Macpherson’s Lament


h1 October 1st, 2021

Jamie Macpherson was a Scottish robber, born in 1675, the illegitimate son of a Highland laird and a gypsy woman.
When his wealthy father, who had raised him in his house was killed by cattle thieves, he went to live with his gypsy mother. Growing up in that culture led him to a life of crime although he was more like Robin Hood in that he didn’t rob the poor and disadvantaged.

Jamie was unusually strong and skilled as a swordsman and a violin player.

He was arrested for bearing arms at a market and sentenced to death by hanging on November 16, 1700.

There was a pardon on the way but the town advanced their clock 15 minutes so the hanging would take place before the pardon arrived. The town left the clock in that position for many years.

While in prison the night before his execution he composed this song. Before he was hanged, he played this tune beneath the gallows, and then, after playing his song, he offered his fiddle to his clansmen to play it at his wake. No one came forward, and so he broke the fiddle across his knee, throwing the pieces to the crowd, saying, “No one else shall play Jamie Macpherson’s fiddle”.The Clan Macpherson Museum in Newtonmore houses what remains of his fiddle.

In the folk process many elements of melodies are similar and interchangeable. There is a resemblance in this to “I Heard The Voice of Jesus.” Click Here For: I Heard The Voice of Jesus

Lyrics:
[F] Farewell ye dungeons [C] dark and strong
[F] The wretch’s [Dm] destiny
[F] MacPherson’s life will [C] no’ be long
[F] On yonder gallows [C] tree

[F] Sae rantingly, [C] sae wantonly
[F] Sae dauntingly gaed [Dm] he
[F] He played a tune and he [C] danced aroon
[F] Below the gallows [C] tree

Oh what is death but parting breath
On mony’s the blood plain
I’ve seen his face and in this place
I scorn him yet again

Sae rantingly, sae wantonly
Sae dauntingly gaed he
He played a tune and he danced aroon
Below the gallows tree

I’ve lived a life of grief and strife
I die by trechery
But it breaks my heart, I must depart
And not avengá¨d be

Sae rantingly, sae wantonly
Sae dauntingly gaed he
He played a tune and he danced aroon
Below the gallows tree

Gae take these bonds from off my hands
And bring tae me my sword
And there’s no’ a man in all Scotland
But I’d brave him at his word

Sae rantingly, sae wantonly
Sae dauntingly gaed he
He played a tune and he danced aroon
Below the gallows tree

Whiskey-O


h1 September 1st, 2021

Whiskey-O is a halyard chantey for raising the yards that hold the sails on the old sailing ships. The chantey man would sing the verse and the crew would pull the ropes on the chorsus.

Lyrics:
Whiskey is the life of man
Always was since the world began

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below

I thought I heard the first mate say
I treats my crew in a decent way

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below

Whiskey is the life of man
Whiskey from that old tin can

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below

Oh whiskey straight, and whiskey strong
Give me some whiskey and I’ll sing you a song

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below

A lot of whiskey in this land
And a bottle full for the chantey man

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below

All Through The Night


h1 August 1st, 2021

Traditional Welsh Folk Song

Lyrics:
[G] Sleep my [Em] child and [Am] peace [D] attend thee,
[C] All [D] through the [G] night
Guardian [Em] angels [Am] God will [D] send thee,
[C] All [D] through the [G] night
[C] Soft the drowsy [Am] hours are creeping,
[F] Hill and dale in [Dm] slumber [D] sleeping
[G] I my [Em] loved ones’ [Am] watch am [D] keeping,
[C] All [D] through the [G] night

Angels watching, e’er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O’er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night

Angels watching e’er round thee
All through the night
In thy slumbers close surround thee
All through the night
They will of all fears disarm thee,
No forebodings should alarm thee,
They will let no peril harm thee
All through the night.

Oh Sinner Man


h1 July 1st, 2021

Traditional Spiritual

Lyrics:
[Em] Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
[D] Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
[Em] Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to all [D] on that [Em] day?

Run to the moon, “Moon, won’t you hide you?” X3
Run to the sea sea is just a-boiling X3
Run to the sun sun’ll be a blazing X3
all on that day”

Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to all on that day?

