22/4/17 – Nick Cave And PJ Harvey – Henry Lee – 1996 / Dick Justice – Henry Lee – 1927 / Judy Henske – Love Henry – 1963

From an unlikely duet with Kylie Minogue to a likely one with PJ Harvey, both songs come from the Murder Ballads album released by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds in 1996. Henry Lee was the second single off the album after Where The Wild Roses Grow, the duet with Kylie. The song is a traditional song from Scotland and dates back to the eighteenth century. Like all these traditional Folk songs of yore they often have varying titles and words. Henry Lee might be known as Young Hunting, Earl Richard, The Proud Girl or Love Henry.

Cave’s version draws on the Dick Justice version from 1927, using the same title. Bob Dylan recorded a version on World Gone Wrong under the name Love Henry. Judy Henske recorded a version on her s/t album released in 1963 also as Love Henry.

I wonder if you can imagine these songs being sung 200 years ago in a tavern or a market square or as part of a theatre with captivated audience following the details of the murderous tale. In this case the victim doesn’t get thrown into a river but rather down a deep well – after being stabbed. It’s an interesting genre/art form and it makes me think about the disdain that earnest Folk music inspires whilst eloquently expressing such blood curdling and poignant dramas.

Get down, get down, little Henry Lee
And stay all night with me
You won’t find a girl in this damn world
That will compare with me
And the wind did howl and the wind did blow
La la la la la
La la la la lee

A little bird lit down on Henry Lee
I can’t get down and I won’t get down
And stay all night with thee
For the girl I have in that merry green land
I love far better than thee
And the wind did howl and the wind did blow
La la la la la
La la la la lee

A little bird lit down on Henry Lee
She leaned herself against a fence
Just for a kiss or two
And with a little pen-knife held in her hand
She plugged him through and through
And the wind did roar and the wind did moan
La la la la la
La la la la lee

A little bird lit down on Henry Lee
Come take him by his lilly-white hands
Come take him by his feet
And throw him in this deep deep well
Which is more than one hundred feet
And the wind did howl and the wind did blow
La la la la la
La la la la lee

A little bird lit down on Henry Lee
Lie there, lie there, little Henry Lee
Till the flesh drops from your bones
For the girl you have in that merry green land
Can wait forever for you to come home
And the wind did howl and the wind did moan
La la la la la
La la la la lee
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Cave_and_the_Bad_Seeds

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PJ_Harvey

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_Ballads

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Hunting#Nick_Cave_and_the_Bad_Seeds_version

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Henske

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Gone_Wrong