‘Mak’ me a wreck as I come back / But spare me as I gang’

Saw this awesome lady last night at the Hamilton, my first time going, and she played this tune, variously known as “Clyde Waters,” “Drowned Lovers,” and “The Mother’s Malison” from her recent album taking on the Child Ballads:

This version’s pretty good too:

Willie stood at the stable door
A-leaning ower his steed
A-looking at his white fingers
‘Til his nose began to bleed

“O bring some corn to my horse
And gie my young man meat
And I’ll awa to Maggie’s bower
I’ll be there afore she sleeps”

“O Willie, Willie dinna gang
It’s sair against my will
You’ve the deepest part in the Clyde to cross
And it’s there that ye will droon”

“The horse that I’m to ride upon
Cost me twice thirty pounds
And I’ll put my trust in my ain horse heels
And he’ll carry me safe and sound”

So he rade o’er hills and rade doon dales
And doon yon dowie den
But the rush that rose in Clyde’s Water
Would have feared a hundred men

“O Clydie, Clydie, rollin’ Clyde
Your waters are wondrous strong
Mak’ me a wreck as I come back
But spare me as I gang”

“O Maggie, Maggie, Maggie dear
O rise and let me in
My boots are full of Clyde’s water
And I’m shivering to the skin”

My stables are full of horses
My sheds are full of hay
My beds are full of gentlemen
That wouldna leave till day”

Maggie wakened in the morning
And to her mother she ran
Says, “I dreamed that Willie was here last nicht
And I wouldna let him in”

So he rade o’er hills and rade doon dales
And doon yon dowie den
But the rush that rose in Clyde’s water
Took Willie’s cane frae him

Leanin’ o’er his saddle bows
To catch his cane through force
The rush that rose in Clyde’s water
Took Willie frae his horse

Willie’s brother stands on the bank
Now how can Willie droon?
“O turn ye tae your high horse heid
And he’ll learn ye how to swim”

Here’s the version by John Strachan that Alan Lomax recorded in Scotland, as guided by Hamish Henderson.

This lady opened, and she’s great too:

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