Peggy-O

Lyrics: Traditional
Music: Traditional

A traditional ballad played regularly by Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead from the early '70s.

As we rode out to Fennario
As we rode out to Fennario
Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove
And he called her by name pretty Peggy-O

Will you marry me, pretty Peggy-O
Will you marry me, pretty Peggy-O
If you will marry me, I will set your cities free
And free all the ladies in the area-O (note 1)

I would marry you, sweet William-O
I would marry you, sweet William-O
I would marry you, but your guineas are too few (note 2)
And I fear my mama would be angry-O

What would your mama think, pretty Peggy-O
What would your mama think, pretty Peggy-O
What would your mama think if she heard my guineas clink (note 2)
And saw me marching at the head of my soldiers-O

If ever I return, pretty Peggy-O
If ever I return, pretty Peggy-O
If ever I return, all your cities I will burn
Destroy all the ladies in the area-O (note 1)

Come stepping down the stairs, pretty Peggy-O (note 3)
Come stepping down the stairs, pretty Peggy-O
Come stepping down the stairs, combing back your yellow hair
And bid a last farewell to young William-O

Sweet William he is dead, pretty Peggy-O (note 4)
Sweet William he is dead, pretty Peggy-O
Sweet William he is dead, and he died for a maid
And he's buried in the Louisiana country-O

As we rode out to Fennario
As we rode out to Fennario
Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove
And he called her by name pretty Peggy-O
Notes
(1) in earlier versions it's "free all the people" not "free all the ladies", and similarly "Destroy all the people"
(2) on some occasions Jerry sang "dollars" instead of "guineas." And on others, he sings this verse as "I won't marry you, 'cause your guineas are too few." (thanks to Dan Franzen and Todd O'Malley for pointing this out).
(3) in early versions (eg on DP31), this verse is sung as the second verse
(4) in early versions (eg on DP31), this verse is omitted

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     10 Dec 1973 Download Series Vol 8
      4 Aug 1974 Dick's Picks Vol 31
     25 Sep 1976 Dick's Picks Vol 20
     (studio) 2 Nov 1976 Terrapin Station   (note a)
     30 Apr 1977 Download Series Vol 1
     11 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     12 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     19 May 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 29
     25 May 1977 Dave's Picks Volume 1
      7 Jun 1977 Winterland June 1977 - The Complete Recordings
      3 Sep 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 15
     10 May 1978 Dick's Picks Vol 25
     22 Oct 1978 Road Trips Volume 1, Number 4 ("From Egypt With Love")
     (studio) 16 Jul 1979 Go To Heaven   (note b)
      5 Nov 1979 Road Trips Full Show: Spectrum 11/5/79
     24 Nov 1979 30 Days Of The Dead (2011)
      6 May 1980 Road Trips Volume 3, Number 4
     15 May 1980 Go To Nassau
     16 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     20 Jun 1991 Download Series Vol 11

"The Dead" Concert Recordings

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

Ratdoglive CDs and downloads

Robert Hunter Concert Recordings

Phil Lesh and Friends Digital Download Series

Furthur Digital Downloads and CDs

Bob Weir Solo Acoustic Live!

Weir-Robinson-Greene Trio Live!
 
Jerry Garcia Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     studio 1982 Run For The Roses Jerry Garcia Band (note c)
 
New Riders Recordings
     30 Jul 2006 Where I Come From: Radio Mixes and Live Bonus
     31 Dec 2006 Live: New Year's Eve
 
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     2010 Blottopia XI Day 1 Mr Blotto
     2011 The Wheel: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia Jesse McReynolds, David Nelson et al
     1 Dec 2012 A Buckdancer's Choice Bob Weir (solo)
Notes
(a) a studio instrumental version issued as a bonus track on the version in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(b) a studio version issued as a bonus track on the version in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(c) bonus track (titled "Fennario") on the reissued album included in the box set All Good Things



Roots
The following piece is from Josephine McQuail's excellent piece "Folk Songs and Allusions to Folk Songs in the Repertoire of the Grateful Dead

"As I researched the song, I discovered it was listed in a venerable volume of collected folklore, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, collected by Cecil J. Sharp. The song seems to be Scottish in origin. The version performed by the Grateful Dead resembles that transcribed in Cecil Sharp's book, but there are several variants. As is typical of folksongs, the place name given in the Dead version as "Fennario" is "Fernario" in Sharp's version. As the song is passed down from person to person words become changed or transposed, just as the message in the children's game of telephone gets more and more garbled as it is passed along. Sometimes nonsense syllables are substituted for what once were "real" words.

