AS32: Son Davie

Child 13. Also – and more commonly – known as ‘Edward’, although the only source in which it has that (distinctly un-Scottish) name is a thoroughly literary version, rewritten in fake medieval Scots (Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid) by an unknown hand.

The tune and most of the words are after Nic Jones, although I went back to Child & made some modifications myself. I first learned the song from a recording by James Yorkston; he and Kieran Hebden (no less) slowed it down and gave it an eerie, sepulchral production, the better to get the point across that someone has been murdered!!1!! I don’t know; it seems to me now that this (i.e. Nic Jones’s) arrangement, with its jaunty tune and cheerily un-emotive delivery, frames the song just as well if not better. There’s a certain bluntness about a lot of traditional songs: they don’t ease you in or give you many signposts. You won’t necessarily know what you’re getting just from the tune or even from the first couple of lines – so you’d better be prepared for what you might get if you keep listening.

Accompaniment: D whistle, drums, concertina.

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Filed under Child ballad, folk song, James Yorkston, Nic Jones

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