INST

Lord said, “Sinner man, you should’ve been a praying” X3
all on that day”
Run to Jesus Jesus say you’re welcome X3

Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to all on that day?

Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to?
Oh, sinner man, where you’re gonna run to all on that day?

Shalom


h1 June 1st, 2021

Every day we pray for the peace of Israel and joy in the streets of Jerusalem! This is an old Hebrew folk song I first heard from the Weavers.

Lyrics:
[Dm] Shalom, chaverim.
Shalom, chaverim.
Shalom, shalom.
L’hitraot, l’hitraot,
Shalom, shalom.

English singing translation:
Farewell, my friends.
Farewell, my friends.
Shalom, shalom.
Till we meet again, till we meet again.
Shalom, shalom.
Have Peace my friends till we meet again!

Country Pickin’


h1 May 1st, 2021

When I studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago in the mid to late ’50s Pete Seeger invited our teacher Frank Hamilton to join him on a shared recording project called “Nonsusch.” We were all thrilled that Frank our local hero was going to be on a record with our International hero Pete Seeger! One of the tunes they played together was called “Living In The Country.” I have put a little bit more air into it.

The Weary Whaler


h1 April 1st, 2021


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The Weary Whaler

This is a sea chantey from the golden age of sail. There’s a youtube video of me singing it when you click on the VIDEO LINK below:


Click to watch VIDEO LINK

Lyrics:
[Em] If I had the wings of a gull, me boys,
I would spread ’em [Am] and fly [Em] home.
I’d leave old Greenland’s icy grounds
For of right whales [Am] there is [Em] none.

[Em] And the weather’s rough and the winds do blow
And there’s little comfort here.
I’d sooner be snug in a Glasgow pub,
A-drinkin’ [Am] of strong [Em] beer.

Oh, a man must be mad or want money bad
To venture catchin’ whales.
For we may be drowned when the fish turns around
Or our head be smashed by his tail.

Though the work seems grand to the young green hand,
And his heart is high when he goes,
In a very short burst he’d as soon hear a curse
As the cry of: “There she blows!”

Well, these trials we bear for nigh four years,
Till the flying jib points for home.
We’re supposed for our toil to get a bonus of the oil,
And an equal share of the bone.

But we go to the agent to settle for the trip,
And we’ve find we’ve cause for lament.
For we’ve slaved away four years of our lives
And earned about three pound ten.



The Cowboy’s Dream


h1 March 1st, 2021

My friend Bill Lee recently said, “You haven’t done a cowboy song for the Folk Den in a long time. So here’s one:

Most people think “Cowboy’s Dream” is a traditional song by an anonymous author. I did some digging and found this from John White,
 Westfield, NJ,
 May, 1934:

“Many poets have written of the cowboy. Only a few have seen their poems become a part of the folklore that has grown up around American frontier history. D. J. O’Malley has been accorded that distinction. He wrote a few verses for a poem called: “Sweet By-And-By Revised.” Mr. O’Malley recalls that “Sweet By-and-By Revised” was one of his earliest attempts at verse making. He believes it probably was the third or fourth poem of the forty or more that he wrote while following the cowpuncher’s trade. The original, which he says appeared in the Stock Growers’ Journal during the middle 1880’s, is a rather crude set of verses, only five in number. These apparently furnished the foundation for the ballad often called “The Cowboy’s Dream”, which was completed by Will C. Barnes and has been given a place in nearly every collection of American frontier songs.”

It has been traditionally sung to the tunes of “My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean” and “Red River Valley.” I decided to use “My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean” because the tune rolls like the sea.

Lyrics:
[A] Last night as I [D] lay on the [A] prairie
And looked at the [B7] stars in the [D] sky,
[A] I wondered if [D] ever a [A] cowboy
Would [D] drift to the sweet [A] by and by.

The road to that broad happy region
Is a dim narrow trail so they say;
But the bright one that leads to perdition
Is posted and blazed all the way.

CH: [A] Roll on, [D] Roll on,
[E] Roll on, little dogies, [A] Roll on, Roll on,
[A] Roll on, [D] Roll on,
[E] Roll on, little dogies, [A] Roll on,

They say there will be a great round-up,
And cowboys, like dogies will stand,
To be marked by the riders of judgment
Who are posted and know every brand.

