Songs

On this page you will find lyrics and sometimes notation of many of the songs that I like to sing. Most of these are traditional, but there are a few by other songwriters and a couple of my own compositions. 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.

If you want to learn the tunes, the easiest way is to find an audio version 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. You can also find many songs by searching the streaming services such as Apple and Spotify. Eventually I would like to record my own versions and post the tunes. In the meantime, 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).

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

La Bastringue
The Bird in the Bush
The Black Fly Song
The Bluenose
Bread & Roses
The Bonnie House of Airlie
Bright Morning Stars
The Chesapeake and the Shannon
Crafty Maid’s Policy
The Cuckoo (English)
The Cuckoo (Appalachian)
The Cuckoo (Jack of Diamonds)
The Dapple Grey
Doffing Mistress
Drive Dull Care Away
Far From Home
Farewell to Nova Scotia
Feller From Fortune
Fendez le Bois
Four Strong Winds
The Golden Vanity
Gypsy Davy
Herring and Potatoes
Hey Arise and Come Along
Hurry Up Harry
I’s the B’y
J’Entends le Moulin
Jim Whalen
John Barbour
John Kanaka
Jute Mill Song
A Kangaroo Sat On an Oak
Klondike
La Laine des Moutons
Les Raftsmen
Life in a Prairie Shack
Loch Lomond
Log Driver’s Waltz
Lord Bateman
Lost Jimmy Whalen
A Maid I Am In Love
Maid On the Shore
The Murder of Maggie Howie
Nous Sommes Trois Frères
The Old Beggar Man
Poor Little Girls of Ontario
Red River Valley
Riddles Wisely Expounded
She’s Like the Swallow
Song for the Mira
Song of the Sockeye
Star of the County Down
Stormy
Thanking the Earth
Thyme ‘Tis a Pretty Flower
Tire Va Donc Sur Les Avirons
Two Sisters
Unquiet Grave
Up In the Morning, Early
V’la le Bon Vent
We Are Here
Well Sold the Cow
The Work of the Weavers

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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 2017

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The Lyrics

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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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Bird in the Bush
Traditional, UK

Three maidens a-milking did go
Three maidens a-milking did go
And the wind it did blow high and the wind it did blow low
And it waved their petticoats to and fro.

They met with some young man they know
They met with some young man they know
And they asked of him if he had any skill
For to catch them a small bird or two.

“Oh yes, I’ve a very good skill
Oh yes, I’ve a very good skill
So it’s come along with me to the yonder flowering tree
And I’ll catch you a small bird or two.”

So away to the greenwood went they
So away to the greenwood went they
And he tapped the bush and the bird it did fly in
Just a little above her lily white knee.

Then her sparkling eyes they did turn ‘round
Just as if she had been in a swoon
And she cried, “Oh, I’ve a bird and a very pretty bird
And he’s pecking away at his own ground.”

Here’s a health to the bird in the bush
Here’s a health to the bird in the bush
And we’ll drink down the moon and we’ll drink up the sun
Let the neighbours say little or much.

This version comes from the singing of Frankie Armstrong.
Watch on Youtube
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The Black Fly Song
Wade Hemsworth

‘Twas early in the spring when I decide to go
For to work up in the woods in north Ontario
The unemployment office said they’d send me through
To the little Abitibi with the survey crew

And the blackflies, the little black flies
Always the black fly, no matter where you go
I’ll die with the black fly picking my bones
In north Ontarioio, in north Ontario

Now the man, Black Toby was the captain of the crew
And he said, “I’m gonna tell you boys what we’re gonna do
They want to build a power dam and we must find a way
For to make the little Ab flow around the other way.”
And the black flies, the little black flies …

So we surveyed to the east and we surveyed to the west
And we couldn’t make our minds up how to do it best
Little Ab, little Ab, what shall I do
For I’m all but goin’ crazy on the survey crew
And the black flies, the little black flies …

It was black fly, black fly everywhere
A-crawlin’ in your whiskers, a-crawlin’ in your hair
A-swimmin’ in the soup, and a-swimmin’ in the tea
Oh the devil take the black fly and let me be
And the black flies, the little black flies …

Black Toby fell to swearin’ ‘cause the work was goin’ slow
And the state of our morale was gettin’ pretty low
The flies swarmed heavy, it was hard to catch your breath
As you staggered up and down the trail talkin’ to yourself
And the black flies, the little black flies …

Now the bull cook’s name was Blind River Joe
If it hadn’t been for him we’d have never pulled through
For he bound up our bruises, and he kidded us for fun
And he lathered us with bacon grease and balsam gum
For the black flies, the little black flies …

At last the job was over, Black Toby said, we’re through
With the little Abitibi and the survey crew
‘Twas a wonderful experience and this I know
I’ll never go again to north Ontario
And the black flies, the little black flies …

Although not an ancient song (1949), this song has passed into oral tradition. It was made into a film by the National Film Board, with singing by its author, Wade Hemsworth.
Watch on NFB
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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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Bonnie House of Airlie
Traditional, Scotland

It fell on a day, a bonny summer day,
When the corn was ripe and yellow,
That there fell out a great dispute
Between Argyle and Airlie.

Lady Margaret looked o’er yon high castle wall,
And oh, but she sighed sairly.
She saw Argyle and all his men
Come to plunder the bonny house of Airlie.

“Come down, come down Lady Margaret,” he said.
“Come down and kiss me fairly
Or in the morning’s clear daylight
I will not leave a standing stone in Airlie.”

“I’ll not come down, ye false Argyll,
Nor will I kiss thee fairly.
I would not kiss the false Argyle
Though you wouldn’t leave a standin’ stone in Airlie.

“For if my good lord had been at home,
As he’s awa’ with Chairlie,
There wouldn’t come a Campbell from Argyle
To trod upon the bonny green of Airlie.”

“For I have born him seven bonny sons,
The eighth one has never seen his daddy
But if I had as many o’er again
They would all be men for Chairlie.”

But poor Lady Margaret was forced to come down
And oh, but she sighed sairly
For there in front of all his men
She was ravished on the bowlin’ green of Airlie.

