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False, False

[ Roud 8276 ; Ballad Index McCST060 ; trad.]

False, False was collected by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1962 from the singing of the traveller Christina MacAllister from Crooten Bay, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, and published in their book Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977).

Isabel Sutherland sang False Hae Ye Been on her 1966 Topic album Vagrant Songs of Scotland. She commented in her sleeve notes:

This song we collected in two parts from Christina McKenzie and Christina Orde, who was at the time (1955) eighty-four years old. They both lived at MacDuff in Banffshire on the north east coast of Scotland. There are resemblances to the English T for Thomas, the Irish Verdant Braes of Skreen and the U.S. False Young Man.

Danny Stradling sang False, False in 1971 on Oak's only Topic album, Welcome to Our Fair: English Country Music and Song, and this track was also included on their Musical Traditions anthology Country Songs and Music. This album's booklet commented:

Danny learned this lovely collection of floating verses from Sheila Stewart, who she heard sing it at Blairgowrie in the late-sixties; but it was not available on a commercial record until 1998 when Doc Rowe recorded Sheila for [her 2000 Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition]. Sheila said she heard it the once from an old woman traveller. Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977) gives an almost identical version from Mrs Christina MacAllister, from Crooten Bay, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, recorded 1962.

Peta Web, Danny's band member from Oak, recorded False, False in Spring 1989. This was released on her Musical Traditions CD The Magpie's Nest. She commented:

From the great Sheila Stewart of Blairgowrie, a Scots traveller with a strong affinity for Irish songs, this moves from tragedy to optimism in three short verses of striking poetic imagery. it seemed natural to complement the air with the drones of Michael Kilbane's pipes and Caroline Kilbane's haunting flute.

Sheila McGregor sang False, False Hae Ye Been at the Kinross Festival in September 1975. This recording was published in the following year on the festival's anthology Scots Songs and Music Live from the Kinross Festival 2.

Heather Heywood sang False, False Hae Ye Been on her 1993 Greentrax CD By Yon Castle Wa'.

June Tabor recorded False, False in 1994 for her CD Against the Streams and the album title was taken from this song's lyrics. This recording was also included in the two Cooking Vinyl samplers Cooking Vinyl Sampler Vol. 3 and Songs in the Key of Cooking Vinyl and on June Tabor's 2005 anthology Always.

This video shows her at ‘Later with Jools Holland’:

Annie Grace sang Fause Fause Ha'e Ye Been during Celtic Connections 2001 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. This recording was included in the following year on the festival anthology Scots Women: Live from Celtic Connections 2001.

Cara sang False, False in 2004 on their first album, In Colour

Corrina Hewat sang Fause, Fause in 2006 on her and Kathryn Tickell's CD The Sky Didn't Fall. She commented:

Although I had heard this song many times throughout my life, I didn't feel I understood it enough to sing it. Then I met Sheila Stewart from Blairgowrie, the last of the tradition bearers of the Stewarts of Blair, one of the families of Scotland's travelling people. We were involved, along with an incredible selection of Scottish and Gaelic veteran singers, in a ‘Scottish Women’ touring show. It was a passionate and moving experience and I am thankful to have had the chance to talk to Sheila about her tradition and where she came from, and why this song (she sings it as False False) was important to her.

Kris Drever sang False, False in 2007 on his CD Black Water.

Ruth Notman sang Fause, Fause on her 2007 CD Threads.

Said the Maiden sang False, False, “a Scottish song, Hertfordshire-ized… but, hopefully, still pretty”, in 2014 on their CD A Curious Tale.

Siobhan Miller sang False, False on her 2017 album Strata.

Lori Watson released Fause, Fause as a single in April 2017; it is part of her ongoing recording of her Yarrow Acoustic Sessions project. She commented:

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger picked up on the ‘impossible natural phenomenon’ in this and related versions of the story/song in their Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland (1/1977). This theme can be found in lots of traditional songs and is something that has always sparked my imagination: ships sailing in forests, the sun rising in the West, rocks melting with the sun, ravaging the white snowflake’s nest…

Lyrics

Christina MacAllister sings False, False Hae Ye Been to Me, My Love Corrina Hewat sings Fause, Fause

False, false hae ye been to me, my love,
O, when have you changed your mind?
But since ye've laid your love on another fair maid,
I'm afraid that you're ne'er mair mine.

Fause, fause hae ye been tae me, my love;
O, and often ye've changed yer mind.
But since ye’ve laid yer love on anither fair one,
I fear ye’re nae mair mine.

I were climbing to a tree that were too high for me,
Asking fruit where there weren't any grew;
I been lifting warm water oot aneath cold clay,
And against the streams I were rowing.

I did climb intae a tree that wis too high for me,
Seeking fruit where there wasnae any growin',
I'd been lifting warm water oot aneath cold clay,
And against the stream I was rowin'.

But I mean to climb up some higher tree,
To harry a white snowflake's nest,
And down shall I fall, ay, without any fear,
To the arms that loves me the best.

But now I mean tae climb intae a far higher tree,
Tae herry a white snowflake’s nest.
And doon shall I fall, wi'oot any fear,
Tae the arms that lo'e me the best.

Danny Stradling sings False, False June Tabor sings False, False

False, false, have you been to me, my love;
How often have you changed your mind.
But since you’ve laid your love on another fair maid,
I’m afraid you’re no more mine.

False, false have you been to me, my love,
Oh, when did you change your mind?
Ah, but since you've laid your love on another fair maid
I'm afraid that you're no more mine.

I will climb into a tree that is too high for me,
Asking fruit where there weren’t any growing,
I was lifting warm water from beneath cold clay,
And against the stream I was rowing.

I was climbing to a tree that was too high for me,
Asking for fruit where there weren't any grew.
I've been lifting warm water out beneath cold clay
And against the stream I was rowing.

Oh, but I mean to climb some higher tree,
And harry a wild snowflake’s nest.
Then down shall I fall, without any fear,
To the arms that love me the best.

But I mean to climb up some higher, higher tree
And harry a white snowflake's nest,
And down shall I fall, ay, without any fear
To the arms that love me best.