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The Unfortunate Lad by Brendan Gleeson

The Unfortunate Lad is a folk song about tragic outcomes of unfortunate choices.
It is also known as The Unfortunate Rake, which might give you a few ideas about the situation.
It’s a song that featured in the Coen Brothers’ Netflix movie The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs.
In the movie it is sung by one of five characters riding together on a stage coach, as three of the characters begin to realise that despite their differences about life’s journey they’re all heading toward a single destination.
As I wrote about another song from this movie, don’t base your theology of the afterlife on these lyrics, but it does make a salient point about the experience of life on this earth.

The lyrics:
As I was a-walking down by the loch
As I was a-walking one morning of late
Who should I spy but my own dear comrade
Wrapped up in flannel, so hard is his fate
I boldly stepped up to, and kindly did ask him
Why are you wrapped in flannel so white?
My body is injured and sadly disordered
All by a young woman, my own heart’s delight

Oh had she but told me when she disordered me
Had she but told me of it at the time
I might have got salts or pills of white mercury
But now I’m cut down in the height of my prime

Get six pretty maidens to carry my coffin
And six pretty maidens to bear up my pall
And give to each of them, bunches of roses
That they may not smell me as they go along


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When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings

When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings is not a hymn.
It’s a song that featured in the Coen Brothers’ Netflix movie The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs.
In the movie it is a duet sung by the titular character and someone he encounters.
Don’t base your theology of the afterlife on these lyrics, but it does make a salient point about the experience of life on this earth.

Here’s the original from the movie with singalong lyrics.
But if you watch this it’s a massive, massive spoiler.
You’ve been warned.

The lyrics:
Let me tell you buddy there’s a faster gun
Coming over yonder when tomorrow comes
Let me tell you buddy and it won’t be long
Till you find yourself singing your last cowboy song

Yippie ki yi yay when the roundup ends
Yippie ki yi yay and the campfire dims
Yippie ki yi yay he shouts and he sings
When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings

When they wrap my body in the bindling sheet
And they take my six irons and pull the boots from my feet
Unsaddle my pony she’ll be itchin’ to roam
I’ll be half way to heaven under horse power of my own

Yippie ki yi yay when the round up ends
Yippie ki yi yay and the campfire dims
Yippie ki yi yay he shouts and he sings
When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings

Yippie ki yi yay I’m glory bound
No more jingle jangle I’ll lay my guns down
Yippie ki yi yay he shouts and he sings
When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings
When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings

Words and Music by Gillian Welch & David Rawlings


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The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs – New From Joel And Ethan Coen

Any new release from the Coen Brothers will be interesting.
Their stories are self-consciously stories, and as such illustrate aspects of the human condition.
“I’m the distractor with a little story.
People can’t get enough of them.
Because, well, they connect the stories to themselves I suppose.
And we all love hearing about ourselves
So long as the people in the stories are us … but not us.”

The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs was supposedly a six-part series that has become one movie of six vignettes.
Though with the Coen Brothers that may or may not be totally the way it was.
It’s going to premiere on Netflix, a pointer to releases outside of cinemas.

Here are two trailers.