Pretty Saro

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Pretty Saro (Roud 417) is an English folk ballad originating in the early 1700s.[1] The song died out in England by the mid eighteenth century but was rediscovered in North America in the early twentieth century where it had been preserved in the Appalachian Mountains through oral traditions.[2] The work of Cecil Sharp is credited for keeping songs such as Pretty Saro and others, alive well into modern times.

During his Self Portrait sessions in March 1970 at Columbia Records' New York studio, Bob Dylan ran through "Pretty Saro" six consecutive times. While none of those versions made the final cut for the album, the song remained in Columbia's vault, until it was released on Another Self Portrait, a 35-track box set of songs cut for Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning.[3]


Notable artists who have recorded Pretty Saro include:

Artist Album
Derroll Adams 65th Birthday Concert
Sam Amidon All is Well[4]
Judy Collins A Maid of Constant Sorrow[5]
Shirley Collins and Davy Graham Folk Roots, New Routes[6]
Iris Dement Songcatcher[7]
Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971)
Chris Jones Cloud of Dust
Bruce Molsky and Big Hoedown Bruce Molsky and Big Hoedown
Ashley Monroe featuring Aubrey Haynie Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War
Jay Munly Galvanized Yankee[citation needed]
Pete Seeger God Bless the Grass
Doc Watson Home Again!
The Dixie Bee-Liners Through My Screen Door
John Doyle (musician) Evening Comes Early
Bert Jansch A Rare Conundrum
Rhiannon Giddens Music from The American Epic Sessions: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps Session 44
Martin Simpson Live (1996)
The Westerlies The Westerlies


  1. ^ Sharp, Cecil James. Campbell, Olive Dame. Karpeles, Maud. English folk songs from the Southern Appalachians, Volume 1. Oxford University Press, Volume 1. page 10
  2. ^ Reed, Smith. South Carolina ballads: with a study of the traditional ballad to-day. Harvard University Press, 1928. pages 75-76
  3. ^ Andy Greene, "Bob Dylan's Lost 1970 Gem 'Pretty Saro' - Premiere", Rolling Stone Video (7 August 2013).
  4. ^ "New Sam Amidon Video – "Saro". Stereogum. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  5. ^ "Guitar is just Spice for singer Collins". The Montreal Gazette. 5 August 1977. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Folk Roots, New Routes,". Allmusic.
  7. ^ Ross, Bob (20 July 2001). "Songcatcher Finds Its Magic In Music". Tampa Tribune.

Martin S