Archive for May 7th, 2012

May 7, 2012

Week 37 – Queen of the May

Julia Margaret Cameron, 'For I'm to be Queen of the May, Mother'; The May Queen, 1875. Copyright Victoria & Albert Museum.

Julia Margaret Cameron, ‘For I’m to be Queen of the May, Mother’; The May Queen, 1875. Copyright Victoria & Albert Museum.

This was the first song I learned from a book of folk songs, rather than from a recording of Steeleye Span or the Watersons. This meant that I had to take my own decisions about how to sing it, without having someone else’s arrangement in my head (having said that, I don’t suppose I sang it in anything like my own voice but, as with everything else in those days, as a curious amalgam of wannabe Tim Hart, Mike Waterson and Martin Carthy at his most idiosyncratic).

I learned it, like last week’s song, from Fred Hamer’s book¬†Garners Gay. Hamer recorded the song from Bedfordshire singer Harry Scott. Some recordings of Harry Scott have been made available, on the EFDSS cassette¬†The Leaves of Life, but at present if you want to hear his ‘Queen of the May’ I think you’ll need to visit the British Library Sound Archive – which so far, I haven’t.

Looking out of the window on this May Bank Holiday, I think the young lady in the song might well have said “I’m not going with you, because you’ll get my dress horribly muddy”; or perhaps just stayed at home in the dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of the May