Cape Cod Girls

Leggi in italiano

Under the heading Codefish shanty we have two versions, one of Cape Cod and the other of South Australia: the titles are “Cape Cod girls” and “Rolling King” or “Bound for South Australia” (or simply “South Australia”).
Which of the two versions was born before is not certain, we can only detect a great variety of texts and also the combination with different melodies.

At the beginning probably a “going-away song”, one of those songs that the sailors sang only for special occasions ie when they were on the route of the return journey.

CAPE COD GIRLS

cape-cod-girlThe most demented version and therefore by “pirate song” that goes for the most in the Renaissance Fairs is that which comes from the peninsula of Cape Cod (State of Massachusetts).
Cape Cod was the first landing of the Mayflower – the first ship that carried the English “pilgrims” on the land overseas, the “New England”.
The activity was based on fishing for fish (especially cod) and whaling.

The climate is mild thanks to the Atlantic currents: there it is summer (warm-cool) or winter (cold-mild) and summer lasts until early December, it is the so-called Indian Summer, always due in the presence of the Atlantic Ocean, which slowly spreads the heat forfeited during the summer.

Yarmouth Shantymen

The Crew of the Mimi 1984

Baby Gramps in “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys“, ANTI- 2006. The particular voice as Popeye is  a vocal style: “The style is called “vocal fry”.  It has been variously employed for effect by heavy metal artists among others.  The techniques used to achieve it are akin to those used by Central Asian throat-singers and Tibetan monks, though of a lesser order.  Its appropriateness for the singing of pirate songs will be a subject for lively debate” (Tipi Dan)

Gaelic Storm from The Boathouse, 2013


Cape Cod(1) girls
ain’t got no combs,
Heave away, haul away!
They comb their hair
with a codfish bone(2),
And we’re bound away for Australia(3)!
So heave her up, me bully bully boys,
Heave away, haul away!
Heave her up,
why don’t you make some noise?

And we’re bound away for Australia!

Cape Cod boys
ain’t got no sleds,
They ride down hills
on a codfish head.
Cape Cod mothers
don’t bake no pies,
They feed their children
codfish eyes.
Cape Cod cats
ain’t got no tails,
They got blown off
in northeast gales.

Other lines variously combined in which the cod are mentioned in all the sauces !!

Cape Cod girls
don’t wear no frills
They’re plain and skinny
like a codfish gills.
Cape Cod doctors
ain’t got no pills,
They give their patients
codfish gills.
Cape Cod folks
don’t have no ills
Them Cape Cod doctors
feed them codfish pills
Cape Cod dogs
ain’t got no bite,
They lost it barking
at the Cape Cod light.
Yankee girls
don’t sleep on beds,
They go to sleep on codfish heads.
Cape Cod girls
have got big feet,
Codfish roes is nice an’ sweet.
Cape Cod girls
they are so fine,
They know how to bait a codfish line.

 NOTES
1) the port par excellence of Cape Cod and of the fishermen of Massachusetts is the port of Provincetown
2) think about the sirens who are notoriously on the beach or a rock to comb their long hair while singing
3) the ships at the time of sailing followed the oceanic routes, that is those of winds and currents: so to go to Australia starting from America it was necessary to dub Africa, but what a trip!!

 

“South Australia” version

LINK
http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/catcont/95301.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/cape-cod-girls.html
http://www.folkways.si.edu/paul-clayton/cape-cod-girls/american-folk/music/track/smithsonian
http://www.capecod.com/about-cape-cod/cape-cod-history/
http://www.cavolettodibruxelles.it/2014/11/cape-cod
https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/southaustralia.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/codfish/index.html
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/australia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Australia_(song)
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=48959
http://www.abc.net.au/arts/blog/barnaby-smith/morris-dancing-broken-knuckles-bells-folk-festivals-150327/default.htm

The Gallant Shearers

Leggi in italiano

The “shearers” of the song are not sheep shearers but seasonal reapers pouring into the Lowlands from the North of Scotland for harvest, grouped by families, or groups of men and women. When a large group of workers was in the pay of only one factor, it was sometimes called a piper to play during the harvest to boost productivity.

George Hemming Mason - The Harvest Moon

The work was tiring though monotonous but the harvest season was also an occasion for courtship as this song reminds us! For women to go to the reap was a way of emancipation from rigid social conventions. With the potato famine, seasonal workers were replaced by the Irish who came mainly from Donegal.
The author is anonymous, even if the text was attributed to Robert Hogg; Gavin Greig is more inclined to place the ballad in an antecedent age, at least at the eighteenth century given the numerous versions and arrangements that have come down to us.

