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Harris and the Mare - murder or not?

DigiTrad:
BARRETTS PRIVATEERS
CAPE ST.MARY'S
HARRIS AND THE MARE
LOOKOUT HILL
MICKEY'S MOUSKETEERS
NORTHWEST PASSAGE
SAFE IN THE HARBOUR
SCARBOROUGH SETTLER'S LAMENT
STRINGS AND DORY PLUG
THE FLOWERS OF BERMUDA
THE HOUSE OF ORANGE
THE IDIOT
THE JEANNIE C.
THE MARY ELLEN CARTER
WHITE COLLAR HOLLER


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Guysborough Train (8)
(origins) Origins: Tiny Fish For Japan - What's it about? (30)
Lyr Add: Fisherman's Wharf (Stan Rogers) (7)
Lyr Req: The Jeannie C. (Stan Rogers) (34)
Chords Req: Fogarty's Cove (Stan Rogers) (27)
Chords Req: Stan Rogers songs (4)
Info Req: Stan Rogers songbook (18)
Lyr/Chords Req: The Lock-Keeper (Stan Rogers) (45)
Lyr Req: The Idiot (Stan Rogers) (16)
Lyr ADD: Make and Break Harbour (Stan Rogers) (108)
Tune Req: Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) (14)
Chord Req: Harris and the mare (19)
Lyr Req: At Last I'm Ready for Christmas (S Rogers (29)
Lyr/Chords Req: Flowers of Bermuda (Stan Rogers) (28)
Stan Rogers Songs-Fishers (answered) (12) (closed)
Tune Req: The Idiot (Stan Rogers) (12)
Lyr Add: Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) (49)
Lyr Req: The Lock-Keeper (Stan Rogers) (28)
Barrett's Privateers .. Garnet's views (44)
Lyr Req: Second Effort /Second Start (Stan Rogers) (6)
Lyr Add: Northwest Tollway (parody of NW Passage) (10)
Lyr Req: The Lock Keeper (5) (closed)
Lyr Req: Stan Rogers' 'Giant' (4) (closed)
Lyr Add: The Field behind the Plough (Stan Rogers) (13)
Lyr Req: Make and Break Harbour (Stan Rogers) (6)
Lyr Req: Wreck of the Athens Queen (Stan Rogers) (17)
Lyr Req: Giant (Stan Rogers) (10)
Stan Rogers MIDI files: Anyone have 'em? (18)
Lyr Req: 'Lookout Hill'; 'Strings and Dory Plug' (19)
Lyr Req: White Squall (Stan Rogers) (7)
Lyr Req: Cliffs of Baccalieu (from Stan Rogers) (4)
Obscure Stan Rogers Song (7)
Lyr Add: Mary Ellen Carter PARODY (Blue/Rogers) (11)
Lyr Req: White Squall (Stan Rogers) (11)
Lyr Req: Northwest Passage + Mary Ellen Carter (6) (closed)
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GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC (with tongue in cheek 23 Jul 07 - 03:06 AM
mack/misophist 23 Jul 07 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged 23 Jul 07 - 09:57 AM
Arkie 23 Jul 07 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged 23 Jul 07 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged 23 Jul 07 - 10:59 AM
ClaireBear 23 Jul 07 - 11:17 AM
Bee 23 Jul 07 - 11:37 AM
Greg B 23 Jul 07 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged 23 Jul 07 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,meself 23 Jul 07 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,petr 23 Jul 07 - 02:41 PM
Bee 24 Jul 07 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,meself 24 Jul 07 - 11:19 AM
Barry Finn 24 Jul 07 - 04:45 PM
Cluin 24 Jul 07 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Big Mick 24 Jul 07 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,meself 24 Jul 07 - 05:49 PM
SINSULL 24 Jul 07 - 06:16 PM
Charley Noble 25 Jul 07 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged 25 Jul 07 - 08:55 AM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk Unlogged 25 Jul 07 - 09:35 AM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk Unlogged 25 Jul 07 - 10:10 AM
Greg B 25 Jul 07 - 10:44 AM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 12:25 PM
Greg B 25 Jul 07 - 01:33 PM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 01:41 PM
GUEST 25 Jul 07 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,meself 25 Jul 07 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,petr 25 Jul 07 - 02:35 PM
Charley Noble 25 Jul 07 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,petr 25 Jul 07 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,meself 25 Jul 07 - 03:14 PM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,petr 25 Jul 07 - 03:27 PM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 03:34 PM
GUEST,Gerry 25 Jul 07 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,meself 25 Jul 07 - 04:10 PM
Big Mick 25 Jul 07 - 04:15 PM
maeve 25 Jul 07 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,meself 25 Jul 07 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,petr 25 Jul 07 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 26 Jul 07 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,meself 26 Jul 07 - 04:10 PM
Arkie 26 Jul 07 - 08:14 PM
Charley Noble 26 Jul 07 - 09:36 PM
Jeri 26 Jul 07 - 09:40 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 27 Jul 07 - 01:21 AM
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Subject: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC (with tongue in cheek
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 03:06 AM

