Photo Challenges, Simon & Garfunkel and ‘Scarborough Fair’

I am going to have to admit defeat today as neither of the posts I’ve started have worked out – It happens, and I’m sure some of my blogging pals will recognise that feeling. Just too much going on I think, after over a year of very little going on at all. Our senses are being overloaded.

Time therefore to resort to the sharing of a photograph, which is exactly what some of the music blogging fraternity have been doing of late. I will first refer you to The Swede over at Unthought Of, Though, Somehow, to check out his excellent Friday Photo, and then to John over at Are We There Yet? for his equally excellent, but very different, Two of a Kind photographs.

Here is my photo, taken just yesterday evening when we decided to make the short trip through to a nearby village for an ice-cream. The village, called Beauly because French-speaking Mary Queen of Scots called it a beau lieu (beautiful place), has a very old Priory which in the evening sun looked striking. Needless to say, the locally renowned fish and chip shop where we got our very delicious Mr Whippy ice-cream, is called The Friary. Love it.


But what song to include in a picture post such as this? As we wandered round the inside of the ruined priory licking ice-cream (probably a sacrilege), we couldn’t help but notice the dates on some of the tombstones, a few going as far back as the 15th century. It will therefore have to be a very old song, and off the top of my head this one comes to mind, Scarborough Fair by that duo who have appeared around here often, Simon & Garfunkel. To be fair (no pun intended), it’s a traditional English ballad, but it does seem to have a lot in common with a Scottish ballad called The Elfin Knight, so not too unreasonable.

The lyrics are about trying to attain true love by performing impossible tasks. In Medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues – Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage. As I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

The song was released as a single in 1968, after it was used on the soundtrack to one of my all-time favourite films, The Graduate. Paul Simon learned of the song whilst on tour in England, after hearing it performed by folk singer Martin Carthy. Martin Carthy in turn had learned the song from a Ewan MacColl songbook.

Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – When you’re stumped for inspiration, or suffering blogger’s block, resort to a picture post. A song will surely follow as it has done for me here.

As for this flurry of photo sharing amongst the community, I’m also up for the challenge and look forward to seeing what the others share next.

I have been very careful (until now) to avoid any mention of the momentous football match which will take place tomorrow night between Scotland and England. It’s 25 years since we played each other in the Euros, but I still remember that night well. DD was a just a little baby so the return match has been a long time coming. Talking of Scottish/English rivalry, I’ve just shared an English ballad which was based on a Scottish ballad, but not sure which is best. Time perhaps to share a version of The Elfin Knight, on this occasion by Kate Rusby. Personally I’m torn, as both very different in style, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

As for who will fair best on the football pitch tomorrow night, we have yet to find out, so I’m glad I got this one in ahead of kick-off. I’m not a massive football fan, but I do like the big tournaments and used to watch them all with my dad as a girl. I’m Scottish, but Mr WIAA is English – Could make for an interesting time in our house tomorrow night.

Until next time…

Scarborough Fair Lyrics
(Traditional)

Are you going to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green.
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown.
Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Without no seams nor needle work,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

On the side of a hill a sprinkling of leaves.
Washes the grave with silvery tears.

A soldier cleans and polishes a gun.
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

Tell her to find me an acre of land:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Between the salt water and the sea strand,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions.
General order their soldiers to kill.
And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten.

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
And gather it all in a bunch of heather,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Photo Challenges, Simon & Garfunkel and ‘Scarborough Fair’”

  1. Of course folk songs are passed from one singer to another. In the case of “Scarborough Fair”, though, Simon also nicked Carthy’s arrangement without credit. He didn’t make up until decades later. There is a thin line between “the folk process” and “stealing”. Bob Dylan also used many traditional English tunes and put new words to them. Nothing wrong with that; others have done it. But one should then credit the prolific “Trad. Are.” rather than claiming that one wrote it oneself. Ritchie Blackmore is guilty of similar things involving medieval and renaissance music. And then there is Led Zeppelin.

    What sets the Simon and Garfunkel version apart is the second song being sung at the same time. IIRC, that was written by Simon but it was Garfunkel’s idea to put the two together.

