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Yon Green Valley

from Fond Desire Farewell by Debra Cowan



traditional-from the singing of Chris Coe

Collected in 1952 by Patrick Shuldham-Shaw from a retired sailor in Shetland, this song appears in the published collections of Peter Kennedy, Helen Creighton and Grieg-Duncan. I love the positive outlook of the young lady and particularly her parting shot: “A contented mind bears no slavery”.


For a young man courted me earnestly
It was with his wishes I did comply
It was his false vows and flattering tongue
He beguiled me love when I was young

In yon green valley we both went down
Where the pretty small birds come a-whistling 'round
Changing their notes from tree to tree
As the sun arose on yon green valley

As I sat down by my love's right hand
He swore by Heaven, by sea and land
That the rising sun he would never see
If ever he proved false to me

For eleven long months he proved true and kind
But a short time after he changed his mind
He changed his mind to a high degree
And he bade farewell to yon green valley

O hold him fast, don't you let him go,
For he his mine, and it's well he knows
Don't you mind of the promise you made to me
As the sun arose on yon green valley?

“I mind of the promise I made to you
But I'll have nothing more to do with you
My father's counsel I must obey
So it's goodbye, darling, I must away”

O if he's gone, then I wish him well
For to get married as I hear tell
My innocent babe I will tender care
Of his false promise let him beware

O am I married, or am I free
Or am I bound, love, to marry thee?
A single life is the best I see
A contented mind bears no slavery


from Fond Desire Farewell, released April 28, 2009
Arranged and Produced by Dave Mattacks

Debra Cowan: Vocals, Acoustic guitar on “Wall...” “Night Owl...” “Salisbury...”, English Concertina on “Rainbow”, “Night Owl”
Dave Mattacks: Drums, Cymbals, Percussion, Piano, Pump Organ, Hammered Dulcimer, Wurlitzer Piano, Toy Piano
Duke Levine: Acoustic Guitar, Mandola, National Guitar, Octave Mandolin Marty Ballou: Upright Bass Joyce Andersen: Fiddle

With: Billy Novick: Clarinet and Wolf Ginandes:Tuba on “Alcohol”
Additional Vocals: Mike Barry on “Rainbow”, “Lili...” and “Yon Green Valley”
Ruth Peterson, Mike and Julie Barry on “Darkest Hour...” Mike, Julie and Liam Barry on “Lili...”


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Debra Cowan Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Singer Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of folk songs. Debra has two acclaimed solo recordings to her credit, and her third, “Fond Desire Farewell” was produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks. A former California resident, she now resides in Massachusetts and tours all over North America and the United Kingdom. ... more

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