Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Barbra Allen

The first time I heard the song Barbara Allen was on the record Angel Clare (the debut solo album by Art Garfunkel), released on September 11, 1973. Barbara Allen" is a traditional ballad originating in England in the 17th century, which immigrants introduced to the 13 British colonies which would become the United States, where it became a popular folk song.

It goes like this this:


"Barbara Allen"
(Arranged by Art Garfunkel) 
All in the merry month of May,
When green buds all are swellin'.
Sweet William on his deathbed lay for love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his servant to the town,
The place where she did dwell in.
Saying, "Master dear has sent me here if your name be Barbara Allen."

Then slowly, slowly she got up and slowly she went to him,
And all she said when there she came was, "Young man, I think you're dying.

"Don't you remember the other night when we were in the tavern?
You drank a toast to the ladies there and slighted Barbara Allen."

He turned his face unto the wall,
He turned his back upon her.
"Adieu, adieu, to all my friends.
And be kind, be kind to Barbara Allen."

As she was wandering on the fields she heard the death bell knellin'.
And every note, it seemed to say,
"Hard-hearted Barbara Allen!"

The more it tolled the more she grieved,
She bursted out a-crying.
"Oh, pick me up and carry me home.
I fear that I am dying."

They buried Willy in the old church yard and Barbara in the new one,
And from William's grave, there grew a rose, from Barbara's, a green briar.

They grew and grew in the old church yard,
Till they could grow no higher,
And there they tied in a true lover's knot,
The red rose and the briar.

It sounds like this:




A diary entry by Samuel Pepys on January 2, 1666 contains the earliest extant reference to the song. In it, he recalls the fun and games at a New Years party:


...but above all, my dear Mrs Knipp whom I sang; and in perfect pleasure I was to hear her sing, and especially her little Scotch song of Barbary Allen.
From this, Roud & Bishop inferred the song was popular at the time. They suggested that it may have been written for stage performance, as Elizabeth Knepp was a professional actress, singer, and dancer.


Although renditions of the song can vary considerably in plot, they generally follow a common narrative. A young man lies dying for the love of Barbara Allen; he has a servant summon her to his bedside for solace, but she does little but scorn him. Denied his true love, the hero succumbs to illness; in some versions, he leaves her an inheritance before dying. Upon hearing the church bells of his funeral, Barbara Allen regrets her decision and senses that her own death is near. She too dies of heartbreak, and they are buried beside one another. The song often concludes with a "rose-briar motif" of several stanzas describing floral growth on the lovers' neighbouring graves, symbolising fidelity in love even after death.


3 comments:

  1. I love both versions, Han. Thank you for posting them.

    appy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Never heard it before , thank you, Han . Yes, both versions are " Cute".

    Mona Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing both versions, Han! ;)

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    ReplyDelete

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