Many's The Foolish Youth - TARA 4004
The Voice Squad
Album Sleevenotes

 

Tracks

 
Audio Samples
(1) When a Man's in Love
(2) The Bonny Irish Maid
(3) Willie Taylor
(4) The Banks of the Bann
(5) The Holly She Bears a Berry
(6) The Parting Glass
(7) Kilmore Carol
(8) Annan Water
(9) Shepherds Arise
(10) Ode to Autumn
(11) Oh Good Ale

 

 
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Concerning of Three Young Men
Many's The Foolish Youth
Holly Wood

 

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Sleeve Notes

MUSICIANS

The Voice Squad are : Fran McPhail, Gerry Cullen and Phil Callery.
Produced, recorded and mixed by: DanDan Fitzgerald.
All titles arranged by: Gerry Cullen, Fran McPhail, Phil Callery and Dan FitzGerald.
Mastered by Mary Kettle at Trend Studios.
Recording and mix equipment by Audio Engineering and Sound Sound Ireland.

Remixed for CD 1995: These are complete, unedited, performances. This new release prompted a complete re-mix using state of the art analogue and digital equipment.

Track Notes

1. When a Man's in Love

A night-visiting song found in many variants all over Ireland and in the New World. This setting comes from the singing of Paddy Tunney of Fermanagh.

Lyrics :

When a man's in love he feels no cold, like me not long ago,
Like a hero bold to see his girl he'd plough through the frost and snow.
The moon she greatly shone her light along the dreary way,
Till I arrived at that sweet spot where all my treasures lay.

I rapped at my love's window saying my dear are you within?
And slowly, she unlocked the door and slyly I stepped in.
Her hand so soft, her breath so sweet, her tongue did gently glide,
I stole my arm around her waist and I asked her to be my bride.

Oh take me to your chamber love, oh take me to your bed,
Oh take me to your chamber love, to rest my weary head.
For to take you to my chamber love, my parents love my parents they won't agree,
So sit you down by yon bright fire and I'll sit close to thee.

Oh many's the night I've courted you against your parents' will,
But you never said you'd be my bride and now my girl sit still.
For tonight I have to cross the sea to far Columbia shore,
And you will never ever see your faithful lover more.

Oh are you going to leave me here, oh what else can I do?
I'd break through every tie of love to go along with you.
Perhaps my parents might forget, I'm sure they must forgive,
For from this moment I'm content along with you to live.

2. The Bonny Irish Maid

Ballad-sheet sellers in the last century spread this song all over the country, and also in Britain. Phil got this version from Tony Holleran.

Lyrics :

As I roved out one morning fair, so early as I strayed,
It being all in the month of May, the birds sang in the shade,
The sun shone down right merrily and billowing with pride,
Where primroses and daisies grow by Blackwater side.

I had not gone but half a mile when there by chance I spied,
Two lovers talking as they walked down by Blackwater side.
And as he embraced her in his arms, these words to her did say,
When I am in America, I'll be true to my Irish maid.

Oh when you are in America, those Yankee girls you'll find,
And you'll have sweethearts of your own more pleasing to your mind,
Do not forget the promises and vows to me you made,
Oh stay at home love and do not roam form your bonny Irish maid.

Oh when I am in America, those Yankee girls I'll see,
And they must be very handsome to remind me love of thee,
For there's not a flower in yonder grove or a bloom in yonder glade,
That can remind me love of you, my bonny Irish maid.

Oh many's the foolish youth she said, has gone to a foreign shore,
Leaving behind his own true love perhaps to see no more.
It's in crossing of the Atlantic foam sometimes their graves are made,
Oh stay at home love and do not roam, from your bonny Irish maid.

These two young hearts together so fondly did embrace,
Like honey drops upon the dew the tears rolled down her face,
Saying there's not a day while you're away I'll visit still these glades,
Until you do return again, to your bonny Irish maid.

3. Willie Taylor

Is this an early example of a women's liberation song? Of English origin, it owes its widespread distribution in the Irish tradition to the ballad-mongers. The source for this version was a remarkable singer called Pa Cassidy, form the village of Louth, in the county of Louth, whom I first recorded in 1971. He was 90 years young when this song was collected from him by Paddy Carolan and Liz McArdle, of Drogheda.

