Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nursery rhymes

As Mr. Cohen said in his recent concerts...."But cheerfulness kept breaking out"

Article completed, space in head, time for celebrating. Even if wonderment is "child like' i could do with some. Sometimes I think I read too much, but only when I can't find the quote I'm looking for. I'm sure someone claimed that "Lavender's Blue" is one of the most beautiful love songs in English.

It is. The tune is beautiful, the lyrics do everything they have to do in a very short space.

Lavender's blue dilly dilly
Lavender's green
When i am King dilly dilly
You shall be queen

Call out your men dilly dilly
Set them to work
Some to the Plow dilly dilly
some to the cart

Some to make hay dilly dilly
some to make corn
While you and I dilly dilly
Keep ourselves warm.

I have been wallowing in both "the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes" and the Broadside Band's "Old English Nursery Rhymes" Cd...

Flickering at the edges of all this enjoyment is the awareness that some of these songs worried me when I was little and I want to think about that, but later. The "nasty ones" like "three blind mice" and "ding dong dell" didn't bother me. But some of them created a vague feeling of unease: something had slipped and was unstable that should have been solid. For reasons I can't fathom, "Johnny's so long at the fair" (Oh dear what can the matter be) verged on the frightening and "Boys and Girls come out of play" was like listening to a nightmare, evoking shadowy images of empty lamp lit streets where bad things were about to happen. (The unease was part of the pleasure, but it was there).

Though I'm not sure why these songs should be the exclusive province of kids. "I had four bothers over the sea" (which I'd never heard before) is a clever lyric in the riddling tradition, a good tune and performed beautifully on the cd.
I'm sure I heard Mick Hanely sing a version of this one:

As i went over the water
the water went over me
I saw two little blackbirds
Sitting on a tree
One called me a rascal
one called me a thief
I took up my little black stick
and knocked out all their teeth.

He sang: As i went over Blackwater....I think...

"A frog he would a wooing go" would work as a straight "folk song" and reminds me of "Tidy Ann" on Maighread and Triona Ni Dhomhniall's "Idir an da Sholas" cd....which I will now go and listen to...

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