The Banff and Buchan Collection

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Tape 1994.019 transcription

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Come a' ye tramps an hawkin lads ye gaitherers o blaw,
That trump the country up and doon and come fae near and far,
I'll tell tae you some rovin tales o sichts that I hae seen,
Far off in Tay, the snowy north or doon by Gretna Green.

I hae seen the high Ben Nevis a towerin tae the moon,
I've been by Crieff and Callander, and roon by bonny Doone,
I've seen Loch Nessie's silvery tide wi places ill tae ken,
Or up in tae the snowy North or Urquhart's fairy glen.

I hae daen my share o humphin wi the dockers on the Clyde,
I've helped the Buckie fishers pu, the herrin ower the side,
I've helped tae big the michty brig that spans the Firth o Forth,
And wi mony an Angus fairmers rig, I've plooed the bonny earth.

I hae aften lauched untae masel when traivellin on the road,
Wi ma buchled sheen and blistered heels and ma face as broon as a toad,
Wi lumps o breid and tattie scones and dads o braxie ham,
Never thinkin whaur I'm comin fae or whaur I'm micht be gang.

But I'm happy in the summer time, a'neath the clear blue sky,
Never thinkin in the mornin whaur at nicht I'm gang tae lie,
In barn or byre or onywhere, dressin doon among the hay,
And if the weather treats my richt, I'll be happy ilka day.

But I think I'm gang tae Paddy's land, I'm makin up ma mind,
For Scotland's greatly altered noo, and I canna raise the wind,
But I will trust in providence, if providence will be true,
And I will sing o Erin's isle, when I come back tae you.

[GE] That's it, that's my version.

[TM] Great song.

[GE] It's a good song. Noo here's anither een, 'The Bleacher's Lassie', far did I see at? I think that's a great song.

[TM] Before that, The Tramps and Hawkers version, where did you get that.

[GE] Where did I get at? Oh, no, I canna tell ye. Mebbe, it's slightly different fae Jimmy MacBeath's een.
[TM] I think so.

[GE] He tells ye he's aften doon by, by and roon aboot, often doon by and roon aboot Stranraer, my business taks me ilky where, I travel near and far. I'm often doon by, far the devil did he say, somewey in roon aboot Stranraer, my business tak's me everywhere, I travel near and far. And aye, he his a slightly different version o it, but that's my version, I canna tell ye. Affa some o Robbie Shepherd's recordins possibly. Mm. The Bleachers Lassie, as lang as we're at it, we'll dae it. Can we?

[TM] Yes.

[GE] I hinna got a key for at een. Okay?

...Ae summer's mornin as I went walkin,
Awa doon by the Broomie law,
It's there I met wi a fair young maiden,
She hid cheeks like the rose and her skin like sna.

Says I dear lassie, why dae ye wander,
A' by yer leen on the Broomielaw?
Indeed kind sir I'll will plainly tell ye,
I'm a bleacher lassie frae Kelvinhall.

Oh lassie, lassie, if ye'll gang wi me,
I'll dress ye up in fine satins braw,
Oh no, kind sir, it's the truth I'll tell ye,
I've a lad o my ain and he's far awa.

For saiven lang years I hae loo'd a sailor,
For saiven lang years he his been awa,
Anither saiven years I'll wait upon him,
And I'll bleach my claes here on Kelvinhall.

Oh lassie, lassie, ye dae remember,
On the ships that sailed by the Broomielaw,
And the sailor laddies that did their courtin,
Wi their bleachers lassie o Kelvinhall.

And lassie, lassie, ye hae been faithful,
And thocht on me when I wis far awa,
True hearts mun surely be rewarded,
And we'll pairt nae mair here on Kelvinhall.

So noo that pair they hae got mairried,
And they keep an ale hoose atween them twa,
And the sailor laddies they aye come drinkin,
At the bleachers lassie on Kelvinhall.

[GE] Sorry aboot the hitch.

[TM] Laughs.

[GE] No, the named the pubbie, efter the Bleachers Lassie, they ca'd it the Bleachers Lassie.

