She Moves Through the Fair: A relationship with a song

I have a mild obsession with this song. I intend to put down everything I have discovered about it, but first I’m going to write about why I’m so interested in it.

It all started around 1988. I was 17. I had money to spend on an LP record (yes, a big black thing with a hole in the middle), and I spent it on All About Eve’s eponymous debut album. The single “Martha’s Harbour” had been a big hit, and I liked the song; I think I was also aware of previous singles, possibly via the Channel Four Chart Show.

I would say that I played that album to death, but it wouldn’t be true, because I still have that slab of vinyl and it still plays. But it rapidly became my favourite album (admittedly, this wasn’t difficult, as I didn’t own very many records back then). It still ranks in my top three.

I loved every song on the album. One of them is “She Moves Through The Fair”. It’s the only song that wasn’t written by the band. It is listed as a “traditional” song, although the truth is more complicated – as I will explain later.

At some point, I realised that this song represented “folk music” (as opposed to pop or rock or classical), and that I liked it. So I went to the local library, which had a fair selection of records to borrow, and flipped through the folk section. Most of them didn’t appeal – their sleeves all seemed to show pictures of old men. But one looked interesting: I took home Clannad’s Macalla. This is the album which includes a couple of collaborations with Bono from U2, notably the song “In A Lifetime”.

Slowly, I began to investigate other folk – pop – rock crossovers. There wasn’t an Internet back then, so the information was a bit tricky to find, and I wasn’t searching very hard. I was living in a world of pop and rock music – as, in fact, I still am.

I read that Julianne Regan – the singer with All About Eve – was influenced by Sandy Denny. Sandy was best known as the lead singer of Fairport Convention in the 1960s, but I was a bit hazy on those sort of details. I must have been about 20 or so when I bought a copy of The Best of Sandy Denny. “She Moves Through the Fair” isn’t on that album. It is, however, on Fairport Convention’s What We Did On Our Holidays.

After I got hold of What We Did On Our Holidays, I started to seek out other versions and to look into the history of the song.


One thought on “She Moves Through the Fair: A relationship with a song

  1. Maureen says:

    This is a great site for information on a haunting song. It certainly deserves careful inspection and analysis.

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