Debra Cowan | Among Friends

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Folk: British Folk Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Among Friends

by Debra Cowan

“Among Friends” is a live recording of a performance given at the Bacca Pipes Folk Club, Keighley, W.Yorkshire in the United Kingdom.
Genre: Folk: British Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Darlin' Corey (Live)
3:12 $0.99
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2. Star in the East (Live)
2:42 $0.99
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3. A Cold Day in November (Live)
3:23 $0.99
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4. The Great Fast Food Strike (Live)
5:21 $0.99
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5. Good Fish Chowder (Live)
4:21 $0.99
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6. The Rose You Wore for Me (Live)
4:57 $0.99
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7. Carpal Tunnel (Live)
2:58 $0.99
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8. The Dreadnaught Mutiny (Live)
6:37 $0.99
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9. My Boy Jack / Widowmaker (Live)
5:34 $0.99
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10. One More Before We Go (Live)
4:02 $0.99
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11. Dad's Dinner Pail (Live)
4:19 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Among Friends Notes and Lyrics


1. Darlin' Corey (traditional)
The first folk song I ever learned and appears on my first recording “The Long Grey Line”.

Wake up, wake up, Darlin' Corey. what makes you sleep so sound?
Them revenue officers a'comin', for to tear your still-house down.

Well the first time I saw Darlin' Corey, she had a wineglass in her hand
She’d been drinkin' that cold hard liquor, with a low down sorry man

And the next time I saw Darlin’ Corey,
She was standin’ on the banks of the sea
She had forty-fours strapped around her body and a banjo on her knee

And the last time I saw Darlin’ Corey
She was standin' in the still-house door
With her shoes and stockin's in her hand an' her feet all over the floor.

Go and dig me a hole in the meadow a hole in the cold, cold ground
Go and dig me a hole in the meadow, just to lay Darlin’ Corey down

2. Star In the East (traditional)
Known as “Brightest and Best”, I found this when I was doing my research in the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection. Jean Ritchie told me that this version was the closest to the one her Granny Katty sang.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

*3. A Cold Day In November (© John O'Connor)
I first heard John's songs back in the 1980's when he was with a group called Daniel Shay's Rebellion. I got another chance to hear him at the 1990 Vancouver Folk Festival and bought his recording, “We Ain't Gonna Give It Back” which is one of my favorites. John is one of the founders of my union, AFM Local 1000 and through our Union work we have become great friends.

'Twas a cold day in November and the wild wind did blow
On Wabash in the lake town of old Chicago
A man with his hands in his pockets so deep
Come a lookin' for a handout and a warm place to eat

Well he walks right up to me I thinks this is too much
Ain't it funny how a rounder can spy the soft touch
Says his name is Charlie and he puts out his hand
“Say friend can you help a poor ramblin' man?”


Well he looked like he was freezin' from his head to his shoes
And he said all that he wanted was a nickel or two
For a hot cup of coffee or some wine or some gin
Or just a place to get out of that cold Chi-town wind

Well I handed him a quarter and I went on my way
I was headed down south side to pick up my pay
At the Harrington warehouse I was damn well near broke
Sipping whiskey from a bottle that I had in my coat

Well that wind was a-blowin' I was fast on my feet
I didn't know I was a walkin' on a tough copper's beat
I took a good swig from the extent of my wealth
And I guess I must have looked pretty ragged myself

I felt a hand on my shoulder on my shoulder and I turned myself around
It was that tough cop gettin' ready to knock me on the ground
I says “This bottle ain't causin' no trouble” but he
Took his nightstick and proceeded to use it on me

Now when a cop's feelin' orn'ry it never will fail
You get some lumps on your head and a night in the jail
It don't make any difference in this land of the free
If you're a bum or a wino or a poor stiff like me

That man in the blue went to hit me again
When Charlie come a-walkin' 'round the corner just then
And in his hands was a bottle and he took a good snort
And then over that cop's head went a fifth of good port

Well I picked up my pay I brought Charlie along
And we found a good tavern and we drank until dawn
It's easy to see who your friends are sometime
You don't vote them into office you lend them a dime

4. The Great Fast Food Strike
(words by © Deborah Van Kleef; music traditional)
Deborah is another friend and Local 1000 member who is a teacher, performer and activist. Her CD “Work In Progress” is a wonderful collection songs including six of her own. Thanks, Deborah!

