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Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom

Uncle Tone 21 Nov 22 - 11:39 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 22 - 03:57 AM
Uncle Tone 22 Nov 22 - 12:02 PM
Reinhard 22 Nov 22 - 01:02 PM
cnd 22 Nov 22 - 01:47 PM
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Subject: The LawIn Its Wisdom
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 21 Nov 22 - 11:39 PM

Has anyone any idea who wrote this song? I've been singing it for years. It was written during the anti-hanging campaign of the early 60s.

https://soundcloud.com/tony-haynes-2/the-law-in-its-wisdom

I recorded it on a reel-to-reel at a folk concert in Yeovil in 1964. I have no idea who sang it.

It has been suggested that Paul Simon wrote it during his early 60s tour of British folk clubs, but it sounds a bit too British to have been his work.

This version is me on autoharp and vocals and my younger brother Steve on everything else. It is not so much as a folk rock rendering, as a folk meets rock rendering. Steve is not at all a folkie! His background is pub cover bands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_AxSUu89Rg&t=3381s

Any genuine help would be appreciated. I always like to credit song writers when I can.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 22 - 03:57 AM

Can you post lyrics for us, Tone?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 22 Nov 22 - 12:02 PM

THE LAW IN ITS WISDOM

For the law in its wisdom and the law in its skill
Has decided that for killers the only cure is kill
It's the law of the jungle. It's two blacks hat make a white
For me to kill is wrong. For the law to kill is right

For the law in its wisdom and the law in its might
Says I'll walk along the passage when dawn has chased the night
As you eat your egg for breakfast or unfold your Daily Mail
Another man will hang in Her Majesty's Jail.

For the law in its wisdom and the law in its power
Has kept me waiting three long weeks in torment every hour
And the chaplain he will hold my hand, the hangman blind my eye
And when he pulls the lever another man will die

For the law in its wisdom and the law in its beauty
Say the hangman and the clergy, “We're only doing our duty”
For I killed another man and I know it's me to blame
For the murder done to me today, who's is the shame
For the murder done to me today, yours is the blame!

NB These are the orginal lyrics. I did vary them a bit on the recording. (Short term memory loss!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom
From: Reinhard
Date: 22 Nov 22 - 01:02 PM

See also Uncle Tone's earlier requests from 2012 and 2016 in the thread Origins: Author request-The Law In Its Wisdom .


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom
From: cnd
Date: 22 Nov 22 - 01:47 PM

A play came out right around that time called "Hang Down Your Head and Die" by David Wright -- may be worth checking out. Note the following review of it, from The Guardian, Feb. 13 1964:
AFTER Moliere and Shakespeare, the reconstructed Oxford Playhouse presents an anti-capital punishment entertainment, devised by David Wright and other members of the Experimental Theatre Club. The production takes the form of a circus, whose artists trace the forces shaping capital punishment and then act out the training of a hangman and the last days of the condemned man.

Their materials are sketches, quotations, traditional and modern folk-songs [emphasis added], street interviews and excerpts from the report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment. The Lord Chamberlain has helped publicity considerably, and in at least one instance, the cutting of the mime accompanying the account of the Rosenbergs' execution, has actually strengthened the show's impact. For the argument is strongest when it is presented simply and unemotionally, as in the brief account of the Bentley and Craig case, and the two 57-second periods of silence in the theatre which represent the time taken to electrocute the Rosenbergs.

The present weakness of the show is its failure to decide whether it is tract or entertainment. The two aims are not yet perfectly integrated and tend to hamper one another. Yet the show avoids being either sick or monotonous and is often both funny and moving, a considerable tribute to the skill of David Wright and his director, Graham Murray, and the conviction of the large cast, beautifully led by Terry Jones as the condemned man, and David Wood as the chief clown.

Comparison with "Oh What a Lovely War" is inevitable. but the show has many sources, including Brecht, Charles Parker, and the television documentary. In spite of some patchy numbers and muddled intentions, as an indictment of capital punishment, and a genuine attempt to use every facet of the theatre, from Marceau and Mr. Punch to rock numbers and recorded interviews, it is a fascinating and important evening's theatre. It is on for the next ten days and well worth a journey.
(some discussion on that play, if it is indeed the same one, here).


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