When I was the little girl in the picture above, my grandmother kept me and she’d often sing to me. The songs were old Appalachian folk songs mainly, but many of them were *extremely* dark. They were beautiful, haunting, and she had the perfect voice for them. She knew SO many. I wish I’d been older, or that my mother had known and shared more of them. (My mom didn’t like to sing.)
I can remember sitting in an old car, in the hot summer, and her singing in the front seat, while I sat in the back, and we waited for my uncle to come from some errand. She’d sing songs of rape, murder, death, and ghosts. I loved it. I was too young to even know what rape was, but I knew it was something that’s pain haunted even in a song.
One of the songs she sang was “In the Pines.” My mother sang this to me as newborn until I was old enough to sing it myself, and I know the song is still being passed down, as I sang it to my son. It’s not a typical lullaby though..it’s quite dark. Oh, you might know it, but it’s a song that has changed within families over time. Almost every version involves long trains, cheating lovers, and someone’s head IS GOING to get cut off at the end.
You know, thinking about it – no wonder I’m so weird. 🙂
Nirvana did a version, which I’ll post, but it’s important to note that the song is well over a hundred years old that I know of. My grandmother said her grandmother sang it. I will haunt my child’s children if they don’t pass it down. 🙂 There’s something about the melody that is great at soothing a fussy baby to sleep.
Here’s the Nirvana Version: