Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



500 Miles


h1 Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Hedy West (April 6, 1938 – July 3, 2005) was an American folksinger and songwriter. Her song “500 miles,” has been covered by Bobby Bare (a Billboard Top 10 hit in 1963), The Highwaymen, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter & Gordon, The Brothers Four and many others. A great number of Hedy’s songs, including the raw materials for “500 Miles” came from her paternal grandmother Lily West who passed on the songs she had learned as a child.

This has a sweet melody and a sad story of poverty and desolation.

Lyrics:

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

Lord I’m one Lord I’m two Lord I’m three Lord I’m four
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home
Five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home

Not a shirt on my back not a penny to my name
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way
This a-way this a-way this a-way this a-way
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

I Know Where I’m Going


h1 Sunday, June 1st, 2008


Song page from the Old Town School of Folk Music circa 1957

The picture above tells the whole story. I learned this song at the Old Town School of Folk Music in the late 50s. If you right click (ctrl click for Apple) and save the image you’ll have a full scan of the page from the book I got at the Old Town School complete with notes and chords. I’m doing it in the key of F# instead of C. It’s a pretty love song for June.
Lyrics:

I know where I’m going
I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
But Dear Lord knows who I’ll marry

I have stockings of silk
Shoes of bright green leather
Combs to buckle my hair
And a ring on every finger

Feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are bonny
But I would leave them all
For my handsome winsome Johnny

Some say he’s bad
And I say he’s bonny
Fairest of them all
Is my handsome winsome Johnny

I know where I’m going
I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
But Dear Lord knows who I’ll marry

The Coo Coo


h1 Sunday, July 1st, 2007

“The Coo Coo” is a “folk-lyric” style song, where verses are interchangeable with verses from other folk songs such as “The Wagoner’s Lad,” and “East Virginia,” which are otherwise unrelated. The first verse can also be heard in “Way Down The Old Plank Road” sung by Dave Macon. “The Coo Coo” was originally recorded by Clarence “Tom” Ashley in Johnson City TN November 23, 1929.
This song style possibly developed between 1850 – 1875 in Kentucky.

A British version can be found in Cecil Sharp’s collection: “Folk Songs From Somerset.”

Lyrics:
No chords are given because it’s all in A modal tuning.

The Coo Coo

Gonna build me – log cabin on a mountain so high
So I can – see Julie as she goes on by

Aw the Coo Coo is a pretty bird she warbles as she flies
She never hollers coo coo till the fourth day July

I’ve played cards in England I’ve played cards in Spain
I’ll bet you ten dollars that I’ll beat you next game

Jack of diamonds jack of diamonds I’ve known you from old
Now you’ve robbed my poor pockets of silver and gold

I wish I had a good horse and corn to feed him on
I wish I had Julie to feed him when I’m gone

I’ve played cards in England I’ve played cards in Spain
I’ll bet you ten dollars I’ll beat you this game

Aw the Coo Coo is a pretty bird she warbles as she flies
She never hollers coo coo till the fourth day July

The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry


h1 Thursday, March 1st, 2007

This is Child Ballad No.113
“The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry” is one of numerous tales of
the Silkies, or seafolk, known to the inhabitants of the Orkney
Islands and the Hebrides. These enchanted creatures dwell in the
depth of the sea, occasionally doffing their seal skins to pass
on land as mortal men. Legend has it that they then accept human
partners, and some families on the islands actually trace their
ancestry to such marriages. In more complete versions of the
ballad, the Silkie’s forecast of the death of himself and his son
eventually come to pass.
Thanks to Mudcat Cafe for that information
Lyrics:
[G] An earthly [F] nurse sits and [G] sings,
And aye, she [C] sings by [D] lily [G] wean,
And [C] little ken [D] I my bairn’s [G] father,
Far [F] less the land where he [G] dwells in.

For he came on night to her bed feet,
And a grumbly guest, I’m sure was he,
Saying “Here am I, thy bairn’s father,
Although I be not comely.”

“I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie on the sea,
And when I’m far and far frae land,
My home it is in Sule Skerrie.”

