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Origins: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song

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LADY MARY


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Lady Mary (closed) (18) (closed)


Malcolm Douglas 31 Jul 02 - 10:08 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 31 Jul 02 - 09:49 PM
kendall 31 Jul 02 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Dale 31 Jul 02 - 05:39 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 31 Jul 02 - 04:26 PM
MMario 31 Jul 02 - 11:21 AM
Puffenkinty 31 Jul 02 - 11:13 AM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Jul 02 - 07:53 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 06:08 PM
Susan of DT 30 Jul 02 - 05:52 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 02 - 05:40 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 04:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Jul 02 - 04:30 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 04:29 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 02 - 04:00 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 03:56 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 02 - 03:52 PM
MMario 30 Jul 02 - 03:38 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 03:20 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 03:17 PM
GUEST, NOMADman 30 Jul 02 - 02:47 PM
Puffenkinty 30 Jul 02 - 01:34 PM
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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 10:08 PM

So far, we have only assumptions made by revival performers about this song; not an atom of evidence for its existence before the early 20th century in America. It may well be older; though, from the language, probably not much. I hadn't realised that someone might confuse "Jacobean" with "Jacobite", of course; we can, after all, only try to answer the questions that are asked.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 09:49 PM

Confusion easily arises if one word or one line has been altered along the line of passage. We may end with an interpretation that is far different from the author's intent. The only information we have is Mrs. McCord's; we will have to go with it unless something new turns up.
Listening to Mrs. McCord sing the song in the Max Hunter Collection, I have a recollection of having heard the tune before. Now it will haunt me for a while. (The Contemplator midi is somewhat flat and characterless).


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: kendall
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 07:15 PM

Actually, the most recent recording of this jewel is on my cd, BEGINNERS LUCK. It has also been said that Lady Mary is the virgin Mary. Who knows?


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 05:39 PM

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

Story:
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.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 04:26 PM

Puffinkinty- Leslie Nelson at Contemplator lists Lady Mary as a Scottish folksong of the 19th century, possibly in error, but no claims are made for it being Jacobite music. It is not on the list of Jacobite music (it is stated most were written long after the uprisings anyway). Leslie's stated source is good old Mudcat Digital Tradition.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: MMario
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 11:21 AM

19th century would be Victorian. "About the Jocobites" is certainly not equivilant to "Jacobean origin"


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Puffenkinty
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 11:13 AM

The reason I had alluded to a possible Jacobean origin for the song "Lady Mary" was because I found the tune and words through a Google search, and it was listed as a Scottish song from the 19th century about the Jacobite struggle. The site is www.contemplator.com/scotland.

Are the authors of this site full of it?

Thanks to all who wrote.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 07:53 PM

Sandburg: New American Songbag (1950) pp.56-57. I had assumed from the reference in the DT file that the text there was from Sandburg, but evidently this is not the case.

Interesting that Baez' comment that the song "has an Elizabethan ring" turns into someone's else's belief that she said that "the song is Jacobean in origin". Sounds and reads like a Victorian parlour ballad to me.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 06:08 PM

Thanks, Susan - Susan's version in the Digital Tradition is an exact transcription of the words in the Joan Baez Songbook, except that the Baez book doesn't have the last "with our souls" verse. Here are the notes from the Baez book:
The text of this song has an Elizabethan ring to it, but it comes from the Ozark Mountains where Vance Randolph collected it from May Kennedy McCord. One would think that such an exquisite text and tune would be found more widely in tradition, but to date no other version of this lyric has turned up on either side of the Atlantic.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Susan of DT
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 05:52 PM

I entered the version in the DT (SOF is me). I learned the song from a Joan Baez record in the 60s and entered her version and the title from her songbook, altho I think of it as "Palace Grand". I added the soul verse later, since I had not heard it at that time.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 05:40 PM

Apparently Mrs. McCord herself added the "Lady Mary" in later renditions of the song (including Max Hunter recording, 1960). The version I posted is from the 4-vol. set.
I would guess that the comment about it possibly being from a sheet music song of the 1880s or 1890s was added to the abridged version by the editor, Norm Cohen; it is not in the 4 vol. set.
Not important, but after listening to the Max Hunter recording of Mrs. McCord, I think "flower-strewn bed" probably was there from the start rather that "flower-strewn bier." The lyrics to the Max Hunter recording have two errors; line 1 should be "came from" and in line 3 "his look" ends the sentence.

