> Sandy Denny > Songs > Fairport Convention: Crazy Man Michael

Fairport Convention: Crazy Man Michael

[Richard Thompson, Dave Swarbrick]

Richard had the words set to a trad tune and I thought that the words were great but that the tune weakened it ... He said that if I felt like that, why didn’t I write a tune for it - so I did ... Funnily enough, I wrote the piece on the piano and I don’t even play piano!
(Dave Swarbrick, “Hokey Pokey” #18). This tune is in 3/4 time.

On the original version of Crazy Man Michael, released in 1969 on Fairport Convention’s album Liege and Lief, Simon Nicol plays acoustic guitar, and Richard Thompson plays an overdubbed Gibson Les Paul (once by direct injection, and once via a Leslie cabinet). This version was re-released on the double CD compilation Meet on the Ledge: The Classic Years 1967-1975 and on the 2CD Sandy Denny anthology No More Sad Refrains. An alternative mix (not alternative recording!) of this track was released in 2002 on the Fairport unConventioNal 4CD set.

A Danish TV broadcast from November 1969 is not available.

Fairport (without Sandy) released a live-in-the-studio version of this song on their 1987 album In Real Time. Another live recording from Cropredy 1983 was released on the cassette The Boot - 1983 Fairport Reunion. This song also appears on Fairport’s 25th Anniversary Concert album, with the original lineup except for Vikki Clayton replacing Sandy Denny.

Seannachie sang Crazy Man Michael on their 1986 album Within the Fire.

Boreen recorded Crazy Man Michael in 1997 for their CD Enchanted Ways.

Niamh Parsons sang Crazy Man Michael on Fromseier Rose’s 2003 CD Contradiction.


Fairport Convention sing Crazy Man Michael

Within the fire and out upon the sea,
Crazy Man Michael was walking.
He met with a raven with eyes black as coals,
And shortly they were a-talking:

“Your future, your future, I would tell to you.
Your future, you often have asked me.
Your true love will die by your own right hand.
And Crazy Man Michael will cursed be.”

Michael he ranted and Michael he raved,
And beat at the four winds with his fists-o.
He laughed and he cried, he shouted and he swore,
For his mad mind had trapped him with a kiss-o.

“You speak with an evil, you speak with a hate,
You speak for the devil that haunts me
For is she not the fairest in all the broad land,
Your sorcerer’s words are to taunt me.”

He took out his dagger of fire and of steel,
And struck down the raven through the heart-o.
The bird fluttered long and the sky it did spin,
And the cold earth did wonder and start-o.

“Oh, where is the raven that I struck down dead,
That here did lie on the ground-o?
I see but my true love with a wound so red,
Where her lover’s heart it did pound-o.”

Crazy Man Michael, he wanders and walks,
And talks to the night and the day-o.
But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is clear
And he longs to be far away-o.

Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes,
And asks of the wild wolves their pardon.
For his true love is flown into every flower grown,
And he must be keeper of the garden.