Fairport Convention: Crazy Man Michael Meaning
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Crazy Man Michael Lyrics
Crazy Man Michael was walking
He met with a raven with eyes black as coals
And shortly they were a-talking
“Your future, your future, I would tell to you
Your future, you often have asked me
anonymous Apr 24th report
This is not an attempt at interpretation, but I want to point out that this was the first song Richard Thompson wrote after his girlfriend (and I think the band's drummer) were killed in a road accident returning from a gig. Might have some bearing.
anonymous Dec 1st 2017 report
What interpretive bollocks!
Michael is remorseful as a consequence of the outcome of his meeting with the Raven, and goes mad as a consequence of his respinse, ie his rage at the suggestion he might kill his true live. This is not their first meeting - ‘as often you’ve asked me before ‘ - and seems to me to be about the fateful hazard of seeking to know what the future might hold for us.
I love this song, I like the feeling of it though it's rather sad.
The references to his madness all precedes the fulfilment of the raven's prophecy. The first half of the song are full of "unnatural" sightings - talking ravens, sorcery and prophecy. Michael speaks of a devil that (already) haunts him and strikes out at the natural world (beat at the four winds with his fists). It suggests that, in his madness he is an unnatural man - in the sense that he is shut off from the natural world around him.
The description of the murder in the fifth verse is given in cataclysmic terms: fire and steel, the spinning earth, the cold earth starting. But it is notable that the earth is never again referred to as "cold". In a reversed conceit, Michael's murder of his love does not precipitate a descent into madness but delivers him from it. There we have the idea of redemption through sacrifice (though there is nothing to suggest it was a willing one). From this point, Michael is sane and capable of seeking forgiveness. He is also a part of the world he inhabits. He speaks to the night and the day but not, the words tell us, out of madness. He is aware of what he has done and is remorseful but he is sane and working towards his redemption. The line where he "asks of the wild woods their pardon / For his true love is flowen into every flower grown..." is a reversal of the (pagan) tradition of asking a tree / plant for permission before you cut it down or take any part of it. He did not ask his lover's permission to cut her down but he now asks her forgiveness. I also want to point out that the reference to his being cursed occurs before the murder, never afterwards so my idea is that the madness was the curse and the death of his lover, though it cost dear, saved him.
anonymous Oct 1st 2011 report
Nicely put Mouse.
"And Crazy Man Michael will cursed be"
I think it refers to not only to the fact that he will never recieve forgiveness. But that he becomes sane, and will never be able to "be far away" again.
This song is in my opinion one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I've heard multiple versions of this song, all of which outside the original by Fairport Convention contain modified lyrics...
It is about a Man (Michael) who having descended into madness who seeks comfort from an oracle (the raven), he is told that Michael will kill his True Love but because of his distorted perception of reality he strikes the Raven through the heart in a fit of rage (beliving the witch has cursed him). The Earth wandering startled and the sky spinning is his Reality collapsing around him as he becomes sane enough to recognize the Oracle or Raven is the Woman he Truely Loves, and he has thereby fulfilled the Raven's Prophecy.
"The bird fluttered long" illustrates that she neither died quickly nor painlessly.
“Oh, where is the raven that I struck down dead That here'd lie on the ground-oh?
I see but my true love with a wound so red” is his lamenting over his Lover's body, and like a zombie or someone unable to come to terms with the consequences of his actions wanders about aimlessly... "Crazy Man Michael, he wanders and walks"
"And talks to the night and the day-oh But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is clear And he longs to be far away-oh" and "Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes" He desperately searches for an escape.
As for the line "And asks the wild woods their pardon" I would ask if it is the Woods he asks to pardon him of his sin, or if it is his Love he is actually asking to forgive him & himself trying to forgive himself (Neither of which he can ever definitively accomplish)
"For his True Love has flow into every flower grown," he has buried his Love in the Garden and now her corpse brings life to the flowers of the garder, "And he must be keeper of the garden"... he feels that the best he can do for her is to protect all that is left of her.
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