Thursday, October 24, 2013


"HIS COAT WAS BLACK AND HIS HEAD WAS BARE AND AS THE WIND SHOOK HIM THE CROWS TOOK INTO THE AIR."  Like the Loreena McKennitt song, this next inductee really conjures that "old religion" feeling of Halloween or Samhain, I should say.  In fact, although the song was not featured in the classic "Citizen Kane of horror films" THE WICKER MAN, it would've fit right in and certainly conjures up the atmosphere of that movie.  There is nothing overtly spooky or scary about this song about a scarecrow but nonetheless there is something quietly and subtly spooky and scary about it.  We venture into English folk music with the 24th inductee into my Batty Halloween Hall of Fame . . .


I first heard this song on Gene Shay's venerable folk music radio show on whatever station it was airing on in 1985; in fact, the very recording you can hear in the box over on the right is from the tape recording of the show I made at the time.  That's because the famous album from which it's from -- Lal & Mike Waterson's 1972 "BRIGHT PHOEBUS" remains stubbornly unavailable!  Even though there have been quite a few versions of this song by June Tabor (who says this about the song:  "The strength of visual image is worthy of Ingmar Bergman, as is the story; the Earth Mother is all-powerful here."), Dick Gaughan, Fatima Mansions and the Witches of Elswick.  The latter group makes this comment about the song in the liner notes of their 2003 album "OUT OF BED": 
"Becky thinks this song deals with the changing of the seasons and the passing of time, the others think it's about sex—with a scarecrow. Fay's not allowed to do harmonies very often because it scares us. This is what she came out with. Don't be afraid to be afraid." 

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