Scarborough Fair (Simon & Garfunkel)


Listen to the song!

The Concert in Central Park in New York
The Concert in Central Park is the first live album by American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in February 1982. It was recorded in September 1981 at a free benefit concert in Central Park, New York City, where the pair performed in front of more than 500,000 people!

Simon & Garfunkel

Scarborough Fair - Lyrics

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
Parsely, sage, rosemary & thyme
Without no seams nor needlework
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Tell her to find me an acre of land
Parsely, sage, rosemary & thyme
Between the salt water and the sea strand
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather
Parsely, sage, rosemary & thyme
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine.

Scarborough Fair was a traditional English fair, and is also a traditional English ballad. The song tells the tale of a young man, who tells the listener to ask his former lover to perform for him a series of impossible tasks, such as making him a shirt without a seam and then washing it in a dry well, adding that if she completes these tasks he will take her back. Often the song is sung as a duet, with the woman then giving her lover a series of equally impossible tasks, promising to give him his seamless shirt once he has finished.

Scarborough Fair appears to derive from an older, now obscure, Scottish ballad, The Elfin Knight which has been traced as far back as 1670 and may well be earlier.

During the late Middle Ages the seaside town of Scarborough was an essential venue for tradesmen from all over England. It was host to a huge 45-day trading event, which was exceptionally long for a fair in those times. Merchants came to it from all areas of England, Norway, Denmark, the Baltic and the Byzantine Empire. Scarborough Fair originated from a charter granted by King Henry III of England on 22 January 1253. The charter, which gave Scarborough many privileges, stated The Burgesses and their heirs forever may have a yearly fayre in the Borough, to continue from the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary until the Feast of St Michael next following.

Naturally, such a large occasion attracted many more than just tradesmen; they needed to be entertained and fed. Therefore large crowds of buyers, sellers and pleasure-seekers attended the fair and goods often being exchanged hands through the barter system.

The arrangement made famous by Simon & Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair originated in the late 20th century. Paul Simon learned it in 1965 in London from Martin Carthy. It was the lead track of the 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, and was released as a single after being featured on the soundtrack to The Graduate in 1968. The copyright credited only Simon and Garfunkel as the authors, causing ill-feeling on the part of Carthy, who felt the "traditional" source should have been credited. This rift remained until Simon invited Carthy to duet the song with him at a London concert in 2000.

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