true lovers' knot

The Power of the True Love Knot

The Power of the True Love Knot is an album by Shirley Collins.

The theme of this collection of songs is "the idea of true love as a power outside society's control", as Shirley writes on the liner notes. If the first track sounds slightly like "Eleanor Rigby", this is because Bram Taylor plays cello on both of them. Two other guests are Mike Heron and Robin Williamson from The Incredible String Band.

The relationship bore fruit on Shirley's next album. Anthems in Eden (1969) contains "God Dog", a song written by Robin Williamson. The title of this album comes from the song "Lady Margaret and Sweet William". On this song, Shirley accompanines herself on 5-string dulcimer, adapted to have a banjo neck. The sound is so charming that you wish she had used the instrument on later albums, but she never did. Three of the songs on this collection had previously been recorded on False True Lovers (1960) - "Just as the Tide Was Flowing", "Richie Story" and "The Unquiet Grave". Clearly, they were among her favourites. Dolly Collins puts her stamp on "Richie Story" in her pipe-organ accompaniment, a stately march as the couple in the song progress through the street to church to marry.

In 1964, Shirley had recorded Folk Roots, New Routes, which introduced eastern rhythms to English folk song. On this album, there is a vaguely Indian flavour to "Seven Yellow Gipsies" with Robin Williamson's complicated clapping, and his chanter playing on the song "The Maydens Came".

Produced by Joe Boyd. Recorded 1968. Running time 42 minutes 39 seconds.

Track listing

  1. "Bonnie Boy" (Trad)
  2. "Richie Story" [Child 232] (Trad)
  3. "Lovely Joan" (Trad)
  4. "Just as the Tide Was Flowing" (Trad)
  5. "The Unquiet Grave" [Child 78] (Trad)
  6. "Black-eyed Susan" (Trad)
  7. "Seven Yellow Gipsies" [Child 200] (Trad)
  8. "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Trad)
  9. "Greenwood Laddie" (Trad)
  10. "Lady Margaret and Sweet William" [Child 74] (Trad)
  11. "The Maydens Came" (Trad)
  12. "Polly Vaughan" (Words: Trad/ Tune: S Collins)
  13. "The Barley Straw" (Trad)
  14. "Barbara Allen" [Child 84] (Trad)


  • Shirley Collins (vocal, 5-string dulcimer)
  • Dolly Collins (pipe-organ)
  • Bram Taylor (cello on tracks 1 and 9)
  • Mike Heron (finger cymbals, African drum, clapping)
  • Robin Williamson (Japanese sticks, tin whistle, chanter from Indian Shahanhai, clapping)

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