The Tannahill Weaversfrom Alchemy 2000  The Gallant Shearers
The traditionally matched melody is “Johnnie Cope

Heritage

Robin James Hurt from ‘The Tallyman’s Lament, 2008. (paintings by Samuel Palmer -1805 – 1881) (I,  III, II, IV, V)

GALLANT SHEARERS
I
Adam’s vine (1) and heather bells
Come rattlin’ (2)  ower yon high high hills/There’s corn rigs (3) in yonder fields/And autumn brings the shearin’
CHORUS
Bonnie lassie will ye gang

And shear wi’ me the hale day lang(5)
And love will cheer us as we gang
Tae jine (6) yon band o’ shearers
II
And if the thistle it be strang
And pierce your bonnie milk white hand (7)
It’s wi’ my hook  I’ll lay it lang (8)
When we gang tae ( jine) the shearin’
III
And if the weather be ower hot
I’ll cast my gravat(9) and my coat
And shear wi’ ye amang the lot
When we gang tae ( jine) the shearin’
IV
And if the weather it be (over) dry
They’ll say there’s love ‘tween you and I/ We’ll slyly pass each ither by (10)
When we gang tae ( jine) the shearin’
V
And when the shearin’ it is done
And slowly sets the wintry sun (11)
Ye’ll be my ain till life is run
Nae mair tae jine the shearers

NOTES
1) it is usually written “Oh summer days” are the Tannies to say Adam’s wine (a euphemism to say rainwater)
2) Come blooming
3) now “yellow corn”  originally it was  corn rigs ; a cultivation technique that involved working the land in long and narrow strips of raised ground, and was the traditional drainage system of the time: the fields were divided into raised ground banks, so that the excess water flowed lower in the deep side furrows.
4) In Scotland the first harvest is made in August with the festival of Lammas (see”Corn Rigs Are Bonnie“) which continues throughout August (see “Now westlin winds“) considered as the month in which the autumn season begins and finally Harvest moon harvest, the full moon next to the autumn equinox
5) hale day lang = whole day long; men cut ripe wheat with a long sickle and women made sheaves with smaller sickles. The missile sickle was introduced only in 1810, before there were only sickles and the reaping work was carried out mainly by women.
6) jine= join
7) or “your lily milk white hand”
8) Hook, heuk: a reaping-hook; or “I’ll cut them down”
9) Gravat: scarf but in the sense of a neck tie. Corresponds to the Scottish owerlay used in the eighteenth century around the neck as a tie or a wide strip of linen: at the beginning (around 1600) was a kind of pledge that the girlfriends gave to their lover who was leaving for the war, and it was worn to protect themself from the cold and even like a sign of affection. The nobles preferred the Jabot to the neck, that is, a curled lace bib with a high collar. The tie more similar to ours dates back to 800 instead.
10) or we will proudly pass them by
11) or evenin’ sun
12) alternative line
We’ll have some rantin’roarin’ fun
And gang nae more to the shearin’
rantin’ roarin’ they are two adjectives often coupled by Robert Burns and synonyms. Rantin: uproarious

LINKS
http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/59962/4;jsessionid=5195DAE5CA230FF771267AD7EB4F44B1
http://www.ramshornstudio.com/band_o_shearers.htm
http://www.tannahillweavers.com/lyrics/1210lyr4.htm
http://ingeb.org/songs/noosumme.html
http://sangstories.webs.com/bandoshearers.htm

Follow me up to Carlow

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The text of “Follow me up to Carlow” was written in the nineteenth century by the Irish poet Patrick Joseph McCall (1861 – 1919) and published in 1899 in the “Erinn Songs” with the title “Marching Song of Feagh MacHugh”.
Referring to the Fiach McHugh O’Byrne clan chief, the song is full of characters and events that span a period of 20 years from 1572 to 1592.

McCall’s intent is to light the minds of the nationalists of his time with even too detailed historical references on a distant epoch, full of fierce opposition to English domination. 16th century Ireland was only partly under English control (the Pale around Dublin) and the power of the clans was still very strong. They were however clans of local importance who changed their covenants according to convenience by fighting each other, against or together with the British. In the Tudor era Ireland was considered a frontier land, still inhabited by exotic barbarians.
front1

FIACH MCHUGH O’BYRNE

The land of the O’Byrne clan was in a strategic position in the county of Wicklow and in particular between the mountains barricaded in strongholds and control posts from which rapid and lethal raids started in the Pale. The clan managed to survive through raids of cattle, rivalries and alliances with the other clans and acts of submission to the British crown, until Fiach assumed the command and took a close opposition to the British government with the open rebellion of 1580 that broke out throughout the Leinster . In the same period the rebellion was reignited also in the South of Munster (known as the second rebellion of Desmond)

