MAID FREED FROM THE GALLOWS, THE

Latest update on 11/06/2012

Artist: Bentley Ball
Author: trad
Label: Columbia
Year: 1920

As Gallows Trees with a male subject. Francis James Child ballad #95 about a condemned maid hoping someone bails her out. Alegorical; the gold stands for the girl's honor (only to be saved by her lover) while the prickly bush stands for unhappy love. Child noted 11 variations, indexed from 95A to 95K. One of the oldest English ballads around, tune and lyrics easily dating back since Chaucer's days. The Gallows Song (introduced by Lead Belly and covered by Josh White and Carl Sandberg) and Below The Gallows (The Weavers) are different songs. The Prickly Bush, cut by Julia Scaddon, Judy Collins, A.L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Steeleye Span and Shirley Collins, is only lyrically related.

Covers:

1935:

Lead Belly [for the Library of Congress]

1938:

Lead Belly [as Mama Did You Bring Me Any Silver; version recorded by Alan Lomax in New York and released by Rounder on Lomax Series cd Deep River Of Song - Louisiana]

1939:

Lead Belly [as The Gallis Pole for Musicraft; the gallow used to draw its gloomy shadow over this ex convict, once facing long term incarceration; all three of his versions are sung from a male perspective]

1940:

John Jacob Niles [in his high lonesome folk style, hand covering his ear and all; pretty authentic but a lot less influential]

1954:

Jean Ritchie [as Hangman Song, in Child's footsteps on her field trip through the UK]

1954:

Andrew Rowan Summers [als Hangman's Tree]

1957:

Odetta [as Gallows Pole]

1960:

Fred Gerlach [as Gallows Pole, version known by Jimmy Page]

1961:

Kingston Trio [as Hangman Hangman]

1961:

Art & Paul [idem, this folkduo urged Simon & Garfunkel to use their surnames]

1963:

Limeliters [as Hangman Hangman]

1963:

Koerner, Ray & Glover [idem]

1963:

Burl Ives [as Gallows Tree]

1964:

Bert Jansch [as Gallows Tree]

1965:

Tex Ritter [as The Gallows Pole]

1965:

Peter, Paul & Mary [idem]

1967:

Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger [as Hangman]

1970:

Led Zeppelin [idem]

1990:

dirk Blanchart & The Groove Quartet [idem]

1994:

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant [unplugged; hit UK]

1996:

Alvin Youngblood Hart [as The Gallis Pole]

2007:

Ha Ha Tonka [as Hangman]

2007:

Golden Glows [as The Golden Ball]

2012:

Neil Young & Crazy Horse [as The Gallows Pole]

12-string virtuoso Fred Gerlach is the missing link between Lead Belly's and Lead Zeppelin's versions. Took him four years to master the required technique and then some: "It's my favorite number, but it is so strenuous that I must perform regularly for a week before I'll attempt it".

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