We have not found out where Sandburg published the song (see Malcolm's post). He published a great deal, so a reference is needed.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:43 PM

Here are the lyrics from the Max Hunter site. Note that they're very similar to the version in the Digital Tradition.
-Joe Offer-

PALACE GRAND
As sung by May Kennedy McCord, Springfield, Missouri on October 21, 1960

VERSE 1
He came to his palace grand
An' he came t' my cottage door
His words were few but his lock
They will linger forever more
Th' smile an' his sad dark eyes
More tender than words could be
But I was nothing to him
Tho' he was th world to me

VERSE 2
An' there in his garden strolled
All robed in his satins an' lace
Lady Mary so strange 'n cold
Who held in his heart no place
Fer I would've been his bride
With a kiss for lifetime fee
But I was nothing to him
Tho' he was th world to me

VERSE 3
Today in his palace grand
On a flower strewn bed he lies
With 'is beautiful lips fast closed
O, his beautiful sad dark eyes
Among th mours who mourned
Why should I a mourner be
For I was nothing to him
Tho' he was th world to me

VERSE 4
How will it be with our souls
When we meet in that spirit land
What th mortal heart n'er knows
To th spirit then understand
Or in some celestial form
Will our sorrows repeated be
Will I still be nothing to him
Though he is th world to me

OTHER COLLECTIONS:
Randolph: IV-698 The Sad Song


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:30 PM

This is number 6358 in the Roud Folk Song Index. The only traditional set noted there which (apparently) does not derive from the McCord version appeared in William A. Owens' Texas Folk Songs (1950), and was noted by Owens from an unidentified source as Lady Mary.

The set recorded and published by Sandburg came from Mrs. McCord, according to Roud.


    I now have th eOwens book. Owens says he first heard the song when May Kennedy McCord sang it at the Texas Centennial in 1936. Since then it was sung for him in Oklahoma and Texas.
    The version in the Owens book is substantially the same as others posted here.
    -Joe Offer, January, 2008-


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:29 PM

Dicho, I think the majority ruled against combining threads in most circumstances, so I'm doing it only in limited situations. Let's keep the current discussion in this one thread.

The abridged version of Randolph gives three titles for the song, "The Sad Song," "Lady Mary," and "Palace Grand." Randolph says Carl Sandburg collected the song in 1930 - I'm wondering if Sandburg published it in a book. Sandburg's American Songbag was published in 1927.
Barry Taylor's transcription of the tune is at The Contemplator website.
You can hear a recording of May Kennedy McCord singing "Palace Grand" at the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:00 PM

This thread popped up today without mention of the earlier one, 27260: The Sad Song
Who named it Lady Mary? Not Randolph, not Sandburg. Who added the words "Lady Mary", not in the song as collected? See previous thread for the Randolph version and more information.


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 03:56 PM

Here is the version in the abridged edition of Ozark Folksongs (Vance Randolph, 1982). I think it's identical to what Dicho posted - I think he has the four-volume set of Ozark Folksongs. I've posted it next to the Digital Tradition lyrics for comparison. I wonder where the DT lyrics come from.

THE SAD SONG

He came from his palace grand,
And he came to my cottage door;
His words were few, but his looks
Will linger forevermore.
The smile in his sad dark eyes,
More tender than words could be;
But I was nothing to him,
Though he was the world to me;
But I was nothing to him,
Though he was the world to me.

