I discovered this song years ago on an old Anne Briggs record, I found out later she’d learnt it from Bert Jansch who also recorded a lovely version. Some of you might have heard me play it in concert, I sometimes bring it out of the hat when I feel like taking a rest from my own songs. I love the melody and it’s a joy to sing it with its poignant and heartfelt lyrics. The lines “You could make me believe with your lying tongue that the sun rose in the west” are just brilliant, I wish I could come up with such great lines!
I’m not sure that the writer of this song is known, his or her name is lost to posterity like many great songwriters in folk traditions around the world. I read that the song was from Ulster originally, The River Blackwater being there, it tells a story of a woman who has her heart broken when her suitor breaks his promise of marriage, a promise that was used to have his way with her!
Arrangement wise, I’ve kept close to bert Jansch in the chords but I ended up it giving a African kind of lilt, not sure why, it just felt right at the time. I hope you’ll enjoy my little version of this wonderful song.