Red Winged Blackbird: CD notes & lyrics

Red Winged Blackbird is Caim’s 11th album and their first as a trio.
Caim’s arrangement of David Francey’s song Red-Winged Blackbird and title track of the album has become a band favorite. Jacynth and Heather first heard the song in a kitchen in Winnipeg while on tour in Canada and enjoyed watching out for red-winged blackbirds on subsequent tours in Wisconsin and Florida USA. Special thanks to Californian photographer Don Metzner for his wonderful photos of red-winged blackbirds, as we remember them, for our CD cover.
And thanks as always to our friends Stuart & Gillian Duncan at Red Barn Studios – our favourite place to record – and to Ciaran Dorris for his listening ear!

Jacynth, Heather & Pauline (Caim)

Caim:
Jacynth Hamill:  lead & harmony vocals, percussion.
Heather Innes: lead & harmony vocals, rain stick, bodhran, percussion.
Pauline Vallance: lead & harmony vocals, harp, flute, keyboards, percussion.
Also:
Stuart Duncan: bass, keyboards, mandolin.

Produced & engineered by Stuart Duncan. www.redbarnstudios.co.uk

Photos of Red-winged blackbirds: Don Metzner.
Photo of Caim: Andrew Warren

LYRICS

Red-winged Blackbird
words & music © David Francey

Thought I heard a red-winged blackbird,
red-winged blackbird down my road.
Thought I heard a red-winged blackbird
red-winged blackbird down my road.

1
He’ll be there beside the river
when winter finally breaks its bones
He’ll be King among the rushes.
He’ll be master of his home.

2
Safe as Moses in the rushes
Makes his home on the other side
Every time I hear him singing
Makes me feel like spring inside

3
He’ll be there singing his heart out
He’ll be telling stories too
Of where he went to winter last years
How he’s going back there too.

This has been one of our favourite songs since we heard it in a kitchen in Winnipeg on a tour of Western Canada in 2003. The vision of those smart birds makes us smile.

Liberty’s Sweet Shore.
Words & Music: John Doyle & Catherine Peterson Doyle

In this fading light the mainland
Lies vague out on the horizon
A lighthouse beaming its welcome
To Gross Isle and liberty’s sweet shore
For three months and a day we’ve been sailing
Around pinnacles of ice we’ve been steering
Storms and Nor’easters a raging
To deliver us to liberty’s sweet shore

Sailing to liberty’s sweet shore
Sailing to liberty’s sweet shore
We left all we know to this new life we’ll go
Sailing to liberty’s sweet shore

Two pounds a head for the passage
With ease our landlord surrendered
And wiped his hands clean as he tendered
From a distance he watched us all go
We sailed on the fifth day of September
Two hundred poor souls crammed together
From our families and homeland we’re severed
The clothes on our backs all we own

We’re bowed down in sickness and hunger
We pray for the hand of our maker
My child was lost to a fever,
A quick prayer then hauled gone over broad
Oceans of tears they are falling
In hope and despair both recalling
Now the gulls of St Lawrence they are calling
Soon Quebec and liberty’s sweet shore

Heather first heard and recorded Eddie Murphy singing this song when Caim were touring in Yorkshire and loved the lyrics – such a poignant story that needed to be told. This is Caim’s arrangement.

Safe Haven
Words and Music: Pauline Vallance

The coloured boats are bobbing gaily on the quay
Straining at their moorings, they long to be at sea
Surrounded by the sea wall, so big and safe and strong
They long to be outside it….. oh, how can that be wrong?

On the other side of safety, the sea churns up and down
Spray crashes on the seaside like fragments of a crown
Who knows how deep the water – it’s depths have not been tried,
So, best to wait in safety….. for the turning of the tide

You are my safe haven from all the crashing waves
My safe haven, when I just can’t be brave
You will protect me from all the raging seas
You are my safe haven…… from possibilities.

I’m scared to venture outside into the open sea
I want to hug the coastline, I’m frightened to be free
I don’t know what I’ll cope with, I might be in too deep,
So, I should curl up inside….. and I could go to sleep.

But what if I don’t test myself and try out something strange,
I’ll never know what I can do and really test my range.
The wild sea can be beautiful and scary just the same,
So, time to turn the corner…. ‘cos life’s not just a game.