The new Lieutenant Arthur Gray baron of Wilton that was sent to quell the rebellion with a large contingent, certainly gave no proof of intelligence: totally unprepared to face the guerrilla tactics, he decided to draw out the O’Byrne clan, marching in the heart of the county of Wicklow, the mountains! Fiach had retired to Ballinacor, in the Glenmalure valley, (the land of the Ranelaghs), and managed to ambush Gray, forcing him to a disastrous retreat to the Pale.

glenmalure

Follow me up to Carlow

The melody was taken from McCall himself by “The Firebrand of the Mountains,” a march from the O’Byrne clan heard in 1887 during a musical evening in Wexford County. It is not clear, however, if this historical memory was a reconstruction in retrospect to give a touch of color! It is very similar to the jig “Sweets of May” (first two parts) and also it is a dance codified by the Gaelic League.

“Follow me up to Carlow” (also sung as “Follow me down to Carlow”) was taken over by Christy Moore in the 1960s and re-proposed and popularized with the Irish group Planxty; recently he is played by many celtic-rock bands or “barbarian” formations with bagpipes and drums.

Planxty

Fine Crowd

The High Kings live

FOLLOW ME UP TO CARLOW
I
Lift Mac Cahir Óg(1) your face,
broodin’ o’er the old disgrace
That Black Fitzwilliam(2) stormed your place,
and drove you to the Fern(3)
Gray(4) said victory was sure,
soon the firebrand(5) he’d secure
Until he met at Glenmalure(6)
with Fiach McHugh O’Byrne
CHORUS
Curse and swear, Lord Kildare(7),
Fiach(8) will do what Fiach will dare
Now Fitzwilliam have a care,
fallen is your star low(9)
Up with halberd, out with sword,
on we go for, by the Lord
Fiach McHugh has given the word
“Follow me up to Carlow!”(10)
II
See the swords at Glen Imaal (11),
flashin’ o’er the English Pale(12)
See all the children of the Gael,
beneath O’Byrne’s banner
Rooster of a fighting stock,
would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish Rock,
fly up and teach him manners.
III
From Tassagart (11) to Clonmore (11),
flows a stream of Saxon gore
How great is Rory Óg O’More(13)
at sending loons to Hades
White(14) is sick, Gray(15) is fled,
now for Black Fitzwilliam’s head
We’ll send it over, dripping red,
to Liza(16) and her ladies
II
See the swords at Glen Imaal (11),
flashin’ o’er the English Pale(12)
See all the children of the Gael,
beneath O’Byrne’s banner
Rooster of a fighting stock,
would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish Rock,
fly up and teach him manners.
III
From Tassagart (11) to Clonmore (11),
flows a stream of Saxon gore
How great is Rory Óg O’More(13)
at sending loons to Hades
White(14) is sick, Gray(15) is fled,
now for Black Fitzwilliam’s head
We’ll send it over, dripping red,
to Liza(16) and her ladies

NOTES
1) Brian MacCahir Cavanagh married Elinor sister of Feagh MacHugh. In 1572 Fiach and Brian were implicated in the murder of a landowner related to Sir Nicholas White Seneschal (military governor) of the Queen at Wexford.
2) William Fitzwilliam “Lord Deputy” of Ireland, the representative of the English Crown who left office in 1575
3) In 1572 Brian MacCahir and his family were deprived of their properties donated to supporters of the British crown
4) Arthur Gray de Wilton became in 1580 new Lieutenant of Ireland
5) appellation with which he was called Feach MacHugh O’Byrne
6) Glenmalure Valley: valley in the Wicklow mountains about twenty kilometers east of the town of Wicklow, where the battle of 1580 occurred that saw the defeat of the English: the Irish clans ambushed the English army commanded by Arthur Wilton Gray made up of 3000 men
7) In 1594 the sons of Feach attacked and burned the house of Pierce Fitzgerald sheriff of Kildare, as a result Feach was proclaimed a traitor and he become a wanted crimunal
8) Feach in Irish means Raven
9) William Fitzwilliam returned to Ireland in 1588 once again with the title of Lieutenant, but in 1592 he was accused of corruption
10) Carlow is both a city and a county: the town was chosen more to rhyme than to recall a battle that actually took place: it is more generally an exhortation to take up arms against the British. Undoubtedly, the song made her famous.
11) Glen Imael, Tassagart and Clonmore are strongholds in Wicklow County
12) English Pale are the counties around Dublin controlled by the British. The phrase “Beyond the Pale” meant a dangerous place
13) Rory the young son of Rory O’More, brother of Feagh MacHugh, killed in 1578
14) Sir Nicholas White Seneschal of Wexford fell seriously ill in the early 1590s, shortly thereafter fell into disgrace with the Queen and was executed.
15) in the original version the character referred to is Sir Ralph Lane but is more commonly replaced by Arthur Gray who had left the country in 1582
16) Elizabeth I. Actually it was Feach’s head to be sent to the queen!
The new viceroy Sir William Russell managed to capture Fiach McHugh O’Byrne in May 1597, Feach’s head remained impaled on the gates of Dublin Castle.

