Thursday, 19 November 2015

Epic electric folk - Long Lankin from Steeleye Span

This is perhaps the very summit of Steeleye's achievement.

The words are traditional - and utterly chilling, the tune and arrangement are by Steeleye (especially the guitarist and singer Robert Johnson, I think), the lead vocal by Maddy Prior is just...

If this is your first time listening to Long Lankin - wait until you can give it your full attention, and listen to the lyrics: this is too good to waste as background music!


7 comments:

  1. Nobody sings like Maddy Prior!

    The lyrics...

    Said the lord unto his lady as he rode over the moss
    "Beware of Long Lankin that lives amongst the gorse;
    Beware the moss, beware the moor, beware of Long Lankin
    Make sure the doors are bolted well
    Lest Lankin should creep in."
    Said the lord unto his lady as he rode away,
    "Beware of Long Lankin that lives amongst the hay;
    Beware the moss, beware the moor, beware of Long Lankin
    Make sure the doors are bolted well
    Lest Lankin should creep in."
    "Where's the master of the house?" says Long Lankin.
    "He's 'way to London," says the nurse to him.
    "Where's the lady of the house?" says Long Lankin.
    "She's up in her chamber," says the nurse to him.
    "Where's the baby of the house?" says Long Lankin.
    "He's asleep in the cradle," says the nurse to him.
    "We will pinch him, we will prick him,
    we will stab him with a pin,
    And the nurse shall hold the basin
    for the blood all to run in."
    So they pinched him and they pricked him,
    then they stabbed him with a pin,
    And the false nurse held the basin
    for the blood all to run in.
    "Lady, come down the stairs," says Long Lankin.
    "How can I see in the dark?" she says unto him.
    "You have silver mantles," says Long Lankin.
    "Lady, come down the stairs by the light of them."
    Down the stairs the lady came, thinking no harm
    Lankin he stood ready to catch her in his arms.
    There was blood all in the kitchen
    There was blood all in the hall
    There was blood all in the parlour
    Where my lady she did fall
    Now Long Lankin shall be hanged
    from the gallows oh so high,
    And the false nurse shall be burned
    in the fire close by.
    Said the lord unto his lady as he rode over the moss
    "Beware of Long Lankin that lives amongst the gorse;
    Beware the moss, beware the moor, beware of Long Lankin
    Make sure the doors are bolted well
    Lest Lankin should creep in."

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  2. @Crow - Thanks for this - it is helpful.

    I recall I had the advantage of the lyrics printed on the liner of the LP when I first listened to this way back in my teens.

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  3. A lot of folk seems "dark" and contrasts what I imagine as a sort of quaint, friendly, English way. Perhaps to remind people to some degree of the dangers and mystery of the world?

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  4. @Nat - Quite a bit is as you say, e.g. the Border Ballads - other stuff is about magic, or s*x, or both - usually in some kind of metaphoric encoded way:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS2nfjZlf1Y

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  5. That rendition is much better than the only other one I've ever heard (by Current 93, it stuck in my head but made me not like the song!), I didn't realize it was a traditional English folk song. I can imagine an origin even fetching back to pre-Christian myth.

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  6. For me, the chilling thing is the unexplained, patient, watchful malice of Lankin.

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  7. In my last comment, I was actually referring to the "Two Magicians" song you posted - though the Lankin song does leave me uncomfortable!

    I went ahead and bought an album and heard "Gaudete" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN9AJj9rtlk and found it especially beautiful and moving. The Youtube version quality is too low quality, but it felt as the song transported me to another time and place. I thought good timing before Christmas, along with my interest in medieval Catholicism.

    It reminded me again that "folk" is what is missing from Catholicism today. It maybe "universal" in truth, but it's broken and untenable as a globalist system. Theological definitions, etc. seem dead without the alive belief and participation of a community in all the feast days, active miracles, etc.

    I'm no magician, but hopefully the hills are alive. I thought I felt it for a second, and it gave me a sense of boundless energy.

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