In Stan Rogers 'Harris and the Mare' the narrator admits his wife throws the first blow. The victim lashes out to defend himself and is then attacked by the narrator.

I love this song but cannot get my mind around the innocent narrator bit.

Is this why the neighbours did not lend a hand?

What do others think?


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 09:47 AM

Without checking the words to be certain, my recollection is that the 'victim' had stated an intent to rape the narrator's wife. The bystanders appear to side with the 'victim' because of the narrator's 'conchie' politics. I read somewhere once that the song is based on a real event but no details were given.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 09:57 AM

mack - The 'victim' swore the wife 'would leave the place with him'. No mention of rape. Could be just bravado.

Didn't know anything about the story apart from the song so may be based on real happening. Thanks for that.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Arkie
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 10:52 AM

I have not heard the song in quite a while so memory is a bit foggy but I had the impression Young Clary was a bully and drunk to boot and had pulled a knife when the narrator went to the defense of his wife. I assumed the neighbors were afraid of the bully but it could have been the narrator's politics or a bit of both.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 10:57 AM

He pulled the knife after being 'attacked' by the narrator.

(I must emphasise I am not defending the 'bully', I think he got what he deserved but apart from insulting the wife, he did not start the assault) Sticks & stones .............

I will post the words when I get the chance.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARRIS AND THE MARE (Stan Rogers)
From: GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 10:59 AM

From the DT

HARRIS AND THE MARE
(Stan Rogers)

Harris, my old friend, good to see your face again
More welcome, though, yon trap and that old mare
For the wife is in a swoon, and I am all alone
Harris, fetch thy mare and take us home

The wife and I came out for a quiet glass of stout
And a word or two with neighbours in the room
But young Clary, he came in, as drunk and wild as sin
And swore the wife would leave the place with him

But the wife as quick as thought said, "No, I'll bloody not"
Then struck the brute a blow about the head
He raised his ugly paw, and he lashed her on the jaw
And she fell onto the floor like she were dead

Now Harris, well you know, I've never struck an angry blow
Nor would I keep a friend who raised his hand
I was a conscie in the war, cryin' what the hell's this for?
But I had to see his blood to be a man

I grabbed him by his coat, spun him 'round and took his throat
And beat his head upon the parlor door
He dragged out an awful knife, and he roared "I'll have your life"
And he stuck me and I fell onto the floor

Now blood I was from neck to thigh, bloody murder in his eye
As he shouted out "I'll finish you for sure"
But as the knife came down, I lashed out from the ground
And the knife was in his breast when he rolled o'er

Now with the wife as cold as clay I carried her away
No hand was raised to help us through the door
And I've brought her half a mile, but I've had to rest a while
And none of them I'll call a friend the more

For when the knife came down, I was helpless on the ground
No neighbour stayed his hand, I was alone
By God, I was a man, but now I cannot stand
Please, Harris, fetch thy mare and take us home

Oh, Harris, fetch thy mare, and take us out of here
In my nine and fifty years I'd never known
That to call myself a man, for my loved one I must stand
Now Harris, fetch thy mare and take us home


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: ClaireBear
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 11:17 AM

I have always assumed that the onlookers in the tavern didn't help because they were members of the same Pacifist church as the speaker. I'm not sure if the church is meant to be Shaker, Mennonite, Amish, or something yet else; that the speaker is of one of these faiths is demonstrated by the fact that he uses the quaint pronouns "thee" and "thou" when speaking to Harris...and the fact that he wants Harris to take them home in a horse-drawn vehicle, although the song seems to be set in relativelyt modern times.

