Folk Song – London, England

“Among the parts of London’s highest life,

The ghost of Anne Boleyn walks daily there

For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry’s wife

Until he had the headsman bob her hair

With her head tucked underneath her arm

She walks the bloody tower

With her head tucked underneath her arm

At the midnight hour

Along the drafty corridors for miles and miles she goes

She often catches cold, poor thing, it’s cold there when it blows

She finds it very awkward when she has to blow her nose

With her head tucked underneath her arm”

Michaela told me she learned this song from her grandfather on a trip in Paris when she was around eight or nine years old. She told me her grandfather was from England, and when they were traveling their way through Europe and going to go to London Tower he sang this song. She said that his Cockney accent caused him to drop some of the “h” sounds in the lyrics and made the song more entertaining for her when she was a young girl. She explained that her grandfather knew it because a famous comedian in Britain performed it and it had become popular.

She told me that this song was significant for her because it actually taught her about King Henry VIII and his wives. She believes that the comedic approach to history helped her remember and understand it better as she traveled to the historic London Tower where Anne Boleyn was beheaded. It helped her make the association between the landmark and the figures from history. This song also gave her a sense of her grandfather’s English heritage and shaped her own ethnic identity through learning to sing, which is now a very important aspect of her musical endeavors.

I consider the humorous lyrics of this song as a satire of the ridiculous amount of violence King Henry VIII used in order to produce an heir. This song speaks about the power and control men had over their wives in the past. As revenge for being beheaded, the ghost of Anne Boleyn walks the corridors and haunts her husband, according to the song. This song is representative of female empowerment and undermines King Henry’s bloody reign by mocking his rash decisions. This song embodies a more modern approach to women’s rights and their influence in society.