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Lyr Req: The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow

Mo the caller 23 Mar 17 - 06:09 AM
Gutcher 23 Mar 17 - 07:54 AM
Gutcher 23 Mar 17 - 08:09 AM
Jim Dixon 24 Mar 17 - 08:56 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow
From: Mo the caller
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 06:09 AM

"Have You Checked The DigiTrad or Forum for This Topic First?"
yes, I looked and found other words to the tune .
In this thread Jack Campin says it's a song about spinning. I have a dance of that name in a BBC pamphlet (for the price of a large SAE) from a series of Barn Dances that they broadcast in 1993.
Traditional dance from the Scottish Borders adapted by Pete Coe.
He spells it Toe not Tow.

The title seems to make no sense so I would be interested to know the song
Google tells me it was written by Alexander Ross b 1699

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow
From: Gutcher
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 07:54 AM

Tow, pronounced as in towel, is used here for rope.

Tarrie Tow was rope treated with Archangel Tar and used for caulking the seams in ships decks.

Tow from the rock would be like string or thread.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow
From: Gutcher
Date: 23 Mar 17 - 08:09 AM

Sorry, by here I mean Scotland.

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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Mar 17 - 08:56 PM

The oldest version of this song I could find was in Scotish Song in Two Volumes, Vol 1 (London: J. Johnson, 1714), Vol 1, page 276. That volume gives a tune, and it is notated: "By Mr. Alexander Ross, School-Master at Lochlee."

The text below was taken from Scottish Poetry of the Eighteenth Century edited by George Eyre-Todd (Glasgow: William Hodge & Co., 1896), Vol 1, page 94—chosen mainly because it was more easily digitized. It very closely follows the earlier version, except for spelling.


[1] There was an auld wife and a wee pickle tow,
And she wad gae try the spinning o't;
She louted her down, and her rock took a low,
And that was a bad beginning o't.
She sat and she grat, and she flet and she flang,
And she flew and she blew, and she wriggled and wrang,
And she choked and boaked, and cried like to mang,
"Alas for the dreary spinning o't!

[2] "I've wanted a sark for these eight years and ten,
And this was to be the beginning o't;
But I vow I shall want it for as lang again,
Or ever I try the spinning o't.
For never since ever they ca'd me as they ca' me,
Did sic a mishap or mishanter befa' me;
But ye shall ha'e leave baith to hang me and draw me
The neist time I try the spinning o't.

[3] "I ha'e keepit my house for these threescore o' years,
And aye I kept free o' the spinning o't;
But how I was sarked, foul fa' them that speers!
For it minds me upo' the beginning o't.
But our women are nowadays grown a' sae braw
That ilk ane maun ha'e her sark, and some maun ha'e twa;
The warld was better when ne'er ane ava'
Had a rag but ane at the beginning o't.

[4] "Foul fa' her that ever advised me to spin,
That had been sae lang a-beginning o't!
I might well have ended as I did begin,
Nor have got sic a scare wi' the spinning o't.
But they'll say 'She's a wise wife that kens her ain weird';
I thought on a day it should never be speer'd,
'How loot ye the low tak' your rock by the beard
When ye gaed to try the spinning o't?'

[5] "The spinning, the spinning, it gars my heart sob
When I think upon the beginning o't;
I thought ere I died to have ance made a wob,
But still I had wears of the spinning o't.
But had I nine dochters, as I ha'e but three,
The safest and soundest advice I could gi'e,
Is that they frae spinning wad keep their hands free,
For fear of a bad beginning o't.

[6] "Yet, in spite of my counsel, if they will needs run
The drearysome risk of the spinning o't,
Let them seek out a lyth in the heat of the sun,
And there venture on the beginning o't.
But to do as I did, alas I avow!
To busk up a rock at the cheek o' the low,
Says that I had but little wit in my pow,
And as little ado wi' the spinning o't.

[7] "But yet, after a', there is ae thing that grieves
My heart to think o' the beginning o't;
Had I won the length but of ae pair o' sleeves
Then there had been word o' the spinning o't.
This I wad ha'e washen and bleached like the snaw,
And on my twa gardies like moggans wad draw,
And then folk wad say that auld Girzy was braw,
And a' was upon her ain spinning o't.

[8] "But gin I could shog about till a new spring,
I should yet ha'e a bout o' the spinning o't;
A mutchkin o' lintseed I'd in the yerd fling,
For a' the wanchancy beginning o't.
I'll gar my ain Tammy gae down to the howe
And cut me a rock o' a widdershins grow
Of good rantry-tree for to carry my tow,
And a spindle o' same for the twining o't.

[9] "For now, when I mind me, I met Maggie Grim
That morning, just at the beginning o't;
She was never ca'd chancy, but canny and slim,
And sae it has fared wi' my spinning o't.
But gin my new rock were ance cutted and dry,
I'll a' Maggie's cann and her cantrips defy,
And, but ony sussie, the spinning I'll try,
And ye shall a' hear o' the beginning o't."

Notes, verse 1: wee pickle=small amount, louted=bent, rock=distaff, took a low=caught fire, grat=wept, flet=scolded, mang=become frantic.
2: mishanter=disaster.
4: weird=fate.
5: wob=web, wears=apprehensions.
6: lyth=shelter.
7: gardies=arms, moggans=sleeves.
8: shog=jog, yerd=earth, wanchancy=unlucky, howe=hollow, widdershins grow=left way growing.
9: cantrips: cunning and spells, but ony sussie=without any anxiety.

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