Saturday, July 4, 2015

Love Henry

Henry doesn't love her
So she kills him. That's one way
To keep your man true.

"Love Henry" is from the 1993 album "World Gone Wrong." The song comes from a tune called "Young Hunting," which Wikipedia reliably informs me is folk song Roud 47, catalogued as Child Ballad #68, and comes from Scotland in the 18th century. Other titles include "Henry Lee," "Early Richard" and "The Proud Girl." Another similar song is a Child Ballad called "Young Benjie," with variants known as "Child Waters" and "The False Lover Won Back." A man tells his girlfriend that he loves another woman. She stabs him to death and dumps him in a well. She then promises a little birdie that she'll treat him well, in this version a parrot -- presumably because it could tell the police about the murder. The parrot tells her that there's nothing doing, given what she just did to poor Henry. The interesting note in this song is her remorse after she kills Henry. "Get well get well, Love Henry!" she cried. Dylan brings just the right amount of pathos and detachment to the delivery of this song.

"Get down, get down, Love Henry," she cried.
"And stay all night with me.
I have gold chains, and the finest I have
I'll apply them all to thee."

"I can't get down and I shan't get down,
Or stay all night with thee.
Some pretty little girl in Cornersville
I love far better than thee."

He layed his head on a pillow of down.
Kisses she gave him three.
With a penny knife that she held in her hand
She murdered mortal he.

"Get well, get well, Love Henry, " She cried,
"Get well, get well," said she.
"Oh don't you see my own heart's blood
Come flowin' down so free?"

She took him by his long yellow hair,
And also by his feet.
She plunged him into well water, where
It runs both cold and deep.

"Lie there, lie there, Love Henry," she cried,
"Til the flesh rots off your bones.
Some pretty little girl in Cornersville
Will mourn for your return."

"Hush up, hush up, my parrot," she cried,
"And light on my right knee.
The doors to your cage shall be decked with gold
And hung on a willow tree."

"I won't fly down, I can't fly down
And light on your right knee.
A girl who would murder her own true love
Would kill a little bird like me."





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