Billy Boy

The terms “Hillbilly” and “Red Neck” both originated during the Battle of the Boyne. England’s Dutch born King William III was known to his Protestant Irish followers as “Billy Boy” and his followers were called “Hill billys” and “Red Necks.”

There’s a bit of irony in the last verse where Billy Boy is asked about the age of his fiancée. He states that she is “Three times six and four times seven, twenty-eight and eleven,” which adds up to 85, hardly a young thing!

Lyrics:
[D] Oh, where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy,
Oh, where have you been, charming [A7] Billy?
I have been to seek a wife, she’s the [D] joy of my life,
She’s a young thing and [A7] cannot leave her [D] mother.

Did she ask you to come in, Billy Boy, Billy Boy,
Did she ask you to come in, charming Billy?
Yes, she asked me to come in, there’s a dimple in her chin.
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Did she set for you a chair, Billy Boy, Billy Boy,
did she set for you a chair,Charming Billy.
Yes, she set for me a chair, there are ringlets in her hair,
she’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Can she make a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy,
Can she make a cherry pie, charming Billy?
She can make a cherry pie, quick as a cat can wink an eye,
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

How old is she, Billy Boy, Billy Boy,
How old is she, charming Billy?
Three times six and four times seven, twenty-eight and eleven,
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Road Through The Woods

This is a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling set to a traditional folk tune. The arrangement is new in the style of the Byrds with rolling Rickenbacker backing and lead 12-string guitars.

Lyrics:
[E] They shut the [B7] road through [E] the woods
[A] Seventy years [E] ago.
[A] Weather and rain have [E] undone it again,
[F#m] And now you would never [B7] know

There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.

Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

BREAK

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,

(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,

Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know

Macpherson’s Lament

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

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

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.

Origin of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”

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

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

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

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

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.