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Oh Girl You're Mine - Housefull
Sadly a lot of writers have been more interested in searching for the girl that song could have been written about. But this biographical approach is pointless. It is not that important if it is about Ms. Much more interesting is the songwriting process. With this song Dylan already showed his wide extensive knowledge of popular music of all kinds and his ability to build a song mosaically from motives and lines from other songs while creating something new that was in every respect his own. Are you going to Scarborough Fair, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, Remember me to one who lives there, For once she was a true love of mine. Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, Without no seam or fine needlework, For once she was a true love of mine. Tell her to find me an acre of land, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, Between the salt water and the sea strand, And then she'll be a true love of mine. Tell her to plough it with a lamb's horn, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, And to sow it all o'er with one peppercorn, And then she'll be a true love of mine. Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, And to thrash it all out with a bunch of heather, And then she'll be a true love of mine. MC - Oh yes. He would always ask me to sing it, that one and Lord Franklin. And when he came back from And he kept getting the giggles, all the time he was doing it. It was very funny. I think he sang about three or four verses and then he went. So yeah, l knew what he was doing. It was delightful, lovely. Q - It's part of the folk tradition, isn't it, to base one song on another song? MC - Well, I don't know whether it is a folk tradition or not, but I took it as an enormous compliment, to the song and, if you like, to me. You know, I thought he was a tremendously honourable bloke. It was a great thing to have done. It is more than years old. The earliest documented British variant is a long ballad of 20 verses on a black letter broadside that was printed circa Here we can find for the first time the now common refrain with the list of herbs as well as the "true lover of mine" in the fourth line see the reprint of the edition from , pp. The messenger first appeared in a Scottish variant collected in the s by ballad scholar William Motherwell Child I, 2F, pp. There is good reason to assume that he was introduced into this song much earlier otherwise this particular motif wouldn't have been spread so far already at that time. Since the folklorists both in Britain and in North America found numerous variants of songs from this family. The earliest known text of "Scarborough Fair" was published in in a newspaper, the "Leeds Mercury" After an inquiry by Frank Kidson - who soon became one of the most respected authorities for old English songs - one correspondent sent in a more or less complete text and noted he had heard it "some twenty years ago" from a street singer. Kidson later published a slightly edited version of this text together with a melody of unknown origin in his Traditional Tunes , pp. Between and three more variants of "Scarborough Fair" - all from a small area in the northeast of Yorkshire - were published in song collections, the last one by Cecil Sharp in his One Hundred English Folk Songs No. They all had different tunes but none of them resembled the one associated with the modern versions of this song. It was later also included in The Singing Island , p. According to the notes p. But he can't have collected much more than a tune and a fragmentary text because the greatest part of the words were lifted straight out of Kidson's book. MacColl wasn't the first to record his own version. According to the liner notes pdf available at Smithsonian Folkways she was in London in the early s and played at club concerts "organized by A. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl, to whom she is indebted for introducing her to several of the songs in this collection". I assume that she learned "Scarborough Fair" from MacColl during that time. He only edited the tune and the text a little bit and dropped three of the eight verses. Since then this song was recorded countless times by all kinds of artists. One may say that it has never been more popular than today although it doesn't have much to do with what the songs from this family were all about. Their defining element always used to be the wit combat between the man and the woman. But this "discourse" has disappeared and what remained was a list of tasks without any inner coherence. Dylan's debt to "Scarborough Fair" is regularly overstated and has been blown out of proportion. The melodies of both songs are very different from each other. Dylan only "retains elements of the 'Scarborough Fair' melodic contour and phrase structure for his new song" Harvey, p. In fact the differences are so great that it can be easily called an original melody. The lyrics are also for the most part Dylan's own. He has deleted nearly all of the motives of "Scarborough Fair" and only used the first verse as a starting point but then turns it into a song about nostalgia for an former love, a major topic in popular music. It would be so sweet when all alone I'm dreaming Just to know you still remember me. It would make my weary heart so light, sweetheart, Your face again to see. Dylan