The Road Out of Town ~ Liner Notes

Swallow's Tail Reel / Paddy on the Turnpike ~ "Swallow's Tail Reel" is an Irish tune from the Donegal region where it was originally called the "Swallow's Tail Coat," after the split-tailed coats, similar to a modern tuxedo, that were favored by dancing masters.14 As is the case with popular widely-played tunes, this one goes by many names, among them "Pigeon on the Gate," "The Steeplechase," "Take Your Hand Away" and "Pride of the Ball."

Paddy on the Turnpike" is an old modal tune descended from a Scottish air, "Waulkin o' the Fauld," a work song used during process of "waulking," or sizing freshly woven bolts of wool. It has not been traced before the 18th century, though music historian Samuel Bayard commented that "the modal character (with sets appearing in more than one mode), wide diffusion, often renamed, indicate the tune has some respectable age."2  We have combined two of its many versions together in this arrangement.

Down by the Sally Gardens ~ We found this song in Sam Henry's Songs of the People,10 and recognized it as a version of "Down By the Salley Gardens," a well-known song which was published by William Butler Yeats in 1889. However, Yeats based his poem on a verse from an old broadside ballad, "You Rambling Boys of Pleasure," which dates back as far as 1785.3  The meaning and origin of the title has been the subject of much speculation - the Latin name for the weeping willow is salix, and willow is often called "weeping sally." Many farms had a willow grove that was harvested for basket-making and the constant pruning caused the willow to grow ever more dense.  The resulting thickets, the "salley gardens," were a favorite place for lovers to meet.  One would assume the translation of "salley gardens" into "Sally's garden" would have happened over time as people misunderstood the Latin reference.  However, it is the older written sources which assume that Sally is a girl rather than a shrub, so who knows?  The tune, the same one Yeats used, comes from another ballad called "Maids of Mourne Shore."

Down by the Sally Gardens

It was down in my Sally's garden, upon an ivy bush,
At morning and at twilight, there sings a sweet song thrush.
His notes come clearly ringing, and tidings to me tell,
And oh, I know already my Sally loves me well.

I kissed her milk-white features one silv'ry eve of May;
She whispered, 'Won't you wander until the close of day?'
We wandered in her garden, the flowers were wet with dew,
I saw the love-light beaming in her fond eyes of blue.

It was down in my Sally's garden, where snowy hawthorns blow,
My heart became love-weary when I at last must go.
The bloom was on the hawthorn that night I said farewell;
I left my Sally weeping down by an ivied dell.
I left my Sally weeping that night I said farewell.*

*Note - we added that last line ourselves; it is not in the Sam Henry's text, or any other documented source. Paul suggested that, musically speaking, the song needed a tag, and the rest of us agreed. Please do not make any big academic deal out of it.

Childgrove / Campbell's Farewell to Redcastle ~ "Childgrove," still popular at country dances, dates to around 1701 and appears in many English country dance collections, including Playford's English Dancing Master.

The Campbell referred to in "Campbell's Farewell to Redcastle" may be Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, who led troops in the massacre of Glencoe Pass in 1692. Redcastle is a village on the north side of Beauly Firth, County Fraser, approximately 100 miles from Glencoe, whose castle was built in 1179 (it claims to be the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland).8  The tune has migrated into the old-time traditions, where it is known as "Campbell's Farewell to Red Gap."

The Blackest Crow / Star of the County Down ~ "The Blackest Crow" is a variant of several other variant songs such as "The True Lover's Farewell," "My Dearest Dear," "The Thousand Miles," etc. It is made up entirely of what are referred to as "floating verses," lyrics which can be inserted into almost any song, regardless of whatever story is being told.19  The second verse, referring to the lonesome dove, is what we have dubbed the "universal mourning verse." These words appear over and over in songs ranging from 18th century English ballads to 20th century Country & Western.

Since the melodies were so similar, we paired the song with "Star of the County Down," which is a bit of a floater itself. It belongs to a large family of tunes, which includes, among others, the Scottish "Gilderoy." A star, in Irish vernacular, is a beautiful woman, a likely subject for a singer of "The Blackest Crow." "The Star of the County Down" takes its name from Downpatrick, where St. Patrick is said to have been buried. 8

Boys of Bluehill / Old French ~ The popular hornpipe known today as "Boys of Bluehill" was known in the early 19th century as "Beaux of Oak Hill" and also appeared in the Knauff Virginia Reels collection as "The Two Sisters."13

Popular belief has the title of "Old French" coming from a remark by an old Vermont fiddler who, when asked its title, said it was "just an old French tune."8  It seems to be from the northern New England or French Canadian region, and is also known in the Ottawa Valley as "Rambler's Hornpipe" or "Little Old Man." We are nudging it a little more toward the French-Canadian side by playing it as a reel and using the traditional Quebeçois foot-tapping for the rhythm.

