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Berserker's avatar

I'm looking for creepy folksongs with disturbing meanings. Got any?

Asked by Berserker (33470points) November 16th, 2010

Today I was thinking about stuff like prayers and nursery rhymes…like that ’‘Ring Around The Rosie’’ thing, it apparently has something to do with the Bubonic Plague, and there’s also that creepy prayer…if I should die before I wake, pray the Lord my soul to take…seriously what the ass? That’s some creepy shit to recite before going to bed, especially when you’re seven.
Then it reminded me of some Qu├ębec folk songs I discovered that, after listening to them for a bit, discovered some very…dark meaning to them.
(Warning, all my examples are in French.)
For example, this one, for as pretty and peaceful as it sounds, is actually about some prince who slaughtered a duck with his silver riffle, and the singer expressing his or her grief about the death of said water fowl. Apparently it’s over three hundred years old, so the lyrics probably vary, but now it’s a children’s song…:/ It has its cheery moment at the end, how the duck’s remains don’t go to waste, but I still find it sad.

There’s also this one which intrigues me greatly. It speaks of a female horse and her baby, eating all the food in the field. A little like the cicada and the ant story, this horse will repent her actions when winter comes, when the fox, the wolf and the badger come to devour her and her starving child. (The chorus details those three animals dancing and singing for joy as they await for the horses to become frail and weak, although I thought that badgers weren’t active in the Winter, but eh.)

So, it’s not anything actually…brutally morbid like The Hearse Song (Which I have no idea if it stems from an actual folk song or not, but it still rules.) but I’m looking for depressing and slightly creepy folk songs, no matter how they sound.

The songs I presented aren’t terribly ’‘scary’’ as they are rather very sad and depressing in meaning. I admit, I may have misread the meanings, but I’m pretty sure I got the right idea. That’s what I’m looking for from you guys, if yall got somehting. I hope my descriptions were good enough to give you a decent idea of the folksongs I’m looking for. I’m sorry I didn’t give English ones, but none sprang to mind at this point…wait! Something like this !
(In short, about a woman who slept with a man, and he wanted to marry her, but she refused and the man left, but when she got preggers, wrote a letter to the man to tell him to come back, and he refused. The song is quite the poet compared to my briefing though lol.)
These lyrics here are different from what I first heard, which was a folksong remade by The Irish Descendants but still, if you have any kind of cool, sad and depressing folksongs for me, that would rule. And they can be in whatever language you want.

EDIT The tag feature doesn’t seem to want to let me add that I wished, so eh.

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29 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

While not a “folksong”, Conversation 16 by The National fits the creepy/disturbing meanings part of the question quite nicely.

Please Don’t Bury Me by John Prine would be a good candidate…

janedelila's avatar

We are encouraged to play “old time” music at school sometimes, but geez it’s so bad! Some of it is racist, sexist, speaks of death and heartbreak, injury, disease, and so many depressing things. For an example, we now say “Cross my heart, and hope to fly”.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Not sure how disturbing Jackaroe is but it’s about a woman who dresses as a man in order to follow the man she loves to war. What disturbs me is the one line where she mentions it would not bother her to “see ten thousand fall.”

Berserker's avatar

Thanks for the songs you guys. Might be a bit before I reply accordingly since I gotta listen to them, but I’m on that. :)

KatawaGrey's avatar

Here’s the Joan Baez version.

Berserker's avatar

@KatawaGrey Omfg. I just read the lyrics. That’s…awesome. Seriously. Is this an Irish song? Either way, I like what I’ve read. I’m tempted to just copy paste all of that in my profile lmao XD

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Symbeline: I have no idea. I think it might have been English originally but I really love how she convinces the captain that she’ll kill a bunch of people and then carries her love off the battlefield.

trailsillustrated's avatar

nick cave and kylie minogue. ‘the rose’. very creepy and beautiful too

Berserker's avatar

@KatawaGrey Yeah. I gotta say, it kinda reminds me of the Disney movie Mulan, for obvious reasons, plus the Wild Arms Alter Code F opening for some reason.
None the less, thanks much for the video. I love this lol, it’s in my faves now. (And no, I’m pretty sure it ain’t Irish now that I hear it, but who knows.)