LINKS
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=52454&page=2
http://thesession.org/tunes/1583
http://thesession.org/tunes/10645
http://www.irishmusicdaily.com/follow-me-up-to-carlow
http://www.clannobyrne.com/glenmalure.html
http://neverfeltbetter.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/irelands-wars-the-battle-of-glenmalure/
http://www.blogofmanly.com/2012/09/17/heroes-feach-mchugh-obyrne/
http://www.doyle.com.au/chiefs.html

Silver apples of the moon

MARGARET MACDONALD MAKINTOSH (1865-1933) The Silver Apples of the Moon
MARGARET MACDONALD MAKINTOSH (1865-1933)
The Silver Apples of the Moon

Leggi in italiano

The song of wandering Aengus was published in 1899, in the collection of poems “The Wind among the reeds” by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939).

Aengus (Oengus)  is the god of love of Irish mythology, belonging to the mythical ranks of the Tuatha De Dannan, eternally young ruler of the Brug na Boinne near the banks of the river Boyne. It is said of him that he fell in love with a beautiful girl seen in a dream and, sick with love, looked for her for a long time before finding and taking her to his kingdom (see the story).

In poetry, however, the character is a young mortal (perhaps the poet himself) in search of his poetic inspiration or the most ancestral side of knowledge. He tells of his initiation into the past, because he became old, in the perennial search for beauty, or poetic enlightenment, embodied by the girl with the apple blossoms in her hair.

The first to put the poem into music was the same Yeats who composed or adapted a traditional Irish melody: in 1907 he published his essay ‘Speaking to the Psaltery’ in which the poem is recited bardically, sung with the accompaniment of the psaltery; but many other artists were inspired by the text and composed further melodies.

Burt Ives with the title The Wandering of Old Angus  in ‘Burl Ives: Songs of Ireland‘ Decca DL 8444 (ca. 1954) in the liner notes the Yeats melody is credited

Judy Collins with the title ‘Golden Apples of the Sun’  – Golden Apples of the Sun 1962. “Learned from the singing of Will Holt, this stunning song is a musical setting of a W. B. Yeats poem ‘The Song of the Wandering Angus’. It is not a folk song, it tends to be an art song. It has a traditional feeling about it; the repetitiveness gives you the impression of an incantation, which the poem does too. Of her learning it I had heard the song almost two years ago. When I heard Will Holt sing it late one night at the Gate of Horn, I was greatly impressed, and determined to learn it. Will sang it for me a number of times, and even gave me a tape of it. I lived with the Golden Apples of the Sun almost a year-and-a-half before I ever sang it, and then it burst out one day – almost of its own accord – while I was visiting friends. It took me a long time to assimilate it, but now it’s part of me. I feel that the song has something to do with what people want – what they don’t have – and sometimes the desire for these things is almost as satisfying as the getting.'”

Donovan in H. M. S. 1971

Richie Havens in “Mixed Bag II” 1974

Christy Moore in “Ride On” 1986

Paul Winter & Karen Casey in Celtic Solstice 1999

Jolie Holland in Catalpa 2003

Waterboys in “An Appointment with Mr Yeats” 2011
an almost spoken version

Sedrenn  in De l’autri cotè 2013 (the review of the cd here

Robert Lawrence & Jill Greene (music by Jill Diana Greene) 2016

I
I went out to the hazel wood
because a fire was in my head(1)
and cut and peeled a hazel wand(2)
and hooked a berry to a thread.
II
And when white moths were on the wing
and moth-like stars were flickering out
I dropped the berry in the stream(3)
and caught a little silver trout(4).
III
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame
But something rustled on the floor
and someone called me by my name.
IV
It had become a glimmering girl
with apple blossom(5) in her hair
who called me by my name and ran
and vanished through the brightening air
V
Though I am old with wandering
through hollow lands and hills lands
I will find out where she has gone
and kiss her lips and take her hands.
VI
And walk among long dappled grass
and pluck till time and times are done
the silver apples of the moon
the golden apples of the sun(5).

NOTES
1) it’s the fire what characterizes the visionary experience of shamanism (see). In the book “The Fire in the Head” (2007) Tom Cowan examines the connections between shamanism and Celtic imagination, analyzing the myths, the stories, the ancient Celtic poets and narrators and describing the techniques used to access the world of the shamans. So the protagonist approaches the waters of the river to practice a ritual that allows him to travel in the Other World.
2) the hazelnut is the fruit of science and falls into the sacred spring, where it is eaten by salmon / trout (which becomes the salmon of knowledge).
3) most likely it is the Boyne River. According to mythology, Brug na Boinne or “Boyne River Palace” is the current Newgrange. Dimora del Dagda and then the son Aengus (Oengus) and the most important gods. The mound rises on the north bank of the Boyne River, east of Slane (County Meath).

new-grange
here is how the mound was once

4)A reference to a mythological tale by Fionn Mac Cumhaill (salomon of knowledge).

