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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, May 14, 2007
    John Barleycorn Reborn
     
    There was three kings into the east,
    Three kings both great and high,
    And they hae sworn a solemn oath
    John Barleycorn should die.

    They took a plough and plough'd him down,
    Put clods upon his head,
    And they hae sworn a solemn oath
    John Barleycorn was dead.


    On the first Rogation day of the year, it seemed appropriate to learn about a project which should emerge on Lammas on 1st August.

    John Barleycorn Reborn will be a double CD compilation of 'dark folk music from the British Isles', a collection aiming 'to highlight the authentic, stark aspects of the folk tradition, uncensored by Victorian sensibilities, allowing the harshness of our earlier existence and the rawness of our traditional stories to be expressed.'

    Unrelated to the occult, modern paganism or politics, which rightly or wrongly lay claim to much folk music today, this project is more interested in the unrelieved harshness and toil of the working people of these lands, and the folk arts which enabled these people to give expression to their beliefs, dreams, fears, sustaining tales. It'll be out after this year's barley harvest: and I'll be drinking to that.

    And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
    And drank it round and round;
    And still the more and more they drank,
    Their joy did more abound.

    John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
    Of noble enterprise,
    For if you do but taste his blood,
    'Twill make your courage rise.