Introduced by Kim Wallach

It was autumn, around 16 years ago, a friend died unexpectedly of a heart attack. My marriage with my hopes and dreams was also dying. I was searching through my big collections of songs—Lomax, Warner, etc.—tracking down songs I wanted to learn. I found “Pinery Boy,” and the Warner version of “Lang a-Growing.” Then in Folk Songs of the Catskills by Cazden, Haufrecht & Studer, State University of New York Press, Albany c 1982, I found the relatively rare “Bright Phoebe.” The raw grief and loss in both melody and lyric matched what I was feeling perfectly, and I set about learning it.

I am a singer and a songwriter. The way I understand the world, my place in it and my feelings about it has always been through music.

Ellen Cohn sings the same melody, but a different set of words. You can hear her version here:

You can also hear Stan Ransome, the Connecticut Peddler, here:

Bright Phoebe music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


Bright Phoebe was my true love’s name
Her beauty did my heart contain
You’d never find a fairer dame
If you’d search the wide world over

Me and my love we did agree
That shortly married we would be
If ever I returned from sea
We’d seal that solemn bargain

But when I did return again
Death had my dear companion slain
The joy and comfort of my life
In the cold ground lies a-mouldering

I wish I’d never come on shore
Nor viewed my native land no more
But stayed where the billows loud did roar
A-mourning for Bright Phoebe

I’ll go unto some foreign place
Where I can see no human face
and spend the restance of my life
A-mourning for Bright Phoebe

Kim Wallach is a singer of original, traditional and wonderful songs dwelling in southwest New Hampshire. Recently retired as a public school music teacher, she is enjoying playing music for Firebird, a molly and border team, going to Monadnock area pub sings, caring for her aging mom and adopted “malted,” and even doing the occasional gig. You can still contact her through her website,, and order all her CDs including the latest, Chatter of the Finches, through CDBaby and other online sources.