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Origins: The Bows of London

22 Jan 99 - 04:25 PM (#55250)
Subject: Martin Carthy
From: gwenpatricia@hotmail.com

I've just heard Martin Carthy sing a song calle 'The Bows(?) of London'. Can anyone tell me where I can find a copy of the lyrics and also a recording of it? Please e-mail me at: gwenpatricia@hotmail.com If you can help. Thanks


27 Jan 99 - 03:14 PM (#55955)
Subject: RE: Martin Carthy
From: Wolfgang

a recording is on Carthy/Swarbrick "Life and Limb", Green Linnet #3052, SPD1030, 1993. I'll look for the lyrics tonight.

Wolfgang


28 Jan 99 - 06:29 AM (#56061)
Subject: RE: Martin Carthy
From: Wolfgang

I don't have the lyrics Martin Carthy actually sings, but here's what he writes on the leaflet coming with the CD:

"Ever since I heard Jody Stecher sing a luminous song called "The Wind and Rain" -a version of "The Two Sisters"- I have wanted to sing it. Its overwhelming feature is its concentration on the aspect of the story dealing with the building from the murder victim's remains of a fiddle which then takes on a life of its own and ultimalely unmasks the murderer. Having found my own efforts at singing his to be as unconvincing as my efforts at American songs usually are, I cast around for a tune from this side of the water, came upon The Bows Of London and then tried to stay close to Jody's words. A "bow" is the bend in a river."

Patricia, when you enter [twa sisters] in the upper right search window, you get more than one version. Better still, there are two songs in the DT-database, "The wind and Rain" and "Oh, the wind and rain" which are close to what Martin Carthy sings. Of course he has adapted the lyrics a bit, but with these two songs in hand you can easily follow what he sings.

Wolfgang


14 Sep 99 - 03:00 AM (#114063)
Subject: bows of london
From: gary skinner

Anyone got the lyrics of the bows of london, I havethe song on a Martin Carthy album but I cannot always hear excatly what he is singing


14 Sep 99 - 04:03 PM (#114166)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: bows of london
From: lamarca

Dear Gary - The song is a version of "The Twa Sisters", Child ballad #10; here is a list of all the versions in the DT and Forum: Two Sisters.

If you look at some of the other versions, it might help you decipher Martin's decidedly quirky vocalisms. I have the album at home - if you let me know which lines you're missing, I can try to help you out,


14 Dec 02 - 05:43 PM (#847476)
Subject: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: mack/misophist

Would anyone be kind enough to tell me the origin of the murder ballad Bows of London? It's not in the Digitrad or the forum history. A Google search yields nada. Mostly, I'd like to know what the hell a 'bow' is. My best guess is that it had something to do with St Mary le Beau Church, as in "born within the sound of Bow bells" to describe a Cockney. That doesn't fit the sense of the song, though. Any one out there know?


14 Dec 02 - 05:54 PM (#847481)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: RolyH

According to Martin Carthy they are the bends ("Bows") in the River Thames.


14 Dec 02 - 06:06 PM (#847484)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: Malcolm Douglas

It belongs to the Twa Sisters family (Child 10). There's a lot of related information in the Forum, but the search engine is broken at the moment. Fortunately, most of the DT files and Forum discussions have had lists of links to (most of) the others added. You may as well start with

Lyr Req: bows of london

It's a very short thread, but working through the links will give you more background information than you ever wanted, I should think. Don't believe everything that people say though; we've had some quite odd ideas come up from time to time. The refrain, by the way, is one of many different ones and is probably of very little significance.


14 Dec 02 - 06:24 PM (#847491)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: GUEST

The "Bows" are really a tributary of the Thames in an area of London called "Bow", where the river snakes its way to the Thames.That's where the song is set.


14 Dec 02 - 06:24 PM (#847492)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: GUEST,Q

Not a murder ballad, but a nasty mistress mistreating an apprentice within sound of Bow Bells, and blackmail resulting. "The Crafty London 'Prentice, or Bow Bells." Johnson Ballad 780, ca 1819-1844, Bodelian Library. Also Douce Ballads 3(14b), "The Crafty London Apprentice, or Bow Bells," ca. 1736-1763. Also other copies. Search- Crafty London prentice. Bodleian Library


14 Dec 02 - 06:49 PM (#847505)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: Gareth

Geographiclly - look at the openening credits of that BBC Soap " East Enders" - No I don't watch it myself but my aged mother insists that I video it for her from time to time.

