Archive for the 'Irish/british' Category



Origin of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”


h1 Monday, 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

Flowers In The Valley


h1 Thursday, October 1st, 2020

This is a traditional English song. I’ve created a little video with the lyrics to make it easy for you to sing along.

Lyrics:
Flowers in the Valley

[G] There was a woman, [C] oh but she was a [G] widow
Fair as the flowers in the [C] valley [D]
[G] With a daughter as fair as a [C] bright shining [G] meadow
The red and the green and the [C] yellow [D]

Ch.: [D] No harp, no lute, nor pipe nor flute nor [G] cymbal
As sweet grows the [C] treble violin [D]

This maiden so fair and the flower so rare
Together they grew in the garden
Oh, then came a knight all dressed in green
Fair as the flowers in the garden
“Will thou be my bride, Will thou be my queen”
The red and the green and the yellow

Ch.: No harp, no lute, nor pipe nor flute nor cymbal
As sweet grows the treble violin

“Oh no” said she “Oh you’ll never win me”
Fair as the flowers in the valley
then came a knight all dressed in yellow
Fair as the flowers in the valley
““Will thou be my bride? and my fair one said he
The red and the green and the yellow

Ch.: No harp, no lute, nor pipe nor flute nor cymbal
As sweet grows the treble violin

Oh yes said she, I’ll come with thee
Farewell to the flowers in the garden

Oh yes said she, I’ll come with thee
Farewell to the flowers in the garden

The Keeper Did A-Hunting Go


h1 Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

This old English song (Roud 1519) dates back to the 14th century. A favorite of school children in the UK and abroad.
The hunting of the doe in this song originally suggested sexual pursuit, although this implication is quite lost on the children who now sing this song at school. “The second doe he trimmed he kissed” “Trimmed” meaning to hold a woman around the waist.

Lyrics:
[D]The keeper did a [G] hunting [D] go
[D] And under his cloak he [G] carried a [D] bow
All for to shoot a merry little [A] doe
[D] Among the leaves so [A] green, [D] O.

(Chorus:)
[D] Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry [A] down
[D] Among the leaves so [A] green, [D] O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry [A] down
[D] Among the leaves so [A] green, [D] O

The first doe he shot at he missed;
The second doe he trimmed he kissed;
The third doe went where nobody wist
Among the leaves so green, O.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

The fourth doe she did cross the plain,
The keeper fetched her back again.
Where she is now, she may remain,
Among the leaves so green, O.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

The fifth doe she did cross the brook;
The keeper fetched her back with his crook;
Where she is now you may go and look
Among the leaves so green, O.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

The sixth doe she ran over the plain;
But he with his hounds did turn her again,
And it’s there he did hunt in a merry, merry vein
Among the leaves so green, 0.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

Pretty Peggy-O


h1 Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Pretty Peggy-O is about the unrequited love between a captain of Irish dragoons for a beautiful Scottish girl in the fictional town of Fennario. The narration is from the voice of one of the captain’s soldiers. The captain promises the lady safety and happiness, but she refuses the captain’s advances saying she would not marry a penniless soldier. The captain subsequently leaves Fennario and later dies of a broken heart.

This tune was used in the song “Oh Freedom” and the last line “Before I’d be a slave, I’d Be buried in my grave” comes from that.

I’m amused that a lazy way to make lyrics rhyme is to put a -O after each last word in a sentence.

Peggy-O

[E] As we rode out to [A] Fennario,[E] as we rode on to Fennario [B7]
[A] Our captain fell in [C#m] love with a lady like a [A] dove
[E] And called her by a name, pretty [A] Peggy-O.[E]

Will you marry me pretty Peggy-O, will you marry me pretty Peggy-O
If you will marry me, I’ll set your cities free
And free all the people in the are-O.

I would marry you sweet William-O, I would marry you sweet William-O
I would marry you but your guineas are too few
And I fear my mama would be angry-O.

What would your mama think pretty Peggy-O,
What would your mama think pretty Peggy-O,
What would your mama think if she heard my guineas clink
Saw me marching at the head of my soldiers-O

Come steppin’ down the stairs pretty Peggy-O,
Come steppin’ down the stairs pretty Peggy-O,
Come steppin’ down the stairs combin’ back your yellow hair
Bid a last farewell to your William-O.

Sweet William he is dead pretty Peggy-O, sweet William he
is dead pretty Peggy-O,
Sweet William he is dead and he died for a maid
And he’s buried in the Louisiana country-O.

As we rode out to Fennario, as we rode out to Fennario
Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove,
And called her by a name, pretty Peggy-O.

Courteous Knight


h1 Monday, June 1st, 2020

This is Child Ballad #112 and has many variants. One of the most interesting to me is the sea chantey “Blow Ye Winds Of Morning.”

[E] There was a knight a courteous knight
A-walking [B7] up the [E] hill
[A] It was a fine June [E] morning
[F#m] He spied some [B7] daffodils

Chorus

[E] Singing blow away the morning dew
Adieu, and [A] Adieu.
[E] Blow away the morning dew,
[B7] How sweet the winds do [E] blow.

He looked high, he looked low,
He cast an under look;
And there he saw a pretty maid
A-swimming in the brook

Cast over me my mantle fair
And pin it o’er my gown;
And, if you’il take hold of my hand,
Then I shall be your own.