"An even older, Scottish version of the ballad called "The Bonnie Lass O'Fyvie" appears in Folk-Songs of the North-East and another version is given under the title Bonnie Barbara, O, in Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland. From even the titles of the songs it is apparent that the names "Fennario" and "Fernario" both probably originally derived from "O'Fyvie" and the name "Peggy-O" perhaps from "Barbara, O." All of the versions considered together suggest the story of a love affair between a travelling enemy soldier and a local girl which is thwarted by the girl's ambitious mother who wants a son-in-law with more money and a higher social status. Thus his declarations go from a promise of love for "Barbara, O" to threats against the locals' lives when he returns from his next march. But he dies, heartbroken because of love for, respectively, "Peggy-O" and "Barbara O." "Bonnie Barbara, O" is given the setting of Derby and is in dialect, but the story of the song is a bit clearer. When the soldier asks Barbara what her mother would think of her daughter's marriage to an apparently well-to-do soldier, she replies:

Little would my mammie think, bonnie Sandy, O,
Little would my mammie think, bonnie Sandy O;
Little would my mammie think though she heard the guineas clink.
If her daughter was following a sodger, O."

"A Scottish version which found its way to the Southern United States is given in The Ballad of America. This version lacks the detail of the proud, angry mother. The setting of this version, "The Bonnie Lass o'Fyvie," in other Southern American versions changes from "Fyvie" to local settings or is replaced by nonsense words like "Ivory" or "Ireo."

There was a troop of Irish dragoons
Came marching down through Fyvie O;
The Captain's fallen in love with a bonnie, bonnie lass,
Her name it is called pretty Peggy O.

"O come down the stairs, pretty Peggy O," he said,
"O come down the stairs pretty Peggy, O,
O come down the stairs, comb aside your yellow hair,
Take the last farewell of your daddy, O.

Another version I found of "The Bonnie Lass Of Fyvie" has fuller lyrics:
There once was a troop of Irish dragoons 
Come marching down thru Fyvie-O
And the captain fell in love wi' a very bonnie lass
And he called her by name, pretty Peggy-O

There's many a bonnie lass in the glen of Auchterlass
There's many a bonnie lass in Gairioch-O
There's many a bonnie Jean in the streets of Aberdeen
But the flower of them all lives in Fyvie-O

Come trippin' down the stair, Pretty Peggy, my dear
Come down the stairs, Pretty Peggy-O
Come trippin' down the stairs, combin' back your yellow hair
Bid a long farewell to your mammy-O

It's braw, aye it's braw, a captain's lady for to be
And it's braw to be a captain's lady-O
It's braw to ride around and to follow the camp
And to ride when your captain he is ready-O

Oh I'll give you ribbons, love, and I'll give you rings
I'll give you a necklace of amber-O
I'll give you a silken petticoat with flounces to the knee
If you'll convey me doon to your chamber-O

What would your mother think if she heard the guineas clink
And saw the haut-boys marching all before you-O
O little would she think gin she heard the guineas clink
If I followed a soldier laddie-O

I never did intend a soldier's lady for to be
A soldier shall never enjoy me-O
I never did intend to gae tae a foreign land
And I will never marry a soldier-O

I'll drink nae more o your claret wine
I'll drink nae more o your glasses-O
Tomorrow is the day when we maun ride away
So farewell tae your Fyvie lasses-O

The colonel he cried, mount, boys, mount, boys, mount
The captain, he cried, tarry-O
O tarry yet a while, just another day or twa
Til I see if the bonnie lass will marry-O

Twas in the early morning, when we marched awa
And oh but the captain he was sorry-O
The drums they did beat on the merry braes o' Gight
And the band played the bonnie lass of Fyvie-O

Long ere we came to the glen of Auchterlass
We had our captain to carry-O
And long ere we won into the streets of Aberdeen
We had our captain to bury-O

Green grow the birks on bonnie Ethanside
And low lie the lowlands of Fyvie-O
The captain's name was Ned and he died for a maid
He died for the bonny lass of Fyvie-O

Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com

 


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