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Songs about Incest

Related thread:
Incest ballads (songs) (37)


GUEST,smithp@bu.edu 20 Nov 03 - 11:21 PM
Bill D 20 Nov 03 - 11:47 PM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 03 - 11:48 PM
GUEST,Sieffe 21 Nov 03 - 12:06 AM
Mudlark 21 Nov 03 - 12:43 AM
PapaWhiskey 21 Nov 03 - 12:51 AM
Margret RoadKnight 21 Nov 03 - 01:06 AM
GUEST,smithp 21 Nov 03 - 01:22 AM
Dave Bryant 21 Nov 03 - 05:08 AM
Susan of DT 21 Nov 03 - 05:21 AM
greg stephens 21 Nov 03 - 05:51 AM
MartinRyan 21 Nov 03 - 05:55 AM
MartinRyan 21 Nov 03 - 06:24 AM
MartinRyan 21 Nov 03 - 06:25 AM
JedMarum 21 Nov 03 - 08:07 AM
wysiwyg 21 Nov 03 - 08:21 AM
JedMarum 21 Nov 03 - 08:23 AM
Beer 21 Nov 03 - 08:23 AM
JedMarum 21 Nov 03 - 08:30 AM
ddw 21 Nov 03 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,ClaireBear 21 Nov 03 - 05:41 PM
Uncle_DaveO 21 Nov 03 - 09:16 PM
YorkshireYankee 21 Nov 03 - 10:24 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Nov 03 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,Diva 22 Nov 03 - 06:58 AM
Snuffy 22 Nov 03 - 07:55 AM
jaze 22 Nov 03 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,smithp 25 Nov 03 - 09:41 AM
Dave Sutherland 25 Nov 03 - 12:01 PM
Dave Hanson 26 Nov 03 - 04:40 AM
swampy-the-spark 26 Nov 03 - 05:29 PM
PoppaGator 26 Nov 03 - 05:37 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 26 Nov 03 - 06:16 PM
fogie 27 Nov 03 - 05:07 AM
ced2 27 Nov 03 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Pavane 28 Nov 03 - 05:10 AM
John P 28 Nov 03 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Cheizi 24 Jul 06 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 24 Jul 06 - 02:05 PM
sapper82 24 Jul 06 - 03:35 PM
Slag 24 Jul 06 - 04:24 PM
Leadfingers 24 Jul 06 - 04:43 PM
JohnInKansas 24 Jul 06 - 04:43 PM
Georgiansilver 24 Jul 06 - 06:48 PM
Folkiedave 24 Jul 06 - 07:30 PM
Cool Beans 25 Jul 06 - 01:44 PM
Naemanson 25 Jul 06 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,Sieffe 05 Jan 09 - 01:48 PM
Acorn4 05 Jan 09 - 02:01 PM
Tootler 05 Jan 09 - 04:31 PM
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Subject: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,smithp@bu.edu
Date: 20 Nov 03 - 11:21 PM

I'm looking for songs that deal with the taboo of incestual relations. I have managed to find a few like "Sheath and Knife", "Brown Robyn's Confession", and "The Orphans Wedding"--most of them are from Child. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Any songs or song versions distincly from the States? Any songs relating to familial relations of an incestual sort that are not explicitly treated as taboo? Thanks for any help.

Per


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Nov 03 - 11:47 PM

Lucy/Lizzie Wan


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 03 - 11:48 PM

Hi - the DT Keywords search in our dropdown QuickLinks menu will take you to the nine we have listed in the "incest" category in the Digital Tradition, but I'm sure we have more. Here's the list:

Also make a search for incest at the Traditional Ballad Index. You'll come up with this list:

  1. Stella Kenney [Laws F37]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/LF37.html
  2. Sheath and Knife [Child 16]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C016.html
  3. My Husband's a Mason
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/EM055.html
  4. Maria Bewell
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/E120.html
  5. Lizie Wan [Child 51]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C051.html
  6. King's Dochter Lady Jean, The [Child 52]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C052.html
  7. Brown Robyn's Confession [Child 57]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C057.html
  8. Bonnie Hind, The [Child 50]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C050.html
  9. Babylon, or, The Bonnie Banks o Fordie [Child 14]
    http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C014.html
I think we have at least one version of all these songs.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,Sieffe
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 12:06 AM

The song sung by Hedy West in America (and by my self in New Zealand!)called "Fair Rosamund" is an incestual reference, albeit unwanted by Rosamund . . . .she curses her brother Clifford for it . . she was a concubine of King Henry the ? . . . .never did find out which bastard king of England that was . . . .


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Mudlark
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 12:43 AM

All songs so far are traditional...is that the only kind you are looking for? Contemporary singer-songwriters have dealt with this subject also, i.e. Suzanne Vega's Bad Wisdom.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: PapaWhiskey
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 12:51 AM

Buffy Sainte Marie did a song named "The Incest Song" back in the sixties which springs to mind.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Margret RoadKnight
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 01:06 AM

Contemporary American -
Peter Alsop's "Look At T e Ceiling" from his "Uniforms" album


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,smithp
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 01:22 AM

I'm only looking for "traditional" songs in the sense that they would come from the folk tradition ... at least to some extent. but they don't have to be traditional ballads, or to be referenced in some index like Child's or Laws'. However, songs written within the last 30 years by commercial artists who are performing (and copywriting) those songs are not exactly what I am looking for (if that answers anything).   Thanks for all the help so far and I'm looking forward to hearing from more of you!

