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Origins: Caller Ou

Dave Rado 06 May 12 - 07:25 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 06 May 12 - 07:57 PM
Dave Rado 06 May 12 - 07:59 PM
Dave Rado 06 May 12 - 08:01 PM
Dave Rado 07 May 12 - 08:53 AM
Dave Rado 07 May 12 - 09:09 AM
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Subject: Origins: Caller Ou
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 May 12 - 07:25 PM

Does anyone know anything about the origins of the haunting fishermen's wives song, Caller Ou? Lyrics are:

When winter winds howl and the sea rolling high
Our boatmen sae brave, all dangers defy
Their last haul on board, they steer for the shore
Their live cargo landed is soon at our door

Chorus:
Caller ou, caller ou, caller ou
Frae the Forth, caller ou, caller ou

At nicht roon the ingle sae canty are we
The fisher lass brings in her treat frae the sea
Wi' music and sang as time passes by
We hear in the distance the creel lassies cry

Chorus

So here's to the boatman, at hame and awa'
At kirk and at fair there's nane gaes sae braw
And weel be their dames sae blythesome and fair
They're voices in evening is music to hear.

Chorus

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jean Redpath used to sing it beautifully. I presume from the references in it to the Forth that it originates from around Leith or Edinburgh, but does anyone know any more than that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Caller Ou
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 06 May 12 - 07:57 PM

http://www.electricscotland.com/history/leith/19.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Caller Ou
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 May 12 - 07:59 PM

Ah I've just discovered that it should be it should be "Caller o'u", not "Caller ou", and that o'u is an abbreviation for "oysters", the creel lassies in the song being a reference to the girls who carried oysters for sale round the Edinburgh tenements in their creels. See here.

Furthermore, it seems that google's intelligent search algorithm let me down for once - as soon as I googled the correct spelling of the song (i.e. including the apostrophe), the song's origins immediately became apparent, and in fact were covered in an earlier mudcat thread ( here). It seems it was written by a John Gray sometime early in the 19th century. Also, the lyrics posted in that other mudcat thread are more accurate than the ones I posted.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Caller Ou
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 May 12 - 08:01 PM

Hi Allan - thanks for that link - very interesting article.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Caller Ou
From: Dave Rado
Date: 07 May 12 - 08:53 AM

Okay so "o'u" meant "oysters", but what did "caller" mean? The article you linked to doesn't say, and nor do any of the other articles I've found on the subject. I thought at first it might just mean "I'm calling", but it clearly doesn't because there were also street cries of "buy my caller herring" and "Four bunch a penny, the bonny caller radishes" - so what does it mean?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Caller Ou
From: Dave Rado
Date: 07 May 12 - 09:09 AM

Ah according to Webster's dictionary, caller means fresh.


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