> Norma Waterson > Songs > Banks of the Dee

Banks of the Dee

[ Roud 3814 ; Henry H583 ; Ballad Index HHH583 ; trad.]

Norma Waterson sang Banks of the Dee in 2000 on her third solo album Bright Shiny Morning. She was accompanied by Mary Macmaster, electro harp, Martin Green, piano accordion, Eliza Carthy & Ben Ivitsky, violins and vocals. Norma Waterson commented in the album’s sleeve notes:

From Sam Henry’s Songs of the People. “When the drums they are a-beating and we the foe are greeting …”


Norma Waterson sings Banks of the Dee

As daylight was appearing and cloudy skies were clearing
Small birds notes were cheering on the banks of the Dee
There I heard a maid a-sighing and her watery eyes was drying
Oh Johnny, she was crying, How could you leave me

Twas on that spot we parted I left her broken-hearted
Crystal tears they started and down from her eyes did flow
Saying, Bid adieu forever since you and I must sever
As you walk down by the river you’ll remember me I know

For when I’m on the ocean and billows are in motion
When I’m at devotion I’ll still recall your name
When drums they are a-beating and we the foes are meeting
And from that there’s no retreating I’ll always be the same

For I know right well what grieved her and yet I didn’t relieve her
When first I did receive her I hid from her my name
She appeared to me full sorry as I told my mournful story
It was on a field so gory your true love he was slain

When she had the news she fainted her cheeks like death were painted
I from her heart relented and quickly told my name
While on me she stood gazing and on her I stood gazing
With joy her hands was raising saying, Ah you’re still the same

Leave off your sobs and sighing your fond heart I was trying
Leave off your sobs and sighing I was the whole to blame
Now since we met together we will wander by the river
You and I will join together never more to part again


Transcription by Garry Gillard.