Argyle in a rage he kindled such a fire
It rose up so red and clearly
And poor Lady Margaret and all her bairns
Were smothered in the dark reek of Airlie.

“Draw your dirks, draw your dirks,” cried the brave Locheil.
“Unsheath your sword,” cried Chairlie,
“We’ll kindle such a fire round the false Argyle,
And light it with a spark out of Airlie.”

From the singing of Belle Stewart, modified for ease of understanding.
Watch on Youtube
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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, Appalachia

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.

Watch on Youtube
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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.

A jolly tune about a deadly battle, part of the War of 1812. I learned the song from notation (Singing Our History: Edith Fowke and Alan Mills, Doubleday, 1984), There are lots of versions on Youtube, but most do it in 4/4, while I learned it in 6/8.
Watch on Youtube
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Crafty Maid’s Policy
Traditional, England

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

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.
Recorded by Frankie Armstrong.

Watch on Youtube

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The Cuckoo
Traditional, England

Oh the cuckoo she’s a pretty bird, she sings as she flies
She brings us glad tidings and she tells us no lies
She sucketh white flowers for to make her voice clear
And the more she singeth cuckoo, the summer draweth near.

As I was a-walking and a-talking one day
I met my own true love as he came that way
Oh, the meeting was a pleasant one but the parting was a woe
For I found him false-hearted, he’d kiss me and then he’d go.

I wish I was a scholar and could handle a pen
I would write a bold letter to all roving men
I would tell them of the grief and woe that attend on their lies
And wish they’d have pity on the flower when it dies.

Oh, the cuckoo …

Traditional English, one of a large family of songs known as lyric laments. Many of these songs also use floating verses that show up in more than one song.
From the singing of Pentangle.

Watch on Youtube
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The Cuckoo
Traditional, Appalachia

Oh, the cuckoo she’s a pretty bird, she sings as she flies;
She brings us glad tidings and she tells us no lies.
She sucks all the pretty flowers to make her voice clear
And she never sings “cuckoo” till the spring of the year.

Come all you young women, take warning by me,
Never place your affection on the love of a man.
For the roots they will wither, the branches decay,
He’ll turn his back on you and he’ll walk square away.

If you do forsake me I’ll not be forsworn
And they’ll all be mistaken if they think that I’ll mourn;
For I’ll get myself up in some higher degree
And I’ll walk as light by him as he can by me.

Oh, the cuckoo …

Traditional, originally British. This version is Appalachian.
From the singing of Jean Ritchie.

Watch on Youtube
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The Cuckoo (Jack of Diamonds)
Traditional, American

Gonna build me a log cabin on the mountain so high
So I can see Willie as he goes walking by.

Oh the cuckoo she’s a pretty bird
She warbles as she flies
And she never hollers cuckoo
Till the 4th day of July.

I’ve played cards in England, I gambled in Spain
I bet you 10 dollars I’ll beat you next game.

Jack of diamonds, jack of diamonds I know you of old
You’ve robbed my poor pocket of silver and of gold.

Oh the cuckoo she’s a pretty bird
She warbles as she flies
She’ll cause you never no trouble
And she’ll tell you no lies.

My horses ain’t hungry, they won’t eat your hay
I’ll drive on just a little farther wondering why you treat me this way.

Oh the cuckoo she’s a pretty bird
She warbles as she flies

And she never hollers cuckoo
Till the 4th day of July.

Traditional, originally from Britain. This American version is quite changed from the earlier ones.
From the singing of Doc Watson with a verse from some other versions.

Watch on Youtube
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The Dapple Grey
traditional, Ontario

The wind it blew all from the Northway
When he came wooing me
He said he would take ‘way to the Northway
And there he’d marry me.

“Bring me some of your father’s gold
And some of your mother’s fee
Two of the best horses from the stable
Where there stands thirty and three.”

She brought him some of her father’s gold
And some of her mother’s fee
Two of the best horses from the stable
Where there stood thirty and three.

She mounted on her milk-white steed
And he on the dapple grey
They rode ‘til they came down to the seaside
Three hours before it was day.

“Cast off, cast off your white silken gown
And deliver it unto me
It’s six pretty maidens I have drownded here
And the seventh one you shall be.”

“If I must cast off my white silken gown
Pray turn your back towards me
I don’t think it right for a villain like you
A naked woman to see.”

So he turned his back towards her
While she did so bitterly weep
She grabbed him ‘round the small of the waist
And she landed him into the deep.

He sped high and he sped low
And he sped near to the side
“Take hold of my hand, my pretty Polly
And I will make you my bride.”

“Lie there, lie there, you false-hearted man
Lie there instead of me
It’s six pretty maids you have drownded here
But the seventh one drownded thee.”

She mounted on her milk-white steed
She led the dapple grey
She rode ‘til she came to her own father’s door
One hour before it was day.

The parrot being up in the castle so high
On seeing the maiden did say
“Oh, what is the matter, my pretty Polly?
You tarry such a long time away.”

“Oh, hold your tongue, my pretty parrot
Don’t tell no tales on me
And your cage will be made of the fine beaten gold
And your doors of the best ivory.”

The Queen being up in the castle so high
On hearing the parrot did say
“Oh, what is the matter, my pretty parrot?
You prattle so long before day.”

“No laughing matter,” the parrot replied
“So loudly I call upon thee
There is a cat on the window so high
I’m afraid she might worry me.”

“Well turned, well turned, my pretty parrot
Well turned, well turned,” cried she
“Your cage will be made of the fine beaten gold
And be hung on an olive tree.”

Traditional ballad (Child 4).
From the singing of Larena Clark, published in A Family Heritage, Edith Fowke, p 22. On Larena Clark’s album, A Canadian Garland.

