The Cruel Mother
On Springthyme SPRCD 1039
Jock learned this ancient supernatural ballad from George Kidd, farm grieve at the family's neighbouring farm back in around 1935 when Jock was 10 or 12 years old and he never heard the song from anyone else. The ballad is number 20 in F.J. Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads and Greig-Duncan has three tunes and four fairly full texts from the North East (GD 193). To find a new version in the 1990s as full as Jock's is remarkable and sung with such style and authority. Jock's version is unique in many ways but is perhaps most similar to the north-east version collected by Peter Buchan in the early 1800s (Buchan: Ballads of the North of Scotland 2: 217/ Child 20 version I). This includes the use of flower and plant symbolism in the chorus: the rose being the flower of passion and the lindie the linden or lime tree, being somewhat akin to the Rowan and having significance as a holy tree giving protection against evil.
Brian McNeill - concertina; Chorus vocals
Jock: I used tae visit him quite a lot, Geordie. He wis greive in the 30s at North Faddenhill for ma father we were South Faddenhill. Fen he retired he bought a wee croftie away in the hill o Meigle at New Deer and there he skuttered aboot, rearin a calf, and keepin a hen or two. Geordie used tae sing that song tae me even fen he wis retired. It wis one o his favourites. It wis in the 50s the last I saw o Geordie.
c p 1996 Springthyme Records : www.springthyme.co.uk