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Great folk song lyrics

CET 08 Apr 10 - 06:28 PM
JHW 08 Apr 10 - 06:42 PM
oldhippie 08 Apr 10 - 07:12 PM
deepdoc1 08 Apr 10 - 07:16 PM
Stringsinger 08 Apr 10 - 07:44 PM
Celtaddict 08 Apr 10 - 08:01 PM
deepdoc1 08 Apr 10 - 08:31 PM
Midchuck 08 Apr 10 - 09:48 PM
mousethief 08 Apr 10 - 11:15 PM
DonMeixner 08 Apr 10 - 11:18 PM
DonMeixner 08 Apr 10 - 11:20 PM
meself 08 Apr 10 - 11:23 PM
GUEST,nine_ca 08 Apr 10 - 11:44 PM
Zhenya 09 Apr 10 - 12:58 AM
Backwoodsman 09 Apr 10 - 03:02 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Apr 10 - 03:25 AM
Terry McDonald 09 Apr 10 - 03:52 AM
CET 09 Apr 10 - 05:51 AM
deepdoc1 09 Apr 10 - 06:23 AM
banjoman 09 Apr 10 - 06:27 AM
Fred McCormick 09 Apr 10 - 06:36 AM
Dave the Gnome 09 Apr 10 - 06:53 AM
Deckman 09 Apr 10 - 09:37 AM
Tug the Cox 09 Apr 10 - 09:42 AM
mrmoe 09 Apr 10 - 09:58 AM
CET 09 Apr 10 - 12:54 PM
PHJim 09 Apr 10 - 01:02 PM
PHJim 09 Apr 10 - 01:04 PM
Tootler 09 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM
DonMeixner 09 Apr 10 - 01:35 PM
Tootler 09 Apr 10 - 01:40 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Apr 10 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,CS 09 Apr 10 - 02:00 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Apr 10 - 02:06 PM
Richard Mellish 09 Apr 10 - 02:08 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Apr 10 - 02:10 PM
Mavis Enderby 09 Apr 10 - 02:14 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Apr 10 - 02:17 PM
Acorn4 09 Apr 10 - 04:06 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Apr 10 - 10:39 PM
mousethief 09 Apr 10 - 10:52 PM
MGM·Lion 10 Apr 10 - 12:03 AM
beeliner 10 Apr 10 - 12:57 AM
Bert 10 Apr 10 - 03:30 AM
Tootler 10 Apr 10 - 05:22 AM
CET 10 Apr 10 - 06:24 AM
Mr Fox 10 Apr 10 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,CS 10 Apr 10 - 07:21 PM
Commander Crabbe 10 Apr 10 - 07:29 PM
MGM·Lion 10 Apr 10 - 10:39 PM
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Subject: Great folk song lyrics
From: CET
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 06:28 PM

I was listening to The Field Behind the Plow, by Stan Rogers, this morning, which got me thinking to great lyrics I have heard in folk music - the kind that take your breath away, or that burrow their way so deeply into your mind that you can't get rid of them. I think this is really why I prefer folk music to pop or jazz. There are thousands of songs like that in folk music, not so many in other forms of popular music. Even great pop songwriters, like Lennon and Macartney, rarely rise above being clever.

So here is my contribution to start off this thread, from Field Behind the Plow:

Emmett Pierce, the other day, took a heart attack and died at forty-two
You could see it coming on, 'cause he worked as hard as you.

I'll add others if this thread goes anywhere.

What lyrics really pack a punch for you?


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: JHW
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 06:42 PM

The terraced streets were my Grand Canyons
The shipyard cranes were my redwood trees
Those steel yard tips were my mountain ranges
And the brickyard ponds were my Seven Seas

My Eldorado - Graeme Miles


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: oldhippie
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 07:12 PM

"You came when you were needed
I could not ask for more
Than to turn and find you walking
Through the kitchen door."

