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Drowned Lovers, The (Clyde Water) - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

The Drowned Lovers, also known as 'Clyde Water', is a traditional song from Scotland.  I first heard it on Nic Jones' classic album, Penguin Eggs.  It has also been recorded by Martin Carthy and Kate Rusby, amongst others.

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Chords

Capo at 5th Fret

C                          F

Willie sits in his stable door

                C                    F                 C
And he's combing his coal-black steed,

                C                           F
And he's doubting on fair Margaret's love

              C            G7        C
And his heart began to bleed.

         
C                      F
“Give corn unto my horse, mother,

        C            F             G7
And meat to my man John,

        C      F                 C                 F
And I'll away to fair Margaret's bower

    C             G7                 C
Before the night comes on.”

 

The Drowned Lovers uses only three chords - C, F and G7. Capo your guitar at the fifth fret to play in the same key as Nic Jones, or move your capo up and down your guitar's fretboard to find a key that works for your voice. The Drowned Lovers is one of those songs that proves that a hundred different chords do not necessarily a classic ballad make.

Lyrics

Willie sits in his stable door
And he's combing his coal-black steed,
And he's doubting on fair Margaret's love
And his heart began to bleed.
"Give corn unto my horse, mother,
And meat to my man John,
And I'll away to fair Margaret's bower
Before the night comes on."

"Oh stay at home with me, dear Willie,
Oh stay at home with me,
And the very best cock in all the roost
Your own supper shall be."
"It's all your cocks in all your roosts
I value not a pin,
But I'll away to fair Margaret's bower
Before the night sets in."

"If you go to fair Margaret's bower
Without the leave of me,
In the deepest part of the Clyde water
Then drowned you shall be."
"Oh the good steed that I ride upon
Cost me thrice thirty pounds,
And I'll put trust in his swift feet
To take me safe and sound."

He's ridden o'er the high, high hills
And he's down the dowy den,
And the noise that was in the Clyde water
Would have feared five hundred men,"
"O roaring Clyde, you roar so loud
Your streams are wondrous strong,
Make me a wreck as I come back
But spare me as I'm going."

Oh when he's got to Margaret's bower,
He's turled low on the pin.
"Oh wake up, me May Margaret,
Rise up and let me in."
"Oh who is this at my bower door,
Calling May Margaret's name?"
"It's only your first love, little William,
This night come to her home."

"Open up your gates this night,
Open and let me in,
For me boots they are full of the Clyde water
And I'm frozen to the skin."
"Me barns are full of corn, Willie,
And the stable's full of hay,
And me bower's full of gentlemen -
They'll not remove till day."

"Then it's fare thee well to you, May Margaret,
And it's fare thee well and adieu,
For I have won my mother's own curse
In coming this night to you."
And as he's ridden o'er the high, high hill
And down yon dowy den,
And the rushing in the Clyde water
Took Willie's cane from him.

And he's leaned him over his saddle-bow
To catch his cane again,
And the rushing in the Clyde water
Took Willie's hat from him.
And he's leaned him over his saddle-bow
To catch his hat by force,
But the rushing in the Clyde water
Took Willie from his horse.

And the very hour that young man sank
Into the parts so deep,
There up and awoke this May Margaret
Out from her drowsy sleep.
"Come here, come here, my mother dear,
And you read my dreary dream.
I dreamed my lover was at our gates
And nobody let him in."

"Lie down, lie down, you May Margaret,
Lie down and take your rest.
For since your lover was at our gates
It's but two quarters passed."
Then nimbly, nimbly rose she up,
And went down to the river's brim,
And the louder that this lady cried,
The louder grew the wind.

And the very first step that she went in,
She stepped up to her feet,
And it's "oh" and "alas," this lady cried,
"The water's wondrous deep."
And the very next step that she went in,
She's waded to her knee.
Says she, "I would wade farther in
If I my true love could see."

And the very next step that she went in,
She's waded to her chin.
And in the deepest part of Clyde water
She found sweet William in.
Saying, " You have had a cruel mother, Willie,
And I have had another.
And now we'll sleep in Clyde water
Like sister and like brother."

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