Today, we’re learning a traditional English murder ballad, Young Emily! Though this song was traditional either sung a-cappella or accompanied by fiddle, the haunting melody and natural rhythm fits so well with the tone of the shamisen. Let’s add this song to your repertoire!
In the 1700s, when merchant sailors returned home from long voyages, they returned to their homeland with money and riches. With so much wealth arriving, sleazy bar and hotel owners would lure the sailors in with promises of cheap beds and booze. After which, they would rob and usually kill the unfortunate sailor. This song is about a sailor returning home, where his sweetheart begs him to keep his mouth shut, not to tell her father (owner of a boarding house) about his success overseas. What happens? Let’s find out!