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Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale

DigiTrad:
THE BROWN AND THE YELLOW ALE
THE BROWN AND YELLOW EARL


Related threads:
Lyr/Chords Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale (41)
Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale (14)
Lyr Add: S oro londubh bui (12)


Bob Coltman 02 Sep 06 - 09:07 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 02 Sep 06 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,effsee, sans cookie 02 Sep 06 - 09:22 AM
MartinRyan 02 Sep 06 - 01:00 PM
Severn 02 Sep 06 - 05:42 PM
Declan 03 Sep 06 - 04:36 AM
GUEST,Dan Schatz at work 03 Sep 06 - 02:17 PM
Barry Finn 03 Sep 06 - 03:51 PM
MartinRyan 03 Sep 06 - 04:44 PM
MartinRyan 03 Sep 06 - 04:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Sep 06 - 07:24 PM
Dan Schatz 03 Sep 06 - 11:57 PM
MartinRyan 04 Sep 06 - 04:23 AM
katlaughing 14 Mar 11 - 10:28 AM
banjoman 14 Mar 11 - 11:24 AM
Noreen 14 Mar 11 - 04:59 PM
Ron Davies 18 Mar 12 - 03:05 PM
MGM·Lion 18 Mar 12 - 03:13 PM
MartinRyan 23 Mar 12 - 10:04 AM
Elmore 23 Mar 12 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Alexander 04 Sep 14 - 02:55 PM
Phil Edwards 04 Sep 14 - 07:12 PM
zozimus 05 Sep 14 - 10:05 AM
Phil Edwards 05 Sep 14 - 01:13 PM
MartinRyan 05 Sep 14 - 01:19 PM
MartinRyan 11 Oct 14 - 08:52 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Jun 15 - 11:58 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 09:07 AM

Padraic Colum in his book "Our Friend James Joyce" speaks of a song Joyce used to sing. Colum says he never found it in any collection.

It sounds like a "lost ballad." It's proper to be suspicious of any such thing. However, though Joyce could burlesque ballad style, this does not sound like his work. Could it be a real traditional song?

I thought I might be able to trace it in the Sam Henry collection, but no luck. Has anyone come across traces of anything like it? Or any folktale or story that resembles this plot?

Colum gives no title. It might be called "The Brown and the Yellow Ale," or something else. Colum writes:

"It is about a man who has given his wife to a stranger -- he may be from fairyland, he may be Death himself:

I was going the road one fine day,
   Oh, the brown and the yellow ale,
And I met with a man who was no right man,
   Oh, love of my heart!
And he said to me, Will you lend me your love,
For a year and a day, for a year and a day?
   Oh, the brown and the yellow ale,
   The brown and the yellow ale.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 09:20 AM

There is The Voice Squad's version of this in the DT: The Brown And Yellow Ale. See also this thread: Lyr/Chords Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale and the references there.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: GUEST,effsee, sans cookie
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 09:22 AM

This song has been recorded by The Voice Squad. I have it on a compilation album at home (which I am not). If memory serves it's Celtic Connections, issued in conjunction with the Living Tradition Magazine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 01:00 PM

Mick

That old thread brings me back.....

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Severn
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 05:42 PM

Another recording is by Karan Casey on "Chasing The Sun" (Shanachie)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Declan
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 04:36 AM

The Voice Squad almost certainly learned this song from Frank Harte who is the subject of another current thread. This was my favourite of the many songs I heard Frank sing over the years.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BROWN AND THE YELLOW ALE
From: GUEST,Dan Schatz at work
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 02:17 PM

Debby McLatchy recorded this on her "Lady Luck" album under the title "The Brown and the Yellow Earl." A classic misheard song lyric - she acknowledges the mistake now, but I still maintain it makes some sense that way. That's how folk songs evolve, after all.

Here's the lyrics in the Digital Tradition.

