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Origins: Jamie Foyers (old and new)

DigiTrad:
JAMIE FOYER
JAMIE FOYERS
JAMIE FOYERS (2)


Related threads:
Jimmie Foyers- new version (1)
Chords Req: Jamie Foyers (Ewan MacColl) (2) (closed)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Jamie Foyers [Ewan MacColl] (traditional Scots tune)
Young Jamie Foyers (from "Bothy Songs and Ballads" (James Ord, 1930))


Wolfgang Hell 07 Oct 97 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,boab_d 12 Nov 02 - 03:28 PM
InOBU 12 Nov 02 - 04:38 PM
Joe Offer 12 Nov 02 - 05:16 PM
John Routledge 12 Nov 02 - 05:31 PM
Wolfgang 13 Nov 02 - 10:38 AM
masato sakurai 13 Nov 02 - 11:06 AM
masato sakurai 13 Nov 02 - 11:35 AM
Malcolm Douglas 13 Nov 02 - 01:29 PM
Joe Offer 15 Nov 02 - 04:39 AM
My guru always said 15 Nov 02 - 05:08 AM
Teribus 15 Nov 02 - 07:01 AM
GUEST 07 Dec 05 - 02:07 AM
John MacKenzie 07 Dec 05 - 04:43 AM
GeoffLawes 10 May 09 - 06:56 PM
Jim Carroll 11 May 09 - 03:00 AM
GeoffLawes 11 May 09 - 05:42 AM
Jim Carroll 11 May 09 - 06:02 AM
GeoffLawes 14 Nov 09 - 06:44 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: JAMIE FOYERS (old and new versions)
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 07 Oct 97 - 05:41 AM

I'd like to contribute two songs sharing title and melody, an old one and a new one: Jamie Foyers (Young Jamie Foyers, Jamie Foyer). The old one is by an unknown author and depicts a (true?) story during the siege of Burgos in 1812 during the Napoleonic wars. Ewan MacColl used this song for writing the new Jamie Foyers as a tribute for men from Scotland (and not only Scotland, if I understand him right) fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil war in 1936-39.

One of my sources mentions that there are other Jamie Foyers versions from other wars, but I have never seen any.

There are many different versions, especially of the old Jamie Foyers (see, e.g., the DT database for a hardly recognisable fragment of 4 stanzas from the Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs. The DT database misprints the title as "Janie Foyer", in the verses they have "Jamie Foyer"). Both my versions come from Personal Choice by Ewan MacColl of Scottish Folksongs and Ballads (Hargail Music Press). I haven't mended the few inconsistencies (shipyard/shipyaird, for instance) in the spelling of the second song.

JAMIE FOYERS (old)

1. Far distant, far distant, lies Scotia the brave,
No tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave
His bones they are scattered on the rude soil of Spain
For young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain.

2. From the Perthshire Militia to serve in the line,
The brave Forty-second we sailed for to join;
To Wellington's army we did volunteer,
Along with young Foyers, that brave halberdier.

3. The night that we landed the bugle did sound,
The general gave orders to form on the ground,
To storm Burgos castle before break of day,
And young Jamie Foyers to lead on the way.

4. But mounting the ladder for scaling the wall,
By a shot from a French gun young Foyers did fall;
He leaned his right arm upon his left breast
And young Jamie Foyers his comrades addressed.

5. "For you, Robert Percy, that stands a campaign,
If goodness should send to old Scotland again,
You will tell my old father, if yet his heart warms,
That young Jamie Foyers expired in your arms.

6. "But if a few moments in Campsie I were,
My mother and sisters my sorrow would share;
Now, alas, my old mother, long may she mourn,
But young Jamie Foyers will never return.

7. "Oh, if I had a drink of Baker Brown's well,
My thirst it would quench and my fever would quell."
But his very live-blood was ebbing so fast,
And young Jamie Foyers soon breathed his last.

8. They took for his winding sheet his ain Tartan plaid,
And in the cold ground his body was laid;
With hearts full of sorrow they covered his clay,
And saying, "Poor Foyers!" marched slowly away.

9. His father and mother and sisters will mourn,
But Foyers, the brave hero, will never return;
His friends and his comrades lament for the brave
Since young Jamie Foyers is laid in his grave.

10. The bugle may sound and war drum may rattle,
No more will they raise this young hero to battle;
He fell from the ladder like a hero so brave,
And rare Jamie Foyers is lying in his grave.


Click to play


JAMIE FOYERS (new/MacColl)

1. Far distant, far distant, lies Foyers the brave,
No tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave
His bones they are scattered on the rude soil of Spain,
For young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain.

