Not-for-kids “childrens” songs

I was just listening to The Decemberists’ excellent album “The Crane Wife” (again), and when the track “The Shankill Butchers” came on I started thinking about the fact that this song about an incredibly violent Irish paramilitary group was cast as a lullaby.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

The Shankill Butchers run tonight
You better shut your windows tight
They’re sharpening their cleavers and their knives
And taking all their whiskey by the pint

And everybody knows if you don’t
Mind your mother’s words
A wicked wind will blow
Your ribbons from your curls
Everybody moan, everybody shake
The Shankill Butchers want to catch you awake

And that got me to thinking about some other tracks by some of my favorite performers that fall into the same category. The Pogues have a couple:

Sit Down by the Fire

Sit down by the fire
And Ill tell you a story
To send you away to your bed
Of the things you hear creeping
When everyones sleeping
And you wish you were out here instead

It isnt the mice in the wall
It isnt the wind in the well
But each night they march
Out of that hole in the wall
Passing through on their way
Out of hell

Lullaby of London

…May the ghosts that howl
Round the house at night
Never keep you from your sleep
May they all sleep tight
Down in hell tonight
Or wherever they may be…

As do Boiled in Leadwho have released their first album of new material in 13 years! Wahoo! – with their deconstructed version of “All the Pretty Little Horses” (does anyone actually know the real second verse? Here it is) :

Way down yonder in the meadow,
There’s a poor little lamby.
The bees and the butterflies pickin’ at its eyes,
The poor wee thing cryin’ “mammy”.

Even John Cale got into the act with a severely downtempo arrangement of “Streets of Laredo”…

What is it about childhood anyway?


5 thoughts on “Not-for-kids “childrens” songs

  1. Feral Boy

    well, I’ve never liked,

    “If I should die before I wake,
    I pray the lord my soul to take.”

    Or babies in cradles falling out of trees …

    — Feral Boy

  2. Erik

    I’m not surprised, I just haven’t gotten to them yet… :) So far all I’ve heard is The Crane Wife and The Tain (which is freakin’ awesome!). I plan to acquire lots more as soon as a little cash comes loose…

  3. executivepagan Post author

    Good Lord… I just listened to “A Cautionary Tale”. I mean… damn. That’s messed up!

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