In honour of this spooky time of year we decided to learn a more sinister folk song, perfect as one of my all time favourites is an old tune called Long Lankin.
Long Lankin is Child Ballad #93, although it’s called Lamkin in his collection and goes also by Lambkin, Lincoln or Linkin in other adaptations. It’s generally agreed that it is of English origin although there are Scottish versions from around the same period. In the Scottish version of the song Lankin is a stonemason who builds a castle and the lord refuses to pay him so he exacts a bloody revenge. In these versions “Lankin” is seen more as a hero character whereas the English versions portray him as a devil-like villain who butchers an innocent family. Some people recently have suggested that “Lankin” was a leper seeking an arcane remedy for his affliction which consisted of “the blood of an innocent in a silver bowl” although of course there is no proof of this, but I like it as an interpretation.
It is first seen in print in Kent 1775 and in Scotland a year later but it is almost certainly much older than this. The main Scottish theory places the events of the song at the construction of Balwearie Castle which took place in 1464.
This is the first song we’ve recorded where we’ve done the full arrangement; previously we’ve simply adjusted other peoples adaptations but this time we fancied taking the song right back to it’s beginnings and adding our own sinister twist to it. The original song has many more verses than what we have recorded here, but we wanted to keep it short as we felt it had more impact this way. We also added a few very simple percussive guitar techniques: a snare in the intro and final verse to symbolise a sort of death march and a double bass beat through the verses to add a foreboding heartbeat!
So here it is, our Halloween special, we hope you enjoy our version of Long Lankin!