2. He's gane frae the shipyard that stands on the Clyde;
His hammer is silent, his tools laid aside,
To the wide Ebro river young Foyers has gane
To fecht by the side o' the people of Spain.

3. There wasna his equal at work or at play,
He was strang in the union till his dying day;
He was grand at the fitba', at the dance he was braw,
O, young Jamie Foyers was the floo'er o' them a'.

4. He came frae the shipyaird, took aff his working claes,
O, I mind that time weel in the lang simmer days;
He said, "Fare ye well, lassie, I'll come back again."
But young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain.

5. In the ficht for Belchite he was aye to the fore,
He focht at Gandesa till he couldna fecht more;
He lay owre his machine-gun wi' a bullet in his brain
And young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain.

6. He lies by the Ebro in far away Spain,
He died so that freedom and justice might reign;
Remember young Foyers and others of worth
And don't let one fascist be left on this earth.


Click to play


Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: ADD: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: GUEST,boab_d
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 03:28 PM

thanks lads for the help in the words,chordsand the additional info about the song. the reason that i like it is as a former squaddie its a bit poignent from the soldiers side of the fence. There are a few versions that i ve heard but the best one is from the inimitable dick gaughan who sings it with a passion and a sensitivity that it deserves. Once again lads Cheers for that.


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Subject: RE: ADD: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: InOBU
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 04:38 PM

One of my favs, thanks for the old one as well... CHeers Larry


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Subject: RE: ADD: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 05:16 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index often serves as a good starting point for study.
-Joe Offer-

Jamie Foyers

DESCRIPTION: During the Peninsular War, volunteers from Wellington's army led by militiaman Foyers storm Blucher's castle in Spain. Foyers is wounded. He asks a comrade to tell his father of his death, recalls his home life, then dies. All mourn him as he is buried.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1901 (Ford)
KEYWORDS: grief request battle violence war farewell death dying funeral mourning Spain lament father soldier Napoleon
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1812 - siege of Burgos during the Peninsular War
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 18-20, "Young Jamie Foyers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig #139, pp. 1-2, "Young Jamie Foyers" (1 text)
GreigDuncan1 106, "Jamie Foyers" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Ord, pp. 294-295, "Young Jamie Foyers" (1 text, 1 tune)
MacSeegTrav 84, "Jamie Foyers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/MacMillan 71, "Jamie Foyer" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 32-34, "Young Jimmy Foulger" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 103, "Jimmy Folier" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, JAMFOYE2 JAMEFOYR*

Roud #1941
RECORDINGS:
Sheila Stewart, "Young Jimmy Foyers" (on Voice08)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, 2806 c.14(7), "Jamie Foyers" ("Far distant, far distant, lies Scotia the brave"), unknown, n.d.; also 2806 c.14(195) View 4 of 5, "Young Jamie Foyers"
NLScotland, L.C.Fol.178.A.2(080), "Jamie Foyers," unknown, c. 1875

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Banks of the Nile" (tune)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Jamie Fires
NOTES: To quote MacColl & Seeger, "The Duke of Wellington's investment of Marshal Marmont's French forces and the retreat which followed were not particularly bloody by modern standards -- a mere 10,000 or so died. Wellington gained an earldom and a Perthshire militiaman gained an epitaph which is still sung round the campfires of travelling people." Note that Blucher, an enemy of Napoleon, is here described as his ally. - PJS
That seems to be a peculiarity of the John MacDonald's version, though; neither Ford nor Ord have such a reference. Ford, who reports collecting the song c. 1870, reports a newspaper item listing John MacNeill as author.
Burgos, almost due north of Madrid and about two-thirds of the way from there to the ocean, is not one of the great cities of Spain, but it lies in a gap in the mountains and thus guards the most direct path between France and Madrid. As long as Napoleon's enemies held Burgos, most of Spain (except the Ebro valley and cities such as Zaragosa and Barcelona) were safe, and as long as France held it, she could operate armies in Spain freely.
Early in the Peninsular War, Napoleon directed several campaigns toward Burgos, and later on, it became one of the chief Coalition objectives. Capture Burgos, and the French garrisons in Spain would be cut off from reinforcements.
Wellington besieged Burgos in September and October of 1812, but -- despite the indirect implication of the song -- did *not* capture it; he abandoned the siege as a relief army approached. - RBW
Greig: "A man of the name of John M'Neill has been mentioned as the author of 'Young Jamie Foyers.'"
Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 8" - 1.3.03: "Some authorities cite one James MacNeil as a possible author for the song." - BS
Last updated in version 2.4
File: McCST084

Go to the Ballad Search form
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


The Traditional Ballad Index says there's a version of the lyrics in Ord, but I can't find mention of Ord in the bibliography. Probably the 1930 book, Bothy Songs and Ballads. Anybody have the book? Can you post the lyrics and send me the tune? The tune in the Digital Tradition does not seem very satisfactory. If somebody could check the Penguin Book of Canadian Folks Songs, for lyrics and tune, that would be nice.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: ADD: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: John Routledge
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 05:31 PM

The new version is growing on me.
At the first Scottish National Festival this summer in Ayrshire the new version was sung four times by four different singers.
The old version was not sung at all.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Wolfgang
Date: 13 Nov 02 - 10:38 AM

During the Peninsular War, volunteers from Wellington's army led by militiaman Foyers, storm Blucher's castle in Spain.

That line from the traditional ballad index makes no sense to me. Wellington and Blücher were allies, weren't they?

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: masato sakurai
Date: 13 Nov 02 - 11:06 AM

From the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads collection:

Printer: [s.n.] ([s.l.])
Date: [s.a.]
Printer's Series: (64).
Illus. Ballads on sheet: 2   
Copies: 2806 c.14(7)   
Ballads: 1. Jamie Foyers ("Far distant, far distant, lies Scotia the brave ...")
2. Lines on the foundering of the steamer 'Hibernia', on her voyage from New York to Glasgow ("Ye people of Scotland, I pray give attention ...")
Subject: Shipwreck

~Masato


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Subject: Lyr Add: YOUNG JAMIE FOYERS (Ord)
From: masato sakurai
Date: 13 Nov 02 - 11:35 AM

From John Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads (1930; rpt. John Donald, [1990], pp. 294-295):

YOUNG JAMIE FOYERS

Far distant, far distant, lies Scotia the brave!
No tombstone memorial to hallow his grave;
His bones now lie scattered on the rude soil of Spain,
For young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain.

From the Perthshire Militia to serve in the line,
The brave Forty-Second we sailed for to join;
To Wellington's army we did volunteer,
Along with young Foyers that brave halberdier.

That night that we landed the bugle did sound,
The General gave orders to form on the ground,
To storm Burgos Castle before break of day,
And young Jamie Foyers to lead on the way.

But mounting the ladder for scaling the wall
By a shot from a French gun young Foyers did fall;
He leaned his right arm upon his left breast,
And young Jamie Foyers his comrades addressed:

"For you, Robert Percy, that stands a campaign,
If goodness should send to auld Scotland again,
You will tell my old father, if yet his heart warms,
That young Jamie Foyers expired in your arms.

"But if a few moments in Campsie I were
My mother and sisters my sorrow would share;
Now, alas! my poor mother, for long may she mourn,
Her son, Jamie Foyers, will never return.

"Oh! if I had a drink of Baker Brown's well,
My thirst it would quench, and my fever would quell";
But life's purple current was ebbing so fast,
And young Jamie Foyers soon breathed his last.

They took for his winding-sheet his ain tartan plaid,
And in the cold grave his body was laid;
With hearts full of sorrow they covered his clay,
And muttering, "Poor Foyers!" marched slowly away.

His father and mother and sisters will mourn,
But Foyers, the brave hero, will never return;
His friends and his comrades lament for the brave
Since young Jamie Foyers is laid in his grave.

The bugle may sound and the war drum may rattle,
No more will they raise this young hero to battle;
He fell from the ladder like a hero so brave,
And rare Jamie Foyers is lying in his grave.

~Masato

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 13 Nov 02 - 01:29 PM

This is one for which Ord printed a tune, though he didn't say where he got it. Here it is (the word-fitting, and any errors it may contain, is mine):

X:1
T:Jamie Foyers
B:James Ord, Bothy Songs and Ballads, 1930
L:1/8
Q:1/4=100
M:3/4
K:F
FG|A2 A2 A2|AG F2 AG|GF D2 D2|D4
w:Far_ dis-tant, far dis-*tant, lies_ Sco-*tia the brave;
de|f2 e2 d2|cdf2ed|dcA2G2|A4
w:No_ tomb-stone me-mor-i-al to_ hal-*low his grave;
de|f2e2d2|cd f2 ed|dc A2 G2|A4
w:His_ bones now lie scat-*tered on the rude_ soil of Spain,
Ad|d2 c2 d2|A2 GF ED|E2 D2 E2|D4|]
w:For_ young Jam-ie Foy-ers_ in_ bat-tle was slain.