Per


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 05:08 AM

That's a pity - I was going to suggest Tom Lehrer's "Oedipus Rex".


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Susan of DT
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 05:21 AM

You already have the traditional ones in Child. Sieffe - that is Henry II with Fair Rosamund Clifford and her brother did not necessarily sleep with her - just brag about how beautiful she was in the king's hearing.

What about newer funny ones like "I'm my own Grandpa" and "Shame and Scandal" and its relatives?


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 05:51 AM

"A boy's best friend is his mother"


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: MartinRyan
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 05:55 AM

What was the modern one about a separated pair of war orphans who end up marrying - and then get a visit from the Man from the Ministry? The tune is running around in my head - but no words, despite it being a powerful song.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: MartinRyan
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 06:24 AM

The Stranger Who told me my name?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: MartinRyan
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 06:25 AM

Got it! Its "The Orphan's Wedding" and its in the DT.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: JedMarum
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 08:07 AM

Brian McNeill produced a wonderful collection of songs in a 2 CDs set called simply, SCOTS WOMEN. On it there is a stunning song called Dear RoseyAnne which details an incestuous relationship.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 08:21 AM

So, what do you need these for? Maybe that would help us think about song suggestions more accurately.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: JedMarum
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 08:23 AM

sorry, the song is called, "Fair Rosie Ann." You can read more about the album here. I have to say it is a moving and beautiful song. It haunted me for days the first time I heard it.

The album is also truly remarkable. If I only had one album to take with me to a deserted isle, this would be it.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Beer
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 08:23 AM

Iris DeMent has a great song titled " Letter to Mom" not really incest, but close.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: JedMarum
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 08:30 AM

a bit more digging and I see that "Fair Rosie Ann" is a version of "KINGS DAUGHTER LADY JEAN" or "KING'S DAUGHTER JANE" listed above. The lyrics are very similar to those used on the SCOTS WOMEN cd.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: ddw
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 05:38 PM

The country father-daughter duo of Royce and Jeannie Kendall used to sing a song called "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" which always made me wonder.....

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 05:41 PM

Me too! That song made my skin crawl.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 09:16 PM

Child #11, I believe it is, The Cruel Brother, has a variant I've heard, which may be described as follows:

The story line, grossly compressed, is that a suitor is told by his wished-for bride to ask this and that and the other relative for permission to marry her, "and do not forget my brother John".

Wouldn't you know, he asks everybody but Bubba John.

They are married, and are mounting horses to leave when her brother John, under pretense of giving her a last hug or kiss, stabs her.

She asks to be taken (or goes by herself?) to a hilltop. The traditional questions are asked about, "What will you leave to....", and she says to give her mother "the dress that I die in". and also
to "Tell her to wash it in yonder stream. My heart's blood flows in every seam." (POWERFUL!)

To brother John she leaves something like the hangman's rope.

"What will you leave to your brother's wife? My curse and grief for all her life."

I get the overtone from this ballad that her brother has been her lover, that it's about incest in the background. He didn't stab her just because somebody didn't do the courteous thing and ask him.


Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 21 Nov 03 - 10:24 PM

And there's "The Dowie Dens of Yarrow" in the DT (0.7742) -- very similar plot to "Cruel Brother", but possibly too subtle for what you want -- as the incest (again) has to be deduced.

Cheers,

YY


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 12:08 AM

There is no demonstrable incest motif in Yarrow, though some people seem to have misunderstood the ambiguous wording of one version in particular (I forget which, but it's been discussed here, speculation and all, in the past) and read into it a meaning which really is not there. I doubt very much if there is any incestuous sub-text in The Cruel Brother, either; but that won't stop people imagining one, and of course I can't prove that there isn't, though there is no evidence that I'm aware of to suggest that there is.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,Diva
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 06:58 AM

Acoording to Atkinson's "Traditional English Ballad" the incest motif runs through Twa Brithers and Son David.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Snuffy
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 07:55 AM

For there is no trust in man
Not my own own brother
So girls, if you would love
Love one each other


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: jaze
Date: 22 Nov 03 - 10:13 AM

Cherokee Louise by Joni Mitchell


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,smithp
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 09:41 AM

I just wanted to thank everyone who responded to my inquiry about songs with an incestual motif. You have all been very helpful. Thank you greatly.

Per Smith


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 25 Nov 03 - 12:01 PM

There is the chilling Scots ballad "Childe Owlett" where the nephew of Lord Erskine is propositioned by Lady Erskine. He spurns her advances and suffers dire consequences. Not quite incest but almost.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 04:40 AM

incest, a game for all the family


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: swampy-the-spark
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 05:29 PM

call it incest but I WAN'T MY MUMMY !!!!