The Trumpet Vine - Kate Wolf


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: deepdoc1
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 07:16 PM

Holy crap! Where to start? That's like asking which breath I liked best out of a lifetime of breathing. Like you said, a main strength of this music is the story, or the glimpse into a soul (of course a good tune doesn't hurt). (I also like the Stan Rogers you gave.)Well, here's one or two:

Gordon Bok, Old Fat Boat

Well, mercy, mercy, I do declare,
If half the fun of going is getting there,
Mercy, Percy, you better start rowing,
'Cause the other half of getting there is going.

Greg Brown, impossible to limit to just a few:

Early:

Oooo-ee, ain't the mornin' light pretty,
When the dew is still heavy, so bright and early.
My home on the range; it's a one-horse town,
And it's alright with me.

Guy Clark, (also impossible to narrow too much) Step Inside This House:


Step inside this house girl
I'll sing for you a song
I'll tell you 'bout just where I've been
It shouldn't take too long
I'll show you all the things that I own
My treasures you might say
Couldn't be more than ten dollars worth
They brighten up my day

Annette Bjergfeldt, Boo Hewerdine,
Footsteps Fall
Sung by Maura O'Connell:

And the loneliest sound of all
Is the sound of love through a stranger's wall
But when their laughter fades
And there are no more words
The silence breaks me most of all

The list goes on. My clicker is tired now.

JimB


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Stringsinger
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 07:44 PM

Stan Rogers was great!

I like a song that boils it down like:
"Take a trip with me in nineteen thirteen
to Calumet Michigan in the copper country....."
or
"In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my people......."

"Do you see yon crow that flies so high? T'will surely turn to white,
If I am false to the girl I love, bright morning turn to night......"

"Tell you more lies than cross-ties on a railroad or stars in the skies...."

"Longest train i ever did see was on the Georgia line.
Engine come in at six o'clock and the caboose came in at nine."
(Them trains are really long)

"You're an eyeless, boneless chickenless egg
and you'll have to stand by a bowl and beg.............."

"Some'll rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen...."

"It's cloudy in the West and it's lookin' like rain
and my damned old slicker's in the wagon again....."

The world of folk is full of profound stuff.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Celtaddict
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 08:01 PM

The ways of man are passing strange:
He buys his freedom and he counts his change,
Then he lets the wind his days arrange
And he calls the tide his master.

Gordon Bok, The Ways of Man


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: deepdoc1
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 08:31 PM

Eric Bogle, If Wishes Were Fishes

And I wish I was young again my song still to be sung again
The sweet tunes of my life have gone sour and off key
Writin' my tired old rhymes tryin to turn back time
If wishes were fishes we'd all cast nets in the sea
==========================
Patty Griffin, Top od the World (Folk? Debatable, but memorable)


    There's a whole lot of singin's never gonna be heard
    Disppearing every day without so much as a word somehow
    I think I broke the wings off that little songbird
    She's never gonna fly to the top of the world now
    To the top of the world

I wished I'd of known you
Wished I had shown you
All of the things I
Was on the inside
==========================
Tom Waits, San Diego Serenade, among others"

Never saw the East coast until I moved to the West
I never saw the moonlight until it shone off your breast
And I never saw your heart till someone tried to steal it away
Never saw your tears till they rolled down your face
==========================
Iris Dement. No Time To Cry

I've got no time to look back, I've got no time to see
The pieces of my heart that have been ripped away from me
========

I'm done. There's just too many. Every one of these , and more every day, are at the top of my 'smack-in-the-head' category.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Midchuck
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 09:48 PM

The old ways had their hardships, and the winters were too lonely;
But they knew where they belonged, in a world they could understand.
'Till the cities closed in on us, and our one choice grew too simple:
You go broke from paying taxes, or get rich from selling land.

Dick McCormack


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 11:15 PM

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you've lived too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself -- pacing the cage

--Bruce Cockburn


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: DonMeixner
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 11:18 PM

King Kitchie Kitchie kimme kimo

D


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: DonMeixner
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 11:20 PM

King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Kimo

or words to that effect, I don't speak Frentch as well as I'd like.