Lyrics :

Willy Taylor and his youthful lover, full of mirth and loyalty,
They were going to the church to be married, he was pressed and sent to sea,

CHORUS:
Dally dilly dum dilly dum dum dum dum,
Dally dilly dum dilly dum dum dey.

She dressed herself up like a sailor, on her breast she wore a star,
Her beautiful fingers long and slender, she gave them all just a smear of tar.

CHORUS.

On this ship there being a skirmish, she being one amongst the rest,
A silver button flew off her jacket, there appeared her snow white breast.

CHORUS.

Said the captain to his fair maid, what misfortune has took you here,
I'm in search of my true lover, whom you pressed on the other year.

CHORUS.

If you're in search of your true lover, pray come tell to me his name,
Willy Taylor they do call him but Fitzgerald is his name.

CHORUS.

Let you get up tomorrow morning, early as the break of day,
There you'll find your Willy Taylor, walking along with his lady gay.

CHORUS.

She got up the very next morning, early as the break of day,
There she spied her Willy Taylor walking along with his lady gay.

CHORUS.

She drew about a brace of pistols that she had at her command,
There she shot her Willy Taylor with his bride at his right hand.

CHORUS.

When the Captain came to hear it, of the deed that she had done,
He made her ship's commander, over a vessel for the Isle of Man.

CHORUS.

4. The Banks of the Bann

One of the big Ulster songs, this is sometimes known as 'The Brown Girl'. The lads got this from the singing of Jim and Liz McArdle of Drogheda, who re-invigorated the version in the Sam Henry collection. Sam Henry was an affable pensions officer, form Coleraine, Co. Antrim, who combined his official duties with folk-song collecting and publishing the results weekly in the local paper.

Lyrics :

When first to this country a stranger I came,
I placed my affections on a maid that was young,
She being young and tender, her waist was small and slender,
Kind Nature had formed her for my overthrow.

On the banks of the Bann, where I first beheld her,
She appeared like fair Juno or a Grecian queen,
Her eyes shone like diamonds, her hair softly twining,
Her cheeks were like roses or blood drips in snow.

'Twas her cruel parents that first caused our variance,
All because I was poor of a low degree,
But I'll do my endeavour to gain my love's favour,
Although she is come from a rich family.

My name is Delaney, a name that won't shame me,
And if I had saved money, I'd have plenty in store,
But drinking and courting, night rambling and sporting,
Are the cause of my ruin and absence from home.

Had I all the money that's in the West Indies,
Or had I the gold of the African shore,
I would spend it on pearls and on you my brown girl,
For there's no other love on this earth I adore.

Now since I have gained her I'm contented for life,
I'll put rings on her fingers and gold in her ear.
We'll live on the banks of the lovely Bann river,
And in all sorts of splendour I'll style her my dear.

5. The Holly She Bears a Berry,

This is an Easter carol from Cornwall which beautifully combines elements of paganism and older beliefs with Christianity.

Lyrics :

The holly she bears a berry as white as the milk
And Mary she bore Jesus all wrapped up in silk,

CHORUS:
And Mary she bore Jesus Our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree that's in the greenwood it was the holly.
Holly, holly, and the first tree that's in the greenwood it was the holly.

Oh the holly she bears a berry as green as the grass,
And Mary she bore Jesus who died on the cross.

CHORUS.

Oh the holly she bears a berry as black as coal,
And Mary she bore Jesus who died for us all.

CHORUS.

Oh the holly she bears a berry as blood it is red,
And we trust in Our Saviour who rose from the dead.

CHORUS.

6. The Parting Glass,

A traditional song of parting, this is widely sung all over the North of Ireland. This version comes from a well-thumbed copy of Colm O'Lochlainn's 'Irish Street Ballads'.

Lyrics :

Of all the money e'er I had I spent it in good company,
And all the harm I've ever done, alas it was to none but me,
And all that I've done for want of wit, to memory now I can't recall,

CHORUS:
So fill to me the Parting Glass, goodnight and joy to you all.