Red Joke (Lads of Dunse) / Black Joke / The Young Widow ~ There were numerous popular "joke" songs both in England and America. The titles were references to the hair color of the songs' subjects, and the lyrics were invariably bawdy and vulgar. "The Black Joke," also known as "Black Jock" or "Black Jack," is probably the most famous of these tunes, having been adapted as a Morris Dance tune, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its irregular measures.

"The Young Widow" is a colonial dance tune that was shared with us by the Martin Family Band, with whom we have played several times at Mount Vernon. It seems to be an American original, its first appearances being in American imprints and copybooks from the 1780s.

Southwind ~ This air is taken from a song titled "A Ghaoith ó nDeas" ("Oh Wind from the South"). The song was printed in Edward Bunting's 1809 Collection of Irish Folk Music5, though Bunting also notated the tune under a different title, "Why Should Not Poor Folk," stating it as having been transcribed from the playing of a harper of County Clare in 1792. The text of the song has been attributed to a Domnhall Meirgeach Mac ConMara (Freckled Donal MacNamara) of County Mayo and deals with a poet conversing with the wind, speaking of his longing for his homeland.


(The Poet speaks)
O South Wind of the gentle rain
You banish winter's weather,
Bring salmon to the pool again,
The bees among the heather.
If northward now you mean to blow,
As you rustle soft above me,
God Speed be with you as you go,
With a kiss for those that love me!

(The Wind Speaks)
From south I come with velvet breeze,
My work all nature blesses,
I melt the snow and strew the leaves
With flowers and soft caresses.
I'll help you to dispel your woe,
With joy I'll take your greeting
And bear it to your loved Mayo
Upon my wings so fleeting.

(The Poet speaks)
My Connacht, famed for wine and play,
So leal, so gay, so loving,
Here's a fond kiss I send today
Borne by the wind in its roving.
These Munster folk are good and kind.
Right royally they treat me
But this land I'd gladly leave behind
With your Connacht pipes to greet me.

(English lyrics from Songs of the Irish by Donal O'Sullivan) 16

Miss McLeod's Reel / I Will Go ~ "Miss McLeod's Reel" has been popular in both Ireland and Scotland since the late 1700s. Its A and B sections seem to be reversible and, since Paul won the coin toss, we are playing a typical Scottish version, which starts with what most Irish versions would assume to be the B section. After migrating to America, the tune was adapted for the song known in old-time circles as "Hop High Ladies" or "Uncle Joe."

"I Will Go"was translated and adapted from an old Gaelic poem by the late Scottish actor and singer Roddy McMillan. McMillan's adaptation is assumed by most to be referring to the period following the Battle of Culloden (1745) during which most elements of Highland culture (i.e. language, dress and music) were proscribed. However, if they joined England's newly formed Highland regiments, Scotsmen were once more able to wear the kilt and play the bagpipes. Tragically, while the Highland regiments were serving with distinction in the foreign wars, their lands and homes were being seized during the notorious Highland Clearances. *Used by permission of Lochside Publishers, Angus, Scotland.

I Will Go

Chorus: I will go, I will go, when the fighting is over
To the land of McLeod that I left to be a soldier,
I will go, I will go.

When the King's son came around, he called us all together,
Saying, "Brave Highland men, will ye fight for my father?"
I will go, I will go

I've a buckle on my belt, a sword in my scabbard,
A red coat on my back and a shilling in my pocket,
I will go, I will go.

When they put us all on board, the lasses were singing
But the tears came to their eyes when they heard the bells a-ringing
I will go, I will go.

When we landed on the shore and saw the foreign heather,
We knew that some would fall and be staying there forever,
I will go, I will go.

When we came back to the glen, the winter was turning,
Our goods lay in the snow and our houses were burning.
I will go, I will go.

White Cockade / Cuckoo's Nest / Forked Deer ~ A cockade is a rosette ribbon used as a decoration on hats. They were often used as military decorations, and various colors came to designate different troops or loyalties during the many political conflicts of the 18th century. A white cockade was worn by the Jacobite rebels in 1715 and also by the Scottish and Irish supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. It was these same Scots-Irish immigrants who brought the tune to North America and who likely influenced the wearing of a white cockade by the American troops during Revolutionary War.

