Dale
31-Jul-02 - 05:39 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
Leslie used to post quite a bit here, but I haven't seen posts from Leslie lately.

The notes to the Complete Seekers say, "For her solo tracks, Judith settled on . . . her arrangement of 'Lady Mary', an English ballad which was adopted by America's early settlers . . ."

My own opinion is that I will stick with the May Kennedy McCord source until I am shown differently. Here is a short biography and a nice picture of her. The ThinkQuest site may ask you to "click here to view this site", but it is a safe site, so don't worry about that. They just like for you to know where the article came from ~~ a student project in Taney County, Missouri. May Kennedy McCord is much revered in the Ozarks, and rightly so. For a good while I have been considering a discussion of her work here at Mudcat. Someday I may actually do it.

Here is a dialogue lifted from A Seekerology, a good source of information about The Seekers and their music, by the way. I especially enjoyed their discussion of "The Bush Girl" when I was reading up on it some time ago, but that is another topic altogether.

"Lady Mary" did not cause listmembers any headaches of understanding the words. But the actual meaning of the song was a major bone of contention.

It is fair to say that this song was one of the forgotten songs of the Seekers repertoire. When the first poll of favorite songs was made, the song only made one or two appearances. But by same token, it is also fair to say that the analysis probably made more people appreciative of this song's merits. Some people even thought it was a new song, but it was in fact recorded in 1964.

Gordon Weir kicked it off with this analysis:

A while ago in my "Top 25" listing, I alluded to the struggle I was having trying to follow the story line of "Lady Mary". Recently, Patrick Jervis echoed similar sentiments. Well, for what it may be worth, this is my best take on the song. If any of you have other insights I (and I am sure, Patrick as well) be MORE than appreciative if you would share them with the List.

Dramatis Personae:
The singer, apparently a peasant girl
A royal Prince
Lady Mary, another member of the royalty

The Prince, perhaps to rest and water the horses after a fox hunt, happens to stop by at the house of the peasant girl . She sees him and falls in love with him (and possibly vice versa), but since he is royalty and she but a commoner, no romantic future is possible for them.

Meanwhile, since royalty is expected to court royalty, the Prince is "matched" with Lady Mary, whom he really doesn't love ("In his heart she could find no place"), while being denied to the peasant girl who he knows does love him ("He knew I would be his bride")

Later, the Prince dies and is lying in state. The girl, for whom the Prince had not forsaken Lady Mary in his life, wonders whether she should now attend as one of the mourners.

Keith Swift countered with his views:

This interpretation doesn't quite work. The "singer" says, in part:

"He knew I would be his bride, with a kiss for a lifetime fee. But I WAS NOTHING to him, (emphasis mine) and he was the world to me." I have dropped the complete lyrics in below. It appears to me that the "singer" is Lady Mary herself, not royalty, but married perhaps into nobility. This would not necessarily mean a palatial residence for her. There seems, to me to be only one, unfortunate female in the song, telling her life story so far, from the cottage, to the palace gardens, to the bed-side where he lays dead. At this point, she ponders on the irony of her mourning. I wonder what inspired this song - whether there is a historic character here.

Lady Mary

He came from his palace grand,
He came to my cottage door.
His words were few, but his look
Will linger for evermore.

The look in his sad dark eyes,
More tender than words could be.
But I was nothing to him,
And he was the world to me.

There in her garden she stands,
All dressed in fine satin and lace,
Lady Mary so cold and so strange,
In his heart she could find no place.

He knew I would be his bride,
With a kiss for a lifetime fee.
But I was nothing to him,
And he was the world to me.

Now in his palace grand,
On a flower-strewn bed he lies.
His beautiful lids are closed
On his sad dark beautiful eyes.

And among the mourners who mourn,
Why should I a mourner be,
For I was nothing to him,
And he was the world to me.

For I was nothing to him,
And he was the world to me.

Next up was Gary Padgett who was

somewhat baffled too, although I tend to think there was one lady, and for a couple of lines the narrative changes from the first person to the third person. One thought occurred to me. The inlay material notes from the 5-CD set classify that song as an old English ballad that was brought to America by the early settlers. Oftentimes those old folksongs had many verses, far too many for a typical recording. It just might be that there are some omitted verses which might help to clarify the story line further. Does anyone perhaps have any collection of old ballads and/or folksongs which might contain this song?

For the time being the debate rests, but is open to other interpretations.