Tam Lin

May 21, 2013

Further to my recent notes on Scottish faerie, here is a wonderful song from Scotland about a man who escapes the enchantment of the Queen of the Fairies. I had never heard the song, nor the story, until recently, but apparently it has a long history.

This version of the song is sung by Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, and is included on their recent record Child Ballads, which I cannot recommend highly enough

Janet, this one’s for you?

6 Responses to “Tam Lin”

  1. Janet Says:

    You knew I had a past, didn’t you?


  2. cburrell Says:

    I was hoping the question mark would keep me covered. Did you know this song (or a related one) before?

    • Janet Says:

      I have heard, mostly read, that name (Tam Lin, Tammerlane, etc.) in a lot of places, but I don’t know this song. Wikipedia says the woman is sometimes named Margaret, and I may have heard a version with that name. The story seems to be similar to several other songs which I have heard, but couldn’t name.


      • cburrell Says:

        I was actually surprised by the woman in the story being named Janet. I didn’t think that was a particularly Scottish name. Come to think of it, I don’t know where the name comes from.

      • Janet Says:

        Oh yes. It’s a very Scottish name. It’s a diminutive of Jane, which is a derivative of John, which is why I like it.


  3. I love this song. It’s one of several old ballads that feature a type I think of as “the valiant girl.” I’ve always found it very moving. The version I know is one of the best tracks on the best folk-rock album ever made, Fairport Convention’s Liege and Leaf. Pretty different from this, which is just as good, though it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison musically.

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