[TM] That song was quite popular around here.

[GE] Oh aye, it wis affa popular here, and there's anither een, the Dundee song, 'Magdalene Green', ye ken it

[TM] Oh yes.

[GE] Div ye, can ye get it fae somebody.

[TM] Well I don't know, the only person I know that sings it is Jim Reid.

[GE] Oh, Joe Aiken sings. Fit wey does it go.

[Break in tape.]

Oh lassie, lassie, ye are hard herted
I wish yer fair face I nivver sa
For nicht and mornin my hairt's been achin
For the bleacher lassie o Kelvin Hall

[GE] Aye, sometimes I, ???

[TM] Where did you get the song.

[GE] Ah hah, my granny again, originally. That was a favourite of hers.

[TM] Did she sing that verse as well.

[GE] Mm hm..

[TM] That last one.

[GE] The last een. Yes she sang that, yes she did.

[Break in tape.]

Oh here I am, a stranger, just newly come from sea,
My ship she lies at anchor in the harbour o Dundee,
Your face it is the fairest that ever I hae seen,
Oh, fair maid will ye walk wi me down by the Magdalene Green.

Wi a roguey smile upon her lips, she smiled at me and said,
Kind sir I'd go along with you, but you know I am afraid,
The paths they are so slippery and the night so cold and keen,
It widnae dae for me tae fa doon by the Magdalene Green.

Wi kind words and promises, alang with me she went,
We rambled here, we rambled there, on love and pleasure bent,
And sometimes we would sit and talk about love's pleasant scene,
I fear that maid had mony a fa, doon by the Magdalene Green.

But soon the time for parting came, my ship hid hoisted sail,
No longer would I see my girl to tell her love's sweet tale,
So I said fareweel to auld Dundee where I hid happy been,
And she was left to walk alone down by the Magdalene Green.

One night while in my bunk I lay when my weary watch was done,
I dreamt I was the father of a darling little son,
And in my dream his mother too was plainly tae be seen,
And she was weeping bitterly down by the Magdalene Green.

When next my ship puts in again, at the harbour o Dundee,
I'll search the town all up and down until my girl I see,
And ask her to forgive me for the rascal I have been,
And we will make it up again down by the Magdalene Green.

So come a ye jolly sailor lads, take this advice from me,
It's never slight, a poor young lass, for the sake of poverty,
To lightly love then sail away, is naether straight nor clean,
And never dae what I eens did down by the Magdalene Green.

[GE] That's it.

[TM] That's a very full version.

[GE] Well it's just the story of life again, I suppose. It just goes on and on. Magdalene Green, it's a lovely park I believe, well it's a lovers lane. Aye.

[TM] And where did you ?

[GE] Well it was Joe Aiken I got at een fae actually, listenin tae Joe singin it. Aye. And seen, well we hiv Joe's, he jist has one tape his he Joe. It's in it, and somethin tae tak a fancy till.

[TM] Did you every hear anyone round here singing it?

[GE] Just Joe is the only person at I've ever heard singin it. Uh huh.

[GE] Noo there's some o that ballads, they really take a bit o singin tae, there's a bit length, you've got tae think, you've got to get the words and you've got to be able to cope wi the music tae. Aye.

[TM] You have the whole song in your mind.

[GE] Well. Now it's hopeless going to a competition unless ye've got it richt embedded in yer mind, because the extra pressure and at, you're sure as hell you'll forget it.

[TM] First thing to go.

[Mrs E] I dinna ken fan ye embed it in yer mind, cause ye never practice.

[GE] Back to the same auld story, fen I'm gan aboot daen ma jobs I dinna sing actually but it's going through ma mind.

[TM] Singing to yourself in your head.

[GE] Onything I'm nae sure o, work awa at it, jist unconsciously nearly, till I get it a pieced the gither, and I sort it oot. And if no, I ging back tae the original script and get it sorted oot and there it goes. But no, I pick it up affa quick, I just seem tae have that ability, and eens it's richt, well it usually stays. I niver aften stick in the front o a, well nae in front o the judgin onywey, sometimes at a performance I'll occasionally lapse if ye let yer concentration slip.

