Songs

On this page you will find lyrics and sometimes notation of a few of the songs that I like to sing. Some are my own songs and some are traditional, meaning that we do not know who wrote them. Some are by known authors, but they have passed into the folk process, being sung by many people through many years. Feel free to sing any songs I have written that I share here. If you intend to include any of them on a commercial recording, please contact me.

This page has grown organically, as I posted lyrics after classes and workshops, wanting to give the participants access to the words. I have alphabetized the songs to make it easier but you still have to scroll through them.

I have been thinking that many people may find it useful to hear the tunes, and the easiest way for most will be to find something online. I have posted some links below the songs but feel free to explore. The versions found on Youtube are not always just like the way I sing them, but it is a good starting point. Eventually I would like to record my own versions and post the tunes. In the meantime, I would like to make you an offer that has always been there for anyone who comes to my workshops or classes: if you want to learn a tune for any lyric I know, contact me by commenting on the site including your email address, or send me an email (mauradotvolanteatgmaildotcom) and give me your phone number. I will call you (if you are there you can hang up and I will call you back) and sing the song onto your voicemail, so you will have a recording of it you can hear over and over until you get it.

Here are the songs posted to this page, in alphabetical order:

Alabama Gal
Amazing Grace
The Bluenose
Bread & Roses
Bright Morning Stars
The Chesapeake and the Shannon
Crafty Maid’s Policy
Farewell to Nova Scotia
Four Strong Winds
Frère Jacques
Go to Sea No More
Hey Arise and Come Along
Hey, Ho, Nobody Home
If I Had a Hammer
I’s the B’y
Jim Whalen
John Kanaka
Jute Mill Song
La Laine des Moutons
Life in a Prairie Shack

Loch Lomond
Log Driver’s Waltz
Lost Jimmy Whalen
A Maid I Am In Love
The Murder of Maggie Howie
Old King Glory
Paddle Song
Les Raftsmen
Red River Valley
Riddles Wisely Expounded
Star of the County Down
Thanking the Earth
Two Sisters
Unquiet Grave
Up In the Morning, Early
We Are Here
When I’m on my Journey
The Work of the Weavers

And here is a 10-page booklet of Christmas carol lyrics as a pdf file, to print or read from the screen when you are gathering with friends and family over the holiday season.

Carols for Christmas 2014

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Alabama Gal
Traditional American

Come through in a hurry
Come through in a hurry
Come through in a hurry
Alabama gal

I don’t know how, how,
I don’t know how, how,
I’ll show you how, how
I’ll show you how, how
Alabama gal

Ain’t I rock candy
Ain’t I rock candy
Ain’t I rock candy
Alabama gal

This is a playparty song, in which the song is traditionally sung and danced together, by the participants. If you want to see the dance done by a group of children, here it is on Youtube: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afKvetAEeeU
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Amazing Grace
John Newton

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound …

There are more verses to this song, if you want them. They are easy to find. These are my favourites.
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La Bastringue
traditional, Quebecois

Mademoiselle, voulez vous danser?
La bastringue, la bastringue
Mademoiselle, voulez vous danser?
La bastringue va commençer.

Oui, monsieur, je veux bien danser
La bastringue, la bastringue
Oui, monsieur, je veux bien danser
C’est pour vous accompagner.

Mademoiselle, il faut nous arrêter . . .
Vous aller vous fatiguer.

Non, monsieur, je sais bien danser . . .
Je suis prête à recommençer.

Mademoiselle, je ne peux plus danser. . .
Parce que j’en ai des cors aux pieds!

This is a popular dance as well as a song, and there are many sources for the tune on Youtube.
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The Bluenose
Traditional, Nova Scotia

She’s a Yankee ship and a Newfoundland master
Blow, boys, blow
She’s a Yankee ship and a Newfoundland master
Blow, me bully boys, blow.

Blow today and blow tomorrow
Blow, boys, blow
For the more she blows
is better for the Bluenose
Blow, me bully boys, blow

Old Ben Pine, he was a good old skipper
Blow, boys, blow
But the Bluenose, she always went a little bit above her
Blow, me bully boys, blow.

Blow today, blow tomorrow …

Now what do you think we had for dinner?
Blow, boys, blow
Oh, roast potatoes and a donkey’s liver
Blow, me bully boys, blow.

Now who do you think was the skipper of her?
Blow, boys, blow
Angus Walters and it was no other
Blow, me bully boys, blow.

Blow today …
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Bread & Roses
James Openheim
(tune: Mimi Farina)

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!

As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.

As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.

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Bright Morning Stars
Traditional, Appalachian

Bright morning stars are rising,
Bright morning stars are rising,
Bright morning stars are rising,
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Oh, where are our dear mothers …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

They are down in the valley praying …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Oh where are our dear fathers …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

They have gone to heaven shouting …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Bright morning stars are rising …
Day is a-breaking in my soul.

Here is a nice version on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsKxjEQk6xo

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The Chesapeake and the Shannon
Traditional, Nova Scotia

The Chesapeake, so bold out of Boston as we’re told
Came to take the British frigate neat and handy O
And the people in the port all came out to see the sport
While their bands all played up Yankee Doodle Dandy O.

Before this action had begun, the Yankees made much fun
Said, “We’ll tow her up to Boston neat and handy O
And after that we’ll dine, treat our sweethearts all with wine
And we’ll dance a jig of Yankee Doodle Dandy O.”

