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McPherson's Lament

GUEST 24 Jun 08 - 03:49 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 24 Jun 08 - 04:28 PM
Abby Sale 24 Jun 08 - 06:10 PM
kendall 24 Jun 08 - 07:11 PM
kendall 24 Jun 08 - 09:12 PM
katlaughing 24 Jun 08 - 09:23 PM
Teribus 25 Jun 08 - 01:05 AM
Peace 25 Jun 08 - 01:10 AM
open mike 25 Jun 08 - 01:45 AM
Jack Campin 25 Jun 08 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Suffolk Miracle 25 Jun 08 - 06:20 AM
kendall 25 Jun 08 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,HughM 25 Jun 08 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Sedayne (Astray) 25 Jun 08 - 01:50 PM
Abby Sale 25 Jun 08 - 02:58 PM
Teribus 26 Jun 08 - 10:39 AM
GUEST 08 Jul 12 - 09:30 AM
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Subject: McPherson's Lament
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 03:49 PM

And this is the way they do it in Texas!

A great song ... although this version's missing a favorite verse or two. Is the basic story behind the song verifiably true? Or is it so mixed up in old legend that we'll never know??


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 04:28 PM

it's an old legend. Hard to prove or disprove. Search in the DT Forum for details that we have


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: Abby Sale
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 06:10 PM

George, I haven't done primary research, of course, but I believe the quotes are from actual trial records.

From the Happy File:

Inverness, Scotland: James McPherson rants, fiddles and hangs, November 16, 1700 (tried before the sheriff of Banffshire Nov 7.)

McPherson & friends were convicted of being "Egyptian rogues and vagabonds, of keeping the markets in their ordinary manner of thieving and purse-cutting, also being guilty of masterful bangstrie [I had to look that up] and oppression." Part of the evidence against them was that they spoke a strange language and spent their nights in singing, dancing, and debauchery. He is supposed to have spent his last hour composing his rant, which Burns used as the basis of "Farewell, Ye Dungeons Dark and Strong.

Burns rewrote the two songs (based on Herd). See Dick's Songs of Robert Burns, #311, for more explanation.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: kendall
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:11 PM

I posted to this and I hit "Submit message" but it didn't go anywhere.

Anyway. I read this story in National Geographic magazine many years ago, and according to the article, MacPherson was hanged in 1701 for stealing a horse.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: kendall
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 09:12 PM


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 09:23 PM

Here's more about what Abby has posted at Domestic Annals of Scotland - Reign of William III: 1695 - 1702 Part 7


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: Teribus
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 01:05 AM

Always been led to believe that the song was written by Burns based on actual events. Burns coined many songs in order to preserve pipe tunes, at the time the playing of pipes was proscribed, this I believe was one of them.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: Peace
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 01:10 AM

http://209.85.141.104/search?q=cache:ABg2a_dh2goJ:www.mysongbook.de/msb/songs/m/macphers.html+McPherson%27s+Lament,+history&hl=e

Some research on it here. (Great site, BTW.)


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: open mike
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 01:45 AM

I have always thought there should be a dance move called the McPherson Strut!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacPherson_strut


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 05:52 AM

"Burns coined many songs in order to preserve pipe tunes, at the time the playing of pipes was proscribed, this I believe was one of them. "

Pipes never were proscribed and Burns didn't re-use instrumental tunes to preserve them, he used popular hits of his time which were in no danger whatever of being forgotten (and used fiddle and flute tunes much more often than pipe ones).

The tune for MacPherson's Farewell/Rant ("Lament" is a misnomer) was widely reproduced and reused in the 18th century; Burns probably got it from Alexander MacGlashan's fiddle collection, though he also had access to James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion, which printed it more than 30 years before. MacGlashan was a local star ("The King", I kid you not) and anything he played as a showpiece would have been very well known.

The big revival of the pipes dates from the competition at the Falkirk Tryst in 1781, at which time Burns had hardly started writing. The music they played was pibroch, not tunes like MacPherson's Rant. The pipe version of it is from the 19th century.   It's disconcertingly different if you know the song.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 06:20 AM

The singer and local farmer John Strachan used to say that the old people in the area used to tell him that not only was the story a true one, but that for years afterwards the clock at Banff church was ordered to be kept 15 minutes fast as a reminder of what they had done. Has anyone thought of asking Jock Duncan? He farms the same area, knew John, and should know what the local stories are.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: kendall
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 08:05 AM

When I first heard this one it was called "MacPherson's Fairwell". Rant sounds a bit modern to me.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 08:16 AM

The bit about setting the clock fast so that he could be hanged before the reprieve arrived seems to be true. In a TV documentary, I heard that the inhabitants of one of the neighbouring villages were so disgusted that they built a clock tower with no clock face on the side facing the area where the hanging took place, so that the people there would never know what time it was!


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: GUEST,Sedayne (Astray)
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 01:50 PM

Davie Stewart is worth checking in this context, especially his preamble on the Lomax CD which gives the whole thing an air of authenticity. Either way, his rendering, I'd say, is pretty damn definitive. In The Reader's Digest of British Folklore & Customs you can see a picture of the MacPherson's broken fiddle, but I can't remember where it resides.

Rant or Fairwell? Again, I defer to the great Davie Stewart on this one!


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: Abby Sale
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:58 PM

And a bit more - the clan MacPherson sites give more insights on the same as well as:

Clan Macpherson Association Museum photo of the preserved fiddle:
http://www.newtonmore.com/macpherson/Default.htm

http://www.clan-macpherson.org/museum/fiddle.php, of Clan Macpherson Association:

The other song, Macpherson's Lament "written by him while in jail awaiting his death" and additional details and lore on Jamie.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: Teribus
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 10:39 AM

Thanks for putting me straight on that Jack, my information (IIRC)was from a book on Robert Burns (two examples were given "McPherson's Rant" and "Scots Wa Hae" or "Hey Tuttie Tattie") and from "Corrie Folk Trio & Paddy Bell" LP Sleeve Notes for the song.


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Subject: RE: McPherson's Lament
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 09:30 AM

The research link (left above by "Peace") is broken, but you can read all about MacPherson (1675–1700) at this Wikipedia page.


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