D


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: meself
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 11:23 PM

He got his mean-streak from the gutter,
He got his kindness from God.

- "Blackpatch", Luara Nyro


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: GUEST,nine_ca
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 11:44 PM

The mate was a man I loved so much, you see
for he save all his pretty words and poetry for me
its "scrub the deck and paint the ship and don't you gimme any lip
, this aint no bloody pleasure trip....

or

And the hookers standing watchfully, waitin by thre door

Stan G Triggs
Ian Tyson


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Zhenya
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 12:58 AM

Where does an old time pilot go
After he's stood his last watch?
Does he fall by the ear of the man who steers
Saying hold her on that notch
There's a gentle sneeze in the river breeze
Saying son I'm goin to bed.
And they light their pipes and go off in the night
Or was that fireflies instead?

Second verse of Old Time River Man (John Hartford)


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 03:02 AM

She wears Bougainvillea blossoms
You pluck 'em from her hair and toss them in the tide
Sweep her in your arms and carry her inside
Her sighs catch on your shoulder
Her moonlit eyes grow bold and wiser through her tears
And I say "How could you bear to leave her for a year?"

Thanks Stan.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 03:25 AM

Without wanting to stir up YET AGAIN the oldoldoldold question: looking back thru this thread, I can't help thinking it would be nice to get some quotes from actual folk songs cited, as well as all these effusions of enthusiastic & well-meaning singer-songwriters more or less in the idiom [whatever that might subsume].

I'll kick off with that great floater, best poetic summation I know of an urgent journey made in extreme haste; the variations on getting to riverside, lying on belly and swimming, getting to other side, taking to heels and running...

Any more like that?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 03:52 AM

Just what I was thinking. I'm always surprised by the North American view on what constitutes a 'folk song.'

For what it's worth, I'll offer

'Strange news has come to town,
Strange news is carried
Strange news flies up and down
That my love's married.'


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: CET
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 05:51 AM

I started off with Stan Rogers because Field Behind the Plow was what I had been listening to. That may have got people off on a singer-songwriter tangent.

I'm a traditional music lover myself, and I find a lot of singer-songwriters to be pale imitations of the real thing - BUT there are some who have the gift, Stan Rogers being very notably one of them. He did have his off days, and some of what he wrote could be described as well meaning effusions, but with Field Behind the Plow he reached the summit.

Ian Tyson is another great writer. His lines quoted above are just about perfect:

"And the hookers standing watchfully, waitin by the door" - no attmpt to be "poetic", but with just a few words he puts you right there on the street.

Ian Tyson had the same gift with that song that Kipling had in so many of his poems:

"Oh the young recruits are shaking, and they'll want their beer today
After hanging Danny Deever in the morning."

Thank God for Peter Bellamy. Would we ever have realized what a great songwriter Kipling was without him? I know he was very far from being the first to set Kipling to music, but none of the earlier songs have the same impact as his do. Compare his version of the Road to Mandalay to the old favourite, for example.

Here are some trad lyrics that do it for me, from Sam Hall. I've never heard anybody sing them except me:

I have candles lily white, hanging high, hanging high
I have candles lily white, hanging high
I have candles lily white, and I stole them all by night
They shall fill my room with light till I die, till I die
They shall fill my room with light till I die.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: deepdoc1
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 06:23 AM

Yes, I do apologize for wandering. A couple of glasses af wine and my enthusiasm started tugging at the leash. I shall slink off int' the underbrush and attempt to learn restraint. It probably won't work, but I'll try. ;)


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: banjoman
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 06:27 AM

How about Tom Paxtons song about 9/11

I'm haunted by the sound
of Firemen running up the stairs while we were running down.

This one came to mind as I was thinking about those two brave men who lost their lives in Southampton (UK) on Thuesday night.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 06:36 AM

From Child 88. Young Johnstone.

'Now live, now live, my fair lady,
O live but half an hour,
There's neer a leech in fair Scotland
But shall be at thy bower.'