Click to play


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Subject: Tune Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 04:39 AM

I double-checked the tune for the Canadian Version in the Digital Tradition. It isn't much of a tune, but it matches the tune printed in the Penguin Book of Canadian Folk songs that Masato sent me.
Masato also sent me a scan of the tune for "Young Jamie Foyers" from Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads but Malcolm beat me to the punch in transcribing the tune. So, now we have three tunes and three versions of the lyrics. Thanks, Masato and Malcolm. It's always a pleasure to work with you.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: My guru always said
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 05:08 AM

Thanks All - I've recently heard this on a cd of Scottish Women singing at a concert in 2001 & was thinking of giving it a try. I'll listen again later to see which lyric version it is. You guys are just FAB *s*


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Teribus
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 07:01 AM

Yes Wolfgang I think that Bluchers castle is wrong and that the version copied above with Burgos castle is historically more correct.

Another interesting thing from that version of the older of the versions it mentions Foyers as being a "brave halberdier", I have also heard it sung as "brave grenadier". If the former is correct it would have made young Jamie Foyers a sergeant escorting the colours as they were armed (in some Scottish Regiments) with Halberts (a short pike like weapon with an axe head).

It is a great song, always love hearing it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 02:07 AM

Does anyone remember a fine version of Jamie Foyers (civil war version) recorded by Nigel Denvers - in the 60's?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 04:43 AM

Jamie Foyers/ Ballad of Johnny Ramensky

I feel that it would be useful to link this thread to this thread as they are both to the same tune, and both share a Scottish folk hero subject.
G.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 10 May 09 - 06:56 PM

Is anyone able to give the date when Ewan Maccoll wrote his Spanish Civil War version of Jamie Foyers?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 09 - 03:00 AM

It first appeared in print in 'Scotland Sings' in 1953 (WMA publication).
Ben Harker's biography, 'Class Act' gives it as having been written during the Spanish Civil war, following the death of two of his friends there:

"His anxiety was sharpened during the Spanish Civil War, in which around 2,200 British volunteers joined the International Brigades, and 526 were killed. Life in the ranks didn't appeal to Jimmie, but he knew at least a dozen of the British dead, and lost two of his closest comrades and friends in the heavy fighting at Jarama. Bob Goodman and Alec Armstrong, still in their early twenties, shared Jimmie's politics, his interest in theatre, and his love of rambling and climbing. Goodman was killed in February 1937, Armstrong in June.

Jimmie gave vent to some of the feelings of rage, guilt and loss in his second enduring song (the first was 'The Manchester Rambler'). 'Jamie Foyers' was a folksong Betsy used to sing lamenting a Perthshire militiaman killed in Spain during the Peninsular Wars. Recent events gave the song a new layer of associations, and Jimmie updated the text. In Jimmie's 'Jamie Foyers', the hero is a Clydeside shipyard worker, a composite of Goodman and Armstrong, who joins the International Brigade and dies fighting in Spain. Jimmie celebrates Foyers' life, dramatises his departure for Spain, and unblinkingly confronts the physical reality of his death: 'He lay owre his machine-gun wi' a bullet in his brain.' The song was a haunting requiem for fallen comrades, but closed on a note of murderous vengefulness:

He lies by the Ebro in far away Spain,
He died so that freedom and justice might reign;
Remember young Foyers and others of worth
And don't let one fascist be left on this earth.

The Spanish Civil War augmented Jimmie's militancy. He regarded Spain as 'the front line' where 'the bourgeoisie and proletariat stand face to face in open struggle at last, no more arguments, no more trimmings', and he raged against a British political establishment that had prevaricated and fudged as the fascist threat grew. He remained extremely active within the Communist Party: he lectured on working-class history and cultural traditions to the city's YCL and party branches;123 he and Joan participated in a series of Communist pageants in which the party paraded its own distinctive version of history's march through the streets of Manchester; they provided dramatic interludes for communist-led public meetings celebrating the achievements of the Soviet Union, raising funds for the Daily Worker, and collecting cash and food for the Republican cause in Spain."

Scotland Sings give both the old and new version, the traditional one got from his mother, Betsy.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 11 May 09 - 05:42 AM

Thank you Jim a perfect answer. I have got Class Act but had completely forgotten that it is mentioned there - Nevertheless I have no doubt that my amnesia will have produced enlightenment amongst the many as a result of your high quality post. 10/10 on the Malcolm Douglas scale.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 09 - 06:02 AM

Geoff,
Thank you for that - a subject near to my heart.
I forgot to add that The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook gives it as having been registered with Stormking Music in 1963.
My dad fought in Spain; I can still remember his being reduced to tears when I first brought home a recording of Ewan singing it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Jamie Foyers (old and new)
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 06:44 PM

I have posted links to the old Granada series of six TV films about the Spanish Civil War on the Mudcat link called

Lyr Req: Jack Atky & All: Spanish Civil War Song

The series is on You Tube but is I think unavailable elsewhere. I thought some of you who posted on this thread might be interested.

Regards, Geoff


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