> Dave Swarbrick > Songs > The Crow on the Cradle

The Crow on the Cradle

[Sydney Carter]

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sang Sydney Carter's song The Crow on the Cradle in 1963 on the B-Side of their Topic single The Sun Is Burning (though they call it The Crow and the Cradle).

Judith Silver sang The Crow on the Cradle in 1963 too on her Topic EP The Summertime Is Over. The liner notes commented:

The most recent song on the record, composed by London songwriter Sydney Carter, whose song subjects range from the Bomb to the Oedipus Complex as he builds up a book of haunting and distinctly disturbing songs, modelled on the political cabaret of the Continent.

Judy Dunlop sang The Crow on the Cradle in 1999 on her CD My Arms Are a Cradle. This track was also included in 2005 on Ashley Hutchings' Free Reed anthology Burning Bright.

Kirsty Bromley sang The Crow on the Cradle in 2011 on her EP Sweet Nightingale.

Lady Maisery sang The Crow on the Cradle in 2013 on their second CD, Mayday. They commented in their liner notes:

The singing crow that perches on the baby's cradle in The Crow on the Cradle is perhaps the most foreboding symbol of warning on this album. Written by Sydney Carter during the height of cold war tensions, it is a bleak reminder of how the decisions we make impact the generations after us. The juxtaposition of vivid images of war, against those from nursery rhymes and lullabies, make this song particularly chilling for us.

Karine Polwart sang The Crow on the Cradle on July 17, 2014 on Doug Lang's Better Days show on Vancouver Co-Op Radio. I don't know of a published version of hers yet.

Thom Ashworth sang Crow on the Cradle on his 2017 debut EP Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

Lyrics

Lady Maisery sing The Crow on the Cradle

The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn,
Now is the time for a child to be born.
He'll laugh at the moon and he'll cry for the sun,
And if he's a boy he will carry a gun,
𝄆 Sang the crow on the cradle. 𝄇

And if it should be that this baby's a girl,
O never you mind if her hair doesn't curl.
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And a bomber above her wherever she goes,
𝄆 Sang the crow on the cradle. 𝄇

The crow on the cradle, the black and the white,
O somebody's baby is born for a fight.
The crow on the cradle, the white and the black,
O somebody's baby is not coming back,
𝄆 Sang the crow on the cradle. 𝄇

Your mother and father, they'll sweat and they'll save;
To build you a coffin and dig you a grave.
Hushabye, little one, never you weep?
For we've got a toy that will put you to sleep,
𝄆 Sang the crow on the cradle. 𝄇

Bring me a gun and I'll shoot that bird dead,
That's what your mother and father once said.
The crow on the cradle, what shall we do?
𝄆 This is the thing that I leave up to you. 𝄇

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Crow on the Cradle.