Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



Hard Times of Old England


h1 Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

As Camilla and I prepare for our extensive Concert Tour through the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I’m reminded of this song. As part of the Folk Process, I’ve replaced the last line: “And soon I’ll have occasion to alter my song” with “
And soon we’ll have England financially strong,” a wish for now as it was in the Nineteenth Century.

The earliest broadside of this ballad came out before 1820, following the Napoleonic Wars. English tradesmen couldn’t find work. Soldiers and sailors returning to civilian life were faced with possible starvation. The singer however, ends on an optimistic note hoping there will be good times in old England once again.

Lyrics:
[G] Oh come all you [Bm] tradesmen who [Em] travel along

I’m [C] asking you [D] now where the [G] work has all gone
[C]
Long time I’ve been [D] traveling and I [G] cannot find none
Sing, Oh the hard [D] ti-m-es of old [G] England
In old [C] England [D] very hard [G] times

Provisions you find in the shops, it is true

But if you’ve got no money, there’s none there for you

So what are the poor folk and their families to do
Sing, Oh the hard times of old England
In old England very hard times

Our soldiers and sailors have come from war

They’re fighting for King and for country once more

Home to be starved, better stayed where they were
Sing, Oh the hard times of old England
In old England very hard times

And now to conclude and to finish my song

I’m hoping these hard times will not be here long

And soon we’ll have England financially strong
Sing, Oh the good times of old England
In old England very good times

The Month of January


h1 Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

This traditional song [Roud Folksong Database #175] has been sung all over the world. It’s the tragic story of a young woman who became pregnant by her poor lover. Her rich parents bribe the young man to disappear. She is left to freeze in the cold with her infant.

I recorded this with the “Jetglow” Rickenbacker given to me by my friend Bill Lee, using my new Janglebox 3 for both Rickenbacker 12-string and bass.

Lyrics:
Capo 1st fret Key of D

[D] It was in the month of January, the [C] hills were clad in [D] snow
And over hills and valleys, to my true love I did [G] go
[D] It was there I met a pretty fair maid, with a salt tear in her [C] eye
[D] She had a wee baby in her arms, and [C] bitter she did [D] cry

“Oh, cruel was my father, he barred the door on me
And cruel was my mother, this fate she let me see
And cruel was my own true love, he changed his mind for gold
Cruel was that winter’s night, it pierced my heart with cold”

Oh, the higher that the palm tree grows, the sweeter is the bark
And the fairer that a young man speaks, the falser is his heart
He will kiss you and embrace you, ’til he thinks he has you won
Then he’ll go away and leave you all for another one

So come all you fair and tender maidens, a warning take by me
And never try to build your nest on top of a high tree
For the roots, they will all wither, and the branches all decay
And the beauties of a fair young man, will all soon fade away

I Heard The Voice Of Jesus


h1 Thursday, August 1st, 2013

This hymn was written by Horatius Bonar of Edinburgh Scotland around 1866. He put these lyrics to an existing folk tune “Dives and Lazarus.” Although the song has been around for over a century, I had never heard it before attending a little blue church on the corner near our house. Someone in the congregation had requested it and the melody was so sweet I had to record it.
Lyrics:
[Gm] I heard the voice of [Bb] Jesus [F] say, [Gm] “Come unto Me and [F] rest;
[Gm] Lay down, thou weary [Bb] one, lay [F] down Thy head upon My [Gm] breast.”
[Bb] I came to Jesus [F] as I was, [Bb] weary and worn and [F] sad;
[Gm] I found in Him a [Bb] resting [F] place, and [Gm] He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.

Early One Morning


h1 Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

“Early One Morning”, also known as “The Lovesick Maiden” is an English folk song that dates back to 1787. It was cataloged by Roud #12682. I learned this song in glee club at the Latin School of Chicago in the late 1950s. It has such a lovely melody that I decided not to add harmony.
Lyrics:
[E] Early one morning,
[A] Just as the sun was [B] rising,
[E] I heard a young maid sing,
[A] In the [B] valley down [E] below.

CHORUS:
[B] Oh, don’t [E] deceive me,
[B] Oh, never [E] leave me,
How could you [A] use
A [B] poor maiden [E] so?

