Thanks to Pentangle (and my older sister), this is one of the first folk songs I ever heard. It’s also about the third or fourth I ever sang in public, and one of the songs that first gave me the courage to go to a folk club; I remember singing it while I was waiting for a bus in Salford, some time in the 90s, and thinking “that ought to be traditional enough for ‘em…“. In most cases “The Air That I Breathe” would have been traditional enough for ‘em, but I wasn’t to know.
Editorially this seems to be Pentangle’s own work; it puts together some verses from an American ballad with some from the English song As Sylvie Was Walking. The first verse resembles Green Grow the Laurels, but there doesn’t seem to be any overlap apart from that.
The arrangement is after Pentangle, at least in the sense that I wanted drums, a bass line and some trebly accents over the top. Instrumentation: bongoes, melodica, zither – two tracks of each, as it happens. The zither’s not much cop for playing live, but if you play it flat on a table for extra resonance it records surprisingly well, particularly if you set the microphone gain to High.