The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105491   Message #3852517
Posted By: Jim Carroll
26-Apr-17 - 08:50 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Whiskey You're the Divil
Subject: RE: Origins: Whiskey You're the Divil
"Lewis Winstock's Songs & Music of the Redcoate. "
This is Winstock's note on the song which places it in the period of the American War of Independence
Jim Carroll

Yet this song, so unmistakably Irish in melody and words, almost certainly had its origin in an English nine-verse broadside ballad of the American War of Independence.

2nd verse
The drums are beating to alarm them,
We wish to stay still in your arms.
But we must go and cross the ocean,
The Americans keep us all in motion,
A long farewell.

4th verse
I think I hear my brother crying,
'March, my lads, the colours flying.
Our cause is just, we'll be victorious,
If we're killed our death is glorious,

7th verse
Dear mothers, weep not for us,
We're going to fight for Britain's glory.
Our country calls, our courage to display.
The drums are beating, there's no delay.

This ballad may have been written with an established Irish melody in mind, or the melody may have been composed for the words by some forgotten Irish fiddler or harpist, or words and tune may just have been thrown together because they happened to suit. Whatever the circumĀ¬stances may be, hove farewell is certainly an Anglo-Irish hybrid.
Only one traditional English song was found in the redcoats' repertoire, but it is a melody of great beauty that belies the critics who pretended, throughout the 19th century, that the English soldier was incapable of singing any but the simplest tunes. In 1807 a needless campaign was undertaken in Egypt, then a province of the Turkish Empire. The British occupied Alexandria, but their attempts to venture further afield were effectively halted by an Albanian general named Mehemmet Ali. The night before a disastrous foray which ended in the Battle of El Hamed, an infantry commissary sang a "gay old English carol" in the cold of the desert, and twenty or thirty voices came in on the chorus.68 The carol was called The owl.