You were my safe haven from all the crashing waves
My safe haven, when I just can’t be brave
You did protect me from all the raging seas
You were my safe haven…. from possibilities.

You know the future scares me, it’s tempting just to stay
Or put off my decision until another day
Nobody will judge me, I’m still the same old me
No, time to leave it all behind….. and face the unknown sea.

So it’s goodbye to my safe haven and face the crashing waves
My safe haven, it’s time to be brave
You did protect me from all the raging seas
Goodbye safe haven…… hello possibilities
Hello possibilities…….hello possibilities.

This song was inspired by the beautiful Northumberland coast – the light on the water, the boats, etc – although the song took its own little twist.

The Poison Glen
Words & music Ian Gordon. © Ian Gordon

The Poison Glen
Go to the end
Who knows what you’ll find there
In the mist and the rain

Heather and moss
Sheep that are lost
A raven flies over
The towering rocks

Above the heights
A cloud hangs in the sky
An eerie cry –
We’ll go home before the night

We could go to Sleibh Sneacht
Or Loch Maam, dark and black
Mysterious fissures
Ice and snow on the track

Can you ever be sure
If you came here before
Alone on the mountain
The wind starts to roar

Go for a walk
Into the Poison Glen
If you go too far
You could reach the very end.

Ian, artist, singer, songwriter, lives near the mysterious Poison Glen whose atmosphere he captures sublimely in this haunting song.

When I look Tae Yon High Hills
Trad.

I’m a puir rovin’ lassie and my fortune’s been bad
Since I fell in love wi’ a young sailor lad.
I was courted sae early by night and by day,
But the lad I loo dearly lies a distance away.

When I look tae yon high hills and my laddie’s nae there,
When I look tae yon high hills it maks my hert sair.
When I look tae yon high hills a tear blinds my e’e,
For the lad I loo dearly lies a distance frae me.

Oh it’s friends and relations they have all joined in one,
For to part me and my sailor they have done all they can,
For to part me and my true love they have done all they know,
But the lad I loo dearly he loves me more so.

It’s a bunch of blue ribbons for my love I’ll prepare,
And through the long summer I’ll give him to wear,
And when he comes home I’ll crown him with joy,
And I’ll kiss the sweet lips of my own sailor boy.

A well kent Scottish traditional song – for once not about unrequited love!

Troika Ride
Words and music: Pauline Vallance

Under the watch of the deep frozen sky
The troika glides on and on
The horses are galloping free o’er the snow
And the cold freezes deep to the bone
The bells on the reins ring out cheerful and gay
You would think for a jaunt they were bound
But desperate need fed this journey so long
The passengers made not a sound
“On” urged the driver though temperatures fell
And frozen birds dropped from the sky
The horses responded though ice clogged their breath
Till the end of the journey was nigh.

They set out in hope from the far frozen north
On a mission of danger and strife
My babushka, so strong, had to plead with the Tsar
To save her dear husband’s life.
He had injured a soldier, an accident foul,
And was to Siberia doomed.
She knew if he went there he’d never return
O’er his family the sentence loomed.
On went my babushka, so fearless and brave,
Though she carried her unborn son
Determined to plead and appeal to the Tsar
The one way his life could be won.

Instrumental

Onward the horses went, on through the snow,
Suddenly maddened with fear
Chased down by wolves, they raced for their lives
Until some shelter was near.

Then, at last, was the end of the road
The streets of St. Petersburg near
My babushka had just one more ordeal to face
And was once again stricken with fear.
She entered the palace, she tried to look calm
And finally met with her fate
The Tsar, who had sway o’er the rest of her life,
He listened to what she would state.
Down on her knees my babushka did fall
And blinded with tears she did pray
And the Tsar looked on kindly and helped her to stand
And said “Your husband is safe.”
And the Tsar looked on kindly and helped her to stand
And said “Your husband is safe.”

This is based on a story from a favourite book of Pauline’s – The House by the Dvina by Eugenie Fraser. It tells the story of a perilous journey the author’s grandmother had to make in the depths of the Russian winter of 1880. Listen to find out what happens.

