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Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury

DigiTrad:
BARD OF ARMAGH
PILLS OF WHITE MERCURY
STREETS OF LAREDO (Cowboy's Lament)
THE DYING LUMBERMAN
THE LINEMAN'S HYMN
THE STREETS OF LOREDO
THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
UNFORTUNATE LASS


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Trooper Cut Down in His Prime (Roy Palmer (47)
Lyr Req: Handful of Laurel (9)
Streets of Laredo - 'Live in the Nation'?? (57)
Streets of Stavanger aka The Seasick Norwegian (8)
Lyr Req: Streets of Toledo (Paul Clayton) (18)
(origins) Origins: Pills of White Mercury (36) (closed)
Streets of Laredo (37)
Chords Req: Pills of White Mercury (Old Blind Dogs (16)
(origins) ...all wrapped in white linen. (63) (closed)
BUCK'S ELEGY -- A corrupt text? (65) (closed)
Lyr Add: Tom Sherman's Barroom (4)
Lyr Req: Pills of White Mercury (5)
Lyr Req: The Pills of White Mercury (2)


Metchosin 02 Nov 99 - 06:43 PM
Metchosin 02 Nov 99 - 06:53 PM
Les B 02 Nov 99 - 07:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Nov 99 - 07:54 PM
Metchosin 02 Nov 99 - 08:01 PM
Bruce O. 02 Nov 99 - 08:25 PM
MAG (inactive) 02 Nov 99 - 10:15 PM
DonMeixner 02 Nov 99 - 10:32 PM
Metchosin 03 Nov 99 - 12:26 AM
Jeri 03 Nov 99 - 08:30 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Nov 99 - 10:57 AM
Metchosin 03 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM
Metchosin 03 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM
Greg F. 03 Nov 99 - 06:00 PM
Greg F. 03 Nov 99 - 06:40 PM
Metchosin 03 Nov 99 - 08:27 PM
Jeri 03 Nov 99 - 08:48 PM
03 Nov 99 - 08:52 PM
Metchosin 03 Nov 99 - 09:03 PM
DonMeixner 03 Nov 99 - 10:21 PM
Metchosin 03 Nov 99 - 11:08 PM
MAG (inactive) 04 Nov 99 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Priscilla 03 Feb 02 - 03:08 PM
Clinton Hammond 03 Feb 02 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Dane Brooke 25 Jul 11 - 04:13 AM
Jack Campin 25 Jul 11 - 06:54 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: PILLS OF WHITE MERCURY
From: Metchosin
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 06:43 PM

This Version of Young Sailor Cut Down in his Prime is by Old Blind Dogs from their album Tall Tails. I'm having trouble with some of the words in the first verse eg. boozen? blen? If someone speaks with a nice thick Scottish brogue, perhaps they could help?

Lyr Add: PILLS OF WHITE MERCURY

As I was walkin'
By the banks of the Ubie
Come my dear friends
And a story I will plait
I spied a dear comrade
All dressed in white flannel
All dressed in white flannel
And cruel was his fate.
Oh the mecury was beatin',
The limestone was reekin'
His tongue all in flames
Hung over his chin
But the hole in his boozen'
And his teeth were a closin'
Bad luck to the girl
Who gave him the blen

Oh had she but told me
Before she dishonoured me
Had she but told me
Of it in time,
I might have been cured
By those pills of white mercury
Now I'm a young man
Cut down in my prime.

. My parents they warned me
And oft time they chided,
With those young flash girls
Do not sport and play,
I never listened,
No I never heeded,
I just carried on
In my own wicked way.
Chorus:

It's down on the corner
Two flash girls were talking
One to the other
Did whisper and say
There goes that young man
Who once was so jolly
Now for his sins
His poor body must pay.
Chorus:

Oh doctor, dear doctor
Before your departure
Take all those bottles
Of mercury away,
Send for the minister
To say a prayer over me
So they can lay
My poor body in the clay.
Chorus:

Now get you six fellows
To carry my coffin
Six pretty maids
To bear up my pall
Give each of them there
A bunch of red roses
When they pass by me
They'll not know the smell.
Chorus
As recorded by Old Blind Dogs on the CD Tall Tails
^^ already in DT as LAREDST5 (S of DT)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 06:53 PM

Oops! the Chorus is Oh had she but told me etc. and repeated after every verse, I don't know what I did to screw it up but, oh well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Les B
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 07:23 PM

Might "boozen" be bosom ? Although that's a pretty severe wound for VD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 07:54 PM

Did you transcribe that from printed lyrics, or by ear? Do they name any source?

