Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Trad Tuesday: Barbara Allen sung by Emmylou Harris



Barbara Allen is a traditional Scottish song that found its home in the hills of Appalachia. It has been sung by many singers including Dolly Parton, Art Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and Pete Seeger, but I love this version by Emmylou Harris.

The lyrics vary, but here's one version:

In Scarlet town, where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwellin’,
Made every youth cry Well-a-way!
Her name was Barbara Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin’,
Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his man in to her then,
To the town where she was dwellin’;
“O haste and come to my master dear,
If your name be Barbara Allen.”

So slowly, slowly rase she up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And when she drew the curtain by—
“Young man, I think you’re dyin’.”

“O it’s I am sick and very very sick,
And it’s all for Barbara Allen.”—
O the better for me ye’se never be,
Tho’ your heart’s blood were a-spillin’!

“O dinna ye mind, young man,” says she,
“When the red wine ye were fillin’,
That ye made the healths go round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allen?”

He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealin’:
“Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allen!”

As she was walking o’er the fields,
She heard the dead-bell knellin’;
And every jow the dead-bell gave
Cried “Woe to Barbara Allen.”

“O mother, mother, make my bed,
O make it saft and narrow:
My love has died for me today,
I’ll die for him tomorrow.”

“Farewell,” she said, “ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.”