Song Lyrics

House Carpenter


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[the specific lyrics Joni sang are unknown]

Well met, well met, my own true love
Well met, well met, cried he
I've just returned from the salt, salt sea
All for the love of thee

I could have married the king's daughter dear
She would have married me
But I have forsaken her crowns of gold
All for the love of thee

Well, if you could have married
The king's daughter dear
I'm sure you are to blame
For I am married to a house carpenter
And find him a nice young man

Oh, will you forsake your house carpenter
And go along with me?
I'll take you to where the grass grows green
To the banks of the salt, salt sea

Well, if I should forsake my house carpenter
And go along with thee
What have you got to maintain me on
And keep me from poverty?

Six ships, six ships all out on the sea
Seven more upon dry land
One hundred and ten all brave sailor men
Will be at your command

She picked up her own wee babe
Kisses gave him three
Said, "Stay right here with my house carpenter
And keep him good company"

Then she put on her rich attire
So glorious to behold
And as she trod along her way
She shown like the glittering gold

Well, they'd not been gone
But about two weeks
I know it was not three
When this fair lady began to weep
She wept most bitterly

Ah, why do you weep, my fair young maid
Weep it for your golden store?
Or do you weep for your house carpenter
Who never you shall see anymore?

I do not weep for my house carpenter
Or for any golden store
I do weep for my own wee babe
Who never I shall see anymore

Well, they'd not been gone
But about three weeks
I'm sure it was not four
Our gallant ship sprang a leak and sank
Never to rise anymore

One time around spun our gallant ship
Two times around spun she
Three times around spun our gallant ship
And sank to the bottom of the sea

What hills, what hills are those, my love
That rise so fair and high?
Those are the hills of heaven, my love
But not for you and I

And what hills, what hills are those, my love
Those hills so dark and low?
Those are the hills of hell, my love
Where you and I must go


Late in 1963, Joni wrote out a list of 28 songs in her repertoire- of which this was one. All were presumably considered for performing at the 1963 'early' session in Saskatoon (released on Archive Series 1) although this one was not recorded.

A.L. Lloyd sang The Demon Lover in 1956 on his and Ewan MacColl's Riverside anthology The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Volume IV. The Watson Family sang this song as The House Carpenter in 1963 on their Folkways album The Doc Watson Family. This is the commonest collected version of The Demon Lover (James Harris) in the United States. The oldest known printed version is entitled A Warning for Married Women in which the “heroine” is identified as Mrs. Jane Reynolds, born near Plymouth. The date of the broadside is 1685. A.L. Lloyd says it was almost surely in oral tradition long before that. In the original British forms the returning lover was a ghost who wreaks a terrible revenge on the girl who wouldn't be faithful to his memory.


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