To kick off 2012, here’s an Irish love song learned from Shirley Collins’ folk-rock classic No Roses. Shirley learned it from A.L.Lloyd, who had recorded the song on his album The Best of A.L. Lloyd. The sleeve notes to that LP describe it thus:
The pearl of separation song, not so much for its text as for its grand and graceful tune. The words seem like an amiable specimen of poetry made in the 10th century [sic – clearly a typo – should be 18th century I think] by some tattered heir of a bardic tradition. The tune sounds as if it may be at least a century older, composed at a time when the folk harpers and fiddlers were becoming aquainted with Händel and Corelli. The River Bann is in north-eastern Ireland. The song was doubtless brought to England by Ulster labourers. I’ve not seen a printed set of it.
(thanks to http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/lloyd/songs/banksofthebann.html for this information)
In fact, you can see some printed copies from the nineteenth century on the Bodleian Ballads site – search for “the Brown girl”.
The Banks of the Bann
Andy Turner: vocal, C/G anglo-concertina