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The Whistlebinkies + Robin Williamson

wbFor almost 40 years the Whistlebinkies have toured the world with their own brand of authentic Scottish traditional music. The quirky name is derived from the old Scots word for a bench: a ‘bink’. A whistlebinkie was someone who played the whistle whilst sitting on the bink. Other musicians who joined became known by the same generic appellation, hence the name of the group. Whistlebinkies were travelling minstrels who played and sang for their supper.

The group use only acoustic instruments arranged to complement each other. Those employed are Scottish lowland and smallpipes, fiddle, flute, concertina, bass, percussion (Scottish style side drumming and bodhran), clarsach (celtic harp). The group do do some vocals, but the main fare is instrumental. Their music comes from all parts of the country: airs from the far west archipelago of St Kilda, Border ballad melodies, Shetland reels and song tunes from the land of Burns, Ayrshire. Always keen to advance the tradition, the group also performs a number of new works set within the musical parameters of what makes it sound ‘Scottish’ or ‘Celtic’. In this the group is fortunate in having one of Scotland’s leading composers in its ranks, Edward McGuire. His suites ‘Inner Sound’, ‘MacBeth’ and ‘Albannach’ have taken Scottish traditional music to a new level of musical complexity and interest whilst never losing the vernacular feel.

⇓  ‘Ane Ground’           

♦→’Barlinnie Highlander‘  ⇓

◊→   ‘Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie‘   ⇓   {R Burns}

O, rattlin, roarin Willie,
O, he held to the fair,
An for to sell his fiddle
An buy some other ware;
But parting wi’ his fiddle,
The saut tear blin’t his e’e-
And rattlin, roarin Willie,
Ye’re welcome hame to me.

O Willie, come sell your fiddle,
O, sell your fiddle sae fine!
O Willie, come sell your fiddle,
And buy a pint o wine!
If I should sell my fiddle,
The warl’ would think I was mad;
For monie a rantin day
My fiddle an I hae had.

As I cam by Crochallan,
I cannilie keekit ben;
Rattlin, roaring Willie,
Was sittin at yon boord-en’;
Sitting at yon boord-en’,
And amang guid companie;
Rattlin, roarin Willie,
Ye’re welcome hame to me.

O Willie, come sell your fiddle . . .

· · ·  w/  Ted McKenna  ↓ ‘Cam Ye O’er Frae France’  [R. Burns]

Cam ye o’er frae France? Cam ye down by Lunnon?
Saw ye Geordie Whelps and his bonny woman?
Were ye at the place ca’d the Kittle Housie?
Saw ye Geordie’s grace riding on a goosie?
Geordie, he’s a man there is little doubt o’t;
He’s done a’ he can, wha can do without it?
Down there came a blade linkin’ like my lordie;
He wad drive a trade at the loom o’ Geordie.
Though the claith were bad, blythly may we niffer;
Gin we get a wab, it makes little differ.
We hae tint our plaid, bannet, belt and swordie,
Ha’s and mailins braid—but we hae a Geordie!
 
Jocky’s gane to France and Montgomery’s lady;
There they’ll learn to dance: Madam, are ye ready?
They’ll be back belyve belted, brisk and lordly;
Brawly may they thrive to dance a jig wi’ Geordie!
Hey for Sandy Don! Hey for Cockolorum!
Hey for Bobbing John and his Highland Quorum!
Mony a sword and lance swings at Highland hurdie;
How they’ll skip and dance o’er the bum o’ Geordie!

•  Glossary                  

belyve = quickly;    blade = a person of weak, soft constitution from rapid overgrowth;

bonny woman = a loose woman;   braid = broad;   brawly = well;   claith = cloth;

gane = gone;   gin = if, whether;   goosie = derisive nickname for the King’s mistress;

ha’s and mailins = houses & farmlands;  hurdie = buttock;  kittle housie = brothel;

linkin = tripping along;  Lunnon = London;  niffer = haggle or exchange;

tint = lost;    wab = web (or length) of cloth

•→Donald MacLennan’s Tuning Phrase 

◊  «There’ll Never Be Peace Until Jamie Comes Hame»  ↓

By yon castle wa at the break o’ the day, 
I heard a man sing, though his beard it was grey; 
And as he was singing, the tears doon came, 
Ah there’ll never be peace until Jamie comes hame. 
 