Even the trout is considered by the Celtic tradition as a guardian spirit of the waterways, and represents the Underworld, which it is materially embodied under the gaze of the poet in a young girl from the Other World, in a sort of dream or vision ( aisling) that disappears when the day is cleared: the poet tells us he will dedicate his life to chasing that girl or to reach (in life) the Other World
5) The apple tree and its fruit are always present in the Otherworld and most of the time it is a female creature to offer the golden apple to the hero or the poet. The apple is the fruit of immortality but also of death, of eternal sleep.
The access (in life) to the Other Celtic World is an honor reserved for poets, semi-divine heroes and a few privileged visitors (sometimes ravished by fairies for their beauty), Yeats hopes to be able to feed on Avalon apples and obtain the gift of immortality (poetic).

Aengus il vagabondo

Angelo Branduardi in “Branduardi canta Yeats” 1986 music by Donovan, text-translation by Luisa Zappa

Fu così che al bosco andai,
chè un fuoco in capo mi sentivo,
un ramo di nocciolo io tagliai
ed una bacca appesi al filo.
Bianche falene vennero volando,
e poi le stelle luccicando,
la bacca nella corrente lanciai
e pescai una piccola trota d’argento.
Quando a terra l’ebbi posata
per ravvivare il fuoco assopito,
qualcosa si mosse all’improvviso
e col mio nome mi chiamò.
Una fanciulla era divenuta,
fiori di melo nei capelli,
per nome mi chiamò e svanì
nello splendore dell’aria.
Sono invecchiato vagabondando
per vallate e per colline,
ma saprò alla fine dove e`andata,
la bacerò e la prenderò per mano;
cammineremo tra l’erba variegata,
sino alla fine dei tempi coglieremo
le mele d’argento della luna,
le mele d’oro del sole.

LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=44244 http://branoalcollo.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/le-metamorfosi-di-yeats/ http://lebuoneinterferenze.blogspot.it/2010/02/le-mele-della-notte.html http://www.ilcerchiosciamanico.it/articoli/p2/123/il-regno-sotto-le-acque-il-recupero-dello-sciamanesimo-celtico-di-sharon-paice-macleod.html

My Boatman (“Fear a’ bhàta”)

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“Fear a’ bhàta” is a Scottish Gaelic song probably from the end of the 18th century which was also poured into English under the title “O Boatman” (My Boatman) while maintaining the chorus in Gaelic.
Of all the versions in English (see), the most precious from the point of view of writing is certainly that of 1849 with the words translated from Gaelic by Thomas Pattison and the melodic arrangement of Malcolm Lawson (published in “Songs of the North “, MacLeod and Harold Boulton, 1895)

The girl is waiting for a visit of the handsome boatman who seems instead to prefer other girls!
Silly Wizard from Caledonia’s Hardy Sons 1978, Andy Stewart – voice, Bob Thomas – guitar; Johnny Cunningham – mandola, Phil Cunningham – synthesizer


Sandy Denny 

North Sea Gas from The Fire and the Passion of Scotland 2013


Thomas Pattison version
I
How often haunting the highest hilltop
I scan the ocean I sail tae sea/wilt come tonight love wilt come tomorrow?
Wilt ever come, love, to comfort me?
CHORUS
Fhir a bhata no horo eil’e(1)
Fhir a bhata no horo eil’e
Fhir a bhata no horo eil’e
o fare ye well(2), love, where e’er ye be
II
They call thee fickle, they call thee false one,
and seek tae change me, but all in vain;
no, thou art my dream yet throughout the dark night
and every morn yet I watch the main

III
There’s not a hamlet -too well I know it-
where you go wandering or stay(3) awhile
but all its old folks you win wi’ talking
and charm its maidens with song and smile
IV
Dost thou remember the promise made me
the tartan plaidie, the silken gown,
the ring of gold with thy hair and portrait(4)?
That gown and ring I will never own

NOTES
1) basically a non-sense phrase that some want to translate “and no one else” ie as “mine and no other”
2) it is both a greeting and a wish for good luck: My greeting to you wherever you go
3) or “sits”
4) It is a small medallion with the lid inside which there was a lover’s miniature and a lock of his/her hair

gaelic version
LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4

Fear a’ bhàta

Leggi in italiano

“Fear a ‘bhata” is a Scottish Gaelic song probably from the end of the 18th century and the legend (an anecdotal addition to the nineteenth century versions printed) says it was written by Sine NicFhionnlaigh (Jean Finlayson) of Tong, a small village on the Isle of Lewis (Hebrides) for a young Uig fisherman, Domhnall MacRath (Donald MacRae) who eventually married.
‘Fear’ translates as “man” and “Bhata” with “boat”: the man of the boat, or the boatman. Also written as Fear A Bhata, Fear Ah Bhata, Fhear A Bhata, Fhear Ni Bhata, Fhir A’ Bhata, Fir Na Fhata, O(h) My Boatman.

