Billy Taylor I first heard this sung by Cilla Fisher, although the words are virtually identical to a version collected by Helen Creighton from Mrs William McNab in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There are many versions of it, including one in which the young lady throws herself in the sea in despair. I like this ending better.
There’s Bound To Be A Row This little catalogue of the grievances of an apparently henpecked husband has a great chorus. It can be found in the repertoire of, among others, Harry Cox, Jimmy McBeath and Willie Scott.
Paddy in Glasgow I learned this from the wonderfully lyrical singing of Kevin Mitchell, from Derry and a long time Glasgow resident. It is in the Greig- Duncan collection of songs from the North East of Scotland. It seems Paddy ended up further away than he intended!
If you want to see the General Also known as “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire”, this soldiers’ song from the first world war has lost none of its power since then. The mock jollity of the verses make the ending all the more angry and shocking and I prefer not to mention the barbed wire till the end for that reason.
Wave Over Wave Written by Jim Payne of St John’s, Newfoundland, this must surely qualify as his greatest hit. It’s been a favourite of mine for many years. I see you can now download it as a ringtone!
Irish Jubilee I got the words of this nonsense song from “Folksongs Sung in Ulster”, compiled by Robin Morton. I won the book for having the best turnip lantern at the Glasgow Traditional Folk Song Club Halloween party in 1970.
Green Cottage Polkas are The Green Cottage Polka / Jer O'Connell's / Tom's Tavern. I learned these from the playing of the American group Cherish the Ladies. They’re great session tunes.
Where Ravens Feed Yet another beautifully haunting composition by Graeme Miles. I love the great open spaces near my home in West Cornwall, and this song describes the feeling of being there much better than I ever could. Thanks to Graeme for his permission to use it.
A Wee Bird Cam Tae Ma Apron In this version of a well-travelled song, a wee bird visits the unfortunate lassie’s apron. Sometimes it’s a wee burr sticking to the apron. It does seem that at one time, the way your apron hung was as good a pregnancy test as any. In this case, the lassie is refreshingly defiant.
French Set is three tunes: La Première, Pas Devant (so I am informed by Les Doigts Toniques of Brittany), and Reel de la Petite Misère from the playing of Quebec band Entourloupe. Hudson knows the first tune as “Tommy People’s Mazurka”. The last tune is wonderfully crooked.
False Bride This is an Aberdeenshire version of a better known song, “A Week Before Easter”. I like the fact that after a lot of moping about, this jilted lover decides not to die for love, but chooses instead to find someone else. I learned this from the Glasgow singer Gordeanna McCulloch.
Deil in the Lum I heard this sung by John Eaglesham of the Glasgow group, The Clutha, many years ago. The words are in the Kidson collection; the tune was collected in Orkney. There are a surprising number of songs about thwarted lovers getting stuck up chimneys. What would Freud have made of that, I wonder?
Below Niagara Falls
According to Ian Bell, curator of the Port Dover Museum in Ontario, this was collected, as “The Buffalo Whore”, in 1934 from Norman "Beachy" MacIvor in Goderich Ontario. In the mid to late 1800s Buffalo, at the end of several rail lines and a major Great Lakes port of call, was a wild place. It’s actually above Niagara Falls.
Sae Will We Yet/ Glencoe Village Hall Sae Will We Yet is a version of a broadside ballad entitled “We’ve aye been well provided for”, published in Glasgow in 1869. It is now in the National Library of Scotland. Glencoe Village Hall is a composition by Dan R MacDonald of Cape Breton
Deil in the Lum