Who Killed Cock Robin? : British Folk Songs of Crime and Punishment by Stephen Sedley and Martin Carthy

Who Killed Cock Robin? : British Folk Songs of Crime and Punishment by Stephen Sedley and Martin Carthy

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At the heart of traditional song rest the concerns of ordinary people. And folk throughout the centuries have found themselves entangled with the law: abiding by it, breaking it, and being caught and punished by it. Who Killed Cock Robin? is an anthology of just such songs compiled by one of Britain’s senior judges, Stephen Sedley, and most respected and best-loved folk singers, Martin Carthy.

The songs collected here are drawn from manuscripts, broadsides, old songbooks and oral tradition. They are grouped according to the various categories of crime and punishment, from Poaching to The Gallows. Each section contains a historical introduction, and every song is presented with a melody, its lyrics and an illuminating commentary that explores its origins and sources. Together, they present a unique, sometimes comic, often tragic, and always colourful insight into the past, while preserving an important body of song for future generations.

'Who Killed Cock Robin? explores the origins and history of ancient ballads dealing with the wilder sides of life...There are some constants — such as murder, theft, and prison — between the ancient and the modern songs, but Who Killed Cock Robin? deals with other issues, including the gallows, piracy, poaching, and incest, that are less likely to appear today, when drug smuggling and bank robbery feature regularly.' – Duncan Campbell, Observer

'On the face of it, Sedley and Carthy are an unlikely pair of literary collaborators. But together they have written an unusual book which combines deftly their respective areas of expertise. Who Killed Cock Robin? is an examination of how the themes of crime and punishment were treated in traditional folk music in Britain...In this book, they illuminate the unique nature of folk music itself...What Sedley and Carthy have produced is not just a musical compendium. It is a bridge to our past.' Prospect Magazine