Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bird in a Cage


My painting on the left is titled Bird in a Cage (Click to enlarge).

This is an obscure oldtime/bluegrass song that is found in the mountain region. I learned my version in North Carolina. I know Jean Ritchie did a version of the song which I've never heard and there are a few other versions.

The song is from the same family as the True Lover’s Farewell songs which include the closely related Down in the Valley songs. The most famous country recordings were down in the 1920-30s as Birmingham Jail. Next blog I'll do some details about the song.

The Bird in the Cage is symbolic of a woman trapped in a relationship from which she can’t escape. With a background set in the Blue Ridge Mountains the bird drops the key to the jail door that could free the transparent woman whose face and hands are locked behind jail bars. My wife Jeanette posed for the face and hands.

Here are the lyrics:


I'm a bird in a cage, love,

Bird in a cage.
Begging for freedom,
Dying a slave,
Dying a slave.

High on the mountain,

Valley so low;
All you can feel, dear,
Is the cold rain and snow;
Is the cold rain and snow.

Turn your back on me,
Court whom you please;
I can't forget you,Darlin',
I can't get free; I can't get free.

Build up your walls, Love,
Build them so high.
Only let me see you,
Darlin', as you pass by;
As you pass by.

I'm a bird in a cage, love,
Bird in a cage.
Begging for freedom,
Dying a slave;
Dying a slave.