Homer Winslow
Homer Winslow

The song appears first published in The Scottish Gael byJames Logan, 1831 (with its score) in which it is classified as a slow and an iorram (the song to the oars that had the function of giving rhythm to the rowers, but at the same time it was also a funeral lament). “Fhir a bhata, or the boatmen, the music of which is annexed, is sung in the above manner, by the Highlanders with much effect. It is the song of a girl whose lover is at sea, whose safety she prays for, and whose return she anxiously expects.

The melody is a lament, sometimes played as a waltz (in instrumental versions) that lends itself to delicate and smooth arrangements

Maire Breatnach on fiddle (live at Dougie MacLean‘ s house)

There are many text versions of the song composed of about ten verses although in the most current recordings only the first three stanzas are sung mostly.

For the full text see

Scottish gaelic version

The girl is waiting for a visit of the handsome boatman who seems instead to prefer other girls! But she waits for him and frowns worried about the health of her handsome boatman.

Capercaillie from Get Out 1996

Superb and masterly recording a voice and the waves of the sea
 Talitha Mackenzie from “A Celtic Tapestry” vol. 2 1997

Alison Helzer  from Carolan’s Welcome, 2010.



English translation
Chorus:
Oh my boatman, na hóro eile
Oh my boatman, na hóro eile
Oh my boatman, na hóro eile
My farewell to you wherever you go
I
I often look from the highest hill
To try and see the boatman
Will you come today or tomorrow If you don’t come at all I will be downhearted
II
My heart is broken and bruised
With tears often flowing from my eyes
Will you come tonight or will I expect you
Or will I close the door with a sad sigh?
III
I often ask people on boats
Whether they see you or whether you are safe,
Each of them says
That I was foolish to fall in love with you.

Scottish Gaelic
Séist:
Fhir a’ bhàta, sna hóro eile
Fhir a’ bhàta, sna hóro eile
Fhir a’ bhàta, sna hóro eile
Mo shoraidh slàn leat ‘s gach àit’ an tèid thu
I
‘S tric mi sealltainn on chnoc as àirde
Dh’fheuch am faic mi fear a’ bhàta
An tig thu ‘n-diugh no ‘n tig thu màireach
‘S mur tig thu idir gur truagh a tha mi
II
Tha mo chridhe-sa briste brùite
‘S tric na deòir a’ ruith o m’ shùilean
An tig thu ‘n nochd no ‘m bi mo dhùil riut
No ‘n dùin mi ‘n doras le osna thùrsaich?
III
‘S tric mi foighneachd de luchd nam bàta
Am faic iad thu no ‘m bheil   thu sàbhailt
Ach ‘s ann a tha gach aon dhiubh ‘g ràitinn
Gur gòrach mise, ma thug mi  gràdh dhut

Irish Gaelic version

The Irish version appears for the first time in print in the Sam Henry collection entitled ‘Songs of the People‘. The songs were collected within 20 miles of Coleraine (Northern Ireland) from 1929 to 1939. It is an Irish Gaelic coming from Rathlin Island and more generally  widespread in Ulster, therefore with much resemblance to the Scottish Gaelic.

Niamh Parsons live and from Gaelic Voices 1999 (I, II, IV, V)

And why not! Let’s listen to this celtic-metal version of the German group founded by Ben Richter in 2001!
Thanateros ( I, II, V)

 

 