First Lullaby
Words: Dave Stewart
Music: Irish Melody, Gartan Mother’s Lullaby, set by D. Stewart, December 2016; arranged by Jacynth Hamill. Jan 2018
© words & setting Dave Stewart 2016. © arrangement J Hamill 2018

Sleep my love, my sweet new-born babe
So silent and so still
Listen for a lullaby
That echoes from the hill.
And hear your mother’s gentle song
Of love and deep delight,
As all the world now holds its breath
On this strange, joyful night.

Rest my love for your coming brings
New light and love and grace
How my heart with fullness sings
To greet your warm embrace.
And all the world now stands in awe
Of peace come down to earth.
The love and majesty of God
Declared in human birth.

Sing my love as you journey on
For dark will be the night.
I’ll bring melodies of love
To bathe your heart in light.
And all the world now waits in hope,
For peace the people long.
But will they greet your manger birth
Or sing your healing song?

Dave has given additional life to his favourite Irish melody with these beautiful nativity words.

Brother Lawrence
Prior/Kemp

There’s a rush in the kitchen, there’s monks in the hall
It’s past time for dinner, they’re silent monks all
The cook is a good man with ladle and plate
He will not be rushed in the steam and the heat
Though a simple man, he just seemed to know
As it is above, so it is below

He hums to himself all the hymns he has known
While he pulls up the leeks, they’re so carefully grown
He doesn’t like chapel bent down on his knees
Just wasting his time with these words and decrees.

He does all his work in the presence of the Lord
He is praying while salting the monks’ holy food
He fights the good fight with utensils as a sword
He is peeling potatoes to the glory of God

Brother Lawrence was born Nicolas Herman of humble parentage in Lorraine, eastern France in about 1611. He became a monk and served as a monastery cook for thirty years. This was not a job he liked but he rose above his discontent. His method of communion was to listen.

Do not stand by my grave and weep
Words Mary Frye. Music Jacynth Hamill

Do not stand by my grave and weep;
I am not there; I do not sleep:

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

Do not stand by my grave and weep;
I am not there; I do not sleep

When you awake in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circling flight
I am the soft starlight at night

Do not stand by my grave and weep;
I am not there; I do not sleep:
Do not stand by my grave and weep;
I am not there; I do not sleep:

We dedicate this piece with its evocative words and poignant tune to the memory of John Speers, musician (Belfast & Glasgow) who died on 29th January 2018.

Kilallan Kirk
Words & Music: Pauline Vallance

Take a wander
Take a wander to Kilallan Kirk
Place of wonder
Place of wonder is Kilallan Kirk
You can feel the past there set into the stones around
You can sense the people who have walked its holy ground
Are they speaking to you, telling you of lives they’ve led?
Walk through and listen,
Listen and believe.

Take a wander
Take a wander to Kilallan Kirk
Place of wonder
Place of wonder is Kilallan Kirk
You can feel the past there set into the stones around
You can sense the people who have walked its holy ground
Are you listening to them, telling you of lives they’ve led?
Walk through and listen,
Listen and believe.

Pauline originally wrote this for a DVD about the restoration project of Kilallan Kirk near Houston, Renfrewshire. She then rearranged it for Caim.

My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose
Trad. Burns

Oh my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June.
Oh my love is like a melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou my own true love
So deep in love am I
And I will love thee still my dear
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Til a’ the seas gang dry, my dear
And rocks melt wi’ the sun
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands of time shall run.

So fare thee weel, my own true love,
Fare thee weel awhile
And I will come again, my dear
Tho t’were ten thousand mile.

The first traditional Scottish song Heather learnt many years ago. By request at a concert in North Carolina Caim gladly added it to their repertoire. What a love song!

Sid The Dog Ate My Mobile Phone
Words: Mark Malarkey Music: Pauline Vallance

I found my keys and I found my hat,
I found my purse and I put out the cat,
I gave the dog a nice juicy bone,
but I can’t go out ’til I find my mobile phone.

I turned to my pets and I asked “Was it you?”
the cat just purrrrrrrrred … and the dog purred too!
a text was coming in and the dog was vibrating,
my phone was gone,  I think young Sid had ate it.

