Hiya people! 🙂
Today I’d like to share with you a very old, Scandinavian folk song, which came to life in the Middle Ages. From what I see it’s most popular in Denmark, and it’s most commonly known as Elveskud or Elverskud (Elf-shot). However, the version I want to share with you, and the only one that I have actually heard really, is Norwegian. There are also Swedish and Icelandic versions of this.
A guy called Olav (or Olof or Ólafur, depends where in Scandinavia we are) is riding through the woods (or towards the mountains, as is the case in the version I am sharing with you today) when he sees elf-maids dancing, and one of them encourages him to join in. And from then on it seems like there’s a lot of variations between various versions of this song. As I said, I know only one, but I’ve read that the most common and traditional one is that he refuses, saying that tomorrow is his wedding day and then the elf-maid makes him gravely ill, so that he dies when he arrives home. There’s also one where he does dance with her and basically dances himself to death. And the Icelandic one is different yetbecause the elves ask him to drink with them, but he refuses saying that he believes in Christ. Then one of the elf-maids asks him for a kiss, and when he bends down to kiss her she wounds him with a sword, and he dies when he comes back home.
In the version that I am sharing with you, he also refuses to dance with her and says that tomorrow is his wedding day, but then the elf-maid tries to bribe him. I don’t understand the whole lyrics, because I don’t really know what sort of language it is, is it some sort of archaic Norwegian or is it some weird dialect, but to me it is really weird and while I get it overall, I don’t understand some words. But I think she tries to bribe him first with gold, or something golden, and then a silk shirt. Each time Olav says he’d happily have each of these things, but he wouldn’t dance with her anyway. ANd, for all we know, she may still be trying to get her way and convince him, because it doesn’t seem to have a proper ending like those other versions do.
As for Folque themselves, they’re a really cool Norwegian folk-rock band from Oslo, established in the 70’s, influenced by bands in the same field like the English Steeleyes Pan. Like I said, I don’t know any other arrangements of this Olav song, but I like how they made it sound very contemporary but in a way that feels natural and not at all obnoxious, which is sometimes difficult to achieve with folk music I would think.