I attended a great SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) event a few years back (the Pennsic Wars outside of Pittsburgh) and it was there that I remember first definitely hearing of "Tam Lin." Sitting in a tent in Renaissance garb, a group of us learned some popular ballads of the medieval and Renaissance British Isles. My singing sucked, but my imagination caught fire with the possibilities.
The legend of Tam Lin was popularized as a ballad and dates back to the 1500’s thanks to the research and compilation work of Francis James Child. But I’m not here to dwell on what others have covered so well. If you want to learn more about Child’s work, check out this site www.tam-lin.org —there are fertile regions to explore within his old books and the webmistress there has done a bang-up job putting TONS of stuff there that's awesome!
But for now, let's look at one version of the ballad...Tomorrow (maybe later today) I'll post good ole' 39A. Then you'll see why Tam Lin is a natural choice for a spicy tale of love.