Scarborough Fair is a beautiful poem and song whose authorship is often debated. Although the song is generally credited to Paul Simon. This poem has a strange meditative feeling associated with it. This certainly a poem which flirts with the absurd but has just the perfect amount of abstraction.
There are many stories surrounding the authorship of Scarborough Fair. Legends say that in the early 60’s Paul Simon, then in London, heard this song from an English singer, Martin Carthy. He remembered it when collaborating with Art Gafunkel on the score of The Graduate and contacted Carthy and asked permission to use the song. However Carthy replied that as the song was traditional and Simon could use it anyway. Thus, the song we love so much was born. Here is the video of Simon and Garfunkel version-
It is also said that the lyrics to Scarborough Fair are related to Bob Dylan’s 1963 song “Girl of the North Country”. Here are it’s lyrics-
Well, if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.
Anyways, as long as the songs are beautiful, who cares who wrote them? Brecht claimed art to be a property of the masses. So did the Russian formalists. And remember what Jim Jarmusch said –
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”