The Coo Song III

Kage Baker really liked doing things in threes – a cultural predilection, perhaps, harking back to the Triads of the Welsh classics in The Mabinogion. Or, as she herself said, more likely because three were as many as she could picture in her mind’s eye without artificial assistance.

At any rate, she usually arranged lists of songs we knew in sets of three. This mattered quite a bit on long drives and hot afternoons at Faires:  a song list we could actually remember, as the tides of afternoon and beer waned. Something to keep ourselves going on the road when the cassette player/CD drive gave out, or we forgot to pack the music, or the only radio stations we could pick up in the middle of nowhere at 80 MPH were brief scraps of mariachi accordion bands and nut case talk radio.

Even Kage, with her encyclopedic memory, was somewhat hard put to find three pretty songs we could sing in a 16th century setting – about cows. We both loved that weird Western ballad of our childhood, Ghost Riders In The Sky – but it wasn’t at its best sung in our girls’ school voices, in our Elizabethan accents. Johnny Cash would have been doing 33 RPMs in his grave.

Luckily, we found a strange little ballad that at least has the mention of cows in it. Once again, the cows are a background to some sort of boy/girl carrying-on; but in this instance, it seems to be about feral children. Maybe changelings. Something weird is going on, that’s for damned sure. But it’s ever so pretty, so it became our third Coo Song.

Bonny At Morn

The sheep are in the meadows,
And the cows are in the corn.
Thou art overlong in thy bed,
Bonny at morn.

ch:         Canny at night,
       Bonny at morn,
       Thou art overlong in thy bed,
       Bonny at morn.

The bird is in the nest,
And the trout is in the burn,
Thou hinders thy mother
At many a turn.

We've all lain idle
While keeping the farm,
The lass will not work
And the lad will not learn.

The sheep are in the meadows,
And the cows are in the corn.
Thou art overlong in thy bed,
Bonny at morn.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to The Coo Song III

  1. Medrith says:

    I’ve enjoyed all these coo songs. I think Jean Redpath has recorded the last one (rummages through cd’s) Yes! I figured they were just normal teenagers though, not changelings.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Hi, Medrith – we learned that one from other singers at Renaissance Faire. It’s so lovely … the interpretation may have something to do with frequent repetition in odd places and peculiar hours. We used to sing these as lullabies to one of our young friends, who would fall asleep on our living room floor after a Captain Crunch feast and a late-night discussion of fashion, philosophy and Oki Dogs … and we sang them to ourselves in a lot of very tired places. The Coo Songs were a state of mind.
    After enough late nights, beer and oak dust, you start speculating on the lives of the people in the song. What do they do when you’re not singing about them? Kage came up with this image of a farm deserted by the adults, run by a crowd of children; and she wondered why. Was it a Children of the Corn scenario? Were they a failed colony? Or changelings? Or just normal kids happily wasting a summer vacation?
    Maybe you needed to be Kage (or in her constant company) to come up with these things … reality was pretty permeable around her!


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