Our British frigate’s  name that for the purpose came
To cool the Yankees’ courage neat and handy O
Was the Shannon—Captain Broke, all his men had hearts of oak
And in fighting were allowed to be the dandy O.

The fight had scarce begun when they flinchèd from our guns
They thought that they had worked us neat and handy O
But Broke he waved his sword, saying, “Come my boys, we’ll board
And we’ll stop them playing Yankee Doodle Dandy O.”

When Britons heard this word they all quickly sprang on board
And seized the Yankees’ ensign neat and handy O
Notwithstanding all their brags, the British raised their flags
On the Yankees’ mizzen peak to the be the dandy O.

Here’s to Broke and all his crew, who with courage stout and true
Fought against the Yankee frigate neat and handy O
O may they ever prove both in fighting and in love
That the British tars will always be the dandy O.

 

I learned the song from notation (Singing Our History: Edith Fowke and Alan Mills, Doubleday, 1984), but here is a link to a singer doing it in a slightly different version:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHd_gfBZo1g

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Crafty Maid’s Policy

Come listen a while and I’ll sing you a song
Of three merry gentlemen riding along
They met a fair maid and to her did say
“I fear this cold morning will do you some harm”

“Oh no, kind sir,” said the maid, “You’re mistaken
To think this cold morning will do me some harm
There’s one thing I crave, it lies twixt your legs
If you give me that, it will keep me warm”

“Since you crave it, my dear, you shall have it
If you’ll come with me to yonder green tree
Then since you do crave it, my dear you shall have it
I’ll make these two gentlemen witness to be”

So the gentleman lighted and straightway she mounted
And looking the gentleman hard in the face
Saying, “You knew not my meaning, you wrong understood me”
And away she went galloping down the long lane

“Oh gentlemen, lend me one of your horses
That I might ride after her down the long lane
If I overtake her, I’ll warrant I’ll make her
Return unto me my horse back again”

But soon as this fair maiden she saw him coming
She instantly then took her pistol in hand
Saying, “Doubt not my skill, it’s you I would kill
I’d have you stand back or you are a dead man”

“Oh why do you spend your time here in talking
Why do you spend your time here in vain
Come give her a guinea, it’s what she deserves
I’ll warrant she’ll give you your horse back again”

“Oh no, kind sir, you’re vastly mistaken
If it is his loss, well it is my gain
And you are a witness that he give it to me”
And away she went galloping over the plain

recorded by Frankie Armstrong. Here is her recording: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqI_jHGKCJ4

This is a  Broadside ballad, printed in 1860, believed to be much older. This form, not as old as the ones collected by Francis Child, is called Broadside because they were printed on sheets of paper and sold, rather than being only transmitted orally. In contrast to many of the older ballads this one is downright cheerful, as the woman not only proves herself clever but gets away with the horse.

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Farewell to Nova Scotia
Traditional, Nova Scotia

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on ev’ry tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me

Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
And when I am far away on the briny oceans tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh and a wish for me?

The drums they do beat and the wars do alarm
The captain calls, I must obey
So farewell, farewell to Nova Scotia’s charms
For it’s early in the morning and I’m far, far away
Farewell to Nova Scotia …

I grieve to leave my native land
I grieve to leave my comrades all
And my aged parents whom I always held so dear
And the bonnie, bonnie lass that I do adore
Farewell to Nova Scotia …

I have three brothers and they are at rest
Their arms are folded on their breast
But a poor simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed and driven on the dark blue sea
Farewell to Nova Scotia …

The Atlantic provinces are rich sources of traditional songs, and one that many people know outside that region is Farewell to Nova Scotia, popularized in the 1960s by Catherine McKinnon. This song was collected by Helen Creighton, Nova Scotia’s pre-eminant folk song collector, and can be found in many songbooks and on Youtube in many versions.
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Four Strong Winds
Ian Tyson

Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All these things that don’t change, come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way

I think I’ll go out to Alberta
Weather’s good there in the fall
Got some friends that I can go to working for
Still I wish you’d change your mind
If I asked you one more time
But we’ve been through that
a hundred times or more
Four strong winds that blow lonely . . .

If I get there before the snow flies
And if things are going good
You could meet me if I sent you down the fare
But by then it would be winter
Not too much for you to do
And those winds sure can blow cold
way out there
Four strong winds that blow lonely . . .
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Frère Jacques
Traditional

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
Din, dan, don, din, dan, don.

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Go to Sea No More

traditional, influenced by the versions of A.L. Lloyd and David Parry

When first I landed in Liverpool, I went upon a spree.
While money lasts, I spent it fast, got drunk as drunk could be.
Before me money it was all spent on the liquor and the whores,
I made up me mind that I was inclined to go to sea no more.
No more, no more, go to sea no more.
I made up me mind that I was inclined to go to sea no more.

As I was walking down the street, I met with Angeline.
She says: Come home with me tonight and I’ll show yas a crackin’ time,
But when I awoke, it was no joke, I found myself alone.
Me silver watch and me money too, and me whole bloody gear was gone.
Was gone, was gone, me whole bloody gear was gone.
When I awoke, it was no joke, me whole bloody gear was gone.