Now the kirk is in ruin, the state is in jars, 
There’s murder, oppression and great bluidy war; 
We darena well say it, though we ken wha’s tae blame, 
Oh there’ll never be peace until Jamie comes hame. 
 
Now my seven braw sons for Jamie drew sword, 
And it’s now that I greet round their graves in the yard; 
It broke the sweet heart o’ my gentle old dame 
Oh there’ll never be peace until Jamie comes hame. 
 
Now this life is a burden, that pulls me doon, 
Since I tint ma bairnies, and he tint his croon 
But until my last moment, my song’s aye the same 
Oh there’ll never be peace until Jamie comes hame.

◊  Extract from concert of Scottish music at the Lorient Festival ↑ Brittany 2007. The Whistlebinkies are joined by Kintyre Schools Pipe Band in The Kelty Pipers and The Flowers of Lorient, by Eddie McGuire.

                                ♣   3 jigs  ↓  [Mid 1980s]

 «The Islay Jig» + «Duncan MacKinnon» + «Granny McLeod»

♣  «Broderick’s Bodhran»  ↓

¤  Robin Williamson

Founder in the 60’s of the influential Incredible String Band and the Merry Band of the 70’s, has been a key figure at the forefront of the storytelling revival in Europe and America since the 80’s. He has authored a number of books including The Craneskin Bag (re-telling and re-versifications of Celtic lore) and Celtic Bards, Celtic Druids (co-authored with R.J. Stewart):

«Druidism is not a sect or a single religion but a philosophy arising at a relatively late period, and suppressed in its prime by Roman imperialism, out of the diverse Celtic and pre-Celtic religions. This philosophy, which embraced all aspects of universal awareness, physical and metaphysical, was developed and presented by specifically trained orders, within a caste of what we might today call priests and priestesses. Such definitions are used with caution and reserve, as Druids merged several functions that are nowadays quite separate.»

Robin is Honorary Chief Bard of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.

♥  The Wooing of Isolde  ↓  (2012)

If you were to stroll down the streets of the beautiful city of Dublin. This is where the preacher and the pigeons happen to see to each other on Stephen’s Green, or watching the fat fish […?] about in the grimy and slimy shallows of the river Liffey. You wouldn’t be wasting your time, to my way of thinking, but if you began reading the destinations on the buses you’d at last see one for Chapelizod. And, there’s  not many know, there is a story in that because not many know that name’s after Isolde; Chapelizod is named after Isolde, Isolde of the White Throat, who so long ago was the daughter to the King of Dublin, and whether this daughter of the King of Dublin [ . . . ?] and she was to be married to March Meirchion, the King of Cornwall. And Arthur, King Arthur, the High King of all the Britons, whose name is better than meat to anyone who would recite his verses, Arthur had sent his own kinsman, he’d sent his own cousin, Tristan, over the seas to Dublin to fetch this beautiful woman to her wedding.

Now it was a quite hot and sultry day. The ship pulled out from Dublin harbour. The sea was like a millpond. The sails hung limp and the rowers had the oars out and are pulling and . . . cursing the weather, profusely and quietly. Tristan and Isolde sat in the bow of the boat, where they get any breath of air that may be drifting past, and they played chess together; or was it draughts? At all events, Isolde won every game, so Tristan, at a loss, rather than particularly say to this beautiful woman, he thought he would play the harp to her!

T&Isolde

Finally he couldn’t think of any other way to entertain her so he sent a servant boy down below to get something to drink. But it was not the bottle fine-peppermint flavoured old Australian fighting burgundy with which he returned, oh no-no-no-no. It was something far far better tan that; it was a small bottle of love poison that was made by his own father, Chief Druid, to be drunk between her and March Meirchion the day after the wedding. Well, they had a couple half gills of that… They stared at each other, horror-stricken, passionately in love for ever, and Tristan, being a man of obsessive honour, insisted on delivering the beautiful woman to the gates of March Meirchion’s castle as he’d sworn to do, and they stocked off to a […?] grief and nighty deeds, and daily deeds as well.

While Isolde lay staring anorexically at the wall … Till finally this life of servants’ misspelled messages and midnight assignations proved unbearable in the days before that tech … and they eloped together, they ran away to a forest, a forest in Caledon that cloaked old Scotland, from Carlisle in the west … all east in Newcastle and the east, the wildest and deepest woods in all the lands of Arthur.

