Lyrics © 1996 by Catherine
melody by Catherine Faber and Arlene Hills,
based on "Old Man From the Barrow" by Heather Alexander
Jenny wouldn't tell me why she lay awake last
But I saw her wide eyes glisten in the candle's gauzy light;
When I felt her body tremble to the pounding of her heart,
I reached to touch her shoulder, and I heard the music start.
I sat right up in bed and flung the window shutter wide
My sister's flesh was icy as she shivered at my side
The chestnut cast a shadow as I'd often seen before
But I saw Jenny's eyes and she saw something more--
There is something by the chestnut tree that from the barrow came;
It is singing to my sister, it is courting her by name.
She says that she must marry him the night he comes again;
I'll be rolled in flour and fried before he'll have our Jen!
The flute's my only sweetheart; if this spirit fey
Thinks that music is his power, he may find it's mine as well.
So I told her "Courage Jenny, for I think we have a chance;
Though I cannot stop the wedding, let me play the wedding dance."
It was an eerie wedding night, with no one there to see
A shadow, and a shadow, and my sister there, and me
And when the words were spoken and the spirit turned away,
I lifted flute to lip, and I began to play.
flute plays jig melody then chorus melody, as singer lilts
The flute spoke air and dancing; it was all that I
And the starry sky above us made an icy chandelier
My sister took the hand of someone almost in my view
And drew him, half against his will, till he was dancing too.
Jenny stepped and swirled with a shadow in the gloom
Leading out the dancing, as they must as bride and groom
And shadow doubled shadow, till apparent to my glance,
The kinsmen of the groom were come to join the dance.
I play their dance for hours in the melody
Till Jenny's passing feet are leaving tracks of blood behind.
I see I have accomplished all I hoped I would achieve;
They are captive to the dance, and while I play they cannot leave.
But I cannot play forever here beneath the freezing skies
My arms are made of lead, my hair is hanging in my eyes
My fingers start to falter and to lose their strength and grace
And the look of terror deepens on my sister's face--
(extended instrumental break here)
should sound like flutist is tiring, stumbling, but never quite losing it, always managing to twist it back into a tune--medley of snatches of various dance tunes; bodhran to keep beat going
I force my hands to melody; I know I must
For but a dozen minutes now--the sky is growing pale.
The sun puts forth his finger as a soul in terror moans
And the groom and all the wedding guests are only standing stones...
Jenny crumples suddenly and all my strength is done
And we laugh and cry together and we bless the rising sun
And turn to eye the barrow, for the treasure it may hold--
For Jen's the Master's widow, heir to all his gold!
This is the last song on the CD "Under the Gripping Beast".
To see songs from "As Good As Any", or other songs, use the song list links above.