Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



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.

Leave Her Johnny Leave Her


h1 Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Liam Clancy sang this in concert. He’d introduce it: “Here’s a song you haven’t heard before but you’ll learn it in a few minutes and when you go home tonight, you’ll have a new song in your repertoire.” He’d get a good laugh on that! “It’s an old sea chantey. There was always a kind of sadness at the end of a voyage, in spite of all the fights and hardship, the sailors were a bit sorry to leave and they’d sing this song.”

The Space Shuttle Endeavour has landed for the last time, I would imagine the astronauts felt the same way as sailors leaving their ship.

The picture is from a video Camilla McGuinn shot at a concert where I performed this with John Sebastian.

Lyrics:

[D] I thought I heard the old man say,
[A] “Leave her, Johnny, [D] leave her,
[G] It’s a long, hard [D] pull to your [A] next [D] payday
[D] And it’s time for us to [A] leave [D] her”.
-Chorus-
[A] Leave her, Johnny, [D] leave her!
[G] Oh, leave her, Johnny, [D] leave her,
Oh the [G] voyage is [D] done and the [A] winds don’t [D] blow,
And it’s time for us to [A] leave [D] her!

Oh, the skipper was bad, but the mate was worse.
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
He’d blow you down with a spike and a curse,
And it’s time for us to leave her.
-Chorus-
Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her,
For the voyage is done and the winds don’t blow,
And it’s time for us to leave her!

Oh pull you lubbers or you’ll get no pay
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her,
Oh pull you lubbers and then belay
And it’s time for us to leave her!
-Chorus-
Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her,
For the voyage is done and the winds don’t blow,
And it’s time for us to leave her!

And now it’s time to say goodbye
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her,
Them pilings they is a-drawing nigh
And it’s time for us to leave her!
-Chorus- X 2

To Welcome Poor Paddy Home


h1 Sunday, May 1st, 2011

This is a traditional Irish song I learned from the Makem & Spain Brothers. It’s on their latest CD “Up The Stairs.” I appreciate that they’re keeping the old songs alive!
Lyrics:
[C] I am a true born Irishman
I’ll never [G] deny what [C] I am
I was born in a sweet [Am] Tipperary town
[C] Three thousand [G] miles [C] away

-Chorus-

[C] So hurray me [G] boys [C] hurray

No more do I wish for to [F] roam
[C]
For the sun it will shine in the [Am] harvest time
[C]
For to welcome [G] poor Paddy [C] home

Now the girls thay are gay and frisky

They’ll take you by the hand

Saying Jimmy McGuinn would you please come in

To welcome poor Paddy home

-Chorus-

Well in came the foreign nation

And scattered all over the land

The horse and the cow and the goat, sheep and sow

Fell into the stranger’s hand

-Chorus-

Now Scotland can boast of the thistle

And England can boast of the rose

But Paddy can boast of the old Emerald Isle

Where the dear little shamrock grows.

-Chorus-

Polly Vaughn


h1 Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Polly Vaughn is an old Irish folk song about a hunter who mistakenly shoots his true love thinking her to be a swan. Click HERE for more details.
Lyrics:
I will tell of a hunter whose life was undone,
By the cruel hand of evil at the setting of the sun,
His arrow was loosed and it flew through the dark,
And his true love was slain as the shaft found its mark;

She’d her apron wrapped about her,
And he took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;

He ran up beside her and found that it was she,
He turned away his face for he could not bear to see,
He lifted her up and he found she was dead,
A fountain of tears for his true love he shed;

She’d her apron wrapped about her,
And he took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;

He carried her off to his home by the sea,
Crying’ “Father, oh Father, I’ve murdered poor Polly!
I’ve killed my fair love in the flower of her life,
I’d always intended that she be my wife;”

“But she’d her apron wrapped about her
And I took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;”

He roamed near the place where his true love was slain,
And wept bitter tears, but his cries were all in vain,
As he looked on the lake, a swan glided by,
And the sun slowly set in the grey of the sky;

“But she’d her apron wrapped about her
And I took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;”

“She’d her apron wrapped about her
And I took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn.”

Henry Martin


h1 Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I remember seeing Joan Baez sing “Henry Martin” at Club 47 in Cambridge MA in 1960. She looked and sounded just like she does in this clip: CLICK HERE
This ballad is sometimes confused with Andrew Barton, because they are similar both in story and sometimes in tune. According to Sharp Henry Martin is probably the older ballad and was recomposed during the reign of James I. However, some scholars feel it is the other way around. Whichever is the case, Henry Martin dates to at least the 1700s.

In the many versions the hero is variously Henry Martin (Martyn), Robin Hood, Sir Andrew Barton, Andrew Bodee, Andrew Bartin, Henry Burin and Roberton. Sharp feels Henry Martin is probably a corruption of the name Andrew Barton.

