Happy Songs of Death

by Marc Gunn

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    It's Irish. A joyful juxtaposition of the morbid and the comic that celebrates murder ballads, the Black Death and life through death.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Happy Songs of Death via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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about

It's Irish. A joyful juxtaposition of the morbid and the comic that celebrates murder ballads, the Black Death and life through death.


Album Notes
In memory of Michael Younger.

"Happy Songs of Death" is a joyful juxtaposition of the morbid and the comic that celebrates murder ballads, the Black Death and starving to death. Celtic songs, American songs - and notably several of Marc Gunn's original compositions all affirm that death is just the other side of life! Artists through the centuries have found inspiration in these same themes. Join Marc Gunn in a fresh look at all things mortal.
"Life does not cease to be funny when people die anymore than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." - G. B. Shaw
This album began many years ago when I was introduced to the music of Italian musician Angelo Branduardi. He had a delightful little song called "La Pulce D'Acqua". One day, I decided to translate it and found out the title meant "the flea of the water". Intriguing, I thought. So I tried translating more and a wild idea came to me. This song was about the Black Death!

In fact, it wasn't, according to some Italian friends who actually understood the meaning of it. I was disappointed by that, but thought it would be cool to write an upbeat song about death. Then while chatting with Andrew McKee, my former bandmate with the Brobdingnagian Bards, the title arose--Happy Songs of Death. It took me four years or so for the album to come about, but here it is.

The songs are an upbeat mix of traditional folk songs and original songs about death. There are murder ballads, people rising from the dead, war, my own song inspired by the Black Death, and a general celebration of the dead.

I was so excited about this album that I had TWO CD covers designed for it. One by Ingrid Houwers who desiged by Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers CDs and the other by Nikki O'Shea who designed my What Color Is Your Dragon? CD and the Bards Comic.

credits

released August 20, 2009

Produced by Ari Koinuma, www.hashimusic.com
Graphics by Ingrid Houwers, www.imbascreations.com
and Nikki O'Shea, www.dragonpressgraphics.com

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about

Marc Gunn Birmingham, Alabama

Marc Gunn is a rhythm and folk musician inspired by Celtic culture, science fiction, fantasy, and cats. He breathes new life into the autoharp, which continues to surprise musical veterans and fans a like for it’s unique sound and spirited energy. It’s like a satirical jam session between The Clancy Brothers and Weird Al Yankovic. It’s Celtic music, the traditional and the twisted. ... more

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Track Name: Isn't It Grand, Boys
Look at the coffin with golden handles
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Let's not have a sniffle,
Let's have a bloody good cry
And always remember the longer you live,
The sooner you'll bloody well die

Look at the preacher, bloody well santified (bloody sanctimonious)
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Look at the choir boys, bloody castrati
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Look at the widow, bloody great female
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Look at the mourners, bloody great hippocrites
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Look at the flowers, all bloody wilted
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Look at the tombstone, bloody great boulder
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?

Look at the whiskey, in buckets and bottles
Isn't it grand boys to be bloody well dead?
Track Name: Won't You Come With Me?
I left my ship with storms on my mind,
High wind and tossing seas.
I sought a maid with soft green eyes
To take my mind off me.

Hai diddle-dai-dum
Ba du diddle-dai-dum
Ba du diddle-dai diddle-dai dee
Hai diddle-dai-dum
Ba du diddle-dai-dum
Won't you come with me?

I met a maid by waterside
Gutting the herring clean.
She took my hand, laid down her knife.
Then we walked along the beach.
Singing...

She set herself down on a rock
And bade me sit at her feet.
The sun settled down and the wind did blow
The curlets across her cheek.
We sang...

I took her gently in my arms
Our bodies rolling in the sand.
When she pulled the knife out of my side
My body stopped lurching at last.
Track Name: Twa Corbies
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t’ither say,
‘Where sall we gang and dine today-o?’

‘In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.

‘His hound is to the hunting game,
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady’s taken another mate,
So we shall mak our dinner sweet.

‘Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I’ll pike out his bonny blue een;
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair
We’ll, theek our nest when it grows bare.

‘Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken where he is gane;
Oer his white banes, when they we bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair.’
Track Name: Clementine Blues
Clementine

In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Dwelt a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling
Oh my darling, Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Light she was and like a fairy,
And her shoes were number nine,
Herring boxes without topses
Sandals were for Clementine

Drove she ducklings to the water
Every morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter
Fell into the foaming brine.

Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer,
So I lost my Clementine.

In my dreams she still doth haunt me,
Robed in garments soaked in brine;
Though in life I used to love her,
Now she's dead, I draw the line.
Track Name: Johnny Jump Up
I'll tell you a story that happened to me
One day as I went down to Yore by the sea
The sun it was hot and the day it was warm,
Says I a quiet pint wouldn't do me no harm

I went in and I called for a bottle of stout
Says the barman, I'm sorry, all the beer is sold out
Try whiskey or paddy, ten years in the wood
Says I, I'll try cider, I've heard it was good.

