> Ewan MacColl > Songs > Cannily Cannily
> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > Cannily Cannily

Cannily Cannily

[ Roud - ; DT CANNLY ; Mudcat 170642 ; Ewan MacColl]

Isla Cameron sang Ewan MacColl’s song Cannily Cannily in 1951 on Topic’s 78rpm record TRC50. This track was also included in 1954 on Topic’s first 12", the Untitled Album TRL1. She sang this song again in 1961 on her and Louis Killen’s Prestige International album The Waters of Tyne.

Ewan MacColl sang Cannily Cannily in 1957 on his Topic album of industrial folk ballads, Shuttle and Cage. As most tracks of this record it was also included in 1964 on his album Steam Whistle Ballads. The album liner notes commented:

Written by Ewan MacColl in 1953 for Isla Cameron, the song is frequently sung in radio programmes of folk music, where it is usually described as a traditional song.

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior sang Cannily Cannily in 1971 on their third duo album, Summer Solstice.

The Unthanks sang Cannily Cannily in 2015 on Cooking Vinyl’s Ewan MacColl centenary tribute album Joy of Living.

John Francis Flynn sang Cannily Cannily in 2021 on his River Lea album I Would Not Live Always. He noted:

This song was written by another hero of mine, Ewan MacColl. He recorded it on his 1957 album of industrial folk ballads, Shuttle and Cage. A simple lullaby among songs of protest and disaster, it comes from the perspective of a mother as she lulls her young son to sleep. He dreams of his future, working on the railroad like his dad. I remember singing this song to a sleepy Patrick Freeman after a party in my house a few years back. Great to put these songs to use the way they were intended.


Tim Hart and Maddy Prior sing Cannily Cannily

Cannily, cannily, my lal bairnikie
Divn’t tha cry, my lal pet
Whisht at thy greetin’
Your daddy is sleeping
It’s not time to waken him yet

Soon he’ll be gan thro’ the shed for his engine
Soon he’ll be driving his train through the night
Working for pennies for you, my lal treasure
So had the noise, hinnie, your daddy sleeps light

When tha art grown tha shalt have tha own engine
The fastest that ever was seen on the line
And aal o’ wor neighbours will point to my Johnnie
And knaa he’s the king o’ the North Eastern Line