As a variation on our usual Sunday morning practice, I thought I’d illustrate how a very old song can be updated and “revamped” into something rather different. I’ll illustrate with an old English folk song, “John Barleycorn“. It tells the story of how barley is planted, harvested and converted into beer by personifying the plant, and discussing how it’s treated (very poorly) by, and eventually triumphs over, those using it.
Here’s Steeleye Span with a live “folk rock” rendition very similar in tune to the eighteenth-century folk version. They recorded a studio version on their (recently remastered) album “Below the Salt“.