Thursday 24 February 2022

Smutty English folksong - The cuckoo's nest

The cuckoo does not have a nest, therefore the name must be code for something else. 

Before Ken Kesey took it to mean a mental hospital (i.e. a 'nest' of people who were 'cuckoo'); the term had a well-understood meaning within smutty traditional English folk songs. 

First, Barry Dransfield singing The Cuckoo's Nest (lyrics here) from the classic album of Morris On, followed by the morris dance tune of the same name. 

(Never mind the non-PC lyrics; just the lecherous way Dransfield sings this song would be enough to get him arrested nowadays.) 

(A visual excerpt of a similar line-up playing the song - and recorded some years later - can be seen here.) 

Another famous and excellent Cuckoo's Nest song comes from Steeleye Span - in their track Drink Down the Moon - which is made from two traditional songs

The arrangement, playing and singing on Steeleye's Drink Down the Moon is simply superb! But, second time through, it is worth listening particularly to the contributions of newly joined member Nigel Pegrum on oboe, then drums; and Rick Kemp on electric bass guitar. 

So now you know what is meant by a cuckoo's nest. 

No comments: