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Lyr ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain

DigiTrad:
BONNY BLUE-EYED NANCY


Related thread:
Origin: My Bonny Blue-Eyed Nancy (25)


Letty 26 Sep 00 - 12:37 PM
radriano 26 Sep 00 - 01:18 PM
Fiolar 26 Sep 00 - 01:46 PM
Catrin 26 Sep 00 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Yum Yum 26 Sep 00 - 09:16 PM
John Moulden 27 Sep 00 - 04:21 AM
Catrin 27 Sep 00 - 08:04 AM
John Moulden 27 Sep 00 - 09:16 AM
Letty 27 Sep 00 - 10:43 AM
radriano 27 Sep 00 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Murray MacLeod 27 Sep 00 - 05:37 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 11 - 08:21 PM
Noreen 27 Jan 11 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,Jill Rogoff 03 Sep 11 - 05:23 AM
Joe Offer 03 Sep 11 - 10:00 PM
zozimus 04 Sep 11 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,Fiona Westen 22 Dec 12 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,MorrisBrendon 23 Dec 12 - 03:07 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Apr 17 - 10:27 AM
leeneia 05 Apr 17 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Guest reader 24 Sep 17 - 10:04 PM
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Subject: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountai
From: Letty
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 12:37 PM

Hi all,

Who can help me to the lyrics of the song "How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain?" ? It is sung by Connie Dover and Carol Noonan.

Thanks!

Letty


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: radriano
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:18 PM

Hello Letty:

It's in Digitrad as BONNY BLUE-EYED NANCY.

I heard this on a Bothy Band album but I can't remember what they called it. It has certainly been called "How Can I Live At The Top of a Mountain." The lyrics in Digitrad are essentially the same as what Triona (of the Bothy Band) sang.


Regards,
Radriano


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: Fiolar
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 01:46 PM

The Bothy Band album is called "After Hours". Hope this helps. M


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: Catrin
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 06:40 PM

Letty,

click here for the song you want

Hope this helps.

Catrin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: GUEST,Yum Yum
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 09:16 PM

Cathal McConnell also sings a great version ('Boys of the Lough')

Yum Yum


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BONNIE BLUE-EYED LASSIE
From: John Moulden
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 04:21 AM

I have loved this song since I first heard it sung about thirty years ago on a barely intelligible recording by the wonderful Ballyvourney (Cork) singer, Elizabeth Cronin. I've been puzzling about this song for nearly thirty years - mainly because people mostly sing something markedly different from what I hear Mrs Cronin sang and attribute it to her. To my mind their words have nothing like the force and beauty of her way even though that way has obscurities which, even yet, I haven't worked out - it may even be that Bess didn't understand it entirely herself. This is what I (after talking to Finbar Boyle and Daibhi/ O/ Cro/ini/n - one of the singer's grandsons who has recently published "The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin, Irish Traditional Singer") have agreed with myself.



MY BONNIE BLUE-EYED LASSIE
(Elizabeth Cronin)

And how can I live at the top of the mountain
Without gold in my pocket or money for the counting?
I'd leave the money go all for to please her fancy
For I will marry no-one but the bonnie blue eyed lassie.

The bonnie blue eyed lassie with her fair hair so tender,
Her red rosy cheeks and her waist neat and slender.
I'd roll her in my arms and fondly'd embrace her
But how can I love her when all my people hate her.

Some people say she's very low in station
More of them say she's the cause of my ruination,
Lord, let them all say what they will, to her I will prove constant still.
Until the day that I die she's my charming girl believe me.

Brightly swims the swan in the broad streams of Eochill
And loudly sings the nightingale, all for to behold her.
And in cold frost and snow, the moon shines deeply
But deeper by far between me and my true love.

Other people sing something of the kind given in the DT or clickable above and, to my mind the mystery and passion has been knocked out of it. As far as I can gather, it may have been Se/amus Ennis, who knew Bess and got songs from her who was responsible; in which case it no credit to him.

The only other known version is Scottish from Andrew Crawfurd's Collection of Ballads and Songs Vol 1 (edited by Emily Lyle) (Scottish Texts Society, Edinburgh, 1975. The manuscript from which this was taken dates from around 1826-28 and this song was probably taken down in December 1826 from a servant girl named Mary McQueen, who married a man called Will Story or Storie and went to America in 1828. The text may be difficult to read in dialect and is actually not very clear. What is clear is that the two texts confirm one another.



THE BONNIE BLUE-EYED LASSIE (Crawfurd Collection)

O gin I were at the tap of yon mountain
Gold in my pocket and money for the counting
I wad gar the guinea gang I wad hae my fancy
I wad marry nane but the bonnie blue eyit Lassie

She has tway bonnie blue een her looks are sae tender
Her rosy cheeks and her body lang and sklender
And I wad take her in my arms sae fond I wad embrace her
For how I can love her when all the world hates her

For sum folk say she is o a bad station
And ither folks say she is o a bad nation
But let them aw say as they will it never will grieve me
For to the day I die she is my deir girl

Though my fause friends they'd revile thee
Here is the hand that never will beguile thee
Here is the hand although in the dark love
The next place ye'll find it will be in the kirk love

Sweet sweet swims the swans on yon high streams o Yarrow
Sweet sings the nightingales theire voice is like to an arrow
It's cauld frost and snaw the mune shining clearly
Deep runs the river between me and my dearie

Most of today's singers sing it the way given in DT. I know of only one recorded version, that by Patricia Flynn of Mullaghbawn, Co Armagh, which uses almost the words used by Mrs Cronin. While I have a strong opinion about how this song should be sung, I will resist being prescriptive - my friend Tom Munnelly, one of a few people I would admit to have the right to make a judgment has a preference which differs from mine.

The Song Tradition operates through a series of choices made by singers; most of the singers who have recorded this song have in my view made wrong ones or not known that any choice existed. Above is offered the potential for choice.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: Catrin
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 08:04 AM

Wow John! That is so INTERESTING. The only version I have heard sung is the 'clickable' I put in above - by the bothy band. I'm afraid I don't know the name of the singer but she does it very beautifully and hauntingly - which was why I loved it so much. I sing it a lot.

I think you're right though, the other versions are more mysterious and 'punchy' somehow and I plan to learn them promptly.

I would like to know though, is the tune the same?

Cheers,

Catrin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: John Moulden
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 09:16 AM

Yes, same tune, because the only source of a tune is Mrs Cronin. Your singer was Triona Ní Dhomnhaill. Thank you for adding the line breaks, P.A. I made two attempts to post the above yesterday but the connection was very tenuous and nothing happened - hence, today, I was so anxious to hit the "submit" button that I forgot to put the <*br*>s in.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: Letty
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 10:43 AM

Thank you all, this is much more information than I'd hoped for! I agree that Cronin's text makes the narrative much clearer, but it can't be helped that songs change: oral transmission does that, and I think it's fine.

Sincerely,

Letty


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: radriano
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 03:14 PM

John-

Thanks so much for posting Elizabeth Cronin's version. I very much agree with you.


Radriano


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mou
From: GUEST,Murray MacLeod
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 05:37 PM

The Irish band Oige recorded a version of the song which is identical to Mrs Cronin's. It certainly is a beautiful song.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 08:21 PM

Have any of you heard the version on a CD by the Cape Breton fiddler Rosie MacKensie? The CD is entitled The MacKensie Project, and it's song #11. I'm not sure if Rosie sings the song, or if her fellow CD vocalist Pauline Scanlon sings it, but whoever sings it does it with extreme beauty. It carries me away.

Charles


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: Noreen
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 05:29 PM

Thanks Charles for refreshing this thread and reminding me of this lovely song.

I haven't heard Rosie's version but searching on YouTube found me a nice instrumental version on pipes by a group called Antichrisis.
:)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: GUEST,Jill Rogoff
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 05:23 AM

Many thanks for all the information about the various texts. It has allowed me to make choices I was formerly unaware of, and now I don't have to put up with the later interpolations that have always seemed so twee and sentimental. The real story that the song tells is much more interesting. :-)


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Subject: ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 10:00 PM

Hi, Jill - I met you at the Getaway a number of years ago. If ever I were to come across you again, I have been commanded to extend greetings to you and your husband from Jean Sawyer and Annette Filice of California, who met you in Israel.