Anyway, I'd speculate that the other tavern-goers were looking on in shocked disapproval of the speaker's behavior, not having been pushed over the edge of their behavioral paradigm as had he. The whole song hinges on being pushed beyond the boundaries of what he thought his belief system was. So out of his element, it's a small wonder he didn't know where to stop.

Claire


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Bee
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 11:37 AM

I'm doubtful if religion has a place here: 'thy' is not consistently used, could just be old language use, and the wife says "I'll bloody not", not too decorous for any strict religious types, plus they're all in a tavern. It sounds to me more like a story set post world war I, or possibly an earlier war. Conscientious objectors were relatively common in Canada, and my greatgrandfather, alive at the time, did unselfconsciously use 'thy', in Cape Breton, and not due to religious usage, and horse driven conveyances were common.

But yes, a case of shock all around at bloodshed occurring, I think.

You could speculate the wife responded with a slap as an outraged defense of her reputation and honour.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Greg B
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 12:23 PM

One might argue that Clary's response to the wife's 'blow'
(if it were, for example, a slap) was disproportionate and
beyond that required in self-defense. Therefore, the narrator
might have been justified in escalating the matter, what with
his wife on the floor like she was dead.

But perhaps not--- the narrator would have had to be in fear for
himself or another to use the force that he testifies to (i.e.,
slamming Clary' head into the parlor door, apparently repeatedly).

On the other hand, the final escalation comes from Clary, who
produces a knife.

No doubt the narrator would be tried for 2nd-degree manslaughter
and would make the self-defense argument.

It would then be up to the jury.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 01:16 PM

Also a hypocrite - 'Nor would I keep a friend who raised his hand' yet is disappointed when they treat him that way.

Also, is the wife dead?
'with the wife as cold as clay I carried her away'

I like the recording by Stan (the first of his I heard which made me search for more by him) but I cannot get the 'feel' of it to sing.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 01:18 PM

I've never been comfortable with this song. For one thing, from what I've seen of somewhat similar situations in this old life, even a 'wild' and 'drunk' young bully is unlikely to insist someone else's wife leave with him unless he has some reason to think he has a claim on her - which doesn't excuse him, but complicates the situation a little. Then there's her violent response, which touches off all the rest of the violence. No grown woman with a modicum of sense would react like that unless she wanted to watch two men fight over her, or wanted some proof that her husband cared enough about her to fight for her. As for the onlookers - they know enough to stay out of that kind of a mess. Or are we supposed to believe that they would let one of their neighbours murder another before their eyes simply because the prospective victim was a pacifist? And if that is the case, what the hell is this guy doing taking his wife into a tavern where these lovely neighbours meet? Like the old man used to say, "Stay out o' them places!"

And then the lesson Harris learns: "In my nine and fifty years I've never known/That to call myself a man, for my loved one I must stand". This guy is fifty-nine years old, and it never before occurred to him that he might some day feel duty-bound to defend someone he cares about? Not exactly a deep-thinker, is he?

Overall, the song seems to me a folkie-version of "Coward of the County", the message of the song being that anyone who claims to be a pacifist is full of shit, and/or as thick-headed as buddy in this ballad ...


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 02:41 PM

Id say its a double homicide.. (the wife is killed, and he kills Clary
in self defense)

I had always assumed the wife was dead, - 'she fell unto the floor like she were dead' - with the wife as cold as clay I carried her away'

I think its an ugly incident that escalates, but Ive never thought that the neighbours didnt help because of his politics - rather its the unwillingness to get involved - probably because of their fear of the Bully.

at no time would I think the narrator is guilty of murder, Im not a lawyer but from what I remember from some law studies I did there is such a thing as a reasonable defense- and Clary responds by pulling out a knife and threatening to kill him..

I dont even think the woman overreacted by slapping or striking Cleary.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Bee
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 10:35 AM

If you'd heard some of the old Eastern Shore fishermen stories I've heard, you wouldn't find the lyrics remarkable except for the narrator's philosophising. Those old boys were very tough, very rough, and often not half civilized, and their wives were pretty rugged as well.