Remember the vows,
You made to your Mary,
Remember the bow’r,
Where you vowed to be true,

Chorus

Oh Gay is the garland,
And fresh are the roses,
I’ve culled from the garden,
To place upon thy brow.

Chorus

Thus sang the poor maiden,
Her sorrows bewailing,
Thus sang the poor maid,
In the valley down below.

Chorus

Early one morning,
Just as the sun was rising,
I heard a young maid sing,
In the valley down below.

Chorus

Away With Rum


h1 Thursday, November 1st, 2012

I played “Rum by Gum” on the Chad Mitchell Trio’s LP “Mighty Day On Campus” in 1961. The origin is difficult to determine. It dates back to England in the 1890s and was possibly a music hall song. There’s a rather lengthy but inconclusive discussion of it HERE.
Lyrics:
[G] We’re coming, we’re coming, our [D] brave little [G] band
[G] On the right side of temperance we [D] do take our stand
We [D] don’t use [G] tobacco, [D] because we do [G] think
[G] The people who use it are [D] likely to [G] drink

[G] Away, away with rum by gum, [D] with rum by gum, [G] with rum by gum
[G] Away, away with rum by gum, [D] the song of the temperance [G] union

We never eat fruit cake because it has rum
And one little taste turns a man to a bum
Oh, can you imagine a sorrier sight
Than a man eating fruit cake until he gets tight

Away, away with rum by gum, with rum by gum, with rum by gum
Away, away with rum by gum, the song of the temperance union

We never eat cookies because they have yeast
And one little bite turns a man to a beast
Oh, can you imagine a sadder disgrace
Than a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face

Away, away with rum by gum, with rum by gum, with rum by gum
Away, away with rum by gum, the song of the temperance union

We never drink water, they put it in gin
One little sip and a man starts to grin
Oh can you imagine the horrible sight
Of a man drinking water and singing all night

Isn’t It Grand?


h1 Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

This is an old English music hall song making fun of death and funerals. I turned 70 on July 13, 2012. People were shocked! So was I. That’s why I decided to record this song for the Folk Den on July 14. Last night, July 31, my Brother Brian called to tell us that my mother Dorothy had passed away just three days after her 102nd birthday. We’d spent the day with her in Tucson where my grandson James and I had played guitars and sung her favorite songs to her.

When we got the sad news, Camilla wrote this blog post:

Now we’ll have a bloody good cry.
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Lyrics:
Look at the coffin, with golden handles
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Look at the flowers, all bloody withered
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Look at the preacher, a bloody-nice fellow
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Look at the widow, lovely young female
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

When Jones’s Ale Was New


h1 Friday, June 1st, 2012

This marks the 200th song in the Folk Den!

“When Jones’s Ale Was New” is a popular drinking song from Olde England, circa 1594. The first printed version was entered at Stationer’s Register in 1595, “a ballet intituled Jone’s ale is newe’, entered by John Danter. It appears in Thomas D’Urfey’s Pills to Purge Melancholy,1707 edition, vol III, no. 133, and in Vol V in 1719, as The Jovial Tinker, with the tune. William Chappell quoted this introduction, from a broadside collection in the Bodleian Library: All you that do this merry ditty view.
 Taste of Joan’s ale, for it is strong and new.

The full title was: “Joan’s ale is new; or a new, merry medley, shewing the power, the strength, the operation and the virtue that remains in good ale, which is accounted the mother drink of England.”

Also know as: When Johnson’s Ale Was New / When Jones’s Ale Was New

[ Roud 139 ; Ballad Index Doe168 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang “When Johnson’s Ale Was New” in 1956 on his Riverside album English Drinking Songs. He commented in the sleeve notes:

“Here and there at Easter time, the “Jolly-boys” or “Pace-eggers” go from house to house, singing songs and begging for eggs. They wear clownish disguises: the hunch-backed man, the long-nosed man, the fettered prisoner, the man-woman etc. Johnson’s Ale (or John’s or Joan’s) is one of their favourite songs. Whether the drinking song comes from the pace-egging version or the other way round, we do not know. It is an old song. Ben Johnson knew it and mentioned it in his 16th century Tale of a Tub. Its qualities are durable, for it has altered little in 350 years. It appeals most to those who are most elevated.”

