Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



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!

Drill Ye Tarriers


h1 Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill” is an American folk song first published in 1888 and attributed to Thomas Casey (words) and much later Charles Connolly (music). The song is a work song, and makes references to the construction of the American railroads in the mid-19th century. The tarriers of the title refers to Irish workers, drilling holes in rock to blast out railroad tunnels. It may mean either to tarry as in delay, or to terrier dogs which dig their quarry out of the ground [1]

In the early 1960′s, Pete Seeger took the lyrics from an old Ukrainian folk song mentioned in the Russian novel And Quiet Flows the Don (1934) and the music from “Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill” to create the folk song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with additional lyrics added later by Joe Hickerson.

Lyrics:
[Am] Every morning about seven o’clock
[E7] There were twenty tarriers drilling at the rock
[Am] The boss comes along and he says, “Keep still
[E7] And bear down heavy on the cast iron drill.”

Chorus
[Am] And drill, ye [G] tarriers, [Am] drill
[C] Drill, ye [G] tarriers, [Am] drill
For it’s [Am] work all day for the [G] sugar in you tay
[F] Down beyond the [E7] railway
And [Am] drill, ye [G] tarriers, [Am] drill
And blast, and fire.

The boss was a fine man down to the ground
And he married a lady six feet ’round
She baked good bread and she baked it well
But she baked it harder than the holes of …..

Chorus

The foreman’s name was John McCann
You know, he was a blamed mean man
Last week a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff.

Chorus

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, “What for?” came this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”

Chorus

First verse

Chorus

A Roving


h1 Monday, June 1st, 2009

Also known as “The Amsterdam Maid” is a capstan song. It might have been sung at a slower tempo as pushing the bars around a capstan to pull up the anchor could be a slow arduous task, especially if the night before on shore was a rollicking one.

The chantey man, leading the song, usually sat on the capstan head, singing out the main lines of the song, while the two or three sailors on each of the capstan bars sang the chorus.

The song’s origin in the 1600s suggests that it was probably not an original chantey but a shore song, since it was performed on the London stage in the “Rape of Lucrece.”

Lyrics:

[G] In Amsterdam there lived a maid
[C] Mark well what I do [G] say.
In [C] Amsterdam there [G] lived a maid,
And [Am] she was mistress of her [D] trade.
[G] I’ll go no more a roving with thee [D] fair [D] maid.
CHORUS:-

[C] A roving, [G] a roving, since [Am] roving’s been my [D] ruin
[G] I’ll go no more a roving with thee [D] fair [G] maid.

Her lips were red, her eyes were brown,
Mark well what I do say.
Her lips were red, her eyes were brown,
And her hair was black and it hung right down,
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee, fair maid.

I put my arm around her waist ,
Mark well what I do say.
I put my arm around her waist,
Cried she,”Young man you’re in great haste.”
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee, fair maid.

I took that maid upon my knee,
Mark well what I do say.
I took that maid upon my knee,
Cried she, “Young man, you’re much too free”;
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee fair maid.

I kissed that maid and stole away,
Mark well what I do say.
I kissed that maid and stole away,
She wept- “Young man, why won’t you stay “;
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee, fair maid.

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.”