Thursday, January 25, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC - early - (Friction) Burns Night - merry capers wi' the lassies!

 As promised and as requested, Friday music with a difference to celebrate Burns Night!


'The Merry Muses of Caledonia' is among Burns' best known, but least read, work. This collection of bawdy poems, some written by and some collected by Burns, ranges from celebrations of spirited women in 'Ellibanks', to misogyny in 'There was twa wives' and male fantasy in 'Nine Inch will please a lady'. These engaging poems are not lewd or distasteful but possess a great wit and charm.

"Many scholars and Robert Burns enthusiasts prefer not to mention his association with the Merry Muses of Caledonia because they don't like him to be associated with this sort of material. Burns allegedly made no secret of his interest in erotic verse and bawdy song but apparently he kept this in a locked drawer at home. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

"t was first published within three or four years of his death and of the original only two copies are known to exist but it has since been published several times in facsimile editions. Burns both wrote and collected this material so there is no knowing how much of it is actually his. While some of it is local and clearly from the hand of the bard he may also have collected other material during his tours around Scotland.

"It is also worth mentioning that some of Burns's most admired works were sanitised versions of the bawdy originals.

"Many people who read these verses are surprised at Burns' awareness and his macho attitude to sex more than 200 years ago. But then sex is not new and isn't it strange that each successive generation thinks that they have just invented it? It is also worth noting that some of the words used by Burns in this connotation are still in use today, including of course the "F" word. Some recent commentators have compared the Robert Burns of the late 1700's to the rock stars of today. Maybe that's not too far off the mark?"

Life of Robert Burns in 10 Minutes
- you will note the several references to his 'love of the lassies'

Nine Inch will Please a Lady: Jean Redpath

lyrics and partial translation -

And here is the complete collection of bawdy verse (as far as I know) in PDF format -

More recently the film producer Harvey Weinstein was called a predator by quite a few women on his hit list. Just before disappearing from the scene completely he had the cheeky guts to say that he didn’t understand all the fuss that was created around his person. Our bawdy Burns was more open about his behavior and described himself as a fornicator in his poem with the same title. Mitigating circumstances ?

"Wi’ ruefu’ face, and signs o’ grace,
I paid the buttock hire;
The night was dark, and thro’ the park,
I couldna but convoy her.
A parting kiss, what could I less;
My vows began to scatter,
Sweet Betsy fell, fal, lal, de ral, And I’m a fornicator"

Burns knew his sexual flaws and accepted the responsibility like a true Freemason. In one of his letters he described his struggle: ‘[…] I have a sore warfare in this world; the devil, the world and the flesh are three formidable foes’. And he comments on this last foe: ‘[…] but the third is my plague, worst as the ten plagues of Egypt’. Ladies and gentlemen, wasn’t it Burns fellow scribe Oscar Wilde who said ‘I can resist anything except temptation’?"

Friday, January 19, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Russophonia - Otava Yo, by JD

 After Leonid and Friends last year, another excursion into the hidden musical heartland Russia and such a vast country is bound to have more musical talent waiting to be discovered.

"Otava Yo (Russian: Отава Ё, ота́ва meaning "aftergrass") is a Russian folk rock band from Saint Petersburg, formed in 2003.

Alexey Belkin, Alexey Skosyrev, Dmitriy Shikhardin, and Peter Sergeev worked together as buskers on the streets of St. Petersburg for about three years. The positive feedback from the listeners inspired them to officially form a band in 2003. Of the initial members, only Shikhardin had formal musical education; the rest were self-taught. Initially the band was called Reelroadъ and they played The Pogues-styled Celtic punk, but later changed their name to Otava Yo and turned to Russian traditional music."

Отава Ё - Про Ивана Groove (русское готическое R'N'B) - Otava Yo

Отава Ё - Ой, Дуся, ой, Маруся (казачья лезгинка) Otava Yo - (Cossack's lezginka)

Otava Yo - It is time for the lad to get married,

Отава Ё - Средневековое disco (medieval disco)

Two of these videos feature bagpipes. Russian bagpipes? I didn't know they had a tradition of the pipes in Russia so I did a search and found this -

"The Volynka bagpipe (from the word ‘vol’ meaning ‘ox’), valynka \pipe (duda) \goat (kozel) \bubble (puzir) was, until recently, an unexplored part of Russian instrumental music. However, it is also an unexplored spot on the map of European bagpipes. Whilst Russians know relatively little about bagpipes, there are several images of bagpipes in European and Russian travellers’ drawings, references in lists of musical instruments of the Russian Empire before the mid‐19th century, several images in folk pictures (lubock) and in church chronicles as well as references in literature and folklore. In recent years, the media has introduced new, previously unknown, sources."

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Kristallnacht in Stroud

We went to a gig by Katie Hopkins on Thursday in a pub near Stroud. There was a demo opposite the pub and at the last minute someone smashed a glass door. Here is what I have sent to the local paper:


Dear All

As a witness to the 'window-smashing' at the Star Inn Whiteshill (Stroud News, 12 January) I should like to offer a couple of corrections. Firstly it was a strong double glazed door, and a good thing too as people inside might have been seriously injured by flying glass had the rock weighing several pounds come through one of the windows.