Some say this song derives its name from the pub owner, Davy Jones, who would put drunken sailors into his ale locker and sell them as crew to passing ships; hence the phrase “Davy Jones Locker.”

Or it could possibly refer to good natured Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org UNC Chapel Hill.

Lyrics:
[C] Come all you honest labouring men that work hard all the day,
And join with me at the Barley Mow to [Dm] pass an hour [G] away,
Where we can sing and drink and be merry,
And [F] drive away all our cares and worry,
[C] When Jones’s ale was new, [Am] my boys, when [G] Jones’s ale was [C] new.

And they ordered their [G] pints of beer and bottles of sherry
[F] To carry them over the [C] hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, [Am] my boys, when [G] Jones’s ale [C] was new.

The first to come in was the Ploughman with sweat all on his brow,
Up with the lark at the break of day he guides the speedy plough,
He drives his team, how they do toil,
O’er hill and valley to turn the soil,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come was the Blacksmith his brawny arms all bare,
And with his pint of Jones’s ale he has no fear or care,
Throughout the day his hammer he’s swinging,
And he sings when he hears the anvil ringing,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come in was the Scytheman so cheerful and so brown,
And with the rhythm of his scythe the corn he does mow down,
He works, he mows, he sweats and he blows.
And he leaves his swathes laying all in rows,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come in was the Tinker and he was no small beer drinker
And he was no small beer drinker to join the jovial crew,
He told the old woman he’d mend her old kettle,
Good Lord how his hammer and tongs did rattle,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

Now here is Jones our Landlord a jovial man is he,
Likewise his wife a buxom lass who joins in harmony,
We wish them happiness and good will
While our pots and glasses they do fill,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

Paddy West


h1 Thursday, March 1st, 2012

A.L. Lloyd sang Paddy West in 1960 on his and Ewan MacColl’s Tradition Records album Blow Boys Blow. He commented in the sleeve notes:

“Mr West is a redoubtable figure in the folklore of the sea. He was a Liverpool boarding-house keeper in the latter days of sail, who provided ship captains with crews, as a side-line. He would guarantee that every man he supplied had crossed the Line and been round the Horn several times. In order to say so with a clear conscience, he gave greenhorns a curious course in seamanship, described in this jesting ballad. It was a great favourite with “Scouse” (Liverpool) sailors.”

Paddy was a resourceful fellow who, with his wife, ran a home school for novice sailors. His methods were rather crude (like having his wife throw a bucket of water on their students to provide ‘sea spray’) but together they created a simulation of real conditions that could instill a sense of confidence in the lads that would most likely help them on an actual ocean voyage.

I accompanied myself on my Martin HD-7 seven string guitar and an English concertina that my wife Camilla gave me.

Lyrics:
[G] As I was walkin’ down [Am] London Street,
[D] I come to Paddy West’s [G] house,
He give me a dish of [C] American [G] hash;
And he called it Liverpool [C] scouse,
[G] He said “There’s a ship and she’s [C] takin’ [G] hands,
And on her you must [C] sign,
[G] Ah the mate’s a tyrant, the [Am] captain’s worse,
[D] But she will do you [G] fine.”
Chorus:
[G] Take off yer dungaree [C] jacket,
[G] And give yerself a [C] rest,
[G] And we’ll think on them cold [Am] nor’westers
That we [D] had at Paddy [G] West’s.

2. When we had finished our dinner lads,
The winds began to blow.
Paddy sent me to the attic,
The main-royal for to stow,
But when I got to the attic,
No main-royal could I find,
So I turned myself around,
And I furled the window blind.
Chorus:

3. Now Paddy he pipes all hands on deck,
Their stations for to man.
His wife she stood in the doorway,
A bucket in her hand;
And Paddy he cries, “Now let ‘er rip!”
And she throws the water our way,
Cryin’ “Clew in the fore t’gan’sl, boys,
She’s takin on the spray!”
Chorus:

4. Now seein’ she’s headed south’ard,
To Frisco she was bound;
Paddy he takes a length of rope,
And he lays it on the ground,
We all steps over, and back again,
He says to me “That’s fine,
If they ask you were you ever at sea
You say you crossed the line.”
Chorus:

5. There’s just one thing for you to do
Before you sail away,
Step around the table,
Where the bullock’s horn do lay
And if they ask “Were you ever at sea?”
Say “Ten times ’round the Horn”
And they’ll think you’re a natural sailor lad
From the day that you was born.
Chorus: X 2

The Cobbler


h1 Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

This is a traditional Irish song that I first heard at the Chicago folk club The Gate of Horn sung by Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. The lab stone was a stone held in the cobbler’s lap, used for beating materials into shape.