Come all you fast food workers, wherever you may dwell
If you'll consent to listen, a story I will tell
Of six young workers like yourselves, who were compelled to go
And labor for McDonald's in Macedon-i-o.

'Twas in northeast Ohio this burger franchise stood
As in many such establishments, conditions were not good
The wages they were meager, but by far the greatest woe
Was to work for Jerry Guffey in Macedon-i-o.

Now Jerry was the manager, a spiteful man was he
If ever you displeased him, his anger you would see
With foul names and shoves and shouting, his curses they would flow
He was the meanest fast food boss in Macedon-i-o

Margaret she was sixty-six, she worked from need, not choice
One day she left a bag of trash out of its proper place
When Jerry came upon it, his rage did overflow
The staff looked on as Margaret wept, in Macedon-i-o

'Twas on an Easter Sunday student workers made a vow
"Abuse of youth and elderly no longer we'll allow"
These brave young people left their jobs, their paychecks did forego
To walk upon a picket line in Macedon-i-o

Bryan Drapp walked out, and Jamal Nickens he did too
Josh Jones and Matt Casserlie, they joined the picket crew
Steve Stem and Heidi Shaffer solidarity did show
They led the fight for dignity in Macedon-i-o

From CNN to Leno, Howard Stern to NPR
The story of the fast food strike was carried near and far
McDonalds' high executives, to save the status quo
Sent in a crack consultant, to Macedon-i-o

Then Teamsters' Local Four Sixteen came to the strikers' aid
"These kids against your corporate might's an unfair fight," they said
"We're here to balance out the scales." The company said, "No!
We will not talk with unions here in Macedon-i-o"

At Route Eight and the Interstate the strikers held their ground
They thrust aloft their picket signs as the April rains beat down
'Til a Teamster bakery driver, he dealt the final blow
He would not cross a picket line in Macedon-i-o

The bosses watched in horror as the truck it rolled away
They knew it carried all the buns they needed for that day
While twenty cheering picketers, still marching to and fro
Saw victory within their grasp in Macedon-i-o

A fair wage and paid vacation, better safety at the grill
In every point of bargaining the workers had their will
And to a training program Jerry Guffey's forced to go
To brush up on his people skills, in Macedon-i-o.

You've heard of labor's struggles in Harlan's bloody hills
At Homestead, Flint and Ludlow, and in Massachusetts' mills
In April nineteen ninety-eight, the history books will show
How fast food workers held the line in Macedon-i-o

5. Good Fish Chowder (words by © John Ciardi; music traditional)
Learned from the singing of Joe Hickerson. After some investigation, it turns out that the words are a poem called “Jerry Mulligan” from a book called “The Man Who Sung Sillies”. I always ask kids to do the opera singer schtick and thought that perhaps adults would do it as well. They did and with great ceremony.

Jerry Mulligan came to see me
Dropped his hat in the chowder pot
Put it on as he was leaving
Said my word, it's getting hot (2x)

Good fish chowder, good clam chowder
Makes you want to cry for more
Fills you up from your top to your toenails
Makes you hear the ocean's roar (2x)

Five fat shrimp behind his earlobes
Four fat squid with forty toes
Six fat oysters, eight fat scallops
Hanging from his hair and nose

He turned to me as he was leaving
Said goodbye as he shook my hand
Just as a wave ran down his shirtsleeve
Left me holding a ton of sand

Good clam chowder, good fish chowder
Has anybody seen my shoe
Nancy dropped it in the chowder
I was saving it for the stew

6. The Rose You Wore For Me (© Danny Carnahan)
This song has been and continues to be a favorite. After getting his third licensing payment from me, Danny said “Thank you for being scrupulously professional” Always happy to compensate and credit the writers that write the great songs I sing.

When I open my eyes,
I can see you still
With the sunlight so gay
Glinting on the quay
All buttons and bows
And the bloom of the rose
You wore for me
Oh I swore I’d return
As a prince someday
With a ship full of gold
For the world to see
Yes I promised you then,
Though I couldn’t say when
That day would be

Chorus:
And long are the days
Since we lay in the fields so green
And long are the nights
To consider what might have been
And the song of the geese in the wind
Will call your name

Oh the mountains just laugh
When I turn for home
Not a mountain so high
Nor a man so small

Is it hours to the shore
Or ten thousand miles more
Beyond recall
‘Twas a fool to believe
All the things they said
Twice a fool just to kiss you
And sail away
But they lied when they told
Of those rivers of gold in America

If a word or a wish could
Transport me now
I would fly to your arms
Like a moth to flame
But I’m chained and I’m bound
To this cold foreign ground
With none to blame
Does my love warm your heart
Through the cold, cold night?
Does it twine ‘round your heart
As the roses grown
Or does love burn away,
Leaving ashes so grey
And cold as stone?

