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We've decided to open this album with what has become only the second most gory ballad in our repertoire. Our hero goes about his daily murderous business, but on this particular occasion finds that he has not done his research.

This ballad is Child No. 14. We took both the tune and the words from Bronson's The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, variant #4, "The Bonnie Banks of the Virgie, O." This version was originally collected in 1929. It appears in Greenleaf and Mansfield's Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland.

lyrics

There was three sisters out on a day
Too-ra-lee and a loney, O
They met a robber on their way
By the bonny, bonny banks of the vergie-o

Now he took the first one by the hand
Too-ra-lee …
And he whipped her 'round 'til she could not stand
By the bonny …

And he took the second though she tried to flee
And her red blood he spilled so free

And he held the third in a grip so tight
She said "I wish my brothers were here tonight"

"Oh, what are your brothers come tell to me"
"O one of them's a minister," said she

"And what's the other, I pray you tell?"
"The other one's a robber, like yourself"

"Lord have mercy for what I've done,
I've murdered my sisters all but one"

Now he took out a wee pen knife
And there he took his own sweet life

credits

from More Bad News .​.​., released June 18, 1996
(trad.)

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Broadside Electric Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Broadside Electric is a five-piece electric folk band from Philadelphia, PA (US). They have earned a reputation for thoroughly original arrangements and painstaking research into traditional English, Celtic and Eastern European music. Broadside Electric has been at turns called “Pennsylvania’s answer to Steeleye Span” and “folk music’s answer to death metal.” ... more

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