The ballad is based on a family that lived during the reign of Henry VIII. A Scottish officer, Sir Andrew Barton, was attacked by the Portuguese. Letters of marque were then issued to two of his sons. The brothers, not finding sufficient Portuguese ships, began harassing English merchants. King Henry VIII commissioned the Earl of Surrey to end their piracy. He was given two vessels which he put under the command of his sons, Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Howard. They attacked Barton’s ships, The Lion and the Union, and captured them. They returned triumphant on August 2, 1511.

Child Ballad #250

Click Here for another strong performance of “Henry Martin” by actor Chris Leidenfrost-Wilson

Lyrics:
There were three brothers in merry Scotland,
In merry Scotland there were three,
And they did cast lots which of them should go,
should go, should go,
And turn robber all on the salt sea.

The lot it fell first upon Henry Martin,
The youngest of all three;
That he should turn robber all on the salt sea,
Salt sea, salt sea.
For to maintain his two brothers and he.

He had not been sailing but a long winter’s night
And a part of a short winter’s day,
Before he espied a stout lofty ship,
lofty ship, lofty ship,
Come abibing down on him straight way.

Hullo! Hullo! cried Henry Martin,
What makes you sail so nigh?
I’m a rich merchant bound for fair London town,
London Town, London Town
Will you please for to let me pass by?

Oh no! Oh no! cried Henry Martin,
That thing it never could be,
For I am turned robber all on the salt sea
Salt sea, salt sea.
For to maintain my brothers and me.

Come lower your topsail and brail up your mizz’n
And bring your ship under my lee,
Or I will give you a full flowing ball,
flowing ball, flowing ball,
And your dear bodies drown in the salt sea.

Oh no! we won’t lower our lofty topsail,
Nor bow ourselves under your lee,
And you shan’t take from us our rich merchant goods,
merchant goods, merchant goods
Nor point our bold guns to the sea.

With broadside and broadside and at it they went
For fully two hours or three,
Till Henry Martin gave to her the deathshot,
the deathshot, the deathshot,
And straight to the bottom went she.

Bad news, bad news, to old England came,
Bad news to fair London Town,
There’s been a rich vessel and she’s cast away,
cast away, cast away,
And all of the merry men drown’d.

Barbara Allen


h1 Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I remember seeing Joan Baez sing this at Club 47 in Cambridge MA in 1960. She looked and sounded just like she does in this clip: CLICK HERE

Source of the following: Mudcat Cafe
Samuel Pepys in his “Diary” under the date of January 2nd 1665, speaks of the singing of “Barbara Allen.” The English and Scottish both claim the original ballad in different versions, and both versions were brought over to the US by the earliest settlers. Since then there have been countless variations (some 98 are found in Virginia alone). The version used here is the English one. The tune is traditional.

Child Ballad #84

Lyrics:
[D] In Scarlet town where I was born,
There was a [G] fair maid [A] dwellin’
[G] Made every youth cry [Bm] Well-a-day,
[A] Her name was Barb’ra [D] Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin’
Young Willie Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barb’ra Allen.

He sent his man unto her then
To the town where she was dwellin’
You must come to my master, dear,
If your name be be Barb’ra Allen.

So slowly, slowly she came up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said when there she came:
“Young man, I think you’re dying!”

He turned his face unto the wall
And death was drawing nigh him.
Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
Be kind to Bar’bra Allen

As she was walking o’er the fields,
She heard the death bell knellin’,
And ev’ry stroke did seem to say,
Unworthy Barb’ra Allen.

When he was dead and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow.
“Oh mother, mother, make my bed
For I shall die tomorrow.”

And on her deathbed she lay,
She begged to be buried by him,
And sore repented of the day
That she did e’er deny him.

“Farewell,” she said, “ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in,
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barb’ra Allen.”

She Never Will Marry


h1 Monday, March 1st, 2010

“She Never Will Marry” is an adaptation of some very old ballads. I first heard it sung by a red headed woman at Chicago’s Gate of Horn. Here’s a song that provides a glimpse into its origins:

THE LOVER’S LAMENT FOR HER SAILOR

As I was walking along the seashore,
Where the breeze it blew cool, and the billows did round,
Where the wind and the waves and the waters run
I heard a shrill voice make a sorrowful sound.

Chorus:
Crying, O my love’s gone, whom I do adore,
He’s gone and I will never see him more.

I tarried awhile still listening near,
And heard her complain for the loss of her dear;
Which grieved me sadly to hear her complain
Crying, he is gone and I will never see him again.

