Oysterband – Molly Bond (1986)

Originally known as “The Oyster Band,” Oysterband is a folk-rock band formed in Canterbury, UK, some time around 1976. The band’s music fuzes rock and British folk music, and the result is electifying.

Unfortunately, the band is virtually unknown in the U.S. Back in the day when there were rock radio stations, they wouldn’t play folk rock. The only way American listeners would have been able to hear the band on the radio would have been on a college station.


The band’s current lineup is:

  • Chopper – bass guitar, cello, vocals
  • John Jones – melodeon, lead vocals
  • Alan Prosser – guitars, viola, vocals
  • Ian Telfer – fiddle, English concertina, vocals
  • Dil Davies – drums

I was lucky enough to see the band in Providence, RI back in the early 90s (during what was probably one of their only American tours) and to meet them. I have a friend in Boston who knows the band so we got to hang out with them before and after the gig. They’re about the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

“We’ve got a song called “On The Edge” which is a rant against globalization and in particular against McDonalds…You can go into the Arctic Circle and they’ll be a McDonalds that’ll serve exactly the same food as you get in New Zealand. What is the point of that? It takes away all the fun of traveling and all the differences between the countries, and the food’s shite anyway.”

— Chopper, Folking.com interview, 2001

The band moves effortlessly between straight-on Celtic-influenced rock and traditional ballads. The ballads, such as the one presented here, showcase singer John Jones, who has one of the finest singing voices in the world.

Molly Bond tells the story of a hunter who accidentally shoots and kills his beloved Molly, mistaking her for a swan. At his trial, Molly’s ghost appears to the judge and explains that it was an accident.

This video comes from the band’s 2003 25th anniversary concert in London.

Molly Bond
(Trad. Arr. Oysterband)

Lyrics from: Step Outside

Come all you young gallants that delight in a gun
Beware of your shooting at the setting of the sun

It happened one evening in a large shower of hail
When under a bower my love was concealed

He apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling at the setting of the sun

As I walked up to her and found it was she
My limbs they grew weary and my eyes couldn’t see

The ring on her finger, most bitterly I cried
O Molly, if you were living, you’d’ve been my fond bride

Home to my father like lightning I did run
Saying Father, dearest father, do you know what I’ve done?

Her apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling at the setting of the sun

Her apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling, and where shall I run?

His father in the corner with his hair turning grey
O my dear Jimmy, don’t you run away

Stay in this country until the trial comes on
You never shall be hung by the laws of this land

The day of the trial to the judge she appeared
As God is my witness young Jimmy must go clear

My apron flew around me, he took me as a swan
And I know his heart lies bleeding for his own Molly Bond

Molly Bond appears on the albums Step Outside and Alive And Acoustic (no longer available). The live version is slightly different than the original album version—I think it’s in a different key.


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