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The Briar and the Rose

[Tom Waits]

The Briar and the Rose is a song from Tom Waits' 1993 album The Black Rider which contains studio versions of songs Waits wrote for the same-named play, directed by Robert Wilson and co-written by William S. Burroughs. The play is based on the German folktale Der Freisch├╝tz, which had previously been made into an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. The play premiered on 31 March 1990, at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, Germany.

The Fraser Sisters—Jo Freya and Fi Fraser—sang The Briar and the Rose in 2001 on their No Masters album Going Around. Fi Fraser commented in their liner notes:

Tom Waits. What a voice. What a song writer. No point in telling you what the song is about as we are still working on that. Definitely a love song. Definitely … we think … well perhaps … or then again … mmm … over to you.

Grace Notes sang The Briar and the Rose in 2007 on their Fellside album Northern Tide. Maggie Boyle raved in their liner notes:

What a beautiful song—and great neo-trad writing from that clever fellow, Tom Waits. I heard a lovely version of this by Niamh Parsons and Fran McPhail.

Fay Hield sang The Briar and the Rose in 2016 on her third album, Old Adam. This YouTube video shows her singing it with the Hurricane Party at Cambridge Folk Festival on 28 July 2012:

Cambridge and Walker sang The Briar and the Rose on their 2021 CD Wheel and Dive. They noted:

A traditional sounding non-traditional song which is quite lovely to sing a capella somewhere with a good echo.


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