THE BROWN AND THE YELLOW ALE

As I walked down the road one fine summers morning,
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
I met with a young man without any warning
Oh, love of my heart

He asked me if the woman by my side was my daughter
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
And when I said she's my wife his manner didn't alter
Oh, love of my heart

He asked me if I'd lend her for an hour and a day,
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
I said, "if she thinks that's fair you can take her away."
Oh, love of my heart

Then you take the high road and I'll be off with her
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
And I'll meet you again by the ford of the river.
Oh, love of my heart

I waited by that ford for an hour and a quarter
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
And when she came to me, 'twas without shame I saw her.
Oh, love of my heart

When she told me her story, sure I lay down and I died,
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
She sent two men for timber, and she never even cried.
Oh, love of my heart

A board of elder and a board of holly,
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
And three great yards of a shroud all about me.
Oh, love of my heart

If me own little mother, she had never been a woman,
O the brown and the yellow ale
I would tell you many's another tale about women.
Oh love of my heart

Dan Schatz


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Barry Finn
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 03:51 PM

I've always loved this song & always wanted to learn it to sing. But I just can't get past the agreement. What would posses a spouse to agree to pass off their loved one to a stranger just in passing with no reason. Ah, with no reason. I've always wondered what was the reason, why this agreement between strangers? Was it being confronted with royalty or wealth or a command by one of high position? The lover that lost surely seems to be lamenting, so why. Why would the spouse that goes agree to go or go without complent? Why would both not just say F&%koff? I've also always felt that this is only part of a more complete ballad & that the middle of the story has gone missing. It's usual for a ballad to be more complete than this & at least give hint to what's going on.

Has anyone got an opinion on this or more of the ballad?

Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 04:44 PM

It's a test of love, essentially. What's odd about it is that he only realises it's all over when she buries him in a cheap coffin ("A board of elder" etc.)!

The origin seems to be a Donegal Gaelic song called variously "Cumha mo londubh buí", "Cuacha lán de buí" and similar. As far as I know, the oldest version are thought to come from Tory Island, off Donegal.

Very strange, unsettling song.


Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 04:49 PM

Frank Harte, incidentally, first heard it from Dominic Behan, who said it was a translation from the irish by the poet James Stephens.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 07:24 PM

See earlier discussions (links above) where all this, and more, has already been said. New information is useful and welcome, but repetition isn't usually particularly helpful.

Bob Coltman is a newcomer here, and presumably hasn't yet noticed the onsite search engine (link at the top of every page). Do please, everybody, have a look at the other threads linked to above (except for 'Good Ale', which is unrelated) before posting more in this one, which so far is pretty much redundant.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 11:57 PM

Ah, but was Debby McClatchy's name misspelled in the other thread? (If you're lurking somewhere out there Debby, I'm sorry - I was in a rush!)

For what it's worth, I'll give you my understanding, faulty and redundant though it may be. The "agreement" to "lend" the protanganist's wife recalls the "first right" of a noble lord to bed (translation: rape) any newly married woman in his realm. By the latter days of this repulsive tradition, nobody remembered it much except for the lords themselves. In the song, a new husband rather naively lends his wife, only to realize what's actually going on after it's too late.

That's why "the Brown and the Yellow Earl" kind of makes sense to me.

I'd be interested in seeing if anyone's gone back to the original Irish and retranslated the song - what we have here, I think, is James Joyce's English rendition of a traditional song. Poets are rather notorious for, shall we say, idiosyncratic translations.

Dan Schatz


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 04:23 AM

No suggestion that Joyce did the translation - whatever about the other James! I think I have literal translations somewhere of two Irish versions. I'll have a look.

