Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



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)

Gypsey Rover


h1 Tuesday, May 4th, 2004

This is one of the great songs I performed night after night with the Chad Mitchell Trio back in the early 60s. It's a sweet love song for May.
Lyrics:
[A] Gypsy [E7] rover, come [A] over the [E7] hill, [A] down through the valley so [E7] shady
He [A] whistled and he [E7] sang til the [A] green woods [F#m] rang and [A] he won the [D]heart of a [A] lady [E7]

Ah dee doo ah dee doo da day, ah dee doo ah dee day dee
He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

She left her fathers castle gate, she left her own fine lover
She left her servants and her state, to follow the gypsy rover

Ah dee doo ah dee doo da day, ah dee doo ah dee day dee
He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

Her father saddled up his fastest stead, roamed the valleys all over
Sought his daughter at great speed and the whistling gypsy rover

Ah dee doo ah dee doo da day, ah dee doo ah dee day dee
He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

He came at last to a mansion fine, down by the river Clady
And there was music and there was wine, for the gypsy and his lady

Ah dee doo ah dee doo da day, ah dee doo ah dee day dee
He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

He is no gypsy, my father, she said, but lord of these lands all over
And I will stay til my dying day, with my whistling gypsy rover

Ah dee doo ah dee doo da day, ah dee doo ah dee day dee
He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady

Wild Mountain Thyme


h1 Tuesday, April 1st, 2003

Wild.jpg

Back in Greenwich Village, in 1963, I experimented by putting this song to a rock beat. The result was the folk rock sound of the Byrds. Now, I thought it would be fun to try this traditional Scottish love song. with a reggae beat.
Lyrics:
[G] O the summer time is coming
And the [C] trees are sweetly [G] turning
And [C] wild mountain [Am] thyme
Blooms [C] around the purple heather
Will ye [G] go, [C] lassie, [G] go?

If you will not go with me
I will surely find another
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the purple heather
Will you go lassie go?

Chorus:
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the purple heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower
By yon clear and crystal fountain
And on it I will place
All the flowers of the mountain
Will ye go, lassie, go?

Chorus:
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the purple heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?

Roddy McCorley


h1 Friday, March 1st, 2002

Roddy McCorley was a local leader in County Antrim in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798. After being captured by British Soldiers he was executed in the town of Toomebridge.. The song was adapted by the Clancy Brothers from words written by Ethna Carberry who lived from 1866-1902.The Clancy Brothers recorded the song on the 1961 album 'The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem' on Tradition Records. The Kingston Trio also recorded the song. I first heard it performed by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at the Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago around 1961. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Lyrics:
G] O see the fleet-foot host of men, who [C] march with faces [G] drawn,
From farmstead and from [C] fishers' [G] cot, along the [C] banks of [D] Ban;
[G] They come with vengeance [C] in their [G] eyes. Too late! [C] Too late are
[D] they,
[G] For young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the [C] bridge of Toome
[G] today.

Oh Ireland, Mother Ireland, you love them still the best
The fearless brave who fighting fall upon your hapless breast,
But never a one of all your dead more bravely fell in fray,
Than he who marches to his fate on the bridge of Toome today.

Up the narrow street he stepped, so smiling, proud and young.
About the hemp-rope on his neck, the golden ringlets clung;
There's ne'er a tear in his blue eyes, fearless and brave are
they,
As young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome
today.

When last this narrow street he trod, his shining pike in hand
Behind him marched, in grim array, an earnest stalwart band.
To Antrim town! To Antrim town, he led them to the fray,
But young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.

The grey coat and its sash of green were brave and stainless then,
A banner flashed beneath the sun over the marching men;
The coat hath many a rent this noon, the sash is torn away,
And Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.

Oh, how his pike flashed in the sun! Then found a foeman's heart,
Through furious fight, and heavy odds he bore a true man's part
And many a red-coat bit the dust before his keen pike-play,
But Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.

There's never a one of all your dead more bravely died in fray
Than he who marches to his fate in Toomebridge town today;
True to the last! True to the last, he treads the upwards way,
And young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.

