13 May

The County Tyrone

My parents oft times told me, they never could control me,
That a weaver they would make me if I’d stay at home,
But I took another notion of a higher promotion,
To try other countries as well as Tyrone.

When I came to Newry, it was there I fell a-courting,
A charming young girl for a wife of-a my own,
But when I came to view her she would not endure me,
For oft times she told me I was married at home.

Continually weaving I spent that whole season,
Oh thinking my true love, she would change her mind,
When at last I contracted, she instantly asked me,
“Kind sir, your character?” from the County Tyrone.

It is for my character you need never ask me,
For married or promised I never was to no’one,
She swore by her conscience that she would run all chances,
And travel along with me to the County Tyrone.

Oh early next morning, as the day was a-dawning,
We took a short ramble down by the mile stone,
A guard did pursue us, but they could not come to us,
I was wishing in my heart I had her in Tyrone.

With great toil and trouble our course we did double,
We met an old man that was walking alone,
He told them where he met us and where they would get us,
And that we were still talking of the County Tyrone

The canal it was near us where vessels were lying,
I jumped onto one and my case I made known,
They threw a plank to us, and on shipboard they drew us,
And told us the vessel was bound for Tyrone.

Now I am landed in my own native country,
And in spite of her parents I’ve got her at home,
Now my song for to finish she’s my love Jenny Innes,
And I’m bold McGuinness from the County Tyrone.

Beaver Island, Michigan singer John W. Green (1871-1964) learned “The County Tyrone” from his uncle (probably Peter O’Donnell, another singer born on the island). Song collector Ivan Walton recalls the night he, his son Lynn, islander Dominick Gallagher and collector Alan Lomax commenced their recording session with Green in August 1938 this way: “Lomax, Dominick Gallagher, Lynn and I and some beer drove out to John Green’s and found him quite talkative. We set up the recording machine and didn’t take it down until about 1 a.m.” My transcription of Green singing “The County Tyrone” for Lomax’s recording machine is above. The recording is accessible here on the loc.gov site.

Green’s is the only version of this song collected in North America. It is known in the north of Ireland and appears in Sam Henry’s Songs of the People as well as in the repertoires of Robert Cinnamond, Joe Holmes, Brian Mullen and others. The sweet melody, internal rhyming and detailed story of a successful elopement make it a song worth singing!

11 Sep

Hibernia’s Lovely Jane

(as usual, I forgot/changed a few words and notes here and there when I went to sing it)

Hibernia's Lovely Jane

 

When parting from the Scottish shore on the highland mossy banks,
To Germany we all sailed o’er to meet the hostile ranks,
Till at length in Ireland we arrived after a long campaign,
There a bonny maid my heart betrayed, she’s Hibernia’s lovely Jane.

Her cheeks were of the rosed hue; the bright glance of her een,
Just like the drops of dew bespangled o’er the meadows green,
Jane Cameron ne’er was half so fair; no, nor Jessie of Dunblane,
No princess fine could her outshine, she’s Hibernia’s lovely Jane.

My tartan plaid I will forsake, my commission I’ll resign.
I’ll make this bonnie lass my bride if the lassie will be mine.
And in Ireland where her graces are, forever I’ll remain,
In Hymen’s band join heart and hand with Hibernia’s lovely Jane.

This bonny lass of Irish braw being of a high degree,
Her parents said a soldier’s bride their daughter ne’er should be,
O’erwhelmed with care, grief and despair, no hopes do now remain,
Since this near divine cannot be mine, she’s Hibernia’s lovely Jane.

If war triumphant sounds again to call her sons to arms,
Or Neptune waft me o’er the deep far, far from Janie’s arms,
Or was I laid on honor’s bed, by a dart or a ball be slain,
Death’s pangs will cure the pains I bear for Hibernia’s lovely Jane.

