The History of “Tam Lin”

This week the PleasureTown Historical Society is proud to present two more installments of River Rising’s rendition of the classic Gaelic ballad “Tam Lin.”

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Originating from the Scottish Borders, Tam Lin dates back to before 1549. In the original, the whimsical rhymes tell the story of Tam Lin and his rescue from the Queen of Fairies by a golden-haired maiden. Passed down through oral tradition, the ballad has many variations, but the story always follows your average rom-com structure…

– Elf lives in woods

– Girl plucks flower from those woods

– Elf upset

– Girl returns home pregnant with elf baby via immaculate conception

– Girl goes back to woods

– Elf reveals he’s a man held captive by the Fairy Queen

– Girl saves Elf, who transforms back into a naked man

– Fairy Queen wishes she’d blinded the Elf

– Boy and girl happy – fate of Elf baby unknown

Elf babies aside, “Tam Lin” is a magical legend exploring the transformative nature of humans. As the girl carries Tam Lin to safety, the fairies manipulate his form into all manner of beasts. She must hold him though all the chaos until he can finally return to mortal form.

The story has resonated with many and inspires multiple adaptations; including a 1970, Ava Gardner film entitled “Tam Lin” and a recording by The Decemberists in 2009.

This latest version was recorded and composed by the amazing Tim Hazen and Megan Deiger of River Rising with lyrics by our head honchos Keith Ecker and Erin Kahoa. Not to gloat, but we think that the River Rising version is hauntingly beautiful.

Please enjoy these downloads and listen to the lyrics that summarize three of the stories heard in episodes 1, 3 and 5 of our second season.

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