Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



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.

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.”