Scarborough Fair

The ballad “Scarborough Fair” is one of the most well-known old folk songs that got popular in our time through recordings and performances in the folk and pop scene of the 1960-1970 period.

The text in “Scarborough Fair” is closely related to other old ballads, for example, “The Elfin Knight” and “The Cambric Shirt”.

The content has been explained as a list of impossible tasks that the distanced lovers ask each other to perform in order to prove their love and worthiness again. It can also be read as an exchange of subtle insults with references to their character and/or body parts. For example:

1) “Wash it in yonder dry well”, meaning perhaps a person with dry eyes, not easily moved to tears,

2) One of the lovers has got a sharp tongue, a “sickle of leather”,

3) “Sow some seeds from north of the dam” could mean that one of the lovers has got a snotty nose above his lips (“north of the dam”).

This is not a critical edition made in accord with scholarly expertise but a contemporary interpretation made with artistic license. ‘He’ and ‘she’ is alternating in this version. The demo is just a quick demo, not a good performance or production!

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