As I was walking down the street, I met big Rapper Brown.
I asked him if he would take me in, and he looked at me with a frown,
Sayin’:  The last time ya was paid off with me you chalked up no score,
But I’ll take your advance, and I’ll give yas a chance to go to sea once more.
Once more, once more, go to sea once more.
I’ll take your advance, and I’ll give yas a chance to go to sea once more.

He shipped me on board of a whalin’ ship that was bound for the Arctic seas,
Where there’s ice and snow and the cold winds blow, and Jamaica rum would freeze,
But worst to bear, I’d no hard-weather gear, for I’d lost all me dunnage ashore.
It’s then that I wished that I was dead so I’d go to sea no more.
No more, no more, go to sea no more.
It’s then that I wished that I was dead so I’d go to sea no more.

Sometimes we catch whales, me boys, but mostly we get none,
With a twenty-foot oar in every paw from five o’clock in the morn.
When daylight’s done and night comin’ on, you take a rest on your oar,
Boys, it’s then that you wish that you was dead or snug with the girls ashore.
Ashore, ashore, snug with the girls ashore.
It’s then that you wish that you was dead or snug with the girls ashore.

Come all you bold seafaring men that listens to me song,
It’s when you go a-big-boatin’, me boys, I’ll have you not go wrong.
Just take me tip, when you get off your ship, don’t go with any whore,
But get married instead, and have all night in bed, and go to sea no more.
No more, no more, go to sea no more.
Get married instead, and have all night in bed, and go to sea no more.

Rapper Brown is a “crimp”, a seamen’s boarding-house keeper who provides captains with crewmen, and is likely part of the port’s criminal element. In exchange for boarding the sailor, Brown chooses his ship, and receives a commission from its captain. The “advance” that Brown takes is money the sailor receives before his voyage, meant to pay off his debts and to buy such necessities as sea clothing. / The narrator previously boarded with Brown on credit, but didn’t settle his account when he returned to shore. When paper was expensive, chalkboards were often used for accounting. In this case, the narrator didn’t clear his account from the chalkboard. One still, literally, “chalks up a score” in a pool hall. / “Dunnage,” according to Oxford, is “miscellaneous baggage,” perhaps a sea chest and rucksack. Robbing a drunken “john” was (and is) a common crime. “Angeline” or her cohorts would then sell the sailor’s gear, perhaps everything he owned, to a fence, who’d likely resell it in a pawnshop after the sailor returned to sea. In the meantime, criminals in port would discourage the sailor from pursuing justice.   Ranald Thurgood

Here it is by the Dubliners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3Af7VxzrqE

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Hey Arise and Come Along
Traditional, Ontario

Hey arise and come along!
Oh, arise and come along!
Rise, arise and come along
And bid adieu to Canada.

Here I lie all alone
On the California shore,
And the lass that I adore
She mourns alone in Canada.
Hey arise …

The day is fine, the wind is fair,
And it’s swiftly flows the tide.
The boat is sailing o’er the main
To bring me far from Canada.
Hey arise …

Tell that handsome girl of mine
If I return before I die
That I will drive her in great style
Along the roads of Canada.
Hey arise …

In Quebec, this noble town
We arrived here safe and sound
And in the tavern we’ll sit down
And drink a health to Canada.
Hey arise …

Collected by Edith Fowke from the singing of Mrs. A. Fraser, Glengarry, Ontario
in Traditional Singers and Songs from Ontario, 1965
I haven’t found this in a recording so if you can’t find the book contact me and I will sing it for you.

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Hey, Ho, Nobody Home
traditional round

Hey, ho, nobody home
Meat nor drink nor money have we none
Still we will be merry
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If I Had a Hammer
Pete Seeger & Lee Hays

If I had a hammer
 I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
 all over this land.
I’d hammer out danger, 
I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a bell 
I’d ring it in the morning,
I’d ring it in the evening all over this land
I’d ring out danger,
 I’d ring out a warning
I’d ring out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a song 
I’d sing it in the morning,
I’d sing it in the evening
 all over this land
I’d sing out danger, 
I’d sing out a warning
I’d sing out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Well I’ve got a hammer 
and I’ve got a bell,
And I’ve got a song to sing all over this land.
It’s the hammer of justice, 
it’s the bell of freedom,
It’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

It’s the hammer of justice, 
it’s the bell of freedom,
It’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.
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I’m Gonna Jump Back in the Ocean

Maura Volante, © 1977

I’m gonna jump back in the ocean
‘Til the earth can be a home again
It feels like a magic potion
Washing from me the world and all its misery.

She feeds my body and my soul
In so very many ways
Her changing rhythms show me to be whole
With her I want to spend my days.

I’m gonna jump …

She feels the bombs and she tastes the dirt
She doesn’t like it at all
She knows her systems are being hurt
And she can make the cities fall.

I’m gonna jump …

Maybe some day when we hear her call
We’ll return to living in the sea
I know she’ll last, she’s stronger than us all
She brings out the strength in me.

I’m gonna jump …

I don’t sing this much anymore but some of my friends have been asking for the lyrics so here it is. I don’t have a recording of it but if you are curious, get in touch and I will teach you the tune.

