Gordon Easton

The Last of the Clydesdales

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The Songs
1: Last of the Clydesdales
Gordon left school at fourteen to work a pair of horse with his grandfather - so this song, composed by a Fife horseman Archie Webster around 1950, means a lot to him.

Noo come aa ye young plooboys an 'list tae ma tale,
Wha sit roon the table aa drinkin your ale;
I'll tak ye aa back tae yon far distant day,
When I drove the last Clydesdales tae work on Denbrae.

2: The Banks of Inverurie
One of many songs Gordon remembers from his grandmother - a bashful singer who never sang out and about but always had songs to sing when a ceilidh was held in the house. There are several versions in the Greig-Duncan folksong collection. Gavin Greig considered the tune a particularly fine one - and Gordon's tune is similar to those in the collection (GD 6:1263).

Ane day as I went walking and down as I did pass,
By the banks of Inverurie I met a bonnie lass;
Her hair hung o’er her shoulder broad, her eyes white stars did shine,
On the banks o Inverurie and oh gin she were mine.

3: The Bonnie Lass o Fyvie
A famous song dating from Jacobite times. Fyvie was a staging post on the military route between Aberdeen and the garrison at Fort George on the Moray Firth.

This song telling of the dragoon captain who died for the love of the bonnie lass o Fyvie has been widely popular. There are over 20 versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection (GD 84) with considerable variation in text and tune. The song was collected by Cecil Sharp in the Appalachians under the title Pretty Peggy O (EFSSA 95) and Ford's 'Vagabond Songs' has a song Bonnie Barbara O localised in Derby.

The song seems certainly to belong to Fyvie in Aberdeenshire. The military fortification at Fort George is one of the largest in Europe and was built following Bonnie Prince Charlie's defeat at Culloden in 1746 as the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest.

Noo there cam a troop o Irish Dragoons,
And they were stationed at Fyvie O;
And the captain fell in love wi an awfa bonnie lass,
And her name she's ca'd Pretty Peggy O.

Noo there's mony a bonnie lass in the howe o Auchterless,
Aye there's mony a bonnie lass in the Gearie O,
Aye there's mony a bonnie Jean in the toun o Aiberdeen,
But the flooer o them aa bides in Fyvie O.

The Garioch, or the Gearie as it is pronounced, is the land to the west of Inverurie between Benachie and Oldmeldrum.

4: The Barnyards o Delgaty
The farm of Barnyards on the Delgaty castle estate a mile from Turriff gave rise to one of the most famous of the old bothy ballads.

As I gaed doun tae Turra market,
Turra market for tae fee,
I fell in wi a fairmer chiel,
Fae the Barnyards o Delgaty.

5: Bonnie Bessie Logan
An old song - one of his grannie’s favourites.

Now Bonnie Bessie Logan she’s handsome young an fair,
And the very wind that blaws, it lingers in her hair;
She’s aye sae fleet an bonnie as she steps ower the lea,
For bonnie Bessie Logan she’s ower young for me.

6: Briggie’s Gerse Park
Full of Gordon’s rich Buchan dialect, the song tells the tale of Tammy Reid’s attempt to clear Briggie’s grass meadow of molehills. An old poem set to a tune Cock o the North by Gordon.

Noo Briggie’s gerse park wis a mess wi the moles an the nowts meat wis cut doun be half;
Wi the weather bein dry, the gerse etten sae bare, tae keep them in meat wis a chauve;
So they got Tammy Reid a stout halflin chiel tae scatter the heaps wi a spad,
The park it wis big, twenty acre an mair, and the heat nearly drave Tammy mad.

7: Fee’d tae the Drum
Composed by Frank Henry brought up in the Cabrach between Huntly and Aberdeen. A young man goes to the feeing market tae look for a new job and agrees to a contract but gets more than he bargained for.

At ae Martinmas term the grieve fae the Drum,
Tappit me on the shouder and spiered gin I’d come
Tae watch his first pair for a winter half year,
Wi a big cleekit horse and a ringle ee’d meer.

8: Jimmy Raeburn
The hero of this well known transportation ballad is reputed to have been a baker in Glasgow sentenced for petty theft - a song that Gordon remembers from his grandmother and also from the singing of Jessie Murray from Portsoy.

My name is Jimmy Raeburn fae Glesga toun I came,
My place o habitation I had tae leave in shame;
Fae ma place o habitation noo I maun gyang awa,
And leave the bonnie hills an dales o Caledonia.

