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Lyr Req: The Forfar Sodger


GUEST,calach 22 May 01 - 05:49 AM
Wolfgang 22 May 01 - 06:00 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jul 15 - 12:58 AM
GUEST,# 10 Jul 15 - 08:54 AM
Jim Dixon 12 Jul 15 - 02:41 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Jul 15 - 02:46 PM
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Subject: The Forfar Sodger
From: GUEST,calach
Date: 22 May 01 - 05:49 AM

Heard it on an Old Blind Dogs CD, and would love the lyrics..... help??

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Forfar Sodger
From: Wolfgang
Date: 22 May 01 - 06:00 AM

Forfar soldier (from the DT).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Forfar Sodger
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 15 - 12:58 AM

Mostly what I know about Forfar has to do with bridies, but here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song. Looks like we should do some more research on it.

Forfar Sodger, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer grows up in Forfar, where he is rather a cut-up. After many adventures, he joins the army. He loses a leg in the Peninsular War, but it does not bother him; "Snug in Forfar now I sit, And thrive upon a pension."
AUTHOR: David Shaw
EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (Ford); author Shaw died 1856
KEYWORDS: soldier injury money
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 163-166, "The Farfar Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune); cf. pp. 166-168, "The Perthshire Pensioner" (1 text, a Crimean War item adapted from the above and probably not a folk song in its own right)
Greig #74, pp. 1-2, "The Forfar Sodger" (2 texts)
GreigDuncan1 69, "The Forfar Sodger" (15 texts, 13 tunes)

Roud #2857
The Perthshire Pensioner (Ford-Vagabond, pp. 166-168)
The Forfar Soldier
The Forfarshire Sodger
The Sodger
In Forfar I Was Born and Bred
NOTES: It will be obvious that the author of this song did not in fact have to live off the sort of pension paid by the British government in the early nineteenth century....
At least some versions of the song mention the singer being taught the "rule of three." This is a statement about proportions -- in effect, "if a is to b as c is to d, what is d?" (an equation in three known and one unknown term, hence the name). In modern fractional notation, we would say that a/b=c/d, and that the rule tells us that d=bc/a. A trivial calculation today, but it let minimally educated people calculate such things as the price of a fraction of a pound when the price for a whole pound was known. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
File: FVS163

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Forfar Sodger
From: GUEST,#
Date: 10 Jul 15 - 08:54 AM

Don't know if you've seen that, Joe.

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE FARFAR SODGER (from Robert Ford)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Jul 15 - 02:41 PM

Lyrics and notes copied from Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland edited by Robert Ford (Paisley and London: Alexander Gardner, 1899), page 188ff:


In Farfar I was born and bred
But, troth, I maist think shame, sir,
To tell the weary life I led
Afore I gaed frae hame, sir.
My daddy was a weaver poor
As ever ca'd a spule, man,
For beef was ne'er inowre the door
But just a pound at Yule, man.

I learned fu' sune the pirns to fill,
And rock the cradle too, sir;
And though I liked it unco ill,
What ither could I do, sir?
A' day I was obleeged to work,
To keep me frae a thrashin',
And ilka Sabbath gaed to kirk
Because it was the fashion.

I entered schule at twal' year auld,
But aft the truan' did play, sir,
Which made my dad and mam to scauld,
And beat me every day, sir;
But when I could baith write and read,
And count the rule o' three, man,
The noble scheme cam' in my heid—
A sodger I wad be, man.

To be sae beat by mam and dad,
Nae longer wad I stay, sir,
But I wad try the sodger trade,
And sae I ran away, sir.
I ran till I was wast at Glamis,
A toun in Farfar County,
And listed there wi' Sergeant Fauns,
For fifteen pound o' bounty.

He learned me hoo to set my taes,
And hoo to fire an' a', sir,
That I micht bauldly face my faes,
When I was ca'd awa', sir.
He gae me claes to hap my back,
And mittens for my han's, man,
And swore I was the prettiest chap
In a' the toun o' Glamis, man.

I ran aboot frae place to place.
To markets up and down, sir,
My coat half covered ower wi' lace,
Wi' pouther on my crown, sir.
And hoo puir sodgers foucht and fared
In climates distant far, man.
In sooth! I never kent nor cared,
Nor felt the woes o' war, man.

But sune they gar'd me change my go,
For I was sent to Spain, sir.
Where twenty regiments in a row
Were marchin' ower the plain, sir.
At night when on our guns we lay,
That we micht aye be ready,
My drowsy thochts aft fand their way
To Farfar and my daddie.

When first the French cam' in my view,
My heart began to beat, sir,
But Farfar bluid was ever true,
And how could I retreat, sir?
It's true I got a wee bit fleg,
But grumlin' I disdain, man;
For tho' a ball gaed thro' my leg,
I fired and load again, man.

The bluid cam' bockin' thro' my hose,
And when I couldna gang, sir,
I toomed my gun among my foes,
And syne sat doon and sang, sir,
At "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,"
An' "Up wi't Maggie Dick," man;
But sune wi' cauld my woundit leg
It grew as stiff's a stick, man.

I crawled and crept on hands and feet
Till I got frae the thrang, sir,
And when I loot the doctor see't,
Gude safe's! hoo he did ban, sir.
My limb he instantly cut aff,
And noo that I was lame, man,
I got a great big oxter staff,
And I cam' hirplin' hame, man.

I hae been twice three years abroad
In service o' my King, sir;
I've wander'd mony a dreary road,
And unco sichts I've seen, sir.
There's mony a place I hae been at
That here I needna mention,
But snug in Farfar noo I sit,
And thrive upon a pension.

Recently I received a garbled copy of this song from a correspondent in the "borough toun," to which it belongs, who, when sending it, assured me it was common in the country round Forfar, both in and out of bothies, when he was a young man. How long it is since then, however, he did not state, lest perhaps I might publish his name and "spoil his market." I may remark that a Kirriemuir man of my acquaintance sang it regularly in Dundee about twenty-five years ago; and, indeed, got no peace at any social gathering until he produced "The Farfar Sodger," the immediate effect of which invariably was—largely by reason of his rare abandon in singing it—to put the company in an excellent mood for enjoyment.

The much-esteemed verses were written by David Shaw, a Forfar weaver-poet, who produced other screeds of humorous lyric verse, notably the song of "The Weavers," which held the local fancy in thrall for many a day. Shaw was a native of the little village of Auchterforfar, and was born in or about 1786. He died in Forfar, where most of his life was passed, in 1856.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Forfar Sodger
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Jul 15 - 02:46 PM

The tune for the above song is given in a later edition of the same book (1904), page 163ff.

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