MAY 2005


This is a sea chantey that got distilled, and transformed into a love ballad in the Appalachian Mountains. The origin is English, but the lyrical style is obviously from the Southern United States. Many settlers to the New World brought their music with them, only to have it subtly changed over time.

Another example of this phenomenon is Jean Ritchie's song 'Nottamun Town,' which only survived by being brought to North America. When, as a Fulbright Scholar she visited Nottingham, England to research the roots of the song, it had completely disappeared in its original form.

Appalachian Traditional Music, A Short History:


[A] It being early in the spring
I went on board to serve my [E] king
[A] Leaving my dearest [F#m] dear behind
She [E] oftimes swore her heart was[F#m] mine

As I lay smiling in her arms
I thought I held ten thousand charms
With embraces kind and a kiss so sweet
Saying We'll be married when next we meet

As I was sailing on the sea
I took a kind opportunity
Of writing letters to my dear
But scarce one word from her did hear

As I was walking up London Street
I shoved a letter from under my feet
Straight lines being wrote without any blot
Saying seldom seen is soon forgot

I went up to her father's hall
And for my dearest dear did call
She's married, sir, she's better for life
For she has become a rich man's wife

If the girl is married, whom I adore
I'm sure I'll stay on land no more.
Straight lines being wrote without any blot
Saying seldom seen is soon forgot

So come young lads take a warn from me
If in love you'll ever be
For love is patient,love is kind,
Just never leave your love behind

It being early in the spring
I went on board to serve my king
Leaving my dearest dear behind
She oftimes swore her heart was mine

The purpose of the Folk Den is to use the medium of the World Wide Web to continue the tradition of the folk process, that is the telling of stories, and singing of songs, passed on from one generation to another, by word of mouth.

In this electronic era, such a process is in danger of being overwhelmed by the commercial mass media. This page and others on the 'net are working to preserve the folk songs that have chronicled our global heritage for centuries.

In the Folk Den, a "new" folk song is uploaded every month as a "Global Community Service."

Roger McGuinn, webmaster
Folk Den

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The Folk Den Archive

All songs performed by: Roger McGuinn © 2005 McGuinn Music

Oh Mary Don't You Weep November 2005
Ruben Ranzo October 17 2005
Red River Valley September 2005
Erie Canal August 2005
Old Riley June 2005
Wanderin' April 2005
Let The Bullgine Run February 2005
Cindy January 2005
Noel December 2004
The John B's Sails November 2004
Spanish Ladies October 2004
Oh Freedom September 2004
Haul Away Joe August 2004
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Drunken Sailor March 2004
Silver Dagger February 2004
The Gallows Pole January 2004
Heave Away November 2003
Banks of Ohio October 2003
Shenandoah September 2003
Go Tell Aunt Rhodie August 2003
Pretty Saro March 2003
St. James Infirmary February 2003
Away in a Manger December 2002
I Am a Pilgrim November 2002
Wildwood Flower October 2002
Railroad Bill September 2002
Delia's Gone August 2002
All My Trials July 2002
Tarrytown June 2002
Roddy McCorely March 2002
Waltzing Matilda January 2002
America For Me October 2001
The Streets of Laredo September 2001
Sylvie August 2001
Nancy Whiskey July 2001
The Colorado Trail April 2001
The Riddle Song February 2001
Stewball January 2001
[Happy New Year!!!]
Makes A Long Time Man Feel Bad
November 2000 [5 YEARS!!!]
The Cruel War August 2000
Willie Moore June 2000
Lilly of the West April 2000
Dink's Song March 2000
Auld Lang Syne January 2000
Happy New Year!
I Saw Three Ships December 1999
Fair Nottamun Town October 1999
Sail Away Lady September 1999
Trouble In Mind August 1999
Liverpool Gals June 1999
Alabama Bound May 1999
Blood Red Roses April 1999
Old Texas March 1999
900 Miles February 1999
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John The Revelator November 1998 
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Mighty Day October 1998
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Pushboat July 1998
Bound To Australia April 1998
Finnegan's Wake March 1998
Brandy Leave Me Alone February 1998
Mary Had A Baby December 1997
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Go To Sea Once More September 1997
South Australia August 1997
This Train July 1997
East Virginia June 1997
Brisbane Ladies April 1997
Sailor Lad March 1997
Alberta February 1997
In The Evenin' January 1997
What Child Is This December 1996
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Lost Jimmy Whelan October 1996
Boatman September 1996
New York Girls July 1996
Buffalo Skinners June 1996
Easter April 1996
To Morrow March 1996
John Riley February 1996
The Argonaut January 1996
Virgin Mary December 1995
Old Paint November 1995