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he Music of The Wicker Man

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The Music of The Wicker Man


One thing that many people often overlook about The Wicker Man is that it has elements similar to that of a musical. There are ten songs in the film, most of which are seen being performed by the characters on screen.
Paul Giovanni, an American playwright and musician, was given the task of being

The Wicker Man's musical director. As well as composing the original music, he adapted the traditional tunes heard in the film. He also sings two of the songs. Giovanni can be seen in the film's climactic scenes and more notably during the 'Gently Johnny' sequence where he sings his vocal parts on camera. Together with his assistant Gary Carpenter, Giovanni formed a one-off band to perform the music for the film. This band were originally called Lodestone and were made up (partly) of musicians from Carpenter's band called Hockett. By the time the film saw a cinematic release (in its now infamous shortened form), the band had changed their name to Magnet. This was due to another group already using the Lodestone name. The members of Magnet were as follows:
• Paul Giovanni - vocals, guitar • Gary Carpenter - piano, recorders, fife, ocarina, Nordic lyre, organ, etc.

• Peter Brewis - recorders, jewish harp, harmonica, bass guitar,etc. • Michael Cole - concertina, harmonica, bassoon • Andrew Tompkins - guitars • Ian Cutler - violin • Bernard Murray (replaced mid production by Michael Fry) - percussion

The musicians can seen on screen playing their own music. Female vocals were performed by Leslie Mackie, Rachel Verney, and Sally Present (and Annie Ross, depending on who you listen to). Session trumpet player John Hammond also played, as did the brass section of the London Symphony Orchestra. Actor Walter Carr also sang his part of 'the schoolmaster'. 'The Wicker Man Choir', no less, are also credited on the soundtrack. Paul Giovanni had intended to release an LP of Magnet songs from The Wicker the 1970s. However, this project was shelved. The first release of a soundtrack didn't arrive until the 1990s when Trunk Records issued a CD of music sourced a music-and-effects reel for the short version of the film. Such reels are created Man in album from in

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he Music of The Wicker Man

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order that non-English speaking countries can create their own dialog and yet retain the original film's score and sound effects. Although this album was welcomed by fans, it was far from ideal due to the source from which the music had been lifted. Finally in 2002, Silva Screen Records released the recently located studio versions of the songs that were originally intended for Giovanni's aborted 1970s album. The Silva Screen issue is by far the better of the two releases. Completists are also interested to obtain the earlier Trunk release as it does have some incidental music which is unique to this issue. Many of the songs featured on the soundtrack were adapted (or at least influenced by) traditional folk material. This article should go some way to documenting the influences behind each of the songs. The lyrics featured here (together in their complete form for possibly the first time) represent the longest available version of the recordings that were featured in the The Wicker Man. Sadly, Paul Giovanni died in New York in 1990 of AIDS.

Opening Title
The first song heard over the opening credits of The Wicker Man is a rendition of a ballad written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns ( 1759-1796 ). "The Highland Widow's Lament" is believed to be inspired by the massacre at Glen Coe ( whose name roughly translates into modern English as the 'narrow creek' mentioned in the lyrics ). The massacre occurred in 1692 when approximately forty members of the Macdonald clan were slaughtered. The Wicker Man version of the track is not performed exactly as Burns originally wrote the ballad. Instead, it is derived from the many modern English translations of Burns' work. The rendition that appears in the film is sung by Leslie Mackie. Lyrics 0, I am come to the low country Och on, och on, och rie! Without a penny in my purse To buy a meal for me One time I had a hundred sheep Och on, och on, och rie! Skippin' on yon narrow creek And growin' wool for me

Corn Rigs
This is the second piece of music heard over the film's opening titles. Like its predecessor, it is based on a ballad written in the late 1700s by Robert Burns. The
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original song is also known as 'Rigs 0' Barley'. The lyrics are, once again, derived from modern English translations based on the original Scottish text. The musical accompaniment in the Wicker Man version is likely to have been composed especially for the film. The piece is sung by Paul Giovanni. Lyrics It was upon a Lammas night When corn rigs are bonnie Beneath the moon's unclouded light I held awhile to Annie The time went by with careless heed 'Till 'tween the late and early With small persuasion she agreed To see me through the barley Corn rigs and barley rigs and Corn rigs are bonnie I'll not forget that happy night Among the rigs with Annie The sky was blue, the wind was still The moon was shining clearly I set her down with right goodwill Among the rigs 0' barley I kent her heart was my own I loved her most sincerely I kissed her o'er and e'er again Among the rigs of barley

The Landlord's Daughter


This is an original composition created for The Wicker Man. However, Paul Giovanni stated to Cinefantastique Magazine that it was loosely based on an 18th century song. This is believed to have been adapted, at least partly, by writer Anthony Shaffer's brother Peter. On screen, the piece is sung by the cast who performed it on set during filming. Another version, with a studio recorded vocal was also made for the aborted 1970s vinyl album with a different set of singers. It is this version that now appears on the 'Silva Screen' issue of the soundtrack CD. One of the song's verses was omitted from the original shortened cinema cut, and therefore the version that appears on the 'Trunk' issue of the soundtrack is missing this verse. Lyrics Much has been said of the strumpets of yore Of wenches and bawdy house queens by the score