Now messengers came to Arthur from the enraged King March Meirchion, demanding some justice. And Arthur thought long and carefully with his wisest advisers. For Tristan, like many a warrior of these days, was also a harper, as we have seen, but like many a harper of these days he was also just a wee bit of a wizard and he had these powers. For a few, who could a wound on anyone, even the tiniest scratch, that man would die, but any man who would wound him, huh! Even the tiniest scratch, that man would die. So he was not the kind of person who could be brought out of Caledon forest easily. So Arthur hit on a wonderful plan.

He gathered together a specially highly trained guerrilla squad, of poets and harpers. For these, Tristan would never harm, for it was open to have his book reviewed by one of them. And they presented Arthur’s case in such a beautiful way that Tristan and Isolde came out of the forest and they agreed to abide by the judgement of the great King.

Now, here is what the Great King Arthur decreed. Now, you say this after me… The judgement of the great King …

Isolde must spend one part of the year with one man, when the trees are in leaf, and one part of the year with the other, when the trees are bare.

And Isolde laughed and she clapped her hands and she said:

‘Blessed be the tongue that gave that judgement
Blessed be the lips that utters it
and blessed be the pen that recorded it
Three trees there are, loyal and true
the holly, the ivy, and the yew
that keep their leaves all year through’

And so Tristan was married to Isolde, and so the real story ends, before Wagner got his hands on it. Some say that Chapelizod is where she was buried years later in Dublin as a little wooden church, it was built over by a little Medieval perpendicular gothic church, that was built over by a Victorian gothic monstrosity that was… At all events, it’s under a building site now. And last year I was down in Cornwall doing a literature festival in a little town called Fowey, and passing along the side of the road there, there was a tall stone beside the road, a big standing stone, and they found it in a field lying down five or six years ago, and when they lifted it up they found on the other side of that stone, the one word in the old writing: “TRISTAN”, so maybe that’s where Tristan is buried, but if it is, whatever became of his wonderful music no one knows.

Solo concert by multi-talented Robin Williamson. More than a concert: a great performance  ↓ [8 parts]

•  Tristan and Iseult   ↓   [1990]

If you were to walk along the streets of Dublin’s fair city, smiling at nothing in particular or watching the big fat fish mulleting about the grimy and slimy shallows of the river Liffy (a fish that only the Germans would eat, you know), or listening to what the pigeons and the preacher have to say to each other on Stephen’s Green, you wouldn’t be wasting your time, to my way of thinking. But if you began reading the destinations on the buses you’d at last see one for Chapelizod. And there is a story in that. Not many people remember now that Chapelizod is named after Isolde, the beautiful Isolde, of the White Throat, who so long ago was the daughter of the King of Dublin.

She was to be married to March Meirchion, the King of Cornwall. And Arthur, the High King of all the Britons, the famous King Arthur, […?] whose name is better than meat to anyone who would recite his verses, Arthur had sent his own kinsman, he’d sent his own cousin, Tristan, across the sea to to Ireland to fetch the lady to her wedding.

Now it was a sultry day when they pulled away from Dublin harbour, and the sea like a millpond. The sails hung limp and the rowers had the oars outward, pulling them and . . . cursing the weather profusely and quietly. Tristan and Isolde sat in the bow of the boat to catch any breath of air that may be drifting past; they played chess together; or was it draughts or checkers? At all events, Isolde won every game, so Tristan played the harp for her . . .

Till finally at a loss without anything particularly to say, they sent a servant down below for something to drink. But it was not the half bottle of […?] style California chably with which he returned … America… America’s wines… You know they’ve got a wine in America called “My Wild Irish Rosee”? The only nation in the world to go from […?] to decadence with no intervening culture. Nor yet was a fine-peppermint flavoured Australian fighting burgundy. But it was the flask of love potion that was made by his own father, Chief Druid, to be drunk between her and March Meirchion the night of the wedding. Well, Tristan and Isolde had a couple half gills of that…

T&Is

When the full horror of this dawned on them, they stared at each other and asked, how could their love ever be in the world at all? Tristan, being a man of obsessive honour, insisted on delivering Isolde to March Meirchion castle gates as agreed, and they stocked off to a […?] grief and nighty deeds, and daily deeds as well.