has retained the messenger. But he is not sent out to give the girl unsolvable tasks as in "Scarborough Fair". Instead he has to remind her of her former love. And that's another common motif in popular song. Bryant , both songs definitely known to Dylan. When you see him Tell him things are slow There's a reason and he's sure to know But on second thought, forget it Just tell him I said hello If he asks you when I come and go Say I stay home 'cause I miss him so But on second thought, forget it Just tell him I said hello […] The "north country fair" is of course an allusion to "Scarborough Fair", but here the messenger is not traveling to that fair but to the fair North Country. Surely there is also an autobiographical connotation but more important is the fact that in English songs songs the "North Country" is occasionally referred to as a land of pastoral beauty different and far away from the unpleasant modern towns, as in "The Northern Lasses Lamentation" see for example Roxburghe 2. A North country lass Up to London did pass, Although with her nature it did not agree, Which made her repent, Still wishing again in the North for to be, O the oak, the ash, and the bonny ivy tree, Do flourish at home in my own country. Sad I'm sittin' on the railroad track, Watchin' that old smokestack. Train is a-leavin' bit it won't be back. Years ago we hung around, Watchin' trains roll through the town. Now that train is a-graveyard bound. Where we go up in that North Country, Lakes and streams and mines so free, I had no better friend than he. But it's surely not a "real" girl. It's an image of purity and innocence that sounds old fashioned and is based on archetypal male fantasies. In fact this girl is as mythical as the North Country. Asking the messenger to see if she "has a coat so warm to keep her from the howling winds" plays with the male instinct for protection. Button up your overcoat, when the wind is free, Take good care of yourself, you belong to me Or else making love is proposed as the best means against the cold. The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing But I can weather the storm What do I care how much it may storm? It reads as if the boy himself has returned to the North Country to keep the girl warm instead of sending someone else to see if she has a coat "so warm". There's more frost on the window glass With each new tender kiss, But it sure feels right On a night like this. This is a poem about someone who is thinking about his childhood girlfriend, another work thematically related to "Girl Of The North Country": I see her face, I hear her voice: Does she remember mine? And what to her is now the boy Who fed her father's kine? Dylan's next three lines: I will be true to thee; I will pray for thee night and day; Wilt thou be true to me, As in years that have rolled away? If pray'rs in abscence said for thee to Heave'ns protecting pow'r, If winged thoughts that flit to thee, an thousand in an hour". Dylan's protagonist has only has prayed "many times" that she remembers him, which seems to me a little overblown. Nostalgia for a former love is a major topic of 20th century popular music. I took a trip on a train And I thought about you I passed a shadowy lane And I thought about you Two or three cars parked under the stars A winding stream Moon shining down on some little town And with each beam, the same old dream And every stop that we made, oh, I thought about you [ Instead he made a trip straight back to 19th century nostalgia. In the first half of the 60s Dylan tried to avoid the language and sentiments of the songs of the generation before and create something different. He used different strategies but in this case — as for example also in the verses of "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" — he circumvented the Berlin tradition by reanimating 19th century sentiments. Instead of becoming a new Johnny Mercer he "fosterisized" himself. But this helps to make the song special and to overcome its inherent sentimentality. Usually in 19th century songs and poetry it is an old man who remembers a dead or - as in Greenleaf Whittier's "My Playmate" - an otherwise unreachable girl: And the singer is no old man — although Dylan has experimented with the old man persona in some of his early songs and performances -, otherwise the messenger would be on the way to meet the granny in the north country. But by alluding to this ancient motif and transferring it into the 20th century he suspends the song from time and creates a air of timelessness and antiquity. This is a complicated process and I don't know if Dylan did it on purpose but the result he achieved is impressive. But the song's sentimentality is still obvious. Dylan is walking on rather thin ice and only reading the lyrics on page without knowing the song might make some readers cringe. I presume that songwriters from the generation before would have regarded the lyrics as somehow corny and awkward. But Dylan manages to create an aura of authenticity that is essential for the song's effectiveness. Personal authenticity and communication between performer and listener on a personal basis are major assets of 20th century popular song. This was developed by singers, songwriters and musicians at least since the twenties with the rising importance of the new technical innovations like electrical recording, radio, microphone and movies.
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