And he had ta’en a purse of gold
And he had placed it upon her knee,
Saying, “Give to me my little young son,
And take thee up thy nurse’s fee.”

“And it shall come to pass on a summer’s day,
When the sun shines bright on every stane,
I’ll come and fetch my little young son,
And teach him how to swim the faem.”

“And ye shall marry a gunner good,
And a right fine gunner I’m sure he’ll be,
And the very first shot that e’er he shoots
Will kill both my young son and me.”

The House Carpenter


h1 Thursday, February 1st, 2007

“The House Carpenter” is a popular name for Child Ballad No. 243. The official names are “James Harris,” or “The Daemon Lover.” This ballad may have been partially inspired by an ancient myth that was a catalyst for Richard Wagner’s operatic masterpiece, “The Flying Dutchman.”
Lyrics:
[Em] “Well met, well met, my own true love,
well met, well met,” cried he.
“I’ve just returned from the salt, salt sea
[D] all for the love of [Em] thee.”

“I could have married the King’s daughter dear,
she would have married me.
But I have forsaken her crowns of gold
all for the love of thee.”

“Well, if you could have married the King’s daughter dear,
I’m sure you are to blame,
For I am married to a house carpenter,
and find him a nice young man.”

“Oh, will you forsake your house carpenter
and go along with me?
I’ll take you to where the grass grows green,
to the banks of the salt, salt sea.”

“Well, if I should forsake my house carpenter
and go along with thee,
What have you got to maintain me on
and keep me from poverty?”

“Six ships, six ships all out on the sea,
seven more upon dry land,
One hundred and ten all brave sailor men
will be at your command.”

She picked up her own wee babe,
kisses gave him three,
Said “Stay right here with my house carpenter
and keep him good company.

Then she putted on her rich attire,
so glorious to behold.
And as she trod along her way,
she shown like the glittering gold.

Well, they’d not been gone but about two weeks,
I know it was not three.
When this fair lady began to weep,
she wept most bitterly.

“I do not weep for my house carpenter
or for any golden store.
I do weep for my own wee babe,
who never I shall see anymore.”

Well, they’d not been gone but about three weeks,
I’m sure it was not four.
Our gallant ship sprang a leak and sank,
never to rise anymore.

One time around spun our gallant ship,
two times around spun she,
Three times around spun our gallant ship
and sank to the bottom of the sea.

Whup Jamboree


h1 Sunday, October 1st, 2006

This is a song I recorded with the Chad Mitchell Trio in 1961. It’s a cotton screwing shanty. There was a time in the 1800s when, with the approach of winter, Irish crews would desert their Western Packet ships to head south to work in the cotton stowing ports like Mobile or New Orleans.
Lyrics:
[Em] Whup Jam [G] boree, whup jambo [D] ree
[Em] Oh a long-tailed sailor man comin’ up [D] behind
[Em] Whup Jam [G] boree, whup jambo [D] ree
[Em] Come an’ get your [D] oats me [Em] son

The pilot he looked out ahead
The hands on the cane and the heavin’ of the lead
And the old man roared to wake the dead
Come and get your oats me son

Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Oh a long-tailed sailor man comin’ up behind
Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Come an’ get your oats me son

Oh, now we see the lizzard light
Soon, me boys, we’ll heave in sight
We’ll soon be abreast of the Isle of Wight
Come and get your oats me son

Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Oh a long-tailed sailor man comin’ up behind
Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Come an’ get your oats me son

Now when we get to the black wall dock
Those pretty young girls come out in flocks
With short-legged drawers and long-tailed frocks
Come and get your oats me son

Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Oh a long-tailed sailor man comin’ up behind
Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Come an’ get your oats me son

Wel,, then we’ll walk down limelight way
And all the girls will spend our pay
We’ll not see more ’til another day
Come and get your oats me son

Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Oh a long-tailed sailor man comin’ up behind
Whup Jamboree, whup jamboree
Come an’ get your oats me son

Molly Malone


h1 Monday, May 1st, 2006

Sean Murphy has composed a nicely detailed page on Molly Malone. He writes:

As well as being known and sung internationally, the popular song ‘Cockles and Mussels’ has become a sort of unofficial anthem of Dublin city. The song’s tragic heroine Molly Malone and her barrow have come to stand as one of the most familiar symbols of the capital. In addition, Molly’s international pulling power is shown by the fact that she scores hundreds of ‘hits’ on the Internet, many of them relating to ‘Irish pubs’ bearing her name. It seems perfectly natural therefore that Molly should have been commemorated by erecting a statue to her in Dublin, which monument has become a familiar landmark at the corner of Grafton Street and Suffolk Street. Let us now travel back in time to see what we can find out about the real Molly Malone.