While Isolde lay staring anorexically at the wall … Till finally this life of servants’ misspelled messages and midnight assignations proved unbearable in the days before the answering machine … And the lovers eloped together to Caledon forest, that cloaked old Scotland from Newcastle in the east to Galloway in the west, the wildest and deepest woods in all the lands of Arthur.

Now messengers came to Arthur from the enraged King March, demanding some sort of justice. And Arthur and his beautiful fortress consulted with his wisest advisers. For Tristan, like many a warrior of those days, was also a harper, as we have seen; like many a harper of these days he was also just a wee bit of a wizard and he had these powers. That if you would put a wound on anyone… that person would die, but if anyone who would wound him, huh! that person would die. So he was not the kind of man who could be brought out of Caledon forest easily. So Arthur hit on a wonderful plan.

He gathered together a specially highly trained guerrilla squad, of poets and harpers. For these, Tristan would never harm, for it was open to have his book reviewed by one of them. And they went up to Caledon and they presented Arthur’s case in a series of linked verses in an old verse form called the “E” in a language full of repeated consonant rhymes [. . . ?] There wasn’t a living soul who could understand a syllable of it. But they convinced Tristan, they convinced Isolde in such a beautiful way that Tristan and Isolde agreed to come out of Caledon and abide by whatever Arthur would give as his judgement.

This is his judgement: That Isolde should spend one part of year with one man when the trees were in leaf, and the other part of the year with the other when the trees were bare. And that March Meirchion was to have the first choice, as the injured party.

March Meirchion thought carefully about this. He thought to himself: In Winter the nights are longer, and the days seem longer, and he said: “I choose to dwell with the beautiful Isolde when the trees are bare.”
Then Isolde laughed and clapped her hands, and she said:

‘Blessed be the tongue that gave that judgement
Blessed be the lips that uttered it
and blessed the pen that recorded it
Three trees there are, loyal and true
the holly, the ivy, and the yew
that keep their leaves all year through’

So Tristan was wed to Isolde, and so the real story ends before Wagner got his hands on it. Some say Chapelizod is where she was buried years later in Dublin, a little ruined chapel, a little early medieval site over that, a Victorian site on top of that. At all events, it’s under a building site now. All the remains of March Meirchion’s, great and mighty castle, are parts of a farm that stands in Cornwall to this day. But wherever Tristan’s grave might be, or what may have become of his wonderful music, no one knows.

•  Verses At Ellesmere   ↑  [for his wife]

Because you wear the face of all women for me 
I yearn for you with the yearning of all men 
Along the faceless streets of shadowed England 
Owning the broad daylight of my pain …
 
Who can deal an order on God’s ardour?
Who can out-shuffle every shift of the cards? 
Among the tangled roads of nettled England 
How sweetly blooms the rose among old graveyards …
 
If love can clasp or fathom to some ultimate stand 
Neither pity nor desire can tell
Among the lonesome crowds of familiar England 
Knowing every kiss is a kiss of farewell …
 
Wooden-loined, I praise the evergreenness of things 
The patternlessness and the perfect lack of symmetry 
Among the sad, sad markets of heartless England
Till my heart shall cease to seek to make bargains for me …

• The Wonderful Tailor
• Ancient Songs

↓  ‘The Flying Cloud’  +   ‘The Deserter’ …

My name is William Hollander, have you all to know
I’m from the County of Waterford, in Erin’s lovely land,
When I was young and in my prime,  fortune on me smiled,
My parents reared me tenderly, I being their only child.

My father raised me to a trade in Waterford’s fair town,
And he bound me to a cooper whose name was Sir William Brown.
And I served my master faithfully for eighteen months or more
Till I shipped aboard The Ocean Queen belonging to Tramore.

FlyingCAnd when we reached Bermuda’s isle where I met with Captain Moore,
The shipper of the Flying Cloud from out of Baltimore,
And kindly he invited me on a slaving voyage to go,
To the burning shores of Africa, where the sugar wishes grow.

Well after some weeks of sailing we reached that Africa’s shore,
Five hundred of those slaves there from the native land we tore.
And we hurled them on a plank and stowed them down below,
Scarce eighteen inches to a man was all that they had to go.

But the plague and the fever came on board, swapped half of them away.
And we dragged their bodies on the deck and way dumped them in the sea,
Better  for the rest of them to have perished there below
Than  beneath the planters [. . . ?] all along the Cuban shore.

