The Ballad Of Earl Haldan's Daughter

April 4, 2010 11:04 AM

Music: Dundee. Words: Charles Kingsley. Final track from Shelf Life. Not as finger-in-the-ear, beards and chunky knitwear as it may appear - this packs a bit of unexpected punch. Sounds like an old folk song - it's not (although the vocal melody may be rather generic I suppose). Decent guitar solo from about 1.30 or thereabouts.


Right channel electric - Strat
Left channel electric - Les Paul
Acoustic (left & right doubled) - Martin D28
Solo(s) - Les Paul

No boxes or pedals used - only effects are reverb and compression.

It was Earl Haldan's daughter,
She looked across the sea;
She looked across the water;
And long and loud laughed she:
'The locks of six princesses
Must be my marriage fee,
So hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Who comes a wooing me?'

It was Earl Haldan's daughter,
She walked along the sand;
When she was aware of a knight so fair,
Came sailing to the land.
His sails were all of velvet,
His mast of beaten gold,
And 'Hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Who saileth here so bold?'

'The locks of five princesses
I won beyond the sea;
I clipt their golden tresses,
To fringe a cloak for thee.
One handful yet is wanting,
But one of all the tale;
So hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Furl up thy velvet sail!'

He leapt into the water,
That rover young and bold;
He gript Earl Haldan's daughter,
He clipt her locks of gold:
'Go weep, go weep, proud maiden,
The tale is full to-day.
Now hey bonny boat, and ho bonny boat!
Sail Westward ho! away!'

Devonshire, 1854
From Westward Ho!

posted by MajorDundee (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Actually the Strat is on the left, the Les Paul on the right. Just had the uncomfortable realisation that some of this - particularly the extended solo - sounds a bit like Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. It's got that kind of tight, bouncy sound. Whether that's good or bad is, of course, a matter of taste (I always liked 'em, even when they weren't cool).
posted by MajorDundee at 11:53 AM on April 4, 2010

Sounds like an old folk song

That beat has an intense reggae feel, that may be part of that. Other than that, I feel compelled to tell you that this sounds perfectly professional and well done, but I'm always saying that, so it might be getting old. But your stuff is incredibly consistent. You have a knack for making it distinctly sound like you without always sounding the same, which is a nice knack to have. Congrats again, MajorD
posted by micayetoca at 5:26 AM on April 5, 2010

Thanks mica. I'm a bit puzzled about you thinking it has a reggae feel - last thing I would have thought. It's not a great song, but I'm pleased with it as a record - has a certain warmth of sound that's appealing to me. There's not a lot of EQ-ing on this, so perhaps there's a lesson there for me....
posted by MajorDundee at 12:17 PM on April 6, 2010

Not the usual reggae beat with the bass drum in the second beat, but this one. This "pattern" (with the bass drum in every beat, and the hi hat going at twice the speed of the bass drum) and its variations are sometimes used in the faster reggae songs, I believe, and that's what I meant.
posted by micayetoca at 12:41 PM on April 6, 2010

Ah yes, I hear what you mean mica. Strange how perceptions differ isn't it? I thought the inherent rhythm of "Haldan" was a sort of rum-ti-tum-ti-tum-ti-tum folkie sort of thing, like a trotting horse. And I was a bit "off" about that frankly - I'm not generally a big fan of that kind of nursery-rhyme traditional stuff.

I think the Kingsley poem isn't top-drawer actually - it's certainly far from my own poetic taste (Yeats, Larkin, Heaney, Hughes, Spender, Auden to name a few). But I was attracted by the song-like structure of it and its repetitive lines, and it did spark an instant melody - so I swallowed my reservations and went with it.

Contradicting myself totally (apropos comments on the "talk" thread about pulling tracks), I've wondered what this would be like with a fresh original lyric. It might be a bit more accessible then, and even less "folky". Personally, the lyric is rarely what attracts me to a song (melody and texture is my thing), but I know it can be the main deal for a lot of people.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:42 PM on April 6, 2010

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