Oh never, Oh never, Oh never again
If I live to be a hundred or a hundred and ten
I fell to the ground and I couldn't get up
After drinking a quart of the Johnny Jump Up

After downing the third I went out to the yard
Where I bumped into Brody, the big civic guard
Come here to me boy, don't you know I'm the law?
Well, I up with me fist and I shattered his jaw

He fell to the ground with his knees doubled up
But it wasn't I hit him, 'twas Johnny Jump Up
The next thing I remember down in Cork by the sea
Was a cripple on crutches and says he to me

I'm afraid of me life I'll be hit by a car
Won't you help me across to the Celtic Knot Bar?
After downing a quart of that cider so sweet
He threw down his crutches and danced on his feet

I went up the lee road, a friend for to see
They call it the madhouse in Cork by the Sea
Butl when I got there, sure the truth I will tell,
They had this poor bugger locked up in a cell

Said the guard, testing him, say these words if you can,
"Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran"
Tell him I'm not crazy, tell him I'm not mad
It was only a sip of the bottle I had

Well, a man died in the mines by the name of McNabb
They washed him and laid him outside on the slab
And after the parlors measurements did take
His wife brought him home to a bloody fine wake

Twas about 12 o'clock and the beer was high
The corpse sits up and says with a sigh
I can't get to heaven, they won't let me up
Til I bring them a quart of the Johnny Jump Up

So if ever you go down to Cork by the sea
Stay out of the ale house and take it from me
If you want to stay sane don't you dare take a sup
Of that devil drink cider called Johnny Jump Up
Track Name: Jug of Punch
One evening in the month of June
As I was sitting in my room
A small bird sat on an ivy bunch
And the song he sang was "The Jug Of Punch."

Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay,
too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay
A small bird sat on an ivy bunch
And the song he sang was "The Jug Of Punch."
What more diversion can a man desire?
Than to sit him down by an alehouse fire
Upon his knee a pretty wench
And upon the table a jug of punch.

Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay,
too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay
Upon his knee a pretty wench
And on the table a jug of punch.
Let the doctors come with all their art
They'll make no impression upon my heart
Even a cripple forgets his hunch
When he's snug outside of a jug of punch.

Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay,
T too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay
Even a cripple forgets his hunch
When he's snug outside of a jug of punch.
And if I get drunk, well, me money's me own
And them don't like me they can leave me alone
I'll chune me fiddle and I'll rosin me bow
And I'll be welcome wherever I go.

Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay,
T oo ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay
I'll chune me fiddle and I'll rosin me bow
And I'll be welcome wherever I go.
And when I'm dead and in my grave
No costly tombstone will I crave
Just lay me down in my native peat
With a jug of punch at my head and feet.

Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay,
Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra lay
Just lay me down in my native peat
With a jug of punch at my head and feet.
Track Name: Red, Red and Black
Red, red and black
Your Father's lying on his back
Dining with his friends in Paradise.
Run, run, run,
Or the Devil will take your son.
Your brother's family got it twice.

Red, red and black
Take a whip to you back
Purge all the sins from your soul
Jump up and down
Drive the Devil out of town
Fire burns away the blackened coal.

Red, red and black
Now you're lying on your back
Eyes on your Father in Paradise
Burn, burn, burn,
Well, I guess it is your turn.
At least, Death won't visit you twice.
Track Name: Whiskey, You're the Devil
Whiskey you're the devil. You're leading me astray
Over hills and mountains and to Amerikay
You’re sweeter, stronger, decenter, you’re spunkier than tea,
Oh, whiskey you’re me darlin’, drunk or so-ber

Oh now brave boys we’re on the march
Off to Portugal and Spain
The drums a-beating, the banners flying
The devil a-home will come tonight

Bridge:
Love fare thee well
With a tither-y-eye, the diddlum the dah
Me tither-y-eye, the diddlum the dah
Me right fol tur-a ladee
Oh, there’s whiskey in the jar

Said the mother, “Do not wrong me
Don’t take me daughter from me
For if you do, I will torment you
And after death the ghost will haunt you”

The French are fighting boldly
Men dying hot and coldly
Give every man a flask of powder
A firelock upon his shoulder
Track Name: High Jeannie High
And sing high Jeannie high,
Sing low Jeannie low
You can never make a singing bird
Out of a hoodie crow

My father was a gentleman, and a gentleman was he
But he’s wed me to an old man of three score years and three

Before I’d have an old man with thirty plows and land
I’d rather have a young man with only hat in hand

For when we go to bed at night he turns o’er to the wall
And never lays a hand on me till morning light dawns

Now some neighbors have advised me to drown him in a well
Some others have advised me to grind him in a mill

But I have taken my own advice and borne him to a plain
And I’ve tied him to a windmill, and he’ll never come back again
Track Name: Rosin the Bow
I’ve traveled this wide world all over
And now to another I go.
And I know the good quarters are waiting
To welcome old Rosin the Bow.

To welcome old Rosin the Bow. (x2)
And I know the good quarters are waiting
To welcome old Rosin the Bow.

When I’m dead and laid out on the counter
A voice you will hear from below,
Saying “Send down a hogshead of whisky
To drink with old Rosin the Bow.