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Doffing Mistress
Traditional, Ireland & UK

O do you know her or do you not
This new doffing mistress we have got
Elsie Thompson it is her name
And she helps her doffers at every frame

Fal de right fal ra
Fal de right fal ray

On Monday morning when she comes in
She hangs her coat on the highest pin
Turns around for to greet her friends
Crying, “Hi, you doffers, tie up your ends!”
Fal de right fal ra
Fal de right fal ray

Sometimes the boss he looks in the door
“Tie your ends up, doffers!” he will roar
Tie our ends up we surely do
But for Elsie Thompson and not for you
Fal de right fal ra
Fal de right fal ray

Yes, tie our ends up we surely do
But for Elsie Thompson and not for you
We’ll tie our ends up and leave our frames
And wait for Elsie to return again
Fal de right fal ra
Fal de right fal ray

Traditional, originating in Ireland and travelling to various parts of UK during the Industrial Revolution. Annie Briggs was the first to record it:
Watch on Youtube
Last verse from Silly Sisters version:
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Drive Dull Care Away
traditional, Prince Edward Island

Oh, why should we our lot complain
Or grieve at our distress?
Some think if they could riches gain
T’would be true happiness
But alas how vain is all their strife
Life’s cares it will not allay
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away.
Away, away, away, away
We will drive dull care away
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away.

Why should the rich despise the poor?
Why should the poor repine?
When we will all in a few short years
In equal friendship join
They’re both to blame, they’re all the same
We are all made of one clay,
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away
Away, away, away, away…

The only circumstance in life
Which I could ever find
To conquer care or temper strife
Was a contented mind
With this in store we have much more
Than all things else can convey
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away
Away, away, away, away…

So let us make the best of life
Not rendering it a curse
But take it as you would a wife
For better or for worse
Life at its best is but a jest
Like a dreary winter’s day
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away
Away, away, away, away…

Drive Dull Care Away has only been found once in oral tradition: Sandy Ives noted it from Charles Gorman, on Prince Edward Island. Joe Hickerson sang and recorded it, and gave it a much wider circulation in the US. It is found in a few British broadside collections.
Watch on Youtube
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Far from Home
Traditional, British Columbia

Where mighty waters foam and boil
And rushing torrents roar
In Fraser River’s northern soil
Lies hid the golden ore

Far from home, far from home
On Fraser River’s shore
We labour hard, so does our bard
To dig the golden ore

Far, far from home we miners roam
We feel its joys no more
These we have sold for yellow gold
On Fraser River’s shore
Far from home, far from home, …

In cabins rude, our daily food
Is quickly counted o’er
Beans, bread, salt meat is all we eat
And the cold earth is our floor
Far from home, far from home
, …

Lonely our lives, no mothers’, wives’
Or sisters’ love runs o’er
When home we come at set of sun
To greet us at the door
Far from home, far from home, …

At night we smoke, then crack a joke
Try cards ‘til found a bore
Our goodnight said, we go to bed
To dream of home once more
Far from home, far from home, …

With luck at last, our hardships past
We’ll head for home once more
And greet the sight with wild delight
Of California’s shore
Far from home, far from home, …

And once on shore, we never more
Will roam through all our lives
A home we’ll find, just to our mind
And call our sweethearts wives
Far from home, far from home, …

Traditional folk song from British Columbia. Lyrics from a mining magazine, tune Phillip J. Thomas. Recorded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat on Green Fields of Canada.
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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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Feller From Fortune
traditional, Newfoundland

Oh, there’s lots of fish in Bonavist’ harbour,
Lots of fish right in around here’
Boys and girls are fishin’ together’
Forty-five from Carbonear.

Oh, catch-a-hold dis one, catch-a-hold dat one
Swing around dis one, swing around she
Dance around dis one, dance around dat one
Diddle-um dis one, diddle-um dee.

Oh, Sally is the pride of Cat Harbour,
Ain’t been swung since last year
Drinkin’ rum and wine and cassis
What the boys brought home from St Pierre.
Oh, catch-a-hold this one, catch-a-hold that one … 

Oh, Sally goes to church every Sunday
Not for to sing nor for to hear
But to see the feller from Fortune
What was down here fishin’ the year .  Oh, catch-a-hold this one … 

Oh, Sally’s got a bouncin’ new baby,
Father said that he didn’t care
‘Cause she got that from the feller from Fortune
What was down here fishin’ the year.  Oh, catch-a-hold this one, … 

Oh, Uncle George got up in the mornin’,
He got up in a hell of a tear
Tore the arse right out of his trousers
Now he’s got ne’er pair to wear.  Oh, catch-a-hold this one, … 

Oh, there’s lots of fish in Bonavist’ Harbour,
Lots of fishermen in around here;
Swing your partner, Jimmy Joe Jacobs,
I’II be home in the spring of the year.  Oh, catch-a-hold this one, … 

I sang this song with Daphne Volante.
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Fendez le Bois
traditional, Québec

À la claire fontaine
m’en allant promener
J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle
que je m’y suis baigné

Fendez le bois,
chauffez le four
Dormez la belle,
il n’est point jour

J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle
que je m’y suis baigné
Sous les feuilles d’un chêne,
je me suis fait sécher
Fendez le bois,

Sous les feuilles d’un chêne,
je me suis fait sécher
Sur la plus haute branche,
le rossignol chantait
Fendez le bois,

Sur la plus haute branche,
le rossignol chantait
Chante rossignol, chante,
toi qui as le coeur gai
Fendez le bois,

Chante rossignol, chante,
toi qui as le coeur gai
Tu as le coeur à rire,
moi je l’ai à pleurer
Fendez le bois,

Tu as le coeur à rire,
moi je l’ai à pleurer
J’ai perdu ma maîtresse
sans l’avoir mérité
Fendez le bois,

J’ai perdu ma maîtresse
sans l’avoir mérité
Pour un bouquet de roses
que je lui refusais
Fendez le bois,

Pour un bouquet de roses
que je lui refusais
Je voudrais que la rose
fût encore au rosier
Fendez le bois,

Je voudrais que la rose
fût encore au rosier
Et moi et ma maîtresse
dans les mêmes amitiés
Fendez le bois,

This set of lyrics has many different tunes. This one has a lovely lullaby refrain. It is typical of many French folk songs in that it includes a repeat of the last two lines of the previous verse at the beginning of the next one. This helps listeners to hear learn the lyrics.
Watch on Youtube
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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 . . .
Back to top
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The Golden Vanity
Traditional, Canadian

There was a gallant ship in North Americay
The name of the ship was the Golden Vanity
it was said to be taken by the Turkish Commune
And sank in the lowlands, the lowlands
And sank in the lowlands low.