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 06:53 AM

Spencer the Rover

His children came around him with their prittle prattling stories
With their prittle prattling stories to drive care away


Anyone with kids will know why I love it:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 09:37 AM

GREAT THREAD ... I'll contribute after I wake some more ... Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 09:42 AM

The whole of
'I sowed the seeds of love' takes some beating.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: mrmoe
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 09:58 AM

Carl Watanabe's "where the uplands roll"

if you say my name where the uplands roll
and the answer you get ain't very kind
they'll be spoken by my hard friends of old
and my hard friends of old, I don't mind

I met a green eyed girl where the chaparral rolls
and grows high up to meet the yellow pine
her name and age best be unknown
it's enough just to say she once was mine

she was fair but her ways were much fairer yet
and her laughter could dance against the wind
her manner charmed everyone that she met
'til they held her as dear as next of kin

each young man placed his wealth and his soul in her hand
but none of them could be so proud
for she did choose a stranger to the land
and she came to me with her head bowed

our wedding day would come when the spring flowers bloomed
like two horses we danced into the sun
the stallion pranced and the mare would follow
before our wedding day a child would come

soldiers kill and we honor them with fortune and fame
but a baby who's harmed not one life
but is early to come is bathed full in shame
so must die unborn to a doctor's knife

as the doctor took our unborn babe
seeds of sorrow took root upon her mind
in her body the poison from his unwashed blade
left a wound who's cure we'd never find

so if you say my name where the uplands roll
and the answer you get ain't very kind
they'll be spoken by my hard friends of old
and my hard friends of old, I don't mind

but if they say not a word about me at all
but are reminded of a young girl once so fine
then listen close to the words that they recall
and they'll tell you of a girl who once was mine


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: CET
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 12:54 PM

I hope this won't turn into trad vs. non-trad thread. What I had in mind was a discussion of lyrics with power, so whether it's singer-songwriter or trad.that does it for you, have at it.

That said, it would be interesting to hear from folks on my side of the Atlantic about traditional lyrics that take your breath away.

There are plenty of fine songwriters that don't manage to achieve this: Lennon/Macartney to name two. I wouldn't include many Bob Dylan songs either. Much as I like his music, he never wrote anything (IMHO) that equalled the emotional impact of Stan Rogers or Ian Tyson at their best.

Here's some more:

La reine a fait faire un bouquet
De belles fleurs de lise
Et la senteur de ce bouquet
A fait mourir Marquise

(Le roi a fait battre tambour)

Hard to get any simpler than that and it's all there in high definition - the bitter hatred of the queen for the Marquise, who is only the victim of the philandering king. You can practically put yourself in the room in the royal palace where the Marquise dies alone.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: PHJim
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:02 PM

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry


Hank Williams


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: PHJim
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:04 PM

Wilder Than Her - Fred J. Eaglesmith

Well I'm wilder than her, and what else can I say
But I guess that's why she fell in love with me
She's a house on fire, she's got all those charms
I'm a house on fire, too, but I got four alarms


And I'm wilder than her, and it drives her out of her mind
I guess she thought that she was just one of a kind
But she's a summer storm, and I'm a hurricane
One just blows through town, one blows the town away
And I'm wilder than her



When we go drivin' in our cars, racing through the night
She can drive as fast as me but she stops at all the lights
She says it's 'cause I'm crazy and she's probably right
But I think that the reason is that I'm twice as wild

chorus

But when she takes my hand and she looks me in the eye
I see something that I've never seen in my life
She takes the fire and turns it down low
She takes the night and makes it not so cold
She takes the distance and breaks it into miles
She makes my life just a little less wild


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM

There's not enough quotes from Traditional songs on this thread. They are the true folk songs.

The sheep's in the meadow, the kye's in the corn
Thoo's ower lang in thy bed, bonny at morn.