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But I sing of a baggage that we all adore The Landlord's Daughter You'll never love another Although she's not the kind of girl to take home To your mother Her ale, it is lively and strong to the taste It is brewed with discretion, never with haste You can have all you like if you swear not to waste The Landlord's Daughter And when her name is mentioned The parts of every gentleman do stand up At attention Now there's Jane of the Blossom and Doll of the Crown Pretty Kate of the Garter And Star down in town Fat Dolly who keeps the Red Heart of renown, But I'll take the Landlord's Daughter 0, nothing can delight so As does the part that lies between her left toe And her right toe note: the subtitles that accompany the American DVDoffer different lyrics for the third verse. Rest assured, the subtitles are quite simply wrong! The above lyrics certainly seem closer to what is actually performed.

Gently Johnny
This is another piece based on a traditional folk song, this time believed to date from the medieval period. The Wicker Man director Robin Hardy has ( mistakenly) claimed that the piece was written by Robert Burns. The Wicker Man version is sung by Paul Giovanni. It has since been covered by The Sneaker Pimps, among others, who recorded a version based on The Wicker Man version of the lyrics entitled 'Johnny'. I put my hand on her knee And she says do you want to see I put my hand on her breast And she says do you want a kiss Gently gently gently Johnny Gently Johnny my jingalo I put my hand on her thigh And she says do you want to try I put my hand on her belly And she says do you want to fill me

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Maypole Song
This piece is an original song written for the film although it was influenced by the traditional drinking song 'The Rattlin' Bog'. Rachel Verney and Sally Presant contribute to the backing vocals. According to the film's associate musical director Gary Carpenter, these two singers feature heavily throughout the soundtrack, but were uncredited. The voice of the on-screen actor Walter Carr is credited on the Silva Screens CD as singing the lead vocal. Maypole Song has since been covered a capella by the Mediaeval Baebes under the title' Summerisle ( The Maypole Song)'. In the woods there grew a tree And a fine fine tree was he And on that tree there was a limb And on that limb there was a branch And on that branch there was a nest And in that nest there was an egg And in that egg there was a bird And from that bird a feather came And of that feather was Abed And on that bed there was a girl And on that girl there was a man And from that man there was a seed And from that seed there was a boy And from that boy there was a man And for that man there was a grave From that grave there grew A tree In the Summerisle, Summerisle, Summerisle, Summerisle wood Summerisle wood.

Fire Leap
Once again, this piece is an original composition created for the film. It is sung by Rachel Verney and Sally Presant, possibly among others. Take the flame inside you Burn and burn below Fire seed and fire feed To make the baby grow Take the flame inside you Burn and burn belay Fire seed and fire feed
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To make the baby stay Take the flame inside you Burn and burn belong Fire seed and fire feed And make the baby strong Take the flame inside you Burn and burn belie Fire seed and fire feed To make the baby cry Take the flame inside you Burn and burn begin Fire seed and fire feed To make the baby King

The Tinker of Rye


This song was allegedly recorded on the film's set and features a vocal duet of Christopher Lee and Diane Calento. The pianist on the track is Gary Carpenter. The ballad is said to be based upon a traditional piece entitled 'The Ram Of Derby' although it bears very little resemblance to it. The full version of the song does not feature in any version of the film itself and can only be heard in its entirety on the 'Silva Screen' issue of the soundtrack album. There was a tinker lived of late Who walked the streets of Rye He bore his pack upon his back Patches and plugs did cry o I have brass within my bag My hammer's full of metal. And as to skill I well can clout And mend a broken kettle A maiden did this tinker meet And to him boldly say For sure, my kettle hath much need If you will pass my way She took the tinker by the hand And led him to her door Says she my kettle I will show And you can clout it sure For patching and plugging is his delight His work goes forward day and night Fair maid says he
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Your kettle's cracked The cause is plainly told There hath so many nails been drove Mine own could not take hold Says she it hath endured some knocks and more it may i know I'm sure a large large nail will hold If it was struck in so For patching and plugging is his delight His work goes forward, day and night

