Scarborough Fair

Artist
James Bell
Released
2018
  1. Scarborough Fair -:-- / 04:17

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…”

History

Yes, that Scarborough Fair. Usually the first thing I’ll do when adapting a traditional song is to go on a source hunt, and try to find the earliest versions I can, because I reckon that until you have a sense of when and where it came from you can’t really understand what it means. But Scarborough Fair is one of the few English folk songs to be known the world over thanks to the Simon & Garfunkel version, and for once it’s actually the later versions that interest me. It was never a song I had much fondness for, until I wondered what it would sound like in a major key. Suddenly, the emotion of the song made sense. To me, this is a song about someone who is asking you if you’re going to Scarborough Fair, because there’s someone there who they used to be, like, a bit in love with, but now they are absolutely completely over them. I mean, seriously, totally… it’s like… they feel absolutely nothing at all. In fact, if this Scarborough person was ever interested in getting back together with them, do you know what they’d need to do? They’d need to make a shirt out of cambric, but without sowing it at all, or… they’d need to find an acre of land between the sea and the sand, and grow crops there and reap with them with a sickle of flimsy leather, and… yeah, unless Scarborough’s finest can do all of that, well, there’s just no way in hell they’re getting back together. So… er… if you’re… you know, going that way… er… say hi, maybe?

Lyrics

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
With no seams and no needle work
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to find me an acre of land
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between salt water and the sea strands
Then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it all in a bunch of heather
Only then will she be a true love of mine

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there…

Credits & Copyright

Traditional, adapted by James Bell. Recorded and released by James Bell in April 2018. (P) House of Lyra.