AS11: Sir Patrick Spens

This is also the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens.

I came to this one relatively recently, via a rediscovered recording of Peter Bellamy’s Maritime England Suite (I very nearly wrote “Sir Peter Bellamy” there, and God knows he would have deserved it). It’s one of the versions of the song where Sir Patrick & crew make it to Norway (or Norrowa’) but are wrecked on the way home. With that in mind, I particularly like the way it skips straight from the King’s broad letter to the trouble in the Norwegian court; you can imagine some audiences thinking Wait a minute, he got to Norway? The tune is apparently from Ewan MacColl, possibly from a traditional source and possibly not; according to a post on this Mudcat thread, Bellamy only discovered after recording it that the tune might have been MacColl’s own, and didn’t take it well.

The Maritime England version features Dolly Collins’s piano and Ursula Pank’s cello – and Bellamy’s voice, of course. That’s rather a lot for anyone to live up to. On the other hand, if I was overawed by the greats all the time I’d never get anything sung – and the worst thing you can do with these songs is not sing them. So here it is.

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Filed under Child ballad, folk song, O my name is, Peter Bellamy

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