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The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)

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SCARECROW


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Phil Edwards 14 Jul 10 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 10 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Ed 14 Jul 10 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 10 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Ed 14 Jul 10 - 07:37 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 14 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Jul 10 - 11:00 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Jul 10 - 11:06 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 10 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 10 - 11:48 AM
raymond greenoaken 15 Jul 10 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,buspassed 15 Jul 10 - 12:10 PM
raymond greenoaken 15 Jul 10 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Betsy 15 Jul 10 - 06:53 PM
the Folk Police 15 Jul 10 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 10 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Ed 16 Jul 10 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 10 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 10 - 06:22 AM
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Subject: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 05:16 AM

As I've noted over here, I've just uploaded my version of the Scarecrow to my MySpace page. And it's got me thinking about this very strange but very powerful song.

The first thing that strikes me as odd is that while it's very clearly written from a woman's point of view, almost all the versions I know (including mine!) are sung by men; it was Mike and not Lal who sang it on Bright Phoebus, for starters. Did Lal herself ever sing it?

As for the dreadful Wicker Man-ish imagery of the song, and the strange vision of pent-up yet threatened sexuality that seems to run through it... what is going on there? Did Lal ever talk about it?


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 06:40 AM

Mike Waterson talks about it on the Radio 4 Bright Phoebus documentary that went out a few years back - I think I've still got that somewhere if you didn't hear it. Strong images for sure, which overshadow any actual meanings I would have thought. The Scarecrow is part of that early 70's fake-loric zeitgeist thing which owes as much to such films as Blood On Satan's Claw as it does to the nonsense written in The Golden Bough which spawned so much ritualistic pagan folk-blather thereafter.   

As the (unofficial?) Myspace page states Bright Phoebus remains the greatest English folk album ever made - maybe because there's not a traditional song in sight! Instead we have an authentically inseminated popularly idiomatic creative genius giving rise to bleak and shattered landscapes in which The Scarecrow lurks alongside the perverted rock-a-billy anti-hero Danny Rose and the sublime Fine Horseman finds its place alongside the nightmarish Kevin Ayers-inspired nursery rhyme of Rubber Band. A true masterpiece!


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 06:59 AM

There was a TV/radio (not sure) programme a few years back where Mike Waterson (or possibly Martin Carthy) said not try and understand the words.

Enjoy them for what they are. I'm sure Lal wouid have liked that.

Suibhne,

Curious as to how you consider 'Rubber Band' nightmarish. To my7 mind it's the most uplifting song I know.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 07:22 AM

To me the joy of Bright Phoebus is in its nightmarish fag & wine-soaked urban visions of re-imagined worlds of lost bucolic & childhood innocence, explicit & otherwise. As well as Kevin Ayers' Joy of a Toy,Rubber Band carries echoes of David Bowie's song of the same name, another whimsical paean to something much darker than it might at first appear...


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 07:37 AM

Thanks for your explanation, Suibhne.

I would disagree with you however on worlds of lost bucolic innocence

They are still there. You might perhaps need to look a little harder, but still there.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM

Pip sez on his blog bit 'Another song that needs no introduction'.
I only vaguely knew of 'the scarecrow' as a song title, but can't recall either ever having heard it or indeed reading anything about it. So just to be contrary - in fact it does need an intro for me :)

On hearing it, I concur the imagery is great! And having trawled through mighty swathes of pagan/wiccan music some time back (in pursuit of one elusive moment on a May Day morn in a local blossoming apple orchard) I've also got little taste for self-defined neo-pagan folk, which is by and large - IMO - quite devoid of any kind of magic. So I agree with what SO'P sez about it "Strong images for sure, which overshadow any actual meanings I would have thought."

Anyway, I might learn this now.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM

If its possible any response can be restrained to constructive matters of 'audio quality' only,
Is there any recent public update on the existence of a clean master tape
or viable mintish distortion free original vinyl copy of 'Bright Phoebus' ???

.. the expensive 'factory pressed silver' CD some of us were suckered into buying off Amazon a few years ago

sounds shit.

..a very poor amateurish quality digital transfer
from what sounds most likely to be a knackered worn-out grooves LP.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 11:00 AM

As for the dreadful Wicker Man-ish imagery.

Lol, well I misread that quite badly..

But anyhow, I like the imagery. It's dreamlike and confusing. Probably best treated on it's own terms without reference to neo-pagan theology. It reminds me of the the genuinely sinister scene of the scarecrow in that field in 'the league of gentlemen', that the little girls talk to and throw stones at. While knowing full well (as we later discover) that there's a man gagged and bound within the sackcloth and straw.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 11:06 AM

I misremembered it, but it's still pretty creepy. To me anyway:

You are our special friend, and you won't be if you went away.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 11:38 AM

As for the dreadful Wicker Man-ish imagery.

Lol, well I misread that quite badly..


Actually you were right the first time - it is brilliant imagery. I meant "dreadful" as in "inspiring dread" - not as in "not another Wicker Man knock-off!"

If you're new to the song, track down Tony Capstick's version if you can; otherwise June Tabor's (on Youtube) is probably the best.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 11:48 AM

There's only one version really worth listening to - the one on Bright Phoebus, which the diligent blog-brouser can nab gratis in a couple of minutes or else:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut9MhLq-tVs

But it really is best taken in context...


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: raymond greenoaken
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 11:02 AM

Maybe the reason it's sung by MW on the Phoebus album is that it's actually an MW song. It's credited to Mike and Lal jointly, but I'm sure I read somewhere that Lal's only contribution was the six jolly dons verse. So there is someone still around whom you can ask about it. Anyone got MW's number? I'd be surprised to learn he was ever a member of the Guild of the Golden Bough...


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,buspassed
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:10 PM

On the BP docco on R4 it was Mike who claimed authorship to the 'six jolly dons' verse I think he said he lifted it from somewhere in the tradition of the tradition!


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: raymond greenoaken
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 01:53 PM

Well, he may have got mixed up, you know...


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 06:53 PM

My understanding is that The Scarecrow was written by Graeme Miles and that Bright Phoebus was written by Mike Waterson the details of the latter I know not regarding other input .
In relation to the Subject Title, I didn't see Graeme's name mentioned which, compelled me to write.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: the Folk Police
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 07:21 PM

Whilst "The Scarecrow" was credited to Lal and Mike Waterson, I'm sure I read an interview not so long ago with Mike where he described it as essentially Lal's song with a few bits added by him. Of course I may have misremembered...


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 05:20 AM

Graeme Miles wrote a very different song called The Woeful Scarecrow which stands out on a thread all on its own Here. Syd Barrett also wrote a very different song called Scarecrow. Here's a URL link to the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yBvhIC8d5U


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 05:37 AM

Rest in piece Syd! Lovely song that reminds me that (whilst post Syd), I must go and visit Grantchester Meadows someday.


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 06:19 AM

Cheers, Ed! Following those Granchester links to the live version, and a comment from a year ago to the effect that they couldn't imagine Waters and Gilmore sitting down like that today... Well, a look through these pics from last Saturday's secret reunion shows they very probably did!

http://www.pollysamson.com/gallery_hoping.htm


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Subject: RE: The Scarecrow (Lal Waterson)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 06:22 AM

Hmmm, looking through the set list it seems they didn't - still, a man can dream...


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