Connie Dover has her version of the lyrics at her Website:

How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain

How can I live at the top of the mountain
With no money in my pocket and no gold for to count it?
But I would let the money go all for to please her fancy
And I would marry no one but my bonnie blue-eyed lassie

She's my bonnie blue-eyed lassie with an air so sweet and tender
Her walk, like a swan that floats, and her waist so small and slender
Her golden hair in ringlets fell all on her snow-white shoulders
And I'd ask her for to marry me, and there's no one could be bolder

Some people say that she is very low in station
And other people say she'll be the cause of my ruination,
But let them all say what they will, to me she will prove constant still
Till the day that I die she will be my own lovely lady

Lightly swims the swan o'er the clear and flowing water
And blithely sings the nightingale, so happy to behold her
The winds do blow, the moorcocks crow, the moon, it shines so deeply
But deeper by far is my love for my own lady

Traditional Irish
From the CD, If Ever I Return, by Connie Dover © Taylor Park Music/Connie Dover


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Subject: RE: ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: zozimus
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 03:19 AM

I'm curious to know where "the broad sreams of Eochill" are. Eochill is a townland near the Bandon river, in english named Aghyohil. Should it be Eoghaill, in english Youghal, where the Blackwater flows into Youghal Harbour? There doen't seem to be a river eochill anywhere.


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Subject: RE: ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: GUEST,Fiona Westen
Date: 22 Dec 12 - 03:59 PM

[A]
How could I live at the top of a mountain,
No money in my pocket and no gold for the counting?
But I would let all the money go, all for to please her fancy,
And I'd marry none but my bonny in green-eyed lassie.

She's my bonny green-eyed lassie with an air so soft and tender.
Her walk like swans flowed, and her waist so small and slender.
Her copper hair in waves fell down her sun-bathed shoulders.
I'll ask her to marry me and there's no one could be bolder.

But some people say that she's very low in station,
And other people say she'll be the cause of my ruination;
But let them all say what they will, to her I will prove constant still.
'Til the day that I die, she'll be my own lovely lady.

Lightly swims the swan, o'er the dark waters of Eochill
And brightly sings the nightingale, so happy to behold her.
The winds may blow, the moorcocks crow, the moon may shine so deeply,
But deeper by far is my love for my own lady.

But some people say that she's very low in station
And other people say: she'll be the cause of my ruination;
But them say what they will, to her I prove constant still.
'Til the day that die she'll be my own lovely lady.

[B]
How could I live, at the top of a mountain,
No money in my pocket and no gold for the counting?
But I would let all the money go, all for to please her fancy,
And I'd marry none, but my bonny in blue-eyed lassie.

She's my bonny blue-eyed lassie with an air so soft and tender,
Her walk like swans flowed, and her waist so small and slender.
Her golden hair in ringlets fell down her lily-white shoulders.
I'll ask her to marry me and there's no one could be bolder.

But some people say that she's very low in station,
And other people say: she'll be the cause of my ruination,
But let them all say what they will, to her I will prove constant still.
'Til the day that I die, she'll be my own lovely lady.

Lightly swims the swan o'er the dark waters of Eochill,
And brightly sings the nightingale, so happy to behold her.
The winds may blow, the moorcocks crow, the moon may shine so deeply,
But deeper by far is my love for my own lady.

But some people say that she's very low in station,
And other people say she'll be the cause of my ruination,
But them say what they will, to her I prove constant still.
'Til the day that die she'll be my own lovely lady.


Version at the top is a version I wrote to suit Michael and Fi from Burn Notice. The version at the bottom is straight Fiona Kelleher from her album My Love Lies.

Signed,

gypsyfiddler


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Subject: RE: ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: GUEST,MorrisBrendon
Date: 23 Dec 12 - 03:07 PM

For what it's worth, here's my version;


The waters of Eochaill


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Apr 17 - 10:27 AM

Fascinating stuff. I have added earlier versions of the first stanza to the other thread.

However comparing the 2 extant versions I wonder if anyone has related Mary Storie's stanza 3 line 3 with Bess Cronin's line 4, both very likely from an earlier version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: leeneia
Date: 05 Apr 17 - 10:22 AM

There's a related tune for this (in ABC form) at TheSession.org

Look for Bonnie Blue-eyed Lassie. It is the dance form of the slow air.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD: How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain
From: GUEST,Guest reader
Date: 24 Sep 17 - 10:04 PM

The Crawfurd Collection version sounds like it is about an interracial marriage with someone from Papa New Guinea. A journey to ginea, blonde hair, blue eyes (but maybe not the rosy cheeks), across water, low class, from another nation, and planting a church wedding in spite of the hate. Just a thought.


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