I fell quite in love with this song when I heard Sinead O’Connor performing it (here).  So of course, I ran off immediately to research where it came from, and listen to a heap of other performers doing it.

Annachie Gordon does not strictly fall within the period covered by the SCA.  It’s Child Ballad 239, Roud 102, and it’s earliest appearance (that my admittedly limited research could find) is cca. 1824, though in 1828 it was apparently listed in Buchan‘s “Ancient Ballads and Songs 2”, suggesting it may be at least a few decades older.

This song has gone through a few odd permutations.  At some point, the town of Buchan (pronounced Buck-an) became the town of Harking, which doesn’t actually exist.  This seems to happen in a fair amount of folk songs, where often the song is passed on purely by ear, resulting in a “Chinese Whispers” style evolution.  Indeed, this phenomenon has happened a few times with this song, Lord Saltoun becoming Lord Salting or Sultan, Auchanachie being shortened to Annachie, and at one point our hero became Hannah Le Gordon (you may need to scroll across on the link to see) when the song moved south from Scotland into England.

Almost all commercial versions of this song can be tracked back to the rendition performed by Nic Jones (unfortunately I don’t have a link to the song to offer), and all renditions using the place name “Harking” can be tracked back to Mary Black (who, it seems, misheard Nic Jones).  Thanks to the Mudcat Cafe  for their lovely thread I got this info from.

In the tradition of singers everywhere, I’ve tweaked this song until it makes vocal and logical sense to me, so there’s a good possibility that you won’t find this exact set of lyrics anywhere else.  However, it’s close to most commercial versions.

Buchan is bonny, and there lives my love.
My heart lies on him and cannot remove.
It cannot remove for all that I have done,
And I never will forget my love Annachie.
For Annachie Gordon, he’s bonny and he’s braw,
He’d entice any woman that ever him saw.
He’d entice any woman and so he has done me
And I never will forget my love Annachie.

Down came her father and he’s standing at the door
Saying, “Jeannie, you are trying the tricks of a whore.
You care nothing for a man who cares so much for thee,
You must marry Lord Saltoun and leave Annachie.
For Annachie Gordon, he’s barely but a man.
Even though he may be pretty but where are his lands?
The Lord Saltoun’s lands are broad and his towers they run high.
You must marry Lord Saltoun and leave Annachie.”

“With Annachie Gordon I beg for my bread
But before I marry Saltoun his gold to my head,
His gold to my head and fringes straight down to my knee,
I will die if I don’t get my love Annachie.
And you who are my parents to church you may me bring
But unto Lord Saltoun I’ll never bear a son.
Not a son or a daughter, I will never bend my knee
And I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie.”

Jeannie was married and from church she was brought home,
And when she and her maidens so merry should have been,
When she and her maidens both merry should have been
She runs into her chamber and she cries all alone.

“Come to bed now Jeannie me honey and me sweet,
To stile you, my mistress, it would be so sweet.”
“Be it mistress or Jeannie it’s all the same to me,
But in your bed, Lord Saltoun, I never will lie.”
And down came her father and he’s spoken with renown,
Saying “You that are her maidens, go loosen up her gown!”
And she fell down to the floor, so close down by his knee,
Saying “Father, look, I’m dying for me love Annachie.”

The day that Jeannie married was the day that Jeannie died,
And the day that young Annachie came home on the tide.
And down came her maidens all wringing of their hands
Saying “Oh, you’ve been so long, you’ve been so long upon the sands.
Oh, so long upon the sands, so long upon the flood,
They have married your Jeannie and now she lies dead.”

“You that are her maidens, come take me by the hand
And lead me to that chamber where my love she lies in.”
And he kissed her cold lips until his heart it turned to stone,
And he died there in that chamber where his love she lies in.

My rendition:  Annachie Gordon

As an aside, I found another version, not based on Nic Jones’ version.  Raymond Crooke looks like he’s an excellent resource, look for him either on YouTube or here.

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