I had a job correcting local genealogies a while back. Quite a few stories got included by the collectors. One fisherman, early 1900's, accused by a neighbour of stealing a crate of cod, arrested in Halifax. It's November, snowing and blowing, and it is over 50 km. to Halifax from the community. Wife receives news of husband in jail that evening. Puts on her coat and walks to Halifax to post his bail.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 11:19 AM

There's nothing remarkable about two guys kicking the shit out of each other or even stabbing each other in a barroom fight - but what's the point of the song supposed to be? And, let's say this guy is one of those old Eastern Shore fishermen - I suppose it's bad form to quote myself, but: "This guy is fifty-nine years old and it never before occurred to him ... (see above)"

The most logical moral of the song is, I suppose, "Men, when you're old, never wed a young maid".


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 04:45 PM

The young pup deserved, from the wife, what's called in inner city circles a "bitch slap", by all means he asked for it & had it coming. That he choose to respond with a knock out punch instead of eating the slap was a giant step beyond an excepted social boundary (according to the jest of the song). That he recieved what he had dished out & saw again as unexceptable was his err in judgement which was compounded by pulling out a knife with the intention of gutting the one who delivered what was seen by the pup as one who dared to defy his arrogrance, brutality, intimidation & audacity. He in the end was rolled over on his on knife, justice by the poet or in this case songwriter if you ask me. It's a song. Don't like it, don't sing it, if you can't get past it build a bridge & get over it.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Cluin
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 05:18 PM

I'm a huge Stan Rogers fan, but I never did like this song.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Big Mick
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 05:26 PM

I think Barry has the right of it. I really like the song but have a terrible time trying to figure out the key and picking pattern. I think it's just a mental block. But it is a good yarn, well told....

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 05:49 PM

I'm unconvinced. I don't find it much of a yarn, and it doesn't seem to be saying anything worthwhile, near as I can figure ... But I would be interested in hearing some argument in its favour other than, 'I really like it'. I'm quite willing to admit the possibility that I'm just not getting something in the song - but I'd like to know what it is.


'what's called in inner city circles a "bitch slap"' - Yes - and I wonder how many men in the inner city have ended up dead in consequence of one these well-deserved 'bitch slaps' - and how many more woke up alive the next morning after some indignant woman resisted the temptation to deliver a well-deserved bitch slap.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: SINSULL
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 06:16 PM

"wife is in a swoon" - she's alive, I think.

Strange business.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 08:28 AM

Well, at least we're not coming to mortal blows about this song.

Should there be a workshop at Getaway, manslaughter 101, with an optional "key and picking patterns" 101 who feel a need to sing this depressing song?

It is a powerful and unforgetable song.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk unlogged
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 08:55 AM

Well Mick & Charley, the fact it is a powerful song is what prompted me to start this thread.

I prefer 'story' or 'narrative' type songs and this is a fine example but I find myself not quite in line with the singer so am trying to clarify it. If I can't there are plenty more to choose from (White Squall being one).

Lots of good insights from you folks - thanks.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 09:09 AM

I surely love "White Squall" as well. meself points out that it doesn't say much of anything. Well, I probably agree that it doesn't have any huge, social significance ..... but many great songs don't. It is just a story, and well told, IMO. I also love narrative style songs.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk Unlogged
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 09:35 AM

Mick

Do you know Eric Bogles 'Campbells Daughter'. A really good strong story. I contacted Eric & told him I thought it is one of his best & he said yeah, he always thought it was under-rated. Whenever I perform it, it gets instant attention. I sang it at an impromtu sing in a country pub & a local lady commented that images just formed in her mind.

Different types but these three songs are very emotive and pictures spring into my mind when I hear / play them.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 10:00 AM

Thanks for the tip, Black Hawk. I guess I must have heard it, as I am a big fan of Bogle, but I just can't remember off the cuff. I will haul out the CD's when I get home this weekend.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk Unlogged
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 10:10 AM

Mick,

Strange you should say that about Campbells Daughter.

I only started listening to his stuff quite recently but have some friends who are big fans, met him a few times, go to all his concerts when in the UK etc.
When I heard this song it struck me hard & I asked around for words, chords etc.
None of these 'fans' had heard it or remembered it!

Yet when I play it they say its great(an I'm not very good).

As Eric said, VERY under-rated.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Greg B
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 10:44 AM

Mary Travers performed the song at a concert rather early in
the PP&M reunion.

She did a very creditable job--- I think she sang it in a
baritone register :-)

It is an interesting melody, one that goes from a tuneless---
but not really--- narrative, to some rather soaring heights.

