A Chain Five Miles Long

In ‘Silver Dagger’, the female narrator turns away a potential suitor, as her mother has warned her to avoid the advances of men in an attempt to spare her daughter the heartbreak that she herself has endured.  The young woman rejects a lover’s advances by pleading her mother’s situation of how her father cheated on her mother.  The 1960 recording by Joan Baez features only a fragment of the full traditional ballad that was recorded earlier under different titles as ‘Drowsy Sleeper’ and ‘Who Is At My Bedroom Window?’ dating back perhaps to Victorian England.  The song was based on stories of love lost that featured a dagger as either a suicide weapon or an intimidating tool to keep suitors away.  The girl sees what a scalawag her own father is and how he’s hurt her mother, and in the end, she decides to spend her life celibate and alone.  Joan Baez introduced the song to the baby boomer generation on her eponymous 1960 debut album.

Don’t sing love songs, you’ll wake my mother
She’s sleeping here right by my side
And in her right hand a silver dagger
She says that I can’t be your bride
“All men are false”, says my mother
“They’ll tell you wicked, lovin’ lies
The very next evening, they’ll court another
Leave you alone to pine and sigh”
My daddy is a handsome devil
He’s got a chain five miles long
And on every link a heart does dangle
Of another maid he’s loved and wronged
Go court another tender maiden
And hope that she will be your wife
For I’ve been warned, and I’ve decided
To sleep alone all of my life

Written for Love Is In Da Blog where Bee asks us to find a love song containing jewelry and the prompt was selected by Barbara.

8 thoughts on “A Chain Five Miles Long

    1. I rushed this a bit, as I should have wrote more about Joan Baez in it, instead of just concentrating on what the lyrics mean. When I was looking for a jewelry song, I saw the word SILVER along with Joan Baez and I figured this song would work, but even though it mentions silver and a chain, it has nothing to do with jewelry. Anyway it was fun for me to find out about this sing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I probably should have gone with the song Diamonds and Rust and I mistakenly used the wrong video. Instead I went with Silver Dagger and I just fixed the video to reflect this. Thanks for alerting me to my mistake.


  1. Well, this song is great too, and I’d not heard it before. I think the chain with the hearts hanging from each link is like a charm bracelet – with all the hearts representing the maidens he’d loved and then left. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure how I got the videos mixed up, I guess I was putting my list of songs together too fast and I listened to both, but picked the wrong one. I knew nothing about this song and thanks to Love is in Da Blog, I was able to find out about this gem.

      Liked by 1 person

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