7. Carpal Tunnel (© John O'Connor)
Another O'Connor gem. John says he wrote this after attending a rally of meat packers in the midwest where many of the workers were talking about a new work-related injury called Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome.

Early In the morning at the start of the day
I force my fingers 'round the handle of the blade
I start into cuttin' just as fast as I candidates
By the end of the day I can hardly move my hands

CHO:
I got that old carpal tunnel and my hands won't move
But the foreman tells me stay in the groove
Ya cut that cattle as fast as I do
You'll get that old carpal tunnel too

Ten years ago I started in the kill
Now ten years later I got my fill
But I keep on cuttin' though the line's twice as fast
I don't know how long these arms will last

I work with a knife and a blade in my hand
I cut them cows with a big iron band
But it feels like a knife is cutting me all the time
It's the curse of the speed upon the packin' house line

There ain't five minutes that passes a man
That he don't feel the carpal tunnel deep in his hands
He feels it in his fingers and his wrists all the time
Cuz the carpal tunnel lives in the big nerve lines

Well, I'm going for an operation once more
But I come right back to the killin' floor
I tell them darlin' children of mine
“Don't you ever go to work on the carcass line”

*8. Dreadnought Mutiny (© Jerry Bryant)
When I first came to New England, I had the opportunity to hear an entire concert performed by Jerry. I purchased his cassette, “Harbo and Samuelson” and decided to learn “Dreadnought Mutiny”. Since that first meeting, Jerry has released two other recordings and consulted on another, “Uncensored Sailor Songs” which is probably the only traditional folk music recording with a Parental Advisory sticker attached.

The North Atlantic packet ships could eat a man alive
‘Tween their brass-bound skippers and their hard-case crews.
But when you’re on that westward run, fighting to survive.
It takes a rugged mob to pull her through.
The packet rats of Liverpool will give it all they’ve got
Before the wind or driving through a gale.
The gang they call the Bloody Forty is the toughest of the lot,
And no bucko mate has ever made them quail.

CHO:
Well, I’ve know the hardest captains and sailed with the toughest crews,
And I’ve shipped aboard my share of blood boats, matey.
But I’ve never seen as big a row in all my years at sea.
As when Captain Samuels met the Bloody Forty.

Samuels sailed the Dreadnaught for the Red CrossLine;
She was the smartest packet of her day.
He sailed her from New York to Liverpool in record time,
But he drove his men like oxen all the way.
Many a poor sailor toiled beneath his lash -
You could give your all and still he’d ask for more.
And if you dared to cross him; you could never win that clash
The Bloody Forty meant to even up the score.

The Dreadnaught needed crewmen for the run back to New York
And the Bloody Forty signed on to a man.
The magistrate warned Samuels they were up to evil work,
But he said, ”I mean to break’em, if I can.”
Finnegan and Sweeney were the leaders of the gang
And tougher men I swear I never met.
They meant to steal the vessel as soon as eight bells rang.
But the Old Man wasn’t daunted by the threat.

The ship was just off Queenstown when the mutiny began
And the crew refused to haul the weather brace.
Finnegan pulled out a knife and cursed at the Old Man,
Calling him a coward to his face.
Samuels, with a pistol, called the sailor’s bluff:
He stood alone, a rock against the tide.
His officers soon proved that they were made of weaker stuff:
The second mate alone stood at his side.==>
“KILL HIM NOW!”, cried Sweeney, “And send him straight to Hell!”.
As the Bloody Forty surged to the attack
But just then a band of emigrants leapt forward with a yell.
And with iron bars they held the forty back.
The sound of blows and cursing filled the summer’s night.
As the mutineers fell into the trap.
They didn’t know that Samuels had been ready for a fight.
And he’d armed two dozen Dutchies for the scrap.

The mutiny was over and the Captain had prevailed.
But Finnegan alone would not repent.
It took ten hours in the sweatbox before his spirit failed
And he begged for mercy, beaten down and spent.
The remainder of the voyage Samuels preached the holy word,
And his sermons brought those hardened men to tears.
And when the Dreadnaught docked it was the strangest thing I’ve heard --
The Bloody Forty Gave the Old Man three big cheers!

