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Philip Kazee, vocal with banjo - Barbara Allen

from Survey of Traditional Music, Vol. 1: From British Tradition by Field Recorders' Collective



For an in-depth discussion of this track, see the album notes: tinyurl[dot]com/V1NATnotes.


In Scarlet Town where I was born,
There dwelt a fair young maiden.
She was the fairest of them all,
And her name was Barbry Allen.

Oh, it was in the month of May,
When the green buds, they were swelling.
Sweet William Green on his deathbed lay,
And he called for Barbry Allen.

He sent his servants through the town
To her own father’s dwelling.
“Sweet William’s sick and sent for you,
If your name be Barbry Allen.”

Then slowly, slowly she got up,
And slowly she went to him;
But all she said when she got there,
“Young man, I think you’re a-dying.”

"I’m sick, so sick, I am very sick,
A death’s within me dwelling.
I’ll never see you by my time
If I don’t get Barbry Allen.”

“Oh, don’t you remember in yonder town
At your own father’s dwelling,
You treated me like the ladies around,
And you slighted Barbry Allen.”

“Yes, I remember in yonder town
At my own father’s dwelling.
I treated all the ladies around,
But I love only Barbry Allen.”

Then slowly, slowly, she got up
And slowly she went from him.
She’d only gone three miles or more,
When she heard the death bells toiling.

They rung so loud, they spoke so plain,
“Hard-hearted Barbry Allen.”
She looked to the east and she looked to the west,
‘Til she saw the pale corpse a-coming.

“Oh, bring me here that lovely corpse,
And let me gaze upon him.
Sweet William died for love today,
And I must die for sorrow.”

They buried him in the old churchyard,
And Barbary not far from him;
And from his grave there sprang a rose,
And a green brier out of Barbry’s.

They grew and grew to the old church top,
‘Til they could not grow no higher.
They wrapped and bound in a true love’s knot,
The red rose and green brier.


from Survey of Traditional Music, Vol. 1: From British Tradition, released August 7, 2023
Recorded by Mark Wilson, Oneida, TN, 7/23/07.


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