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Friendless Mary

[ Roud 2580 ; Mudcat 172306 ; trad.]

Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl: The Singing Island

Ewan MacColl sang Friendless Mary on his 1960 Folkways album with Peggy Seeger, Popular Scottish Songs, and he included it in the same year in their book The Singing Island. He noted:

The beautiful air of this song is frequently found married to traditional ballad texts. It was a favourite with Mrs. Margaret Logan of Corsham, Wiltshire, from whom I learnt it. In the course of the same afternoon she used it to carry the somewhat humdrum text of Friendless Mary as well as the traditional ballad of The Cruel Mother.

Nigel Denver sang Friendless Mary in a recorded midnight folk concert recorded in London in May 1963 on the Decca album Hootenanny in London.

Marie Little sang Friendless Mary in 1971 on her Argo album Factory Girl. She noted:

Loneliness has been and always will be a popular theme for songs. This, I think, is one of the loveliest.

Louis Killen sang Friendless Mary on his 1989 cassette The Rose in June. He noted:

A fine pastoral piece whose air is usually associated with one of the Scots settings of The Greenwood Sidey-O or The Cruel Mother.


Ewan MacColl sings Friendless Mary

Far o’er yon hills where heather grows
I met a lass wi’ her lambs and yowes,
The lambs came frisk-lin’ o’er the knowes,
And the sun was shining clearly-O.

Says I, “My fair and comely dame,
Would ye be sae kind as tell me your name?
Or tell me the place ye ca’ your hame,
For your beauty shines sae early-O.”

“D’ye see yon hoose ahint the green?
This last six weeks I hunny been seen,
Ma mither she clost her twa black e’en,
Sayin’, ‘Fair ye weel my Mary-O.’

“D’ye see yon hoose ahint the tree?
When I was born me faither he deed,
Ma mither was left tae be ma guide
And she ca’ed me Friendless Mary-O.”

“If ye’ll consent tae come wi me,
And be my bride across the sea,
A braw guid man I’ll be tae ye
And ye’ll be nae mair Friendless Mary-O.”

“I’ll consent tae gang wi ye,
And be a bride across the sea,
A braw guid wife I’ll be tae thee
And I’ll be nae mair Friendless Mary-O.”