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"Arthur McBride" ~ by Paul Brady 1974

Early version of Paul's classic . . .


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Comment by Gumbo123 on December 6, 2012 at 3:21pm
Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride
As we went a-walkin' down by the seaside
Mark know what followed and what did betide
For it bein' on Christmas mornin'
Now, for recreation, we went on a tramp
And we met Sergeant Napper and Corporal Vamp
And a little wee drummer intending to camp
For the day bein' pleasant and charming.

"Good morning, good morning," the sergeant he cried
"And the same to you gentleman," we did reply
Intending no harm but means to pass by
For it bein' on Christmas morning
"But," says he, "My fine fellows, if you will enlist
Ten guineas in gold I'll stick in your fist
And a crown in the bargain for to kick up the dust
And drink the king's health in the morning.

"For a soldier, he leads a very fine life
And he always is blessed with a charming young wife
And he pays all his debts without sorrow or strike
And he always lives pleasant and charmin'
And a soldier he always is decent and clean
In the finest of clothing he's constantly seen
While other poor fellows go dirty and mean
And sup on thin gruel in the morning".

"But," says Arthur, "I wouldn't be proud of your clothes
For you've only the lend of them, as I suppose
But you're dare not change them one night, for you know
If you do, you'll be flogged in the morning
And although that we're single and free
We take great delight in our own company
We have no desire strange places to see
Althoug that your offers are charming.

"And we have no desire to take your advance
All hazards and dangers we barter on chance
For you'd have no scruples for to send us to France
Where we could get shot without warning"
"Oh no," says the Sergeant, "I'll have no such chat
And neither will I take it from snappy young brats
For if you insult me with one other word
I'll cut off your heads in the morning".
And Arthur and I, we soon drew our hogs
And we scarce gave them time to draw their own blades
When a trusty shillelagh came over their head
And bid them take that as fair warning
And their old rusty rapiers that hung by their sides
We flung them as far as we could in the tide
"Now take them up, devils !" cried Arthur McBride
"And temper their edge in the morning!".

And the little wee drummer, we flattered his bow
And we made a football of his rowdy-dow-dow
Threw it in the tide for to rock and to roll
And bade it a tedious returning
And we havin' no money, paid them off in cracks
We paid no respect to their two bloody backs
And we lathered them there like a pair of wet sacks
And left them for dead in the morning.

And so, to conclude and to finish disputes
We obligingly asked if they wanted recruits
For we were the lads who would give them hard clouts
And bid them look sharp in the morning.

Oh, me and my cousin, one Artur McBride
As we went a-walkin' down by the seaside
Mark now what followed and what did betide
For it bein' on Christmas morning.

Comment by Gumbo123 on December 6, 2012 at 3:19pm

"Arthur McBride" is an Irish folk song. It was first collected around 1840 in Limerick, Ireland by Patrick Weston Joyce; also in Donegal by George Petrie. Several versions are found in Scotland, Suffolk and Devon - the tunes differing slightly. The song can be narrowly categorized as an "anti-recruiting" song and more broadly as a protest song.

In the song, the narrator and his cousin, Arthur McBride were taking a walk when they were approached by three British military recruiters, a recruiting sergeant, a Corporal and a young drummer. The recruiters attempt to induce the narrator and Arthur McBride into military service, extolling the virtues of serving the King of the United Kingdom, having money to spend, and wearing nice clothes. Arthur McBride tells the recruiter, if they joined, the clothes would merely be loaned to them and that they would be made to go to war in France where they would certainly be killed. The recruiter, taking offense to Arthur's disrespect of the King, becomes angry at Arthur and the narrator, and threatens to use his sword on them. Then, Arthur and the narrator use their shillelaghs to hit the recruiters and the drummer over their heads, and after doing so, take their pouch of money, and throw their swords and the drummer's drum into the ocean.

"Arthur MacBride" has been sung by numerous performers, including Bob Dylan (on his album Good as I Been to You ), Planxty, Martin Carthy and Paul Brady. Paul Brady's Rendition, widely regarded as the definitive performance, varies somewhat from the lyrics below and includes several other verses.

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