Frank Blair
Willie Lawrie / Frank Blair / Frank Blair

Story

From the CD "Cathedral of Memory."

The first tune is a 2-part variation of the 4-part, 2/4 pipe march written by Pipe Major William Lawrie (1881-1916) of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. 

The second is an original 2/4 march called "The Gallant Return" in honor of the 51st Highland Division's liberation of St. Valery-en-Caux in WWII. Earlier in the war the 51st was forced to surrender at St. Valery after running out of ammunition and food while fighting a rear guard action that made the rescue at Dunkirk possible. 

The third tune is an original quick jig called "The Dundee Predicament." Dundee, OR is a town near where I live where traffic often backs up for miles in both directions. This is especially acute during the summer as tourists and Portlanders travel through the Willamette Valley wine country to/from the Oregon coast. The carriage and tempo of the tune bear no resemblance to the experience of this phenomenon.

Frank Blair
Traditional arr. Frank Blair

Story

From the CD "Cathedral of Memory."

 

I learned this song from the singing of one of my earliest and strongest influences, Tony Cuffe.  It's always been one of my favorites and I tried a few times to integrate into repertoire's of various bands with varying degrees of success.  It tells the story of a young sailor who visits his sweetheart when he finds that his ship is to set sail.  He wants something of a stronger commitment before he leaves but she tells him she's changed her mind and turns him away, giving him back his promise ring.

 

There's a good version, very similar to this one, in John Ord's "Bothy Songs and Ballads" and a reference to another, somewhat older version in the manuscripts of William Motherwell (1797-1835.)  This version most likely dates from the 1810s to 1840s.  I never could come to a DADGAD arrangement that I liked so this is in standard.

Lyrics

There cam a letter yestreen 
Oor ship maun sail i' the morn 
'Alas', cried the bonnie lad 
That ever I was born 

And it's braw sailin on the sea 
When wind and weather's fair 
It's better be'en in my love's airms 
O gin that I were there 

He's gane untae her faither's hoose
At twelve o'clock at noon 
This lassie being proud-hearted 
She would not let him in 

And it's braw sailin on the sea 
When wind and weather's fair 
It's better be'en in my love's airms 
O gin that I were there 

He's taen a ring frae his pocket 
It cost him guineas three 
Sayin, 'Tak ye that my bonnie lass 
And aye think weel o' me' 

But she's taen a ring from her pocket 
It cost him shillings nine 
Sayin, 'Tak ye that my bonnie lad 
For I hae changed my mind' 

 

Oh it's better drinkin Glasgow beer
It's better drinkin wine
It's better be'en in my love's airms

Where I've spent monie night's time

 

And it's braw sailin on the sea

When wind and weather's fair 

It's better be'en in my love's airms 
O gin that I were there

 

It's better be'en in my love's airms
And oh gin I were there 

Frank Blair
trad / trad / (C)opyright © 2003 Frank Blair

Story

From the CD "An Bóithrín."

 

This is a set of jigs and jig-like substances. My personal style is heavily influenced by bluegrass and the Scottish. A personal foible that comes from that is that I walk a thin line most days between a jig and a 2/4 march. In this set I have an Irish jig that I play in more jig-like way ("Reverend Brothers"), a Scottish jig that I tend to play like a 2/4 march ("Scatter the Mud"), and a tune that I wrote specifically to be a march that plays nicely with the jigs ("The Bonus March".)

I learned "The Revered Brothers" from some friends in Portland -- Brian Walsh and Stewart Delzell. "Scatter the Mud" I learned from Gerald Trimble who was very influential in my early zouk playing. "The Bonus March" I wrote back in 2003. I was tossing about for a name (I'm horrible at naming things) and happened to be researching some things relating to the 1932 Bonus March on Washington, DC at the time. The name lent itself and became my way of playing a part in keeping the memory alive. When power is sufficiently threatened it will turn on the source of the threat, even if the threat is the constituency that power is sworn to protect.

Frank Blair
(C)opyright © 1964 Ewan MacColl, published by Stormking Music

Story

From the CD "An Bóithrín."

 

Between 1957 and 1965, Ewan MacColl collaborated with Peggy Seeger to produce a series of radio documentaries for BBC Radio called “The Radio Ballads.” They were a combination of field recorded speech, collected folk music, and new composition that broke ground in radio production. Thematically based, “The Moving On Song” was written for this series and was first broadcast as part of the show entited “The Travelling People” on April 17th, 1964. The production involved interviews across the British countryside and into Scotland. “The Moving On Song” quickly entered the folk repertoire, sometimes called “Go, Move, Shift”.

