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Hessie Cruise Scott, vocal - Betsy Over the Main

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.


[Oh Betsy is a lady fair,
Just lately come from weekly share.
There being a merchant in the town,
Beautiful Betsy to him was bound.

All on one Sunday evening as I've heard tell,]
I said to Betsy, “I love you well.
I love you dearer than my own life,
And I’ll take you to be my wife.”

His mother lying in the next room,
A hearing what her son resumed.
She was resolved within her mind
To disappoint her son’s desire.

Early next morning when she arose,
She said, to Betsy, “Put on your clothes.
Along with me you now must go,
To wait on me one day or so.”

And Betsy put on her rich array.
She looked like a lady forced away.
The boat was waiting at the town.
Poor Betsy strode for Jimmie Brown.

And when she was returning home
And meeting of her own dear son,
“Oh, mother, oh mother, you’re welcome home,
But where’s poor Betsy, for her I mourn?”

“Oh son, oh son, I played a scheme
That all your love’s for poor Betsy.
Love her no more, ‘tis all in vain;
Poor Betsy sails far o’er the main.”

From this her son was taken sad.
No joys on earth could make him glad.
From this, her son was heard to sigh,
“Oh, Betsy dear, for thee I’ll die.”

Then when she saw her son was dead,
She rung her hands, she tore her hair,
Saying, “If my son could live again,
I’d send for Betsy o’er the main.”


from Survey of Traditional Music, Vol. 1: From British Tradition, released August 7, 2023
Recorded by Mark Wilson, Medford, OR, 1964. Previously unissued.


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