Monday, 11 September 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Molly Bawn by Aoife Murray

Hello and welcome to the last of the versions of the ballad that is number 166 in the Roud Folk Song index. Irish singer Aoife Murray sings this last version and it is beautifully haunting. It follows the pattern of the other versions, but there are clearly a few differences. All of the other songs mention that the man (Jimmy or Willy in one case) was out hunting but this version clearly says Jimmy went out fowling which makes the shooting of a swan even more likely.

Image result for swan swimming

Also, the ghost of the murdered woman has appeared in other version to the man who shot her, at her wake and at her trial, but I am pretty sure this is the only version where she appears to her own father who has clearly been plotting revenge since she died three weeks before. The line says: "Father, dearest father, please don't think to shoot my dear” which harks back to the traditional song The Shooting of His Dear arranged by Benjamin Britten.

I think the strength of this song is the ending where Jimmy declares that he will soon follow her in death. Other versions pay lip service to this saying he cried a fountain of tears, but this one really makes the grief real.

You can listen to it here:

Jimmy went out fowling with his gun in his hand
Fowling all day, as you may understand.
His sweetheart being out walking, he took her for a swan
And he shot his Molly Bawn at the setting of the sun.

Jimmy went home with his gun in his hand
Sad and broken-hearted, as you may understand.
Saying," Father, dearest father, you know what I have done?
I have shot my Molly Bawn at the setting of the sun,

Then up and spoke his father, although his locks were grey,
Saying," Son, dearest son, do you not think of going away.
Stay in this country until your trial is on,
And you never will be hanged at the setting of the sun.

It was in three weeks after, to her father she appeared.
Saying, "Father, dearest father, please don't think to shoot my dear
My white apron being around me, he took me for a swan
And he shot his Molly Bawn at the setting of the sun,

Now Molly, dearest Molly, you're my joy and heart's delight,
And if you had lived, my dear, I'd make of you my wife.
But now, as you are gone to me, I'll sail away and mourn
And soon I will be following you, My own Molly Bawn.

That’s all for this week’s Murder Ballad Monday. Next week we will take a look at murder ballad by the alternative pop group the Violent Femmes.

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