Takes a helluva singer to deliver it with the dynamics that are
there. Which maybe explains why Stan Rogers and Mary Travers
are among the few who can deliver on its potential.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 12:25 PM

Back to Stan. Does anyone have the "Songs from Fogarty's Cove" songbook, that would be willing to list the titles that are included in the book? I am considering purchasing it (in fact will likely do so just to add it to the one spot left in my overstuffed musical library)but I would like to know the songs it will contain. I tried a google search but none of the listings I had time to look at included a listing.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Greg B
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 01:33 PM

I have it, haven't cracked it in a while, but recall it had
damned near everything. Perhaps not the 'From Fresh Water' stuff...


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 01:41 PM

Harris and the Mare?


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 01:59 PM

There is nothing in the story that says the wife is dead. It says she's cold as clay which probably means that she is knocked out or in shock but not dead. No one helps due to fear of Cleary. Nothing to do with religion. The narrator is C.O not the whole bar.
It's a wonderful drama.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 02:10 PM

So they say.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 02:35 PM

to me cold as clay means dead.

but otherwise Im glad to hear she's ok.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 02:35 PM

Oh, "Harris and the Mare" is dramatic enough, and the message is evident that sometimes even peaceful people are forced to stand up for those they love and do brutal things. Yes, it happens.

Of course the song would also have been "dramatic" if Clary had been persuaded to "cool it" before he got abusive enough to provoke a slap. I find conflict resolution even more dramatic. Maybe I'll compose a different version of the song, with Harris and his mare taking everyone back home to sleep it off. Then the mare trots back to the pub for a stiff drink.

Of course, Steel-eyed Stan also composed "The House of Orange" which I believe condemned violence on both sides of that, thankfully, historic conflict in Northern Ireland.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 02:41 PM

also - where the hell was Harris all this time, would he have helped him?

yon - trap (isnt that kind of rude?)

plus he's not going call any of them a friend, I wonder if hes ever going to that pub again, thatd be a shame.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 03:14 PM

"Yes, it happens."

Um ... was there ever any question about that - other than in the mind of the thick-headed narrator? If there was, Kenny Rogers beat Stan to the punch with 'Coward of the County' ...


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 03:16 PM

petr, are you reading the lyrics? Or just commenting without full attempt to understand the tale? The second half of the first verse establishes that she is just passed out with the following:

.......For the wife is in a swoon, and I am all alone
Harris, fetch thy mare and take us home


The song goes on to establish that the antagonist was acting far outside the bounds of established manners, suggesting he would take the woman home and have his way with her, the inference that he was making untoward references about her, and she responded by slapping his face, a typical response to ungallant behaviour. He then pushed further the norms of acceptable behaviour by knocking her out with a blow. The protagonist (Conshie, or Concientious Objector, and a pacifist under normal circumstances) then reacted to the outrage by going after the bad guy in defense of his lady, and in response to real physical harm done to her as opposed to a slap that she had delivered. In the brawl the antagonist ends up with his own knife in his belly.

And you must know that a TRAP simply refers to a two wheeled, horse drawn cart.

Anyone playing a version of this song?

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 03:27 PM

thanks for the correction Big Mick
I didnt know that about the cart..

yes Ive read the lyrics, and sang the song too.
I know 'in a swoon' - but you have to admit - cold as clay sounds dead.
when is anyone cold as clay?

cheers
Petr


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 03:34 PM

Sorry for the tone of that post, Petr. I get in a hurry and throw things out without reading them. Sometimes they come off intolerant, and I always end up wishing I read them before hitting the send button.

"cold as clay" certainly is used to denote the condition of a dead person usually. It just seems to me, that when one reads the whole song lyric and then applies the context, it is apparent that she is simply out cold, or unconscious.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 04:04 PM

Campbell's Daughter is on the album, The Emigrant and the Exile, with John Munro. It's my favorite track on a CD with several good tracks, and it's the track I put on the radio when the CD came out. Somehow, the CD didn't make much of an impression - it seemed to disappear without making much impact. I don't kow why. Maybe people expect every Bogle album to have a No Man's Land on it, or a Band Played Waltzing Matilda, and if there's no song to meet that standard, people are disappointed.

Having praised Campbell's Daughter, I do have to say there was something about it that bothered me, only I can't remember any more exactly what it was. It may be that it was written to sound like a traditional ballad. I love traditional ballads, but if you're writing a ballad now, I think it should sound like you wrote it now, not like you're trying to pass it off as trad. This is not meant as criticism of Bogle or anyone else, but as an expression of my personal tastes in music.