[Mrs E] But you ???

[GE] Ah well, it happens tae abody. No he wis jist absolutely, he stopped twice. If you div eens stick, that buggers ye up a the gither.

[TM] Pick another song and start again.

[GE] And so you get going again, you're sure to stick somewey else. Well, well, but it's jist the , it's a fun and if ye can tak it in the lighthearted, so much the better.

[Mrs E] Wi a canna aye be winners at these competitions. Ye've jist tae be prepared tae.

[TM] That's right, yes.

[GM] It wis a reel ca'd eh, Miss Forbes.

[TM] Miss Forbes, what's the first one called again?

[GM] The Campbells Are Coming, that's a march.

[TM] I've never recorded the jewish harp before so, see how it goes.

[GM] Well here goes en. It's a wee bit o a hit or a miss a lot o it, ye hiv tae get the richt key, or else it dinna get the richt tone ye see.

[GM] Plays the Campbells are Coming on jewish harp.

[TM] That's an endurance test as well!

[GM] I can play at hame masel for hoors and niver touch ma teeth or nothin wi it. But often if I start at a competition or at, I dae ken if it's nerves or no, but it keeps hittin yer teeth. I dinnae ken fit wey it is like ken, it jist dis it. Nerves, I think aye, at's richt enough. But eh, at's een that I find is a littler they seem tae get the better tone.

[TM] And how long have you been playing it for

[GM] Well, just the last two or three year that I really seriously started on it, ken I've hid a shot o een noo and again, but I've bocht a few ye see, they tell ye. Ye've tae buy a few of them afore ye get a richt een tae play for yersel. There's two up here. They are actually ?? There's at een, but they're different keys ye see actually, ken. Here, pick up is een. [Plays.]. You've got to get them intae, get yer tune intae the richt een. So I think at's a G, at'd be an A, and this'd be a B flat, like at.

[TM] Is it the length of the string that makes?

[GM] Well I imagine, it's jist the, the composition of the tongue, ye ken, the thickness of the tongue and the width of the tongue that mebbe dis it. They're a aboot exactly the same length. This een here, this is A I think. [Plays.]. There's nae neen o them the same ye see.

[TM] When you were a boy did many people play them?

[GM] Well ma granda hid een. And eh, he lived till he wis aboot, till 91. And in the latter days he wis eh, he wis sort o blind, he wisnae blind but near enough and very deaf as well. and eh, they hid ma auntie, ma auntie Jean. And I used tae ging and visit him ye see. And he'd be sitting there in the chair aside the fire, tellin ye stories ye ken, and every time ye gaed tae see him ye see he telt ye jist aboot the same story every time, ye ken aboot, it wis jist whit happened in his life, earlier on in his life ye see. And ye aye got jist aboot the same story but I aye put up wi at. Ye ken. And then he would produced a strump, and sat, he jist, broke and played his tune. Ye played it at wey ye see, but I play it is wey. The richt proper wey is is wey ye see, but I jist canna seem tae get it richt at wey. So, he woulda played is tune ye see and then he says, and aye he says 'noo which een wis at noo, dae ye ken at een'. And eh, I didnae ken it, I didnae ken fit he wis playin, but I just asked ma auntie ye see, and she kent. She jist, wis actually jist bidin wi him and hearin him and she could distinguish one tune fae anither and supposin jist ony ordinary every person couldna pick it oot ye see. So she woulda telt me and I telt him, and at made him happy. Laughs. So at wis eh, he wid be the only een at I'd ever heard playin it. There wisnae a lot o folk wid a played it, and there's nae an affa folk dis play it. It's a bonny instrument if ye can get the tone that you want oot o it.

[TM] Did he play those tunes, those two you just played.

[GM] Eh?

[TM] Did he play those particular tunes?

[GM] Oh, I canna mind, is, eh, Smiths the Gallant Fireman was een o them, I canna mind them a ye ken. At's eh.

[TM] Do you play that one yourself.

