Golden Slumbers

Thomas Dekker

Some time in the 1970s, I was in the dark of the microform room at Bird Library, Syracuse University, looking at some early English verse, when I stumbled upon a song from the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Forty years later, of course, the Beatles’ music has been analyzed and documented to the last note, but then, this was something of a discovery. I thought Lennon & McCartney had written “Golden Slumbers,” and here it was, almost word for word, as a verse written around 1599:

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise;
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you,
You are care, and care must keep you;
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

The other day, I listened to Abbey Road again and was reminded of this, however beyond “Thomas Somebody” I couldn’t remember who the earlier author was. But we have Google now and there he was, Thomas Dekker. And an interview with Paul McCartney, in which he said, “I was at my father’s house in Cheshire messing about on the piano and I came across the traditional tune ‘Golden Slumbers’ in a songbook of Ruth’s [Paul’s step-sister]. And I thought it would be nice to write my own ‘Golden Slumbers.’ I can’t read music and I couldn’t remember the old tune, so I started playing my tune to it, and I liked the words so I just kept that.”

“Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight” were recorded as one song on July 2, 1969, at Abbey Road studios. They sound just as lovely today.

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One comment

  1. Thanks Kihm. Interesting.

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