As for Harris and the Mare, does anyone think that maybe it was Rogers' way of expressing the opinion that conscientious objection is hypocrisy?


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 04:10 PM

Yes, "cold as clay" is misleading, particularly given the associations of "clay" with death (symbolically, the substance of a lifeless body, as well as what a body is often laid in, according to many songs), not to mention the obvious association of
"cold" with death. However, we do have the expression "out cold" to indicate unconsciousness, accompanied by, presumably, lowered body temperature.

Just looked up at Mick's post again, and notice that he in fact used the expression "out cold" ...


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 04:15 PM

GUEST, Gerry that is an excellent observation. Stan certainly was one to point out hypocrisy, as he saw it.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: maeve
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 06:56 PM

This is an interesting discussion of an interesting story song. I used this song as one third of a very challenging final exam for a particularly bright and responsive group of ten to twelve-year-olds years ago. Responses were permitted in any combination of written, oral, and painted forms. Their thoughtful responses were the reward of which every teacher dreams and few receive.

I appreciate the equally thoughtful discussion here. Thanks for reminding me of that stunning group of children.

maeve


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 07:07 PM

"As for Harris and the Mare, does anyone think that maybe it was Rogers' way of expressing the opinion that conscientious objection is hypocrisy?"


This will be the second time in this thread that I commit the questionable act of quoting myself, but - here's me, 'way up the thread: 'Overall, the song seems to me a folkie-version of "Coward of the County", the message of the song being that anyone who claims to be a pacifist is full of shit, and/or as thick-headed as buddy in this ballad ... '

This is one of the things that bothers me about the song - it strikes me as a rather simple-minded dismissal of what can be a noble stance. Once again, the idea that this man could live in the type of community that produces a Cleary, and never face the possibility that he might someday feel duty-bound to physically defend a loved one goes beyond the bounds of credibility, to my mind. Furthermore, the idea that someone would take the rather drastic step of becoming a conscientious objector without ever having compared fighting in a (distant?) war to fighting in a more immediate context to protect family members, spouse, etc., is hard to credit. The first question anyone challenging your stance would ask is, "What would you do if the Germans [or whoever] attacked your home, your family?" - to which you would reply either "I would fight to defend my family - but I don't believe they ever will attack my family", or "I would not raise a hand even against attackers of my family, because I believe that would be wrong." But this guy - again, he's fifty-nine years old, and the very idea that being a man might mean having to defend your wife is new to him ... ??


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 25 Jul 07 - 07:19 PM

no problem mick.
it certainly is a song that gets one thinking..
when I first heard it 20years ago, I wondered about what was behind the writing of the song. (ie. is it surprise at ones own willingness for violence in defense of a loved one, in spite of nonviolent beliefs
or about knowing who your true friends are etc)

why dont the others intervene, I can understand fear of the bully or possibly just not wanting to get involved. But why dont they help him out the door afterwards.. It would seem theres no reason to fear Clary now..


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 02:01 PM

To me, the song does question the idea that conscientious objectors might act differently when the proverbial threat is at their own door. One is the ideal way we hope we might act. The other allows us to adjust to a the nuances of a particular situation--one with heavy emotional content. Knowing Stan, he took many shots at those positions he judged to be less than manly in the macho, maybe Ernest Hemingway, sense.

I know I would act on the emotions of the moment if someone was knocking down our own door.

Indeed, the only time I ever got credit for laying a guy out in a bar was when a drunk (who shall remain nameless) came on hard to Carol at The Fifth Peg bar/folk club in Chicago----> and she was eight months pregnant at the time. I intervened, got between the two of them, put my hands on his 2 shoulders and pushed him back. As he was quite drunk, he staggered back---and knocked down a row of bar stools! Folks were sure I'd punched him out. Soooo, I was tossed out of the bar. (John Prine was singing his set in the music room---1970; everyone was back there listening and that's why the bar stools were empty.)

Stan asked me once why I didn't do any of his songs!?   I told him that I could never do 'em with the voice and the style he brought to them. He set the standard very high by nailing the song every time he chose to sing one. Stan took exception to that---so I learned "White Squall."