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I’s the B’y
traditional, Newfoundand

I’s the b’y that builds the boat,
And I’s the b’y that sails her,
I’s the b’y that catches the fish,
And brings them home to Liza

Hip your partner, Sally Tibbo,
Hip your partner, Sally Brown,
Fogo, Twillingate, Morton’s Harbour,
All around the circle

Sods and rinds to cover your flake,
Cake and tea for supper,
Codfish in the spring of the year,
Fried in maggoty butter!
Hip your partner, …

I don’t want your maggoty fish,
That’s no good for winter.
I could buy as good as that,
Hip your partner, …

I took Liza to a dance,
Faith, but she could travel!
Every step that she did take
Was up to her knees in gravel!
Hip your partner, …

Susan White, she’s out of sight,
Her petticoat needs a border,
Old Sam Oliver in the dark
He kissed her in the corner!
Hip your partner, …

Sally’s got a brand new dress
Sally’s got a fine one
Sally’s got a brand new dress
Her mother made out of the old one.
Hip your partner, …

There are lots of versions of this on recordings and Youtube. And here is the notation:

I’s the B’y
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Jim Whalen
Traditional, Ottawa Valley

Come gentlemen and ladies, I’d have you to draw near
‘Til of a mournful accident that I would have you hear
‘Tis of a young and noble youth, Jim Whalen he was called
Who was drowned off Pete McLaren’s raft, below the Upper Fall.

The rapids they were raging, the river it ran high
The foreman to young Whalen said, “This jam we’ll have to try.
You are both young and active; of danger you’ve no fear,
You’re just the man to help me now and get the river clear.”

Young Whalen then made answer unto his comrades bold
“Come one and all together, we’ll do as we are told.
We’ll obey our orders bravely as noble men should do
But as he spoke, the jam it broke and let poor Whalen through.

Three brave youths were on that jam and two of them were saved
But noble-hearted Whalen sank far beneath the waves
No mortal man could live upon that foaming watery main
And though he struggled hard for life, his struggles were in vain.

The foaming waters roared and tossed the logs from shore to shore
Now here, now there, his body went a-tumbling o’er and o’er
One final cry for mercy, “Oh, God, look down on me!”
Then his soul was freed from earthly care, bound to eternity.

Come all ye jolly raftsmen, think on poor Whalen’s fate
Take warning and be careful before it is too late
For death’s still lurking ‘round you, still seeking to destroy
The pride of many a father’s heart and many a mother’s joy.

Here is a Youtube version but it is a pretty fancied up rendition. It sounds better, to my mind, unaccompanied and simple. But it will let you get the tune, more or less: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkOb1ivB3Ok

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John Kanaka
Traditional sea shanty

I thought I heard the old man say
John Kanakanaka tooriyay
Today, today is a holiday
John Kanakanaka tooriyay

Tooriyay, oh, tooriyay
John Kanakanaka tooriyay

We’re outward bound to ‘Frisco Bay,
John …
We’re outward bound at the break of day,
John … Tooriyay …

And when you wallop around Cape Horn, John …
You’ll wish to Christ you’d never been born, John … Tooriyay …

Just one more pull and that’ll do, John …
For we’re the bullies to see her through, John …
Tooriyay …

I thought I heard the old man say, John …
Today, today is a holiday, John …
Tooriyay …

Here is a fun rendition of this song, and there are many more out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cscqAdLuCnY

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Jute Mill Song
Mary Brooksbank

Oh, dear me, the mill’s gain’ fast
And poor we shifters canna get nae rest
Shiftin’ bobbins, course and fine
They fairly mak’ ye work for your ten and nine.

Oh, dear me, I wish the day were done
For runnin’ up and doon the pass is nae fun
Shiftin’, piecin’, spinnin’, warp, weft and twine
To feed and cled my bairnie offen ten and nine.

Oh, dear me, the world’s ill divided
For them that works the hardest, Aye, they’re least provided
But I mun bide contented, dark days or fine
It’s nae much pleasure livin’ offen ten and nine.

Oh, dear me, the mill’s gain’ fast
And poor we shifters canna get nae rest
Shiftin’ bobbins, course and fine
They fairly mak’ ye work for your ten and nine.

There are lots of recordings on Youtube of this popular song.

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La Laine Des Moutons
Traditional, Quebecois

La laine des moutons, c’est nous qui la tondaines
La laine des moutons, c’est nous qui la tondons
Tondons, tondons, la laine des moutaines
Tondons, tondons, la laine des moutons

La laine des moutons, c’est nous qui la lavaines
La laine des moutons, c’est nous qui la lavons
Lavons, lavons, la laine des moutaines
Lavons, lavons, la laine des moutons

…C’est nous qui la cardaines, … cardons …

… filaines, filons … tissaines, tissons … vendaines, vendons … chantaines, chantons …

Here is Carmen Campagne’s version: http://www.thesecretmountain.com/node/178
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Life in a Prairie Shack
Traditional, Prairies

Oh, a life in a prairie shack, when the rain begins to pour
Drip, drip, it comes through the roof
And some comes through the door
The tenderfoot curses his fate and faintly mutters, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”

“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”

Oh, he saddled his fiery cayuse
Determined to flourish around
The critter began to buck and threw him off on the ground
And as he picked himself up he was heard to mutter, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”
“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw! …

Oh, he tried to light a fire at twenty degrees below
He made a lick at a stick and amputated his toe
And as he crawled to his shack
He was heard to mutter, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”
“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw! …

