What other songs have this same tune?
December 5, 2014 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I recently heard A Piece of Ground by Miriam Makeba. I am certain that I have never heard these lyrics before, but I am almost equally certain that I know the tune. But I can't think of where I know it from, and it's driving me crazy! What other songs have this tune? Vague ideas about where I might know it from inside.

I have a feeling that the song I know this tune from is about some sort of tragedy; perhaps a murder, a suicide, a horrible pointless battle, a shipwreck?

I think I might know it from Irish tradition - maybe the Clancy Brothers and/or Tommy Makem, the Dubliners, or something like that - or maybe something newer in the genre, like the Pogues or Flogging Molly or something.

On the other hand I might know it from Americana - maybe an old school guy like Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, or maybe something newer like Dave Alvin or Steve Earle.

Or maybe somewhere else entirely, but the above is the vague feeling that I have.
posted by Flunkie to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This really feels like an old filk I know from way back. Were/are you a filk fan? I can take a look through my cassettes (yes, I said way back) and see if I can come up with anything.
posted by blurker at 3:51 PM on December 5, 2014

A nice sad folk melody. Here's another song that uses that theme:
Diver Boy (Sung by Natalie Merchant)
posted by oxisos at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I searched for some of the lyrics and it seems to be a cover of a song by Jeremy Taylor.
posted by Yma at 3:55 PM on December 5, 2014

More about Diver Boy
posted by oxisos at 3:57 PM on December 5, 2014

A real stretch but the background melody reminded me of Nina Simone's Sinner Man.

And it also reminds me a litttttle of the Gilligan's Island Theme Song...maybe why you're thinking "shipwreck"? :)
posted by lovableiago at 3:58 PM on December 5, 2014

it's got the same bones as ghost riders in the sky
posted by Namlit at 3:59 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The rhythm and chord progressions make me think of Bob Dylan's Masters of War.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 4:05 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm not familiar with filk. I'm really digging Diver Boy, but I don't think I've ever heard that either. I actually was thinking possibly Nina Simone before I got to my computer (but forgot to add her to my vague list), so that got my hopes up, but no, I don't think Sinner Man. Pretty sure not Gilligan's Island :) I don't think Ghost Riders in the Sky. I think the song I know it from has essentially the same tune, rather than a similar tune.
posted by Flunkie at 4:07 PM on December 5, 2014

It sounds a lot like Scarborough Fair made famous by Simon & Garfunkel.
posted by Requiax at 4:07 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

And if not Scarborough Fair, perhaps Elizabeth My Dear from the Stone Roses.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:26 PM on December 5, 2014

Sounds like something you would hear on Thistle and Shamrock.
posted by serena15221 at 4:38 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Had a bit of Cows with Guns vibe to it.
posted by HuronBob at 5:08 PM on December 5, 2014

The first thing I thought of was North Country Blues
posted by various at 5:14 PM on December 5, 2014

Reminded me of Pete Seeger's recording of The Blind Fiddler (link is to different recording of same song, sorry).
posted by No-sword at 5:55 PM on December 5, 2014

On the off chance it's this, Sam Spence - The Raiders. ...."a murder, a suicide, a horrible pointless battle, a shipwreck?" kind of describes what happened with Washington vs the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII, which I think is where NFL films played this, during the recap of "Black Sunday".
posted by cashman at 8:00 PM on December 5, 2014

Blind Fiddler is very close. Here's Eric Anderson's take on that one.

It's definitely a variant of an old folk/vernacular tune in that vein with roots in the British isles, and it's one that got recycled with new lyrics a fair amount in the 30s and again the 60s. With a few tempo and phrasing variations, it's really a whole lot like Paul Simon's Patterns.

It's got a lot of Harry Belafonte flair. All in all it's in keeping with her career and politics to draw from and swap around all these kinds of sources - it was the zeitgeist.
posted by Miko at 9:06 PM on December 5, 2014

It has a similar melodic structure to The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:21 AM on December 6, 2014

Somewhat like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:12 PM on December 7, 2014

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