Scarborough Fair questions

After reading the lyrics to this song it would appear that this is actually two songs in one.

Every other line belongs to every other line. In otherwords if the lines were to be numbered, the even numbered lines match only with the even numbered lines and vice versa. Is this on purpose or am I lyrically stunted?

And what, if anything, does all this have to do with a Fair taking place in Scarborough?

There may have been a formatting or word processing error on that site which shuffled together the lines from what were originally two separate columns of verses; other sites show the lyrics we learned back in the good old days.

I get the impression from the lyrics that the the girl who’s going to make a shirt is at the fair.

Ethilrist, tho you may be correct you cite does not have the complete lyrics. It is missing the part about the soldier and the war, so I am assuming that these lines were added at some other point in time by either Paul or Art.

Here’s an interpretation.

Ok, a musician I’m not, but: Simon and Garfunkel released at least two versions of this song. Their Concert in Central Park version does not contain the lines that BuddhaDog refers to as “even numbered” in the OP. Other versions (sorry, no cite convenient right now) do contain these lines, sung as a background. My descriptive powers in the technical area of music now exhausted, I’ll leave you to find the two versions, listen to each and compare them. There are worse ways to spend time than listening to Scarborough Fair twice. :slight_smile:

My late father assured me that Scarborough Fair used the name of a (now defunct) town in the lower Hudson Valley. The closest I’ve been able to come to confirming that online was to find a restaurant by that name in Westchester County. I seem to recall driving through the area years ago and happening across some old public markers which named that community.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Simon and Garfunkel chose this as deliberate wordplay. It wouldn’t be the first time they incorporated NYC geography into their songs. Since the idea of counterpoint is to weave two contrasting musical ideas together, they extended that concept to include two sets of lyrics.

You’ll also find the same basic technique in action in any Mozart opera.

As released on the album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” the song is actually title “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”.

I thought the point of the song was to juxtapose the old (Scarborough Fair) and the new (which at the time was the Vietnam War.)

Agreed. In that light the chorus reads like a draftee’s pining for his sweetheart back home in suburban New York.

You are correct, the ‘canticle’ song (remember the song title on the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme album is Scarborough Fair/Canticle) was actually taken from The Side of the Hill from the Paul Simon Songbook.

So, they are actually singing 2 songs at once. There's actually a name for this type of thing, but it escapes me now.

Right. Scarborough Fair is one song, and Canticle is another. They sang them both to the same music, and mixed them. It came out beautiful.

I don’t know much about Canticle, but Scarborough Fair is an old song. You’ll see many different versions, with differing numbers of verses. S&G sang a much-abridged version.

First of all, the town is Scarborough, and ‘Fair’ is an adjective. It’s just an old way of saying “Are you going to the fair town of Scarborough?” Yes, the town did have fairs, but the song isn’t talking about them.

The full song is meant to be a duet. The man says to the traveller to ask the woman to do certain things in order to win back his love. These things are impossible. He wants her to sew him a cambric shirt without seams or needlework, wash it in a dry well, and stuff like that.

She sends her reply, telling him if he does certain things, also impossible, she’ll make him his shirt. She tells him to find an acre of land between the ocean and the beach, plow it with a horse’s horn, sow it with a single peppercorn, etc.

Thanks for the link. I always knew there were two songs but the canticle one was really hard to understand as they sometimes are singing both at the same time.

They (simon and Garfunkle) did this at least twice. I also really like Silent Night, and in the background increasing in volume is a rather nasty newscast.