"The Cuckoo's Nest" is an enduringly popular example of the type of hornpipes that were all the rage in the 18th century English dance theatre. The dances were often associated with sailors, and keeping with that theme, this tune was also known as "Come Ashore Jolly Tar And Your Trousers On."12

We first chose "Forked Deer" for this set because of a rumor that Thomas Jefferson had referred to the tune in his Notes on Virginia. Unfortunately, we were unable to verify that rumor and now doubt that Jefferson ever mentioned it. The tune first appeared in print in Knauff's Virginia Reels in 1834.13  Given the lag time which it often took for tunes to be published, we figure that could easily put it within Jefferson's era. The tune has remained as a staple of Appalachian and Old-time music.

McPherson's Farewell to Creag Dhubh (Bob Clark) ~ This is another historically inspired original tune by our prolific tune-writing hammered dulcimer player. Quothe the composer: "I had seen some film footage of the Scottish countryside and was impressed by its terrain and its beauty. I had also been investigating the family history and found that the Clarks were one of the families accepted by the larger Clan MacPherson. Creag Dhubh, meaning the black crag, is a large hill located near the town of Newtonmore in Scotland, the ancestral home of the MacPhersons, and is also the battle cry of the Clan MacPherson. When I wrote the tune, I imagined someone having to leave such a beautiful place, never to return, hence the farewell. The reason the title is spelled "Mc" rather than "Mac" is because I am related to a family of McPhersons and I wanted to work the family name into the title. The tune is dedicated to all my McPherson cousins from the great state of Michigan."

A Man's a Man for A' That (Robert Burns) ~ Like many other Scotsmen, Robert Burns followed the American and French Revolutions with great interest and read the works of Thomas Paine. He adapted thoughts and phrases from Paine's Rights of Man into this song, combining them with an older tune,"For a' that, an' a'that." When Burns sent the song to his publisher in 1795, he attached the comment, "A great critic… says that love & wine are the exclusive themes for song-writing. - The following is on neither subject, & consequently is no Song; but will be allowed, I think, to be two or three pretty good prose thoughts, inverted into rhyme." They are, in fact, some of the best known and best loved words that Burns wrote and have become (as biographers Chambers & Wallace put it) "the chosen hymn of all high-minded dreamers of a better day."4 & 11

A Man's a Man for A' That

Is there for honest Poverty,
that hings* his head, an' a' that; (hangs)
The coward slave-we pass him by,
we dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
the Man's the gowd* for a' that.  (gold)

What though on hamely* fare we dine, (simple)
wear hoddin grey*, an' a that; (a coarse woolen cloth)
Gie* fools their silks, and knaves their wine; (give)
a Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae* poor, (ever so)
is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie*, ca'd* a lord, (fellow)(called)
wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
he's but a coof* for a' that: (fool)
For a' that, an' a' that,
his ribband, star*, an' a' that:  (decorations)
The man o' independent mind
he looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
a marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon* his might, (above)
gude faith, he maunna fa'* that! (must not lay claim to)
For a' that, an' a' that,
their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
as come it will for a' that,
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
shall bear the gree*, an' a' that. (have priority)
For a' that, an' a' that,
it's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
shall brothers be for a' that.

The Eighth of August (Susan Lawlor) / O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick / Musical Priest ~ The title of "The Eighth of August" came in reaction to an argument that was taking place on an Irish music list-serve about the tune "The Eighth of January." Various Celto-centric factions were claiming the title must have come from one of various events in Ireland's history which had taken place on or near January 8th. When someone dared suggest that the tune might not actually be Irish, since it is known in America as "The Battle of New Orleans" (which just happened to have been fought on January 8, 1814), the argument only got louder. On the off chance that future musicians ever wonder what happened on August 8th, the answer is: nothing. Susan wrote the tune one August afternoon while hanging around a KOA campground waiting for the Oak Grove Music Festival to start.

"O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick," one of our favorite examples of an 18th century slip-jig, came from O'Farrell's Collection of Tunes for the Irish or Union Pipes, published in 1794.17  A slightly abbreviated version of the tune has remained a session standard, though it is usually known by one of its later monikers, "An Phis Fhliuch"(which has something to do with a wet cat).

"Musical Priest" is a variation of "Lord Kelly's Reel," supposedly a composition of Thomas Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kelly (1732-1781). Though it is unlikely that they ever met, Erskine and O'Farrell were contemporaries. However, that has nothing to do with why we put these two tunes together. This set was conceived for the sole purpose of allowing Dave to have a drum break, during which he demonstrates that it is actually possible to make a smooth rhythmic transition from 9/8 to 4/4 (kids, do not try this at home).

