The Gypsy Laddies
Shona Donaldson: On Autumn Harvest ah007
Old Songs & Bothy Ballads: Grand to Be a Working Man
Recorded at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2008.

One of the most widely known of all the old narrative ballads - number 200 in FJ Childs The English and Scottish Popular Ballads - with 11 versions from Scotland, England and the USA. By the time Bertrand Bronson was compiling his The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads (four volumes published between 1959 and 1972) he was able to include 128 versions of the ballad with tunes and texts collected from tradition throughout the English speaking world. Shona's fine version is very much in the Aberdeenshire tradition. There are 13 versions versions in the Greig-Duncan Folk-Song Collection (2.278), of which 7 are with tunes.

1: Three gypsies cam tae oor haa door,
And oh they sang sae bonnie O;
They sang sae sweet and too complete,
They stole the hert o a lady O.

2: As she cam trippin doun the stairs,
Her maidens twa afore her O;
They took one look at her weel-faured face,
And they cuist their spells oot ower her O.

3: When her guid lord cam hame that nicht,
He wis askin for his lady O;
And the answer the servants gien til him,
"She's awa wi the gypsy laddies O."

4: "Gae saiddle tae me my bonnie, bonnie black,
The broun wis ne'er sae speedy O;
That I maun go ridin this lang simmer's day,
In search o my true lady O."

5: And he rade east and he rade west,
And he rade through Strathbogie O;
And there he met a gey aul man,
Wha wis comin doun through Strathbogie O.

6: "Have ye rade east, have ye rade west,
An have ye rade through Strathbogie O?
An have ye seen a bonnie lady,
She wis follaein the gypsy laddies O?"

7: "Oh I've rade east an I've rade west,
An I've rade through Strathbogie O;
An the bonniest lady that ever I saw,
She wis follaein the gypsy laddies O?"

8: "Last nicht I slept in a fine feather bed,
Wi ma ain wedded lord aside me O;
This nicht I maun lie on a cauld barn flair,
Wi the gypsies lyin aroon me O."

9: "Oh wad ye gie up yer hooses an your land,
And wad ye gie up yer babbie O?
And wad ye gie up yer ain wedded lord,
And keep follaein the gypsy laddies O?"

10: "Oh I'd gie up ma hooses an ma land,
And I'd gie up ma babbie O;
And I'd gie up ma ain wedded lord,
And keep follaein the gypsy laddies O?"

11: "Oh there are seiven brithers o us aa,
And we are wondrous bonnie O;
But this verra nicht we aa shall be hanged,
For the stealin o the earl's lady O."

c p 2009 Autumn Harvest :