And I’m scared that I’ll be a stray yearling
A maverick unbranded on high;
And get cut from the bunch with the rustlers
When the Boss of the riders goes by.
CH:
For they tell of another big owner
Who’s ne’er overstocked, so they say,
But who always makes room for the sinner
Who drifts from the straight narrow way.

They say he will never forget you
That he knows every action and look;
So, for safety, you’d better get branded
Have your name in the great Tally book.
CH:X2

Origin of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”


h1 February 1st, 2021

This is the strange history of an obscure Irish ballad that became a popular song. I only played the public domain melody on my Rickenbacker 12-string with some 5-string banjo and bass thrown in. I left out the copyrighted lyrics. The original song is about a dead cow. It was adapted from the traditional “Drimindown / Drumion Dubh.” Lead Belly heard folk singer Sam Kennedy perform it in Greenwich Village and had it translated to English. It was not an easy translation. Pete Seeger and Lee Hays loved the melody but they felt they needed to rewrite the lyrics. The love song “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” was the result of their collaboration. Once you read the lyrics, you will understand why Pete and Lee changed the words.

We hope your Valentine kisses are sweeter than ever!

These are the original Lyrics almost translated from Gaelic:

Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

And that everyone but Dicky I would change you right now
But this old man he had but one cow
He would send her to the field to be fed
And the way they beat old Jemma dropped dead
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

When the old man heard that his cow she was dead
Over hedges and ditches and fields he had fled
Over hedges and ditches and fields that were ploughed
—– visit to the wife til they came to his cow
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

When he first saw Jemma she was in the green grass
No ——————— Jemma so fast
She gave her milk freely without any bill
But the blood of her life spilled out of her pail
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

So now I sit down and eat my dry meal
But I have no butter to put in my tea
I have no milk to sup with my bread
————————–
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

If it wasn’t for Dicky I would change you right now
But this old man he had but one cow
He would send her to the field to be fed
And the way they beat old Jemma dropped dead
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

The Dodger Song


h1 January 1st, 2021

“The Dodger” was used as a campaign song to belittle Republican James G. Blaine in the 1884 Presidential election between Blaine and Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate. Cleveland had won the support of progressives by his fight against Tammany Hall in New York. The version known today is based on a Library of Congress recording by Mrs. Emma Dusenberry of Mena, Arkansas, who learned it in the 1880s.

Aaron Copland wrote an arrangement for it as part of Old American Songs, a collection of arrangements of folk songs.

I have often been called “Roger Dodger.” Here’s a story about the origin of that phrase: It’s set in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II:

A squadron of Navy aircraft was returning to base after a wildly successful mission. One pilot in particular was feeling especially cocky. After receiving landing instructions, the pilot signed off his radio message with, “Roger Dodger!”
The next transmission was from an irate-sounding naval officer. He bellowed, “In this man’s Navy, there will be no flippant remarks on the radio!” He went on to say that he was a U.S. Navy Commander and intended to find the offender to personally reprimand him.
The rambunctious pilot acknowledged by saying, “Roger Dodger, you ol’ codger. I’m a Commander too!”

Lyrics:
[D] Oh, the candidate’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh, the candidate’s a dodger, [A] yes, and I’m a dodger [D] too.
He’ll meet you and treat you and ask you for your vote,
[A] But look out, boys, he’s a-dodgin’ for your [D] vote.
We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ [A] out the way through the [D] world.

Oh, the lawyer, he’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh, the lawyer, he’s a dodger, yes, and I’m a dodger, too.
He’ll plead your case and claim you for a friend,
But look out, boys, he’s easy for to bend.
We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ out the way through the world.

Oh, the merchant, he’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh, the merchant, he’s a dodger, yes, and I’m a dodger, too.
He’ll sell you goods at double the price,
But when you go to pay him you’ll have to pay him twice.
We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ out the way through the world.

Oh, the general, he’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh the general, he’s a dodger, yes, and I’m a dodger, too.
He’ll march you up and he’ll march you down,
But look out, boys, he’ll put you under ground.

We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ out the way through the world. X2