Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category

The Fatal Flower Garden

h1 Friday, January 1st, 2016

This is Child Ballad 155, a good warning not to let your children talk to strangers!

Wishing you a safe and Happy New Year 2016!!!

[E] It rained, it poured, [B7] it rained so hard,
It rained so hard [E] all day,
That all the boys in [A] our school
[B7] Came out to toss and [E] play.

They tossed a ball again so high,
Then again, so low;
They tossed it into a flower garden
Where no-one was allowed to go.

Up stepped a gypsy lady,
All dressed in yellow and green;
“Come in, come in, my pretty little boy,
And get your ball again.”

“I can’t come in, I shan’t come in
Without my playmates all;
I’ll go to my father and tell him about it,
That’ll cause his tears to fall.”

She first showed him an apple seed,
Then again gold rings,
Then she showed him a diamond,
And that enticed him in.

She took him by his lily-white hand,
She led him through the hall;
She put him into

an upper room,
Where no-one could hear him call.

“Oh, take these finger rings off my finger,
Smoke them with your breath;
If any of my friends should call for me,
Tell them that I’m at rest.”

The Eclipse

h1 Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Launched from Hall’s yard, Aberdeen, on 3rd January 1867 the ‘Eclipse’ cost almost $12,000, carried eight whale boats and a crew of 55 men.

“The Eclipse” was one of the first seafaring songs to grab my attention. It was on the album “Thar She Blows” By Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd. It tells the true story of three ships whaling in Queen Victoria’s year of Jubilee 1887. The trip was a miserable failure.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the album’s liner notes:

In the year of Queen Victoria’s jubilee, 1887, the steamer Eclipse of Stonehaven went fishing in the Arctic with her sister ships the Eric and the Hope. Her captain, David Gray, was on one of the greatest of nineteenth century whaling skippers. By now the northern waters were nearly fished clean of right whales, and the Scottish fleet was taking whatever it could – white whales, narwhales, bottlenooses (David Gray was the first hunter of bottlenoose whale). The 1887 season was disastrous. The Erik caught one small whale, the Hope none at all. On June 21st, David Gray took a good fat 57-foot cow whose jawbones are still on show in London’s Natural History Museum, but even the Eclipse, that luckiest of whalers, came home light, and with a bonus of only one-and-threepence a ton for oil. Her crew felt the trip had hardly been worth the hardship, and they marched through the streets of Peterhead to tell the owners so. The Eclipse made her first voyage in 1867. When she finished whaling, she was sold to the Russians and, renamed the Lomonosov, she was still being used as a survey ship along the Siberian coast as late as 1939.

[G] It was the twenty-first of [D] June, me boys it [G] being a glorious [D] day,
[G] The Eclipse she saw a [D] whale-fish and she [Em] lowered all hands away,

Chorus (after each verse):
[G] So blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds [C] hi-ho,
[G] Clear away your [C] running gear and [G] blow, [C] boys, [G] blow.

The boats they pulled to leeward, went skipping over the sea,
And we killed this noble whale-fish for another jubilee.

Our Captain Davie Gray was kind and he gave his crew a treat,
And that was why we caught this whale that measured fifty feet.

The Eclipse she lies to windward, her colours she does flee,
And the Erik and the Hope also, and this is the jubilee.

The Erik caught a sperm-whale that measured forty-three,
But the Hope has none and shall get none this year of jubilee.

But when this trip is over we’ll not ship for one and three,
Because we didn’t get fair play in the year of jubilee.

We’ll march up to the Custom House where we do all sign clear,
And when we face old Bless-My-Soul we’ll tell him without fear.

We’ll tell him that we’ll never sign again for one and three,
And we’ll march through Commercial Street and sing the jubilee.

And so blew ye winds of morning, blow ye winds hi-ho,
Clear away your running gear and blow, boys, blow.

The Rainbow

h1 Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

This ballad from the 16th century immortalizes a British galleon of the English Tudor Navy named “The Rainbow.” She fought against the Spanish during the “Singeing the King of Spain’s Beard” and the Spanish Armada, including the Battle of Gravelines in 1588.

In the story, as was a maritime tradition the captain’s wife bravely took command of the ship after his untimely demise.

