Constant Companion: The Cruel Mother


N.B. This song has strong themes & may disturb. The clue is in the title. You may want to read the blog before listening.

Working with traditional folk music is a journey into cultural history, it’s an interaction with the past & how we relate to it.

I don’t claim to have any mission with my work with traditional music. I just like it.

If I’m being honest I sometimes perform traditional folk song to evoke some Arcadia, a merrie utopia, a curated memory of a rural life that never was & sometimes I perform it to try to uncover truths about life in the past.

This song is not a merrie one. It is one which is very difficult to place in a set, because of the subject matter. I have thought a lot about why I recorded it & I don’t know.

Maybe it’s unconscious patriarchy. I hope not.

Perhaps some part of me responds to the reductive morality within the song. I hope not.

It haunts me.

It is a beautiful ugly desperate song. It was sung widely across Scotland & England in the 19th century

Traditional folk songs are typically authorless. I wonder how this came about.

This recording is from my current album which you can hear if you follow this link.

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1 Comment

  1. It is a very sad song.
    The poor woman was obviously very troubled. I feel more sad that the mother is misunderstood and damned for eternity rather than for the baby being killed. 😔
    I’m glad you put it on the album, because despite its sadness, it’s still beautiful.
    Thank you.


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