And there in his garden strolled,
All robed in satins and lace,
A lady so strange and cold,
Who held in his heart no place.
For I would be his bride
With a kiss for a lifetime fee;
But I am nothing to him,
Though he is the world to me;
But I am nothing to him,
Though he is the world to me.

Today in his palace grand
On a flower-strewn bier he lies,
With the beautiful lids fast closed
O'er the beautiful sad dark eyes.
Among the mourners who mourn
Why should I a mourner be?
For I was nothing to him,
Though he was the world to me;
For I was nothing to him,
Though he was the world to me.

How will it be with our souls
When we meet in that spirit land?
What the mortal heart ne'er knows
Will the spirit then understand?
Or in some celestial form
Will our sorrows repeated be?
Will I still be nothing to him,
Though he is the world to me?
Will I still be nothing to him,
Though he is the world to me?
LADY MARY (DT version)

He came from his palace grand
He came to my cottage door
His words were few but his looks
Will linger for ever more
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
Who finds in her heart 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



And now in his palace grand
on a flower strewn bed he lies
His beautiful lids are closed
Over his sad dark eyes
And among the mourners who mourn
Why should I a mourner be
When I was nothing to him
And he was the world to me



And how will it be with our souls
When we meet in that spirit land
What the human heart ne'er knows
Will the spirit then understand
Or in some celestial form
Will our sorrows repeated be
Will I still be nothing to him
Though he is the world to me

CLICK TO PLAY


Randolph's notes:
This piece has no local title, but Carl Sandburg, who heard it at Springfield, Mo., in 1930, always called it "The Sad Song."
The origins of this song have not been traced, but it would appear to be a sheet-music composition of the 1880s or 1890s. Evelyn Beers learned it from May Kennedy McCord and has sung it frequently; her version is in Bush (1970), 77—79. Joan Baez also recorded the piece; she learned it from Randolph's text.
When Randolph recorded Mrs. McCord singing this in 1941 (AFS 5297 B3), she titled it "Lady Mary." Max Hunter, who also recorded her rendition of the song (MPH 549), used the title by which his mother had sung it—"Palace Grand."
The above version was sung by May Kennedy McCord, Springfield, Missouri, May 14, 1934. Mrs. McCord learned it near Galena, Missouri, about 1900.


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Subject: ADD Version: The Sad Song
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 03:52 PM

Vance Randolph included this song in his Ozark Folksongs, vol. 4, p. 153-154, no. 698, with music, as "The Sad Song."
No Lady Mary is mentioned, either in the song or in Randolph's notes.
Randolph says "This piece has no local title, but Carl Sandburg, who heard it at Springfield, MO, in 1930, always called it "The Sad Song." "Sung by Mrs. May Kennedy McCord, Springfield, MO, May 14, 1934. Mrs. McCord learned it near Galena, MO, about 1900."
Here are the words in Randolph:

THE SAD SONG

He came from his palace grand,
And he came to my cottage door,
His words were few, but his looks will linger forevermore.
The smile in his sad dark eyes
More tender than words could be,
But I was nothing to him,
Though he was the world to me,
But I was nothing to him,
Though he was the world to me.

And there in his garden strolled,
All robed in satins and lace,
A lady so strange and cold
Who held in his heart no place.
For I would be his bride
With a kiss for a lifetime fee,
But I am nothing to him,
Though he is the world to me,
But I am nothing to him
Though he is the world to me.

Today in his palace grand
On a flower-strewn bier he lies,
With the beautiful lids fast closed
O'er the beautiful sad dark eyes.
Among the mourners who mourn
Why should I a mourner be?
For I was nothing to him
Though he was the world to me,
For I was nothing to him
Though he was the world to me.

How will it be with our souls
When we meet in that spirit land?
What the mortal heart ne'er knows
Will the spirit then understand?
Or in some celestial form
Will our sorrows repeated be?
Will I still be nothing to him,
Though he be the world to me?
Will I still be nothing to him,
Though he be the world to me?

