Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger – Mormond Braes (two weeks with Ewan MacColl, day two)

• “Mormond Braes” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to Peggy Seeger – Topic.

8.2 “Fantastic Folk from England”

From their LP “Classic Scots Ballads” (Tradition Records TLP-1015) released in 1956.

Mormond Brae is a hill near the village of Strichen, Aberdeenshire. It was the practice in Northeast Scotland for ploughmen to be housed in shacks (bothies) away from the main farm building, and when the day’s work was finished the evening would be given over to the singing of songs such as this one. The lass in the song has been jilted, but takes it philosophically, figuring there’s plenty more fish in the sea. She’s heading into Strichen where she’s confident of finding a new lover. That’s the game!

As I gaed down by Strichen Town
I heard a fair maid mournin’
She was makin’ sair complaint
For her true love ne’er returnin’

(chorus)
Fare ye weel ye Mormond Braes
Where ofttimes I’ve been cheery
Fare ye weel ye Mormond Braes
For it’s there I lost my deary

There’s mony a horse has snappet and fa’n
And risen again fu’ rarely
Many a lass has lost her lad
And gotten another richt early

repeat chorus

There’s as guid fish intae the sea
As ever yet was taken
I’ll cast my line and I’ll try again
For I’m only ance forsaken

repeat chorus

Sae I’ll gae down tae Strichen toon
Where I was bred and born in
And there I’ll get another sweetheart
Wha’ll marry me in the mornin’

repeat chorus

The LP is #1 in my (B-list) Album Chart of 1956.

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Ewan MacColl is known to most people as a songwriter and singer, but he was also of significant influence in the worlds of theatre and radio broadcasting. He was a committed socialist all his life and his political sensibilities underpinned all his creative activities. His art reached huge numbers through the folk clubs, greater numbers through his recordings and untold millions through the radio. Although The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Dirty Old Town remain his biggest ‘hits’, MacColl wrote songs for many different contexts: incidental songs for theatrical productions, commissioned pieces for labour unions or political causes, songs stitched together from vernacular speech recorded for the radio documentary series The Radio Ballads, songs for rallying, striking, marching… and, of course, songs for singing in folk clubs.

For sixty years he was at the cultural forefront of numerous political struggles, producing plays, songs and scripts on the subjects of apartheid, fascism, industrial strife and human rights. It has been said that he was an enormous fish in a small pond – but the ocean of traditional song and speech upon which he navigated and hunted owes him a great debt for the treasures that he returned to it.
ewanmaccoll.co.uk

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