Two night-visiting songs this week, plus a curious Irish song in which the singer seems to have gone to visit his love one night but been sadly disappointed when he got there.
One night as I lay on my bed is a song of requited love and unrealised lust; a good combination, which this song powerfully conveys.
When a man’s in love is a similar scenario, perhaps handled slightly less romantically, but with a really beautiful tune.
Out of the window is one of the names applied to this song, which sounds like a much more famous song with a different name again. This one, unlike the others, is accompanied (zither, in thirds and octaves).
All three of this week’s songs have lost a certain something over the years, to put it as kindly as possible; it’s not always clear what’s going on, or even whether the ubiquitous Nancy is a person or a place. But they’re great songs.
The streams of lovely Nancy was learnt from John Kelly’s recording, although I went back to broadside versions to get a set of words I was happy with; I was particularly keen to disentangle it from
Come all you little streamers, which I think is a completely separate song that just happens to have one identical verse. It’s a bit of a mystery all round, not least because neither of them makes any sense at all.
The banks of the Mossom, finally, is a more conventional song, or at least the remains of one. Nancy appears in this one as both a person and a place.
This week we leave the Child ballads behind for the time being, as we begin the Green album. The Green album is going to consist mainly of love songs; there may be heartbreak and abandonment, there may very well be unplanned pregnancies, but there won’t be any deaths. For the next six weeks, nobody dies.
The song of the week is Searching for lambs. This is a wonderful song; if you don’t know it yet, I’m quite jealous. Melodica, zither, whistle.
Also this week, Master Kilby. There probably never was a Master Kilby, and this probably isn’t a complete song, but it’s survived as a kind of hymn to the dazzling power of love. Or possibly lust. Melodica and vocals, lots of vocals.
And Cupid’s Garden, which was probably not originally named after Cupid (whereas Master Kilby probably was). Boy meets girl, girl says that she’s guarding her virginity, boy goes off with someone else instead. A slice of eighteenth-century life. Unaccompanied.