Aw heck, I couldn’t help myself. Here I was, looking for material for the next post, when a tune kept nagging me in the back of my head. The truth is that when I spent time over the last week looking into the music of Kristen Lawrence, the tune I really wanted to hear was by someone else … and it wouldn’t go away. it just kept playing in my head in the background. Maybe because the nimble guitar work of the intro reminds me of black cats padding through the spooky moonlit night, or maybe just because I consider the particular tune to be a classic exemplar of its kind. It’s spooky without being creepy.
I refer, of course, to that barren-season classic, “A-Soalin’” by Peter, Paul & Mary. Those three were not timid: they were civil but in-your-face folk musicians and social commentators. They sang folk and protest music with balls; along with Joan Baez, they were among the first to record the protest songs of the young Bob Dylan, for example. They were also very fine musicians, as this song demonstrates.
Although soaling songs were often associated with late autumn and All Souls’ Day or Samhain, the custom of soaling or begging during the dead of winter was also associated with Advent and the feast of St. Nicholas. Soal cakes were given as alms to the poor and needy as much as they were made to remember and honor the dead and so were associated with Christian charity. Thus, this particular version mentions blessings, good works, and the Christ child instead of ghosts and graves. But it’s still spooky in a good way, and perfect for driving music on a dark night or reading by the fireplace. You can find all the lyrics here in case you find yourself wanting to sing along (I know: it’s a catchy tune, in a way).
BTW, this goes out to all the gals and guys on staff at Starbucks by the METRA train station on 95th Street in Oak Lawn, a great bunch who tolerate Marie’s long stays to use the WiFi and drink tall blondes (no, I haven’t gone the vamp route yet). Enjoy!
Until next time, Spookyfans,