Thursday, October 11, 2018

A British ghost song

Not to switch gears too violently, but the song the other day by Gustav Mahler, "Wo Die Schoenen Trompeten Blasen," makes me think of a song sung by Steeleye Span.

Perhaps you know Steeleye Span, the veteran British folk group. I got to know their records back in college when I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism, the medieval recreation group. A lot of my friends listened to them.

And there was this song that would get to me, "The Wife of Usher's Well."

It is a ghost story similar to the Mahler song. The Mahler song -- the words at least -- was also a folk song, which shows how much death was on these people's minds. Both the melodies are strangely dreamy, rather detached. In the Mahler the ghost's melody sounds like sleepwalking to me. The British folk song also follows a sweet melody. It makes the stories extra shocking, so it seems to me.

Here is "The Wife of Usher's Well." There are other performances out there but I like the one by Steeleye Span, the one I loved in college. It is from their album "All Around My Hat."

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