If I had the money enough to spend and leisure time to sit awhile,
There is fair maid in this town that surely has me heart beguiled.
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips, I own she has me heart enthralled.

CHORUS.

Of all the comrades e'er I had they're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had they'd wish me one more day to stay.
But since it fell into my lot that I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call goodnight and joy be to you all.

7. Kilmore Carol

In 1684 while in exile in Ghent, Luke Wadding, Bishop of Ferns (which includes Wexford) published a 'Smale Garland' of carols. After his death these became immensely popular in Ireland (in fact, an edition was printed for a Drogheda bookseller, James Connor, in 1728) and are sung to this day at Christmas time in the Wexford fishing village of Kilmore Quay. The Dublin singer Frank Harte was Phil's source for this song.

Lyrics :

Now to conclude our Christmas mirth, with news of our redemption,
We will end our songs on our Saviour's birth with one that deserves attention.
Three great wonders fell on this day, a star led Kings where the Infant lay,
Water made wine in Galilee and Christ baptised in Jordan.

Those Kings might have known what Balaam of old said of a star that would arise,
In Jacob's land where he foretold the coming of the Messiah.
Jasper, Melchoir and Balthazar set out when they saw the new bright star,
Leaving their eastern kingdoms far, to find out the new-born Jesus.

Amazed to see the cottage poor, the stall where He was born in,
They left their retinue at the door, though great, they entered without scorn.
The Blessed Babe and mother found, leaving their crowns and sceptres down,
Adored Him prostrate on the ground and might have spoke as follows:

Oh King of Kings here in disguise whom stars obey and angels serve,
Though wealth and grandeur You despise, You have given us more than we deserve,
Our beds are gold and ivory, our garments rich with broidery,
Beset with pearls and pagentry, whilst You lie in a stable.

What else might have passed, you may conceive in this fond conversation.
They bade farewell, taking their leave, home to their habitation.
Farewell good Christians, fare you well too, many a happy Christmas we wish you,
With a blessed end for to ensue, through the merits of Sweet Jesus.

8. Annan Waters

The Annan Water runs into the Firth of Solway. This is an eighteenth century re-working of an older traditional song. A version was published in Dublin 1728. This version, however, comes from Nic Jones.

Lyrics :

Oh Annan Waters wondrous deep, and my love Annie's wondrous bonny,
I loath that she should wet her feet because I love her best of any.
Go saddle for me the bonny grey mare, go saddle her soon and make her ready,
For I must cross that stream tonight , or never more I'll see my lady.

CHORUS:
And woe betide you Annan Waters, by night you are a gloomy river,
And over you I'll build a bridge, that never more true love may sever.

And he has ridden o'er field and fen, o'er moor and moss and many's the mire,
His spurs of steel were sore to bite, sparks form the mare's hooves flee like fire,
The mare flew on o'er moor and moss and when she reached the Annan Waters,
She couldn't have ridden a furlong more had a thousand whips been laid upon her.

CHORUS.

Oh boatman come put off your boat, put off your boat for gold and money,
For I must cross that stream tonight or never more I'll see my lady,
The sides are steep, the waters deep, from bank to brae the waters pouring,
And the bonny grey mare she sweats for fear, she stands to hear the waters roaring.

CHORUS.

And he has tried to swim that stream and he swam on both strong and steady ,
But the river was wide and strength did fail and never more he'll see his lady,
And woe betide the willow wan and woe betide the bush and briar,
For they broke beneath her true love's hand, when strength did fail and limbs did tire.

CHORUS.

9. Shepherds Arise

This is from the singing of the Copper family, of Rottingdean in Sussex, who developed a style of harmony-singing derived from village church music. Their family manuscript song-books trace this tradition back through six generations.

Lyrics :

Shepherds arise, be not afraid, with hasty steps repair,
To David's city, sing all earth, unto Our Blessed Infant,
To Our Blessed Infant there, to Our Blessed Infant there, to Our Blessed Infant there.

