'Mother Willow Tree' - The Story Behind The Song

I wrote 'Mother Willow Tree' specifically for 'Bare Foot Folk'. It was the second to last song I wrote for the album (the final song written was 'Young Martha's Well').

It was hugely inspired by three sources:

  1. Firstly that classic traditional folk song 'Hunting the Hare' and, more specifically, the version done by the magnificent Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts on their album released in 1999. They sang this entirely a-capella with beautiful use of harmony layering.

  2. Secondly a sermon on 'the heart behind your actions'. Is your heart pure and are your intentions good? Surely then even hunting can be justified? But to hunt just for fun? To boost male pride and rub egos?

    Two men take their guns to tread the land 

    For the battle of their egos will”

  3. Finally it was inspired by the 'Tree of Souls' featured in the 2009 film 'Avatar'. In the film the tree acts like their life source and is a living and breathing entity, the aura of Mother nature if you like. It feels the pain of the animals and plants. I chose the willow as it is my favourite type of tree. I used to have a 'weeping sally'  in my garden, it was beautiful in bloom.  

    You will take a bow at mother's chest 

    For her bosom is the willow tree

    She weeps in the wood for the hunters good

    And waits for fools like thee”

So I started with the idea of writing about hunting and using lots of harmony layers. Then I decided to look at it from the angle of the hare and not the hunter and to consider the heart behind the hunters actions.

Why'd you try to take a gun to me mister hunter?

Why'd you try to take a gun to me?”

Then finally all things being spiritual, wondered how would mother nature deal with this? If she were rooted in a big tree in the wood, connecting to the land and calling the hare to run to her for shelter, how would she punish the hunters? They are also creatures of the land after all, so would she not want them to see the error of their ways? Maybe help them to see through the hare's eyes?

You now hunters you must run now fools

For the spell of the willow tree 

Has turned your blood from the thickest mud

To the blood of a hare like me”

This is, in my opinion, my best song to date. I dug deep to discover it and am very very proud of it. It is magical.

To hear the song or find out more about the album click here

Posted by Ange Hardy on January 31st 2014

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