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 04:10 PM

"the song does question the idea that conscientious objectors might act differently when the proverbial threat is at their own door" -

Again, a problem I have with the song: Why on earth pick on conscientious objectors? Hardly taking on a pressing issue, or a menacing group of people - unless the song is intended as an obscure swipe at draft dodgers - which I don't think it is, and if it were, it would be so obscure as to be ineffective ...

"he took many shots at those positions he judged to be less than manly in the macho, maybe Ernest Hemingway, sense." -

To me, it is misleading to equate Stan's outlook - as revealed in his songs; I never met the man - with that of Hemingway (your hesitancy on the point noted). While there is an overlap, Hemingway's machismo is that of the privileged man who needs to seek out challenges to test his manhood; Stan's is that of the unprivileged man who must respond to the challenges life hands him, and the challenges that interest him are those that relate to family, work, and community. Hemingway's protagonists typically go sport hunting and sport fishing; they seek out exotic locales; they are isolated from family and community even when among them; they do not need to do menial physical labour. Stan's fishermen and seamen are working men; sometimes their work takes them to exotic locales; they work hard and take risks for their family and community, including their fellow workers. Hemingway's machismo is of an elitist variety - the superior man demonstrating his superiority, while Stan's is of an egalitarian type - the ordinary man demonstrating the strength it can take to be an ordinary man. All this is probably why, while it is popular to sneer at Hemingway's machismo, you don't hear people sneering at the corresponding aspect of Stan's outlook - in my limited experience, anyway.

"I intervened, got between the two of them, put my hands on his 2 shoulders and pushed him back" -

Okay, so here's you, presumably a not particularly war-mongering or warlike folk-singer, no doubt rather surprised, maybe even shaken up, by that night's unanticipated events - but was the idea that someday some situation might arise in which you would be moved to defend your wife entirely new to you? Were you surprised philosophically? I doubt it - I doubt ANY man reaches adulthood - let alone late adulthood, as in the song - without considering that he may someday feel that he should defend someone he cares about. I suppose I'm flogging Harris's dead mare by now, but that's part of why the song just lacks credibility, to my mind.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Arkie
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 08:14 PM

Have enjoyed this thread about what I believe is a great song. There is something about it that stayes with you when the song is over. I do not think the song is stating an opinion about concientious objectors. I think that is one detail adding to the drama of a non-violent person being pushed to the edge when faced with unforeseen trouble and danger.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 09:36 PM

meself-

Nicely argued, with regard to Hemingway.

Then there's the Old Man and the Sea...

And Stan did compose The House of Orange, as I've mentioned above.

He was a complex man.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: Jeri
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 09:40 PM

I agree Arkie. I think the main point of the song is to simply explore one possibility. There are no real answers provided, because you're left wondering about things.

Clary's attack on his wife precipitated his death, but the neighbors could have stopped the attack and in doing so, prevented Clary's death. They didn't have to use violence - there were things they could have done, starting with speaking to him. They didn't try, and I believe they're the ones most in the wrong.

Charley Noble wrote "the message is evident that sometimes even peaceful people are forced to stand up for those they love and do brutal things." I think it's more about the importance of standing up one another, for other members of the community or for their loved ones. If the neighbors had 'stood up' earlier, there might have been no death. Possibly, the line "I had to see his blood to be a man" may mean the situation had to get violent before he realized he had the strength to stand against wrong. Things had to go THAT far before he learned.

The main point seems to me to be that you can have the loftiest ideals and live your life according to some higher purpose, but it means little if you don't do right by the people closest to you.


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Subject: RE: Harris and Mare - murder or not?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 27 Jul 07 - 01:21 AM

Yes, in certain of his songs, Stan seemed to enjoy pushing folks' buttons and, also, pushing their noses in the possibilities that their rather emotional p.c. stands, given the "right" situations, might prove hard to live up to. I always thought these songs were almost personal protest songs for Stan. I think he probably enjoyed it a bunch when his songs, on whatever topic, made folks squirm some. The songs also made people think that the world wasn't as polarized and as black-and-white certain as they thought. Hearing Stan sing these songs actually showed vividly that the color GRAY, itself, has many important and unique variations. It made me see the value of making a spontaneous and emotional snap judgment throw to second base if the guy running was to be called out. (Pardon the mixed metaphors. It's late and I ought to get to bed.)

Thanks to all you Mudcatters, and to Stan, for giving me musical things to ruminate upon now that I'm unable to make the music.

As the old cowboy song says, "I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you!"

Art Thieme


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