The bird's in the nest, the trout's in the burn,
Thoo troubles thy mother at mony a turn

We're all laid idle wi' keeping o' the bairns.
The lad winnot wairk, the lass winnot lairn.


Trad Northumbrian.

I'm sure that any parent whose children are teenagers or older will recognise this scenario.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: DonMeixner
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:35 PM

There are so many great songs and with true bits of poetic brilliance in them. The quote from Brave Wolfe is an excellent example. How does one find just a few to choose from.

Ian and Sylvia's song The French Girl, I assume by Ian Tyson just captivates me again every time I hear it. The line from Along Side the Sante Fe Trail She had a smile like an acre of sunflowers brings to me a face I haven't seen in 40 years but I remember it still.

And Henry Lawson's poem set to music Reedy River is just one rolling collection of pictures. I don't have a favorite but those I mentioned will do until I find one.

Don


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:40 PM

And surely, one of the most beautiful love songs ever written:

It was on the fifth of August
The weather fair and mild
Unto Brigg Fair I did repair
For a love I was inclined

I got up with the lark in the morning
My heart was full of glee
Hoping for to meet my love
Long time I wished to see

I looked over my left shoulder
To see who I could see
And there I spied my own true love
Come tripping down to me

I took hold of her lily white hand
And merrily sang my heart
For now we are together
Never more to part

For courting is a pleasure
And parting is a grief
And a false hearted lover
Is worse than a thief

The green leaves they may wither,
The roots they may decay
Before that I prove false to her,
The lass I love so well.


The simplicity of the language makes it more telling.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 01:54 PM

"I hope this won't turn into trad vs. non-trad thread "

================================

No, indeed CET; this is one thread where contribs from both sides of that divide, right across the spectrum, should be welcome. I made that earlier observation because it seemed from the first few posts that traditional wasn't getting anything of a look-in at all.
=================
"That said, it would be interesting to hear from folks on my side of the Atlantic about traditional lyrics that take your breath away," you go on.
Can I suggest one such from over here: "Hug you & kiss you & tell you more lies Than the cross-ties on the railroad and the stars in the skies". That certainly a very beautiful one, & certainly from your side of the Atlantic, because over here, our railWAYS have SLEEPERS, not cross-ties.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 02:00 PM

The OP said: "I hope this won't turn into trad vs. non-trad thread. What I had in mind was a discussion of lyrics with power, so whether it's singer-songwriter or trad.that does it for you, have at it."

Yes, I had similar thing resulting from another thread I initiated recently where I put "folk" but meant something quite broad. My summation would be that it would be helpful if people creating threads clearly deliniated their terms and wants in the OP. I used the term "folk" when I was meaning "traditional & singer/songwriter" others read "folk" to mean "traditional only", so I had to explain the broader terms of my OP. Having said that I don't know how many (if indeed any?) Americans recognise any distinction between traditional (very old) and contemporary (not so old) folk music. Honest here.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 02:06 PM

Vaughan Williams once said that he thought 'Searching For Lambs' had the most beautiful tune he had ever heard. Some of its lyrics are quite lovely also:

How hero-like the sun do shine
How pleasant is the air
I'd sooner rest on my true love's breast
Than any other where...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 02:08 PM

MtheGM lamented the absence of "quotes from actual folk songs". As one pedant to another, I would point out that there were a few of those (in the narrower sense of "folk songs") before his posting.

However there has been a preponderance of recently-composed songs throughout this thread. Perhaps this reflects a general (though by no means universal) difference between the old songs, which tend to be largely matter-of-fact about the events recounted, and the new ones, which more often describe explicitly what the protagonists felt and thought.

For words that "take your breath away" how about the description of the fate of the innocent Child Owlet? (The following is hastily pasted from the DigiTrad. Other versions are similar.)

There wasnae grass nor heather knowe
Nor broom nor bonnie whin
But drappit wi' Chylde Owlet's blood
And pieces o' his skin

There wasnae stane on Elkin Moor
Nor yet a piece o' rush
But drappit wi' Chylde Owlet's blood
And pieces o' his flesh

Or the climax of the version of The Daemon Lover, where he grows taller than the ship's mast and dashes it to pieces?

