July 11, 2014
The back story to creating this tale of woe — as in how I totally backed into it — is worth the price of admission alone. Recently I’d found myself with a long and sturdy thumbnail, rare enough given gardening, housework, etc., and took the opportunity to record a guitar part remembered from my youth. I adopted this self-taught playing style of plucking down the strings of a chord with my thumbnail when that and strumming were all I had in my teen trick bag. (A few years still until a fellow Chattertock at Brown U. showed me how to include my fingers in a rolling pick style.)
For some of you I suspect it’s Child’s play to recognize the source tune here — which shall remain unnamed just to see who’s bothered to actually read these notes and also knows his/her traditional folk music ;) — but I could only recall the first lines of lyrics in 209’s refrain. This is not often the case with my old repertory, rarely having to look up lyrics except for a word or two here and there. I would like to say it’s because they were too morbid to remain in memory, but my own version below clearly belies that as any excuse! No, I think it’s that the original words didn’t speak to me well enough, as is usually the case when I encounter a problem with memorization.
So I thought, why not pen my own story to the mournful melody? I’d already had “Lady-in-waiting” as a working title for something else original, but those words were present day, personal to me and didn’t fit the song structure. The title, however, led me to briefly looking up some background info on historical ladies-in-waiting, which led me to a glossary of heraldry terms, and so on. My imagination latched onto “mistress of the robes,” “lese majesty” and “jessant-de-lis” (cf. JT’s cover design), and therein this tragic tale was formed. I was tempted to write several more verses — to expose more fully notre dame’s betrayers and their plot to seize the throne — but unlike our Mistress of the Robes here, I kept my head about me. xxxooo
A Lady-in-waiting is her lot in life, [A Lady-in-waiting]
And likely all she’ll ever be, [and all she’ll ever be]
Longing for an end to her strife.
She is eager for delivery.
Whilst the Queen’s loyal Mistress of the Robes
She’s falsely linked to treachery,
A foiled plot against the throne,
And stands accused of lese majesty.
At the hands of wicked knavery.
She knows not the villains who sealed her fate
But for a glimpsed escutcheon
Blazoned with a leopard’s face
As she’s led to the castle dungeon.
By the knight who bears jessant-de-lis.
Three days passed of pacing her cell,
Not a morsel partaken she.
Her only thought was “Why, pray tell,
Has my dearest Queen forsaken me?”
A Lady-in-waiting no more in this life, [No longer waiting]
Her execution has started. [She’s at the guillotine]
It has come to the end of her strife.
Head and soul from her heart have parted.
Written, arranged, performed, recorded and produced by Kathleen Martin
Cover design by JT Lindroos