A night-visiting song, and one of the finest (and simplest).
An extraordinarily powerful and memorable tune, coupled with verses in which nothing much happens – except that the speaker’s girlfriend first shuts him out and then lets him in. Which for him, of course, is the most important thing in the world.
Like a couple of other songs I’ve put up recently, this song very effectively conveys a sense of being utterly consumed with love (and lust); unlike those songs, this one’s actually written that way (I was so oppressed I could take no rest…). It’s been described as having “the most discreet ending of any folk song”, but I’m not sure how much to make of that; I think it’s a good ending, but it doesn’t exactly leave the audience in suspense. Personally I prefer this to those old songs that actually do describe what happens next, if only because they don’t usually describe it anyway – you generally get a verse of formulaic nudges and winks (“and what we did I never shall declare” or words to that effect). Besides, once she’s let him into her bedroom the story is basically over – what they do next is up to them. We leave the speaker crossing the threshold, still entranced with lust.
This is another song recorded by Tony Rose on Bare Bones; my version is fairly close to his. I’ve listened to a few versions, but for me that recording is the simplest and best.