The first to come on board was a little cabin boy
Saying, “Captain, what will you give me if yon ship I do destroy?”
“Gold I will give you and my daughter for your bride
If you’ll sink her in the lowlands, the lowlands
If you’ll sink her  in the lowlands low.

The boy took an auger and he swam away to sea
He swam well away from the Golden Vanity
And when he had breasted the Turkish Commune
He would sink her in the lowlands, …

The boy took the auger and three holes he bored twice
Some were playing cards while others were shaking dice
And our dark eyes did sparkle as the waters they poured in
And he sank her …

The boy made a brisk and he swam away to sea
He swam ‘til he came to the Golden Vanity
Saying, “Mates, pick me up for I’m sinking in the sea
I’m sinking in the lowlands, …

“Pick you up,” said the Captain, “Oh, this you should’ve known
The promise that I made to you was made to you alone
The gold I will not give you nor my daughter for your bride
You sink in the lowlands, …

The boy beat his arms and he reached the other side
And when he saw his shipmates he unto them did cry
“Shipmates, pick me up for I’m sinking in the tide
I’m sinking in the lowlands, …

His shipmates picked him up and ‘twas there on deck he died
They rolled him in his blanket and it was so long and wide
The rolled him in his blanket and they lowered him in the tide
And he sank in the lowlands, …

From the singing of Larena Clark, published in A Family Heritage, Edith Fowke, p. 42.

There are many versions of this song but none of the recordings are quite the same as this version. I learned it from the notation in the book.
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Gypsy Davy
Traditional, Ontario

A Gypsy Davy came to town
A-riding on a pony
He whistled while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Fal the dal da, fal the dee die doh
Fal the dal da doh day dee
He whistled while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

The lady to her window came
With the servant maids behind her
She listened while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Fal the dal da, fal the dee die doh
Fal the dal da doh day dee
She listened while he sang and the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady.

Her lord came home in the middle of the night
Returning to his lady
But she had gone with the cold, cold dawn
Had gone with the Gypsy Davy
Fal the dal da, …

“Oh, harness up my milk white steed
The brown is not so speedy
I’ll ride all day and I’ll ride all night
Til I overtake my lady.”
Fal the dal da, …

So he rode east and he rode west
And he swore that he would find her
And by his side then she would ride
And a thousand cords would bind her.
Fal the dal da, …

So he rode east and he rode west
And he rode til he found his lady
His sword he drew, his wife he slew
Before the Gypsy Davy.
Fal the dal da, …

Last night I slept on a feather bed
With servants all around me
Tonight I die on the cold cold ground
Beside the Gypsy Davy.
Fal the dal da, …

From the singing of Larena Clark, published in A Family Heritage, Edith Fowke, p 33. There are lots of versions online but none is exactly the same as this one.
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Herring and Potatoes
Winnifred Proutherou, Cape Breton Island, NS

When I went down to Boston
They served me fish with frosting
The money it was costing
Was not for the likes of me, give me
Herring and potatoes
Herring and potatoes
Herring and potatoes
That’s good enough for me.

In old Cape Breton, Nova
We’re livin’ in the clover
With herring and potatoes
And a good, strong cup of tea, it’s those
Herring and potatoes  …

When I went up the Mira
That’s where I met Elvira
And now she’s Mrs. Ira
And we’re happy as can be, eating
Herring and potatoes  …

A girl came up from Brooklyn
Just as we were cookin’
You should have seen her lookin’
At what we had for tea, it was
Herring and potatoes  …

She called my wife a joker
And hauled off for to poke her
When the bones began to choke her
And southward she did flee, from those
Herring and potatoes  …

Now we’re happy in Cape Breton
‘Cause the rising costs we’re beatin’
And you should see what we’re eatin’
‘Cause it’s good enough for me, it’s those
Herring and potatoes  …

This was the winning entry of a songwriting contest on Cape Breton Island. It has gone into oral tradition over the years.
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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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Hurry Up, Harry
Traditional, Ontario

Come all you true born shantyboys and listen unto me
And whene’er a woodsman that you may chance to see
We are a merry set of boys, so handsome, young and fine
And spend a jolly winter a-cutting down the pine.

So it’s hurry up, Harry, and Tom or Dick or Joe
And you may take the pail, boys, and for the water go
In the middle of the splashing, the cook will “Dinner!” cry
And you’d ought to see them hurry up for fear they’d lose their pie.

There’s blackstrap molasses, buns as hard as rock
Tea that’s boiled in an old tin pail and smells just like your socks
The beans they are sour, and the porridge thick as dough
When we have stashed this in our craw, it’s to the woods we’ll go
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

A-hitching up our braces and a-binding up our feet
A-grinding up our axes, for our kind is hard to beat!
A-shouldering up our crosscuts and through the woods we go
We make a jolly set of boys a-trudging through the snow.
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

So deeply in that tree of pine we notch to guide its fall
And not a man among us but will hear the timber call
And when it crashes to the ground, we’ll fall to with a will
A-trimmin’ up the branches and a-swearin’ fit to kill.
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

Arriving at the shanty, wet, tired and with wet feet
We all toake off our socks and boots, our supper for to eat
At nine o’clock or thereabouts into the bunks we crawl
To sleep away the few  short hours until the morning’s call
So it’s hurry up, Harry, …

From the singing of Larena Clark, published in A Family Heritage, Edith Fowke, p 234.
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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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J’Entends le Moulin
traditional, Quebecois

J’entends le moulin,
Tique, tique, taque,
J’entends le moulin, taque.
J’entends le moulin,
Tique, tique, taque,
J’entends le moulin, taque.