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 05:37 PM

Q: Why did the hillbilly refuse to marry a virgin?

A: "If she ain't good enough for her kinfolk, she ain't good enough for me!"


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 06:16 PM

"Sail Away, Ladies" is sometimes sung with a verse:

I chew my 'backer and I spit my juice
Sail away, ladies, sail away
I love my own daughter but it ain't no use
Sail away, ladies, sail away....

(The verse is not in the DT version)

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: fogie
Date: 27 Nov 03 - 05:07 AM

I've got a feeling about the poems of A.E. Housemans A Shropshire lad that some are concealing a darker level. Take Farewell to barn and stack and tree, Farewell to Severn shore, It has a line "By now the blood is dried, and Maurice mongst the hay lies still and my knife is in his side" this Cruel brother type poem has an eerie afterfeel. Check it out.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: ced2
Date: 27 Nov 03 - 11:28 AM

Local archives in Norfolk may be worth a search!


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,Pavane
Date: 28 Nov 03 - 05:10 AM

I understand that Two Brothers/Edward is thought to be about it but not explicitly

("All about a little holly bush that might have made a tree" in at least one version)


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNNY BE FAIR
From: John P
Date: 28 Nov 03 - 08:06 AM

Here's a humorous song about the incest taboo. I don't know who wrote it or where it's from.
JP

Johnny Be Fair

Oh Johnny be fair
and Johnny be fine
he wants me for to wed.
And I would marry Johnny
but my father up and said.
"I'm sad to tell you daughter
what your mother never knew.
That Johnny to is a son of mine
and so he's kin to you."

Oh Billy be fair
and Billy be fine. . .

Oh Jimmy be fair
and Jimmy be fine. . .

Well you never seen
a girl so sad and sorry as I was.
The boys in town are all my kin and
my father is the cause.
If life should thus continue
I shall die a single miss
so I go to my mother
and complain to her of this.

Oh daughter didn't I
teach you to forgive and to forget.
Your father might have
sowed his oats but
still you needn't fret.
Your father may be
father to all the boys
in town but still....
He's not the one who sired you
so marry who you will.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,Cheizi
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 01:54 PM

"Lament of a Pretty Baby" by Cursive


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 02:05 PM

If you're looking beyond English, there's the story of Kullervo in the "Kalevala".

Or the story of Siegfried and Sieglinde in Wagner's Ring cycle - are there any traditional songs incorporating that myth?


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: sapper82
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 03:35 PM

Buggery is boring,
Necrophillia is dead boring,
But Incest is only relatively boring.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Slag
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 04:24 PM

"I'm My Own Grandpa"!

Also I seem to remember an old C&W song called "The Eddypuss Wreck" but I may be wrong on that and it's not really in the Folk tradition anyway.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 04:43 PM

Sapper - Is Bestiality boring your best friend ??


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 04:43 PM

As the original requestor who wanted only traditional songs has apparently been satisfied, it might be a good thing to add some of the more recent ones for others who might stumble onto the thread.

A start would be to note that "Johnny Be Fair" posted by John P at 28 Nov 03 - 08:06 AM is exactly the "plot" of "Elma Turl" popularly performed by Mike Cross. I'd rather suspected an "older origin" but must have missed this thread when it was fresh. Another old thread recently brought back up gave a writer - not Mike - but I've lost it.

Another Mike Cross song, I think called just "Bill," (perhaps Bill's Funeral?) has a verse describing how Bill "burned his brothers business, and ran off with his wife," but I'm not sure ... ... do in-laws qualify as incest(?).

John


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 06:48 PM

There's a game that you can play,
At any time of day.
The best game there has ever been,
In every blooming way.
Play it in the morning,
After dinner, after tea.
Incest, a game by Waddingtons,
For all the family.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Folkiedave
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 07:30 PM

Best kept in the family - the best families that lay together stay together.

In a the town where Kate Rusby comes from, when the families meet before the wedding the male parents ask the female parents if the father has slept with the daughter (then, brothers, male cousins etc.) if they answer "no" then the wedding is called off on the grounds that if she is not good enough for their own family then she is not good enough for strangers!


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Cool Beans
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 01:44 PM

"The Boll Weevil"
"The Ants Go Marching"
"Never Swat a Fly"
Oh, INCEST. Never mind.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Naemanson
Date: 25 Jul 06 - 04:24 PM

Incest is best, for the kin you love to touch.

A parody of an old soap commercial.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: GUEST,Sieffe
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 01:48 PM

Quite right Susan . .I missed that point in my rush to supply a song! hahahaha!


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Acorn4
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 02:01 PM

There are a duo called the Cleverly Brothers who turn up and play along the seafront at Sidmouth every year. they come from Radstock and treat the subject of inbreeding in a very humorous(if not PC)way -can't find any weblinks to them unfortunately.


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Subject: RE: Songs about INCEST.
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 04:31 PM

See the thread on The Well Below the Valley


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