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CD125 -

Various Artists - Ballads and Songs of Tradition

Cutty's Wedding
Are You Sleeping , Maggie
Bonney James Campbell
The Overgate
Are You Sleeping, Maggie
Bonnie James Campbell
Bunch of Watercresses, The
Cutty's Wedding
Gyps of David
Gypsy Davy
He Never Came Back
Hind Horn
House Carpenter, The
House Carpenter, The
I'll Get Married A-Sunday
Jolly Tinker, The
Lost Jimmy Whelan
My Bonny Boy
Sweet Sixteen
Tom Sherman's Barroom
Twa Brothers
Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn

Ballads and Songs of Tradition
from the Folk-Legacy archives CD-125

In September of 1958, Caroline and I, along with David, our six-month old son, hitched a ride from London up to Edinburgh with two friends from Chicago. There, at the School of Scottish Studies, Scottish folklorist Hamish Henderson introduced us to Jeannie Robertson, the great ballad singer from Aberdeen. Graciously, she agreed to sing some of her favorite songs for us. We recorded a few of them there, singing along on the choruses in a large room with quite a lot of echo. Hamish then offered to lend us a tape recorder to take with us to Jeannie's home in Aberdeen, in exchange for which we would take him with us up to Sutherlandshire to seek out and record some of Blind Sandy Stewart's Ossian tales, told in Scots Gaelic.

Hamish couldn't get away until the weekend, so we took Jeannie, plus a quiet, red-haired lad from Aberdeen who also had been visiting at the School of Scottish Studies (who turned out to be none other than Norman Kennedy, whom we later recorded when he came to the U.S. ), and the borrowed tape recorder to Aberdeen, where we planned to camp outside the city and visit her during the days. But Jeannie would have none of that. She insisted that we should stay with her in the tiny stone house she shared with her husband Donald Higgins, his brother Isaac, her daughter Lizzie Higgins and Lizzie's husband Leslie. So we rolled our sleeping bags out on the floor of the main room, with David in his bassinet at our heads. In the mornings, Isaac would bring tea and scones to us, there in our sleeping bags. We felt like visiting royalty with such gracious and hospitable treatment.

We sang with Jeannie and her family every day, and in the evenings she would have friends over to share the music with us. The children of the neighborhood were invited to listen to "the cowboy from Chicago" (me) and his wife singing songs and ballads that had made their way from the British Isles to the new world. Then she and Lizzie would sing their Scottish ballads and some delightful examples of the street songs each of them had learned as children. As it turned out, I had forgotten to pack the microphone with the borrowed tape recorder, so Hamish brought it up with him on the weekend. We spent several glorious days recording Jeannie and Lizzie, singing along on the choruses, and delighting in the entire experience. We'll share a few of those songs with you on this recording, but please remember, these tapes were made forty years ago, and the sound quality won't be what you might expect from studio recordings. Often traffic went by on the street right outside, and you will hear it; sometimes children can be heard in the background.

I should add that caveat to this entire compact disc. What you will hear here is just what we heard while we were collecting these songs in Scotland, in Canada, and in various regions of the United States.

Sandy Paton
Sharon, Connecticut
April 1999


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