Now all you tenderfeet list’, before you go too far
If you haven’t a government sit
You’d better stay where you are
And if you take my advice then you’ll not mutter, “Ah!
This bloomin’ country’s a fraud
And I want to go home to my Maw!”
“Maw! Maw! I want to go home to my Maw! …

I can’t find anything on Youtube for this one.
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Loch Lomond
Traditional

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae
On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Oh, ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep side of Ben Lomond
Where, in deep purple hue the highland hills we viewed
And the moon coming out in the gloaming
Oh, ye’ll take the high road …

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart will ken no second spring again
And the world does not know how we’re greeting
Oh, ye’ll take the high road …

This is a dirge about a dead soldier being shipped back to Scotland after battle, and I always sing it slowly and mournfully.
Here is a nice recording of it, though you will find many online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vJLRVmeJBk

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The Log Driver’s Waltz
Wade Hemsworth

If you ask any girl from the parish around
What pleases her most from her head to her toes
She’ll say, “I’m not sure that it’s business of yours
But I do like to waltz with a log driver.”

For he goes birling down a-down the white waters
That’s how the log driver learns to step lightly
Birling down a-down the white waters
The log driver’s waltz pleases girls completely.

When the drive’s nearly over we like to go down
And watch all the lads as they work on the river
When evening comes round they’ll be in the town
We all love to waltz with a log driver
For he goes …

Now to please both my parents 
I’ve had to give way
And dance with the doctors
, the merchants and lawyers
Their manners are fine but their feet are of clay
There’s none with the style of my log driver
For he goes …

Now I’ve had my chances with all sorts of men
But there’s none so fine as my lad on the river
And when the drive’s over, if he asks me again
I think I will marry my log driver
For he goes …

This song by the late Wade Hemsworth is one of my favourite Canadian folk songs. He wrote songs that have now passed into the folk tradition because so many people other than himself have sung them, not just on records but in social gatherings all over Canada. It is particularly relevant here in Ottawa, where there was an active log drive until the 1970s.

One of the best available versions of this song is the cartoon produced by the National Film Board, with singing by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Here is the link to the NFB site showing this video:  http://nfb.ca/film/log_drivers_waltz

It is not technically public domain, but I don’t think Wade Hemsworth would mind me posting the lyrics.
__________________________

Lost Jimmy Whalen
Traditional

Slowly as I strayed by the bank of the river
A-viewing those roses as the evening drew nigh
As onward I rambled I espied a fair damsel
She was weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

She was weeping for one that was now lying lonely
Weeping for one that no mortal can save
For the dark rolling waters lie slowly around him
As onward they flow over young Jimmy’s grave.

Slowly there rose from the depths of the desert
A vision of beauty more brighter than the sun
With roses of crimson around him a-waving
To speak to this fair one he just had begun.

“Why do you call me from redlums (realms) of glory
Back to this wide world I no longer can stay
To embrace you once more in my strong loving arms
To see you once more I have come from my grave.”

“Darling,” she said, “won’t you bury me with you
Do not desert me to weep and to mourn
But take me, oh take me along with you, Jimmy
To sleep with you down in your cold silent tomb.”

“Darling,” he said, “you are asking a favour”
That no mortal person can grant unto thee
For deep is the desert that parts us asunder
Wide is the gulf lies between you and me.

“But as you do wander by the banks of this river
I will ever be near thee to keep and to guide
My spirit will guide you and keep from all danger
I’ll guide you along from my cold silent grave.”

She threw herself down and she wept bitterly
In the deepest of anguish those words she did say
“Oh, you are my darling, my lost Jimmy Whalen
I will sigh ‘til I die by the side of your grave.”

from the singing of Mrs. Coughlin
Ellerslie, PEI
collected by Sandy Ives
Her recording is available, along with information about the song, on this website: http://umaine.edu/folklife/programs-and-events/maine-song-and-story-sampler-map/places/kings-chute-ontario-lost-jimmy-whalen/

__________________________________

A Maid I Am In Love
Traditional, Nova Scotia

A maid I am in love and I dare not complain
For the sake of a sailor lad I have crossed the raging main
And if I do not find him I shall mourn him constantly
And for the sake of Jutney a maid I’ll live and die.

Blue jacket and white trousers this fair maid she put on
And like a jolly sailor lad she boldly marched along
She bargained with a captain his mate all for to be
For to be his own companion across the briny sea

One night as they were talking and just a-going to be
He smiled and said unto her, “I wish you were a maid
Your ruby lips and rosy cheeks they so entice me
That I do wish with all my heart you were a maid to me.”

“Oh no, oh no, dear captain, your talk it’s all in vain
And if the lads should hear of this of you they’d make great game
But when our barque does reach the shore some pretty girls we’ll find
We’ll dance and sport among them, we are both well inclined.”

‘Twas about a fornight later, their barque did reach the shore
“Fare thee well, dear captain, for I ne’er shall see you more
A sailor as I was on board, a maid I am on shore
Fare thee well, dear captain, for I ne’er shall see you more.”

“Come back, come back, my pretty fair maid, and stay along with me
I have a handsome fortune that I will give to thee
Five thousand pounds all in bright gold guarantee on you I’ll bind
If you’ll come back, my pretty fair maid, and say that you’ll be mine.”

“Oh no, oh no, dear captain, your talk is all in vain
For I’m in search of a sailor lad who’s crossed the raging main
And if I do not find him I shall mourn him constantly
And for the sake of Jutney a maid I’ll live and die.”

