Beat of the Heart Diane Taraz
An old melody of mine with new words that better suit its bouncy mood. It was a struggle to get the original lyrics to release their grip, but I like the new ones very much.
The Sea-Serpent of Cape Ann Diane Taraz
Over the centuries many observers have reported a giant serpent cavorting off the Massachusetts coast, according to New England Legends and Folk Lore by Samuel Adams Drake, published in 1883. In 1638, John Josselyn, while rowing off Cape Ann, raised his musket to blast the creature. His Indian companions stopped him, warning that slaying sea-serpents always brings bad luck.
The Wreck of the Caspian Diane Taraz
A true story recounted in Hen Frigates by Joan Druett. The book does not give the names of Captain Trufant's resourceful wife, their children, or the heroic dog, so I also left them unnamed to stick as closely as possible to the facts. Many thanks to my hearty crew of swabbies!
The Trees They Do Grow High trad. England
A glorious folk melody polished by centuries of singers.
Cannily, Cannily Ewan MacColl
Ewan's lovely lullaby has a bit of the parental aggression inherent in that other soothing song in which the cradle crashes down from the treetop. The babe is caressed with fond names but is advised to be "canny" - to smarten up - and to "curb the noise" so the breadwinner can get his rest.
Les Filles du Roi / Célina words by Diane Taraz,
music trad., Quebec
In the 1600's, King Louis XIX tried to address the shortage of women in his colonies in New France by sending shiploads of sturdy maidens to marry the settlers. In a stroke of marketing genius they were called "les filles du roi" or "the king's daughters." My song imagines three of these adventurers comparing notes the day after their hasty weddings. The melody is a "crooked" tune from Quebec that drops a beat here and there to keep strangers guessing. "Célina," the lively dance tune that follows the song, was the inspiration of fiddler David Langford, who plays it to perfection.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother was a fille du roi.
A la Claire Fontaine trad. Quebec
This song must have helped pass the hours as voyageurs roved along Quebec's river-highways -- it has a perfect paddling rhythm and weaves such a pleasant fantasy of the mademoiselles back home.
Colcannon trad. Ireland
I'm not even a little bit Irish, but I love this song's curlicues and embellishments. And I do have a red-haired daughter.
Eileen Aroon trad. Ireland
These words attributed to Carrol O'Daly, a 14th-century Gaelic poet, never fail to stir the modern soul. "Aroon" means "my treasure."
Froggie Went a-Courtin' trad. U.S.
What other song features a weapons-laden, amorous amphibian on horseback? All kinds of social attitudes are embedded in this flight of fancy. Thanks to Chris Turner for his virtuoso jaw-harp!
My Johnny trad. England
A great work song, involving pure wishful thinking. Try it whilst scrubbing a pot.
The Children's Hour music by Diane Taraz,
words by Henry W. Longfellow
Longfellow's house in Cambridge, Mass., preserves his study and the long staircase down which his daughters crept to ambush him with kisses.
En Montant la Rivière trad. Quebec
A gorgeous song of regret that yearns both for a lost love and a lost country. I hate to have anyone miss out on the words, so I've woven in my own English translation.
Fern Hill music by Diane Taraz,
words adapted from Dylan Thomas
This timeless poem makes me think of my father's childhood on a dairy farm in Woodstock, Connecticut, where he and his brother Ed were infamous among the barns, always up to some mischief. They played with matches in the hayloft, set fires in the fields, and challenged goats to play "king of the hill," so it's amazing that I'm here at all.
Graphic Design: Barbara Hollingdale
Quilt art: Diane Taraz