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Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)

GUEST,LRoberston 18 Jul 03 - 10:46 AM
Celtaddict 18 Jul 03 - 03:07 PM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 19 Jul 03 - 01:51 PM
delphinium 20 Jul 03 - 12:30 AM
GUEST,schlimmerkerl 29 Sep 08 - 08:40 AM
Gabriel 10 May 17 - 10:30 AM
Joe Offer 10 May 17 - 01:51 PM
Gabriel 10 May 17 - 05:25 PM
Gallus Moll 10 May 17 - 06:57 PM
Tattie Bogle 10 May 17 - 08:07 PM
Gabriel 12 May 17 - 12:19 PM
Gabriel 13 May 17 - 11:01 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: song titled Mistress ?
From: GUEST,LRoberston
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 10:46 AM

There is a song I heard Ed Miller sing several years ago I think it is called Mistress. The chorus is something like
    Her eyes are dark, her breast is deep,
    the moon upon her shoulders sleeps,
    she tempts good men into her keep
    and will not let them free.
Not sure some of the words may be wrong, and I do not know who wrote it. Would really like the lyrics if anyone knows them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: song titled Mistress ?
From: Celtaddict
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 03:07 PM

"Mistress" is by Nancy Nicolson, published by Gallus music, and Ed recorded it on "At Home with the Exiles", from Greentrax. Ed has a website, songsofscotland.com, and CDs can be ordered directly from him there, though you print the form to mail.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: song titled Mistress ?
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 01:51 PM


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Subject: Lyr Add: MISTRESS (Nancy Nicolson)
From: delphinium
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 12:30 AM

Transcribed from Ed Miller's singing on "At Home with the Exiles" - some words may be wrong, especially the ones I've put in italics.

MISTRESS
(Nancy Nicolson)

   Her eyes are dark, her breast is deep,
   That steals a wedded woman's sleep,
   That tempts good men into her keep,
   And will not let them free.
   The moon upon her shoulder gleams,
   A siren o'er the ocean's treams,
   Who whispers in a seaman's dreams,
   No mistress have but me.

My father was a skeely skipper, kind as he was brave,
He claimed his friends the tide and wind, a brother was the wave,
And his vessel she was clinker built, stout and strong and sound,
But they were taken by the sea – no man nor boat was found.

   Her eyes are dark ...

My brother joined a merchant man, to trade for foreign lands,
He smiled and said "don't worry", as my mother wrung her hands,
But in shorter than a twelve month, she wrung her handkerchief,
For her Billy was washed overboard – ta'en by the brazen sea.

   Her eyes are dark ...

Well I wouldna' court a sailor lad, a welder is my man,
But he's going to the oil rigs, and here an' greet I stand,
For I see an ancient omen, a sign o' dule and care,
I see the new moon sae there – with the old moon in her arms.

   Her eyes are dark ...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: song titled Mistress ?
From: GUEST,schlimmerkerl
Date: 29 Sep 08 - 08:40 AM

I think "tream" means water and/or the streams therein in Irish gaelic.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Gabriel
Date: 10 May 17 - 10:30 AM

In the chorus think it is "streams" rather than "treams"
n the second verse "to trade for" is "to travel".
I'd really like to know what the "sae there" is in the final line.
Any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 17 - 01:51 PM

YouTube has an Ed Miller recording of the song from his Generations of Change album:

Here's what I hear in the chorus. I have no idea how to interpret the words delphinium put in italics.

    (But) Her eyes are dark, her breast is deep,
    That steals a wedded woman's sleep,
    That tempts good men into her keep,
    And will not let them free.
    The moon upon her shoulder gleams,
    A siren o'er the ocean streams,
    Who whispers in the seaman's dreams,
    No mistress have but me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Gabriel
Date: 10 May 17 - 05:25 PM

I'm quite certain "to trade for" is "to travel".
Your interpretation, Joe, of the chorus is also quite right.
So that only leaves "sae there", in the final verse.
I was intrigued by 'skeely skipper' in the first verse. I see skeely means skilful in Scots vernacular. I should have remembered 'skeely skipper' from the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens. But it is 50years since I learnt it at school!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 10 May 17 - 06:57 PM

University of California Santa Barbara (Barbera?) is featuring one of Nancy's songs a week on Saturday (evening?) on a radio programme - not sure which one, possibly 'they sent a Wumman' which is the title of her 75th birthday book of her life and songs that Edinburgh Folk Club / Paddy Bort (sadly since deceased) organised for last Autumn.

I probably have The Mistress either printed or recorded or both, first heard it in Stirling Uni Halls of Residence not long after Nancy composed it, way back when we used to attend the Heritage of Scotland Summer Schools with Jean Redpath.

the travel bit will be 'traivel' in dialect

I'll check the rest in a few days - after our 'Commemorating Captain John Lauder' production on Friday! (kinda stressed right now- - - )


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 10 May 17 - 08:07 PM

I have recently bought Nancy's excellent book, and indeed even sat next to her at Edinburgh Folk Club tonight (how's that for name-dropping?) "The Mistress" is in the book, and apart from Nancy using a lot more Scots words in the published version, I can probably clear up some of the debates above re correct lyrics. (Ed Miller may, of course, have made his own changes!)
In the chorus, it's:
THAT siren of the ocean streams
Who whispers in A seaman's dreams.
"No mistress have but me".

Verse 1, second line:
He claimed as freend the tide and wind, as brither named the wave.

Verse 2, first line:
My brither jined a merchantman to traivel foreign lands,

Verse 3, final line:
I see the new moon SAILIN' wi' the auld moon in her airm.

When I get time I'll maybe post the complete lyrics!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Gabriel
Date: 12 May 17 - 12:19 PM

As it happens, a copy of the book arrived for me in the post this morning.
There are a few other differences in the author's lyrics. Including "o dule ad hairm" at the end of the second last line. That fits better than the "o dule and care" that Ed Miller sings. I also found that 'dule' means grief.

A really great song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mistress (Nancy Nicolson)
From: Gabriel
Date: 13 May 17 - 11:01 AM

Having been through the book I can heartily recommend it. It is full of interesting   pieces about Nancy Nicolson, her songs and her major contribution. It also has not just her collected songs, but also the music.
It is: 'They Sent a Wumman' by Nancy Nicolson and was published in 2016 by Grace Note Publications. http://www.gracenotepublications.co.uk/


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