For we sacked and plundered many a ship down all along the Spanish Main,
Caused many a widow and orphan in sorrow to remain.
We fought till William Moore was killed with eighty of his men,
[ . . . ?] , we had to surrender then.

It was next to Newgate we were brought, bound down in iron chains,
For the sinking and the plundering of ships on the Spanish Main.
The judge he found me guilty, I was condemned to die.
Oh young men, a warning  take, and lead not such a life as I.

Oh fare you well, old Waterford and the girl I do adore,
No more I’ll kiss her lips  again and squeeze her waist once more,
And the whiskey and bad company has made a wretch of me,
Oh young men, a warning take and shun all piracy.

•→The Devil’s Grandmother

→ The Lad With The Goatskin  .  .  .  ↓

This poor woman once, you know, she had no clothes to put on her son. She was so poor. So kept him in a pit of ashes, next to the fire. That kept him warm. One night, she was shuffling home, cursing her bunions, when she saw the corpse of an old goat that had been knocked down by a truck. Said to herself, ‘That good skin would make great clothes for wee Jimmie.’ «. . . Jimmie, get out of the ashes a minute – there’s a good skin here, I’ll wrap it on you!»

Why, stood up for the first time, and he was huge, sixteen years old, and the mineral nourishment from the ashes: the magnesium, the selenium and the zinc… She looked up and… «Gee, look at the size of you! What are you doing? Sitting down day and day, never lifted a finger to help me. What’s keeping him from going out to the woods to get sticks?» 

So off he went to gather sticks for the fire, but he hardly had got more than a pile gathered when there come galumphing a [. . . ?] of a giant with a fifteen-foot shillelagh over his shoulder and at the end of that a big iron spike and on the end of the iron spike a yellow flea; that’s what gave it its power. As he came forward, the giant’s [. . . ?] «.  .  .» and other things the giant said that are not polite to repeat. The lad with the goat skin know it’s been a lifetime dodging thing his mum chucked at the fire and missed. So when the giant [. . . ?] he docked, the giant’s sword come round, rock on the back of his own head, knocked him down [. . . ?]  the lad with the goat skin, stamping the foot on the giant’s neck, «What will you give me if I spare your life?» The giant said, «Oh please don’t kill me and I’ll give you my magical shillelagh: thwack with it whether you have a clear conscience or not.»

So he let the giant go; took the sticks and the shillelagh home over his shoulders. The mother was pleased to get the sticks, but the following day, it was… «Look at you sitting there like Lord Muck. Out to the woods and get some sticks!» Off he had to go again. Now there came an even bigger giant; two heads on him: one with a leering squint, one with a squinting leer. Lad with the goat skin [. . . ?] stamping the foot on the nearest neck, «What will you givePenny_w me if I spare your life?» And the giant said, «Oh please don’t kill me … please don’t kill me and I’ll give you my magical flageolet.» «Flageolet, feadóg stáin, it’s the old word, the new word, what do you call a penny whistle.» «Penny whistle, uh, doesn’t cost a penny now though.» «Oh well, nothing costs what it did.» «That’s the truth … that’s the truth.» «But it’s not ordinary penny whistle, oh no-no – its blowing anyone can play it, you don’t need Robin Williamson, penny whistle box – oh no-no-no This one plays a magic whistle … It’s a magic whistle … plays jigs, reels, polka, [. . . ?] oh it’s a fantastic whistle; when people hear it, that’s the best [. . . ?] for a dance. When people hear it, they dance … they dance … until you stop playing [. . . ?] Oh please let me go and don’t spare … oh-oh spare my life and don’t hurt me. Let me go. I’ll give you the whistle so I will.» «So I will.»

So he let the giant go and he picked up the magic whistle, the feadóg stáin . . . and the sticks danced home with the shillelagh. Well, the mother was pleased to get the sticks, but the following day, off he had to go to the woods again and out there come down the biggest giant yet seen; three heads on him, all shaved down the side and big tufts of hair stuck, and a torn up T-shirt saying, ‘Jesus Saves’… and a big tattoo in the belly bouncing «Hand Me […?]’ Lad with the goat skin get […?] make mincemeat out of him, and with the victorious gesture of which he’s becoming overtly fond, «What will you give me if I spare your life?» And the giant said, «Oh please don’t kill me.» This one spoke in unison. «Please don´t kill me.» Don’t you know it’s these giants that’ve got very high voices. Did you not wonder why? I was […?] they were taken to give them their awesome definition in a rude […?] «Oh please don’t kill me and I’ll give you my magical jar of saileach – oh this is a wonderful healing ointment; it’ll cure all wounds […?] financial and military …»