Read the rest of his story here:
http://homepage.eircom.net/~seanjmurphy/irhismys/molly.htm

Special thanks to Sonnet Simmons for her wonderful vocal on Molly Malone. And Happy Birthday too!

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Malone

Lyrics:
G] In Dublin’s Fair [Em] City
Where the [Am] [D] girls are so pretty
[G] I first laid my [Em] eyes on sweet [Am] Molly [D] Malone
[G] As she wheel’d her [Em] wheel barrow
Through [Am] streets broad and [D] narrow
Crying [G] cockles and [Em] mussels [Am] alive, [D] alive [G] o!

Chorus
[G] Alive, alive [[Em] o!, [Am] alive, alive [D] o!
Crying [G] cockles and [Em] mussels [Am] alive, [D] alive [G] o!

She was a fishmonger
But sure ’twas no wonder
For so were her father and mother before
And they each wheel’d their barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!

Chorus

She died of a fever
And no one could save her
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone
But her ghost wheels her barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!

Chorus X3

Greensleeves


h1 Saturday, April 1st, 2006

La ghirlandata (1873)
Londra, Guildhall Art Gallery

. . . Greensleeves . . . Text below from: http://soundexp.com/history.html

In the 15th through the early 17th centuries, music began to be printed and sold. Musical themes spread rapidly throughout Europe, particularly those developed by the troubadours of Provence in earlier centuries. With the coming of the Renaissance, the Church lost some of its power to control ideas. The notion of courtly love, so despised by the clergy, was celebrated once again. Of course it was hardly taken seriously, but its imagery was still powerful and it sounded good.

There is a long standing debate over whether England’s King Henry VIII (circa: ) did, in fact, write “Greensleeves,” one of the most celebrated, and certainly most frequently performed, love songs ever written. It’s doubtful whether we can ever know for sure. This much we do know: Henry VIII was well educated and thought of himself as quite the Renaissance man. He played several instruments including organ, harp, and virginals, so he certainly could have picked out the melody. We have a love letter written by him to Anne Boleyn which displays an eloquence (and impatience) that leads one to believe he could have written the song’s lyrics. Lines from this letter such as “struck by the dart of love” sound a bit trite, but it shows he probably knew a decent metaphor when he heard one. Most likely the tune already existed and Henry simply added his own lyrics since this was a perfectly acceptable practice in those days. Henry, no doubt thought of himself as a latter day troubadour wooing his lady love. But, as Anne was to find out, like some other troubadours of olde, Henry was a fickle lover and quickly moved on the next muse.

Punning sexual allusions and bawdy language were quite common in the love songs of this period. The Renaissance delighted in images of outdoor lovemaking and thinly disguised it by employing the metaphor of dancing as in Thomas Morley’s song, “Now Is the Month of Maying” (‘Barley-break’ is Renaissance-speak for ‘a roll in the hay’)

The Spring, clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness, fa la,
And to the bagpipe’s sound
The nymphs tread out their ground, fa la.
Fie then, why sit we musing,
Youth’s sweet delight refusing, fa la.
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,
Shall we play at barley-break? fa la.

During the reign of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, like other playwrights, sprinkled songs throughout his stage plays. We don’t have know the original melodies but, like Greensleeves, they were probably sung to well-known tunes of the day, whichever ones the actors happened to know. Although Shakespeare’s love sonnets are deeply moving, the love songs in his plays tend to be more for laughs. Slow ballads probably didn’t go over well with a rambunctious live audience just waiting for an excuse to throw rotten vegetables!
. . .