Lyrics:

[D] Oh, his name is [A] Dick Darby, he’s a [D] cobbler
He served his time at the old [C] camp
[D] Some call him an [G] old [D] agitator
But now he’s [A] resolved to [D] repent

Chorus:
With me ing-twing of an ing-thing of an i-doe
With me ing-twing of an ing-thing of an i-day
With me roo-boo-boo roo-boo-boo randy
And me lab stone keeps beating away

Now, his father was hung for sheep stealing
His mother was burned for a witch
His sister’s a dandy house-keeper
And he’s a mechanical switch

It’s forty long years he has traveled
All by the contents of his pack
His hammers, his awls and his pinchers
He carries them all on his back

Oh, his wife she is humpy, she’s lumpy
His wife she’s the devil, she’s cracked
And no matter what he may do with her
Her tongue, it goes clickety-clack

It was early one fine summer’s morning
A little before it was day
He dipped her three times in the river
And carelessly bade her ‘Good day’

The Coast of Peru


h1 Monday, August 1st, 2011

One of my favorite folk albums is “Thar She Blows” with A. L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl on vocals, Peggy Seeger on banjo/guitar and John Cole on harmonica. I recorded this song in Lloyd’s vocal style, adding mandolin, banjo and guitar.

Here are some notes from A. L. Lloyd:

“The English whaling ship Emilia was the first to inaugurate the Pacific sperm whale fishery in 1788, rounding Cape Horn to fish in the waters of the South Sea islands and the coasts of Chile and Peru. By the 1840s, the days of the South Seamen were numbered, but they left behind a fine memorial in their songs, of which The Coast of Peru is perhaps the most impressive. Tumbez, mentioned in the last verse, is in the far north of Peru, on the Gulf of Guayaquil, near the equator. Its girls are remembered in several whaling songs.

By no means all the old time whaling was done in northern waters. In the 1820s, for example, more than a hundred British ships, mostly out of Hull or London, where fishing in the sperm whale grounds round the Horn off the coast of Chile and Peru and taking the long, long run across the Pacific by way of Galapagos Island and the Marquesas, to Timor. The trip would last three years. The Coast of Peru is the most important ballad of the South-Seamen. Possibly it describes the chase of a southern right whale, not a sperm. Sperms were usually harpooned by running the boat close to the whale. Right whales, who tend to fight with their tail, were more often harpooned with the “long dart” from perhaps ten yards away. Mention of the mate in the “main chains” dates the song before the 1840s.”

Lyrics:

[Dm] Come all you young [C] sailor-men who rounded [Dm] Cape Horn,
Come all you bold whalers who follow the sperm,
Our captain has told us and we hope he says true,
[Dm] There’s plenty of [C] sperm whale on the [Dm] coast of Peru.

It was was early one morning just as the sun rose,
The man on the for-mast sung out: “There she blows!”
“Where away?” says the captain, “and where does she lay?”
“Three points to the east, sir, not a mile away.”

Then it’s lower your boats me boys and after him travel
Steer clear of his flukes or he’ll flip you to the devil
And lay on them oars boys and let your boats fly
But one thing we dread of, keep clear of his eye!”

Well the waist-boat got down, and we made a good start.
“Lay on said the harpooneer for I’m hell for a long dart.”
Well the harpoon it struck and the whale sped away
But whatever he done, me boys, he gave us fair play.

Well we got him turned over and laid alongside
And we over with our blubber hooks to rob him of his hide
We commenced thrusting in boys and then trying out
And the mate in the main chains how loud he did shout

Now we’re bound for old Tumbez in our manly power
Where a man buys a pleasure house for a barrel of flour
We’ll spend all our money on them pretty girls ashore
And when it’s all gone me lads go whaling for more

Come all you young sailor-men who rounded Cape Horn,
Come all you bold whalers who follow the sperm,
Our captain has told us and we hope he says true,
There’s plenty of sperm whale on the coast of Peru.