9: My ain Native Buchan
Composed as a poem by Alec Elphinstone and set to a tune Bonnie Strathyre by Gordon.

Noo there’s meadows by Donside and mountains by Dee,
And there’s lots o grand sichts in the city tae see;
But there’s nae ither place that tae me can compare,
Wi ma ain native Buchan sae fresh and sae fair.
For its oft in my memory I see eence again,
The aul thackit hoosie, the wee but and ben
For as bairnies we played in the howe by the burn,
An there in my fancy I often return.

10: The Laird o Drum
The Laird had been married to a daughter of the Gordons of Huntly. While he was away to the Jacobite wars she divorced him. When he came home he fell for a young shepherd lass and asked her to marry but his brother and family did not approve. Another fine old ballad from Gordon’s granny.

The Laird o Drum a huntin gaed,
‘Twas in the mornin early,
An there he met wi a fair young maid,
She wis shearin her faither’s barley.

11: The Randy Piper
From the singing of Duncan Macrae in the Para Handy TV series.

1: A randy heilan piper chiel come doun the village street,
Wi tartan kilt an rumpled hose aul bauchles on his feet;
Wi his pipes aneth his oxter, ribbons trailin in the glaur,
An when he started playin he wis heard fae near an far.
Oh Drolach, gollach, heedum hoddum, fal di ral di day,
Heedrum hodrum, heedrum hodrum, heechum drochum dray.

12: Yellow on the Broom
A song by Adam McNaughtan based on the life of Scots traveller Betsy Whyte.

1: I ken ye dinna like it lass tae winter here in toun,
The scaldies they miscaa us and they try tae ring us doun;
It’s hard tae raise three bairns in a single flee-box room,
But I’ll tak ye on the road again when yellow’s on the broom.

When the yellow's on the broom.
When yellow's on the broom;
I'll tak ye on the road again,
When yellow's on the broom.

13: Mains o Pittendree
An original poem by JC Milne of Memsie was adapted by the Rev Charlie Burnie of Tyrie with a tune put to it by Gordon. A young loon leaving school to start work on the farm plans that all will ‘go with a bang’.

1: I'll swype the graip an bed the kye tae keep them fine an clean,
An tousel oot their bonnie tails till they aa look like a queen;
I'll gie them bits o ilecake an black trykle on their strae,
An aye a shafe o corn fin it comes tae Hogmanay.
An the coggie will be winkin fu afore the udder's teem,
The piggie in the milk-hoose will be lippin fu o ream,
And the kebbocks they'll taste sweeter than the honey o the bee,
Fin I am eence the orraloon at Mains o Pittendree.

14: Muckin o Geordie’s Byre
A cornkister by the great George Morris. He and his brother in law Willie Kemp vied to outdo each other in writing the comic cornkisters and this is one of Gordon’s favourites.

At a relic aul croft upon the hill,
Jist roun the neuk fae Sprottie’s mill,
Tryin aa his life the time tae kill
Wis Geordie MacIntyre.

15: The Beggar Man
Gordon’s fine version of the The Beggar Man - a song whose authorship is often attributed to King James V - comes from his grandmother’s repertoire.

1: A beggar man come ower yon lea,
He wis seekin alms for charity;
He wis seekin lodgins for charity,
"Wad ye lodge a beggarman."
Laddie wi ma tow row ray

16: The Tyrie Song
A song in praise of Tyrie, composed as a poem in the late 1800s by Alec Murison, a native of Rosehearty who was fee'd at Tyrie and who married a Tyrie lassie. He was also a fine musician, became beadle and led the singing as precentor at the Tyrie kirk. Gordon suggests that the song (to which he gave the tune) is based on the authors life story. Gordon remembers that his grandfather had a copy of the poem 'up in the side o the hingin lum'.

The leaves were fa'in frae the birk,
As I gaed doun be Tyrie kirk,
Wha hoolets cry when it is mirk
And frichen fowk at Tyrie.
The Tyrie kirk is auld an wee,
There's naething grand for folk tae see;
Yet worthy buddies live and dee,
Aa round the kirk o Tyrie.

17: The Bleacher Lassie o Kelvinhaugh
A favourite old song to end the selection.

Ae simmer's evening I went a-walking,
Awa doun by the Broomie Law;
It was there I met wi a fair young maiden,
She had cheeks like the rose and her skin like snaw.

Recordings by Tom Spiers. Production by Peter Shepheard.
All songs copyright control or arranged Gordon Easton.