Henry's Songbook

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The Cuckoo

  • Trad

    Oh the cuckoo, she's a pretty bird, she sings as she flies
    She brings us glad tidings and tells us no lies
    She sucks all the pretty flowers to make her voice clear
    And she never sings 'cuckoo' till the spring of the year

    Oh come all you young women, take a warning by me
    Never place your affection on a green-growing tree
    For the roots they will wither and the branches all die
    If I am forsaken I know not for why

    If I am forsaken, I'll not be forsworn
    For he's surely mistaken if he thinks that I'll mourn
    I'll get myself for him some higher degree
    And pass as light by him as he does by me

    My Johnny's in the water, let him sink or let him swim
    If he can live without me, I can live without him
    Oh Johnny is a young boy, but still younger am I
    How often he's told me he'd wed me or die

    Repeat 1

    As sung by Judy Mayhan

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1964:] The text is a folk-lyric including verses common to several otherwise quite dissimilar songs such as Rye Whisky, The Roving Gambler and Down The Old Plank Road. (Notes Peggy Seeger & Tom Paley, 'Who's Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet')

    [1967:] We have suggested the majority of English songs tell a story or at least purport to. But there are also songs that are simply expressions of mood and nothing more. They are not numerous but they are confusing in their variety because they make use of a stock of symbolic or epigrammatic verses that are combined and re-combined in song after song, so that often it is hard to tell one piece from another. This stock of common-place lyrical 'floaters' [...] is relatively restricted, comprising perhaps not many more than fifty tropes in all [...]. The verses are usually concerned with love, especially love betrayed or denied, and a repertory of such verses provides a handy kit for making countless songs almost at will. [...] Fluid as the use of these floating stanzas may be, sets of them sometimes show signs of crystallizing into specific songs [like The Cuckoo].
    [...] Few of these floating lyrics are datable. They are the product of some sentimental flowering of the spirit, but whether they were all produced at the same period or represent the accretion of centuries would be hard to say. (Lloyd, England 178ff)

    [1979:] Ein altes englisches Lied, das in vielen Variationen in Amerika bekannt geworden ist. Songs wie On top of old smokey oder Pretty Polly gehen ganz sicher auf The Cuckoo zurück. Im alten England symbolisierte der Kuckuck den kommenden Frühling, in der amerikanischen Fassung den Patriotismus. Bekannt wurde dieses Lied durch Clarence Ashley, einen 'Oldtime'- Folksänger, durch seine Aufnahmen von 1929 [...]. The Cuckoo ist ein typisches Beispiel für den klassischen 'Oldtime' Folk-Stil. (Bursch 124)

Quelle: England, USA


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aktualisiert am 15.10.1999