Mon père a fait bâtir maison,
J’entends le moulin taque,
L’a fait bâtir à trois pignons,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

L’a fait bâtir à trois pignons,
J’entends le moulin taque,
Sont trois charpentiers qui la font,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

Sont trois charpentiers qui la font,
J’entends le moulin taque,
Mais le plus jeun’, c’est mon mignon,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

Mais le plus jeun’, c’est mon mignon,
J’entends le moulin taque,
Qu’apportes-tu, mon p’tit fripon?
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

Qu’apportes-tu, mon p’tit fripon?
J’entends le moulin taque,
C’est un pâté de trois pigeons,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

C’est un pâté de trois pigeons,
J’entends le moulin taque,
Asseyons-nous et le mangeons,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

Asseyons-nous et le mangeons,
J’entends le moulin taque,
En s’asseyant, il fit un bond,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

En s’asseyant, il fit un bond,
J’entends le moulin taque,
Qui fit trembler mer et poissons,
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

Qui fit trembler mer et poissons,
J’entends le moulin taque,
Et les cailloux qui sont au fond.
Tique, tique, tique, taque.
J’entends le moulin, … 

Youtube is full of fancy arrangements of this song, not quite as I do it. Most of them are by choirs, but one that is not far from the traditional version is by Nightingale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXxYmD68FmE
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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 Barbour
Traditional, Newfoundland

It’s of a lady lived in the west
She was clothed all in green
And she was sitting by her own cottage door
To watch the ships sail in
To watch the ships sail in.

“Oh, have you any bad sickness?”
Her father, he did say
“The cause of your trouble I would like to know
Come tell to me, I pray
Come tell to me, I pray.

“No, I haven’t got any bad sickness”
The lady, she did say
“But I am thinking of my own true love
Who sails upon the sea, who sails …”

“Oh, is he a lord or a duke,” said he
“Or a man of note and fame
Or is he one of my sailor lads
Come tell to me his name, …”

“No, he is not a lord or a duke,” said she
“Nor a man of note and fame
But he is one of your own sailor lads
John Barbour is his name, …”

“Oh, if John Barbour is his name
Then hanged he will surely be”
“If you hang John Barbour, father,” she cried
“You’ll get no good of me, …”

Then he called all his sailors down
By one, by two, by three
John Barbour was the first to be called
But the last come down was he.

Oh, he come down, a tripping down
He was clothed all in white
His cheeks were like the roses red
His teeth like ivory bright, …

He paid their wages with a smile
And to John Barbour did say
“If I were a woman as I am a man
My bedfellow you should be, …”

“So, will you marry my daughter, Jane?
Will you take her by the hand?
And will you come and dine ith me
And go head over all my land?  …”

“Oh, yes, I will marry your daughter, Jane
I will take her by the hand
And I will come and dine with you
But to hell with all your land, …

For if you could give her one guinea
I could give her thirty and three
Although they call me the young Barbour
Who plows the raging sea, “

Traditional song from Britain, also known as Willie of Winsbury. This version from the singing of Anita Best and Pamela Morgain, on the Colour of Amber
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLXqdhJODc4
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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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A Kangaroo Sat On an Oak
Traditional, Nova Scotia

A kangaroo sat on an oak,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,
Watching a tailor mend his coat,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo.

Kimi neero kiddy kum keero
Kimi neero kimo
Ba ba ba ba billy illy inkum
Inkum kiddy kum kimo.

Bring me my arrow and my bow, To my inkum …
Till I go shoot that kangaroo, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

The old man fired; he missed his mark; To my inkum …
He shot the old sow through the heart, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

Bring me some ‘lasses in a spoon, To my inkum …
Till I go heal that old sow’s wound, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

Oh, now the old sow’s dead and gone, To my inkum …
Her little ones go waddling on, To my inkum …
Kimi neero …

This song was collected by Helen Creighton in Nova Scotia. It is a version of a British song about a carrion crow, which someone changed to a kangaroo, either because they didn’t hear it right or for fun. You won’t find kangaroos in the oak trees of Nova Scotia. Recorded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat on Come to Me in Canada.
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSustaJS6W8
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Klondike
traditional, British Columbia

Oh, come to the place where they struck it rich
Come where the treasure lies hid
Where your hat full of mud is a five-pound note
And a clod on your heel is a quid.

Klondike, Klondike
Label your luggage for Klondike
Oh, there ain’t no luck in the town today
There ain’t no work down Moodyville way
So pack up your traps and be off, I say
Off and away to the Klondike.

Oh, they scratches the earth and it tumbles out
More than your hands can hold
For the hills above and the plains beneath
A crackin’ and bustin’ with gold.
Klondike, Klondike  …

Songs of the Pacific Northwest, PT Thomas. From the singing of Captain Charles Cates. Recorded by Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat on Young Man From Canada.
Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjRyLk2OOig
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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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Les Raftsmen
Traditional, Ottawa Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Que l’Outaouais fut etonné …
Tant faisant d’ bruit leur hach’ trempées.  Bing sur la ring ! . . .

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

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

There are many different versions of this online. I learned it from Rika Ruebsaat. Youtuble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPSo9FfX1y0

Here is another 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

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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.
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Lord Bateman
traditional, Newfoundland

Lord Bateman was a noble youth
A noble youth of a high degree
He shipped himself all on a vessel
Some foreign countries to go see.

He sailed east and he sailed west
Until he came to Santa Fee
There he was taken, bound in prison
Until his life it became weary.

Now this Turk had one only daughter
As fair as any my two eyes did see
She stole the keys to her father’s prison
And swore Lord Bateman she would go see.

“Lord Bateman, hast thou houses and lands
And does Northumberland belong to thee?
What will you give to any lady
Who out of prison would set you free?”

“Oh yes, oh yes, I have houses and lands
And half Northumberland belongs to me
And I’d freely give it to any lady
Who out of prison would set me free.”

She took him to her father’s cellar
She gave to him the best of wine
With every drink she drank unto him
She swore, “Lord Bateman, I wish you were mine.”

