Sunday, 30 July 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Molly Bond (Betty Rutherford)

Hello and welcome to Murder Ballad Monday. In my quest to research various murder ballads that interested me, I had only intended to do Peter, Paul and Mary’s Polly Von and the Molly Bond by the Oysterband. 

However, a search on youtube revealed to me several new versions that I had not heard. They all had elements in common, but were different enough from the two sources that I knew, so I thought it was worth a look at these in more depth.

The first one was recorded by Betty Rutherford who was a performer of traditional music from the Appalachian Mountains who was known for her powerful, authentic singing voice. This a-cappella version was recorded in 1974 at a concert in Baltimore, Maryland.
                         Image result for swan illustration
I like the simplicity of this version as well as the authenticity of the recording with a baby grizzling in the background. It is another version that explains what Molly was doing with her apron over her head (something that always bothered me about the Peter, Paul and Mary version). This version says she was sheltering under a beech tree after an unexpected rain shower came upon her. It mentions that Jim Randle was hunting in the dark, which is another clear indicator of poaching (in my opinion) that I had not understood from the Peter,  Paul and Mary version.  It also features the supernatural element of the Oysterband version where the ghost of the murdered girl appears at the trial and exonerates him.

You can listen a version here:

I have written the lyrics below if you would like to follow along.

Come all ye young who follow the gun
He wandered out shooting after the setting sun.

I've a story to tell you, it happened of late,
Concerning Molly Bond whose beauty was great.

Molly Bond was out walking when a shower came on,
She ran under a beech tree the shower to shun.

Jim Randle was hunting, a-hunting in the dark,
He shot at his true love and he missed not his mark

With her white apron pinned 'round her, he took her for a swan,
He shot and he killed her, his own Molly Bond.
He ran down to her, these words he said
And a thousand of tears on her bosom shed.

"Oh Molly dear Molly you're the joy of my life,
I've always intended to make you my wife."

With your white apron pinned 'round you, I took you for a swan,
I shot and he killed you, my own Molly Bond.

He ran to his uncle, his gun in his hand,
Saying "Uncle, oh uncle I've killed Molly Bond."

Up stepped his dear uncle with his lock all so gray,
Saying, "Stay at home Jimmy and do not run away."

"Stay in your own country till your trial comes on,
You won't be molested, if it cost me my farm."

The day of Jim's trial Molly's ghost did appear
And to this jury Jim Randle is clear.
With my white apron pinned 'round me he took me for a swan
He shot and killed me and now I am gone.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week where I look at a version entitled Polly Vaughan. 

1 comment:

  1. This one is like the Appalachian folk singers I've heard in person do their ballads. Lee Knight, closing his eyes and swaying to the tune, but never looking at the audience, and Sheila _____, someone else I heard at The Mountain.