I get a kick out of this commercial, which I first heard on the radio, then saw it on TV.
It’s a happy-sappy commercial with catchy music that goes “Holiday, Oh a Holiday and the best one of the year.” Very Christmas-y on the surface.
The song is done by a group called Vampire Weekend and is excerpted in the commercial.
The lyrics, though happen to be exactly the same as those of Matty Groves which is Child Ballad #81, a traditional Folk song that has been around forever and reproduced in countless versions.
While those are nearly the only lyrics in the commercial and the only ones that Vampire Weekend‘s Holiday has in common with the traditional song, had the commercial’s producers realized that, they surely would have picked another song.
Why? Well, Matty Groves, also known as Little Musgrove and Lady Barnard, is a sad tale of adultery and murder. It has been performed by many artists, such as Joan Baez, Fairport Convention and Christy Moore among countless others.
In the traditional song, which has as many versions as performers, Matty Groves, a commoner, is seduced by Lady Barnard, the wife of a powerful, wealthy Lord, who is away tending to his lands and unfortunately, neglecting his wife. The Lady meets Matty in church and takes him home, where the Lord comes home and finds them in bed. An angry confrontation ensues and the Lord gives Groves a sword and promptly slays the commoner who is no match for him.
The Lady is unrepentant and when the Lord asks “How do you like your lover now?” She tells him she still likes him better. The Lord in a fit of rage, kills the Lady and they are buried in a common grave, with the Lady on top, “because she is of noble blood.”
Here’s a version performed by Fairport Convention.
Compare the lyrics in this to those in the Vampire Weekend video. Not a lot in common, but the only ones used in the commercial are the ones in common in both songs.
90% of people won’t recognized the Vampire Weekend song. I didn’t. But 99% of people probably won’t recognize the lyrics as belonging to Matty Groves/Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard, either. In some versions, it was Lord and Lady Arlen. I’m sure it was adjusted for local political impact over the years.
I’m just tickled that a car company would choose a song with lyrics that bring an image of adultery and murder to my mind for their Christmas commercial. Pure genius…