She took him to her father’s harbor
She put him on a ship of fame
“Farewell, farewell and farewell, Lord Bateman
I fear I never will see you again.

“It’s seven years we’ll make a promise
And seven more we’ll keep it strong
If you won’t wed with no other woman
Then I won’t wed with no other man.”

Seven years being past and gone
And seven more well known to me
And I’ve packed up all of my gay gold clothing
And swore Lord Bateman I would go see.

When she reached Lord Bateman’s castle
So boldly did she ring the bell
“Who’s there, who’s there,” cried that proud young porter
“Who rings so boldly yet don’t come in.”

“Is this Lord Bateman’s castle?” I cried
“And is his lordship now within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes,” cried that proud young porter
“He just has taken his new bride in.”

“Go bid him send me a slice of cake
And a bottle of his best of wine
Not to forget that fair young lady
Who did relieve him when close confined.”

Away, away went that proud young porter
Away, away and away went he
Until he came to Lord Bateman’s chamber
And there he fell on his bended knee.

“What news, what news, my proud young porter
What news, what news dost thou bring to me?”
“There is one of the fairest ladies
The fairest ever my two eyes did see.

“She has gold rings upon every finger
And on her middle one, well, she wears three
There is enough gold all in her clothing
As would buy half of Northumberlee.

“And she bids you send her a slice of cake
And a bottle of of your best of wine
Not to forget that fair young lady
Who did relieve you when close confined.”

Lord Bateman flew into a passion
And split his sword in splinters three
Saying, “I’ll roam no more in no foreign countries
Now my Sophia has crossed the sea.”

Then up and spake the new bride’s mother
She was never known to speak so free
“Don’t you disgrace my only daughter
Though your Sophia has crossed the sea.”

“I own I made your daughter a bride
But she’s none the better or the worse for me
She came to me on a horse and saddle
She may ride home in a coach and three.”

Lord Bateman fixed another wedding
And with his heart all filled with glee
Saying, “I’ll roam no more in no foreign countries
Now my Sophia has followed me.”

Traditional ballad (Child 53), collected in Newfoundland and sung by Anita Best on Crosshanded
(Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo4Woq80wBY)
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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/

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Maid on the Shore
Traditional, Newfoundland

There is a young maiden, she lives all a-lone
She lives all a-lone on the shore-o
There’s nothing she can find to comfort her mind
But to roam all a-lone on the shore, shore, shore, shore
But to roam all a-lone on the shore

‘Twas of the young Captain who sailed the salt sea
Let the wind blow high, blow low
I will die, I will die, the young Captain did cry
If I don’t have that maid on the shore, shore, shore …

I have lots of silver, I have lots of gold
I have lots of costly ware-o
I’ll divide, I’ll divide, with my jolly ship’s crew
If they row me that maid on the shore, shore, shore …

After much persuasion, they got her aboard
Let the wind blow high, blow low
They replaced her away in his cabin below
Here’s adieu to all sorrow and care, care, care …

They replaced her away in his cabin below
Let the wind blow high, blow low
She’s so pretty and neat, she’s so sweet and complete
She’s sung Captain and sailors to sleep, sleep, sleep …

Then she robbed him of silver, she robbed him of gold
She robbed him of costly ware-o
Then took his broadsword instead of an oar
And paddled her way to the shore, shore, shore …

Me men must be crazy, me men must be mad
Me men must be deep in despair-o
For to let you away from my cabin so gay
And to paddle your way to the shore, shore, shore …

Your men was not crazy, your men was not mad
Your men was not deep in despair-o
I deluded your sailors as well as yourself
I’m a maiden again on the shore, shore, shore …

From the singing of Anita Best and Pamela Morgan on Colour of Amber.
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYWOhkCSGGo
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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

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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
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Nous Sommes Trois Freres
traditional, Quebec

Nous sommes trois frères étant partis, c’est pour voyage,
Dans les chanquiers ai voulu m’engager
Dans le printemps ai voulu prendr’ la drave,
Triste est ma vie à braver les dangers.

Par un dimanche, un dimanche avant midi
Sous une lam’ je m’y suis englouti,
J’ai bien été de rapide en rapide,
Sans aucune branche que je puisse rencontrer.

Ainsi mourir dessous l’eau qui s’ecoule,
Sans nul secours, sans avoir le curé,
Triste nouvelles qu’approndront mes freres,
Ainsi qu’ma mere et tous mes parents.

 – from Harcourt, 433.  Coll. from Phileas Bedard, Saint-Remi, Napierville. Cf. Beland 355

Sung by Rika Ruebsaat on Come to Me in Canada
(Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWoB0t6YdDk)
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The Old Beggar Man
Traditional, Prince Edward Island

“Where were you born and where were you bred,
In Scotland town in a foreign counteree?”
“In Scotland town where I was born,
‘Twas there were a maid and she gave to me a ring.”

“If this ring proves bright and clear,
You’ll know that I’m true to you my dear,
And if this ring proves pale and worn,
You’ll know that your true love is with another man.”

I shipped on board and away sailed I;
I sailed away to a foreign counteree
I looked at the ring, ’twas pale and worn;
I knew that my true love was with another man.

I shipped on board and back sailed I;
I sailed back to my own counteree.
One day as I was a-riding along,
Whom did I meet but a poor old beggar man.

“What news, what news have you today?
What news have you got for me today?”
“Sad news I’ve got for you today:
Tomorrow is your true lover’s wedding day.”

“Come and take my riding suit,
And I will take the beggar’s suit.”
“The riding suit is not fit for me.
The beggar’s suit is not fit for thee.”

“Never mind if it’s right or wrong.”
The beggar’s suit he did slip on.
He toddled away at a weary rate;
He laid his sack at yonder gate.

He begged from the parlour, he begged from hall;
He begged from the poorest and the richest of them all.
But as for wine he’d drink none at all
Unless he’d get it from the bride’s own hand.

Down came the bride a-skipping down stairs,
With rings on her fingers and gold in her hair,
And in her hand a glass of wine
To give it to this poor old beggar man.

