Down By Blackwaterside
DESCRIPTION: Girl lies with a man, who dresses and prepares to leave her. She reproaches him, saying "That's not the promise you gave to me." She tells him she's the most loyal girl in the world, but now she'll marry him only "when fishes fly and the seas run dry"
EARLIEST DATE: 1803 (Johnson)
KEYWORDS: sex promise abandonment
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) US(MA,SE) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
GreigDuncan6 1188, "Down by Yon Riverside" (2 fragments, 1 tune)
Kennedy 151, "Down By Blackwaterside" (1 text, 1 tune plus another text in the notes)
Reeves-Sharp 28, "Down by a River Side" (2 texts)
Reeves-Circle 1, "Abroad As I Was Walking" (1 text); 124, "The Squire and the Fair Maid" (1 text)
Tunney-StoneFiddle, pp. 108-109, "Blackwater Side" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-Newfoundland 65, "Down by a Riverside" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson 57, "As I Strolled Out One Evening" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT 468, BLKWTRSD*
Anne Briggs, "Blackwater Side" (on Briggs2, Briggs3)
Liam Clancy, "Blackwater Side" (on IRLClancy01)
Winnie Ryan, "Down By Blackwaterside" (on FSBFTX15)
Paddy Tunney, "Blackwaterside" (on Voice10)
Bodleian, Harding B 28(122), "Distress'd Maid" ("As I walk'd out one May morning"), W. Wright (Birmingham), 1831-1837; also Harding B 11(904), Harding B 28(123), "Distress'd Maid"
cf. "Camden Town" (plot)
cf. "The Lovely Irish Maid" (plot, lyrics)
Black Water Side
I Am Too Young
The Squire and the Fair Maid
The Distress'd Maid
NOTES [211 words]: The voice keeps changing, from a bystander to the woman to (possibly) the man. This song should not be confused with "The Black Water Side" (Laws O1). - PJS
Roud in fact lumps this with Laws P18, "Pretty Little Miss." But that entry is one of his mass lumps, of many songs about untrue lovers. While there is much sharing between songs of this type, it seems better to split them.
Kennedy lumps this with "The Lovely Irish Maid," and I have to admit that there are strong points of contact, both lyric and in plot. This song, however, appears to take a slightly different direction, so I have, with much hesitation, split them. - RBW
The Reeves-Sharp fragment fits "Down By Blackwaterside" but its primary text combines "Down By Blackwaterside" with "The Shannon Side": instead of taking the maid to his room, "The grass was wet and slippery And both her feet did slide They both fell down together Down by the riverside"; she asks his name so she will know it for her baby's baptism and he says "My name is Captain Thunderbolt"; his reason for not marrying her is that he is committed to "the glazier's daughter."
While Ryan's text is cited by Kennedy as the basis for his Kennedy 151 text only a few verses are shared by the recording and the text in his book. - BS
Last updated in version 4.3
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2020 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.