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Gan to the Kye

[ Roud 3162 ; Ballad Index StoR138 ; trad.]

Anni Fentiman sang Gan to the Kye on her 1996 album with Dave Webber, Bonnet & Shawl.

The Unthanks sang Gan to the Kye on their 2011 album Last and on their 2012 CD with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, Diversions Vol. 2.

Nancy Kerr performed Gan tae the Kye and Peacock Followed the Hen on Stick in the Wheel’s 2019 anthology From Here: English Folk Field Recordings Volume 2. She noted:

A medieval song. It is a tune and a song. I’ve always liked the way that you can take especially Northumbrian tunes and kind of intertwine them. It’s a tune called Peacock Followed the Hen which I’ve always thought of as Northumbrian. It’s in Playford as well, I think it’s called Mad Moll, some really ubiquitous sort of 9/8 slip jig. And Gan Tae the Kye, which is a piece of North-Eastern kind of Border poetry really. It’s in a book, Stokoe—Songs of the North Country. And yeah, they just seem like sisters so I kind of tied them together. Like Nancy Clough, I don’t remember not knowing Peacock Followed the Hen. And Gan Tae the Kye, often you hear the tune played but you don’t always hear it as a song. They’re so spooky, really a bit Other.


The Unthanks sing Gan to the Kye

Chorus (after each verse):
Gan to the kye with me, my love
Gan to the kye with me
Over the moor and through the grove
I’ll sing ditties to thee

Cushie, thy pet, is lowing
Around her poor firstling’s shed
Tears in her eyes are flowing
Because little Colly lies dead

All the fine herd of cattle
Thy vigilant sire possessed
After his fall in battle
By rebel chieftains were prest

Kine now is all our property
Left by thy father’s will
Yet if we nurse it watchfully
We may win geer enow still