Out of the glass he drank the wine,
And into the glass he slipped the ring,
“Did you get it by land or on sea,
Or did you take it off a drowned man’s hand?”

“I didn’t get it on land or on sea.
I didn’t take it off a drowned man’s hand.
I got it from my true love on our courting day
And given it back to her on her wedding day.”

Rings from her fingers she did pull off,
And gold from her hair she did let fall.
“I’ll follow my true love wherever he goes.
Although he begs my bread from door to door.”

Between the kitchen and the hall,
The beggar’s ring he did pull off.
The gold that shone the brightest of them all;
He was the finest young man in the hall.

From the singing of Edmund Doucette, Miminegash, Prince Edward Island, collected by Sandy Ives. A version of Hind Horn, Child 17. You can hear Edmund Doucette singing it on the University of Maine website: https://umaine.edu/folklife/what-we-do/programs-and-events/maine-song-and-story-sampler-map/places/miminegash-pei-the-old-beggar-man/

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Poor Little Girls of Ontario
traditional, Ontario

I’ll sing you a song of that lone pest
It goes by the name of the Great Northwest
I cannot have a beau at all,
They all skip out there in the fall.

One by one, they’ll all clear out,
Thinking to better themselves, no doubt,
Caring little how far they go
From the poor little girls of Ontario.

First I got mashed on Charley Brown
The nicest fellow in all the town
But he tipped his hat and sailed away
And now he’s settled in Manitobay.
One by one, they’ll all clear out, …

Then Henry Maynard with his white cravat
His high stiff collar and his new plug hat
He said if he stayed, he’d have to beg
And now he’s settled in Winnipeg.
One by one, they’ll all clear out, …

Then my long-legged druggist with his specs on his nose,
I really thought that he’d propose
But he’s sold his bottle-shop and now he’s gone
Clear out to little Saskatchewan.
One by one, they’ll all clear out, …

I’ll pack my clothes in a carpet sack
I’ll go out there and I’ll never come back
I’ll find me a husband, and a good one, too
If I have to go through to Cariboo.

One by one, we’ll all clear out
Thinking to better ourselves, no doubt,
Caring little how far we go
From the old, old folks of Ontario.

from Mrs. Hartley Minifie, Peterborough, to Edith Fowke: “Folk Songs of Ontario”, Folkways, 1958. Here is a link to her recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mlG8IfeJ2w

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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

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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.

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.

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

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She’s Like the Swallow
Traditional, Newfoundland

She’s like the swallow that flies so high
She’s like the river that never runs dry
She’s like the sunshine on the lee shore
She lost her love and she’ll love no more

‘Twas down in the garden this fair maid did go
Plucking the beautiful primrose
The more she plucked, the more she pulled
Until she gathered her apron full

She climbed on yonder hill above
To give a rose unto her love
She gave him one, she gave him three
She gave her heart in company

And as they sat on yonder hill
His heart grew hard, so harder still
He has two hearts instead of one
She cried “Young man, what have you done

“For when I carried my apron low
You followed me through frost and snow
But now my apron is to my chin
You pass my door, and won’t call in”

“How foolish, foolish you must be
To think I love no one but thee
The world’s not made for one alone
I take delight in everyone”

She took her roses and made a bed
A stony pillow for her head
She laid her down, no word she spoke
Until this poor maid’s heart was broke

She’s like the swallow that flies so high
Like the river that never runs dry
Like the sunshine on the lee shore
She lost her love, and she’ll love no more

Very popular Canadian folk song, often sung (in a shortened version) by children’s choirs. This version is from the singing of Anita Best and Pamela Morgan, on The Colour of Amber.
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq4pFZHh1qE
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The Song of the Sockeye
Lyrics: Ross Cumbers
Tune: P.J. Thomas

Hark to the song of the sockeye,
Like a siren call of old
When it gets in your blood, you can’t shake it,
It’s the same as the fever for gold.

There’s a hole in the BC coastline,
Rivers Inlet’s the place I mean
It’s there that you find the old timer,
And also the fellow who’s green.

The boats head for there like the sockeye
And some are a joy to the eye
While others are simply abortions
And ought to be left high and dry.

They go to the different canneries
And before they can make one haul
It’s three hundred bucks for net, grub and gas
Which they hope to pay off before fall.

Then it’s off to the head of the inlet
At six o’clock Sunday night
But when morning comes and you’ve got about three
The prospects don’t look very bright.

Of course there’s always an alibi
To account for a very poor run –
The weather is wrong, the moon’s not full
Or the big tides will help the fish come.

Along about dusk, when you’re starting to doze
And think you’ve got a good night’s set
An engine will roar as you look out the door
And some farmer toes into your net.

And some of them think of the future,
While others have things to forget
But most of us sit here and think of a school
Of sockeye hitting the net.

Then when the season is over
And you figure out what you have made
You were better off working for wages,
No matter how low you were paid.

For the comforts of home are worth something,
So take it from me, my friend,
Frying pan grub and no headroom
Will ruin your health in the end.

So hark to the song of the sockeye …

Written at Rivers Inlet by Ross Cumbers in 1939: found as a typed sheet on a noticeboard at an abandoned cannery there in the late ‘fifties by Nick Guthrie, who passed it to Barry Hall who passed it on to PJ Thomas who made a tune for it (Songs of the Pacific Northwest). Recorded by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat on Young Man from Canada. Here is a link to that version on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACYwPFMEODk
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 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
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Stormy
Traditional, BC

Oh, Stormy’s gone, that good old man
Way, hay, Stormalong
Oh, Stormy’s gone, that good old man
Ai, ai, Mister Stormalong

An able seaman, through and through
Way, hay, …
A good old skipper to his crew
Ai, ai, …

We dug his grave with a silver spade,  Way, hay
His shroud of the finest silk was made,  Ai, ai,

We lowered him down with a silver chain,  Way, hay
Our eyes were dim but not from rain,  Ai, ai,

He’s moored his ship, he’s furled his sails,  Way, hay
No danger now from wreck or gale,  Ai, ai,

Oh Stormy’s gone, that good old man,  Way, hay
Oh Stormy’s gone, that good old man,  Ai, ai,

Sea shanty, sung internationally by English speaking sailors. Collected by Phil Thomas from the singing of Captain Cates, North Vancouver. On Tall Ships on the Fraser, Vancouver Folk Song Society, sung by Simon Trevelyan
(Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfjh-GlR9U&list=OLAK5uy_lwAKQF62NEsdu9LzKFZFeeR-rB9OCGivY&index=17)
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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
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Thyme ‘Tis a Pretty Flower
Traditional, Ontario

Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower
That grows out under the sun
And it’s time you and I have come to an end

For it’s now our time rolls on.

