Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

Southern Appalachians songs with lyrics, commentary & some sheet music.

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The Three Ravens
and altered by Allan Cunningham, was printed in 1825 in Cunningham's Songs of Scotland, Vol. I, pp. 289—290. He changed 'corbies' to 'ravens' in the first line. The editor of Cleveland's Compendium thought 'ravens' was neither archaic nor Scotch enough; he changed Cunningham's 'ravens' back to 'corbies.'"
"The Twa Corbies." Obtained from Mrs. Henry C. Gray, Route #3, Box 499, Terre Haute, Indiana. The ballad, therefore, does not come from the Southern Highlands, but came as a result of meeting Mrs. Gray while on a ballad-quest in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was copied by the writer from an end-paper of an old bound volume of magazines in the possession of Mrs. Gray. She thought that it might have been written there from memory by her grandfather. Later Mr. Phillips Barry pointed out that the text is identical with the version in Cleveland's Compendium. At first it was decided not to print the text. However, on Mr. Barry's suggestion it is here printed. He says in a letter of June 26, 1931:
"It seems to me that Mrs. Gray's text of 'The Two Corbies' might well be included in your collection with the other two texts. The use of Cleve­land's Compendium was so universal in American high schools that it is not likely that Mrs. Gray's grandfather was the only person who learned the 'Two Corbies' from it. There is, after all, not so very much difference between a school-book and a broadside or a songster, when it is a question of giving a particular song text a new start in oral tradition. The volume of Vermont Folk-Songs and Ballads^ just published by the Stephen Daye Press, Brattleboro, Vermont, has on pp. 19, ff., a song, 'Margaret Gray', sung to a variant of an air widely known among folk-singers. The song was written by Julia C. R. Dorr, and was first printed in 1868; apparently it was learned from a volume of her poems, and, having passed into oral tradition became attached to the tune to which it was sung."
1. There were two corbies sat on a tr^e, Large and black, as black might be; And one the other gan say: "Where shall we go and dine today ? Shall we go dine by the wild salt sea ? Shall we go dine 'neath the greenwood tree ?

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III