Why brassholes shouldn’t be lyricists

Jon, my contractor, is also a member of Bufflehead Northwest Morris, and I got to serenade him with a parody of “Oh Danny Boy” (aka “Londonderry Air”) this weekend.

It all started at the Robert Mondavi winery, in the bathroom. Somehow that tune had found its way into my head and had become a bit of an earworm (that’s what you call those tunes that get in your head and refuse to leave). Like most instrumentalists, I’m hopeless with words and not a lot better at remembering melodies, but I did vaguely recall that the song begins, “Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…” Before you know it, I was singing to myself, “Oh Jonny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…” and a parody idea was born. Unfortunately those and a few other fragments were about all I could remember.

Not to worry, though–if there’s one thing a busful of morris dancers is good for, it’s singing British folk music, so it didn’t take long to find a few dancers (Laura and Genevieve from Sheperdstown Northwest Morris of West Virginia) who could help me with the rest of the words and set me straight on the rest of the tune. Best they could recall, and best I can now make out my bus-bumped handwriting, the words are:

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen and down the mountainside

The summer’s come and all the flowers are dying

Oh Danny Boy, ’tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide

But come ye back when springtime’s in the meadow

And all the valley’s hushed and white with snow

It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy, I love you so

But if ye come when all the flowers are dying

and I am dead, for dead I well may be

You’ll come and find the place where I am lying

and kneel and say an Ave for me

And I shall hear though soft you tread above me

and all my grave shall warmer sweeter be

For you will bend and tell me that you love me

and I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

It does seem as though there must be some errors in there–springtime white with snow?–but let’s not be tedious and hunt down the correct words. Anyone can Google, but it takes talent to dredge words out of memory on a bus. Let’s hear it for Laura and Genevieve and leave it at that.

Later that night, I got my chance to sing my version of it for Jon, complete with a backup humming chorus. Thanks to Laura, Genevieve, Kyla, Victoria, and Wendy for being my Pips, providing moral support, and most importantly, keeping me clear on the tune all the way through. (We hornists tend to take left turns into harmonic variations and segues so on learned from too many orchestrated medleys.) Since I’m still battling off the bronchitis, it was a good octave lower than you might normally expect.

Oh Jonny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

So bring your torch and silver solder by

The walls are studs and all the ceiling’s falling

Oh Jonny Boy, ’tis you, ’tis you must work and I must bide

So come ye back when Herrel’s got the cabinets done

And all the wiring’s wired and lights are lit

It’s you’ll be here to put it all together

Oh Jonny Boy, Oh Jonny Boy, I’ll owe you so

And if ye come when my foundation’s sinking

and we are screwed, for screwed we well may be

You’ll come and bribe the inspector till his signing

and clear tghe way so that we may go on

And I shall cook, though broke your bill will leave me

And then my stove shall warmer, Wolf-er be

For you shall come and join me and we will dine

And I shall stir the peas until you open wine.