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Origin/Meaning: Crow on the Cradle (Sydney Carter)

DigiTrad:
CROW ON THE CRADLE
EVERY STAR SHALL SING A CAROL


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GUEST,sophie snell 26 Mar 13 - 03:40 PM
Dave MacKenzie 26 Mar 13 - 04:27 PM
Dave MacKenzie 26 Mar 13 - 04:37 PM
Suegorgeous 26 Mar 13 - 05:04 PM
GUEST 26 Mar 13 - 05:43 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Mar 13 - 06:33 PM
Reinhard 26 Mar 13 - 06:33 PM
Reinhard 26 Mar 13 - 06:44 PM
GUEST 19 Oct 16 - 12:10 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Oct 16 - 05:34 PM
michaelr 19 Oct 16 - 06:28 PM
GUEST 20 Oct 16 - 02:24 AM
JohnH 20 Oct 16 - 05:55 PM
GUEST 20 Oct 16 - 11:46 PM
BDenz 21 Oct 16 - 06:31 PM
Grandad9 22 Oct 16 - 03:11 AM
michaelr 22 Oct 16 - 12:35 PM
Leadfingers 22 Oct 16 - 06:33 PM
michaelr 22 Oct 16 - 08:00 PM
BDenz 22 Oct 16 - 10:01 PM
GUEST,Dave Larson 08 May 17 - 02:27 AM
leeneia 08 May 17 - 10:17 PM
Senoufou 09 May 17 - 02:45 AM
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Subject: Crow on the Cradle
From: GUEST,sophie snell
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 03:40 PM

Hi there - hope you dont mind me posting this here, a friend recommended it - I work as a traditional oral storyteller (www.sophiesnell.co.uk) and occasionally weave the odd folk song into my stories.

I have been looking into Sidney Carter's song "Crow on the Cradle" - a protest song from the 60's that has great echos of an older time. I am trying to research it's provenance, as a wiki reference aludes to the fact the song may be based on a much older folk song ? 16th / 17th century?

per Wiki entry for Carter: ""The Crow on the Cradle", adapted from an old folk song"

Does any one know any more about this and whether there is an original song I can track down? Any info on dates / sources / tune or lyrics or any known backstory (even better) would be fantastic.

Many thanks - kind regards, Sophie (robandsophie@hotmail.com)


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE CROW ON THE CRADLE (Sydney Carter)
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 04:27 PM

THE CROW ON THE CRADLE

The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn,
Now is the time for a child to be born,
He'll cry for the moon and he'll laugh at the sun,
If he's a boy he'll carry a gun,
Sang the crow on the cradle.

If it should be that our baby's a girl,
Never you mind that her hair doesn't curl.
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes!
And a bomber above her wherever she goes,
Sang the crow on the cradle.

Rockabye Baby, the dark and the light!
Somebody's baby is born for a fight.
Rockabye Baby, the white and the black!
Somebody's baby is not coming back,
Sang the crow on the cradle.

Your mammy and pappy, they'll scrape and they'll save!
Build you a coffin, and dig you a grave.
Hushabye, little one, why do you weep?
I've got a toy that will put you to sleep,
Sang the crow on the cradle.

Bring me a gun and I'll shoot that bird dead -
That's what your mammy and pappy once said.
Crow on the cradle, oh, what shall I do?
That is something that I leave up to you,
Sang the crow on the cradle.

I got these words from an old "Reprints from Sing Out", but it's also in "Songs of Sydney Carter In the present tense Book 3", Galliard Ltd (UK), Galaxy Music Corporation, 2121 Broadway, New York, NY 10023. (1969). It's been recorded by the Ian Campbell Group, Judith Silver, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins and Marthe Schlamme, and no doubt many others since then.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 04:37 PM

It's copyrighted 1962, and is in the Digital Tradition with music and links to various performances.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 05:04 PM

Yeh, but I think Sophie's looking for the original folk song Carter's one is based on. Which is different. :)


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 05:43 PM

Hi there - yes that is right - I am after the original source for the song (if there is one) - many thanks :) Sophie


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 06:33 PM

I don't think there is a single folk song behind this song. The first three verses quote from nursery rhymes - "Little Boy Blue", "Ride a cock horse" and "Rockabye baby" respectively; perhaps that's what gave somebody the impression it was adapted from older sources.

