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Planxty playing Arthur McBride

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: , ,

Arthur McBride is one of the classic anti-enlistment songs in the Irish trad canon. Arthur and his cousin take a stroll by the sea, where they encounter Sargent Harper, Corporal Cramp and their drummer boy. The Sargent offers them money to join the British Army. The lads are not interested:

Ah now me bold sergeant we are not for sale
We’ll make no such bargain, your bribe won’t avail
We’re not tried of our country we don’t care to sail
Although that your offer is charming

And if we were such fools as to take the advance
This right bloody slander would be our poor chance
For the Queen wouldn’t scruple to send us to France
Where we would be shot with out warning

The Sargent threatens the reluctant recruits with a sword, so Arthur and his cousin rout the Sargent and Corporal, and then make a football of the drummer’s “row-de-dow-dow.” And then they fling the sword into the sea:

As for the old rapier that hung by his side
We flung it as far as we could in the tide
To the Devil I pitch you, says Arthur McBride
To temper your steel in the morning

The studio recording of Arthur McBride on their seminal LP Planxty is equally charming and powerful–it’s one of the finest trad LPs one will ever hear.

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