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Generations of Change

[Matt Armour]

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sang Generations of Change in 1979 on their Topic album Cilla & Artie. They commented in their sleeve notes:

A new song written by Matt Armour reminding us of the rapid changes that have taken place in the East Neuk of Fife. We have had a great response from audiences to this song—several Fife people have told us that the story is true of their family, and everyone seems to enjoy its optimism.

Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown sang Generations of Change on their 2016 CD of songs of the working life, Labour and Toil. The album's liner notes commented:

One of the great songs of the last fifty years written by Matt Armour, it acknowledges the changes in work patterns and the adaptions each new generation brings. It also seems to highlight that empathy, and the willingness to listen to and learn from the past, sometimes skips a generation. So keep on passing on the important stories—someone will keep them alive!
Danny presents the song in his own inimitable style with some minor variations from the original—the folk process in action.

Lyrics

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sing Generations of Change

My faither is a baillie frae a wee fairm at Caiplie,
He worked on the land a’ the days of his life.
By the time he made second he aye said he reckoned
He’d ploughed near on half o’ the East Neuk o’ Fife.
He feed on at Randerston, Crawhill and Clephinton,
Cambo and Carnbee and big Rennie Hill,
At Kingsbarn he married, at Boarhills he’s buried.
But man, had he lived he’d be ploughing on still,

Chorus:
For those days were his days, those ways were his ways
Tae follow the ploo while his back was still strong,
But those days have passed and the time came at last
For the weakness of age to make way for the young.

I wisnae fir plooin’, tae the sea I wis goin’,
Tae follow the fish and the fisherman’s ways.
In rain, hail and sunshine I’ve watched the lang run-line,
Nae man mair contented his whole workin’ day.
I’ve lang-lined the Fladden ground, the Dutch and the Dogger Bank,
Pulled the big fish frae the deep Devil’s Hole.
I’ve side-trawled off Shetland, the Faroes and Iceland,
In weather much worse than a body could thole.

Chorus:
For that day was my day, that way was my way,
Tae follow the fish while my back was still strong,
But that day has passed and the time come at last
For the weakness of age to make way for the young.

My sons they have grown an’ away they have gone,
Tae search for black oil, in the far northern sea.
Like oilmen they walk an’ like Yankees they talk,
There’s no much in common ‘tween my sons an’ me.
They’ve rough rigged on Josephine, Forties and Ninian,
Claymore and Dunlin, Fisher and Awk.
They’ve made fortunes for sure for in one run ashore
They spend more than I earned in a whole season’s work.

Chorus:
But this day is their day, this way is their way,
Tae ride the rough rigs while their backs are still strong,
But this day will pass and the time come at last
For the weakness of age to make way for the young.

My grandsons are growing, to the school they’re soon going,
But the lang weeks of summer they spend here wi’ me.
We walk through the warm days, talk o’ the auld ways,
The cornfield and cod-fish, the land and the sea.
We walk through the fields that my father once tilled,
Talk wi’ the auld men that once sailed wi’ me.
Man, it’s been awfae good, l’ve shown them all I could
O’ the past and the present, what their future might be.

Chorus:
For the morn will be their day, what will be their way?
What will they make of their land, sea and sky?
Man, I’ve seen awfae change but it still seems gie strange,
Tae look at my world through a young laddie’s eyes.

Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown sing Generations of Change

My father was a bailie on a small toon at Caiplie,
He worked on the land a’ the days o' his life.
By the time he made second he aye said he reckoned
He’d ploughed near on half o’ the East Neuk o’ Fife.
He fee'd on at Raderston, Cawhill and Clephinton,
Gaemill and Gamrey and the big Rhynie Hill,
At Kingsbarn he marrit, at Boarhills he’s berrit.
But man, had he lived he’d be ploo'inf there still.

Chorus:
For those days were his days, those ways were his ways
Tae follow the ploo while his back it was strong,
But those days they passed, and the time came at last
Fae the weakness o' age tae mak' way for the young.

I wisna fae the plooin’, tae the sea I wez going,
Tae follow the fish and the fisherman’s ways.
In rain, hail and sunshine I watched the lang run-line,
No man mair contented his whole warkin’ days.
I lang-lined the Fladden Ground, Dutch and the Dogger Bank,
Pu'ed the big fish frae the deep Devil’s Hole.
I’ve side-lined arf Shetland, the Faroes and Iceland,
In weather much worse than a body should thole.

Chorus:
For those day were my days, those ways were my ways,
Tae follow the fish while ma back it wez strang,
But those days they passed, and the time come at last
Fae the weakness o' age tae mak' way fae the young.

Ma sons they ha' grown and awa they hae gone,
Tae search for black oil, in the far Northern Sea.
Like oilmen they walk ans like Yankees they talk,
There’s no much in common twix my sons and me.
They’ve rough-rigged the Josephine, Forties and Ninnian,
Claymore and Dunlin, Fisher and Awk.
They make fortunes for sure for in one run ashore
They'll spend more than I earned in a whole season’s work.

Chorus:
But this day is their day, this way is their way,
Tae ride the rough rigs while their backs they are strong,
But this day will pass, and the time come at last
Fae the weakness o' age tae mak' way fae the young.

My grandsons are growing, tae the school noo they’re going,
The lang weeks o' summer they spend here wi’ me.
We walk through the warm days, talk of the old ways,
The corn and cod-fish, the land and the sea.
We walk over ground that my father once ploughed,
Talk wi’ the old men that once sailed wi’ me.
Man, it’s bin owwe good, I teach them all I could
O’ the past and the present, what the future might be.

Chorus:
For the morn will be their day, what will be their way?
What will they make o' their land, sea and sky?
Man, I’ve seen ower change but it still seems gie strange
Tae look at ma warld through a young bairnie’s eye.