Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Byssan Lull”.

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s death, so I thought I’d share another song by him with y’all. It is a Scandinavian lullaby, whose origin I believe traces back to Norway, but which has become popularised in Sweden in 1920’s by Evert Taube, whose mother sang it to him. Evert Taube was a Swedish musician and author who is still very well-known today and I guess has a bit of a similar reputation to Vreeswijk, of a troubadour who has contributed a whole lot to the Swedish ballad/visa tradition in the 20th century. He also had a very strong influence on Cornelis’ music and Cornelis recorded several albums with his own interpretations of Taube’s songs. This one comes from his 1969 album titled Cornelis Sjunger Taube (Cornelis Sings Taube). A lot of  Taube’s music is influenced by the time he spent as a sailor in South America, (as it happens, Cornelis was also a sailor before starting his career, though in his case I believe he was persuaded into it by his father) ) as many of his songs have strongly South American themes or relate to the sea etc. So it makes sense that this lullaby which is full of sea references would appeal to him. The translation below comes to you directly from Bibielz. In case someone’s really curious what byssal lull means, I guess it holds just as much meaning as luli luli and other similar words that are common for lullabies in all kinds of languages. 

    Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three wanderers on the road
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three wanderers on the road
One, oh so lame
The other, oh so blind
The third says nothing at all
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three stars wandering on the sky
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three stars wandering on the sky
One is oh so white
The other is so red
The third, it is the yellow moon
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three winds blowing on the seas
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three winds blowing on the seas
On the great ocean
On the little Skagerack
And far, far away in the Gulf of Bothnia
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three ships sailing on the wave
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
There are three ships sailing on the wave
The first is a bark
The second is a brigg
The third has such broken sails
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
The sea chest has three figures
Byssan lull, boil the kettle full
The sea chest has three figures
The first is our faith
The second is our hope
The third is the red love

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2 thoughts on “Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Byssan Lull”.”

    1. Oh yes, I also thought about the three ships on Christmas Day when writing that translation. 😀
      Visa is strictly speaking just the Swedish word for song, but it’s also used to mean a sub-genre of Swedish (or generally Scandinavian, they’ve also got “vise” in Norway and Denmark) folk music, which is like a ballad/singer-songwriter sort of thing.

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