9. My Boy Jack (words by Rudyard Kipling; music by Peter Bellamy/Widowmaker © John Conolly)
These were two songs that were just begging to be placed together. The late Peter Bellamy took many of Kipling's poems and put them to tunes. His own version of “My Boy Jack” is stunning. I am sorry that I never got to met Peter who died in 1991. Bacca Pipes was his folk club and I think it's a fitting tribute to him that many of Peter's friends were present to hear my tribute. John Conolly's “Widowmaker” was suggested to me by the aforementioned Tom Lewis.

"Have you news of my boy Jack? "
Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Has any one else had word of him?"
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind---
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

When The Widowmaker Wind howls up the river,
When the sky falls dark and heavy to the rolling of the tide,
When you lie awake and listen to the wind blow,
When you wish you'd never been a sailor's bride.
For wives and mothers all along the coastline,
It's another day of darkness and another night of fear,
For it's gale force winds and black ice in the Faroes,
December is the deadly time of year.
It's hard to be both mother and a father,
A lonely woman struggling to rear a growing lad,
And your heart sinks every time he tries to tell you, He wants to go to sea just like his dad.
So in between the kissing and the cursing,
You try to make a home where he can grow up straight and free,
But there's no way you can keep him there forever, You know someday you'll lose him to the sea.

When your man comes home with money in his pocket,
It's like the sun come shining through the clouds and through the rain,
Now the time has come to do your share of living ,
In two days he'll be outward bound again.
The laughing and the loving and the drinking,
Are moments to forget the nights you lay alone and cried,
For tonight you'll be a queen but come tomorrow,
He's sailing on the early morning tide.

When The Widowmaker wind howls up the river,
When the sky falls dark and heavy to the rolling of the tide,
When you lie awake and listen to the wind blow,
Do you wish you'd never been a sailor's bride?

10. One More Before We Go (© Bill Meek/John Conolly)
John Conolly's most famous song is “Fiddler's Green” and is often cited as traditional. I met John in 2004 when we were both performing at the Lancaster Sea Music Festival (UK). We traded CDs and I enjoyed “One More Before We Go” immensely. This is a song that embodies the “community” that folk music has become. Bill and John certainly communicate that we folk musicians are well taken care of when traveling.

We have walked this road a thousand times
God grant us a thousand more
Down all those rolling years to bring
Our music to your door.
We’ve shared the songs and laughter too
Of joys we took our fill
And by the light of the friendly moon
We rolled home singing still …

CHORUS
One more before we go, me boys
Let mirth and music flow
In friendship’s bond let us rejoice
One more before we go …

Oh,the amber and the ruby glass
Have warmed both heart and mind,
And by the fires of jovial inns
A welcome we would find.
Kind voices and kind words we’ve met
Throughout this pleasant land
A smiling face and an open door
And a clasp from every hand …

And those who’ve journeyed far may find
A port in stormy seas
A haven from the gale of Life
To bring their spirit ease.
From farm or factory they may come
Those labouring men or Kings
To blend their voices and to share
The balm that Music brings …

No sadness shall our burden be
No care shall sit beside,
While Song and Story carry us
Upon their magic tide
And when the hastening Hour decrees
Farewells we must bestow
Then all shall raise their glass to join.....

11. Dad's Dinner Pail (traditional)
Composed for theater audiences in the late 19th century by the great Irish Music Hall composer Edward Harrigan, this song was quite popular and eventually made it's way into the oral tradition. It appeared on my second recording of songs from the Helen Hartness Flanders Collection.

Preserve that old kettle, so black and so worn;
It belonged to my father before I was born;
It hung in a corner beyond on a nail
'Twas the emblem of labor, my dad's dinner pail

CHORUS:
For it glistened like silver, so sparkling and bright;
I am fond of the trifle that held his wee bite;
In summer or winter, in snow, rain or hail,
I've carried that kettle, my dad's dinner pail.

When the bell rang for mealtime my father'd come down —
He'd eat with the workmen about on the ground;
He'd share with the laborer and he'd go the bail,
You'd never reach the bottom of dad's dinner pail.

If the day should be rainy my fathe'd stop home,
And he'd polish his kettle as clean as a stone;
He'd joke with my mother and me he would whale
If I put a finger on dad's dinner pail.

There's a place for the coffee and also for bread,
The corned beef and praties, and oft it was said:
"Go fill it with porter, with beer or with ale;"
The drink would taste sweeter from dad's dinner pail.

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