Rye Tither – an Appalachian version
of the song known variously as “The Yorkshire Bite” or
“Jack and the Robber".
This song was given to me years ago by Annie MacFie
(was Anne Albin) a Kentucky singer on a tour to England. She wrote to me
“I learned the song during the early
1980s from an old neighbor on Cow Creek Rd. in
Powell County, Kentucky. His name was Ralph
Knox, and he would have been in his 70s then, a
veteran of WWII, who had served in England.
Ralph called the song "Rye Tither," as I still do,
though I've seen it in British collections as "The
Crafty Farmer." Rather remarkably, Ralph
remembered it from his youth as one of many ballads
sung by his father, John Knox. I doubt he had heard it
for 50 years, yet he was able to recollect all these
lines except for "Where did you get that horse, pray
tell? Why, I swapped for the cow that I went to sell,"
which I came up with to fill in the one blank spot in
his memory. Ralph passed away around 25 years ago
[i.e. about 1990].”
I was very excited to hear an American version of
this song as I had previously recorded a version from
the Gloucestershire gypsy Danny Brazil.