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Lyr Req: Best of the Barley

24 Feb 99 - 08:12 PM (#60087)
Subject: Lyrics -- Best of the Barley
From: jets

As sung by Brian Mc Neil


25 Feb 99 - 06:06 AM (#60171)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE BEST O' THE BARLEY (Brian McNeill)
From: Wolfgang

Brian McNeill (from Battlefield Band fame) has written (and composed) this beauty. Eric Bogle is on record for saying he envies Brian his song writing ability. Brain McNeill has the ability to write tunes to his songs that sound as being much older than the story that they carry. Perhaps his best known song so far is "Lads of the fair" (see DT-database). The below song is on his highly recommended CD "The back o' the north wind".

THE BEST O' THE BARLEY
(publ.: Grian Music)

My Uncle Jim, he served his time
on the shores o' the Forth, as a joiner,
and three pounds ten a week was all he earned,
but the wages were better working Michigan pine
so he sailed on an ocean liner
to build a better life with the trade he'd learned.
And the shore he reached in twenty-three,
the home o' the brave, the land o' the free,
was dry, as the Devil's tongue on Judgement Day,
but to find a dram in a foreign land,
it's the natural gift of a Falkirk man,
and Lady Liberty looked the other way,
or so I've always heard my uncle say.

Chorus: For he's the best o' the barley, cream o' the crop.
Easy on the water, I'll tell you when to stop.
Would you please charge your glasses with the real pure drop,
and drink to the best o' the barley.

My Uncle Jim was a child of his time,
and the tricks of the time they were dirty,
and the dirtiest of all was the one they played
on a working man's dollar and a poor man's dime
between twenty-nine and thirty,
for they killed all the steady jobs in the building trade.
And the only way that Jim could see
was to play the game with Lady Liberty,
though no one ever told him all the rules,
and when fainter hearts were homeward bound
Jim sold Michigan ice by the pound,
with a leather sling and an iron hook for tools,
just to show the Yankees how to keep their cool.

Chorus

My Uncle Jim, he could keep good time
when the band played an eightsome reel,
and he loved to waltz away the summer nights,
and the spring in his step kept him in his prime,
through the turns of fortune's wheel
as it spun him through the darkness and the light.
And to dance the jig called history,
Jim took the hand o' the century
and he never let her steal a backward glance.
From the D-Day beaches to the cold lake shore,
he whirled her round and round the floor
to show her how a Scotsman takes his chance,
and he never missed a measure o' the dance.

Last chorus:
For he's the best o' the barley, cream o' the crop.
Easy on the water, I'll tell you when to stop.
Would you please charge your glasses with the real pure drop
and drink to the best of the barley.
Here's a health to the best of barley,
to Scotland and the best of the barley.'

Wolfgang


25 Feb 99 - 09:59 AM (#60191)
Subject: RE: Lyrics -- Best of the Barley
From: jets

Thanks Wolfgang.It is indeed a pleasant song.Sort of wish I could sing Folk but I could never remember lyrics . But being aware of the lyrics enhances the pleasure.


02 Mar 99 - 02:58 AM (#60983)
Subject: RE: Lyrics -- Best of the Barley
From: skw@worldmusic.de

Here's what Brian himself has had to say about the song and his subjects over the years:

[1991:] James McNeill, my great-uncle, is, at the time of writing, a spry eighty-eight. He first went to the States in 1923, worked as a joiner in Detroit, then returned to Scotland in 1929 for a holiday. It says a great deal for his confidence in the USA that he was prepared to return again, despite the stock market crash. - With the building trade depressed, he became a deliveryman, of ice - until another visit home, in 1936, when he went back to his old trade of joinery with a firm in his home town (and mine) of Falkirk. The coming of war in 1939 killed any chance of returning to the USA, and eventually he was conscripted - a circumstance which was to land him on Queen White beach in Normandy on D-Day, and which, like everything else in his life, he took in his remarkable stride. (Notes Brian McNeill, 'The Back o' the North Wind')

[1992:] The real reason why my uncle went back to the USA in 1929, although everybody tried to persuade him to stay is - he had a return ticket. (Intro Brian McNeill)

[1993:] Sadly he died in Scotland about four months ago (= c. June). (Intro Brian McNeill)

Now where has that story about Jim and McGoodyear whisky got to??? I thought I had it! - Susanne


20 Feb 02 - 10:21 AM (#653982)
Subject: RE: Lyrics -- Best of the Barley
From: GUEST,matt

Does anyone have the chords to this song? Would really appreciate it if some one could help me out!


21 Feb 02 - 05:08 AM (#654504)
Subject: Chords Add: THE BEST O' THE BARLEY (Brian McNeill)
From: Wolfgang

from the Brian McNeill songbook 'Back o' the North wind':

My (D)Uncle Jim, he (G)served his (D)time
on the shores o' the Forth, as a (A)joiner,
and (Bm)three pounds (A)ten (D)a (G)week was (D)all he (A)earned,
but the (D)wages were better working (G)Michigan (D)pine
so he sailed on an ocean (A)liner
to (Bm)build a better (D)life with the (A)trade he'd (D)learned.
And the (G)shore he (D)reached in (G)twenty-(D)three,
the (G)home o' the (D)brave, the (G)land o' the (D)free,
was (Bm)dry, as the (A)De(D)vil's (G)tongue on (D)Judgement (A)Day,
but to (G)find a (D)dram in a (G)foreign (D)land,
it's the (G)natural (D)gift of a (G)Falkirk (D)man,
and (Bm)Lady (A)Liber(D)ty (G)looked the (D)other (A)way,
or (Bm)so I've always (D)heard my (A)uncle (G)say.

Chorus: For he's the (D)best o' the (A)bar(D)ley, (A)cream o' the (D)crop.
(G)Easy on the water, I'll (D)tell you when to (A)stop.
Would you please charge your (D)glasses with the real (Fsharp m) pure (G)drop,
and drink to the (A)best o' the (D)barley.

Wolfgang