Retro Music for Halloween

Nine MP3s, just for fun, from the 60s and 70s mostly…

1) “Witches Hat” – Robin Williamson, Incredible String Band, 1967
(deepening autumn in the northern hemisphere when children occasionally happen upon a witch coven in the forest)

Certainly the children have seen them
In quiet places where the moss grows green
Colored shells jangle together
The wind is cold; the year is old
The trees whisper together
And bent in the wind they lean

Oh next week a monkey is coming to stay
If I was a witches hat
Sitting on her head like a paraffin stove
I’d fly away and be a bat
Cross the air I would rove
Stepping like a tightrope walker
Putting one foot after another
And wearing black cherries for rings

2) “Tam Lin” – trad, Fairport Convention, 1970
(a mortal maiden’s daring gambit at Halloween to redeem her non-mortal love from an evil spell… in the 20th century the big taboo in America was miscagenation between races, but in the 12th century some of those races were not human.)

I forbid you maidens all, that wear gold in your hair,
To travel to Carterhaugh for young Tam Lin is there.
None that go by Carterhaugh but they leave him a pledge,
Either their mantles of green or else their maidenhead.

Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee,
And she’s gone to Carterhaugh as fast as go can she.
She’d not pulled a double rose, a rose but only two,
When up then came young Tam Lin, says “Lady, pull no more”.

“And why come you to Carterhaugh without command from me?”
“I’ll come and go”, young Janet said, “and ask no leave of thee”.
Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she’s gone to her father as fast as go can she.

Well, up then spoke her father dear and he spoke meek and mild
“Oh, and alas, Janet,” he said, “I think you go with child”.
“Well, if that be so,” Janet said, “myself shall bear the blame,
There’s not a knight in all your hall shall get the baby’s name”.

For if my love were an earthly knight, as he’s an Elfin grey,
I’d not change my own true love for any knight you have”.
Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she’s gone to Carterhaugh as fast as go can she.

“Oh, tell to me, Tam Lin,” she said, “why came you here to dwell?”
“The Queen of Faeries caught me when from my horse I fell
And at the end of seven years she pays a tithe to Hell
I so fair and full of flesh and feared it be myself.”

“But tonight is Hallowe’en and the faerie folk ride
Those that would let true love win, at Miles Cross they must hide.
First let past the horses black and then let past the brown,
Quickly run to the white steed and pull the rider down.
For I’ll ride on the white steed, the nearest to the town
For I was an earthly knight, they give me that renown.”

“Oh, they will turn me in your arms to a newt or a snake,
But hold me tight and fear not, I am your baby’s father.
And they will turn me in your arms into a lion bold,
But hold me tight and fear not and you will love your child.
And they will turn me in your arms into a naked knight
But cloak me in your mantle and keep me out of sight”.

In the middle of the night she heard the bridle ring
She heeded what he did say and young Tam Lin did win
Then up spoke the Faerie Queen, an angry queen was she
Woe betide her ill-fought face, an ill death may she die!
“Oh, had I known, Tam Lin,” she said, “what this night I did see
I’d have looked him in the eyes and turned him to a tree”.

3) “Romany Soup” – Tyrannosaurus Rex, 1969
(a narration of a wilderland adventure followed by a ritual invocation for otherworldly nourishment)

4) “She Moves Though The Fair” – Fairport Convention, 1969
(a young man is visited by his deceased love… this is a lovely old traditional Irish folk song which has been attempted by numerous musicians, but I think never more evocatively than here with Sandy Denny’s impeccable voice)

My young love said to me, My mother won’t mind,
And my father won’t slight you for your lack of kind.
And she laid her hand on me, and this she did say,
Oh, it will not be long, love, till our wedding-day.

And she went away from me, and moved through the fair,
And fondly I watched her move here, and move there.
And then she went onward, just one star awake,
Like a swan in the evening moves over the lake.

Last night she came to me, my dead love came in,
So softly she came, that her feet made no din.
And she laid her hand on me, and this she did say,
Oh, it will not be long, love, till our wedding-day.