[GM] Aye, aye, I can easy play at een. That's a Strathspey. It's a wee bittie mair difficult. The first een I played wis a march, easy, fine easy beat. The second een's a reel, at's an easy beat, it's jist a, jist faster, it's a fine beat. But a Strathspey's a different slightly.


[GM] Then eh, you've got a jig. At's a different beat and a. I could play ither two tunes tae you, ?? [inaudible]. Well is een, I dinna really ken the name o it, I should ken the name o it, because I hiv done a tape, ken I files tape Robbie Shepherd ye see, and he 99 times oot o 100 Robbie'll tell ye at the beginning o a set fit they're gan tae play and they'll also tell ye efter they're finished fit they're going to play. But this particular een, well it wis, I canna mak oot fit he's sayin. It's aften like at on the, pick it up on the tape.

So I can play at two tunes tae ye, and I think at's jist aboot it. I'll aye Cry in by yon Toon and then the jig.


[TM] That's it, I recognise that tune, but I can't mind the name either.

[GM] No, we gaed tae the dancin at St Fergus, ye ken the aul time dancin, it's on every second Saturday. And the boy ca'd Duncan Watson dis the music, and at's one o his eens, ye can dae the, ??? [can't hear]. It's a fine going tune for at. At's een o his tunes at he daes till the ??? And I just picked it up affa that. And then I heard it on Robbie Shepherd, but I canna mak oot fit he's sayin, for the name o it like.

[TM] Was there a lot of music around when you were a boy.

[GM] Eh, well… the, we would hiv had a, I suppose mainly fan I wis little, we got Christmas parties at the school ken, that wis aboot the only thing we did hae, apart fae a picnic, but the picnic it wis nae the music it wis jist games and at in the summer time. But we hid is Christmas party at the school at Christmas and eh, the, we did, we learned I suppose nearly fae the summer holidays right through tae Christmas practicin tae dae a play, say a nativity or something like at like, Snow White and Seven Dwarfs and things like at. And then we did oor bit ye see, and then we would , would mebbe hid a dance efter for the aulder folk ye see and there wis music at at. And one particular person that sticks in my mind is Gavin Barron. Ye ken him?

[TM] No.

[GM] He, he bides in Strichen. And his, he's got a sister at bides in Aul Deer, Mrs Watt. Ye dinna ken her? Your acquaint wi Sandy Ritchie, you spearet Sandy aboot Gavin Barron. And he would have played at that things ye see, cause at wis at Auld Watt school, ye ken far Auld Watt school is?

[TM] Yes.

[GM] Ah well, I wis born up in at, up at Reedhill. Jist aboot a mile fae Auld Watt school. And he would have played ye ken, the dancin and at. Then the ither thing wis, well it wis the start of the wireless ye see, and we're listenin tae Scottish dance music, Jimmy Shand, Bobby MacLeod, Ian Powrie, Jim Cameron, a that lot. We would jist listen tae them twice a wik at least, we got them on the radio ye see and I picked up a, jist loved it ye see, when I wis a little lad, jist loved at music. And we got haud o a gramophone, ma mither bocht a gramophone. It wis een o these cabinet things and you wound it up ye see and we bocht records, Jimmy Shand, and eh, well it wisnae only Scottish dance music we bocht, we bocht a the latest ye ken at that time o day, it wis the Lambeth Walk and things like at, Billy Cotton. We would a few o them and a, but it wis mainly, mainly Scottish like Jimmy Shand and at, cause it, well we jist lapped it up. And that's where we got oor music fae.

[TM] Did you get records of songs as well. Like Willie Kemp or?

[GM] Aye, aye, we'd Willie Kemp.

[TM] And ah, George Morris.

[GM] Aye, aye, uh huh. We'd a that as well. That wis jist the sort o things we bocht, the kind of records we bocht.

[TM] Did you hear of people like John Strachan on the radio, do you remember?

[GM] Na, John Strachan, far's he.

[TM] John Strachan from Crichie, near Fyvie. Farmer that used to sing bothy songs and ballads and things on the radio.