I’m not sure if my first exposure was from Christy Moore or Eddie Delahunt, an Irish native who played extensively around Kansas City during my time there. Either way, I’ve known the song for a long time.


Lyrics

Born in the middle of the afternoon
In a horse-drawn wagon on the old A5
The eighteen wheelers shook my bed
The policemen came and the little one said
You’d better get born in...someplace else

Refrain
Move along, get along, 
Move along, get along, 
Go, move, shift

Born at the tattie lifting time
In a canvas tent in a tattie field
The farmer said the works all done
It’s time that you was moving on
You’d better get born in...someplace else

Born in a common by a building site
Where the ground is rutted by a trail of wheels
A local Christian says to me
You’re lowering the price of our property
Would you mind being born in someplace else?

Born at the back of a Hawthorne hedge
Where the white hoar-frost lay on the ground
No Eastern kings came bearing gifts
But the order came to shift
You’d better get born in...someplace else

The eastern sky was full of stars
But none shone brighter than the rest
The wise men came so stern and strict
And brought the order to evict
You’d better get born in...someplace else

Wagon, tent, or trailer born
Last month, last year, or in far off days
Born here or a thousand miles away
There’s always men nearby who’ll say
You’d better get born in...someplace else

Frank Blair
trad / trad

Story

From the CD "An Bóithrín."

 

The first tune is an air originating in the late 17th or early 18th century. Robert Burns published a two verse poem by the same name but it appears to be snippets of a longer song or poem and there’s no indication that it’s related to this tune. However, sometimes this tune is used as the melody for the song "Carron Water". There is a verse in "Carron Water" that shares a few lines with what Burn’s published. The second tune is a Highland reel (thankfully on the slow side) that I learned from Tony Cuffe sometime in the late 80s. There are several regional variations of the tune. This one is the one that I like the most.

Frank Blair
(© 2004 Karine Polwart, published by Bay Songs Ltd.)

Story

From the CD "Cathedral of Memory"

In 1985/86 I attended a Jesuit institution of higher learning in Kansas City, Missouri called Rockhurst College (now University.) Among the degree requirements were a few hours of both theology (the search for religious truth via reason) and philosophy (the search for universal truth via reason.) One of my first classes was called “Four Questions on Persons” taught by Fr. W. L. La Croix., S.J wherein I was introduced to a work by the French philospher Albert Camus called “The Myth of Sisyphus.” 

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king who offended the gods by thinking himself their equal by reporting and commenting on the sexual indiscretions of Zeus. As a punishment for his hubris, Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain Sisyphus in Tartarus. Sisyphus, however, tricked Thanatos into chaining himself, thus making it so that no mortal could actually die. As a further punishment for his trickery, Sisyphus was forced to push a giant boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down into a valley and begin again the next day.

One of the things that Fr. La Croix argued was that in his writing, Camus suggests that the single, great philosophical question that pertains to humanity is whether or not to commit suicide.  We all, either tacitly or explicitly, answer that question every day, much as Sisyphus does. If we continue to live we have decided that there is something to live for.

This song reminds me of that and, despite the heavy context, is a happy song. My friend William Morris provides backing vocals.

 

Lyrics

Six rain-laden summers and she still had an eye for me
She’d kiss me each evening and told me she’d die for me
Then she ran off the road full of whiskey and irony
She always meant what she said

So I took to the whiskey so I could recall
The taste of her mouth on my mouth, that’s all
And I tried the same trick with a truck but it stalled
The engine was better off dead
 

Refrain
Oh, oh the nights are long
But life is longer still
Oh, oh the nights are long
But the sun’s coming over the hill


The taste never left me, I don’t guess it will
And it caused me to supplement whiskey with pills
But there was something inside of me that I couldn’t kill
Believe me, I really did try
 

Refrain
 

There’s some say you get what you deserve but they’re wrong
Sometimes you just get what you’re given and then it’s all gone
Sometimes it’s enough to be sufficiently strong
To daily decide not to die


Refrain
 

I can’t say there’s many things that I wouldn’t change
There’s better times gone than those that remain
But I can find joy in the sound of the rain
You have to find joy where you can


Refrain

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