06 June, 2010

"The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" - Stoneman Family

Set Three: Songs; Disc One; Track Nine: "The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" performed by The Stoneman Family. "Vocal duet by Hattie and Ernest Stoneman with harmonica, violin, guitar." Recorded in Bristol, Tennessee on October 31, 1928. Original issue Victor V-40206.

For biographical information on Ernest and Hattie Stoneman, see the previous entry on "The Mountaineer's Courtship."

Recorded a little over a year after the previous selection, "The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" is another humorous dialogue between a man and a woman.

Father was a Spanish Merchant and before he went to sea,
Made me promise to say "no sir" to all you say to me.
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir.

I know your father was against me. Should he not return from sea,
And they say you have no mother, would you then say no to me?
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir.

Yes, I know I have no mother. Should father not return from sea,
Then you see I have a brother who would take good care of me.
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir.

If we were walking in the garden, plucking roses wet with dew.
Would you be in any way offended if I walked and talked with you?
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir.

I know the world is very cruel, if you have no one to care.
But I always will say no sir until from father I do hear.
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir.

As we tarry in the garden and I linger by your side,
Would you tell me I must leave you and refuse to be my bride?
No sir, no sir, no sir, no sir.
No sir, no sir, no sir, no no!

"The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" tells the simple story of a young girl being courted by a cunning man. The girl's father has instructed her to say "no, sir" to anything the suitor says. Knowing this, the suitor deliberately asks questions that will elicit the response he wants, all while the girl continues to say "no, sir." According to Smith's notes, "The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" is likely modeled on an earlier song called "Oh, No John."

On yonder hill there stands a maiden.
Who she is I do not know.
I’ll go and court her for her beauty.
She must answer yes or no.
Oh, no John, no John, no John, no.

Oh, maiden, in your face is beauty.
On your lips red roses grow.
Will you take me for your lover?
Maiden, answer yes or no.
Oh, no John, no John, no John, no.

Maiden. I will give you jewels.
I will make you rich and free.
I will give you silken dresses.
Maiden, will you marry me?
Oh, no John, no John, no John, no.

My father was a Spanish captain,
Went to sea a month ago.
First he kissed me, then he left me.
Told me, "Always answer no."
Oh, no John, no John, no John, no.

Oh, maiden, since you are so cruel,
And since you do scorn me so,
If I may not be your lover,
Maiden, will you let me go?
Oh, no John, no John, no John, no.

Then I will stay with you forever
If you will not be unkind.
Maiden I have vowed to love you.
Would you have me change my mind?
Oh, no John, no John, no John, no.

"The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" features both Ernest and Hattie Stoneman on guitar, with Ernest Stoneman doubling on harmonica and Eck Dunford on fiddle.

Hattie Stoneman's voice can be a little much to take, I find. While Ernest Stoneman's contributions to country music are undeniable, one has to wonder if it wasn't Smith's obvious affection for the bizarre that led him to choose not one, but two songs featuring Hattie's singing.

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Here's Raymond Crooke, with an unnamed young woman sharing the vocals, performing a version of "Oh, No John."

Download and listen to The Stoneman Family - "The Spanish Merchant's Daughter"

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