“The Fox” is one of the first songs Katryna and I ever learned. Our father sang it to us frequently, and there’s a recording of our baby sister Abigail, age 2 or so, singing along on the “town-o’s.” It’s an ancient song, possibly from a poem in Middle English, and our father undoubtedly heard it from Pete Seeger (who came to his school to play in the 50s), or on an Odetta or Burl Ives CD. This song has it all: life, death, survival, robbery–high drama!–and finally a cozy family scene. I have good friends who are vegans who don’t like the message, and I can understand and respect that. But foxes aren’t vegans.
(Here’s a Wendell Berry poem which speaks to this issue–see bottom of the post.)
From a guitar playing point of view, it’s pretty simple, though the pace is fast for beginners. It’s a typical three chord song (here it’s in A, though on our recordings it’s in D). I demonstrate my father’s “Um-chuck” pick which works very well for many children’s songs. It’s also a really easy pick once you get the hang of it.
The Hidden Singer
The gods are less for their love of praise.
Above and below them all is a spirit that needs nothing
but its own wholeness, its health and ours.
It has made all things by dividing itself.
It will be whole again.
To its joy we come together —
the seer and the seen, the eater and the eaten,
the lover and the loved.
In our joining it knows itself. It is with us then,
not as the gods whose names crest in unearthly fire,
but as a little bird hidden in the leaves
who sings quietly and waits, and sings.