I'm starting the week with some favourite songs featuring animals and birds, in which our old friend Mr. Fox will certainly make an appearance....
Above: "Hare Spell," Fay Hield's wonderfully eerie ballad of animal-human shapeshifting. First created for the Modern Fairies project, Fay's lyrics are taken from an actual spell by a 17th century Scottish witch. "Isobel [Gowdie] was tried in 1662 during the witchcraft trials," she explains, "and her confession gives a clear account, seemingly uncoerced, into her activities with the devil and visiting the king of the fairie. She includes several spells and chants used to conduct her own magic, including this spell to turn the utterer into a hare to do the devil’s work." Go here to read about the creation of the song (and the magical way the music was formed); go here to listen to an answering song about shapeshifting from the hare's point of view (with gorgeous lyrics by poet Sarah Hesketh); and go here to read more about witch-hares in the folklore tradition. You can also listen to a radio play crafted around Fay's song: Hare Spell Part One and Part Two.
Below: "Three Ravens" (a variant of "Twa Corbies," Child Ballad 26), performed by Dorset folk duo Ninebarrow (Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere). The song appeared on their album Releasing the Leaves (2016).
Above: "The White Hare," a traditional song performed by folk (and rock) musician Jack Sharp, from Bedfordshire. It comes from his solo album Good Times Older (2020).
Above: "Daddy Fox," a traditional song performed by the a capella folk quartet The Witches of Elswick (Becky Stockwell, Gillian Tolfrey, Bryony Griffith and Fay Hield), from their album Out of Bed (2003).
Below: "The Fox," another variant of the same song performed by the Galway quartet We Banjo 3 (Enda Scahill, Fergal Scahill, Martin Howley, David Howley), with Sharon Shannon on accordion. This is another one I return to often. Surely the door in the video is one of the portals to Bordertown....
Let's end, as we began, with another song from Fay Hield's exquisite album Wrackline (2020): a re-working of an American ballad that gives the death of the Old Grey Goose its due. The performance is from the Wrackline album launch, with Sam Sweeney on fiddle, Rob Habron on guitar, and Ben Nicholls on bass. To read Fay's thoughts about the song and the folklore of anthropomorphism, go here.
The art today is by Vancouver-based illustrator Julie Morstad. To see more of her work, go here.