Rose Tree / Kangaroo / Morpeth Rant ~ "The Rose Tree" comes from a song, "The Rose Tree in Full Bearing," which became popular after it was heard as part of the 1782-3 comic opera "The Poor Soldier." We considered the lyrics to be just a little too sappy, and opted for an instrumental version.

"Kangaroo" is a later version of the song "Carrion Crow," which dates back to the time of the Restoration. Some historians have supposed that the Carrion Crow was King Charles, and the song veiled political commentary on his persecution of Puritan clergy (among others).1  However, by the time the song had emigrated to America, the allegory had been forgotten, and the words "carrion crow" had been corrupted into "kangaroo." We cannot help but wonder if anyone ever questioned the presence of a kangaroo up in an oak tree, but such nonsense is the lifeblood of folk songs. The tune is from an old English Morris dance called "LondonPride." 9

A rant is a dance tune similar to a reel, but with a four-bar, rather than an eight-bar phrase. "Morpeth Rant" was named for the town of Morpeth in Northumbria and has been attributed to William Shield (1748-1849). It has had at least two dances written specifically for it and is still a popular tune in contra dance repertoire.


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,
ikum kiddy kum kimo.

Bring me my arrow and my bow,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,
Till I go shoot that kangarow,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,

The old man fired; he missed his mark,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,
He shot the old sow through the heart,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo

Bring me some 'lasses in a spoon,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,
So I can heal that old sow's wound,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,

Oh, now the old sow's dead and gone,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo,
Her little ones go waddling on,
To my inkum kiddy kum kimo.

Castle Kelly / The Road Out of Town (Bob Clark) ~ "Castle Kelly" is an Irish reel from the Sligo region that may or may not have been named for an actual castle. Though some may play this tune at typical reel tempo, we chose to slow it down a bit to a more comfortable speed.

While researching old maps in the City of Norfolk's Division of Surveys, Bob ran across copies of some of the first maps of the Town of Norfolk, dating from the late 1600s. At that time, the town consisted mostly of The Main Street (and it is still called Main Street and is still in the same position as it was in 1682). There were also a handful of side streets with labels such as "the road that leadeth down to the waterside," and "the road that leadeth to the publique spring." The major road going north from The Main Street has had several names. That road went by the churchyard of Saint Paul's Church and was, for a period of time, called Church Street. Today it is called St. Paul's Boulevard, but on one early map, it was called "the road that leadeth out of town." Figuring that was a road on which musicians often found themselves, Bob adapted it as the title for this composition.


Works Cited

1.  Ancient Poems, Ballads, And Songs Of The Peasantry Of England - Urbana, Illinois (USA): Project Gutenberg. Etext #649. - First Release: Sep 1996 - ID:656

2.  Bayard, Samuel, comp. Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife: Instrumental Folk Tunes in Pennsylvania. UniversityPark, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

3.  Bodliean Library Broadside Ballad collection. c.2000

4.  Burns Country Website. Sept. 2002.

5.  Bunting Collection of Irish folk Music. London: Irish Folk Song Society, 1927-1939.

6.  Chambers, Robert, ed. and Wallace, William, rev. The Life and Work of Robert Burns. London, Edinburgh: various publishers, 1896.

7.  Digital Tradition. September 2002

8.  Fiddler's Companion. Vers 2.0. Compiled and edited by Andrew Kuntz. Nov.2000.

9.  Fowke, Edith Fulton and Richard Johnston. More Folk Songs of Canada. Waterloo, Ontario: Waterloo Music Company, Ltd., 1967.

10.  Huntington, Gayle and Lani Hermann, comp. Sam Henry's Songs of the People. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1990.

11.  McIntyre, Ian. Dirt & Deity: a Life of Robert Burns. London: HarperCollins, 1995.

12.  Keller, Kate Van Winkle. Fife Tunes from the American Revolution. Sandy Hook, CT: The Hendrickson Group, 1997.

13.  Knauff, George P., comp. Virginia Reels, v.1-4. Baltimore, MD: Various Publishers, 1834-49

14.  MacAoidh, Caoimhin. Between the Jigs and the Reels. Leitrim, Ireland: Drumlin Publications, 1994.

15.  Nelson, Lesley. The Contemplator. September 2002

16.  O'Sullivan, Donal. Songs of the Irish: An anthology of Irish folk music and poetry with English verse translations. New York: Bonanza Books,1960.

17.  Sky, Patrick and O'Farrell, P. O'Farrell's Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes. [Chapel Hill, N.C.] : Grassblade Music, 1804, 1995.

18.  Stewart, James. TuneIndex. July 1996

19.  Waltz, Robert B. and David G. Engle. The Traditional Ballad Index. 2002.

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