Within the fire and out upon the sea
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
Your true love will die by your own right hand
And crazy man Michael will cursèd be

Michael he ranted and Michael he raved
And beat up the four winds with his fists o
He laughed and he cried, he shouted and he swore
For his mad mind had trapped him with a kiss o
You speak with an evil, you speak with a hate
You speak for the devil that haunts me
For is she not the fairest in all the broad land
Your sorcerer's words are to taunt me

He took out his dagger of fire and of steel
And struck down the raven through the heart o
The bird fluttered long and the sky it did spin
And the cold earth did wonder and startle
O where is the raven that I struck down dead
And here did lie on the ground o
I see that my true love with a wound so red
Where her lover's heart it did pound o

Crazy man Michael he wanders and calls
And talks to the night and the day o
But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is plain
And he longs to be far away o
Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes
And asks of the wild wolves their pardon
For his true love is flown into every flower grown
And he must be keeper of the garden

Lyrics submitted by milkbone

Crazy Man Michael Lyrics as written by David Eric Swarbrick Thompson Richard James

Lyrics © MUSIC SALES CORPORATION, BMG Rights Management

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Crazy Man Michael song meanings
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  • +3
    General Commentthompson is a freaking gifted one
    johnnyobreadisleaon November 18, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationTwo things - first that Thompson's lyrics re-work a story that crops up on other folk somgs (listern for example to "Molly Bond" by the Oyster Band amd the tune is again an arrangement of the traditional Willie O'Winsbury.

    Secondly, I've always understood that it was written by Thompson as a reaction to the motorway crash that hospitalised most of the band and killed both their drummer (Martin Lamble) and his then-girlfriend Jeannie Franklyn (who was also commenorated by Jace Bruce in 'Songs for a Tailor')/
    alsthomon December 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI suppose since i use this song title as my login handle i'd better comment on it...

    Apparently the basic story behind this song came to Richard Thompson in a dream. It took a while for him and Dave Swarbrick to get it together as a song, but when Sandy Denny (RIP) joined the band Thompson thought her voice would be perfect for it. Richard Thompson has always had a kind of morbid sensibility, and this one is quintessential Thompson. It's one of his faves from the Fairport years (and mine too). I played bass and guitar for about 5 years in a celtic/british folk cover band called Crazy Man Michael.
    crazymanmichaelon December 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the way this song seems to combine so many other folk tales: the shapeshifting of Reynardine and Mad Suibne/Sweeny plus certain aspects of Tam Lin and the descriptions of insanity through nature. It is truly a gorgeous amalgamation of old tales into one beautifully told 'new' folk tale. All hail Sandy for doing it such justice.
    whatischatterison July 05, 2008   Link

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