Willow's Song

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"Willow's Song" is a ballad by American composer Paul Giovanni for the 1973 film The Wicker Man

Being the best-known song of the film, it is sometimes referred to as "The Wicker Man Song", although the film contains many other songs. The film tells the story of an upright Christian police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl, the search for whom leads him to a remote Scottish isle inhabited by pagans. While staying at the Green Man pub, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is roused from prayer by the landlord's daughter Willow, played by Britt Ekland, who sings this rather erotic ballad (while completely naked) through the adjoining wall of their separate bedrooms. The song is an attempt to seduce Howie by alluding to Willow's sensuality. The lyrics are as follows, according to HotLyrics.net, "Heigh ho! / Who is there? / No one but me, my dear. / Please come say, how do? / The things I'll give to you. / A stroke as gentle as a feather / I'll catch a rainbow from the sky / and tie the ends together. / Heigh ho! / I am here. / Am I not young and fair? / Please come say, how do? / The things I'll show to you. / Would you have a wond'rous sight? / The midday sun at midnight. / Fair maid, white and red, comb you smooth and stroke your head. / How a maid can milk a bull! / And every stroke a bucketful." [1] The music is played by the band Magnet. According to the film's associate musical director Gary Carpenter, the screen version was sung by Rachel Verney[2] (although some have believed that it was sung by the Scottish jazz singer Annie Ross). There are two different album versions of The Wicker Man soundtrack. The 1998 version released by Trunk Records features the film version of the song. The 2002 version released by Silva Screen features an alternate recording in which Lesley Mackie (who played Daisy in the film) sang to the same backing tracks.[2][3]

According to Paul Giovanni, "The idea for the song was completely original with me -- there was no indication of what it was to be in the script except a couple of lines of absolute filth" (sourced by screenwriter Anthony Shaffer from various anthologies of lyrics that would be appropriate to spring pagan festivals).[4] "The main thing is in the rhythm, and we used all of the old twangy instruments in there".[4] One couplet in the song is adapted from a poem by George Peele, part of his play The Old Wives' Tale (printed 1595).[5] Another may be taken from a verse of the Elizabethan-period drinking song "Martin Said To His Man" (or may since have been added to it).[6]

"Willow's Song" was also the title of a song Shakespeare used in Othello.

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered several times, notably as "How Do", on the Sneaker Pimps' 1996 album, Becoming X. This version also appeared in the 2006 horror film Hostel and the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos.

Other covers include:

In addition, a sample of the song was also used by British indie band Pulp on "Wickerman", from their 2001 album We Love Life.


  1. ^ "Paul Giovanni Lyrics: Willow's Song Lyrics". HotLyrics.net. 2007-05-06. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  2. ^ a b Gary Carpenter (2000), The Wicker Man: Settling the Score
  3. ^ An interview with Lesley Mackie, www.wicker-man.com, 2006
  4. ^ a b David Bartholomew (1977), The Wicker Man, Cinefantastique vol 7, no 3
  5. ^ George Peele, The Old Wives' Tale, Sc. 12: "Fair maiden, white and red / Comb me smooth and stroke my head". [1]
  6. ^ The verse is not included in Thomas Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia (1609); but does appear on Christopher Hogwood's recording Music from the time of Elizabeth I (1992). On The City Waites' disc How the World Wags (Hyperion, 1980), it is said to have been taken from a singer in a present-day folk club [2]: "I saw a maid milk a bull. Fie, man, fie. / I saw a maid milk a bull, who's the fool now? / I saw a maid milk a bull, at every pull a bucket full. / Thou hast well drunken, man, who's the fool now?"