[D] As we were a-sailing out on the Spanish shore
[Bm] The drums they did beat me-boys and loud [D] cannons did [A] roar
[Bm] We spied our lofty enemy come [D] sailing down the [A] main
[D] With her scarves a-still high to our top sails again

Our captain says be ready oh he says me-boys stand true
To face the Spanish enemy we lately did pursue
To face the Spanish enemy they love the ocean wide
And without a good protection boys we’ll take the first broadside

Ah broadside to broadside – to battle then we went
To sink one another it was our intent
The very second broadside our captain he got slain
And his damsel – she stood up in his place to command

We fought for four hours – four hours – so severe
We scarcely had one man aboard – of our ship that could steer
We scarcely had one man aboard who’d fire off a gun
And the blood from our deck me boys – like a river did run

For quarters for quarters those Spanish lads did cry
No quarters no quarters this damsel did reply
You’ve had the finest quarters that I can afford
And you must sink or swim me-boys or jump overboard

And now the battle’s over – we’ll drink a glass of wine
And you must drink to your own-true-love as I will drink
to mine
Here’s health onto the damsel who fought all on the main
And hereís to the royal gallant ship the “Rainbow” by name

Paddy and the Whale

h1 Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd sang this on their album “Thar She Blows” accompanied by Peggy Seeger doing an amazing 5-string banjo roll.

A.L. Lloyd had this to say about the song:

“From the latter days of whaling is this jokey remake of the Jonah legend. Presumably Paddy and the Whale originated late in the 19th century, though it’s debatable whether it was a sea-song first and a stage-song after, or t’other way round. Irish stage comedians knew it, and perhaps it was one of them who set the words to the tune of The Cobbler’s Ball.”

[Dm] Well Paddy O’Brian left [C] Ireland in [Dm] glee;
[C] He had a strong notion for Greenland to see;[Dm]
He shipped on a whaler, for Greenland was bound,
[C] And the whiskey he drank made his head go around,

And it’s [Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee *

[Dm] Now, Paddy had never been [C] whaling [Dm]before;
[C]It made his heart jump when he heard a loud [Dm]roar;
As the lookout he cried there’s a whale he did spy:
[C]“I’m going to get ate,” says old Pat,”by-and-by”
And it’s [Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]O, Paddy run forward [C] caught hold of the [Dm] mast
[C] He grasped his arms round it and held to it [Dm]fast
And the boat give a pitch, and,while losing his grip,
[C]Down in the whale’s belly poor Paddy did slip,
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]He was down in the whale [C]for six months and five [Dm]days
[C]Till one day by luck to his throat he made [Dm]way.
The whale give a snort and then he did a blow,
[C]And out on dry land old Paddy did go.
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]Now, Paddy is landed and [C]safe on the [Dm]shore;
[C]He swears that he’ll never go whaling no [Dm]more.
And the next time he wishes old Greenland to see,
[C]It will be when the railroad runs over the sea.
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

The Ash Grove

h1 Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The Ash Grove is a 19th century Welsh folk song the tune of which has been set to many different lyrics including hymns and Christmas carols.

At age 17 my first professional show was at Ed Pearl’s Ash Grove folk music club at 8162 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The venue was named after this song.

I recorded the RCA LP “Tonight in Person” with the Limeliters there in July of 1960. I had my 18th birthday in the club and the servers brought me a cupcake with a candle. It’s a sweet memory!

[G] Down yonder green valley, where [Am] streamlets [D] meander,
When [G] twilight is [C] fading I [D] pensively [G] rove
Or at the bright noontide in [Am] solitude [D] wander,
[G] Amid the dark [C] shades of the [D] lonely [G] ash grove;
‘T was there, while the blackbird [Am] was cheerfully singing,
[G] I first met that dear one, [A] the joy of my [D] heart!
[G] Around us for gladness the [Am] bluebells were [D] ringing,
[G] Ah! then little [C] thought I how [D] soon we should [G] part.

Still glows the bright sunshine o’er valley and mountain,
Still warbles the blackbird its note from the tree;
Still trembles the moonbeam on streamlet and fountain,
But what are the beauties of nature to me?
With sorrow, deep sorrow, my bosom is laden,
All day I go mourning in search of my love;
Ye echoes, oh, tell me, where is the sweet maiden?
“She sleeps, ‘neath the green turf down by the ash grove.”

Repeat First Verse

The Cherry Tree Carol

h1 Monday, December 1st, 2014

Brought to you from the 15th century, this carol (Child Ballad 54) tells the story of Mary and Joseph before the baby Jesus was born.