Collected by Helen Creighton
Sung by Mrs. Stan Marshall, Truro, Nova Scotia, 1952
Here is a version by Diane Oxner. I find her a little too trained; she doesn’t sound like a folk singer, but it will give you the tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zr5CRFbTgE

________________________________

The Murder of Maggie Howie
Traditional, Ontario

I am an Irishman by birth, my name is Michael Lee
I fell in love with a pretty girl, which proved my destiny
I fell in love with a pretty girl, Maggie Howie was her name
It’s true that I have murdered her, I own it to my shame.

Maggie Howie was a farmer’s daughter, the truth to you I will tell
She resided in Napanee where she was known quite well
It’s true I loved her dearly, as you will understand
For she is wearing my own gold ring upon her lily white hand.

For a long time I courted her, I was filled with joy and pride
For a long time I courted her, I thought she’d be my bride
Night and day both passed away in my love’s company
Her parents interfering, she would not marry me.

It was early one Tuesday morning, my love along did stray
I overtook my darling, those words to her did say,
“My dearest dear, I must be severe and take away your life
Unless you promise to marry me and become my lawful wife.”

She wrang her hands with anger and wept most bitterly
Saying, “Michael, do have mercy and do not murder me.”
But I was deaf to all her cries, no mercy could I show
And in my hands I took the axe, and struck that fatal blow.

My love fell, dead, down at my feet, it was a mortal wound
And over her fair bosom the blood came pouring down
I ran away into the woods, my sorrow to prevail
But I was overtaken and sent to the county jail.

So it’s now I am a prisoner in the town of Napanee
It’s there I’ll stand my trial and the judge will sentence me
For I know that I am guilty and I do deserve to die
For the murder of my own true love, all on the gallows high.

Here is the recording, by Geraldine Sullivan, from which I learned this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMdfsjn5BzA

_____________________________________

Old King Glory

Old King Glory on the mountain
The mountain is so high that it reaches to the sky
And it’s one, two, three, follow me.

This one is another traditional playparty, and one of my all time favourite dances to do with any age.

Here is the tune as a pdf:
 Old King Glory

Here is the choreography:
Everyone except the leader circle to the right while singing the song. The leader circles around the outside, to the left. On the words, “one, two, three” the leader taps the heads of three dancers who then leave the circle to join the leader in a line on the outside, while the circle closes up without the three who have left. Each time through the song, the circle gets smaller and the line gets longer, until the circle disappears and the dancers are in a spiral. The leader then winds the spiral out and back around to make a circle to finish. At that point everyone raises joined hands and sings “And we all bow to the mountain,” while bowing.

Here is a sweet version sung by a six-year-old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCUgQZUe-zI
__________________________

Paddle Song
Unknown

My paddle’s keen and bright
Flashing like silver
Follow the wild goose flight
Dip, dip and swing

Dip, dip and swing her back
Flashing like silver
Follow the wild goose flight
Dip, dip and swing
Dip, dip and swing
Dip, dip and swing.

Here is a nice, simple version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cklPnjjiQuw
__________________________

Les Raftsmen
Traditional, Ottawa Valley

Là ousqu’y sont, tous les raftsmen?
Là ousqu’y sont, tous les raftsmen?
Dans les chantiers i’sont montés.

Bing sur la ring! Bang sur la ring!
Laissez passer les raftsmen
Bing sur la ring! Bing, bang!

Et par Bytown y sont passés
Et par Bytown y sont passés
Avec leurs provisions achetées.
Bing sur la ring! …

En canots d’écorc’ sont montés
En canots d’écorc’ sont montés
Et du plaisir y s’sont donné.
Bing sur la ring! …

Des porc and beans ils ont mangé
Des porc and beans ils ont mangé
Pour les estomac restaurer.
Bing sur la ring! …

Dans les chanquiers sont arrivés
Dans les chanquiers sont arrivés
Des manch’s de hache ont fabriqué.
Bing sur la ring! …

Que l’Outaouais fut étonné
Que l’Outaouais fut étonné
Tant faisait d’bruit leur hach’ trompée.
Bing sur la ring! …

Quand le chanquier fut terminé
Quand le chanquier fut terminé
Chacun chez eux sont retourné.
Bing sur la ring! …

Leurs femm’s ou blond’s ont embrassé
Leurs femm’s ou blond’s ont embrassé
Tous très contents de se r’trouver.
Bing sur la ring! …

Here is one of the versions I listened to while learning this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4u7nt1gUX0

And here is a link to me singing it at the Log Drive Café, with a long introduction and teaching of the chorus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKXVamz_TRo

 

__________________________

Red River Valley
Canadian traditional
from the Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, Edith Fowke.

From this valley they say you are going
I shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For alas you take with you the sunshine
That has brightened my pathway awhile.

Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the girl who has loved you so true.

For this long, long time I have waited
For the words that you never would say
But now my last hope has vanished
When they tell me that you’re going away.