Ah, I let the giant go and took the magic jar of ointment … Night, I thought I’d take the night off, you know, to go walking around town, the goat skin tied round his middle, the shillelagh over his shoulder, all smeared up with the ashes and the dreads, you know, took a tour round the town. Any laughter he heard, he just put it down to jealousy. But there was a wee bird singing in the bush, and the song the wee bird sang was: «The king will give his daughter’s hand in marriage to whoever could make her her … whoever could make her laugh three times…»

Oh I liked the, er… princesses’ hand so I wouldn’t mind the rest of her as well. Oh I wish I could marry a princess and have the time of my life. I’ll never […?] another day, I’ll just live up my wife. I’d wine with […?]  I’ll dine at home. I’ll come at her every cry … I wish I could marry a princess… BUT … […?] hell of a short supply…

So he set off for the palace. When the guards saw this big […?] all covered in ashes, with a 15-foot shillelagh over his shoulder, at once they give him an inch-and-a-half of […?]  into his leg by way of greeting. The lad with the goat skin took out the shillelagh and knocked one of the guards up into the air to the left – Ahhg…! When they’re moving to the right – Ooohh…! And the king’s only daughter, three floors up parted her […?] curtains and she saw her father’s guards fluttering down again like broken umbrellas, and she laughed . . . unpleasant child… «That’s once said the lad with the goat skin, They had to make him welcome then. They gave him food and a present of money, and with the money he got himself a lovely tartan shirt and a pair of corduroys from the gap.

Now there was another suitor in the palace at this time, somebody else after the princess is handing, he was called the Earl of the Fishy Bridge, and he has no reason whatever to like the lad with the goat skin, so the following day, when the king was at his breakfast, the Earl of the Fishy Bridge came in and he said, «Your Majesty … you see…»

↑  . . .The Lad With The Goatskin (cont.)

«…Lad with the goat skin… Hey, why not send him up in the hills to get your yearling heifer». And the king said, «I…. a good idea. Glad I thought of it [. . . ?]»

«Go, Skin chappie… Nip off up into the hills and brings us down that large wolf, and if you could bring down that really large wolf, the one who’s eating all our sheep, then we shall see … we shall see … Absolutely clear.»

Lad_with_the_Goat-Skin

Out in the mountains, out loll out the wolf, for a year and a half, tongue not wag his tail, the Lad with the goat skin pulled out the feadóg stáin and the wolf got on his legs; they danced all the way down to the town, the people heard the music […?] and the king himself … […?] The king was furious. His daughter was creasing herself laughing: «Oh, nothing so funny, daddy.» They danced […?] and the wolf followed ways down to the cage and they put it on a ship for America; that’s why there’s wolves here this day, you know, an ecological story.

Well, the king stood up all that night, burning the midnight oil, trying to come to some ultimate solution to the Good Skin question. Finally, answer come to him, ‘Good ski jumping.’ «I want you to go down the hell… Absolutely. Bring back the Flail of Heath.» (remember that? remember that?) Sure to be useful for something is state […?] «If you can bing back the Flail of Health, why… then we shall see … what … Absolutely.»

Well, off went the Lad with the Goat skin to hell, you see; very easy to find, just outside Pittsburgh, a big moving staircase going down and down and down and down into the very bowels of the earth. Straight ahead of him, the Lad with the goat skin could see the gates of Hell, a hundred and fifty miles high, made great boiling cascades of lava, molten hot white orange creams and green purple and maroon, with wee imps jumping in and out, and they’re shouting thing like «Why […?]» and stuff like that.

TheLad with the goat skin rubbed his hands with the saileach, and it would cure all wounds and immune him from any harm. Opened the gates of Hell and he strode inside. He worked to the devil’s kitchen and into the devil’s […?] He explained he’d come to get the Flail; the devil said, «But I do not wish to give you this magical weapon.» Well, the Lad with the goat skin picked up the shillelagh, his big arm mashed and the devil […?] furniture…, knocking down the pictures of the devil’s favourite politicians … who shall remain nameless…

You know how you can tell when a politician is lying? Their lips move. He was making a hell out of hell. So finally the devil pulled himself up to his full five feet in his cloven trod protected boots, and he said, «[…?] go away and never come here again. You … animal!»