Secondly, your writer says 'There is no suggestion that the damage was linked to the protesters who gathered beforehand.' Allow me to make that suggestion. This was not the early hours suburban bus shelter vandalism common where I live, but an attack carried out before 10 p.m. when the room was still full of people facing the speaker at the end of her talk. I can hardly say the perpetrator was actually from the well-policed crowd of protestors gathered on the other side of the road, but it is not likely pure coincidence that someone came round the back of the property to do this to a crowded room. The febrile atmosphere generated by campaigners was bound to inspire a thuggish moron.

History is repeating itself. My mother grew up in East Prussia when the National Socialists took over and as with all extremist organisations the first target was dissidents: everybody must think the same way. All the teachers joined the Party and tried to browbeat my mother into doing the same, but her father forbade it. She had to fight classmates in the playground but was strong enough to beat them. The school library suddenly had big gaps on the shelves where books by socialists and Jews had been removed. The history teacher was sacked and replaced by the caretaker - who needs nuance when you know the right answer to everything?

So now I am the son of a war refugee, born abroad in a country that no longer exists, and I am seeing another lot of Puritans take over (as though we learned nothing from Cromwell's joyless 1650s Protectorate, but then what history do they teach in British schools today?) Go round Cirencester's Parish church of St John the Baptist as we did yesterday and see how the black-clad right-thinkers vandalised its frescoes during Henry's Dissolution. You cannot say you are inclusive if you claim a hotline to God and use a mailed fist to impose unanimity on the people. It begins with Kristallnacht in well-heeled Whiteshill and among the 97.9% White population of Stroud District, but where will it end?

Friday, January 12, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Steve Wickham, by JD

You may not know the name but Steve Wickham is/was fiddle player with Scots/Irish band The Waterboys in the 1980s and here are a few songs from his solo career as well as some tales.

Steve Wickham is an Irish musician. Originally from Marino, Dublin, but calling Sligo home. Wickham was a founding member of In Tua Nua and played violin on the classic U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday", as well as recordings by Elvis Costello, the Hothouse Flowers, Sinéad O'Connor, and World Party. He is a long-standing member of The Waterboys. Wickham plays both rock and roll and traditional Irish music, and has developed a rock music technique for violin he calls the "fuzz fiddle".
Wickham is also accomplished with the mandolin, tin whistle, concertina, saxophone, piano, guitar and bones.

Not a Theme Night - Saints and Angels (Steve Wickham)

Pascal - Steve Wickham
Recorded live as part of Theme Night #31 - Hawk's Well Theatre, Sligo, Ireland.

Steve Wickham plays The Gold Ring

Pascal - Steve Wickham
Recorded live as part of Theme Night #31 - Hawk's Well Theatre, Sligo, Ireland.

All Will Be Well - Steve Wickham

Stopping By Woods 

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In 1984 Wickham was in a band called InTuaNua who were one of the supporting acts when Bob Dylan played at Slane Castle in county Meath Steve tells how he met Dylan and was invited to perform with him:

"A tall American guy came over and told us that Bob would like to meet ‘the fiddler and the singer’. He brought Leslie Dowdall and myself over to see Bob in his quarters, an oasis of peace and tranquility away from the madding crowd. Bob came out of his tent to greet us, casually smoking a cigarette. Dylan’s eyes were startling and lined with heavy black eyeliner. He was wearing a jungle print shirt hanging open to the waist and a very robust looking pair of biker boots with brass hoops at the ankles. He looked otherworldly and spoke quietly. Bob praised InTuaNua and asked if Leslie and I would join him for a song during his set. Bob suggested that we play ‘Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat’. ‘It’s a regular blues’ he drawled in his familiar voice."

You can read the full tale here -

Friday, January 05, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Linda Ronstadt, by JD

Canciones de Mi Padre - Linda Ronstadt.

"Singer Linda Ronstadt was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up surrounded by music. One of Ronstadt's early musical influences was the Mexican songs her father taught her and her siblings. Her mother played the ukulele and her father played the guitar. Following in her father's footsteps, she learned to play guitar and performed with her brother and sister as a trio.

In 1987 Ronstadt explored her Hispanic heritage by recording a Spanish-language album, Canciones de Mi Padre (1987), which was filled with traditional Mexican songs like the ones her father loved."

(In Mexico and other S.American countries the word 'linda' means beautiful and her parents and grandparents would be well aware of that when they christened her Linda.)

LA CIGARRA - Linda Ronstadt (Live - 1987)

Linda Ronstadt - El Crucifijo de Piedra - Yo soy El Corrido

Mi Ranchito (2016 Remaster)

Linda Ronstadt - Yo soy el corrido

Linda Ronstadt Opens Up About Health, Career, Mexican Heritage

Linda Ronstadt "Frenesi"

Linda Ronstadt - Lo Siento Mi Vida