Lyrics:
. . . [Em] Alas, my love, you [D] do me wrong,
To [C] cast me off [B7] discourteously.
[G] For I have loved you [D] well and long,
[C] Delighting [B7] in your [Em] company.

Chorus:
[G] Greensleeves was all my [D] joy
[C] Greensleeves was my [B7] delight,
[G] Greensleeves was my [D] heart of gold,
And [C] who but my [B7] lady [Em] greensleeves.

Your vows you’ve broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.

chorus

If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.

chorus

My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet you wouldst not love me.

chorus

You couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still you hadst it readily.
Your music still to play and sing;
And yet you wouldst not love me.

chorus

Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me. . . .

Wade in the Water


h1 Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

C01U.jpg

Camilla and I were on the road when I remembered this song and thought it would be a good one to record. I used my iBook and free cross platform software called Audacity along with my Samson C01U USB microphone. This is a great mic for the road because you don’t need an interface of any kind to record. You just plug into the USB jack and you’re good to go.

We discussed the song and decided make some changes. The original meaning of the song was inspired by John 5:4 in the Bible. “For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and troubled the water. Then whoever first stepped in after the troubling of the water was made whole of whatever disease he had.” We changed the meaning to reflect Deuteronomy 31:3 “The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, [and] he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: [and] Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.”

Lyrics:
[Am] Wade in the water
[Dm] Wade in the water [Am] children
[Am] Wade in the water
[C] God’s gonna [G] part the – [G] wa [Am] ter

Wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna part the – water[C]

Well who those children [G] dressed in [Am] red?
[C] God’s gonna [G] part the – [G] wa [Am] ter
[C] Must be the [G] children that Joshua [Am] led
[C] God’s gonna [G] part the – [G] wa [Am] ter

I said wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna part the – water

Nowl who those children dressed in black?
God’s gonna part the water
Goin’ to the promised land and never comin’ back
God’s gonna part the water

Said wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna part the – water

Well who those children dressed in green?
God’s gonna part the water
They’re marching to a land they never have seen
God’s gonna part the water

Wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna part the – water

Well who those children dressed in white?
God’s gonna part the water
They must be the children called Israelites
God’s gonna part the water

I said wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna part the – water

Wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna part the – water
God’s gonna part the – water
God’s gonna part the – water

(c) 2006
New lyrics by Roger McGuinn – McGuinn Music (BMI)
Camilla McGuinn – April First Music (ASCAP)

So Early In The Spring


h1 Sunday, May 1st, 2005

early_spring.jpg

This is a sea chantey that got distilled, and transformed into a love ballad in the Appalachian Mountains. The origin is Scottish, but the lyrical style is obviously from the Southern United States. Many settlers to the New World brought their music with them, only to have it subtly changed over time.

Another example of this phenomenon is Jean Ritchie's song 'Nottamun Town,' which only survived by being brought to North America. When, as a Fulbright Scholar she visited Nottingham, England to research the roots of the song, it had completely disappeared in its original form.

Appalachian Traditional Music, A Short History:

http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/appalach.htm

Lyrics:
SO EARLY IN THE SPRING

[A] It being early in the spring
I went on board to serve my [E] king
[A] Leaving my dearest [F#m] dear behind
She [E] oftimes swore her heart was[F#m] mine

As I lay smiling in her arms
I thought I held ten thousand charms
With embraces kind and a kiss so sweet
Saying We'll be married when next we meet

As I was sailing on the sea
I took a kind opportunity
Of writing letters to my dear
But scarce one word from her did hear

As I was walking up London Street
I shoved a letter from under my feet
Straight lines being wrote without any blot
Saying seldom seen is soon forgot

I went up to her father's hall
And for my dearest dear did call
She's married, sir, she's better for life
For she has become a rich man's wife

If the girl is married, whom I adore
I'm sure I'll stay on land no more.
Straight lines being wrote without any blot
Saying seldom seen is soon forgot

So come young lads take a warn from me
If in love you'll ever be
For love is patient,love is kind,
Just never leave your love behind

It being early in the spring
I went on board to serve my king
Leaving my dearest dear behind
She oftimes swore her heart was mine

New words and new music by Roger McGuinn (C) 2005 McGuinn Music (BMI)