Back near the castle, the Lad with the goat skin put the Flail down to the […?] shoes. And the Earl of the Fishy Bridge kind of bind him and grabbed it. They kill the Earl but his Flail was still white hot from the fires of hell that had stuck to the flesh, flesh to the bone, bone to the marrow… and there were wee bones … were coming out of the back of […?] as if his hands were like a broken umbrella persisting in itself, «Ouch […?]» Only when it could be rubbed with the saileach, it would cure all wounds… Could he be healed of such wounds he had from the fires of hell? Well, they could see then the Lad with the goat skin was set on marrying the princess; she laughed all the way to the church. They gave him a wedding in nine days and nine nights. I was there myself, playing the harp for them, and the present I was given was butter on red hot coal, and soup in a basket… But how the Lad with the goat skin go on i n his marriage … that’s another story.

•  The Lark In The Morning

  Wearie Well

As I came down by the weary well going there to fill my can
My fortune there I do declare – She took me by the hand
The lark gives tongue when summer comes though time cracks every song
As if newborn and as forlorn ‘Twas me that loved her long – ‘Twas me that loved her long
 
The willow tree, the willow tree that Christ cleft for his flocks
I saw the candles burn in the church and the door of the many locks
The ocean roared against the shore in the dark before the day
I pulled my coat up round my throat and I turned my face away – I turned my face away
 
I wish that I were in her bed where I have been before
Her arms entwined around my neck and her sweet breasts rising so
And I wish her door was bolted fast with two locks and a chain
and she and I inside to lie safe from the wind and rain – Safe from the wind and rain
 
Sun and fire and candlelight to all this world belong
But the moon pale and the midnight – Let these delight the strong
Where wild geese fly across the sky – Her voice is like the air
and the midnight dark is in her eyes and the night is on her hair

… ‘The May Morning Dew’ …

•  May Morning Dew  ↑

Winter is coming, how soon it draws near,
leaves fall before us, for the yellow […?]
friends of my childhood, friends I once knew
like the red rose I’ll vanish through the May morning dew.

The house I was raised in is but a stone on a stone,
all round the garden nettles have grown,
friends of my childhood, friends I once knew,
like the red rose I’ll vanish through the May morning dew.

Now God bless with the old ones who are now dead and gone,
And likewise my own brothers, young Dennis and John,
Among the green bushes the valley’s all blue
the wild hare they’re hunting through the May morning dew.
How pleasant in winter to sit by the hob,
and listen to the barking, the growl of a dog,
friends of my childhood, friends I once knew
like the red rose I’ll vanish through the May morning dew

•→ The Greatest Pick-Pocket In The World ←

. . . You don’t want any more surely . . . Only came back to get the instruments, you know… All right I’ll do something long and depressing

•  The Parting Glass [R.Burns]

All the money that e’er I spent, I spent it in good company
All the harm I’ve ever done – Alas it was to none but me 
And all I’ve done for want of wit  to mem’ry now I shan’t recall 
Fill to me the parting glass – Good night and joy be with you all

All the friends I e’er had, They’re sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts e’er I loved, They would wish me one more day to stay 
But since it fell unto my lot  that I must part now and you should not 
I gently rise and softly I call – Good night and joy be to you all

• ‘Dark Woman of the Glen’ ↓ (2012)

•  ‘Political Lies’  ↑

In the summer that my son was born – In the same changing town that fathered me
I retrace my steps trying to fill my own footsteps
But this is the truth: perhaps there is no return
Political lies – political promises
This shadow everywhere of a sense of powerlessness
You and I live stumbling in the blindness
the blindness of Wall Street, Moscow and White House
How many miles I walked by the Union Canal
Thinking of the hands that made it – the hands of the navvies
Thinking of the patient horses that pulled along the barges
[ . . . ?] on the pillars of the bridges
And above this, what rubs to you robs to me
 
Political lies – political promises
This shadow everywhere of a sense of powerlessness
You and I live waiting in the history,
A history of mystery – a history of betrayal … of betrayal

…an old JOKE: – How can you tell when a politician is lying? – Their lips move.

