> Folk Music > Songs > The Blue-Eyed Lover

The Blue-Eyed/Dark-Eyed Lover

[ Roud 16637 ; DT BLULOVR ; trad.]

Davie Stewart sang Dark-Eyed Lover in 1957 to Alan Lomax. This recording was included in 2002 on Stewart’s and Jimmy McBeath’s Rounder anthology Two Gentlemen of the Road.

Carolin Hughes sang The Blue-Eyed Lover to Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker in 1962 or 1966. They printed it in their 1977 book Travellers’ Songs From England and Scotland, and the recording was included in 2014 on her Musical Traditions anthology Sheep-Crook and Black Dog.

Sarah Porter sang Once I Had a Dark-Eyed Lover at The Three Cups, Punnetts Town, Sussex, in 1965. This recording made by Brian Matthews was included in 2001 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from Sussex country pubs, Just Another Saturday Night.

May Bradley sang Blue-Eyed Lover to Fred Hamer on 28 July 1965 and on 12 April 1966. Both versions were included in 2010 on her Musical Traditions anthology Sweet Swansea. Rod Stradling noted:

Although May sings what is clearly a version of the Blue/Dark-Eyed Lover here, it shares the tune and a number of textual elements with Lizzie Higgins’ London Lights (Roud 18815).

It is also sung, to a somewhat similar tune, by Caroline Hughes, and by Sarah Porter as the Dark-Eyed Lover. All three versions appear to be made up of floating verses from other similar songs. In MacColl and Seeger’s superb Travellers’ Songs From England and Scotland it’s described as “another of those unstable ‘love has brought me to despair’ texts. The first two stanzas are from Fond Affection …” This Fond Affection (related to Dear Companion, Roud 411) is an American song which is the same song as Go and Leave Me (Roud 459) in these islands. Confused?

Steve Roud says “Dear Companion / Fond Affection / Go and Leave Me are clearly related songs, and MacColl’s term ‘unstable’ is apposite, and they may well end up being conflated into one number (like the Died for Love complex), with a sub-division for the ‘usual British’ and ‘usual American’ types.

However, I don’t agree with MacColl that the Blue/Dark-Eyed Lover is necessarily part of the same song complex. Although the sentiment and whole feel is patently similar, the actual words do not turn up in the several dozen versions I have looked at. I’m inclined on present evidence to give it a new number—16637—but the missing link may well turn up in the future to tie them together.”

Although there are 77 entries for Go and Leave Me, 54 of these are from North America, and only five English singers are named. Another tip-of-the-iceberg situation for Steve, I think, because in my experience, the Go and Leave Me version is still very well-known in southern English pubs.


Carolin Hughes sings The Blue-Eyed Lover

Oh, once I had a blue-eyed lover,
Once he thought this world of me;
Until one day he found some other,
Then his love was not on me.d

You take this ring from off your finger
And that locket from round my neck;
You’ll give it to the one you fancy,
Give it to the one you love.d

Oh, once I was on my bed of hap’ness,
Now I’m on my bed of sad;
But when you meet my blue-eyed baby
Then you’ll want me back again.

Oh, can’t I see those hills and valley
Can’t I see those mountains stand?
Oh, can’t I see the sea a-tossing
Where my time it used to roam.

Well, all alone, oh all alone,
By the seasides he left me;
Many happy hour with he I’ve spent,
It’s all this time I’m left a widow
At the cottage near the sea.

(Repeat last verse)

May Bradley sings The Blue-Eyed Lover

Onced I courted a blue-eyed lover
And he thought the world of me,
Until one day he met another;
He hardly thinks no more of me.

I know my dear old mother wants me
And my brothers just the same.
It’s all my sisters turned against me,
My father hangs his head with tears.

Although my clothes they’re going ragged
Still they’ll keep my baby warm.
Sleep on, sleep on my blue-eyed treasure,
Your father won’t be very long.

It was those two blue eyes that ’ticed me,
’Ticed me from my happy home.
Although he’s run away and left me
He is the father of my child.