[F] JOSEPH was an old man,
and an old man was he,
[When he courted lovely [Dm] Mary,
the queen of [F] Galilee. X2]

Joseph and Mary walked
through an orchard good,
Where was cherries and berries,
so red as any blood. X2

Joseph and Mary walked
through an orchard green,
Where was berries and cherries,
as thick as might be seen. X2

O then bespoke Mary,
so meek and so mild:
“Pluck me one cherry, Joseph,
for I am with child.” X2

O then bespoke Joseph,
with words most unkind:
“Let him pluck thee a cherry
that brought thee with child.” X2

O then bespoke the babe,
from within his mother’s womb:
“Bow down then the tallest tree,
for my mother to have some.” X2

Then bowed down the highest tree
unto his mother’s hand;
She cried, See, dear Joseph,
I have cherries at command.X2

O then bespoke Joseph:
“I have done Mary wrong;
But cheer up, my dearest,
and be not thou cast down.” X2

Then Mary plucked a cherry,
as red as the blood,
Then Mary went homeward
with her heavy load.X2

Then Mary took her babe,
and sat him down on her knee,
Saying, My dear son, please tell me
what this world will be.X2

“O I shall be as dead, mother,
as the stones in this wall;
O the stones in the streets, mother,
shall mourn for me all.X2

“Upon Easter-day, mother,
my uprising shall be;
O the sun and the moon, mother,
shall both rise with me.” X2

Henry Lee

h1 Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Derived from Child Ballad #68 “Young Hunting,” this classic tale of murder by a jilted lover is a good example of a Fatal Error. If Henry Lee had held his tongue about his love in that “Merry Green Land” he may have been able to escape his jealous girlfriend’s dagger.

[E] Get down, [A] get down, [E] little Henry Lee, and stay all [B7] night [E] with me. [E] The very best [A] lodging I [E] can afford will be fare [B7] better’n [E] thee.” [A] “I can’t get down, and I [E] won’t get down, and [A] stay all night with [B7] thee, [E] For the girl I [A] have in that [E] merry green land, I love far [B7] better’n [E] thee.”

She leaned herself against a fence, just for a kiss or two; With a little weapon-knife in her hand, she plugged him through and through.”Come all you ladies in the town, a secret for me to keep, With a diamond ring held on my hand I’ll never will be forsake.”

“Some take him by his lily-white hand, some take him by his feet. We’ll throw him in this deep, deep well, more than one hundred feet. Lie there, lie there, loving Henry Lee, till the flesh drops from your bones.‚Ä®The girl you have in that merry green land still wants for your return.”

“Fly down, fly down, you little bird, and alight on my right knee. Your cage will be of purest gold, in deed of property.”®”I can’t fly down, or I won’t fly down, and alight on your right knee. A girl would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me.”

“If I had my bend and bow, my arrow and my string,I’d pierce a dart so nigh your heart your wobble would be in vain.” “If you had had your bend and bow, your arrow and your string, I’d fly away to the merry green land and tell what I have seen.”

Risselty Rosselty Now Now Now

h1 Monday, September 1st, 2014

Derived from an old Scottish folk song “The Wee Cooper O’ Fife” with a nonsense chorus. It was featured in the Alfred Hitchcock classic film “The Birds.” The tune sounds like dance music from another time.

[A] I married a wife in the [D] month of [A] June,
Risselty rosselty, now now now!
I carried her off by the [D] light of the [A] moon (in a silver spoon)
Risselty rosselty, hey bombosity, nickety nackety,
retrical quality, willaby wallaby now now now!

She combed her hair but once a year,
Risselty rosselty, now now now!
With every rake she gave a tear,
Risselty rosselty, hey bombosity, nickety nackety,
retrical quality, willaby wallaby now now now!

She swept the floor but once a year,
Risselty rosselty, now now now!
She swore her broom was much too dear,†
Risselty rosselty, hey bombosity, nickety nackety,
retrical quality, willaby wallaby now now now!

She churned the butter in dad’s old boot,
Risselty rosselty, now now now!
And for a dasher she uses her foot,
Risselty rosselty, hey bombosity, nickety nackety,
retrical quality, willaby wallaby now now now!

The butter came out a grizzledy gray,
Risselty rosselty, now now now!
The cheese took legs and ran away,
Risselty rosselty, hey bombosity, nickety nackety,
retrical quality, willaby wallaby now now now!

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.

[G] Oh come all you [Bm] tradesmen who [Em] travel along?
Iím [C] asking you [D] now where the [G] work has all gone?[C]
Long time Iíve 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 youíve got no money, thereís 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?
Theyíre 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?
Iím hoping these hard times will not be here long
?And soon weíll 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.

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