Sung by: Mr. and Mrs. Berry Sutterfield
Recorded in Marshall, AR 6/14/63

Click here to listen to the original recording

(Mr. Sutterfield: "Start the tune. Get it a little louder. Heck, I don't know whether I know what I'm wanting to sing or not."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "You're going to sing 'Barbara Allen.'"
Mr. Sutterfield: "Start it, wife."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "No, I don't remember the first words."
Mr. Sutterfield: "Start it. Heck, I don't know it, myself."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "Oh, I know you can do it."
Mr. Sutterfield: "Well, start it, then."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "I can't."
Mr. Sutterfield: "There you go. We just got one hacked up here that we don't know a darn thing about it."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "You always start them now, you know."
Mr. Sutterfield: "Well, I start . . . Let me know what to start with, and then I'll start it."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "I don't know . . . the first of it."
Mr. Sutterfield: "Well, what did you suggest it for?"
Mrs. Sutterfield: "Well, because . . . I know you know it."
Mr. Sutterfield: "I don't either."
??: "Starts out, 'The merry month of May, when flowers were a-blooming, sweet Willie on his deathbed lay, for the love of Barbry Allen."
Mr. Sutterfield: "No, that ain't right."
??: "That's right so far."
Mr. Sutterfield: "That ain't right. That ain't right. I've got the best version of anything that they've got in the university. Ain't that right? I've got the record on the best version of 'Barbry Allen' of anything in the university, over 150 together."
??: "Start out on it, then."
??: ". . . several different ways they sing that, ain't it?")

In yonders town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwelling . . .

(Mrs. Sutterfield: "Now wait a minute. Get that right."
Mr. Sutterfield: "Okay, that's the way it starts."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "Well, start it then.")

In yonders town, where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwelling,
Made every youth cry wellaway.
Her name was Barbry Ellen.

(Mrs. Sutterfield: "You ain't got the tune . . ."
Mr. Sutterfield: "Ain't got the tune, have I? . . . Turn that off 'til we get started here."
Mrs. Sutterfield: "Now, go on.")

It was in the merry month of May,
When green buds, they were swelling.
Sweet William came from the western state
And courted Barbry Ellen.

Was all in the month of June,
When everything was blooming,
Sweet William on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbry Ellen.

He sent his servant to the town
Where Barbry was a-dwelling,
Saying, "My master's sick, and sent for you,
If your name is Barbry Ellen.

"He is taken very sick,
And death on him is dwelling,
So hasten away to comfort him,
Oh, lovely Barbry Ellen."

Slowly, slowly, she got up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said when she got there:
"Young man, I think you're dying."

"Oh, yes, I'm sick, and very sick,
And death on me is dwelling.
No better, no better, I never will be,
If I can't get Barbry Ellen."

"Oh, yes, you're sick, and very sick,
And death on you is dwelling.
No better, no better, you never will be,
For you can't get Barbry Ellen.

"Don't you remember in yonders town,
When we were at the tavern,
You drank a health to the ladies all around,
And slighted Barbry Ellen."

"Oh, yes, I remember in yonders town,
In yonders town a-drinking,
I gave a health to the ladies all around,
But my heart to Barbry Ellen."

As she was on her highway home,
The birds kept a-singing.
They sang so clear, they seemed to say,
"Hard-hearted Barbry Ellen."

As she was walking o'er the field,
She heard his death bells ringing,
And every stroke did seem to say,
"Hard-hearted Barbry Ellen."

She looked to the east and she looked to the west;
She saw his corpse a-coming.
"Lay down, lay down that corpse of clay,
That I may look upon him."

The more she looked, the more she mourned,
'Til she bursted out to crying,
Saying, "Pick me up, and carry me home,
For I feel like I am dying.

"Oh Mother, oh Mother, go make my bed;
Go make it long and narrow.
Sweet William died for pure, pure love,
And I shall die for sorrow.

"Oh Father, oh Father, go dig my grave;
Go dig it long and narrow.
Sweet William died for me today,
And I'll die for him tomorrow."

They buried Sweet William in the old churchyard,
And Barbry in the new one.
A rose sprung from Sweet William's grave,
And a briar from Barbry Ellen.

They grew and they grew to the top of the wall,
And they could not grow no higher.
They leapt and tied in a true love's knot,
And the rose run 'round the briar.

Also found in Child, #84, "Bonny Barbara Allan"; Randolph, Vol. I, #21, "Barbara Allen"; Brown, Vol. II, #27, "Bonny Barbara Allan"; Belden, p. 60, "Barbara Allen."

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection
Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
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