"Into the Woods" series, 51: Tales of a Half-Tamed Land
A quiet morning in the studio

Tunes for a Monday Morning: Going to the birds

The Seven Ravens by Teresa Jenellen

Our songs today are on the theme of birds in the folk tradition....

Above: "King of the Birds," written and performed by Karine Polwart, who grew up in a musical family in Sterlingshire, Scotland. This beautiful, folkloric song comes from Powart's fifth album, Traces (2012).

Below: Polwart performs another original song, "Follow the Heron," at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival in 2011. It comes from her second album, Scribbled in Chalk (2006).

Above: "Three Ravens" (audio only) performed by Breton harpist Cécile Corbel, from Finistère. It's a variant of Child Ballad No. 26 (also known as "Twa Corbies," as performed here by Bert Jansch), and was recorded for the first of Corbel's five albums, Songbook 1 (2006).

Below: "Hela'r Dryw: Hunting of the Wren" (audio only), performed in Welsh by Fernhill, one of the leading bands in the "Welsh Renaissance" of folk music. The song concerns an old folk tradition once common throughout the British Isles, and still practiced in some communities today. The recording is from Fernill's most recent album, Amser (2014).

The song above isn't exactly a folk song but I'm going to throw it in here anyway: Paul McCartney's "Blackbird" performed in Gaelic by Julie Fowlis, from the Gaelic-speaking island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Fowlis has released five albums, of which Gach Sgeul: Every Story is the latest.

Below: Kate Rusby, from Barnsley, Yorkshire (northern England), performs "Mockingbird" at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2011. The song, written by Rusby, was first recorded on her ninth album, Make the Light (2010), and was also included on her double album, Twenty (2012).

Above: "Hawk and Crow" (audio only), a traditional ballad sung by Emily Smith, from Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. You'll find it on Smith's eighth solo album, Echoes (2014).

And to end with: "Come Home Pretty Bird," a lovely song co-written by Emily Smith & David Scott, performed in Switzerland in 2012. This one comes from Smith's third album, Too Long Away (2008).

The Seven Doves by Warwick GobleIf you'd like a few more bird songs this morning, try: "Blackbird," an old English ballad performed by Cécile Corbel, Show of Hand's version of "Crow on the Cradle" (by Sydney Carter), and three traditional songs for lark lovers: "The Lark in the Morning" sung by Maddy Prior; "The Lark" sung by Kate Rusby (backed up by Nic Jones), and "Waiting for the Lark" sung by the peerless June Tabor. Also, two fairy-tale-like songs: "The Gay Goshawk" (Child Ballad No. 96) performed by the folk-rock band Mr. Fox, and Natalie Merchant's beautiful rendition of "Crazy Man Michael" (by Richard Thompson & Dave Swarbrick), from Fairport Convention's Liege & Leaf.


Martha by Gennady SpirinI have birds on my mind today because I've just finished reading The Bird's Child by Sandra Leigh Price, (Fourth Estate/HarperCollins Australia, 2015), an utterly enchanting novel set in Australia in the 1920s. It's beautifully written, steeped in both bird lore and magic (of the sleight-of-hand variety), evokes a fascinating period of Australian history, and is well worth seeking out. You'll also find bird myths, legends, and lore in this previous Myth & Moor post.

The artwork today, in order of appearance, is "The Seven Ravens" by  Teresa Jenellen, an illustrator based in Wales; "The Seven Doves" by the Victorian-era English illustrator Warwick Goble; and "Martha" (from the book of the same name) by the Russian author/illustrator Gennady Spirin

The Bird's Child by Sandra Leigh PriceTilly in the studio late last week. She no longer has to wear her post-op garment, and looks like her dear self again.

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