_____________________________________

The text of this version of “Hibernia’s Lovely Jane” was given by Andrew Ross of Charlevoix, Michigan to collector Franz Rickaby in the early 1920s. Ross (1853-1930) was born in Quebec to Highland Scottish parents. He came to Charlevoix around 1880 and worked his way up the local lumbering industry, eventually serving as mayor of Charlevoix. Ross’s obituary says he “had a natural ear for music, and abundance of wit and humor, and his stock of Scotch songs and dances were known to many.” It continues, “As an entertainer in the early days he was in constant demand, and even in later years was frequently called upon to display his talents.”  (http://obits.charlevoixlibrary.org/articles/article30207.jpg, accessed Aug. 20, 2015)

“Hibernia’s Lovely Jane” (sometimes “Jean”) is a broadside ballad dating from the early 1800s that depicts a Scottish soldier in love with an Irish girl. In 1932, collector Sam Henry found a version sung (to a different air) in Ballycastle, County Antrim which he printed in his Songs of the People. Other than Henry’s version, I have found no other published version from tradition. However, during my research trip to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress last summer, I discovered two versions recorded by Ivan Walton during his 1940 trip to Beaver Island, Michigan. The melody above is a composite of the airs sung by Beaver Island singers John W. Green and Mike J. O’Donnnell. That the song would surface in both Charlevoix and Beaver Island makes sense. For over a century, Charlevoix has been the chief “mainland” town connected to Beaver Island by ferry. O’Donnell said he learned his version from singer Maggie Boyle of Harbor Springs, Michigan who may have learned it in Scotland.

A few words in the Ross text were misspelled or otherwise garbled and I have replaced these with words found in broadside texts held by the Bodleian Library.

 

01 Sep

The Bold Privateer

Bold Privateer

Farewell lovely Ellen, it is now we must part,
Must I leave you behind me, the love of my heart,
I must leave you behind me, and all that I hold dear,
Once more to go a-roving, in the Bold Privateer.

The foe they are treacherous, right very well you know,
Did they not kill their own poor king, not so very long ago,
You had better stay at home, with the girl that loves you dear,
Then to roam the wild ocean, in the Bold Privateer.

Our boat lies on the strand, and our ship lies in the bay,
Farewell my dearest jewel, for I can no longer stay,
Our ship she lies awaiting, so fare you well my dear,
I must now go on board of the Bold Privateer.

There is no one can tell, what hazards you may run,
So many have been slain, since this cruel war’s begun,
You had better not go, and leave your Ellen here,
For I dread to see you leaving, in the Bold Privateer.

Fear naught lovely Ellen, I fain would with thee stay,
But gold I must gather, for our wedding day,
We will soon beat down the pride, of the lofty Mounseer,
And will soon let them know, she’s the Bold Privateer.

Then since you are a-going, Good Luck attend to thee,
May kind Heaven protect you, on land or at sea,
May kind Heaven protect you, wherever you may steer,
And send you safe back, in the Bold Privateer.

Now the prizes we have taken, are from France and from Spain,
And my true love at home, she shall share the gain,
And when the war’s are over, I’ll return unto my dear,
And go no more a-roving, in the Bold Privateer.

_____________

 

On Februray 20th, 1927, the New York Times “Queries and Answers” section ran a request from one Joseph F. McGinnis for a full text of the above ballad to which McGinnis knew the melody but only the first two verses. McGinnis (featured in last month’s Northwoods Songs) was born in Kingston, Ontario and learned songs as a sailor on the Great Lakes before settling in New York City. McGinnis’s New York Times request was answered by none other than renowned Derry song collector Sam Henry. Henry supplied McGinnis with the missing verses and went on to correspond with McGinnis over the next few years. Henry even printed two songs contributed by McGinnis (“The Deserter” and “The ‘Crummy’ Cow”) in his “Songs of the People” column that has since been published in book form and is regarded as one of the finest collections of Irish traditional song in the English language.

McGinnis, who traded songs by mail with Minnesota singer Michael Cassius Dean, also sent Henry a copy of Dean’s songster The Flying Cloud. Irish song scholar John Moulden theorizes that Dean’s songster had a significant influence on Henry’s subsequent “Songs of the People” columns! (see this 2007 talk by Moulden)

The above text comes from a typescript prepared by McGinnis for “Songs of the Dogwatch”—his own collection of songs which was never published. The above melody is also based on the transcription that appears in the McGinnis typescript but I have taken liberties with rhythm and key signature to conform the air to what I believe is more probable.