Tragic to me would have been her boyfriend finding HER corpse amidst the dead, but still, great find. :)

Berserker's avatar

@syz John Barleycorn’s entry…I denno why but it reminds me of the less jolly Christmas songs. That, or this XD Not the same I know, but that totally came to mind.
And thanks for the second link. Very deep and…creepshit lyrics. :)

jaytkay's avatar

Tom Dooley and murder ballads in general.

Casey Jones (NOT the Grateful Dead song)

jlelandg's avatar

The Baby Song A bluegrass song that talks about doing very evil things to an infant.

jaytkay's avatar

Cocaine Blues, most famously sung by Johnny Cash.

Early one mornin’ while makin the rounds, I took a shot of cocaine and shot my woman down. I went right home and I went to bed, I stuck that lovin .44 beneath my head…

seazen's avatar

Coward of the County, sung by Kenny Rogers:

In the third verse there is a rape by three men which I always found disturbing to listen to, and subsequently the hero kills the men – well, it was the Wild West):

There’s someone for evr’yone and tommy’s love is Becky.
In her arms he didn’t have to prove he was a man.
One day while he was workin’ the Gatlin boys came callin’.
They took turns at Becky… there was three of them!

Tommy opened up the door and saw his Becky cryin’.
The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand.
He reached above the fireplace and took down his daddy’s picture.
As the tears fell on his daddy’s face, He heard these words again:

jlelandg's avatar

I don’t know if it was the greatest answer, but just mentioning the Roaster/Gambler is worth a fluther touchdown to me.

Judi's avatar

Alice where are you going?

Upstairs to take a bath.

Alice with legs like toothpicks, and a neck like a Giraffe raff raff raff raff raff raff

Alice stepped in the bathtub, pulled out the plug and then…

Oh my goodness oh my soul,
There goes Alice down the hole!

Alice, where are you going?

Glub, glub, glub.

Deja_vu's avatar

Check out Nick Cave and the bad seeds Murder Ballads
@trailsillustrated I love that song :)

ucme's avatar

Don’t know if it’s exactly what you’re after, but this freaks the fuck outta me. Maybe it’s just the way that the “kiddy fiddler” sings it, I dunno. Some creepy shit either way.

JilltheTooth's avatar

How about House Carpenter done by Joan Baez? She’s married, an oldflame comes back into town, convinces her to run away with him, she abandons her baby and they sail off to…hell. Careful what you wish for!

(Must say though, the thought of “One hundred and ten all brave sailor men will be at your command” part is kind of appealing!)

JilltheTooth's avatar

BTW, here are the lyrics to House Carpenter.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

I don’t know if you will agree with me. Here goes:

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Well I tried to go onto youtube to link you guys to it but it wouldn’t let me. Anyways grave digger is pretty creepy.

Berserker's avatar

@ZEPHYRA Wow that’s fucked up. Sounds like a mix of Industrial and Grunge rather than Folk, but I love it, especially the lyrics.

@JilltheTooth Yeah man, she’s a complete new discovery to me since yesterday, but I think I’m a fan already. Her voice is pretty and her songs are depressing. Win! Thank you. :)
(Also she did House of the Rising Sun??) Damn man, does she ever rule lol.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Symbeline : I grew up listening to her early folk/protest stuff. She was HUGE in that genre in the 60s. With that voice…wow. It would definitely be worth your time to listen to her old albums, she’s fabulous. Can’t tell I’m a fan, can you?

submariner's avatar

Gallows Pole. That’s the Led Zep version, but it’s an old folk song.

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wildpotato's avatar

Le vieux cheval by Le Vent du Nord.

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