arts / folk / my songs / songs / songwriting

Fred & Betty Dallas – John Riley

Click HERE to hear the complete concert.

I’ve been digging into my archives to find a live concert I recorded in the late Fifties with my then wife, Betty Dallas. The venue was Cecil Sharp House, headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Betty was a lovely singer. One of the C.Sharp pundits described her style as “hot”. When last heard from, she was still singing. Keep it up, love.

The recording quality is poor: lots of background noise, and Bill Leader‘s tape recorder was running slow – which means the voices are pitched a little high, most noticeably in the spoken links. I never had that high a spoken voice, even thirty or so years ago. I tried to remedy some of these faults electronically, but that gave the music a weird phasing sound or something, so here it is, warts and all.

Last night I sang this song solo at the Topic Folk Club. It’s always fascinated me that we never hear the woman’s reaction to the return of her long lost lover after so many years, so I scribbled down the following additional verses:

O no, O no, said the fair young maiden,
The tale you tell could never be:
My lost true love was young and handsome,
Not old and withered like you be.

But if it be that you tell me truly,
That you’re my love come back from sea,
You better cross back to Pennsylvanie,
Or sail away home to some far country.


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