Old Songs and Bothy Ballads

Hurrah Boys Hurrah!

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1: The Banks of Sacramento * Jeff Warner

A sea shanty of the gold rush era. This version was collected by Jeff's parents, Frank and Anne Warner, from New England singer Lena Bourne Fish who had the title of the song as Ho, Boys Ho! There are versions in most of the shanty collections: four versions in Hugill's "Shanties From the Seven Seas" and three in Doerflinger's "Shantymen & Shantyboys" with one dated a year before Stephen Foster, known as the father of American music, wrote Camptown Races (according to him in 1850) - a minstrel song that is clearly related in tune and form.

It was in the year eighteen hundred and forty nine,
To me hoo dah, to me hoo dah,
It was in the year eighteen hundred and forty nine,
To me hoo dah, hoo day day.
We left New York in the month of May,
To me hoo dah, to me hoo dah,
And we ended up in Frisco Bay,
To me hoo dah, hoo day day.

And it’s ho, boys ho, to Californ-I-O,
Well, there’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of the Sacramento.

2: The Nutting Girl • Phyllis Martin 2.21

Collected by Phyllis in 1967 from Maggie Wright of Sorbie, Wigtownshire. The song has been collected throughout the British Isles - more commonly in England than Scotland - and was regularly printed on broadsides.

There was a jolly plooboy, a-plooin up his land,
He whistled and he sang all day to make the valleys sound,
Singin tarry doodle aye, doodle aye, doodle aye,
Tarry doodle aye ae,
Tarry doodle aye, doodle aye, doodle aye,
Tarry doodle aye ae.

3: Foreman at Drum • Geordie Murison 2.44

Composed by Frank Henry who was brought up in the Cabrach between Huntly and Aberdeen. A young man goes to the feeing market to look for a new job and agrees to a contract but gets more than he bargained for.

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

4: The Twa Brothers • Sheila Stewart 4.56

This beautiful ballad has remained remarkably persistent in the living tradition - in Scotland among the traveller community - and throughout the English speaking world, with numerous versions collected in North America where it has often been found, as Francis James Child says, 'in the mouths of children in American cities, in the mouths of the poorest, whose heritage these old things are'. Sheila's version comes from her mother Belle who learned it from her brother, Donald MacGregor, and it has always been one of the most admired ballads of the Stewart family tradition.

Two pretty boys were a-going tae the school,
And one evening coming home;
Said William tae John, “Can you throw a stone,
Or can you play at a ball,
Or can you play at a ball?”

5: Cappy the Dog • Terry Conway 4.29

The song was published in John Stokoe's Songs and Ballads of Northern England (1892) where it is attributed to a local writer William Mitford. In the book the song is titled Cappy, or the Pitman’s Dog and Stokoe suggests the tune, used for more that twenty Tyneside songs, is an old pantomime air called The Chapter of Kings.

In a toun near Newcastle a pitman did dwell,
With his wife called Peg, a tom cat and hissel,
A dog called Cappy, he doted upon,
Because it was left him by great uncle Tom.
And his name was Cappy, famous aud Cappy,
Cappy, the dog, tally ho, tally ho.

6: The Loss of the Royal George • Chris Coe & Annie Dearman 3.16

As we set sail from the rock of Gibraltar,
As we set sail for sweet Dublin Bay,
Little did we think of our sad misfortune,
A-sleeping in the briny sea,
Oh little did we think of our sad misfortune,
A-sleeping in the briny sea.

7: Lord Lovel • Jimmy Hutchison 5.48

One of the most widely popular of the traditional ballads - known throughout the British Isles and in North America and with related ballads throughout Europe. It was often printed in popular ballad collections and on broadsides and it was a favourite ballad in the repertoire of both Jeannie Robertson and her daughter Lizzie Higgins.

Lord Lovel he stood at his stable door,
He was clapping his milk-white steed,
And by there cam Lady Nancy Belle,
A-wishing her lover God speed,
A-wishing her lover God speed.

8: The Girl I Left Behind Me • Jill Pidd 2.18

A music hall song from the time of the 1914/18 war.

When first I made my mind up that a soldier I would be,
The girl that I was going with came round and says to me,
“I’ve had me picture taken, but if we are to part,
Promise me you’ll always wear me photo next to your heart.”

9: The Barnyards o Delgaty • Joe Aitken 3.49

One of the most famous of all the old bothy ballads. The farm of Barnyards is on the Delgaty estate a mile north east of Turriff.

In New Deer parish I was born,
A child o youth tae Methlick came;
And gin ye’ll no believe ma word,
The session clerk’ll tell the same.

Linten adie, touran adie, Linten adie tooran ae,
Linten louran, louran, louran, the barnyards o Delgaty.

10: Hurrah Boys Hurrah • Jeff Warner 2.49

Jeff's father and mother were responsible for making one of the major folk song collections from the eastern USA and this is one of the songs from their collection - recorded in 1951 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in the town of Wanchese, from the singing of Eleazar Tillett who had the title of the song as The Southern Girl's Reply. Eleazar was born in the 1870s. The song speaks of a southern woman deciding not to accept the love of a northern man who has come to the south to work in Reconstruction after the Civil War of 1861-1865.