Come and sit …

Oh, there never could be such a longing
In the heart of a white maiden’s breast
As there is in the heart that is breaking
With love for the boy who came west.   Come and sit …

When you go to your home by the ocean
May you never forget the sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley
Or the vows we exchanged ‘mid the bowers.  Come and sit …

Will you think of the valley you’re leaving?
Oh, how lonely and dreary ‘twill be!
Will you think of the fond heart you’re breaking
And be true to your promise to me?  Come and sit …

The dark maiden’s prayer for her lover
To the spirit that rules o’er the world
His pathway with sunshine may cover
Leave his grief to the Red River girl.  Come and sit …

Although many think of this as an American song, it was first collected in Canada. Nevertheless, it is sung widely in the States as well as Canada, from the male point of view as well as the female. Here is one of many versions of this song available online, recorded by Boxcar Willie. I like the pace and feel of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv7ZWN99BLA

__________________________

This one is a Child ballad, in fact #1 in the collection. It has a happier ending than a lot of old ballads, and a lovely chorus.

Riddles Wisely Expounded

Traditional British

There was a lady of the North Country,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom
And she had lovely daughters three.
Fa la la la la la la la la la

There was a knight of noble worth
Lay the bent …
Which also lived in the North.
Fa la la la …

The knight, of courage stout and brave,
A wife he did desire to have.

He knocked at the ladie’s gate
One evening when it was late.

The eldest sister let him in,
And pin’d the door with a silver pin.

The second sister she made his bed,
And laid soft pillows under his head.

The youngest daughter that same night,
She went to bed to this young knight.

And in the morning, when it was day,
These words unto him she did say:

“Now you have had your will,” quoth she,
I pray, sir knight, will you marry me ?”

The young brave knight to her replyed,
“Thy suit, fair maid, shall not be deny’d.

If thou canst answer me questions three,
This very day will I marry thee.”

“Kind sir, in love, O then,” quoth she,
“Tell me what your three questions be.”

“O what is longer than the way,
And what is deeper than the sea?

O what is louder than the horn,
And what is sharper than a thorn?

O what is greener than the grass,
And what is worse then a woman was?”

“O love is longer than the way,
And hell is deeper than the sea.

And thunder is louder than the horn,
And hunger is sharper than a thorn.

And poyson is greener than the grass,
And the Devil is worse than woman was.”

When she these questions answered had,
The knight became exceeding glad.

And having truly try’d her wit,
He much commended her for it.

And after, as it is verifi’d,
He made of her his lovely bride.

So now, fair maidens all, adieu,
This song I dedicate to you.

I wish that you may constant prove
Unto the man that you do love.

Jean Redpath does a lovely version of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqA4Eh1Ik4g

______________________________________

Star of the County Down
Traditional, Irish

Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning last July
Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen
And she smiled as she passed me by.

She looked so sweet from her two white feet
To the sheen of her nut-brown hair
Such a winsome elf, I’d to shake myself
To be sure I was really there.

From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
And from Galway to Dublin town
No maid I’ve seen like the sweet colleen
That I met in the County Down.

As she onward sped I shook my head
And I gazed with a feeling rare
And I said, says I, to a passerby
“Who’s the maid with the nut-brown hair?”

He smiled at me, and with pride says he,
“That’s the gem of Ireland’s crown.
Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann
She’s the star of the County Down.”
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay …

At the harvest fair I’ll be surely there
And I’ll dress in my Sunday clothes
With my hat cocked right and my shoes shone bright
For a smile from the nut brown rose.

No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke
Til my plow is a rust coloured brown
‘Til a smiling bride by my own fireside
Sits the star of the County Down.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay …

There are many versions of this online. Here is one that is kind of fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8WBWxsUcqU
__________________________

Thanking the Earth
Maura Volante © 1989

I’m thanking the earth for this wonderful day
I’m thanking the earth with this song
May we grow healthy and strong
May we grow healthy and strong

I’m thanking the earth for this wonderful food
I’m thanking the earth with this song
May we grow healthy and strong
May we grow healthy and strong

I’m thanking the earth for this wonderful family … these wonderful friends … this wonderful music …

This is a song I have done very often with children, but also with many adults. It can be a grace before meals, as it is for us on Thanksgiving, and also as a general reminder to be thankful. You can put your own words into it, whatever you want to recognize as a source of gratitude.

Here is the tune as a pdf:

Thanking the Earth
__________________________

The Twa Sisters
Traditional British

There were two sisters lived in a bower
Hi ho ma nanny-oh
There came a knight to be their wooer
And the swan swims sae bonny-oh

This grieved the eldest sister sair
Hi ho …
And so she envied her sister fair
And the swan …

The eldest said to the youngest one
“Let’s go and see our father’s ships come in”

The youngest stood all on a stone
The eldest came and pushed her in

“Oh, sister, sister, give me your hand
And I’ll give you both house and land”

“Oh, I’ll give you neither hand nor glove
Unless you give me your own true love”

So down she sank and away she swam
Until she reached the miller’s dam

“Oh, miller, miller, come and draw your dam
It’s either a mermaid or a swan”

You could not see her yellow hair
For gold and jewels that were so rare

A famous harper passing by
Her pale dead face he chanced to spy

He made a harp of her breast bone
Whose notes would melt a heart of stone

He formed the strings of her yellow hair
Whose notes made sad the listening ear

He took the harp to the high king’s hall
Where the court was assembled all

He stood the harp all on a stone
And there it began to play alone

“Oh yonder sits my father the King
And by hi sits my mother the Queen”

“Oh, yonder sits my brother Hugh
And by him William, my love true”

The very last thing that the harp sang then
Was “Woe to my sister, false Ellen.”