She appeared like some goddess, and dressed like a queen,
She’s the fairest of creatures that ever was seen.
I told her I’d marry her myself, if she pleas’d,
But the answer she made me, was my love is in the seas.

I never will marry nor be any man’s bride,
I choose to live single, all the days of my life,
For the loss of my sailor I deeply deplore,
As he’s lost in the seas I shall ne’er see him more.

I will go down to my dearest that lies in the deep
And with kind embraces I will him intreat,
I will kiss his cold lips like the coral so red,
I will close up his eyes that have been so long dead.

The shells of the oysters shall be my lover’s bed,
And the shrimps of the sea shall swim over his head,
Then she plunged her fair body right into the deep,
And closed her fair eyes in the water to sleep.

Lyrics:
[G] They say that [D] love’s a [G] gentle thing
But it’s [C] only [D] brought her [G] pain
For the [C] only [D] man she [G] ever [Em] loved
Has [Am] gone on the [D] midnight [G] train

She never will [D] marry
She’ll be no man’s [C] wife
She expect to live [G] single
All the [D] days of her [G] life

Well the train pulled out
The whistle blew
With a long and a lonesome moan
He’s gone he’s gone
Like the morning dew
And left her all alone

She never will marry
She’ll be no man’s wife
She expect to live single
All the days of her life

Well there’s many a change in the winter wind
And a change in the clouds and Byrds
There’s many a change in a young man’s heart
But never a change in hers

She never will marry
She’ll be no man’s wife
She expect to live single
All the days of her life

Randy Dandy Oh


h1 Monday, February 1st, 2010

“Randy Dandy Oh” is a wonderful old sea chantey that I just heard for the first time while walking on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. For some reason this song has eluded me all these years. Camilla and I heard it coming from a shop on the Embarcadero. When we asked the storekeeper for a copy of the CD and he said it was sold out. Thanks to the Internet I was able to track down “Randy Dandy Oh” and learn it. There is sea chantey singing on the Balclutha (pictured above) off the Hyde Street pier the first Saturday of each month so I thought this would be an appropriate song for this month’s Folk Den since we spent nearly three weeks here in San Francisco.

I recorded a new version when I got back home, with banjo and one voice doing verses which is more traditional for a capstan chantey. The original recording is here.

Lyrics:
[Gm]Now we are ready to head for the Horn
Way [F] Hey [Gm] Roll and go!
Our [Bb] boots and our [clothes, boys, [F] are all in the pawn
[Gm]To me rollicking [F]randy [Gm] dandy, oh!

Heave a pawl, heave away,
Way Hey Roll and go!
The anchor’s on board and the cable’s all stored
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

Come breast the bar, bullies and heave her away
Way Hey Roll and go!
Soon we’ll be rolling her ‘way down the bay.
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

Soon we’ll be warping her out through the locks
Way Hey Roll and go!
Where the pretty young girls all come down in flocks.
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

Sing goodbye to Sally and goodbye to Sue
Way Hey Roll and go!
For we are the bullies that can kick her through.
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

Roust ‘er up, bullies, the wind’s drawing free
Way Hey Roll and go!
Let’s get the rags up and drive ‘er to sea.
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

We’re outward bound for Vallipo Bay
Way Hey Roll and go!
Get crackin’ m’lads, it’s a mighty long way.
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

Now we are ready to head for the Horn
Way Hey Roll and go!
Our boots and our clothes, boys, are all in the pawn
To me rollicking randy dandy, oh!

Christmas Is Coming


h1 Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

The lyrics of Christmas Is Coming stem from the traditional English Christmas feast at which geese were eaten. Children learned that this festive period is a time when each person is encouraged to give to charity, even if all they can give is a half penny.

The first documented reference to a penny is from around 790 AD when it was minted in silver. The design frequently changed, depicting various rulers. The Anglo-Saxon penny had a cross on the reverse side, a symbol of Christianity. These crosses were used as guidelines for cutting pennies into halves and quarters. The ha’penny (half a penny) and farthing (a fourth of a penny) were minted later. The word farthing was derived from ‘fourthing’. The penny changed from silver to copper in 1797 then to bronze in 1860 and finally to copper plated steel in 1992. 

I recorded this on Thanksgiving Day 2009 in Charleston South Carolina at an inn across from Historic St. Philips Church. The bells were ringing as I laid down my guitar track and I captured two minutes of the lovely sound which I blended into the final mix. The bells just happened to be in the right key.

Lyrics:

[C] Christmas is [Dm] coming, the [Am] geese are getting [C] fat

Won’t you please to put a [F] penny in the old [G] man’s [C] hat;

If you haven’t got a [Dm] penny, a [Am] ha’penny will [C] do,

If you haven’t got a [F] ha’penny [G] God bless [C] you!