It’s very well drinking ale
But it’s still better drinking wine
And it’s far better sitting on a bonny boy’s knee
That gains this heart of mine.
Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower …

Oh, she walks in the garden
This lady oh so fine
And she weeds her gardens green
Lest no one steal her thyme.
Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower …

It’s very well drinking ale …
Thyme ‘tis a pretty flower …

From the singing of LaRena Clark, Ontario. On her Folkways album, A Canadian Garland. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djnccfT2KLM
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Tire Va Donc Sur Les Avirons
Traditional, Quebec

Mon père a fait bâtir maison
Tire va donc sur les avirons
Par quatre-vingts jolis maçons

Tire tire marinier tire
Tire va donc sur les avirons

Par quatre-vingts jolis maçons
Tire va donc sur les avirons
Le roi est passé aux environs, Tire, tire …

Le roi …Tire va donc …
Demande à qui est cette maison ?

C’est pour une fille Jeanneton

Mais à une seule condition

C’est qu’elle n’épouse pas de garçon

J’aimerais mieux que la maison

Soit coulée dans la mer à fond

Pour y nourrir les petits poissons

From the singing of Rika Ruebsaat on Tall Ships on the Fraser, Vancouver Folk Song Society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Or20jGzJk

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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

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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

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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: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE7DofGSa60

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V’la le Bon Vent
traditional, French-Canadian

Derriere chez nous ‘y à-t’un étang
Derriere chez nous ‘y à-t’un étang
Trois beaux canards s’en vont baignant

V’la le bon vent, v’la le joli vent
V’la le bon vent, m’amie m’appelle
V’la le bon vent, v’la le joli vent
V’la le bon vent, m’amie m’attends

Trois beaux canards s’en vont baignant …
Le fils du roi s’en va chassant,  V’la le bon vent

Le fils du rois …
Visa le noir, tua le blanc,  V’la le bon vent

Visa le noir …
Oh, fils du roi, tu es méchant,  V’la le bon vent

Oh, fils du roi …
D’avoir tué mon canard blanc,  V’la le bon vent

D’avoir tué …
Par dessous l’aile il perd son sang,  V’la le bon vent

Par dessous …
Par les yeux lui sort’nt des diamants,  V’la le bon vent

Par les yeux …
Et par le bec, l’or et l’argent,  V’la le bon vent

Et par le bec, …
Toutes ses plumes s’en vont au vent,  V’la le bon vent

Toutes ses plumes …
Trois dames s’en vont les ramassant,  V’la le bon vent

Trois dames s’en vont …
C’est pour en faire un lit de camp,  V’la le bon vent

C’est pour …
Pour y coucher tous les passants,  V’la le bon vent

A popular French-Canadian folk song with the typical pattern of repeating the last line of each verse as the first line of the next.
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOzOmPFsx1E
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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
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Well Sold the Cow
traditional, Nova Scotia

Come all ye good people, a story I’ll tell
It’s of a rich farmer in Yorkshire did dwell
He had a youthful boy which he hired as a man
All for to do his work and his name it was John.

Fall de diddle dido, fall de doll de dey
Fall de diddle dido, fall de doll de dey.

Early one morning, John’s master arose
Into John’s room he instantly goes
“Jack, my dear fellow, drive this cow to the fair
For she is in good order and her we can spare”
Fall de diddle dido, …

Jack took the cow and drove her out of the farm
He had not gone far when he met with three men
He had not gone far when he met with three men
And he sold the cow for five pounds ten
Fall de diddle dido, …

They went to an ale house all for to get a drink
Those three men paid him right down in a jink
“What will I do with my money, landlady?” said he
“In the lining of your coat I’ll sew it,” said she
“For it’s here upon the road it’s robbed you might be.”
Fall de diddle dido, …

A robber in the room he sat drinking up his wine
But thinking to himself, “That money shall be mine,”
Jack took his leave and he started for home
The robber he followed him out of the room
Fall de diddle dido, …

The robber overtook him all on the highway
“How far do you travel, young man?” he did say
“Three or four miles as near I know”
And he jumped on behind and away they did go
Fall de diddle dido, …

They rode along together ‘til they came to a narrow lane
“Deliver up your money, young man” he did say
“Deliver up your money, without fear or strife
Or this very moment I will take away your life”
Fall de diddle dido, …

Jack jumped from the saddle without fear or doubt
From the lining of his coat he pulled the money out
From the lining of his coat he pulled the money out
And along the green grass he scattered it about
Fall de diddle dido, …

The robber alighted down from his horse
But little did he think it was to his loss
While gathering up the money which Jack threw on the grass
Jack jumped on the saddle and rode off with the horse
Fall de diddle dido, …

One of the servants saw Jack coming home
It’s into the master they instantly run
He said, “Jack, my dear fellow, have you made a swap?
Or did my cow turn into a horse?”
Fall de diddle dido, …

“No, my dear master, the truth I’ll unfold
I was stopped on the way by a highwayman so bold
While gathering up the money which I threw upon the grass
To prove myself a man, I brought home the horse.”
Fall de diddle dido, …

When the saddle bags were opened and in them were fold
Five hundred bright guineas in silver and gold
A pair of bright pistols, the farmer did vow
“Jack, my dear fellow, you have well sold the cow.”
Fall de diddle dido, …

Traditional song from Briain, from the singing of Ben Henneberry in Noval Scotia, collected by Helen Creighton
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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

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