Nancy Whiskey


h1 Sunday, July 1st, 2001

Lyrics:
[G] I am a [Em] weaver, a [C] Calton [D] weaver

[G] I am a [Em] brash and a [C] roving [D] blade

[G] I've got [Em] silver [C] in my [D] pouches

[G] And I [Em] follow a [C] roving [D] trade

[G] Whiskey, [Em] whiskey, [C] Nancy [Em] whiskey

[G] Whiskey, [Em] whiskey, [C] Nancy [D] O

[G] Beware of [Em] Whiskey, [C] Nancy [D] Whiskey

[G] Or you'll [Em] have no [C] thing to [D] show

As I walked into Glasgow city
Nancy Whiskey I chanced to smell
I walked in, sat down beside her
Seven long years I loved her well

The more I kissed her, the more I loved her
The more I kissed her, the more she smiled
I forgot my mother's teaching
Nancy soon had me beguiled

Whiskey, whiskey, Nancy whiskey
Whiskey, whiskey, Nancy O
Beware of Whiskey, Nancy Whiskey
Or you'll have no thing to show

I woke early in the mornin'
To take a drink it was my need,
I tried to rise but was not able
Nancy had me by the heid.

Whiskey, whiskey, Nancy whiskey
Whiskey, whiskey, Nancy O
Beware of Whiskey, Nancy Whiskey
Or you'll have no thing to show

The Riddle Song


h1 Thursday, February 1st, 2001

I wonder if this song from the 17th Century inspired the following poem by Walt Whitman?

A Riddle Song
By Walt Whitman
1819-1892

That which eludes this verse and any verse,
Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind,
Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world incessantly,
Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose,
Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd,
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.

Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude,
Behind the mountain and the wood,
Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage,
It and its radiations constantly glide.

In looks of fair unconscious babes,
Or strangely in the coffin'd dead,
Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night,
As some dissolving delicate film of dreams,
Hiding yet lingering.

Two little breaths of words comprising it,
Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.

How ardently for it!
How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it!

How many travelers started from their homes and neer return'd!
How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it!
What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it!
How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it–and
shall be to the end!
How all heroic martyrdoms to it!
How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth!
How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and
land, have drawn men's eyes,
Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the cliffs,
Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable.

Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain,
The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it,
And heaven at last for it.

Lyrics:
The Riddle Song

[G] I gave my love a [C] cherry that has no [G] stone,
I [D] gave my love a [G] chicken that has no [D] bone,
I gave my love a [G] ring that has no [D] end,
I [C] gave my love a [Am] baby with [C] no [G] crying.

How can there be a cherry that has no stone?
How can there be a chicken that has no bone?
How can there be a ring that has no end?
How can there be a baby with no crying?

A cherry, when it's blooming, it has no stone,
A chicken when it's pipping, it has no bone,
A ring when it's rolling, it has no end,
A baby when it's sleeping, has no crying.

Traditional

Stewball


h1 Monday, January 1st, 2001

Stewball.jpg

This is the original text of Stewball from an early printed version that appeared in an American song book dated 1829.

Sometime around 1790 a race took place on the curragh of Kildare (near Dublin) between a skewbald horse owned by Sir Arthur Marvel and 'Miss Portly', a gray mare owned by Sir Ralph Gore. The race seemed to take the balladmakers' fancies, and must have been widely sung.

Lyrics:
[G] Stewball was a good horse
He wore a high [Am] head
And the mane on his [D] foretop
Was fine as silk [G] thread

I rode him in England
I rode him in Spain
He never did lose, boys
He always did gain

So come all you gamblers
Wherever you are
And don't bet your money
On that little grey mare

Most likely she'll stumble
Most likely she'll fall
But you never will lose, boys
On my noble Stewball

As they were a-riding
'Bout halfway around
That grey mare she stumbled
And fell to the ground

And away out yonder
Ahead of them all
Came a prancin' and a dancin'
My noble Stewball

Twelve Days of Christmas, The


h1 Friday, December 1st, 2000

What is a 'colly-bird' in the context of the traditional English song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'?

'On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me four colly-birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.'

The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary published the section covering 'colly' in October 1891. It reveals that 'colly' is, or was, an old English word meaning black, from 'coal'. And, it says, a 'colly-bird' is the Blackbird.

Lyrics:
[D] On the (first) day of Christmas my [A] true love sent to [D] me
Twelve lords leaping
Eleven ladies dancing
Ten pipers piping
Nine drummers drumming
Eight maids milking
Seven swans swimming
Six geese laying
[D] Five [E] gold [A] rings
[A] Four colly birds
[A] Three French hens
[A] Two turtle doves and
A [D] partridge [A] in a pear [D] tree