Week 21: True Thomas, The keys to the forest

For week 21’s recordings, I merrily forgot all about going back to unaccompanied singing and made with the melodica, whistles, recorder, drums and (for the first time) zither. What can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

These songs share the same basic plot, which you can also find in Keats’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”; boy meets girl, girl has supernatural powers, boy discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew.

True Thomas is a frustratingly partial retelling of an old Scottish folk tale; some great bits, but some big gaps as well. Accompanied on all of the above apart from the zither.

The late Jackie Leven’s The keys to the forest is a song like few others. The narrator’s blissed-out awakening in the penultimate verse is haunting and genuinely shocking – and I awoke and found me here…? Mostly unaccompanied, some zither.

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