This ballad is part of the extensive collection of British ballads published by Francis James Child in his mammoth work, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. I got this version from the singing of the English folksinger, Frankie Armstrong. It is on her album, Lovely on the Water, which was re-released in 2006 and can be purchased online. 

Here is a link to someone else singing a somewhat different version but pretty much the same tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JILqtr9lIas

 

___________________________

The Unquiet Grave

British Traditional

Cold blows the wind to my true love
And gently drops the rain
I’ve never had but one true love
And in green-wood he lies slain
And in green-wood he lies slain

I’ll do as much for my true love
As any young girl may
I’ll sit and mourn all on his grave
For twelve months and a day,  For twelve …

And when twelve months and a day was passed
The ghost did rise and speak
“Why sittest thou all on my grave
And will not let me sleep?” …

‘Tis I, ‘tis I, thy own true love
That weeps upon thy grave
I beg one kiss from your cold lips
And that is all I crave  …

“My breast is cold as clay sweetheart
My breath is earthly strong
And if you kiss my cold clay lips
Your time it won’t be long  …

“Down in yonder garden gay
Love, where we used to walk
The sweetest flower that ever I saw
Is withered to a stalk  …

“The stalk is withered and dry my love
So will our hearts decay
So hold yourself content my love
Til death calls you away
Til death calls you away”

This is another sad one, with a ghostly visitor. This is another Child ballad (#78)
There are many versions, with different tunes. This version by a very young Joan Baez is the same tune as I sing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOIAhXDqdPc

______________________________

Up In the Morning, Early
Robert Burns

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west
The drift is driving sairly
Sae loud and shrill’s I hear the blast
I’m sure it’s winter, fairly!

Up in the morning’s no’ for me
Up in the morning, early
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw
I’m sure it’s winter, fairly!

The birds sit chittering in the thorn
A day they fare but sparely
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn
I’m sure it’s winter, fairly!
Up in the morning’s no’ for me 

Here is a version I found on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE7DofGSa60

____________________________________

We Are Here
Maura Volante © 1989

We are here in this place
And our roots are growing deeper
We are here in this place
And our branches reach so high
We are here in this place
And we intertwine our branches
We are here in this place
Joined together earth and sky

We are here in this place
And we bloom in many colours
We are here in this place
As we grow beneath the sun
We are here in this place
And our branches weave together
We are here in this place
And together we are one

Thisis a song I wrote in 1989, when I had a two-year-old daughter and was living much in the world of children. It is good with kids but I have sung it more often with adults.

Here is the tune as a pdf:

We Are Here
__________________________

When I’m on my Journey
Unknown

When I’m on my journey
 don’t you weep after me
When I’m on my journey don’t you weep after me
When I’m on my journey
 don’t you weep after me
I don’t want you to weep after me.

High up on the mountain,
 leave your troubles down below
High up on the mountain …
I don’t want you to weep after me.
When I’m on my journey …

When the stars are falling
 and the thunder starts to roll
When the stars are falling …
When I’m on my journey …

Every lonely river must go home to the sea
Every lonely river …
When I’m on my journey …

Here is a nice version of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZTS8xovWRE

_______________________________

The Work of the Weavers
David Shaw

We’re all met together here to sit and to craic
With our glasses in our hands and our work upon our back.
But there’s nae trade among them all can mend or can mak
If it wasna for the work o’ the weavers.

If it wasna for the weavers, what would you do?
You wouldna hae cloth that’s made o’ wool.
Ye wouldna hae a coat o’ the black nor blue
If it wasna for the work o’ the weavers.

Now there’s folk that have nae need of other tradesmen’s work
The women need nae barber, the dykers need nae clerk.
But nane o’ them can do without a coat or a sark,
Nae, they canna lack the work o’ the weavers.
If it wasna for the weavers…

Now there’s sodgers and there’s sailors, and hiremen and a’.
There’s doctors and there’s ministers and them that live by law,
And our friends in South America, though them we never saw
But we ken they wear the work o’ the weavers.
If it wasna for the weavers…

Now the weaving is a trade that never can fail
Sae long as we need cloth for to keep a body hale.
So let us all be merry owre a bicker o’ good ale,
And we’ll drink tae the work o’ the weavers.
If it wasna for the weavers…

This version is the one I first heard as a child on a record owned by my parents. It is the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwwWKIXVlGQ

And here is my version recorded at the Log Drive Café: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF4d5M8Ko6g

One Response to Songs

  1. vocalizard says:

    I just stumbled across this entry while looking up the exact lyrics for the Crafty Maid’s Policy, which I know as recorded long ago by Claudia Schmidt. I was very happy to find all of this music here, and while I don’t know nearly all of it, I know quite a collection of it. I’ve thought of making a blog of hard-to-find folk lyrics, and seeing this now, I might just do that. If I do, perhaps I’ll send you the link. ‘Til then, though, thanks for posting all of this, and I may request a phone call for some song tunes. By the way, do you have the book Rise Up Singing? My brother has my copy, or I’d give you the publication info. It stems from an older book, Winds of the People, both of which had lyrics and guitar chords (and a few melodies) for a huge number of folk songs, plus some other stuff. I don’t know if Rise Up Singing is still in publication, but perhaps look into it if you’re interested!

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