Two centuries from now this love song will probably be attributed to Edward Gorey, but Carol Denney credits it to an airport layover and sleep deprivation.“ There were typhoons, flooding and lightning strikes all around Pittsburgh, so although we were in time for our flight there was a long delay before we could get off the ground, where a week of revelry and very little sleep made things a little surreal for me, but we had to stay awake or miss our flight. I kept laughing out loud at how funny it was that I had bought a present for someone but loved it so much that I couldn’t bear to part with it, and began singing little lines of this song about it to my banjo-playing friend Pam Derks, who kept laughing as I kept singing verses of a send-up of flowery pastoral songs. I kept cracking up and scribbling on the back of an envelope all the way to California.
“I didn’t get back until time to go to work the next morning, so it really had some surreal time to hang around in my head and finish itself. The humor is rather dark.”
To go with the song Carol has also made a “crankie,” a roll of hand-drawn pictures that winds slowly across a little window with candles in the back. “We did a couple of them in West Virginia and called them ‘crankies’ since you crank the paper across by hand. It’s post-TV!” In the folk tradition, she has put a copy of the crankie on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCZ1Ln-KjU.
The song makes a great sing-along: it needs little or no accompaniment, it’s easy for the audience to pick up, and there’s laughter as each stanza is followed by another with even less redeeming social value.
Doris Williams sings this on her new CD Renaissance and Beyond (reviewed in this issue), adapting South Bay guitarist Doug Young’s tune “Laurel Mill” to a poem written by her mother. (We’ve set it in E as a favor to guitarists; Doris uses a lute in F and adds a wordless vocal introduction.) For more about the CD and Doris’s performance schedule see her website, www.doriswilliams.com. See Doug’s website for tablature (dougyoungguitar.com/tab/Laurel_Mill.pdf), and a recording (store.dougyoungguitar.com/track/laurel-mill).
The folknik song pages are lovingly produced by John Kelly and Barbara Millikan. John Kelly produced the song pages for this issue.
If you’d like to submit a song for possible publication, please send a score, tape/CD or (preferably) both to —