Gareth


14 Dec 02 - 07:47 PM (#847528)
Subject: Lyr Add: BOWS OF LONDON (from Martin Carthy)
From: masato sakurai

The Martin Carthy version is https://mainlynorfolk.info/frankie.armstrong/songs/thetwosisters.html

According to A Concordance to the Child Ballads,

10F.1r 2 /About a' the bonny bows o London.
10F.3r 2 /And we'll view the bonny bows o London.
10F.21r 2 /At the bonny bows o London.
10O.1r 2 /At the bonny bonny bows o London
10H.1r 2 /At the bonnie bows of London town.

~Masato
    Lyrics copy-pasted from link above. -Joe Offer-


Martin Carthy sings The Bows of London

There were two little sisters awalking alone
Hey the gay and the grinding
Two little sisters awalking alone
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And the eldest pushed her sister in
Hey the gay and the grinding
Pushed her sister into the stream
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Oh she pushed her in and she watched her drown
Hey the gay and the grinding
Watched her body floating down
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Oh she floated up and she floated down
Hey the gay and the grinding
Floats till she come to the miller's dam
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And out and come the miller's son
Hey the gay and the grinding
Father dear here swims a swan
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Oh they laid her out on the bank to die
Hey the gay and the grinding
Fool with a fiddle come ariding by
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he took some strands of her long yellow hair
Hey the gay and the grinding
Took some strands of her long yellow hair
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he made some strings from this yellow hair
Hey the gay and the grinding
Made some strings from this yellow hair
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he made fiddle pegs from her long fingerbone
Hey the gay and the grinding
Made fiddle pegs from her long fingerbone
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he made a fiddle out of her breastbone
Hey the gay and the grinding
Sound would pierce the heart of a stone
By the bonny bonny bows of London

But the only tune that the fiddle would play
Was Oh the bows of London
The only tune the fiddle would play
Was the bonny bonny bows of London

So the fool's gone away to the king's high hall
Hey the gay and the grinding
There was music dancing and all
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he laid this fiddle all down on a stone
Hey the gay and the grinding
Played so loud it played all alone
By the bonny bonny bows of London

It sang yonder sits my father the king
Hey the gay and the grinding
Yonder sits my father the king
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And yonder sits my mother the queen
Hey the gay and the grinding
How she'll grieve at my burying
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And yonder she sits my sister Anne
Hey the gay and the grinding
She who drownded me in the stream
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Roger Wilson sings The Two Sisters

There lived an old lord by the Northern Sea
Bow wee down
There lived an old lord by the Northern Sea

Bow and balance to me
There lived an old lord by the Northern Sea
And he had daughters one, two, three
I'll be true to my love, if my love'll be true to me

A young man came a courting there
And he made a choice of the youngest fair
He brought the youngest a beaver hat
The oldest sister didn't like that

As they walked down to the waters brim
The oldest pushed the youngest in
Oh sister, oh sister, lend me your hand
And you may have my house and land

She floated down to the miller's dam
The miller drew her safe to land
And off of her fingers took five gold rings
And into the water he plunged her again

Acknowledgements

The Bows of London transcribed by Garry Gillard. Roger Wilson's Two Sisters lyrics from the record's sleeve notes. Garry Gillard thanks Wolfgang Hell.


14 Dec 02 - 09:30 PM (#847560)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: mack/misophist

I thank you all; each and every one.


15 Dec 02 - 05:35 AM (#847685)
Subject: RE: Origins: Whence 'The Bows of London'?
From: John MacKenzie

There is an area of East London which is called Bow. Although it is not the most salubrious areas, it has given rise to what I think is one of the nicest sounding station names. i.e. Bromley by Bow. Does that name not call out for a poem, a song, or what?
Giok


11 Oct 08 - 06:29 PM (#2463276)
Subject: Waterson:McCarthy with Saul Rose song
From: GUEST

Can anyone help me out with this, it's driving me nuts. I recently saw Waterson:McCarthy play with Saul Rose, and they did a song which made the hair on my neck stand up but I've not been able to track it down. I don't remember the name of the song and they don't seem to have recorded their version. All I remember is that it's about a girl who drowns in a mill-pond, I think, and a musician comes along and makes a fiddle out of her bones-using the breast-bone for the body, her hair for the bow-strings, fingerbones for pegs, that kind of thing. I'm pretty sure it was their own arrangement of a trad thing, but I cannot find any version of it anywhere and I'd really like to. Anyone tell me anything about it?


