> Folk Music > Songs > Echo Mocks the Corncrake

Echo Mocks the Corncrake / The Corncrake Amang the Whinny Knowes

[ Roud 2736 ; G/D 5:945 ; Henry H18b ; Ballad Index HHH018b ; trad.]

Sheila Stewart sang The Corncrake Amang the Whinny Knowes on the Stewart Family's 1965 Topic album The Stewarts of Blair. She also sang it as Echo Mocks the Corncrake to Doc Rowe in Blairgowrie, Perthshire on October 15, 1998. This recording was included in 2000 on her Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition. Doc Rowe commented in the latter album's notes:

Sheila, who at the time of recording had not sung it for many years, thinks this might be a Burns song… “He collected a afwi lot a songs from Travellers”. Common in both Scotland and Ireland, this is evidently what may be considered a song composed in imitation of a folk song, a pastiche folk song. Ford in 1900 says: “It's quite evidently a modern effusion, and the author may be living. I have met with it in various cheap song sheets, but nowhere with any name attached.” Greig described it as “a pleasant lilt and fairly popular… what may be called ‘composed’ songs in the construction of which a certain amount of literary skill and device… the product of quite a sophisticated minor poet.”

Archie Fisher sang Echo Mocks the Corncrake in 1976 on his Folk-Legacy album The Man With a Rhyme. He also sang Corncrake, “learned from the singing of Geordie Hamilton”, in the same year on the fundraiser album The Second Folk Review Record.

Kentigern sang The Corncrake in 1979 on their eponymous Topic album Kentigern. This track was also included in 1996 on the Topic sampler Scottish Voices.

Ellen Mitchell sang Echo Mocks the Corncrake, “[a]n Ayrshire song that I learned from the singing of the late Joe Holmes from Co Antrim, Ireland”, on her and Kevin Mitchell's Musical Tradition anthology Have a Drop Mair. Rod Stradling commented in the album's booklet:

A song found only in Scotland and the north of Ireland. Sam Henry had it from Robert Bacon of Coleraine, Co Derry, in 1924, and Seán Corcoran recorded it from John Kennedy of Culleybacky, Co Antrim in 1995, and it's available on his CD The Girls Along the Road (Veteran VT 137 CD). In Scotland, versions from Margaret Gillespie and a Mrs Thom appeared in Greig-Duncan's Folk-Songs of the North-East, and recordings from Frank Steele and Mabel Skelton were made for the BBC, while Sheila Stewart was recorded in 1998 by Doc Rowe for her Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition (TSCD515).

Emily Smith sang Corncrake Among the Winnie Knowes on her 2013 anniversary album Ten Years.

Karine Polwart sang Echo Mocks the Corncrake on the 2016 album Songs of Separation:

Lyrics

Sheila Stewart sings Echo Mocks the Corncrake

Oh, the lass that I lo'ed first of a' was handsome, young and fair,
We had aye spent some merry nights upon the banks o' Ayr.
We had aye spent some merry nights way on wee burnie rows,
Whaur the echo mocks the corncrake amang the whinny knowes.

We loved each other dearly and disputes we seldom had
As constant as the pendulum, her heart beat always glad.
We sought for joy and found it way on wee burnie rows,
Whaur the echo mocks the corncrake amang the whinny knowes.

Ye maidens fair and pleasure dames, drive tae the banks of Doon,
You'll dearly pay for every cent tae the barbers for perfume.
But rural joy is free to a' where scented clover grows,
Whaur the echo mocks the corncrake amang the whinnie knowes.

Belle Stewart sang this as Corncrake Among the Whinny Knowes, which she learned from her brother, Donald MacGregor, and had a final verse:

Oh, he corncrake is noo awa', the burnie's tae the brim.
The whinny knowes are clad wi' snaw that haps the highest whin.
When gloomy winter gangs awa' and the summer it clears the sky
Oh, we'll welcome back the corncrake that bard of rural joy.

Ellen Mitchell sings Echo Mocks the Corncrake

Oh the lass that I loo'ed first of all was handsome, young and fair,
Wi her I spent some happy hours alang the banks o' Ayr.
Wi her I spent some happy hours where yonder burnie rows,
And the echo mocks the corncrake amang the whinnie knowes.

We loo'ed each other dearly and disputes we seldom had.
As constant as a pendulum her heart beat always gaed.
We sought for joy and found it where yonder burnie rows,
And the echo mocks the corncrake amang the whinnie knowes.

Noo maidens fair and pleasure's dames gang tae the banks of Doon,
They'll dearly pay their every cent tae barbers for perfume.
But Nature's joy is free for aa where scented clover grows,
And the echo mocks the corncrake amang the whinnie knowes.

The corncrake is noo awa the burn is tae the brim.
The whinnie knowes are clad wi snaw, that taps are highest whin.
But when cold winter is awa and summer clears the sky
We'll welcome back the corncrake that bird of rural joy.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: Echo Mocks the Corncrake / Corncraik.