English translation (from here)
Chorus:
O Boatman and another “horo”! [i.e. welcome] /A hundred thousand welcomes everywhere you go
I
I went up on the highest hill
To see if I could see the boatman
Will you come tonight or will you come tomorrow?
If you do not come, I will be wretched
II
My heart is broken and crushed.
Frequent are the tears that run from my eyes. /Will you come today or when I’m longing for you, /Or shall I close the door with a tired sigh?
III
I gave you my love, and I cannot change that.
Not love for a year, and not just words of love,
But love from the beginning, when I was a child, /And I will never cease, even when my death bell tolls.
IV
My love promised me a dress of silk
He promised me that and a gray tartan
A gold ring where I’d see my reflection
But I’m afraid he has forgotten
IV
My heart is lifting
Not for the tailor or the harper
But for the navigator of the boat
If you don’t come, I’ll be very sad
Irish Gaelic (from here)
Chorus:
Fhir an bháta ‘sna hóró éile (1)
Fhir an bháta ‘sna hóró éile
Fhir an bháta ‘sna hóró éile
Ceád mile failte gach ait a te tú (2)
I
Théid mé suas ar an chnoic is airde,
Féach an bhfeic mé fear an bháta.
An dtig thú anoch nó an dtig thú amárach?
Nó muna dtig thú idir is trua atá mé.
II
Tá mo chroí-se briste brúite.
Is tric na deora a rith bho mo shúileann.
An dtig thú inniu nó am bidh mé dúil leat,
Nó an druid mé an doras le osna thuirseach?
III
Thúg mé gaol duit is chan fhéad mé ‘athrú.
Cha gaol bliana is cha gaol raithe.
Ach gaol ó thoiseacht nuair bha mé ‘mo pháiste,
Is nach seasc a choíche me ‘gus claoibh’ am bás mé.
IV
Gheall mo leanann domh gúna den tsioda
Gheall é sin, agus breacan riabhach
Fainne óir anns an bhfeicfinn íomha
Ach is eagal liom go ndearn sé dearmad
V
Tá mo croíse ag dul in airde
Chan don fidleir, chan don clairsoir
Ach do Stuirithoir an bhata
Is muna dtig tú abhaile is trua atá mé

NOTES
1) basically a non-sense phrase that some want to translate “and no one else” ie as “mine and no other”
2) or “mo shoraidh slán leat gach áit a dté tú”

My Boatman (english version)

LINK
http://www.bbc.co.uk/alba/foghlam/beag_air_bheag/songs/
song_03/index.shtml

http://www.celticartscenter.com/Songs/Scottish/FearABhata.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=121195
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=2463
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/compilations/fear.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/capercaillie/fear.htm
http://thesession.org/tunes/8919
http://blueloulogan.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/songs-of-logan-6-fear-a-bhata-the-boatman/

Oh, are ye sleepin’ Maggie?

Leggi in italiano

From the tradition of “night visiting songs” the text is attributed to the Scottish poet Robert Tannahill and in fact various findings place the story in the woods of Paisley. ( in ‘The Poems and Songs of Robert Tannahill’ – 1874  assigned as a “Sleeping Maggie” melody.)
The heroine of this song was Margaret Pollock, a cousin of the Author by the mother’s side. She was the eldest daughter of Matthew Pollock (3rd) of Boghall, by his second marriage (mentioned in the Memoir of the Tannahills); and it is very probable the Poet beheld such an evening as he had described, in walking from Paisley over the high road to his uncle’s farm steading in Beith Parish. Margaret Pollock afterwards lived in family with William Lochhead, Ryveraes, and she and Mrs. Lochhead frequently sang that song together. Miss Pollock died unmarried (from here)

NIGHT VISITING IN DARK STYLE

The scene described is not really autobiographical (pheraps more in keeping with Robert Burns‘s temperament): the protagonist arrives at Maggy’s house in a dark and stormy night (the picture is rather gothic: an icy winter wind raging in the woods , a night of new moon without stars, the disturbing moaning of the owl, the iron gate that slams against the hinges) and he hopes that in the meantime the lover has not fallen asleep, letting come him in secret! And then no more worries or fears in the arms of Maggy every gloomy thought is dissolved!

http://www.jinua.com/movie/Sleepy-Hollow/
http://www.jinua.com/movie/Sleepy-Hollow/

I must mention the version collected by Hamish Henderson from the voice of Jeannie Robertson (see fragment of 1960) which shows a different melody from that later made famous by Tannahill Weavers.

The song was made known to the general public by the Tannahill Weavers, the good “weavers” of Robert Tannahill, also by Paisley,
At the moment you can find several live versions on you tube, but the best performances of the group are two: one in Mermaid’s Song 1992 (listen from Spotify) a faster version integrated with the reel “The Noose In The Ghillies” (with Roy Gullane , Phil Smillie, Iain MacInnes, Kenny Forsyth) and the first in Are Ye Sleeping Maggie 1976 with Roy Gullane, Phil Smillie, Hudson Swan, and Dougie MacLean (fiddle). In this first version the melody is slower and full of atmosphere (with hunder, wind and the rain effect)

Tannahill Weavers from Are Ye Sleeping Maggie 1976


Dougie Maclean (who collaborated with Tannahill Weavers from 1974 and until 1977 and then toured with them in 1980) in Real Estate -1988 and also in Tribute 1995

Jim Reid in The Complete Songs of Robert Tannahill Volume I(2006) 