Richard


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 02:10 PM

"Having said that I don't know how many (if indeed any?) Americans recognise any distinction between traditional (very old) and contemporary (not so old) folk music. Honest here." GUEST CS
=====

One who most assuredly did, Sis, was the late great Sandy Paton; don't think I have ever met anyone much more conscious of the distinction.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 02:14 PM

Tootler, you beat me to it with Brigg fair!


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 02:17 PM

"MtheGM lamented the absence of "quotes from actual folk songs". As one pedant to another, I would point out that there were a few of those (in the narrower sense of "folk songs") before his posting." ===

Indeed, Richard, your post, pedant-2-pedant, made me check back: & there was indeed one [count them 1] post from Stringsinger containing several lines among a selection which would indeed qualify.

Pedantic apologies ···

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Acorn4
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 04:06 PM

"Money doesn't talk, it swears, propaganda all is phoney!"

Bob Dylan


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 10:39 PM

Another traditional floater I would nominate is the "Sad is the fortunes of all womankind" opening stanza which is the topic of another ongoing thread at this moment.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: mousethief
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 10:52 PM

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky


This is gorgeous.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 12:03 AM

A woman is a branchy tree,
A man a singing wind, wind;
And from your branches carelessly
He'll take what he can find, find,
He'll take what he can find...

Get home to your father's garden
Where you may weep your fill
And think on your own misfortunes
Brought on by your wanton will

The King looked o'er his left shoulder
And a grim look looked he;
"An 'twere not for my oath, Earl Marshall," he cried,
"Hanged you should be!"

And he took her by her lily-white hand
And he led her away to the hall
And he cut off her head from her neckbone
And kicked it against the wall!

The Brown Girl she was standing by
With knives both keen and sharp
Between the long ribs and the short
She pierced fair Eleanor's heart

"Oh never will I forget, forgive,
As long as I have breath.
I'll dance upon your green green grave
Where you do lie beneath."

And so on and so on and so on...

Aaaahhh ~~ say what you will: they just don't write 'em like that any more...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: beeliner
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 12:57 AM

Townes VanZandt: "Silver Ships of Andilar"

Of those that sailed the silver ships
From Andilar I am the last
The deeds that rang our youthful dreams
It seems shall go undone
North for the shores of Valinor
Our bows and crimson sails were made
Our captains were strong, our lances long
And our liege the holy king

The hills did turn from green to blue
And vanish as on the decks we watched
But every thought in that noble company
Was forward bound
To the lifeless plains of Valinor
Where reigns the dark and frozen one
And with tongues afire and glorious eyes
We pledged our mission be

The clime from mild to bitter ran
The wind from fair to fierce did blow
Oath and prayer did turn to thoughts
Of homes left far behind
Longed every man for some glimpse of land
And the host that did await us there
But each new day brought only a sea
And sky of ice and gray

Thanks give no word can drag you through
Those endless weeks our ships did roll
Thanks give you cannot see those sails
And faces bleach and draw
Ice we drank and leather did chew
For the oceans are unwholesome there
The dead that slid into the seas
Did freeze before our eyes

Then a wind did fling the ships apart
Each one to go her separate way
The sky did howl, the hull did groan
For how long I do not know
And what men were left when the winds had ceased
Grew dull and low of countenance
For soldiers denied their battle plain
On comrades soon must turn

So one by one we died alone
Some by hunger, some by steel
Bodies froze where they did fall
Their souls unsanctified
Until only another and I were left
Then just before his flame did fail
We shone ourselves brothers-in-arms
To serve the holy king

Perhaps this shall reach Andilar
Although I know not how it can
For once again he's hurled his wind
Upon the silver prow
But if it should my words are these
Arise young men fine ships to build
And set them north for Valinor
'Neath standards proud as fire


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Bert
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 03:30 AM

When the wind whistles cold on the moor at the night
All along down along out along lee
Tom Pierce's gray mare doth appear ghastly white....


