Background Info: House Carpenter back to "House Carpenter" Cover Page

House Carpenter

(Background Info)

Doug Brode posted: writes:
Last night on *The Thistle and Shamrock* I heard a recording of "The Daemon Lover," and it seemed to me that the story and the lyrics were very similar to a song I remember on a Joan Baez album that my father bought when I was a young teen. The Baez version is called "House Carpenter," and I loved it, memorized the song and sang it for my best friend when we had what today are called sleep-overs. Does anyone have the 1962 "Joan Baez in Concert" album? I'd be interested to know if the liner notes give credit to The Daemon Lover as the inspiration for the House Carpenter song.

I've got the album in front of me. The notes read:

House Carpenter (Child 243): Originally titled "James Harris or The Daemon Lover" most American variants of the ballad lack the supernatural overtones of the original (except possibly in the two closing verses). In `Pepys Ballads' it was printed as "A warning for Married Women, being an example of Mrs. Jane Reynolds (a West-country woman), born near Plymouth, who, having plighted her troth to a Seaman, was afterwards married to a Carpenter, and at last carries away by the spirit, the manner how shall presently be recited." Take Heed!
I also happen to have the five volume set of "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads." It was originally edited by Francis James Child and published in the late 1890s and was reprinted in 1965. I haven't opened any of these volumes in probably 20 years. Each volume has the price of $2.75 on the cover (paperback). I wonder what the set is going for now.

Anyway, from volume III the first version of "James Harris (The Deamon Lover)" from Pepy's Ballads, IV, 101 the 22nd verse goes:

I might have married the king's daughter,
And she would have married me;
But I forsake her golden crown,
And for the love of thee.
The above is similar to the *second* verse of the version Joan sings. A song called "The Rambler's Garland" circa 1785(?) is closer to Joan's version and only has 13 verses instead of the 32 verses as in the `Pepy's Ballads' version.

Even "The Rambler's Garland" however, is still quite different from the version Joan sings. I guess the song did quite a bit more growing in the next sixty-or-so years before Joan's recording. Just imagine what "Louie Louie" might sound like in another hundred years. A pretty depressing thought, eh? :)