Banks of the Bann

Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

When first unto this country a stranger I came
I laid my affections on a maid that was young
She being young and tender, her waist small and slender
Cruel nature had formed her for my overthrow

Twas on the banks of the Bann, it was there I first met her
She appeared like some Venus or Egypt's fair queen
Her eyes like the diamonds in the dew softly shining
She's the fairest of all in this wide world I hold

It was her cruel parents that caused us such varience
Because I am poor and of low degree
But I'll do my endeavour to gain my love's favour
Although she is come from a high family

Had I but the jewels that are in the Indies
Or had I but riches and money in store
It's there on the banks of the lovely Bann river
In all kinds of splendour I'd live with my dear

My name it is Delaney, it's a name that won't shame me
And if I'd had money, I'd ne'er had to roam
But drinking and sporting, night rambling and courting
Are the cause of my ruin and absence from home


Song Notes

In 2000, I was on tour in the USA and halfway through the tour for some unknown reason this song started constantly running through my head. This was odd as I had never sung it and wasn't even aware that I knew all the words. It went on for three days solid until I arrived in Seattle and by this point it was driving me totally nuts, so I sang it that night in an attempt to exorcise it. It seemed to work, so I sang it every night for the rest of the tour. Just to be on the safe side. I don't think I've had to sing it since.

What made it even more bizarre is that in the USA the tune is widely associated with a very well-known hymn and the audiences were completely bemused by this being sung to it, although I did explain to them why I was doing it.

Although I have a completely irrational weakness for it as described above, it really is an absurd song. Here is this character lamenting his fate and looking desperately for excuses for his plight and for the fact that the young woman's "cruel parents" (and presumably the young woman herself) disapprove of him. Perhaps he could have found the clues in the last two lines of the last verse.

In spite of all that, the whole song is worth singing just for that glorious third line of the second verse.

celtic knotwork


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