5) “Thomas the Rhymer” – Steeleye Span, 1971
(a clever wordsmith woos maidens in the medieval English countryside but meets his match while trying his charms on an elvish queen)

True Thomas sat on Huntley Bank
and he beheld a lady gay
A lady that was brisk and bold
Came riding o’er the ferny brae.
Her skirt was of the grass green silk
her mantle of a velvet fine
At every lock of her horse’s mane
hung fifty silver bells and nine.
True Thomas he pulled off his cap
and bowed him low down to his knee
All hail thou mighty queen of heaven
your like on earth I ne’er did see.

No oh no Thomas, she said
that name does not belong to me
I am the Queen of the fair Elf land
and I have come to visit thee.
You must away with me Thomas, she said
True Thomas you must go with me
And must serve me seven years
through weal or woe as chance may be.

Harp and carp, come along with me
Thomas the Rhymer.
Up and come, come along with me
Thomas the Rhymer.

She turned about her milk white steed
and lifted Thomas up behind
And aye whene’er her bridle rang
Her steed flew swifter than the wind.
For 40 days and 40 nights
they rode through red blood to the knee
And they saw neither sun nor moon
but heard the roaring of the sea.
And they rode on further and on
further and swifter than the wind
Until they came to a desert wide
And living land was left behind.

Don’t you see yon narrow narrow road
so thick beset with thorns and briars?
That is the road to rightousness
though after it but few enquire.
Don’t you see yon broad broad road
that lies across the lily leaven?
That is the road to wickedness
Though some call it the road to heaven.
Don’t you see yon bonnie bonnie road
that lies across the ferny brae?
That is the road to fair Elf land
where you and I must go this day.

Harp and carp, come along with me
Thomas the Rhymer.
Up and come, come along with me
Thomas the Rhymer.

6) “Lyke Wake Dirge” – Pentangle, 1969
(an ancient hymn, the lyrics of which are in Middle English, and concern the soul’s travels during afterlife. Imagine it heard in the distance, full moon low peering through sculpted stone angels in a graveyard, the night before mysterious November. This is my favorite version of this song which is very very old. An interesting article begins to delve into its provenance.)

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
(refrain:) Every nighte and alle,
Fire and sleet and candle-lighte,
(refrain:) And Christe receive thy saule.

When from hence away thou pass,
To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,
Sit thee down and put them on.

If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane,
The whinnes sall prick thee to the bare bane.

From Whinny-muir whence thou may’st pass,
To Brig o’ Dread thou com’st at last.

From Brig o’ Dread whence thou may’st pass,
To Purgatory fire thou com’st at last.

If ever thou gavest meat or drink,
The fire shall never make thee shrink.

If meat or drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane.

7) “Iscariot” – Tyrannosaurus Rex, 1969
(a vengeful curse upon a betrayal in times of ancient yore… Old T-Rex, before their pop-glam phase, was so unique that nobody could understand them. “Trickster you, be a grisly dragon’s tooth!” — who comes up with this shit?)

A box of doves I placed beside your chest
Liar
A stork of silk With rubies in it’s nest
Fire
Of my love Will burn thee to a wholly wizened word
For ere to go unheard.

A mare of wood, Elder, elm and oak
Liar
Will keep you fair If you jest me no joke
Fire
Of my love Will burn thee to a wholly wizened word
For ere to go unheard.

I’m old and bruised But my fate is that of youth
Liar
Trickster you, Be a grisly dragon’s tooth
Fire
Of my love Will burn thee to a wholly wizened word
For ere to go unheard.

You gashed the heart of my heart
Like a Portuguese
Witch!
I’d planned for you this land
But you devoured my hand.

8) “Spooky” – Classics 4, 1968
(a neat saxaphone solo midway through this tune, especially considering it is basically a 60’s top-40 pop song)

9) “Season of the Witch” – Donovan, 1966
(Donovan has to be one of the most underrated composer/musicians ever)

_______RS

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