To drink with old Rosin the Bow”. (x2)
Saying “Send down a hogshead of whisky
To drink with old Rosin the Bow”.

Then get a half dozen stout fellows
And line them all up in a row
Let them drink out of half gallon bottles
To the memory of Rosin the Bow

To the memory of Rosin the Bow (x2)
Let them drink out of half gallon bottles
To the memory of Rosin the Bow

Then get a half dozen stout fellows
And line them all stagger and go
And let ’em dig a great hole in the meadow
And in it put Rosin the Bow.

And in it put Rosin the Bow. (x2)
Let ’em dig a great hole in the meadow
And in it put Rosin the Bow.

Then get ye a couple of bottles.
Put one at me head and me toe.
With a diamond ring scratched upon ’em
The name of old Rosin the Bow.

The name of old Rosin the Bow. (x2)
With a diamond ring scratched upon ’em
The name of old Rosin the Bow.

I feel that grim reaper approaching,
That cruel remorseless old foe,
And I lift up me glass in his honour.
Take a drink with old Rosin the Bow.

Take a drink with old Rosin the Bow. (x2)
And I lift up me glass in his honour.
Take a drink with old Rosin the Bow.
Track Name: Foggy Dew
'Twas down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I.
When armed line of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipes did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its loud tattoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey's swell
Rang out in the foggy dew.

Right proudly high over Dublin town
They hung out a flag of war.
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky
Than at Suvla or Sud el Bar.
And from the plains of Royal Meath
Strong men came hurrying through;
While Brittania's huns with their great big guns
Sailed in through the foggy dew.

O' the night fell black and the rifles' crack
Made "Perfidious Abion" reel
'Mid the leaden rail, seven tongues of flame
Did shine o'er the lines of steel.
By each shining blade a prayer was siad
That to Ireland her sons be true,
And when morning broke still the war flag shook
Out its fold in the foggy dew

'Twas England bade our wild geese go
That small nations might be free.
But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves
On the fringe of the gray North Sea.
But had they died by Pearse's side
Or fought with Cathal Brugha,
Their names we'd keep where the Fenians sleep
'Neath the shroud of the foggy dew.

The bravest fell, and the solemn bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Watertide
In the springing of the year.
And the world did gaze with deep amaze
At those fearless men, but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew.

Ah, back through the glen I rode again
and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men
whom I never shall see more.
But to and fro in my dreams I go and
I'd kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when
you fell in the foggy dew.
Track Name: Waxie's Dargle
Says my auld one to your auld one
Will you go to the Waxie’s dargle
Says your auld one to my auld one
Sure I haven’t got a farthing
I’ve went down to Monto town
To see Uncle McArdle
But he wouldn’t lend me a half a crown
To go to the Waxie’s dargle

Chorus:
What’ll you have, will you have a pint
Yes, I’ll have a pint with you, sir
And if one of us doesn’t order soon
We’ll be thrown out of the boozer

Says my auld one to your auld one
Will you go to the Galway races
Says your auld one to my auld one
For the price of my auld lad’s braces
I went down to Chapel Street
To the Jew man money lender
But he wouldn’t give me a couple bob
On my auld lad’s red suspenders

Says my auld one to your auld one
We’ve got no beef nor mutton
Says your auld one to my auld one
I’ll tell where you get it for nothin’
Here’s a nice piece of advice
I got from an auld fish monger
When the food is scarce and you see the hearse
You’ll know that you died of hunger
Track Name: I'll Drink from Dusk Til Dawn
Johnny awoke with an ache in his head.
Bad dreams had made him ill.
And he grumbled as he dressed despite his duress
As he made his way to the mill.

Oh he never wanted to work that day,
But the foreman had himself clear.
So Johnny dreamed of the eve to come
When he’d drink him beer after beer,
Singing…

“I’ll drink from dusk till dawn
I’ll drink a toast to day’s end.
Yes, I’ll drink from dusk till dawn
And I’ll drink to the health of me friends.”

It was a chilly morning, went straight to his bones
Oh, he wished that he had him some ale.
Just one fine glass of stout Guiness
Would hold him till the end of the trail.

Oh his mouth watered with the thought of ale
By the time he arrived he’d decide
That not even Death could keep him away
From his friends and their favorite dive.
They’d sing…

Johnny worked hard all the day
His mind away drinking alone
And he told his friends of the pledge he’d made
And the fantasy that kept him afloat.

“Come hell or high water I’ll drink with you
Nothing could keep me away.”
When the day came to end, he left with a friend
Together they walked and they sang…

On the road they came to a bridge of rope
And there they met with a man
With a scythe in his hand and an evil grin
Tw’as Old Death who cut Johnny down.

Johnny’s friend crossed himself, swore it’was the truth
As he retold the scene to the bar
And they all recalled Johnny’s last words,
“I’ll drink come hell or high water!”
He sang…

Well, the door swung open, a cold wind blew in.
And there stood a man unafraid.
He called for a beer. They realized when near.
It was Johnny come back from the grave.

He said, “You could keep me away from work.
For there’s nothing I live for there.
But I told you today of the pledge I made
You can’t keep a man from his beer,”