The Cutty Wren

Album: English Rebel Songs (1776)
  • songfacts ®
  • Written in 3/4 time, "The Cutty Wren" is one of the oldest of English folk songs. Like most songs of great antiquity there are variants, in this case "The Hunting Of The Wren" is best known. Although it was first published in 1776, it is thought to have been written during the English Peasants' Revolt of 1381. There are variations from all over the British Isles, and in the United States, the song became "Billy Barlow" in the early 20th Century.
  • "The Cutty Wren" is Number 236 in the Roud Folk Song Index, and is one of the most enigmatic of folk songs.
  • Chumbawamba recorded the song because eight hundred years after the English Peasants' Revolt, the government of the day, under Margaret Thatcher, tried to institute a poll tax, as had the government of the youthful Richard II when Wat Tyler led the original revolt. It is possible that the wren alluded to is Richard II but it may have a more mystical allusion. Although double entendres are far from unknown in folk songs, and if this is a reference to killing the king, it is hardly surprising that it would be dressed up in this fashion. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
Please sign in or register to post comments.


Be the first to comment...

Have Mercy! It's Wolfman JackSong Writing

The story of the legendary lupine DJ through the songs he inspired.

Michael Sweet of StryperSongwriter Interviews

Find out how God and Glam Metal go together from the Stryper frontman.

RamonesFact or Fiction

A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.

Charles FoxSongwriter Interviews

After studying in Paris with a famous composition teacher, Charles became the most successful writer of TV theme songs.

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Lip-Synch RebelsSong Writing

What happens when Kurt Cobain, Iron Maiden and Johnny Lydon are told to lip-synch? Some hilarious "performances."