11 Oct 08 - 06:37 PM (#2463281)
Subject: RE: Waterson:McCarthy with Saul Rose song
From: Joe Offer

Well, I know it's a version of "The Two Sisters," so I crosslinked this thread with the others on that song. You'll find links to countless versions of the song above, but I don't know which one Waterson:Carthy/Rose did. I gather from this page that they have been performing a version called "Bows of London" (click), and I don't think we've had that version posted here.
The estimable Garry Gillard has transcribed the lyrics of all the Watersons songs, and you'll find his transcription https://mainlynorfolk.info/frankie.armstrong/songs/thetwosisters.html here (click).
Hope that helps.

-Joe-


11 Oct 08 - 06:45 PM (#2463292)
Subject: RE: Waterson:McCarthy with Saul Rose song
From: thetasigma

Martin Carthy did a version called The Bows of London, I think it's on Life and Limb which he recorded with...ummm...hold on, I'll go look...Dave Swarbrick. It is a version of Two Sisters, also sometimes called Binnorie. It is good, isn't it? Creepy.
    (Link sneakily added by Joe Offer)


11 Oct 08 - 06:54 PM (#2463296)
Subject: RE: Waterson:McCarthy with Saul Rose song
From: Joe Offer

Follow this YouTube link (click), and you'll find a couple of Carthy recordings of "Bows of London."
-Joe-


01 May 21 - 04:59 PM (#4104235)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bows of London (from Waterson:Carthy)
From: Joe Offer

Joe -needs update


02 May 21 - 01:54 PM (#4104345)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Bows of London
From: mayomick

They had two locks there in the sixties , the left and right Bow lock not sure if the lock is still there .A friend had a technical drawing job for the redesign of them .You can imagine the fun they had in the office with the name .


02 May 21 - 03:51 PM (#4104363)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Bows of London
From: GUEST,leeneia

Somewhere I read that the bows are the pieces of land edged by a meandering river.

I have a tape with this song being sung by Martin Carthy as posted above. (Dec 14 2002). I've tidied it up to suit myself. In some places, I think my memory has been more accurate.

Here's two royal sisters walking along
Hey the gay and the grinding.
Rock dove sing a mournful song
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And the eldest has pushed her sister in
Hey the gay and the grinding
Pushed her in to sink or swim
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And the eldest has pushed her sister down
Hey the gay and the grinding
Pushed her in and seen her drown
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Oh she's floated nigh and she's floated yon
Hey the gay and the grinding
Floats till she come to the miller's pond
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Next comes along the miller's young son
Hey the gay and the grinding
"Father dear here swims a swan."
By the bonny bonny bows of London

Fool with a fiddle comes riding by
By the bonny bonny bows of London
Pulls her to the bank to dry
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he's made some strings of her long yellow hair
Hey the gay and the grinding
Pulled them taut and tuned them fair
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he made some pegs from her long fingerbones
Hey the gay and the grinding
Made some pegs and made some drones.
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he made a fiddle of her breastbone
Hey the gay and the grinding
So's 'twould would pierce a heart of stone
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he's fiddled by night and he's fiddled by day
hey the gay...
only tune that the fiddle would play
Was the bonny bonny bows of London

So the fool's gone down to the king's high hall
Hey the gay and the grinding
Music, dancing, feasting and all
By the bonny bonny bows of London

And he laid this fiddle all on a stone
Hey the gay and the grinding
Fiddle began to sing all alone
By the bonny bonny bows of London

"Yonder stands the wand'ring fool"
Hey the gay and the grinding
"Yonder sits my sister cruel."
By the bonny bonny bows of London

"Yonder sit the queen and king."
Hey the gay and the grinding
How they'll weep at my burying."
By the bonny bonny bows of London (2x)


02 May 21 - 11:31 PM (#4104413)
Subject: RE: Origins: The Bows of London
From: Stewie

Here's a beaut rendition:

Stick in the Wheel

--Stewie.