If you come down to my father’s house
Which is walled all around,
And, you shall have a kiss from me
And twenty thousand pound.

He mounted on a milk white steed
And she upon another;
And then they rode along the lane
Like sister and like brother.

But when they came to her father’s gate,
So nimble she popped in:
And said: There is a fool without
And here’s a maid within.

A Long Time Ago


h1 Sunday, March 1st, 2020

A Long Time Ago (AKA Noah’s Ark) is a halyard chantey, collected by Cecil Sharp on the 3rd June,1914 from Capt. Hole, of Watchet, Somerset England.

I love how Noah put the dog to work plugging up the hole and that’s why dog’s noses are cold.

Lyrics

In Frisco Bay there were three ships
To me way, hey, hey-oh
In Frisco Bay there were three ships
A long time ago

And one of them ships was Noah’s old ark
To me way, hey, hey-oh
All covered all o’er wi’ hickory bark
A long time ago

They took two animals of every kind
To me way, hey, hey-oh
They took two animals of every kind
A long time ago

The bull and the cow they started t’ row
To me way, hey, hey-oh
The bull and the cow they started t’ row
A long time ago

Then said old Noah with a crack of his whip
To me way, hey, hey-oh
Come stop this row or I’ll scuttle the ship
A long time ago

But the bull struck his horn through the side of the ark
To me way, hey, hey-oh
The little black dog he started t’ bark
A long time ago

So Noah took the dog, shoved its nose up the hole
To me way, hey, hey-oh
And ever since then dogs’ nose has been cold
A long time ago

It’s a long, long time and a very long time
To me way, hey, hey-o
It’s a long, long time and a very long time
A long time ago

Talcahuano Gals


h1 Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

This is an alternative version of the English sea chantey “Spanish Ladies.” It refers to a ship off the coast of Chile. Camilla and i will be sailing on the Queen Mary 2 this month where I will be giving two lectures and a Q & A. Happy May!
Lyrics:
[G] Oh I’ve been a sea-cook, and [C]I’ve been a clipperman
[D] I can sing, I can dance, I can walk the jib-boom
[G]I can carve a good scrimshaw and [C]cut a fine figure
[G]Whenever I get in the ship’s [D]fo’c’sle [G]room

CHORUS:
And we’ll rant and we’ll roar like true-born young sailors
We’ll rant and we’ll roar on deck or below
Until we see bottom inside the two sinkers
And straight up the channel to Huasco we’ll go
CHORUS
I was in Talcahuano last year on a clipper
I bought some gold brooches for the gals in the Bay
I bought me a pipe and they called it a meerscum
And it melted like butter on a hot shiny day
CHORUS
I went to a dance one night in old Tumbes
There was plenty of gals there as fine as you’d wish
There was one pretty maiden a-chewing tobacco
Just like a young kitten a-chewing fresh fish
CHORUS
Here’s a health to the gals of old Talcahuano
A health to the maidens of far-off Maui
And let you be merry, don’t be melancholy
I can’t marry youse all, or in pokey I’d be
CHORUS X2

Marching To Pretoria


h1 Friday, March 1st, 2019

This song was popular on both sides of the Boer War. It was originally in the Afrikaans language which is a sub language of Dutch. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. The Boers were settlers who had moved north to pursue farming and lived in harmony with the English of South Africa until diamonds and gold were discovered in the Boer region. Then there were two wars to commandeer the riches of the north. Eventually the English prevailed.

Just thought this would be a good song for March. 🙂

Lyrics:
[D] I’ll drink with you, you drink with me and
So we will drink together
[A] So we will drink together
[D]So we will drink together
I’ll drink with you, you drink with me and so we will drink together
[A] As we march [D] along.

Chorus:
[G] We are marching to [D] Pretoria, [A] Pretoria, [D] Pretoria
We are [G] marching to [D] Pretoria, [A] Pretoria, [D] Hooorah!

I’ll walk with you you walk with me, , and
So we will walk together
so we will walk together
so we will walk together
I’ll walk with you you walk with me and so we will walk together
As we march along.

Chorus

I’ll sing with you, you sing with me and
So we will sing together
So we will sing together
So we will sing together
I’ll sing with you, you sing with me and So we will sing together
As we march along.

Chorus X 2

Amazing Grace


h1 Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

John Newton, a former slave trader wrote “Amazing Grace” following Christian conversion after a near death experience
during a sea voyage.

Happy New Year 2019!!!

Lyrics:
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home

Amazing grace, Howe Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmate


h1 Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Lyrics:
Don’t forget yer old shipmate

Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar, Jack.
Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar, Jack.

Chorus
Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

Since we sailed from Plymouth Sound, four years gone, or nigh, Jack.
Was there ever chummies, now, such as you and I, Jack?

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

We have worked the self-same gun, quarterdeck division.
Sponger I and loader you, through the whole commission.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

Oftentimes have we laid out, toil nor danger fearing,
Tugging out the flapping sail to the weather earing.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

When the middle watch was on, and the time went slow, boy,
Who could choose a rousing stave, who like Jack or Joe, boy?

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

There she swings, an empty hulk, not a soul below now.
Number seven starboard mess misses Jack and Joe now.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

But the best of friends must part, fair or foul the weather.
Hand yer flipper for a shake, now a drink together.