Banks of Green Willow/Bonnie Annie (trad. Child 24, arr. by Craig)
Introduced by Moira Craig

This is of the Jonah ballad form, where it is bad luck for a woman to be on board ship. In this version, the captain’s pregnant lover seems to be the cause the ship is having problems and she is thrown overboard to die! The visual images in this ballad are amazing and to me the tune represents the sounds of the sea rising and falling. The words and tune can be found in Traditional Folksongs and Ballads of Scotland.

Listen to Moira Craig singing the tune. You’ll find the song lyrics beneath the notation below.

Bonnie Annie sheet music
Download a PDF version of the notation


There once was a merchant and he lived in Dumbarton
And he had a daughter and her name it was Annie

And there was a merchant and he came from Strathdinning
And he’s got this bonnie lass big, big wi bairnie

Oh ye’ll tak ship wi me and ye’ll be ma hinnie
What more can women dae than I can dae for ye

Well the hadnae been sailing a week, but scarcely ony
Whe she needed women and there wernae ony

Oh captain tak gold and captain tak money
And steer for the dry land for the sake o yer bairnie

Well how can I tak gold and how can I tak money
For there’s fay folk on the ship and she willnae steer for me

Then tak me by the fingers and lift me up hooly
And cast me overboard and have nae pity on me

So he’s taen her by the fingers and lifted her up hooly
And he’s thrown her overboard though she was his ain dearie

Oh see how she swims and see how she swaggers
And she’ll no leave off swimming till she comes tae some harbour

His love she was there when he came tae the dry land
She was lying there died on the cold sea strand

And her baby was born and lying at her feet
For the loss of his bonny love sair, sair did he greet

He’s caused mak a kist o the gowden sae yellow
And there all three lie sleeping on the banks o green willow

Moira Craig was born and brought up outside of Glasgow and her home was always full of singing and music—she never thought much about it, it was normal to her. While Scottish traditional songs are her main love, she’ll sing anything at the drop of a hat and hopefully will continue to do so till the day she dies.