Sandburg also called it "The Sad Song." Who added the Lady Mary?? For an unexplained reason, this has become the primary title in The Traditional Ballad Index (cufresno). Where did the DT version come from? Is it the Baez recording?


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary
From: MMario
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 03:38 PM

The way I see it, from the lyrics, is the un-named man is the lover (or possibly love - but not lover)of the singer - the "Lady Mary" is his wife. Other implications of the lyrics are that the singer was a lower class and/or poorer woman, that Lady Mary had the requisite wealth and/or title needed for a "good" marriage. The man dies - and the singer is asking herself why should she mourn.


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Subject: ADD Version: Lady Mary
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 03:20 PM

Here's a version I found at a Seekers Website. I compared it with the Seekers recording, and it seems to me to be an exact transcription.
-Joe Offer-

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.


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Subject: Origins: Lady Mary / Palace Grand / The Sad Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 03:17 PM

There sure isn't much in the Traditional Ballad Index. Here's the entry.
-Joe Offer-
Lady Mary (The Sad Song)

Lady Mary (The Sad Song)

DESCRIPTION: "He came from his palace grand And he came to my cottage door... But I was nothing to him, Though he was the world to me." She desperately loved him; now he is dead, but she has no excuse for mourning. She wonders if, in heaven, he will still ignore her
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1930 (collected by Sandburg)
KEYWORDS: death love beauty
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Randolph 698, "The Sad Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 522-524, "The Sad Song" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 698)
DT, LADYMARY*

Roud #6358
RECORDINGS:
Bud Skidmore, "The Sad Song" (Columbia 15761-D, 1932)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "We Met, 'Twas In a Crowd"
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Palace Grand
Notes: This has been quite popular in the folk revival; it appears that most if not all of these versions derive from the May Kennedy McCord collected by Randolph and Hunter; she also gave it to Evelyn Beers. Bush's printing also derives from McCord. Thus although there are a few other versions of the song known (from Owens and Sandburg), if you've heard this song, the version you know almost certainly comes from McCord. - RBW
File: R698

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


For the sake of comparison, here is the version from the Digital Tradition:

LADY MARY

He came from his palace grand
He came to my cottage door
His words were few but his looks
Will linger for ever more
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
Who finds in her heart 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

And now in his palace grand
on a flower strewn bed he lies
His beautiful lids are closed
Over his sad dark eyes
And among the mourners who mourn
Why should I a mourner be
When I was nothing to him
And he was the world to me

And how will it be with our souls
When we meet in that spirit land
What the human heart ne'er knows
Will the spirit then understand
Or in some celestial form
Will our sorrows repeated be
Will I still be nothing to him
Though he is the world to me

@love @death
Note: Sandburg, who collected this in Missouri in 1930, always
called it "the Sad Song". RG
recorded by Joan Baez and by Barton & Para. Also, long long ago, by
Sandburg.
filename[ LADYMARY
TUNE FILE: LADYMARY
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF


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Subject: RE: Lady Mary
From: GUEST, NOMADman
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:47 PM

This song is from the Ozarks. It appears in Vance Randolph's Ozark Folksongs. Randolph titled it "The Sad Song." It was recorded perhaps most recently by Cathy Barton and Dave Para on their album "Ballad of the Boonslick" under the title "Palace Grand" (now available, I believe, only on cassette). I doubt that you will find any actual background on the story. I suspect that it is a product of the original writer's imagination, and the answers to your questions are left to yours.

Regards,

John


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Subject: Lady Mary
From: Puffenkinty
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 01:34 PM

Does anybody know the backgound of the song "Lady Mary", the one that begins "He came from his palace grand/ He came to my cottage door."? Joan Baez sings it in one of her early albums, and the liner notes say only that the song is Jacobean in origin.

Was the song derived from a longer ballad? Who is the "Lady Mary, so cold and so strange" mentioned in the song, and who is the un-named man? Any information will be greatly appreciated.


Lady Mary in the Digital Tradition


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