Maid in Bedlam

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MAID IN BEDLAM. Scottish, Air (whole time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. "Maid in Bedlam" [Roud 605] is a song that appears in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, vol. 1 (1787) and Calliope (1788), and on broadside song sheets. The melody is closely related to "Gramachree," and in fact "Maid in Bedlam" was directed to be sung to "Gramachree" in The Scots Nightingale (2nd ed., 1779). [Ed. there are other melodies with similar titles, but musically unrelated, such as Aird's "Gramachree is a Sup of Good Drink" and some versions of "Gramachree Molly." See the excellent discussion in James Hogg, ‎Peter Garside and ‎Peter Horsfall's The Forest Minstrel, 2006, p. 250 [1] ].

The lyric for "Maid in Bedlam" was loosely based on an earlier song called "The Black's Lamentation," printed on broadsides around 1740, which told of a black man, George Sighous, incarcerated in Bedlam [Ed.- Bedlam was the commonly used name of Bethlehem Royal hospital which housed the insane] for his mad love for an English girl. The updated, "Maid in Bedlam" version transforms the black man into a maiden, placed in Bedlam due to her love for a sailor. The lyric begins:

Abroad as I was walking
One evening in the Spring,
I heard a maid in Bedlam,
So sweetly did she sing;
Her chains she rattled in her hands,
And always so sang she:

Chorus:
I love my love because I know he first loved me.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Edinburgh Repository of Music, vol. 2, 1825; p. 1. Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 1), 1787; pp. 46-47.

Recorded sources: Transatlantic Records ‎TRA 348, The John Renbourn Group - "A Maid in Bedlam" (1977).

See also listing at:
Hear Jon Boden sing the song at "Folk Song a Day" [2]




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