With its many titles and versions, this song is incredibly popular in the English speaking world. One version reached a much wider public in the early s. Francis James Child locates the history behind the ballad to the expulsion of the Gypsies from Scotland by Act of Parliament in , and the abduction by Gypsies of Lady Cassilis who died in , her subsequent return to her home and the hanging of the Gypsies involved.
Child, IV, pp. There was three old gypsies came to our hall door They came brave and boldly-o And the one sang high and the other sang low And the other sang a raggle taggle gypsy-o. Now he rode east and he rode west He rode north and south also Until he came to a wide open plain It was there that he spied his lady-o. How could you leave your newly wedded Lord All for a raggle taggle gypsy-o? Well, what care I for my goose feather bed For my blankets strewn so comely-o?
Tonight I lie in a wide open field In the arms of a raggle taggle gypsy-o.
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Primarily from the singing of Jeannie Robertson, this was influenced by many other versions heard over the years. Most American variants have the lady going off with the vagabond Black-Jack Davy to live happily ever after—a typical change found across the water. Tom Burton. They noted:. This is ours. In the last verse, the gypsies are hanged by the Lord of the land. We have an alternative ending that is often favoured by less bloodthirsty audiences where the lady successfully runs away to join the gypsies:. There were eight little gypsies all in a gang And none of them more lazy oh.
Lady Casslilles Lilt (aka Johnny Faa, the Gypsiey Laddie) is in the Skene Manuscripts which holds documents from the 17th century. Variants and alternate titles include: Johnny Faa, Davy Faw, The Egyptian Laddie, The Gypsy Davy and Lord Garrick. This ballad is Child Ballad # "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy" (Roud 1, Child ), is a traditional folk song that originated as a Common alternative names are "The Raggle Taggle Gypsies O ", "The Gypsy Laddie(s)", "Black Jack David" (or "Davy") and "Seven Yellow.
And they sang high and they sang low And cast their spells around them oh. A very widespread ballad in which a lady forsakes her rich husband to run off with a band of gypsies. Francis J. Child's collection of ballads gives eleven versions and Bertrand Bronson in The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads gives texts with tunes but does not include this version which was collected from the Norfolk singer Walter Pardon after Bronson had compiled his monumental work.
The version of the well-known ballad is backup up by a Gypsy-style tuning mouth music. The ballad was sung by Sam Gorman to his daughters and granddaughters, who later married into the Lee family. The tuning is as close as I can get to the style sung by the Gormans, and by my wife's family. My wife Mally learned to dance to mouth music on the top step of a Gypsy caravan, when she was a child. Born in Armagh but living in Castlederg, Co Tyrone at the time of the recording, Cathal had had this song in his family for at least four generations.
Our recording features some additional verses from F.
An 18 th century song that is said to have originated in the Dumfries area of south west Scotland. Both of these features may have had something to do with the way in which the song was recorded on that particular day. And his singing continues to inspire us to sing. John Jones noted:.
Francis James Child. Notes Alex Campbell, 'Traditional Ballads of Scotland'  When the gypsies arrived in Northern Europe at the close of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, after their fabulous thousand-year-long migration from North-West India, they were at first greeted by the populace and the authorities with awe and even with reverence; then, usually within a year or so, the authorities rumbled them, and they started getting hanged. Girls for your Sake never Wed an Old Man. Last night I lay on a fine feather bed Wi' my guid lord there beside me o This night I maun lie in the cauld cauld clay Wi' the gypsies lyin' aroond me o. One version, collected and set to piano accompaniment by Cecil Sharp , reached a much wider public.
Nic Jones remains one of our favourite artists ever and re-visiting anything that Nie has touched remains a challenge. It took us many listens to define the tune from his interpretation and once we added verses from other versions we felt we had something. Time will tell.
There were seven yellow gypsies and all in a row, None of them lame nor lazy-o; And they sang so neat and so complete They stole the heart of the lady-o. There were seven gypsies all of a row And they sang neat and bonny-o; Sang so neat and they're so complete, They stole the heart of a lady. She's kicked off her high heel shoes Made of the Spanish leather, And she's put on an old pair of brogues To follow the gypsy laddie. Late at night her lord come home And he's enquiring for his lady.
That I may ride on a long summer night In search of my false lady-o. So he rode west and he rode west, He rode through wood and copses too, Until he came to an open field And there he saw his lady-o. He's ridden o'er the high, high hills Till he come to the morning, And there he's found his own dear wife And she's in the arms of the seven gypsies. Would you give up your baby-o? Would you give up your new-wedded lord?
To run away with the seven yellow gypsies-o? What care I for my baby-o? Sure I wouldn't give a kiss from a gypsy laddie's lips Not for all Lord Cassilis' money-o.
Seven gypsies all of a row And they sang neat and bonny-o; Sang so neat that they all were hanged For the stealing of a famous lady. There were seven yellow gypsies and all in a row And none of them lame nor lazy-o, And they sang so sweet and so complete That they stole the heart of the lady-o. O there's seven little yellow Cassilis gypsies and they're all in a row, And they're all of them lame and they're lazy-o, And they sang so neat and so very complete That they stole away the heart of the Earl of Cassilis' lady-o.
And she come tripping it down the stair, She being dressed in her silk and her amber-o, But they tooken one look at her well-far'd face And they cast their spells out of her hair-o. And they sang sweet and they sang shrill That fast her tears began to flow, And she lay down her silken gown, Her golden rings and all her show. She given to them the nutmeg fine, So they given her back the ginger-o; But she given to them a far greater thing, It was the gold ring offen her finger-o.
She plucked off all her highheeled shoen, All made of the Spanish leather-o, And she would in the street in her bare bare feet To run away with the seven yellow gypsies-o.