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Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get

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GUEST,Jiggers 21 Oct 08 - 06:55 AM
John MacKenzie 21 Oct 08 - 07:06 AM
GUEST, Sminky 21 Oct 08 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,Dave Burland 21 Oct 08 - 07:25 AM
Ross Campbell 21 Oct 08 - 03:44 PM
Ross Campbell 21 Oct 08 - 03:59 PM
GUEST 21 Oct 08 - 04:36 PM
GUEST,Jiggers 23 Oct 08 - 09:02 AM
Backwoodsman 23 Oct 08 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,elphaba_lives 28 Mar 09 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,Guest roxanne 21 Mar 11 - 01:53 PM
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Subject: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST,Jiggers
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 06:55 AM

Hi,

This query concerns the song The Old Man on Awkward Annie CD by Kate Rusby.

There are a few phrases I don't quite understand possibly because I am not familiar with the speech expressions. Can anyone explain the following ?

"And you must mind the speckled hen,
For fear she'll lay away;"

What does it mean to 'lay away' ? Is this some sort of agricultural colloquialism for not laying any eggs ?

"He swore by the sun, the moon, and the stars,
And the green leaves on the tree,
If his wife didn't do a day's work in her life,
She'll no be ruled by he"

"If his wife didn't do a day's work in her life". How does this translate and make sense ? Is this one of those northern English phrases that means the opposite of its literal translation ?

Jiggers


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 07:06 AM

I assume the habit of some hens when kept in a 'free range', or natural system, to lay eggs hidden away under bushes etc, rather than in the nest boxes in the hen house.
The second one is more difficult, in my mind it means that if she doesn't work hard enough, he'll throw her out.
I don't know how old the song is, but in days gone by, women were regarded as chattels, and were the 'property' of their husbands. The married woman's property act wasn't passed in England till 1882, so a song wouldn't need to be very old, for this meaning to be correct.

JM


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 07:21 AM

All makes perfect sense to me. Nothing particularly northern about it.

I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.

Thomas A. Edison
US inventor (1847 - 1931)


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST,Dave Burland
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 07:25 AM

Maybe the Speckled hen one is a euphemism for 'treat your partner properly', or she may leave you.

May be gender confusion in the other verse if you swap the he and she around it makes a sort of sense. e.g.
He'll no be ruled by she


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 03:44 PM

Check out "John Grumlie" (in the forum here:- thread.cfm?threadid=41847#606182

The farmer thinks his wife's work is easily done. She challenges him to swap for a day. She, of course, sails through his work effortlessly while he makes a pig's breakfast of everything he turns his hand to. The hens would normally be kept close to the farm and encouraged to lay in nesting-boxes where the eggs could be readily collected. Their natural instinct would be to find somewhere quiet, eg under a hedgerow, hence "laying away". Can't speak as to the other lines. Perhaps they're misheard?

I sang this (the John Grumlie song) as intro and outro for a school play of the same title in about 1966, learned the song under the tutelage of Mr Couper and Mrs Jessiman at Balfron High School, where folk music was seriously encouraged. Somewhere I still have the published script of the play, purloined for me some years after by the late Calder Oswald, my former science teacher.

The thread linked above has some very interesting contributions, including American versions from kytrad and others. I've just realised that the version I sang was in even broader Scots than that listed. I'll try to dig it out.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 03:59 PM

The "John Grumlie" version as I remember it is here:- http://www.contemplator.com/scotland/grumlie.html

The tune's pretty close to how I would do it. I can feel a bit of re-learning coming on!

Ross


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 04:36 PM

RossCampbell - Thanks for the explanation of 'laying away' - that makes a bit of sense. Thanks also for the alternative version. I can probably adopt some of the words.

Jiggers


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST,Jiggers
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 09:02 AM

Yikes - I'm changing the lines I don't like to something I am happier with.

Kate's lines as follows :

He swore by the sun, the moon, and the stars,
And the green leaves on the tree,
If his wife didn't do a day's work in her life,
She'll no be ruled by he

changed to :

He swore by the sun, the moon and the stars
And then to end the row,
Said, tomorrow,my wife, you'll bide in the home
And I'll go drive the plough

Thanks for the help.


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 09:46 AM

Ah! The Folk Process is alive and well!


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST,elphaba_lives
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 01:56 PM

"If his wife didnt do a days work in her life
She'll no be ruled by he"

Well its simple really- put it in context with the rest of the song.
The old man says that he does more work than her. She in return says "alright then, you stay at home in my place and see how hard it is."
As the song goes on, he finds that it is very hard, and what he is basically saying in that quote is "Even if my wife didnt do another day's work ever, I would not criticise her or tell her what to do."
Hope that helps!


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Subject: RE: Old Man (K. Rusby) - bits I don't get
From: GUEST,Guest roxanne
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 01:53 PM

I don't suppose anyone knows the chords to this song?


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