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Tam Lin

from Mythcreants by Tricky Pixie

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Our attempt to bring sexy back to this Scottish ballad.


I forbid ye maidens all
who let fly your lovely hair
to go down to Carterhaugh
for young Tam Lin is there

Janet tied her kirtle green
above her knee and not below
and she's gone to carterhaugh
just as fast as she can go

She's come to the roses growing wild
she's pulled a single one
when a wild young man appears
and cries 'O, lady, let alone!

'How dare you pull my roses out,
How dare you break my tree
How dare you run in these green woods
Without asking leave of me?'

Says Janet fair 'this wood's my own
My father gave it me
And I can pluck myself a rose
Without asking leave of thee.'

Bold as brass, he takes her hand
and color rises to her skin
She looks the young man in the eye
and knows him now for young Tam Lin.


Janet holds her petticoats
well above her dirty knee
and she's gone to her father's hall
just as fast as she can hie.

All the ladies of the court
at their play turn red as rose
except for Janet, fainting fast,
green as growing grass she goes

Out then speaks her father dear,
doting, caring, meek and mild.
'Janet, darling daughter mine,
I fear you go with child.'

'Father, if I be with child,
be sure myself shall bear the blame.
There's not a knight within your hall
shall get the baby's name.
Father, if I be with child,
'twill prove a wondrous birth
for well I swear it's not the get
of any mortal man on earth.'


Janet's tied her kirtle green
When near nine months are gone
And she's away to Carterhaugh,
To speak with young Tam Lin.

But young Tam Lin will not be found
and Janet's in despair
to the forest floor she falls
and swift her lover catches her

Janet asks 'Tam Lin, my love,
why is it in these woods you hide?'
'The queen of faeries stole me hence,
alas, when I was but a child.

'My lordly sire was a skillful man
and hunting he loved well
but I was prey for the faerie Queen
when from my horse I fell.

'Ever since, in yon green hill,
with the Queen I'm bound to dwell
I'd never tire of living there
for Faerie does me well

'But at the end of seven years,
the queen doth pay a tithe to hell
I am so fair and full of flesh,
I fear 'twill be myself.'


Tonight's the night of Halloween,
and the fairy court will ride;
And she that would her true love win
at Miles Cross must bide.

'But how shall I thee ken, Tam-lin?
Or how shall I thee know?
Amang a troupe of faerie knights,
The like I never saw?'

'First let pass the horses black
then let pass the brown
Run ye to the milk white steed
and pull that rider down.

'They will change me in your arms
into a deadly adder
but hold me fast and fear me not
I am the baby's father

'They will change me in your arms
into a bear or lion bold
but hold me fast and fear me not
I am the father of your child

'At last they'll change me in your arms
into a naked knight.
Then cast your mantle over me
and keep me out of sight.'


Gloomy, gloomy, was the night,
And eery was the way,
As Janet in her mantle green
To Miles Cross did hie.

The heavens dressed in baleful black
and all was silent as the grave,
But Janet waited in the dark
Her own true love to save.

Betwixt the hour of twelve and one,
the north wind blew and tore and rent
she heard the elfin bridles ring
upon the wind where e'er it went

Janet stood, with mind unmoved,
The gloomy heath upon,
And louder, louder rang the bells,
As the fairy court came riding on.

And first rode by the night black steeds
and then went by the brown;
then up she ran to the charger pale
and pulled her lover down.

They changed him in her arms to all
the beasts and flames and hateful things,
but she did all that her lover bade
and young Tam Lin she won.

Up then spoke the Faery Queen
An angry queen was she.
'Woe betide the wretch who's ta'en
the best knight of Our company.

'Had I but known, Tam-Lin, she said
What defeat this night I'd see
I'd've stolen both thine eyes
and changed thee fast into a tree.

'Had I but known, Tam-lin, she said
before we left this night to roam,
I'd've et thy heart of flesh
and left thee with a heart of stone!'


Janet tied her kirtle green
above her knee and not below
and she's off to Carterhaugh
as fast as love can go.


from Mythcreants, released August 1, 2009
S.J.: vocals, percussive guitar, bells
Alec: vocals, bodhran, bells, egg
Betsy: cello

traditional song
arrangement and recording copyright S.J. Tucker


all rights reserved



S. J. Tucker Perry, Arkansas

“Without our songs and stories, we are nothing.” S. J. Tucker has been captain of her own music career since 2004, when she left the workaday world behind to sing songs and change lives. Tucker is the voice of lore at the campfire and the sharp laughter of modern myth. With one hand anchored in her art and the other held out to us, she is songs and stories, community and wit. ... more


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