Fair and Tender Ladies

DESCRIPTION: Lyric song, in which the narrator, a woman, laments the falseness of men. She sadly remarks, "Oh if I were some little sparrow / And had I wings so I could fly / I'd fly away to my own true lover / And when he courted, I'd deny."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety)
KEYWORDS: courting love betrayal nonballad bird lyric
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber)) US(Ap,MW,SE,So) Ireland
REFERENCES (37 citations):
Greig/Duncan6 1156, "Consider All Ye Fair Maids" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 477-478, "Little Sparrow" (2 texts)
Randolph 73, "You Fair and Pretty Ladies" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 121-122, "You Fair and Pretty Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 73A)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 71, "The Drowsy Sleeper" (2 texts plus 3 excerpts; the "D" excerpt contains "Fair and Tender Ladies" verses)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 254, "Little Sparrow" (4 texts plus 1 excerpt and 1 fragment; the "F" text, however, is primarily "The Butcher Boy" or an "I Wish I Wish" piece of some sort)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 254, "Little Sparrow" (3 tunes plus text excerpts)
Killion/Waller-ATreasuryOfGeorgiaFolklore, p. 257, "Come All You Fair and Pretty Ladies" (1 text)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #196, "Little Sparrow" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 51, p. 167, "Young Ladies" (1 text)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 95, "Come All You Fair Maidens" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-1ed, pp. 136-137, "The Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 52-53, "The Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abernethy-SinginTexas, pp. 45-46, "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scarborough-ASongCatcherInSouthernMountains, pp. 312-313, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, with local title "Come All Ye Maids and Pretty Fair Maidens"; tune on p. 440)
Brewster-BalladsAndSongsOfIndiana 80, "Little Sparrow" (1 text)
Wyman/Brockway-LonesomeSongs-KentuckyMountains-Vol1, p. 55 "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Shellans-FolkSongsOfTheBlueRidgeMountains, pp. 26-27, "Constant Sorrow" (1 text, 1 tune, beginning with "Man of Constant Sorrow" but with most of "Fair and Tender Ladies" grafted on at the end)
Wolfe/Boswell-FolkSongsOfMiddleTennessee 37, pp. 66-67, "Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-FolkSongUSA 17, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 99, "Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune); see also 70, "Love is Pleasin'" (1 text, 1 tune, of four verses, one of which goes here, one belongs with "Waly Waly," and the fourth could be from several sources)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 118, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (18 texts, 18 tunes)
Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 45, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune -- a composite version)
Cambiaire-EastTennesseeWestVirginiaMountainBallads, p. 61, "O, Waly, Waly" (1 text, clearly mis-titled by Cambiaire-EastTennesseeWestVirginiaMountainBallads [and misfiled by Roud on that basis], since neither the phrase "O Waly Waly" nor "The Water is Wide" are used; the lyrics are entirely consistent with this piece); p. 98, "I Wish I Was A Little Sparrow" (1 single-verse fragment)
Ritchie-SingingFamilyOfTheCumberlands, pp. 185-186, "[Come All Ye Fair]" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-FolkSongsOfTheSouthernAppalachians, p. 18, "Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thomas-DevilsDitties, pp. 82-83, "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abrahams/Foss-AngloAmericanFolksongStyle, pp. 88-89, "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune); p. 145, (no title) (1 tune, partial text)
McNeil-SouthernMountainFolksong, pp. 74-77, "Little Sparrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 140, "Young Ladies (Little Sparrow)" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 142-143, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boette-SingaHipsyDoodle, p. 48, "Young Ladies (False Lover)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tunney-WhereSongsDoThunder, p. 160, "The Little Swallow" (1 text)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 24 "Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 164, "Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 33, #2 (1988), pp, 44-45, "Come All You Maidens" (1 text, 1 tune, the Sara Cleveland version, which doesn't mention fair and tender ladies and makes the sparrow a swallow)

Roud #451
Sheila Clark, "Come All Ye Fair Ladies" (on LegendTomDula)
Sara Cleveland, "Come All You Maidens" (on SCleveland01)
Debra Cowan, "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" (on HCargillFamily)
Martha Hall, "Young and Tender Ladies" (on MMOK, MMOKCD)
Sarah Hawkes, "Little Sparrow" (on Persis1)
Roscoe Holcomb, "Willow Tree" (on Holcomb1, HolcombCD1)
Stella Kimble & Pearl Richardson, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (on FarMtns2)
Dellie Norton, "Little Sparrow" (on OldTrad2, FarMtns4)
Pete Seeger, "Come All Fair Maids" (on PeteSeeger02, PeteSeegerCD01); "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (on PeteSeeger05)

Murray, Mu23-y1:105, "The Wheel of Fortune," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C [extremely mixed, with the "Wheel of Fortune" verse, a thyme stanza, a bit of "Fair and Tender Ladies," a "Queen of Heart" verse, and more]
cf. "Peggy Gordon" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Oh, Johnny, Johnny" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Rambleaway" (theme)
cf. "Lora Williams" (tune)
NOTES [174 words]: Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi for some reason lists this as a British import, without offering supporting evidence. Paddy Tunney's Irish version is about all I can find in support of his claim. The evidence would seem to indicate that this is one of those songs that went the other way. - RBW
Steve Roud splits Greig/Duncan6 1156 as #6820, noting that -- if they are the same as #450 -- these two texts are the only two British versions found to date. Of the longer Greig/Duncan6 text only three of the six verses are very close to the US texts ("star in a summer mornin'," "they'll tell you stories," "little swallow"); the other three verses match in spirit but not in words. The one verse fragment is the "star in a summer's morning" verse.
Edward Bunting, The Ancient Music of Ireland (Mineola, 2000 (reprint of 1840 Dublin edition)), p. 96, quotes "The Little Swallow" "words which have been handed down by tradition ... commencing: 'I would I were a little swallow, I would rise into the air and fly, Away to that inconstant rover'." - BS
Last updated in version 5.3
File: R073

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