All along the banks of the Union Canal
I walk in the flaming sunset of one summer’s evening
Scottish skinhead gluehead Scottish […?] tattooed in his head
Looks at the sky and he asks me
What does it mean?
Political lies – political promises
This shadow everywhere of a sense of powerlessness
You and I live basking in the anguish
The anguish of those we have failed to hear
 
In the night I listen to my own darkness
I think being born and dying of the same jacks and aces
I think about the signature of God on the prison
And about following saints and becoming lost again
Political lies – political promises
This shadow everywhere of a sense of powerlessness
You and I live with the same old question
and the same inexplicable strangeness of being here at all
♦  ‘Ace of Spades’  ↓  [Lemmy_Motorhead]

If you like to gamble, maybe I’m your man,
Win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me,
The pleasure is to play, and doesn’t matter what you say,
I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is
The Ace Of Spades

Going for the high one, dancing with the devil,
Going with the flow, it’s all the same to me,
Seven or Eleven, snake eyes watching you,
Double stake or split, double up or quit,
The Ace Of Spades

You know I’m born to lose, gambling’s for fools,
But that’s the way I like it baby,
I don’t want to live for ever,
Don’t forget the joker!

Pushing up the ante, you want to see me,
Read ‘em and weep, it’s the dead man’s hand again,
(Well) I see it in your eyes, take one look and die,
you know it’s gonna be, all you gonna see – The Ace Of Spades

♣   ‘For Three of Us’  ↓  (1981)

ah the night was worth the candle
to talk awhile among good friends
daybreak brings another journey
god knows where we’ll meet again
CHORUS:
over hills and valleys
mountains beyond
this world but for to wander
to be here and gone 
 
had we but known in the beginning
the tune would twist in our fingers so
and drive our feet across the borders
the way the north wind drives the snow
over hills and valleys . . .
 
coals that spark speak ancient winters
rain resumes its deepest home
all that’s been has led us hither
all that’s here must lead us on
over hills and valleys . . .
◊   ‘Lough Foyle’  ↓  [«A Glint at the Kindling»_1979]

At age 14 they gave us training
To number off by threes and give salutes
To clean and fire the Lee and Enfield
To answer smartly sir and shine the boots
Me and all the other poor bastards
Glengarry bonnets on at bugle call
I never thought I looked good in khaki
It hurt the pride as well as it scratched the balls
I volunteered for the signals section
To work the radios was a skivers joy
and on manoeuvres I’d twist the orders
and put confusion on the soldier boys

To Northern Ireland for summer training
Near to Lough Foyle not far from Derry town
To get the feel of the regular army
and generally act the bloody clown
To eat melodious beans and gravy
To sleep on old grey blankets stiff with stains
and on the carsy in the morning
To squat in rows like cows with labor pains

Me and some lads broke out one evening
Climbed through the wire and down the lough beside
We spied some fishers in their long boats
Casting nets out on the silvery tide
They soon pulled shoreward and we got to talking
To row us over the water they’d agree
They hoist us dry shod in the boat beside them
And away across the watery waves went we
Cross to Greencastle in Southern Ireland
A street of cottages set end to end
A couple of churches and several boozers
Where we fell to drinking with our Irish friends

The best black porter, strong beer and whiskey
We had a bevy there as drunk as lords
and all skylarking and cutting capers
Till that old church clock it chimed for four
The fishers rowed us back over the water
and went to fish upon the morning rise
But we were drunk and devoid of caution
and we were halted climbing back through the wire
and me and the lads were all defaulted
and straight away upon fatigues were led
To double at our every duty
With our rifles held above our heads

Bur my good luck was not all departed
I got infected in both the ears
Some kind of hole in the two of my ear drums
Till not a single order could I hear
I sadly smiled and looked downhearted
While they could curse and shout and rage
and that’s the way I would end a story
When I was 14 years of age

bran

•→Scotland yet

•→‘The Head’

• The Voyage of Bran→

•→Verses At Powis  ⇔ [lyrics]

 

•→ Ask My Father  (2012)

≡  The Incredible String Band ↓ ‘The Water Song’  ↓  [2003]

Water, water, see the water flow
Glancing, dancing, see the water flow
O wizard of changes, water, water, water

Dark or silvery mother of life
Water, water, holy mystery, heavens daughter
Wizard of changes teach me the lesson of flowing

God made a song when the world was new
Waters laughter sings it through
O wizard of changes teach me the lesson of flowing

God made a song when the world was new
Waters laughter sings it through
O Wizard of changes, teach me the lesson of flowing

•→RW interviewed  1997

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