the song
title : The blacksmith
written by : traditional, arranged by Dónal Lunny and Eddi Reader
song copyright : none;   arrangement © 1998 DLM/Perfect Songs and Chrysalis Music Ltd

the performance
musicians
Dónal Lunny bouzouki
with :
Nollaig Casey fiddle
Mairéad Nesbitt fiddle
John McSherry Uilleann pipes
Graham Henderson keyboards
Fionn O’Lochlainn bass
Roy Dodds percussion
Ray Fean drums
and guest :
Eddi Reader lead vocal
music
key : modal D major/minor
time-signature : 4/4
tempo : MM 126
form : v V V ¼v V v V v V′
lyrics

The blacksmith

oh, a blacksmith courted me five months and better
he fairly won my heart – wrote me a letter
with his hammer in his hand he looked quite clever
and if I were with my love I would live for ever

oh, where is my love now with his cheeks like roses
and his big black billycock on, decked around with primroses?
I’m afraid the scorching sun might burn and spoil his beauty
and if I were with my love I would do my duty

– violin solo

strange news is come to town, strange news is carried
strange news flies up and down that my love is married
well, I wish them both much joy, though they can’t hear me
and may god reward them well for the slighting of me

“do you remember when you lay beside me
and you said you’d marry me and you’d not deny me?”
“oh, if I said I’d marry you that was only for to try you
so bring your witness, love, and I’ll not deny you”

– violin solo
hmmn-n-n-n-n-nah, etc.

“oh, witness have I none, save god almighty
and may he reward you well for the slighting of me”
well, her cheeks grew pale and wan and it caused her heart to tremble
to think she loved a one and he’d proved deceitful

– violin solo
hmn-n-n-n-n-nah, etc.

oh, a blacksmith courted me, hah
hmn-n-n-n-n-nah, hah
hmn-n-n-n-n-nah, hah
oh, a blacksmith

explanations
a ‘billy-cock’ was a men’s round low-crowned felt hat

the recording
personnel
produced by : Dónal Lunny ?
recorded by : Brian Masterson at Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin – 1997-02
mixed by : Philip Begley at Beech Park Studios, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin
mastered by : ? at ?
technical
track timing : 4:43
song timing : 4:40
released on
album : Journey: the best of Dónal Lunny disc 2,   track 4

commentary
Eddi’s earlier recording of this traditional song appeared on her first solo album Mirmama, some five years before this version was recorded for Ireland’s Irish language TG4 tv channel, to appear in the second series of Sult.

It is interesting to compare the two versions, chiefly because they are actually very similar: the key/mode and tempo are the same; both arrangements have a persistent rhythmic figure with a characteristic ‘flip’ to a differently voiced drum on the last quaver (eighth-note) of the bar; and the guitar figuration of the drone is as near identical as makes no difference (to my ear, at least!). Most particularly, Eddi’s reading of the vocal line and lyric has hardly changed at all. Among the differences the most obvious are the fiddle breaks between some of the verses in this later version. Also there is greater dynamic contrast with the introduction of more instruments verse by verse here, although the very effective multi-tracking of the vocal at key phrases is noticeably missing.

Incidentally, those who find the music of Elephant Talk, to which Eddi has contributed some vocal lines and lyrics, difficult to get a handle on, may like to listen carefully to the guitar drone pattern in either arrangement of ‘The blacksmith’ (it is more audible in the right-hand channel of the mix) and compare it with, say, the track ‘Flyer’. on Head.
Adrian Dover