I cannot listen to your words, the land’s too far and wide,
Go seek some happy northern girl to be your loving bride;
My brothers they were soldiers, the youngest of the three,
Was slain while fighting at the side of General Fitshugh Lee. Hurrah! Hurrah! For the sunny south I say,
Three cheers for the southern girls,
And the boy who wore the grey.

11: Bobby Blue • Phyllis Martin 2.21

Stay awa frae the windae Bobby Blue,
Stay awa frae the windae Bobby Blue;
For the wind and the rain they will bring your faither hame,
Stay awa frae the windae Bobby Blue.

12: The Bleached Mutch • Geordie Murison 4.43

Usually known by the title Jock Tamson's Tripe, this entertaining song relates the tale of a drunken Jock Tamson coming home from a party and, feeling like a feast of tripe, his favourite food, he mistakenly swallows part of a linen mutch (a night cap) that his mother had left to soak in bleach overnight.

Jock Tamson he bade along wi his mither,
Peer body, he hadnae ony ither,
Tae hear her spik o her darlin son,
You’d think nursin bairns had new begun.
Wi a toora lay, toora lay,
Laddie fa loora, loora lay.

13: Johnnie o Graidie • Peter Shepheard 4.36

The hero of this fine old ballad is known by various names - Johnny Cock in the borders, Johnnie o Braidislee, Johnie o Cocklesmuir and in Jeannie Robertson's Aberdeenshire version as Johnnie the Brine. Francis James Child was particularly keen on the ballad for which he includes 13 texts and two tunes in his English and Scottish Popular Ballads and he refers to it as this precious specimen of the unspoiled traditional ballad. The version sung here is more or less as collected by Pete in 1968 near Cupar, Fife from Willie Stewart a traveller aged around 25 at the time who learned the song from his father Dights (David) Stewart.

Johnnie arose on a May, May morn,
He called for water tae wash his hands;
Saying, “Lowse tae me ma twa grue hounds,
That lie bound in iron bands, bands,
That lie bound in iron bands.”

14: Betsy Belle • Sheila Stewart 3.52

A Dundee song that presumable derives from the music hall era and, no doubt, often printed on single sheets by the Dundee Poet's Box - and one of the Stewart Family favourites.

Oh ma name is Betsy Belle in the Overgate I dwell,
Nae doot ye’ll wonder what I’m daein here;
But if ye wait a wee, sure ma tale I’ll tell tae thee,
It’s a tale nae doot ye’ll think it’s very queer.

15: Dolli-ah • Terry Conway 2.22

The song refers to a situation where one British regiment left town and another replaced it, with the Black Cuffs (the North Yorks Militia) and Green Cuffs (23rd Ulster Dragoons) being references to their uniforms. Dolly pawns her sark to become a camp follower while her friends hang around the Quayside waiting for the next regiment to come in.

Fresh I cum frae Sandgate Steet, Dol-li, dol-li,
My best friends for to meet, Dol-li-a.
Dol-li the dillen dol, Dol-li, dol-li,
Dol-li the dillen dol, Dol-li-a.

16: The Deadly Wars • Jimmy Hutchison 2.53

A poor but honest soldier returns from the wars and, as he travels homeward, his thoughts are on his sweetheart Nancy and the winsome smile that caught his youthful fancy. Jimmy learned this from the singing of Jeannie Robertson whose version is a somewhat compressed version of a text that derives from Robert Burns song When Wild Wars Deadly Blast.

Oh when wild wars deidly blasts are blawn,
And gentle peace returnin,
Left many’s a pair bairn faitherless,
And many a widow mournin.

17: Bonnie Laddie Ye Gang By Me • Jill Pidd 4.40

When a girl is rejected by her young man who has been courting another young lass, she holds her head high, for she can court another lad, while her old love will soon be forgotten.

Oh it happened on a day in the merry month of May,
I went out tae meet me bonnie lad, he promised to come this way;
I went out tae meet me bonnie lad and he promised to come this way,
But me bonnie laddie never yet cam by me.

18: MacPherson's Fareweel • Danny Couper & Carol Anderson 7.53

The ballad of McPherson's Rant, Lament or Farewell was made famous in the 1960s folk revival from the singing of two of Scotland's great source singers - Jimmy McBeath (1894-1971) and Auld Davie Stewart (1901-1972). The original text was said to have been composed and written by MacPherson himself and was printed soon after the execution that took place on 7th November 1700. In 1788 Robert Burns published a version as McPherson’s Farewell in Volume II of the Scots Musical Museum. Danny's version pays tribute particularly to Auld Davie - it has all the poise and style of the great traveller singer.

Fareweel ye dungeons dark and strong,
Fareweel, farewel tae ye;
MacPherson’s time it’ll nae be long,
On yonder gallows tree.

Sae wantonly, sae rantinly, sae wantonly gaed he,
He played a tune and he danced aroond,
Aye below the gallows tree.

Celebrating Fife: The East of Scotland Traditional Song Group is pleased to thank Fife Council for the financial support given under the Fife Council’s Celebrating Fife 2010 programme towards the guests and and programme events of the Fife Traditional Singing Festival of 2010.

Credits: Thanks to all the singers who have given free use of their recordings to the East of Scotland Traditional Song Group. Recorded by Tom Spiers. Photograph by Doc Rowe. Design & transcriptions by Peter Shepheard. All songs traditional arranged by the singer except where noted.

Recorded live at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie May 2010