[GM] Must have just been local then, he would have just sung at local places aboot Fyvie, cause I canna min on the name. He wouldna hae been broadcasted, it would jist have been local concerts and stuff.

[TM] So what year was it you were born.

[GM] Fit year? 1931. Jist two year short of ma pension. Laughs. 1931 yes. At's right.

[TM] So you were saying you heard the moothie when you were young.

[GM] Aye, I canna min fit, foo aul I wis when I got it, twis, I would probably been mebbe, I mightna been at the school when I got ma first een. But eh, twas roon aboot onything fae 4 - 8 year aul that I started tae learn tae play. There wis nae, ye didnae ging and get lessons or nithin, it jist happened like, ye jist found out that ye, if ye sucked and blew at the right place ye got a tune. And ye found ye got better at it, and better at it, until ye….

But eh, I suppose we didnae dae it enough, ken once we wis left the school and gaed awa oot amon the ither youth and daen ither things, it wis forgotten aboot, till later on in life.

[TM] When was that?

[GM] Aboot fiftyish?[ Laughs.] Mebbe even later an at. Fan did we ging tae Keith first? Then I decided we'd ben and listen tae other folk playin the moothie and at, and I decided I would like tae hae a go. She says you'll never hae a go, she says, you winna even staun up and play in front of me.

[TM] Sometimes it's easier to go and play in front of other folk.

[GM] So that day I did take in ma heid tae hae a go, she wisnae wi us, cause she works night shift at the home at ?? and she wis on the nicht afore ye see, so I took off masel at day. I'll tell ye I wis a bag a nerves richt enough. Laughs.

[TM] That was Strichen.

[GM] That wis Strichen aye. There wis five o us, I was last equal. But that wis Jim Baker at ere, but he said I played the wrang, I played aff, I started aff playin eh, eh…. oh fit div ye ca it, Dark Lochnagar, and I played it, started playin it, in a, and the second bit I did as a waltz ye see, I started off as an air, ken playin it as an air, and then found it wis pleasin tae me onywey, changin fae an air intil a waltz. So I did, gaed ower it once as an air and then gaed ower it once as a waltz. Then I did 'Kilmarnock Bonnet' and ended up daein the 'Muckin o Geordie's Byre'. So fen it come till him judging, he jist stood up and noo he says, George Murray. I dinna ken if he intended changin fae the air intill a waltz or if he thought he wisnae daen well wi the air and he would change it intill a waltz, but I wis a bit confused. So that wis one o the reasons why he docket the marks aff. So I ended up last equal.

[TM] Oh well, nowhere to go but up.

[GM] Laughs. So the next year I was third, and last year I wis second ?? [inaudible].

[TM] What about the ??? when did you start competing.

[GM] Jist last year, jist last year. Na, wisnae last year. It wis a year past last year, we wis, we gaed doon tae Kirriemuir for the first time. I wis entered for mooth organ ye see, and I jist says, I'm going tae hae a go at the trump ye see. I haed a go at the trump, there wis jist masel and Arthur Middleton, ye ken Arthur Middleton fae Aberdeen. Ye dinna ken him? Well, he 's a great ???? And he, he took the prizes and a, he wis aye first. Till he stoppit. ????? (Can't hear). He stuck his teeth in the thing and it knocked him aff, so little Willie Fraser, the judge….. So that wis the start o it. And then last year I won it at Strichen. And then I gaed tae Keith and won it at Keith, and went tae Achtermuchty and won it at Auchtermuchty, and then gaed tae Kirriemuir and won it at Kirriemuir. [Laughs.[

[TM] That's probably quite rare, that somebody wins all of them.

[GM] Well I dinna ken. That's the Keith een.

[TM] Oh the little plaques.

[GM] And eh, well the Strichen eens a little een and its awa getting ma name on it.

There again this is a waltz, and it'll be a jig. And the waltz is a sang that's played a lot, 'Come a ye tramps and hawkers', ye've heard the song. So I, I played the moothie as a waltz. And then the Banjo Breakdown which is a jig, and then again you can dae the ????

[Plays mouth organ.]


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