If I may blow (up) my own horn, here's my take on Crow on the Cradle (also featured here). The tune is my own, based as far as I can remember on a tune I set the words to when I was at school.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Reinhard
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 06:33 PM

The first line might be from Bonny at Morn (Roud 3064):

The sheep in the meadow and the cattle in the corn,
Thou's over long in thy bed, bonny at morn.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Reinhard
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 06:44 PM

I have records by Judith Silver, Ian Campbell and Judy Dunlop with "The Crow and/on the Cradle" on it. The sleeve notes of these records all acknowledge Sydney Carter as the song's author but give no hint at a possible source for him.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 16 - 12:10 PM

Show of Hands do a tag verse not on the lyrics here. I can't parse the first 2 lines. Anyone?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoQvjKzfDSo


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Oct 16 - 05:34 PM

3rd line of v1 is from a version of 'Three Maids a Milking/The Bird in the Bush'


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: michaelr
Date: 19 Oct 16 - 06:28 PM

The missing verse:

The crow on the cradle, the black and the white
Somebody's baby is born for a fight
The crow on the cradle, the white and the black
Somebody's baby is not coming back
Sang the crow on the cradle


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Oct 16 - 02:24 AM

Show of Hands finish the song with Phil Beer Singing Find the Cost of Freedom by Crosby Stills & Nash


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: JohnH
Date: 20 Oct 16 - 05:55 PM

You could add the idea of the medieval Caladrius, a bird that sat on the bed of the ailing. If it face you you would survive, and if away then you were doomed.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Oct 16 - 11:46 PM

Jackson Browne/Graham Nash did on the No Nukes lp


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: BDenz
Date: 21 Oct 16 - 06:31 PM

(I was the "Guest" above asking for the extra verse). Thanks, Michaelr


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Grandad9
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 03:11 AM

And I was the Guest who posted the Crosby Stills & Nash reference used by Show of Hands at the end of the song.
Bm       A       F#m7   Bm
Find the cost of free - dom,
D      A/C#   Bm    (A) Bm
Buried in the ground.
Bm    A          F#m7    Bm
Mother Earth will swallow you,
D       A/C#    Bm (A) Bm
Lay your bo - dy down.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: michaelr
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 12:35 PM

You're welcome, BDenz.

On reflection, I rather think it is "the black on the white" and vice versa.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 06:33 PM

Sid wrote it as posted 'the white AND ' 'the black AND ' and I've heard it twice in the last week .


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: michaelr
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 08:00 PM

Must have been Jackson Browne who changed it.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: BDenz
Date: 22 Oct 16 - 10:01 PM

Grandad9 -- I did notice that. Just hadn't gotten back. Thanks (both to you and Guest (please come forward))

Michaelr: Show of Hands sing:
"Crow on the cradle - the black and the white
Somebody's baby is born for a fight.
Crow on the cradle - the white and the black
Somebody's baby is not coming back."

But I can see Black on the white would draw one to sing it that way.


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Subject: RE: Crow on the Cradle
From: GUEST,Dave Larson
Date: 08 May 17 - 02:27 AM

Well since everyone has circumvented the meaning I will take a shot as a warning based on the view of the results of war. The crow represents not just war but its inevitable collateral damage to all exposed with no boundaries. If you're a combatant, black, white or a child victimized by ordnance falling albeit in the wrong place in time. The Crow remains indiscriminate. The human response is to grab a gun and resist and to protect, to fight and to realize the advancement in technology has it's grip forever on mankind.


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Subject: RE: Origin/Meaning: Crow on the Cradle (Sydney Carter)
From: leeneia
Date: 08 May 17 - 10:17 PM

I don't think the crow represents war. The crow is merely a brutally frank observer who observes human behavior and knows nothing of tact or circumlocution. It shows no mercy in predicting that the child in the cradle will suffer the effects of war.

As the crow says in the last verse, it's up to us humans to change war.


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Subject: RE: Origin/Meaning: Crow on the Cradle (Sydney Carter)
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 May 17 - 02:45 AM

Crows (and ravens) have usually represented Death in old ballads and poetry. 'Twa Corbies' for example, a gruesome poem about two crows looking at a dead knight and contemplating the delicious feast he will make. It could be because they eat carrion, and are associated with corpses and mortality.

I don't think there is an old song about a crow on a cradle particularly. The first line, 'The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn' is from the nursery rhyme 'Little Boy Blue' (come blow up your horn)


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