(trad./Jean Ritchie/Jackie Washington)

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Tune source of Dylan's "Masters of War", recorded at Columbia Studios, New York, NY, Apr 23, 1963 and released on "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan."

Likely source: Jean Ritchie, 1950s, via Jackie Washington.

"A piece of folksong surrealism," is how Jean describes "Nottamun Town," dreamlike in its disorienting juxtapositions: "Ten thousand stood around me, and yet I's alone...." The family could trace their knowledge of the song back to Crockett Ritchie; according to Uncle Jason, "'hit's might neart sure to be about Nottingham in Old England.'"

The song was likely a product of the early mummers' plays, in which local actors would blacken their faces and turn their clothing inside out to escape recognition. Bob Dylan was not only influenced by the song's jumble of mixed-up, fantastical lyrics... but also melodically, as he borrowed the tune for "Masters of War".

Lenny Kaye, Liner Notes for "O Love Is Teasin -- Anglo-American Mountain Balladry," Elektra 9 60402-1-U, 1985

JEAN RITCHIE LYRICS, Digital Tradition file name: NOTTMUN.

In fair Nottamun town, not a soul would look up,
Not a soul would look up, not a soul would look down,
Not a soul would look up, not a soul would look down,
To show me the way to fair Nottamun town.

I rode a grey horse, a mule roany mare,
Grey mane and grey tail, a green stripe down her back,
Grey mane and grey tail, a green stripe down her back,
There wa'nt a hair on her be-what was coal black.

She stood so still, she threw me to the dirt,
She tore -a my hide and she bruised my shirt.
From saddle to stirrup I mounted again,
And on my ten toes I rode over the plain.

Met the King and the Queen and a company more,
A-riding behind and a-marching before
Came a stark-naked drummer a-beating a drum
With his heels in his bosom come marching along.

They laughed and they smiled, not a soul did look gay,
They talked all the while, not a word they did say,
I bought me a quart to drive gladness away
And to stifle the dust, for it rained the whole day.

Sat down on a hard, hot cold frozen stone,
Ten thousand stood round me, and yet I's alone.
Took my hat in my hand for to keep my head warm,
Ten thousand got drownded that never was born.

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