I remember watching 2015’s Disney movie Cinderella with my daughters a few years ago and have loved it. What impressed me very much was the folk song sung by Cinderella in the movie: Lavender’s Blue. The enchanted melody and the round form makes the melody echo beautifully. It feels like the song is never going to end.
The first two verses of the lyrics are as follows:
“Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly
When I am king, dilly, dilly
You shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly
Who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly
That told me so.”
The origin of the song can be traced back to 17th century. The song has an Roud Folk Song index number, documented as a traditional English folk song. For a folk song that has such a long history, we can imagine the lyrics and meanings must have experienced various forms of adaptation. Taking a look at the third verse, I find that the content refelcts rural life in the agricultural time when men were called to work in order to look after their families:
“Call up your men, dilly dilly, set them to work,
Some with a rake, dilly dilly, some with a fork;
Some to make hay, dilly dilly, some to thresh corn,
Whilst you and I, dilly dilly, keep ourselves warm.”
The song has been recorded multiple times in the 20th century in various forms. It will be interesting to listen to each recording to see how the song was performed. Given the clear, bright melody with an opening harmony progression of tonic to subdominant, and a satisfying cadence, this song leaves little room for improvement. If I were to make any changes, it would be on the lyrics. I would wish to change it to reflect the current time.
In the modern society where civil rights are protected by law, the traditional gender roles require renewal. Words such as men with a rake, or work related to hay and corn may not be very relevant to today’s world.
For the word fork that rhymes with work, we may also want to consider changing it becuse of cultural references. Forks are in particular associated with western culture versus the east.
The last sentence “Whilst you and I, dilly dilly, keep ourselves warm” seems to refer to women and children being kept warm at home. Again, typical gender roles don’t reflect the modern society.
While the themes of the king, the queen, and love are still relevant in the modern world, traditional gender roles and agriculture centered life style are not. Nowadays we most likely will hear only the first two verses and this probably explains why.
I am thrilled to discover that Cinderella is in the book Mother Goose Fairytale. As a child I was fascinated by this tale. The story accounted in the book is easy to read and short. I’d like to share with Wowospot Kids blog readers, and the Podcast listeners by reading the story in WowoSpot Podcast’s same titled episode. Please look for the new episode of on September 29.