the song
title : Green grow the rashes, o
written by : Robert Burns / traditional, arrangement by Eddi Reader
song copyright : none; arrangement: copyright control

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal, acoustic guitar?
with :
Ian Carr acoustic guitar
Phil Cunningham whistle
Boo Hewerdine acoustic guitar, backing vocal?
John McCusker fiddle, cittern
Ewen Vernal double bass
Royal Scottish National orchestra
conducted by Kevin McCrae :
strings, arranged by Kevin McCrae
1st violins: Edwin Paling, William Chandler, Tamas Fejes, Andrew Martin, Robert Yeomans, Barbara Paterson, Jane Reid, Gail Digney; 2nd violins: Rosalin Lazaroff, Jacqueline Speirs, Marion Wilson, Wanda Wojtasinska, Elizabeth Lloyd, Paul Medd; violas: John Harrington, Ian Budd, David Amon, Claire Dunn; cellos: Pauline Dowse, Jeremy Fletcher, Betsy Taylor, William Paterson; double basses: David Inglis, Robert Mitchell
music
key : D major
time-signature : 4/4
tempo : MM 104
form : v? V C V C v? V c V V C Cx
lyrics

Green grow the rashes

there’s nought but care on every hand
in every hour that passes, o
what signifies the worth of man
and ’twas na for the lasses, o

green grow the rashes, o
green grow the rashes, o

the sweetest hours that e’er I spent
were spent among the lasses, o

the worldy race may riches chase
and riches still may fly them, o
when last they catch them fast
their hearts can ne’er enjoy them, o

green grow the rashes, o
green grow the rashes, o

the sweetest hours that e’er I spent
were spent among the lasses, o

but gie me a canny hour at e’en
my arms about my dearie, o
and worldly cares, and worldly men
may all gae tapsalteerie, o

for you sae douse, ye sneer at this
you’re nought but senseless asses, o
the wisest man the world e’re saw
he dearly loved the lasses, o

old nature swears, the lovely dears
her noblest work she classes, o
her prentice hand she tried on man
and then she made the lasses, o

green grow the rashes, o
green grow the rashes, o
the sweetest hours that e’er I spent
were spent among the lasses, o

green grow the rashes, o
green grow the rashes, o

the sweetest hours that e’er I spent
were spent among the lasses, o


de-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
[etc.]

glossary
dousesober, prudent
tapsalteerie  topsy-turvey, upside-down
explanations

Burns wrote this lyric into his commonplace book in 1784-08. The following text is from the 1787 Edinburgh edition of Poems 1784-1785 (if I’ve interpreted Kinsley’s note correctly) :

Green grow the rashes

Green grow the rashes, o;
Green grow the rashes, o;
The sweetest hour that e’er I spend,
  Are spent among the lasses, o.

There’s nought but care on ev’ry han’,
  In ev’ry hour that passes, o:
What signifies for the life o’ man,
  An’ ’twere na for the lasses, o.

Green grow…

The warly race may riches chase,
  An’ riches still may fly them, o;
An’ tho’ at last they catch them fast,
  Their hearts can ne’er enjoy them, o.

Green grow…

But gie me a canny hour at e’en,
  My arms about my Dearie, o;
An’ warly cares, an’ warly men,
  May a’ gae tapsalteerie, o!

Green grow…

For you sae douse, ye sneer at this,
  Ye’re nought but senseless asses, o:
The wisest Man the warl’ saw,
  He dearly lov’d the lasses, o.

Green grow…

Auld Nature swears, the lovely Dears
  Her noblest work she classes, o:
Her prentice han’ she try’d on man,
  An’ then she made the lasses, o.

Green grow…

source : No.45 in Poems and songs of Robert Burns / edited by James Kinsley. – oxford : Clarendon Press, 1968

additional glossary
dousesober, prudent
tapsalteerietopsy-turvey, upside-down
warlyworldly

Both the sentiments and the tune pre-date Burns. In fact the idea of letting the world turn upside-down (go hang?) for sake of love features in some versions of Greensleeves (16th century), and the conceit that nature created the male whilst still an apprentice dates at least from Cupid’s whirligig of 1607, which was reprinted in a collection of 1738.


the recording
personnel
produced by : Boo Hewerdine
recorded by : Robert Rankin at CaVa Studios, Glasgow – 2003-01
mixed by : Jon Kelly at ?
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis Studios, London?
technical
signal path : DDD
song timing : 4:32
released on
album : Sings the songs of Robert Burns (Japan) track 12   timing : 4:35
album : The songs of Robert Burns (deluxe edition) track 12   timing : 4:37

commentary
in the Japanese release of the original version of the Burns album, the title of this song is spelt wrongly in the CD track-listings as ‘Green glow the rashes o’ (both on the CD case and the extra, Japanese, booklet), but is correct in the reproduced (English) lyrics in the extra booklet – the legendary Japanese inability to separate the ‘l’ and ‘r’ sounds springs irresistibly to mind!

an earlier recording by Eddi of this song, in an arrangement with acoustic guitar and accordion, can be found as a ‘b-side’ on the second Medicine single