"Two Sisters" as written by and Traditional,.....
"Oh sister, oh sister, let's walk the seashore
Bow, balance to me
"Oh sister, oh sister, let's walk the seashore
And see the ships as they sail in oar"
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

While these two sisters were walking the shore
Bow, balance to me
While these two sisters were walking the shore
The oldest pushed the youngest o'er
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

"Oh sister, oh sister, please lend me your hand"
Bow, balance to me
"Oh sister, oh sister, please lend me your hand
And you'll have Willie and all o' his land"
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

"I never, I never will lend you my hand"
Bow, balance to me
"I never, I never will lend you my hand
But I'll have Willie and all o' his land"
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

Sometimes she sank and sometimes she swam
Bow, balance to me
Sometimes she sank and sometimes she swam
Until she came to the old mill dam
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

A miller, he got his fishing hook
Bow, balance to me
The miller, he got his fishing hook
And fished that maiden out o' the brook
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

"Oh miller, oh miller, here's five gold rings"
Bow, balance to me
"Oh miller, oh miller, here's five gold rings
To push the maiden in again"
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

The miller, he received those five gold rings
Bow, balance to me
The miller, he received the five gold rings
And pushed that maiden in again
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me

The miller was hung in the old mill gate
Bow, balance to me
The miller was hung in the old mill gate
For drowned the little sister Kate
And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me


Lyrics submitted by ikefox

"Two Sisters" as written by Jim Moray . Traditional

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Two Sisters song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentWhy are some of the lyrics omitted?? That's pretty sad, a girl who would drown her own sister for a man. Pretty bastardly, if you ask me. Guess that's why it's on the Bastards disc.
    NolanJBon May 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI accidentally omitted the first few stanzas, and for some reason the edit button is not visible to me. I'll see if I can get admin to fix it for me.....
    ikefoxon August 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis must be an old ballad. I hope Waits has missed out the end, as it doesn't seem fair if the miller gets hanged & the wicked sister gets off scot free & marries Willie. Just one thing - if sister Kate is pushed into the sea, how does she end up in the mill-race?
    morbid moragon July 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFixed the lyrics.

    morbid morag:
    For your name to say "morbid", you sure seem shocked by this song. Many old sea chanties and songs of this nature were grisly. Try reading some old fairy tales, you'll understand. The folk tales of past eras sometimes reflect just how grisly things in real life could be.
    Also, the girl is in a sea - it never specifies an ocean, it could be more like a very large lake - and I guess she comes to a river, where there is presumably a waterwheel or other water-powered mill. The mill dam is just that - a dam in the river, where the miller fishes Kate out.
    ikefoxon August 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNot shocked, just my sense of natural justice outraged! I know old ballads & tales are grisly, but mostly the baddies get an equally grisly comeuppance - I'm thinking of Cinderella (is it?), where the wicked stepmother has to dance in red-hot shoes till she dies. I suppose the ending of this seems a bit clipped because we aren't told what happens to the jealous sister - or, indeed, poor Willie, who's presumably a bit hacked off.
    morbid moragon September 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was just looking this up on Wikipedia, and as it is with lots of murder ballads, there were a lot of variations on the lyrics other than the version Tom Waits used. In one of them the miller doesn't enter into it at all, and the jealous sister actually does get punished: Someone makes a harp or fiddle out of the drowned sister's bones and hair, brings it to the family's house as a wedding present for the oldest sister and Willie, and at the wedding the instrument starts playing itself while singing about the murder.
    destroyalltacoson October 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGood! Yes, I can remember a ballad or story about a bone harp. Incidentally, it was the Wicked Queen in Snow White who had to dance in red-hot shoes, I got it wrong about Cinderella.
    morbid moragon October 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat do you think the repetition applies to?
    "Bow, balance to me."
    and
    "And I'll be true to my love if my love'll be true to me"

    You think that's just Wait's singing the refrain.
    Or perhaps what Willie is saying, under the
    false impression of the older sister didn't kill Kate.
    superdude224on January 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLoreena McKennitt did a version of this old ballad called "The Bonny Swans." You should give it a listen.
    jltc008on November 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLoreena McKennitt did a version of this old ballad called "The Bonny Swans." You should give it a listen.
    jltc008on November 17, 2010   Link

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