Sam Monaghan 


I
Mirk and rainy is the nicht,
there’s no’ a starn in a’ the carry(1)
Lichtnin’s gleam athwart the lift,
and (cauld) winds dive wi’ winter’s fury.
CHORUS
Oh, are ye sleepin’ Maggie
Oh, are ye sleepin’ Maggie
let me in, for loud the linn
is roarin'(2) o’er the Warlock Craigie(3).
II
Fearfu’ soughs the boortree(4) bank
The rifted wood roars wild an’ dreary.
Loud the iron yett(5) does clank,
An’ cry o’ howlets mak’s me eerie.
III
Aboon my breath I daurna’ speak
For fear I rouse your waukrif’ daddie;
Cauld’s the blast upon my cheek,
O rise, rise my bonnie ladie.
IV
She op’d the door, she let him in
I cuist aside my dreepin’ plaidie(6).
‘Blaw your warst, ye rain and win’
Since, Maggie, now I’m in aside ye.
V
Now, since ye’re waukin’, Maggie,
Now, since ye’re waukin’, Maggie,
What care I for howlet’s cry,
For boortree bank or warlock craigie?
English translation
I
Dark and rainy is the night
there’s no star in all the carry
lightning flashes gleam across the sky
and cold winds drive with winters fury.
CHORUS
Oh, are you sleeping Maggie
Oh, are you sleeping Maggie
let me in, for the loud the waterfall
is roaring over the warlock crag.
II
Fearful sighs on the elder tree bank
The rifted wood roars wild and dreary
Loud the iron gate does clank,
And cry of owls makes me fearful.
III
Above my breath I dare not speak
For fear I rouse your wakeful father
Cold is the blast upon my cheek
O rise, rise my pretty lady.
IV
She opened the door, she let him in
I cast aside my dripping cloak
“Blow your worst, you rain and wind
Since, Maggie, now I’m beside you.”
V
Now, since you’re woken, Maggie
Now, since you’re woken, Maggie
What care I for owl’s cry,
For elder tree bank or warlock crag?

NOTES
1) carry is for sky, “the direction in which clouds are carried by the wind”
2) howling
3) warlock crag is the name of a waterfall at Lochwinnoch that forms a large pool or a small pond
4) elder tree in which the fairies prefer to dwell
5) yett is gett according to the ancient custom of writing the two vowels interchangeably
6) plaidie  see more

Great horned owl and chicks. Image size 5.6 by 7.9 inches @ 300 dpi. Photo credit: © Scott Copeland

SLEEPY & DROWSY MAGGY REELS

“Sleepy Maggie” is a reel in two-part and is often paired with the “Drowsy Maggie” reel, sometimes the two melodies are, mistakenly, confused. In the version of Francis O’Neill and James O’Neill (in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland) it is in 3 parts.

Sleepy Maggie as reported by Fidder’s Companion is a traditional Scottish melody whose oldest transcribed source is in Duke of Perth Manuscript or Drummond Castle Manuscript (1734)

Sleepy Maggie is also known in Ireland under different names “Lough Isle Castle,” “Seán sa Cheo” or “Tullaghan Lassies” and is the model for “Jenny’s Chickens”.

Samuel Melton Fisher, Asleep, (1902)
Samuel Melton Fisher, Asleep, (1902)

“Drowsy Maggie” is instead a traditional Irish tune in 2, 3 or 4 parts, but much more popular at least at the recording level (it will be for its appearance in the movie “Titanic”!)

Gaelic Storm  (Titanic Set) – of course there is also the Scottish version: usually slow part and then it gets faster and faster so the title between in deception because there is nothing “sleepy” in the melody that comes to a final paroxysm .

SLEEPY MAGGIE

Sleepy Maggie Alasdair Fraser on fiddle
Sleepy Maggie
Gabriele Possenti  on a Mcilroy AS 65c (C)
Tullaghan Lassies Fidil Irish Fiddle trio
Jenny’s Chickens Shanon Corr on fiddle

DROWSY MAGGIE
John Simie Doherty Donegal fiddle master
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann live

The Chieftains 
 

Driftwood (Joe Nunn on fiddle)

Jake Wise live

Rock versions
Dancing Willow an Irish folk band from Münster (Germany)
DNA Strings from Cape Town ( South Africa)
Lack of limits faster more and more

 

LINKS
http://archive.org/details/poemssongsofrobe00tannrich
http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/fullrecord/64522/1;
jsessionid=B312B09442ED31BB18C4FDA5E2E2BB59

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=59687
http://members.aol.com/tannahillweavers/
http://www.lochwinnoch.info/tales/warlock-craigie.php
http://thesession.org/tunes/787
http://thesession.org/tunes/27
http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/SLA_SLE.htm#SLEEPY_MAGGY/MAGGIE