Regards
p.s. We may need an "Origins" thread on this one to preserve Malcolm's sanity?!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 10:28 AM

Just heard this on Prairie Home Companion this weekend. Very poignant. I loved it to sing along with.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: banjoman
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 11:24 AM

I have Debbie McClatchey's version on an Lp. I always thought it was about "Droit de Seigneur" hence the Brown & yellow Earl.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Noreen
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 04:59 PM

Debbie believed so, banjoman, but a more informative thread about the song is here: Lyr/Chords Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Ron Davies
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 03:05 PM

Kat and anybody else impressed with Karan Casey's rendition this weekend on PHC:    you can buy her version on I-tunes (I just did). Admittedly it does not have the haunting concertina accompaniment--just her wonderful voice.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 03:13 PM

Banjoman ~~ Debbie McClatchey's mishearing, & the astonishing misinterpretation she derived thence, are about the ultimate in mondegreens IMO.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 10:04 AM

Item on Irish TV last night about the restoration of a guitar once owned and played by the writer James Joyce - who was no mean singer. The closing sequence showed a man playing it to accompany his own singing of "The Brown and the Yellow Ale", a great favourite of Joyce's. The singer, a university professor in Dublin, IIRC, is a brother of Briain O Rourke, well known around here as the author of Chantal du Champignon.

I'll see if I can find a video clip.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Elmore
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 11:35 AM

Interesting thread. I thought the title was The Brown and the Yellow Earl until now.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: GUEST,Alexander
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 02:55 PM

Please excuse me for jumping in here, I hope that's fine.
I love Luke Kellys version (on youtube) but have been wondering for some time now about the origins and story of the song.
Also, when I sing the song, I sing it with "an hour of the day" instead of "an hour and a day". I think it stresses out, that she is being late when he is waiting "an hour and a quarter" at the riverford.
Makes more sense to me, that the time is mentioned twice this way.

Regards from Germany
Alex


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 07:12 PM

The Irish song 'S óró londubh buí(O my blackbird gay), linked at the top of the page, seems to be a fuller and presumably earlier version of this song; it fills in a lot of gaps & makes sense of the more mysterious passages. Thanks to Matthew Edwards (no relation!) for posting it.

I'd also like to commend the Luke Kelly version, linked to in the previous comment - a stunning bit of singing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: zozimus
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 10:05 AM

A recording of the song sung by the poet, James Stephens, who is accredited with the translation, can be found in the Alan Lomax archives on-line. Presumably this is the first recorded version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 01:13 PM

The first refrain line in the Irish song is "O my blackbird gay" - "'S oro londubh bui", where 'bui' literally means 'yellow'. An Irish-language forum suggests that Stephens mistranslated "londubh" (blackbird) as "leann dubh" (black beer); presumably he then dealt with the "bui" by inserting an 'and' that wasn't there. I can't bring myself to mind very much, either about that or about the bits he cut out in translation - it's such a fine song.

Apparently James Joyce shared a birthday with James Stephens and once sang the song to Stephens at a joint birthday party. He's said to have had a lovely voice.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 01:19 PM

Yes - the leann/londubh confusion has struck me before. Not all Irish language versions have that chorus, mind you. One from Connemara uses "Thugamar féin an samhradh linn" as refrain - "We brought the summer with us", literally. This is better known from a cheerful, bordering on hey-nonny-no song taught to children!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Brown and the Yellow Ale
From: MartinRyan
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 08:52 AM

Fine live recording of Luke Cheevers singing this at the Goilin Singers Club now available at the Goilin Song Project:

Click here

Regards


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Subject: RE: Funny songs with a colour in the title
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 11:58 AM

The Brown And The Yellow Ale -- which some singer once misheard as The Brown & Yellow Earl, & wrote a wonderfully point-missing sleevenote about the historical and heraldic & symbolic significance of the colours in the supposed earl's escutcheon. It is in fact a mock-pathetic song about a man with an unfaithful wife, ending with the IMO charming last verse

If it wasn't that my own dear mother was a woman
(Oh the brown and the yellow ale)
I could tell you many more fine songs about the women
(Oh oh love of my heart)


The ales which form the ongoing burden being presumably intended for him to drown his cuckolded sorrows in!

Good versions on youtube by Luke Kelly & Dominic Behan.

n fact, I find that is the version which has mistakenly got into the DT, together with that absurd note It isn't right [listen to those versions I cite above], and should be emended.

≈M≈


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