CHORUS:
Sing, sing all earth, sing sing all earth eternal praises,
Sing unto Our Redeemer, Unto Our Redeemer and Our Heavenly King.

Laid in a manger, view the Child humility divine, sweet innocence and meek and mild,
Grace in His features, in His features shines,
Grace in His features shines, grace in His features shines.

CHORUS.

For us a Saviour came on earth, for us His life he gave,
To save us from eternal death and to raise us from and to raise us from the grave,
To raise us from the grave, to raise us from the grave.

CHORUS.

10. Ode to Autumn,

This is one of the many songs from the prolific pen of great Robbie Burns (1759 - 96) to pass into the folk tradition. Under the title of 'Westlin' Winds' it is sung widely throughout Ulster. However, Phil learned this from the singing of Luke Cheevers of Dublin.

Lyrics :

Now westlin' winds and slaughtering guns bring Autumn's pleasant weather,
The moorcock springs on whirring wings above the bloomin' heather,
The waving grain wide o'er the plain, delights the weary farmer,
The moon shines bright as I stroll at night to muse upon my charmer.

The pheasant loves fruit-filled vales, the plover loves the mountain,
The moorcock haunts the lonely dales, the soaring heron the fountain,
Thru' every grove the cushat roves, the path of man to shun it,
The hazel bush overhangs the thrush, the spreading thorn the linnet.

Thus every kind their pleasure find, the savage and the tender,
Some social join and leagues combine, some solitary wander.
Avant away the cruel sway, tyrannic man's dominion,
The huntsman's joy, the murdering cry, the fluttering gory pinion.

Now Peggy dear, the evening's clear, thick fly the skimming swallows,
The sky is blue, the fields in view, are faded green and yellow,
So let us stray our gladsome way, to view the charms of Nature,
The rustling corn, the fruited thorn and every happy creature.

We'll gently walk and sweetly talk, while the silent moon shines clearly,
I'll grasp your waist and fondly praise for I swear I love you dearly,
Not vernal showers unto budding flowers, not Autumn to the farmer,
So dear to me as thou can be, my own, my lovely charmer.

11. Oh Good Ale

This is another song from the repertoire of the Copper family and describes what they downed in sizeable quantities while sitting around their Christmas fireside singing songs like 'Shepherds Arise'.

Lyrics :

It's of good ale to you I'll sing, and to good ale I'll always cling,
I like my mug filled to the brim and I'll drink all you'd like to bring,

CHORUS:
Oh good ale, you are my darlin, you are my joy both night and morning.

I love you in the early morn, I love you in daylight, dark or dawn,
And when I'm weary, worn or spent I'll turn the tap and ease the vent.

CHORUS.

It's you that makes me friends me foes, it's you that makes me wear old clothes,
But since you come so near me nose, it's up you come and down you go.

CHORUS.

The landlord he looks very big, in his high cocked hat and powered wig,
I think he looks both fair and fat, but he may thank you and me for that.

CHORUS.

The brewer brew'd you in his pan, the tapster draws you in his can,
Now I wish you would play your part and lodge you next unto my heart.

CHORUS.

You have caused me debts that I've often swore I would never drink strong ale no more,
But you for all that I'll forgive, and I'll drink strong ale as long as I live.

CHORUS.

 

In the beginning was the voice.

And what voices are here - those of Fran McPhail, Gerry Cullen and Phil Callery, three ice-clear mountain streams fusing into a surging river of harmony - no accompaniment, no trimming, no distraction form the intensity and passion of these three iron-bar voices.

Unaccompanied harmony singing in the folk tradition first came to light with the recordings of the Copper family form Sussex, in the South of England. Fran, Gerry and Phil, already widely known in the field of Irish traditional song, have built upon the basic elements of this style to develop a powerful and highly distinctive approach to their own native tradition. Their style and repertoire is nourished by deeper and older well-springs, especially by the great song traditions of the North of this island, as represented, for instance, by Eddie Butcher of Derry, Paddy Tunney of Fermanagh, Geordie Hanna of Tyrone and by Pa Cassidy and Mary Ann Carolan, who came form Fran and Gerry's home-county of Louth.

Sean Corcoran

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