the songs
title : Brose and butter
written by : Robert Burns (partly from Scottish tradition)
song copyright : none
incorporating:
title : Peniston way [instrumental]
written by : Michael McGoldrick
song copyright : copyright control

arranged by : Eddi Reader, Ian Carr, Phil Cunningham, Boo Hewerdine, John McCusker, and Ewen Vernal
Eddi said
“I started out to translate this, but I would rather, if you are interested, that you might go searching for yourself. My face got redder the more I tried to explain. I found this song in a book of bawdy verse. Robert was partial to a bit of a rude sing-song and replaced a lot of his own songs words with words your mother wouldn’t sing, but your grannie might. I think this was an old one he collected so I don’t know how much of it is Burns’s original verse. I remember hearing this played by the band Ossian when I went to folk clubs in and around Irvine in 1979. Good luck with the translation. Included in this tune is an instrumental written by Michael McGoldrick called Peniston Way.”
booklet note in her Burns albums (both original and deluxe editions);
see the lyrics and glossary below for help with your translation!

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal, acoustic guitar?
with :
Ian Carr acoustic guitar
Phil Cunningham accordion
Roy Dodds percussion
Christine Hanson? cello?
Boo Hewerdine acoustic guitar
John McCusker fiddle
Colin Reid acoustic guitar
Ewen Vernal double bass
music
key : F sharp minor
time-signature : 9/8
tempo : MM 120
form : c v C V C V C V a b a b C V C V C V C V C V C V Cx C V
lyrics

Brose and butter

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

and Jenny sits up the loft
Johnny was glad to be at her
there came a wind came out o’ the west
made all the windows to clatter

and gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

a dow is a dainty dish
goose is hollow within
the sight would make you blush
but aw the fun is to finishing

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose

my daddie sent me to the hill
to pull my minnie some heather
and drive it intae yur fill
yur welcome tae the leather

Peniston way

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

a mouse is a merry wee beast
the moodiewark wants the een
and oh for the touch o’ the thing
I had in my nieve yestreen

oh gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose

the lark she loves the grass
the hen she loves the stubble
and hey for the gardner lad
tae gully away wi’ his dibble

and gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

and Jenny sits up at the laft
Johnny was glad to be at her
there came a wind came oot o’ the west
made all the windows to clatter

and gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

a dow is a dainty dish
goose is hollow within
the sight would make you blush
aw the fun is to finishing

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

and Jenny sits up at the loft
Johnny was glad to be at her
there came a wind came oot o’ the west
made all the windows to clatter

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose
yestreen he wanted his supper

a dow is a dainty dish
the goose is hollow within
the sight would make you blush
but aw the fun is to finishing

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose, brose

gie my love brose, brose
gie my love brose and butter
and gie my love brose, brose

Jenny sits up at the loft
Johnny was glad to be at her
there came a wind came out o’ the west
made all the windows to clatter… oh-oh

glossary
here, for those of you who regret Eddi’s decision not to ‘translate’ this lyric in the CD booklet, is a glossary, including figurative meanings (and which also includes words found in the source texts below) :
a’all leatherskin; fig. vagina
britherbrother minniemother
brose oatmeal made up with hot water or milk,
and with salt and butter added
moudiewartmole; fig. penis
brose and butterfig. abundance of semen nieveclenched hand
c–tcunt; vagina paetrickpartridge; fig. penis
dibblepointed stick for planting out; fig. penis pinfig. penis
dowpigeon roaringvigorous
fin’ find; finish?; (note: past participle “fun’”
used as “felt” sexually
)
stibblestubble; fig. pubic hair
foufull thegithertogether
gullydig; fig. fuck wamesbellies, vaginas
laftloft winnockswindows
laverocklark; fig. penis yestreenlast night
explanations

The earliest surviving Burns text for this song is on the back of a draft letter to Margaret Kennedy of autumn 1785, but it is not clear whether the poet composed the lyric or transcribed it from Ayrshire tradition: the chorus and a verse about the goose and hen had appeared in Ancient and modern Scottish songs (1776) edited by David Herd. Burns’s first version goes:

Brose and butter (1785)

O gie my love brose, brose;
  O gie my love brose and butter;
An’ gie my Love brose, brose,
  Yestreen he wanted his supper.

Jenny sits up i’ the laft,
  Jockie wad fain a been at her;
There cam a wind came out o’ the west
  Made a’ the windows to clatter.

O gie…

A dow ’s a dainty dish;
  The goose is hollow within;
A sight wad mak you blush,
  But a’ the fun ’s to fin’.

O gie…

My daddie sent me to the hill
  To pu’ mu minnie some heather;
An’ drive it in your fill,
  Ye’re welcome to the leather.

O gie…

A Mouse is a merry wee beast,
  A Moudiewart wants the een;
And O’ for the touch o’ the thing
  I had in my nieve yestreen.

O gie…

The lark she loves the grass,
  The hen she loves the stibble:
And hey, for the gardiner lad,
  To gully awa wi’ his dibble!

O gie…

Next the version published in The merry muses of Caledonia (1799-1800), which has been rearranged and tidied up by Burns for publication and also has an extra stanza :

Brose and butter (1800)

Jenny sits up i’ the laft,
  Jockie wad fain a been at her;
But there cam a wind came out o’ the west
  Made a’ the winnocks to clatter.

O gie my love brose, lasses;
  O gie my love brose and butter;
For nane in Carrick wi’ him
  Can gie a c–t its supper.

The laverock lo’es the grass,
  The paetrick lo’es the stibble:
And hey, for the gardiner lad,
  To gully awa wi’ his dibble!

O gie…

My daddie sent me to the hill
  To pu’ my minnie some heather;
An’ drive it in your fill,
  Ye’re welcome to the leather.

O gie…

The Mouse is a merry wee beast,
  The Moudiewart wants the een;
And O’ for a touch o’ the thing
  I had in my nieve yestreen.

O gie…

We a’ were fou yestreen,
  The night shall be its brither;
And hey, for a roaring pin
  To nail twa wames thegither!

O gie…

source : No. 78 in Poems and songs of Robert Burns / edited by James Kinsley. – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1968

as Eddi’s vocal is double-tracked all the way through this recording, I’ve only marked as having backing-vocals the one place where she sings a different note second time around.


the recording
personnel
produced by : Boo Hewerdine
recorded by : Robert Rankin at CaVa Studios, Glasgow – 2003-01
mixed by : Jon Kelly
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis Studios, London
technical
signal path : DDD
song timing : 3:59
released on
album : Eddi Reader sings the songs of Robert Burns track 5   timing : 4:03
album : The songs of Robert Burns (deluxe edition) track 5   timing : 4:03