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Hard to find songs

"Brass Band Music" - by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick

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"Brass Band Music" - by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick

Front CD Cover . . CD Text CD Text . . Back CD Cover

(The further adventures of trying to re-trace down Canadian Folk songs heard on the radio on the "Canada 2000" trip - though this song is English Folk)

Thanks to Dave and Rob for information on where to get the CD of this.

Thanks also to Roger Eccleston ( who DJ's the "Sweet Folk Also" on Thursday nights (10pm to midnight Canadian time - 3am to 5am Friday morning UK time) on CFRC, Queens University for playing this song.


Text from the cover: "Money and the failure of people to handle it is the subject of Leon Rosselson's song Brass Band Music. It was inspired by the Louis MacNeice poem 'Bagpipe Music'.

Brass Band Music

(words and music by Leon Rosselson)
(transcribed from the CD - may be errors)

"Turn the parks to office blocks,
Earn yourself a profit
Learn the way to make it pay,
Burn the guy who'd stop it.

Little Bill Cotton sat on his bottom,
Totalling his assets,
Learned that arms were in demand,
Sold both his for hatchets.

Sold his blood for blots of ink,
Sold his lungs for coal dust.
Sold his legs for wooden pegs.
And what was left for composte.

Puffing Bill has run out of steam, his iron lung is rusting
Puffing Bill can't pay his bills so drop him in the dustbin

Lil Maloney cut off her breasts,
Put them up for auction,
Sold to the man in the bowler hat,
To pay for her abortion.

The trees are blind in Lovers' Lane, the paper weeds are blooming,
So don't go giving your heart away, when the heart market's booming.

The holy founder found a word,
Hit it with a hammer,
Crucified the hole inside,
Sold it for a tanner.

The word was worshipped from afar,
On the coloured packs of cornflakes,
The word was used to cure the blues,
Bad breathe and tooth-ache.

The Liberty Bell is sinking fast, the bars are made of cardboard,
You'll never climb aboard in time if you don't know the password.

Lord Land Dandy planted a stone,
Watered it with interest,
Watched it rise to granite size,
Went to reap a harvest.

A wily wizard wove a spell,
To make the wheat grow whiter,
The riving earth gave instant birth,
To giant nests of vipers.

The rain is raining DDT, the hay is ripe for burning,
The wind swings like a pendulum and the seas swarm with vermin

Turn the grass to jags of glass, 
Turn the rose to plastic,
Turn the birds to lumps of terds,
Turn the trees to match sticks.

Turn the stars to neon lights,
Turn the moon to paper,
Turn the clouds to chiffon shrouds,
Turn the seas to vapour.

Turn the screw and turn the wheel,
Keep the death bells chiming,
Aint you proud that every shroud,
Has got a silver lining.

E-mail clarifying on the Brass Band Music song lyrics

Subject: Brass Band Music
Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 00:36:52 -0400

[stuff deleted]

I typed in the Brass Band Music, which I have to agree is a very good
song, and up comes your website.

Anyway in a semi-enebriated state, here are some proposed clarifications
to the lyrics:
I notice that you have "sold it for a tenna"
Being English folkies they hark back to the days when a pound was a
pound, and worth 6 USD and you could buy 20 Arran sweaters and a bag of
organic carrots to stick in your ear for it. Those were the days when a
tanner was a sixpence a.k.a. 6d  (or more formally 6 denarii)
 Turn the grass to jugs of glass,
   Believe to be jags, as in sharp edge

 Turn the clouds to shif(?) or shrouds
   chiffon shrouds, me doth believe
Yours in relaxed appreciation for your efforts

Louis MacNeice (1907 - 1963)

Bagpipe Music

It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crepe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with heads of bison.

John MacDonald found a corpse, put in under the sofa,
Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
Sold its eyes for souveniers, sold its blood for whiskey,
Kept its bones for dumb-bells to use when he was fifty.

It no go the Yogi-Man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of a skirt in a taxi.

Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,
Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.
It's no go your maidenheads, it's no go your culture,
All we want is a Dunlop type and the devil to mend the puncture.

The Laird o' Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,
Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.
Mrs. Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,
Said to the midwife 'Take it away; I'm through with over-production'.

It's no go the fossip column, it's no go the Ceilidh,
All we want is a mother's help and a sugar-stick for the baby.

Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn't count the damage,
Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.
His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,
Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.

It's no go the Herring Board, it's no go the Bible,
All we want is a packet of fags when our hand are idle.

It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,
It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.

It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.

(Refer: Francis Turner Palgrame "The Golden Treasury: With a Fifth Book selected by John Press", 1964, Oxford University Press, reprinted 1982, ISBN 0 19 250900 4)

Louis MacNeice (1907 - 1963)

Prayer Before Birth

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the 
  club-footed ghould come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
   with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
      on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
   to me, sky to sing to me, birds and white light
      in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall committ, my words
   when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
      my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
         my life when they murder by means of my
            hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
   old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
      frown at me, lovers laught at me, the white
         waves call me to folly and the desert calls
            me to doom and the beggar refuses
               my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
   come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
   humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
      would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
         one face, a thing, and against all those
            who would dissipate my entirety, would
               blow me like thistledown hither and
                  thither or hither and thither
                     like water held in the 
                        hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

(Refer: Francis Turner Palgrame "The Golden Treasury: With a Fifth Book selected by John Press", 1964, Oxford University Press, reprinted 1982, ISBN 0 19 250900 4)

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