the songs
title : Comin’ through the rye
written by : Robert Burns, based on a traditional song
arranged by : Eddi Reader
song copyright : none
including:
title : Dram behind the curtain
written by : Mairearad Green
arranged by : Mairearad Green?
song copyright : PRS?

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal
with :
Jen Butterworth guitar
John Douglas ukelele
Stephen Douglas shakers, Mark’s sister’s bag
Mairearad Green accordion
Anna Massie fiddle, mandolin
Hamish Napier whistle, piano
music
key : D major
time-signature : 12/8
tempo : MM 137
form : v b V C V C′ v V C v ½C
lyrics

Comin’ through the rye

– Dram behind the curtain

comin’ through the rye, poor bodies
comin’ through the rye
gin a body meet a body
need a body cry

Jenny’s all wet, poor body
Jenny’s seldom dry
she’s draigl’t all her petticoaties
comin’ through the rye

comin’ through the rye

gin a body meet a body
comin’ through the rye
gin a body kiss a body
need a body cry

every lassie has a laddie,
none they say have I
well, all the lassies smile at me, when
comin’ through the rye

through the rye

– Dram behind the curtain

comin’ through the rye, poor bodies
comin’ through the rye
comin’ through the rye, poor bodies
comin’ through the rye

Jenny’s all wet, poor body
Jenny’s seldom dry
she’s draigl’t all her petticoats
comin’ through the rye

through the rye

– Dram behind the curtain, vocalise backing vocal

oh, she’s draigl’t all her petticoaties
comin’ through the rye {laugh}

Dram behind the curtain

glossary
comincoming
draigl’tbedraggled
ginwhen
thro’through
weetwet
explanations

This song has a complicated history. Burns seems to have expanded a traditional song found in Thomas Mansfield’s manuscript (1770-1780). There is a bawdy version in The merry muses of Caledonia (1799-1800), but it is not clear how much of that is Burns’s and whether its composition predates the cleaned-up version in The Scots musical museum (1796 volume). The later volume contains a second set of stanzas, consisting of lines 9-12 of the first set, with two new stanzas and a completely different refrain:


Ilka body has a body,
  ne’er a ane hae I;
But a’ the lads they lo’e me
  And what the war am I.

but it is not thought likely that Burns had any responsibility for it. An English version was entered at Stationers’ Hall on 1796-06-06 as ‘If a body meet a body/Going to the fair’, suggesting a wide circulation of some of the verses. I’m not sure which of these is the source of Eddi’s quatrain ‘every lassie has a laddie,…’, but it is in common use.

This is the text published in the 1796 volume of The Scots musical museum (editor James Johnson):

Comin thro’ the rye

Comin thro’ the rye, poor body,
  Comin thro’ the rye,
She draigl’t her petticoatie
  Comin thro’ the rye.

Oh Jenny’s a’ weet, poor body,
  Jenny’s seldom dry;
She draigl’t her petticoatie
  Comin thro’ the rye.

Gin a body meet a body,
  Comin thro’ the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body
  Need a body cry.

Oh Jenny’s a’ weet, poor body,
  Jenny’s seldom dry;
She draigl’t her petticoatie
  Comin thro’ the rye.

Gin a body meet a body,
  Comin thro’ the glen;
Gin a body kiss a body
  Need the warld ken.

Oh Jenny’s a’ weet, poor body,
  Jenny’s seldom dry;
She draigl’t her petticoatie
  Comin thro’ the rye.

source : No. 560 in Poems and songs of Robert Burns / edited by James Kinsley. – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1968

There is an interesting interpretation of the lyrics on Ted Walther’s private diary, revealing that there is a stream called the Rye Water in Burns’s part of Ayrshire.

the recording
personnel
produced by : Eddi Reader
recorded by : Mark Freegard at 3kyoti Studio in 2008?
mixed by : Mark Freegard at 3kyoti Studio
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis Studios, London?
technical
signal path : DDD
song timing : 2:29
released on
album : The songs of Robert Burns (deluxe edition) track 13   timing : 2:34

commentary
may have been recorded specially for the ‘complete’ Burns album