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    1. Ah, the font of all knowledge when it comes to S&G. Yes, I read about the falling out with Martin Carthy but it seems Paul Simon was just a victim of being young and naive about such things – Or was he? Don’t believe that for a minute. As ever I’ve had to a bit of editing to this post after reading your comment, as I shouldn’t have credited the lyrics to S&G at all. Changed it to Trad and added the second song Canticle to the music clip – If it was Art’s idea to put the two together it was a bit of a masterstroke – Works really well.

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      1. I’m a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel. Even though Simon wrote, played guitar, and sang, while Art just sang, it was his voice which really made things special. I’m not a fan of the solo stuff of either of them. I saw Paul Simon live a few years ago. Only one Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Sound of Silence”, in a three-hour show. And that was the original Paul Simon solo version, not the famous one by the duo. Seems a bit too little. I’ve seen Art Garfunkel several times in recent years. He sings more Simon and Garfunkel stuff and seems more in touch with his old self.

        The two should listen to “Old Friends” together and do a world tour before it is too late.

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        1. Their finest hour was when they made music together although I do like a lot of Paul Simon’s solo stuff. I seem to remember hearing Paul say he was finished with touring (understandable considering his age) so unlikely to see them out on the road together again.

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  2. Loved the Kate Rusby song which was very upllifting on a sunny Friday morning after one of my chums who i haven’t seen for a long while dropped by for a stroll a stroll around my garden and a blether. As for tonight’s game, I’m probably going to be watching it from behind the settee with my fingers crossed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad it has helped cheer up your morning and great to hear you’ve had a friend drop by for a blether – We’ve been so deprived of such things it really is a tonic.

      As for the football, you and me both. I was all excited for Monday’s match but it didn’t go well for us. Expectations not so high this time so hopefully they will surprise us.

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  3. Funnily enough, just yesterday, Mr SDS and I were discussing Scarborough Fair and whether the title and first line are actually referring to a fair held in Scarborough, or just an archaic way of saying that Scarborough is fair as a place, as in ” Are you going to fair Scarborough?” There’s no more reference to a specific fair as such, only what seems to be to the location of the town, so we were left wondering if it is perhaps the latter but which has been misinterpreted over the years. Now there’s a debate for a Friday afternoon!
    Your photo is gorgeous! The view through the window space, the blue of the sky and the contrasting honey colour of the sunlit walls – beautiful. I think you, The Swede and John are really onto something with the inspirational photos and I’m taking note….!

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    1. Funny the things that we ponder over in the course of a day. Apparently Scarborough had a really big Fayre in medieval times where traders came across from Norway, Denmark and from all over the North of England. It waned in importance over the centuries and ended in the late 18th century. The lyrics in the song makes sense.

      I liked that photo too but there is something a bit off about it too – Too much wall I think but didn’t want to have everything very centred and picture postcard-like either. The colours weren’t tweaked at all – Just the evening light hitting the stone. Beautiful.

      Yes, when out for a walk take a picture of something you find interesting and I’m sure a blog post will easily follow – A couple of paragraphs is all you would need. Could unblock the blockage (only if you have the time of course).

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  4. My apologies Alyson, I missed this post completely. Many thanks for the mention. I’ve managed to keep my series going for 4 straight weeks so far, which I’m quite pleased about given that I seem to spend the majority of my time either working or sleeping. That’s a really beautiful shot of the priory ruins, set off perfectly, as Rol says, by the blue sky. Alas there are no priories round these parts – though I do have a local walk that takes in the ruins of two separate castles! I look forward to seeing many more of your photos (along with those of the rest of our blogging chums).

    It saddens me to think of Simon and Garfunkel these days, estranged in their old ages after sharing so many extraordinary life experiences. I (perhaps naively) like to think that they should meet up for a coffee and a hug while they still can, to at least briefly acknowledge the remarkable nature of the journey they took together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s ok – Tough to catch them all. Love your most recent photo, of you and your pal in the park. Well done your dad on that one.

      As for my picture it was a lucky happenstance I think – A lovely sunny evening and I must have been standing in just the right spot to get the view of the tower and sky through the ruined window.

      Yep, life is too short to have these parting of the ways, especially between a pair with such a history as S&G. They certainly did have a remarkable journey together and it’s surprised me just how often they’ve popped up around here.

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