The next time he shook, it was a message from my Mum,
although it sounded more half-growl, half-hum:
“Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Glasgow
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Tomorrow.”
 [Chorus]

Within a few weeks, he controlled that machine,
and sent me photos of his intestine,
that made me worry that he’d later text my Mum,
a digital image from inside his bum.

Sidney flexed his internal control
and then he changed my mobile’s ringtone,
out was beauty of Franz Schubert’s “Trout”
in were the barks of “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
 [Chorus]

After that he had fun with some apps,
like the canine messaging that’s known as YAPS,
Sid liked Facewoof, Angrybirds made him angry too,
he got a job with Google, to find the real street view.

Google Maps will mark bins and buried bones
there’ll be new GPS on every phone,
showing the place of each tree and street light,
canine GPS means Good Peeing Site.
[Chorus]

Next he logged onto a kind of canine Tinder,
inviting females to share his dog’s dinner,
then into the park to let her chase his sticks
who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

I came home one day to find a long-haired pooch,
had come to our pad with the intention to smooch,
Sidney just grinned his wicked smile
Seems his intention was doing it doggy style.
[Chorus]

This song came about after a friend confided that she was having technology problems and her dog had eaten her mobile phone. What a gift for a songwriter!

One Voice in the Crowd
Words & music Judy Small.© Judy Small. Crafty Maid Music.

I’ve lived a life of privilege, I’ve never know what hunger is
I’ve never laboured with my hands, except to play guitar.
Middle class my middle name. Life’s been more or less a game.
But in the end it’s all the same, the buck stops where you are.

And we are foolish people who do nothing
because we know how little one person can do.
Yes, we are foolish people who do nothing
because we know how little one can do

It’s not my issue, not my scene. I’ve got to get my own house clean
I keep it neat and tidy just in case the Queen should call.
Come back to me another day and gladly I’ll join in, we say
And I’m just one voice anyway just one brick in the wall.

One brick in the wall you may be, one voice in the crowd,
but without you we are weaker and our song may not be heard.
One drop in the ocean, but each drop will swell the tide.
So be your one brick in the wall, be one voice in the crowd!

And we are foolish people who do nothing
because we know how little one person can do.
Yes, we are foolish people who do nothing
because we know how little one can do

Some body percussion adds to the positivity of this Judy Small favourite.

Merino Mill Girl
Words and music: Pauline Vallance

Patterns within patterns, shapes within shapes
Lives interweaving, like crochet or lace,
Mothers and daughers, fathers and sons,
Following traditions and
Following the threads, watch them unfurl
Merino Mill Girl.

I love Monday mornings, off tae the mill,
See all the girls – Maggie, Lucy and Jill.
Hear about their wedding, or fights with their man.
Never much money but
Following the threads, watch them unfurl
Merino Mill Girl.

Walking the streets now, the old mill is down,
The mill clock is silent, the chatter is gone.
Streets of new houses, a new care home too,
Filled with the memories and
Following the threads, watch them unfurl
Merino Mill Girl.

Pauline wrote this as part of a song-writing project set up by James Grant (of Love and Money). He recorded stories from residents of the Broomhill area of Greenock and asked songwriters to pick one and write a song. He then worked with them on the songs. Many thanks to James and to Rig Arts for setting it up. You can hear all 10 songs on Soundcloud, under Broomhill Songs.

Bressay Lullaby
Trad

Chorus:
Baloo balillie, baloo balillie
Baloo balillie, baloo, ba

Gae awa’ peerie fairies
Gae awa’ peerie fairies
Ge awa’ peerie fairies
Fae oor bairn noo

Dan come boanie angels
Ta wir peerie bairn
Dan come boanie angels
Ta wir peerie bairn

Dey’ll sheen ower da cradle
O wir peerie bairn
Dey’ll sheen ower da cradle
O wir peerie bairn

A friend in Northern Ireland found this Shetland lullaby in a wee book of 100 Scottish songs for Heather to sing at a Belfast Folk Festival in the eighties. She’s been singing it ever since around the world, with many stories to tell of babies in her audiences happily drifting off to sleep! She chose to re-record it here because she thinks it works best with Caim’s three- part a capella harmony.