Malcolm

PS: Mercury ointment was still available in the 1970s (from elderly chemists who had old stock) but I'm not sure what it was prescribed for by then.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 08:01 PM

Hi Malcom, I transcribed it by ear. Our family sings a shorter, less graphic version, called Down by the Royal Albion and a slight variant of the one on the DT. I've probably goofed up a bit but I still don't know how to link things and I started an earlier discussion under the heading Streets of Laredo and was going to post the lyrics there, but thought more people might be able to help with my word problem if I put it out directly in the forum.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Bruce O.
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 08:25 PM

You have to distinguish between the two chlorides of mercury, calomel (Hg,2Cl2,), and corrosive sublimate (HgCl,2). Calomel is still around. The mercury treatment of syphilis is much older than "The Unfortunate Rake".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 10:15 PM

When I first heard this song, "Saint James Infirmary" made a lot more sense to me.

The dead sweetheart was a hooker, and the narrator knows he is going to die, too. Sooner.

did everybody know this but me?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: DonMeixner
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 10:32 PM

Mag,

Ah...Yes... we all did.

Don


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 12:26 AM

Ah, I didn't Mag, I actually never associated the two songs as well either, because I sing St. James Infirmry to a different tune than the Pills of white Mecury.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 08:30 AM

Metchosin, recurring lesions of syphilis called "gummas" can attack different places in the body, including mucous membranes. I've seen photos of people with late syphilis who were lacking noses. Maybe that's what a "boozen" is? I wish I had a Scots-English dictionary. Could be something like:
Put the hole in his booz, and...?
Or could it be:
"Put the hole in his noos (nose) and...?"

I have to run off to work now, but I can try asking on the Scots (EMail) List when I get back later today, if you'd like.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 10:57 AM

"Blen" is probably "Blain" -a boil or blister, or the scar thereof. By extension, the disease that caused it.

"The hole in his boozen" might be "The whole on (i.e. of) his bosom", but I'm only speculating there, not having heard the recording.

"Closin(g)" can mean "breathing with difficulty".

The first verse is quite heavily Scots, while the rest are a lot more like other versions I've come across; I wonder if they've collated more than one set? Does it say anything in the sleeve-notes?

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM

Hi, I'll try to get the sleeve notes from my brother and get back to it later later.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM

Hi, I'll try to get the sleeve notes from my brother and get back to it later later.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Greg F.
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 06:00 PM

In trying to "decipher" the lyrics, you may be confusing the symptoms of the disease with those of the treatment! Dosing with mercurials, including Calomel, could produce a sore mouth, bleeding gums, profuse salivation, the loss of teeth, caries in the jawbone, and open sores- literally holes an inch in diameter or more- thru the cheek and under the jaw. There was serious disagreement among doctors about the use(or misuse) of Calomel at the period of the War of 1812 and earlier; some of the case descriptions are positively nauseating!. I can't find the reference at the moment (of course) but believe that at least in the 19th century "White Mercury" was called 'white precipitate of mercury- but am no chemist.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Greg F.
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 06:40 PM

Additional: Good old Web- FROM: ObsoleteBritishChemicalTerms http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/Chem-History/Obsolete-Chem-Terms3.html

"White Precipitated Mercury (Precipitate of Sublimate of Mercury) Mercurammonium chloride (HgNH2Cl)"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 08:27 PM

Well, either way it had you coming or going, pardon the pun, if you didn't die from the disease you died from the so called cure.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 08:48 PM

Well, if someone is going to die from syphilis, it normally takes quite a few years. Mercury poisoning is a lot faster.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From:
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 08:52 PM

Were the pills of white mercury the infusible white precipitate of mercury [Hg(NH2)Cl], or the fusible white precipitate of mercury [Hg(NH3)2Cl2]?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 09:03 PM

I don't think if your toungue was hanging over your chin and you had a hole in your "boozen" you'd care.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: DonMeixner
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 10:21 PM

Mag,

Actually I was just pickin' on ya.

Don


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 11:08 PM

Thanks Don, I think I like this place it's really helpful and fun to boot.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 02:29 PM

Hunh?

(I knew that. My sense of humor is coming along OK.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: GUEST,Priscilla
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 03:08 PM

This is an old thread, but I was searching for the song and found this, so I thought I'd post a clarification to one of the lines.

According to a post by Ian Benzie (former lead singer of Old Blind Dogs) on their message board, the words heard variously as "bad luck to the girl who gave him the blen" or "phlegm" should be "bad luck to the girlie fa gied [who gave] him the glim."

For anyone interested, their forum is at

http://pub16.ezboard.com/fnevermindforumsoldblinddogs


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 03:16 PM

Ya beat me to it Priscillia...

A good MB they have over there too!

;-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: GUEST,Dane Brooke
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 04:13 AM

FWIW I asked a local pharmacist what was the old treatment for syphilis, and she said that white mercury is mercury chlorate (HgClO3, probably... I didn't look it up, sorry)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pills of White Mercury
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 06:54 AM

That pharmacist would have got a lot of patients killed. It's mercuric chloride.

Quetel's book "History of Syphilis" is a great read and explains a lot of what folks here have been writing about.


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