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Category: Hal An Tow

Head and shoulders portrait of a woman

Lillian Short: Mrs. Robin Hood?

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This post continues the story of Lillian Short, who sang the song "Robin Hood" for Vance Randolph in 1941. It reveals that Lillian's husband, Leonard Short, was a notorious bank robber who had died in a jailbreak attempt in 1935. It recounts several legends that have developed about Leonard Short, including that he had a network of tunnels under Galena, Missouri, to allow him to escape the law. Most interestingly, it shows that Leonard Short himself had the reputation of being a modern Ozark Robin Hood, raising the question of whether Lillian's singing about Robin Hood had any connection to her husband.

Head and shoulders portrait of a woman.

Lillian Short: More Than Just Robin Hood

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In 1941, Vance Randolph recorded 34 songs from one of his favorite Ozark singers, Lillian Short of Galena, Missouri. We've featured Lillian Short's version of the song known as "Robin Hood," "The Cornish May Song," or "Hal An Tow" on the blog before. This post presents more information about the singer, with a selection of her best recordings. In addition to biographical information and photos, it includes extensive notes on her songs.

People enjoying a parade

More About “Hal An Tow”: Early Evidence of a May Song.

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In this post we examine some of the earliest evidence of the Cornish May Song, also known as "Hal An Tow." A version of this song was recorded from Lillian Short in Missouri by Vance Randolph in 1941. By that time, the melody to the song had changed in oral tradition, but this early evidence, a written transcription by Edward Jones from 1802, shows that the song was formerly sung to the same melody retained by Lillian Short. The post includes Jones's 1802 passage describing the May 8 observances in Helston, Cornwall, which include the "Hal An Tow" song, the "Furry Dance" or "Flora Dance," and other events; the sheet music as he published it; and a discussion of Jones's interpretations of the Helston song in relation to AFC's field recording.