The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #103495   Message #2109382
Posted By: GUEST,meself
23-Jul-07 - 01:18 PM
Thread Name: Harris and the Mare - murder or not?
Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
I've never been comfortable with this song. For one thing, from what I've seen of somewhat similar situations in this old life, even a 'wild' and 'drunk' young bully is unlikely to insist someone else's wife leave with him unless he has some reason to think he has a claim on her - which doesn't excuse him, but complicates the situation a little. Then there's her violent response, which touches off all the rest of the violence. No grown woman with a modicum of sense would react like that unless she wanted to watch two men fight over her, or wanted some proof that her husband cared enough about her to fight for her. As for the onlookers - they know enough to stay out of that kind of a mess. Or are we supposed to believe that they would let one of their neighbours murder another before their eyes simply because the prospective victim was a pacifist? And if that is the case, what the hell is this guy doing taking his wife into a tavern where these lovely neighbours meet? Like the old man used to say, "Stay out o' them places!"

And then the lesson Harris learns: "In my nine and fifty years I've never known/That to call myself a man, for my loved one I must stand". This guy is fifty-nine years old, and it never before occurred to him that he might some day feel duty-bound to defend someone he cares about? Not exactly a deep-thinker, is he?

Overall, the song seems to me a folkie-version of "Coward of the County", the message of the song being that anyone who claims to be a pacifist is full of shit, and/or as thick-headed as buddy in this ballad ...