Bonny Banks of Claudy

This is not what might be considered a “Jovial Crew” song for it is not of the style the pub crowd would usually sit for; but it is a beautifully haunting song I first heard from Jeff Davis and Brian Peters at the 32 annual sea music festival in Mystic, CT – 2011.  Jeff sang the lead, and he tells me that he learned it from the late Fred Redden – bagpiper, singer, farmer, logger, miner, father, husband, and personal friend – from Middle Mosquidoboit, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Both “Salty Walt” Askew and I are curious of the origins of this song and recently we discovered an 1882 composition by I. M. Williams of the song with a slightly different melody, digitized by the Library of Congress.  Here it is played by Richard Matteson…

 

 

In youth I craved adventure; to Australia I did stray,
Leaving friends and my dear mother for adventure far away.
She begged me not to leave her or to return some day,
to the bonny banks of Claudy, ten thousand miles away.

Chorus:
Oh blame me not for weeping, oh blame me not I pray,
For I long to see my mother, ten thousand miles away.

Last night as I lay sleeping, I had a dreadful dream;
I thought I saw my mother who was waiting there for me.
She said that she must leave me, she could no longer stay
By the bonny banks of Claudy, ten thousand miles away.

Chorus

Today I got a letter; it came from sister dear,
Telling me of our dear mother and wishing I was there.
She said that they have laid her in a grave so cold and grey
By the bonny banks of Claudy, ten thousand miles away.

Chorus 2x

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