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 05:22 AM

Was there ever a greater cry of anguish than the last stanza of "The Well Below the Valley"

For seven long years I'll be ringing the bell
But the Lord above may save my soul from porting in Hell!
At the well below the valley O

From a woman who had committed incest (most likely been forced to) with her uncle, brother and father and had killed or seen killed the babies resulting from these liaisons.

I found an almost identical verse in an American version of the Cruel Mother when the ghosts of her murdered babies tell her

For seven long years you'll be ringing the bell
In seven long years you'll be going to Hell

Puts an entirely different complexion on essentially the same verse yet equally powerful.

Burton Coggles: sorry for pinching your suggestion or is it a case of "great minds" [grin].


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: CET
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 06:24 AM

Richard, you beat me to it with Child Owlett! It's one of my favourites - better described as stomach-churning rather than heart-rending, but doesn't it just put you in the moment?

That's why traditional lyrics tend to work better for me than most singer-songwriter lyrics - they make you see something, rather than spending a lot of time telling you about it.


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Mr Fox
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 07:11 PM

If you had been a practical man,
You would have been forewarned.
You would have seen that it never could work,
And I would have never been born.

- Never any Good, Martin Simpson

I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home

- '52 Vincent Black Lightning, Richard thompson

Brown hair zig-zag around her face
And a look of half-surprise
Like a fox caught in the headlights
There was animal in her eyes

- Beeswing, Richard Thompson

Then he became a burning bush
With a flame that leapt so high
And he sang the song the spider sings
When she comes to court the fly

- Jack Rowland, Trad/Martin Carthy

Great silence hung from tree to sky
The woods grew still, the sun on fire
As through the wood the dove he came
As through the wood he made his moan

- Famous Flower of Serving Men, Trad/Martin Carthy

As I walked out one fine spring day
I saw twelve jolly dons decked out in the blue and the gold so gay
And to a stake they tied a child new-born
Then the bells were rung and the songs were sung and they sewed their corn

- Scarecrow, Lal Waterson


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 07:21 PM

"That's why traditional lyrics tend to work better for me than most singer-songwriter lyrics - they make you see something, rather than spending a lot of time telling you about it."

Well put CET, there is a sparse and direct commentary with most Trad. lyrics which assume the listeners complicity irrespective of how 'otherworldly' or unreal the circumstances depicted are.
There is a magic in this as it triggers the listener into a childlike suspension of disbelief, or so I think...


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 07:29 PM

ENGLAND 1914: Ralph McTell

"But the gas-lamps stand like soldiers, Hiss warnings to the wind
Their evening vespers prophecy of war."


THE SETTING: Ralph McTell

"Outside the trees they grew starlings like apples. Their bustle and chatter, not dampened by the rain."


The Wild Geese/Norland Wind: Violet Jacob

And far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee
A lang lang skein o' beating wings wi' their heids towards the sea
and aye their cryin voices trailed behind them on the air
Oh wind Hae mercy, haud yer wheesht, for I daurna listen mair.


Deep Dark River: (Lloyd Roberts)

And always I hear the stir of men slipping
Down the Chaudiere, their thin blades dripping
Catch the low wraith of a long bark canoe
And the wilod sweet chansons of a phantom crew


The Outside Track: Henry Lawson

And one by one and two by two, they've sailed from the wharf since then.
I've said goodbye to the last I knew, the last of the careless men
And I can't but think that the times we had were the best times after all.
As I turn aside, raise a lonely glass and drink to the bar room wall.


Raglan Road: Patrick Kavanagh

When the angel woos, the clay he'll lose, his wings at the dawn of day.

CC


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Subject: RE: Great folk song lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 10:39 PM

I buyed me a little bull about four inches high
And everybody feared him that ever heard him cry
For when that he did bellow it was such melodious sound
That all the walls of London came a-tumbling to the ground
Sing tadladay


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