Willow's Song
Willow's Song is easily the most famous of all the musical pieces that were performed in The Wicker Man. The track is an original composition. The song is also gone under the title 'The Siren Song'. A siren song is something which has an irresistible appeal, regardless of its bad consequences. The 'cow milking' reference in the last verse is inspired from the old English drinking song 'Martin Said To His Man', which goes: "I saw a maid milk a bull, fie, man, fie I saw a maid milk a bull, who's the fool now I saw a maid milk a bull, at every pull a bucket full Thou hast well drunken, man, who's the fool now" According to the film's associate musical director Gary Carpenter, the screen version was sung by Rachel Verney. Some have believed, however, that it was the Scottish jazz singer Annie Ross who sang the piece. Ross is believed by many, including Ekland herself, to have voiced Willow's dialog, although director Robin Hardy claims that this is untrue. An alternate version also exists in which Leslie Mackie ( who played Daisey in the film ) is reported to have sang to the same backing tracks. It is this version which is featured on the 'Silva Screens' soundtrack CD. In the original shortened release of the film, the song was hacked to bits via some of the worst editing cuts known to mankind. The edits are not even on-beat and make no musical sense whatsoever! Sadly, it is this version which appeared on the 'Trunk' issue of the soundtrack. In summary, the full recording of the film version appears on neither CD. Interestingly, an instrumental version, with a unique arrangement replacing the vocal line was released by Silva Screen as a downloadable MP3 via their website. The recording's lead flute line is not an original Magnet performance. Silva Screen records commissioned this version based on the original instrumental backing track. Willow's Song has been covered by numerous artists including Death In June, Doves
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and the Sneaker Pimps. Bizarrely, all three of these versions are based on the hackedto-bits version and the artists had to compensate around the bad editing on their source material. Even more bizarre is the fact that the Sneaker Pimps got permission from Britt Ekland to use a sample of Willow's voice in order for them to credit the track as 'featuring' the actress. Brit's voice is widely believed to have not featured in the film in either dialog or song! The Sneaker Pimps version was released under the title 'How Do'. Lyrics ( full version) Heigh ho Who is there? No one but me my dear. Please come Say how do the things I'll give to you? A stroke as gentle as a feather I'll catch a rainbow from the sky and tie the ends together Heigh ho I am here. Am I not young and fair? Please come Say how do the things I'll show to you? Would you have a wond'rous sight? The midday sun at midnight Fair maid, white and red, Comb you smooth and stroke your head hmm How a maid can milk a bull And every stroke a bucketful

Procession
Although not a song, the music played by the the islanders during the May Day parade is an original arrangement of a traditional ballad entitled 'Willy 0' Winsbury'. It is however, presented in The Wicker Man as an instrumental, with an original and brilliant arrangement. ( Instrumental)

Lulliby
The scene towards the end of the film where Howie is anointed by Willow and the
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librarian features a short original piece played by Gary Carpenter on a jewish harp. Gary who can be seen on-screen playing the instrument during the sequence. This is a reprise of a musical theme featured earlier in the movie when Howie examines the ruined church. Although seemingly voiced by Britt Eckland and Ingrid Pitt on screen, the vocals were actually performed by Rachel Verney and Sally Present. Lyrics Sleep close and fast

Summer Is Icumen In
The final song in the film is widely recognized as the oldest known song in the English language and is believed to date back to the early 1200s. In The Wicker Man, the song is performed by the islanders over the melody of 'Willy 0' Winsbury' which also served the basis for the 'Procession' theme. Once again, screen writer Anthony Shaffer's brother Peter is believed to have been involved in the lyrical adaptaion for The Wicker Man's version. The full length recording of the piece, with an extended instrumental opening, can only be heard on the Silva Screens issue of the soundtrack album. Lyrics Summer is Icumen in Loudly sing cuckoo Grows the seed and blows the mead And springs the wood anew Sing cuckoo Ewe bleats harshly after lamb Cows after calves make moo Bullock stamps and deer champs Now shrilly sing cuckoo Cuckoo, cuckoo Wild bird are you Be never still cuckoo

Incidental Music
In addition to the film's songs, much of the instrumental score was similarly sourced from traditional material. For instance, according to Gary Carpenter, the end titles music was adapted from a Bulgarian folk song. The 'Chop Chop' music uses the English nursery rhyme 'Oranges And Lemons' as its source. The music heard while Howie is in the library is an arrangement of the renaissance piece entitled 'Mirie It Is'. Howie's last minute search for Rowan utilizes the traditional Scottish piece Robertson's Rant. An Irish folk tune Drowsie Maggie ( best known as its vocalized counterpart 'What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor' ) is also adapted during this sequence.

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In the original UK trailer for the film, a piece of music can be heard that did not make it to any cut of the film. It is likely that this music was intended for a cut scene in which Howie has a dream under the influence of the 'hand of glory' ( and no doubt under the influence of being very tired! ). The soundtrack CD for The Wicker Man is currently available on Silva Screen Recordings and features the following track listing. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Corn Rigs The Landlord's Daughter Gently Johnny Maypole Fire Leap The Tinker Of Rye Willow's Song Procession Chop Chop Lullaby Festival - Mirie It Is / Sumer Is A-Cumen In Incidental music from 'The Wicker Man' Opening Music / Loving Couples / The Ruined Church Masks / The Hobby Horse Searching For Rowan Appointment with The Wicker Man Sunset

This issue of the soundtrack is unique in that it actually sources the songs from their proper full studio recordings. Much of the incidental pieces towards the end of the CD are lifted from the audio track of the film itself, rather than studio sources. The 'appointment' track is Lord Summerisle's dialogue to Howie from the film's closing scenes. This version of the soundtrack is of an extremely high quality and the writer recommends it to any fan of The Wicker Man's music.

Notes
This article was written by Declan McCafferty. Many thanks are due to Gary Carpenter whose excellent article helped with this essay. It can be found at http://www.garycarpenter.net Credit must also go to John Lippincott for his extensive documenting of the music of The Wicker Man, via The Wicker Man Yahoo Group. John also gave his time and co-operation with this article.

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